Proud Boys added to terror list for political purposes: report

One former Canadian Security Intelligence Service terrorism expert described the designation as 'knee-jerk' and viewed it as a political, not practical, decision.

Proud Boys added to terror list for political purposes: report
AP Photo/Noah Berger, File
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An in-depth investigation into Canada adding the Proud Boys to the nation's list of terrorist organizations revealed political motivations behind the decision, according to a new report.

Following the January 6, 2021, riot at the United States Capitol Building, the Canadian government moved to add the Proud Boys and other groups to the terror watch list.

"Their violent actions and rhetoric are fuelled by white supremacy, anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia and misogyny, and unfortunately, often in combination of all of the above,” then-public safety minister Bill Blair said of the 13 newly listed terror organizations, as reported by CBC. "No matter the ideological motivation, they're all hateful, intolerant and, as we've seen, they can be highly dangerous."

But new documents collected through access to information requests by C2C Journal reveal a startling lack of evidence behind the Trudeau Liberals' choice to label the Proud Boys as a terror group.

As explained by C2C Journal's John Kline:

  • Neither the Proud Boys’ Canadian chapter nor any of its members are known to have broken any laws before or since the organization’s designation as a “terror entity” on February 3, 2021;
  • There is no indication that Canada’s Department of Justice prepared a dossier of evidence against the Proud Boys in advance, which Canada’s anti-terror law requires before the government may list a group as a terror entity;
  • The Government of Canada held no apparent other evidence to substantiate its accusations that the Proud Boys had engaged in violence – let alone an “escalation” of violence – were planning to do so, or posed a substantial threat thereof;
  • The Trudeau Government showed no interest in the Proud Boys until after the January 6, 2021 riot in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., in which the U.S. Proud Boys were soon accused of playing a central role;
  • Following the designation, Public Safety officials were unable to muster any compelling reasons or hard evidence despite persistent questioning from news media;
  • Substantially all of the “evidence” used to designate the Canadian Proud Boys as terrorists comprised U.S. news media reports pertaining to events and organizations in the U.S.; and
  • The Canadian terrorist designation did not trigger any known law enforcement action against the Proud Boys or their small number of former members, which would normally be expected after a legitimate terror-entity designation.

One former Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) official the outlet spoke to described the designation as “knee-jerk” and viewed it as a political, not practical, decision.

Since the Trudeau Liberals came to power in 2015, Phil Gurski, a former terrorism and intelligence specialist with CSIS, said the federal government shifted its priorities to adding “more right-wing groups” to the terror list so authorities are not being “seen as 'all jihadi all the time' even if jihadis pose the greatest threat to Canada.”

The Liberals' designation of the Proud Boys appears tenuously connected to the Canadian branch's very loose affiliation with the U.S. version. South of the border, the group was founded by former Rebel Gavin McInnes, a Canadian who has been a longtime U.S. resident and who left the group in 2018.

And while the January 6 riot saw several American Proud Boys, including the group's leader, Enrique Tarrio, who wasn't physically present at the riot, sent to jail, no member of Proud Boys Canada is known to have been at the Capitol.

The McInnes connection, Kline wrote, “seems to be it for the legal rationale” behind the Trudeau government's decision.

In May 2021, documents uncovered by True North showed the Liberals did not explore adding numerous left-wing groups affiliated with violent actions to the terror list.

A previous government document revised in 2019, the Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada, featured the words “right-wing” 11 times while making no mention of the words “left-wing.” 

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