Before a white nationalist allegedly ran down and killed an anti-racist protester in Charlottesville, Canada's Minister of Public Safety requested allies keep an eye on far-right extremism in western countries.
As first reported by the Globe and Mail, Ralph Goodale raised the issue during a June Five Eyes ministerial meeting in Ottawa—the Five Eyes refers to an intelligence sharing alliance between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
A statement provided to VICE by the minister's office, said that during the meeting "Canada made the point that radicalization to violence comes from a variety of sources and it would be foolish to maintain there is only one."
"Our allies must ensure that resources are deployed against other threats to national security as well," reads the statement form Goodale's office. "We need the clear-eyed recognition that terrorist threats do not emanate exclusively from savage outfits like Daesh, Al-Qaeda or the Taliban, but also from hateful right-wing extremists, neo-Nazis and white supremacists."
"Canada's national security and law enforcement agencies take all security threats very seriously, including those posed by right-wing extremists, and have robust measures in place to address them in collaboration with international partners."
According to an agenda obtained by VICE, the morning's hour-and-fifteen-minute meeting on "countering violent extremism" focused on online radicalization and returnees from foreign conflicts. Other subjects on the docket for the meeting included information sharing on terror and criminal groups; refugees and migrants; encryption, and cyber security.
While far-right extremism has long in Canada and other western nations, it feels like there has been an emboldening of late as rally after rally centered on far-right views have been held across the country. In the last weekend alone, we saw two rallies take place in Canada—in Vancouver and Quebec City—by anti-immigration groups that routinely espouse anti-Islam or other far-right rhetoric. For example, one of the rally organizers in Vancouver had posted several pro-white nationalism/neo-Nazi statements on his Facebook prior to the rally. In the weekend before, a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville turned violent and ended with the death of Heather Heyer who was hit by a car—several Canadians attended this rally to march alongside the white nationalists and neo-Nazis.
This coming weekend in London, Ontario, a rally is being held by Pegida, a German-founded anti-Islam group that believes western countries are slowly being taken over by Islam. The German acronym translates to english Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West. In response to this coming rally, a counter protest is being planned and, on Tuesday, Matt Brown, the city's mayor, told his town to "stand up against hate" and issued an emergency motion condemning the rally.
There has also been an explosion of anti-Islam or other far right groups in the country, like La Meute, Soldiers of Odin, III% Canada, and the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam just to name a few. Many of the groups either have worldwide chapters or are heavily influenced by international groups.
The statement from Goodale also name-checks the country's Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence—a centre designed to counter home grown terrorism and added that the government has taken other steps to address the issue.
"To help communities protect themselves from hate-motivated crimes, we've doubled funding for the Security Infrastructure Program (SIP), which helps not-for-profit institutions in at-risk communities make security improvements," reads the statement.
"Our country is strengthened by its diversity, and members of all communities must feel safe and be safe in Canada."
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