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Canada officially designates far-right group 'Proud Boys' as terrorist organization

Last Updated Feb 3, 2021 at 4:38 pm EDT

FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2020 photo, a protester carries a Proud Boys banner, symbol of a right-wing group, while other members start to unfurl a large U.S. flag in front of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem, Ore. President Donald Trump didn't condemn white supremacist groups and their role in violence in some American cities this summer. Instead, he said the violence is a “left-wing" problem and he told one far-right extremist group to “stand back and stand by.” His comments Tuesday night were in response to debate moderator Chris Wallace asking if he would condemn white supremacists and militia groups. Trump's exchange with Democrat Joe Biden left the extremist group Proud Boys celebrating what some of its members saw as tacit approval. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File)

The public safety minister is officially adding new groups to Canada’s terrorist list and the ‘Proud Boys’ will be among them.

“We have placed 13 new groups on that list including for ideologically motivated violent extremist groups. Those 4 groups include the Atomwaffen Division, The Base, the Proud Boys, and the Russian imperial movement,” Bill Blair said Wednesday.

This also includes three groups linked to al-Qaida, four associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and one Kashmiri organization.

A designation will give law enforcement more investigative tools, prevent people from financially supporting the groups and allow financial institutions to freeze assets.

Minister Blair insists these designations are not politically motivated, but rather based on a strong legal process involving Canada’s national security agencies.

“No matter the ideological motivation of violent, extremist groups, they are all hateful, intolerant, and as we have seen they can be dangerous,” Blair added.

Groups on Canada’s roster of terrorist entities, created after the 9/11 attacks on the United States, may have their assets seized, and there are serious criminal penalties for helping listed organizations carry out extremist activities.

Canada placed two right-wing extremist groups, Blood & Honour, an international neo-Nazi network, and its armed branch, Combat 18, on the list in 2019.

They joined more than 50 other listed organizations including al-Qaida, the Islamic State militant group, Boko Haram, and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Founded by Canadian Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys are a right-wing group that is unapologetically misogynist and increasingly linked to white supremacy and hate.

The storming of Capitol Hill in Washington last month spurred calls for Canada to add the Proud Boys and other prominent white nationalist organizations to the list.

The group has faced increased scrutiny after seizing on the former Trump administration’s policies and was a major agitator during earlier protests and the riots on Jan. 6.

The official designation was all but inevitable after the house of commons passed a motion to designate the Proud Boys a terrorist entity last week.

Enrique Tarrio, the chairman of Proud Boys, called the terrorist designation “ridiculous.”

“There is no basis for it. It’s infringement of free speech rights. All the Canadian Proud Boys have ever done is go to rallies,” Tarrio said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

“They used what happened at the Capitol to push for this.”

Tarrio said the Canadian chapters are very quiet compared to their American counterparts, estimating that there are between 1,000 and 1,500 Proud Boys in Canada.

He said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and opposition New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh, who first proposed the designation, are virtue signaling.

Tarrio was arrested in Washington shortly before the Capitol riot. He was accused of vandalizing a Black Lives Matter (BLM) banner at a historic Black church during an earlier protest in the nation’s capital.

The group was banned by Facebook and Instagram in October 2018 for violating their hate policies.

The Proud Boys first made headlines in Canada when several self-identified members in the Royal Canadian Navy disrupted an Indigenous protest in Halifax in 2017 and has since grown its international profile and membership.

With files from 680 NEWS Parliament Hill reporter Cormac Mac Sweeney and Rob Gillies of the Associated Press

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