America's neighbor and a close ally, Canada, has had a tumultuous relation with it during the Trump administration. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Donald Trump did not see eye to eye on many policies including revised tariffs. Now that Trump is out of the White House, the animosity is continuing. On Monday, members of Canada's parliament agreed to call on the federal government to designate Proud Boys — a white supremacist group and Trump supporter — as a terrorist outfit.
During the presidential debate, Trump urged the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by" when he was asked to condemn the white supremacists. The far-right group was heavily involved in the Capitol riots on January 6 that left five dead and several injured. Following that, many Canadian lawmakers including the oppositions discussed a motion to formally designate the outfit as a terrorist entity.
The oppositions, including the New Democratic Party (NDP), called the Liberal Party-led government to "use all available tools to address the proliferation of white supremacists and hate groups starting with the immediately designating the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity."
Who Are Proud Boys?
Proud Boys, an extremist group based in the US, was founded by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, a British-Canadian writer and commentator, in 2016. But he distanced himself from the group in 2017. However, it gained notoriety after the Charlottesville white-supremacists rally named Unite the Right in 2017 that left a woman dead and several people injured.
The group is known for spreading hate, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, ideologies of Nazis and Ku Klax Klan besides white nationalism and misogyny. In 2019, it was reported that members of Proud Boys visiting the homes of its critics and harassing them. The group is currently being monitored by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other law enforcement agencies. However, the country hasn't yet banned or restricted such white supremacist groups.
On January 4, Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the organization, was arrested by Metropolitan Police for burning a Black Lives Matter banner. He was charged with destruction of property and carrying high-capacity firearms. Ahead of the November 3 US Presidential election, the group allegedly sent threatening emails to Democratic voters. However, it was revealed that Iranian hackers spoofed those emails.
Canadian Govt Still Considering
As for Canada, the federal government is still considering a move against the group. However, if it does ban the group and designate it as a terrorist entity, Proud Boys will have the same status as Al Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist organizations. Canada also designated two neo-Nazi groups Blood & Honor and Combat 18 as terrorist organizations in 2019.
"As Minister Blair has said, we strongly denounce ideologically motivated extremists including groups like the Proud Boys, white supremacists, anti-Semitics, Islamophobic and misogynist groups. Intolerance and hate have no place in our society," Mary-Liz Power, a spokesperson for Bill Blair, Canada's Public Safety Minister, told Global News.
While its presence in the US has increased significantly in the last five years, Proud Boys members have surfaced in Canada as well. In 2017, five members of the Navy were suspended for disrupting an indigenous protest in Halifax. All five sailors were affiliated with Proud Boys.
Tarrio criticized Canada's move and said Trudeau and the NDP had ruined the country. "They have much bigger problems than a group of drunks. Jagmeet Singh and the NDP have turned Canada into a third world s***hole," he told Insider.