National Security

Not Much to be Proud of: How the Liberals Politicized Canada’s Selection of Terrorist Entities

John Kline
April 29, 2024
The January 2021 riot in the U.S. Capitol generated a wave of moral panic in Washington – and, it seems, Ottawa, which a month later designated Proud Boys Canada a terrorist entity, placing them on par with Al-Qaida, ISIS and Boko Haram. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair claimed to have a “trove of evidence” showing a “concerning escalation of violence” by the group. But an exclusive investigation by John Kline, which unearthed its own trove of documents through Access to Information, shows the Trudeau government’s case was based not on hard evidence but ideological prejudice and media reports about a U.S. group whose small Canadian affiliate had nothing to do with the events in question. Kline’s research reveals a government motivated by clinging to power, cozying up to the Biden Administration and elevating “right-wing extremism” into a major national security concern.
National Security

Not Much to be Proud of: How the Liberals Politicized Canada’s Selection of Terrorist Entities

John Kline
April 29, 2024
The January 2021 riot in the U.S. Capitol generated a wave of moral panic in Washington – and, it seems, Ottawa, which a month later designated Proud Boys Canada a terrorist entity, placing them on par with Al-Qaida, ISIS and Boko Haram. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair claimed to have a “trove of evidence” showing a “concerning escalation of violence” by the group. But an exclusive investigation by John Kline, which unearthed its own trove of documents through Access to Information, shows the Trudeau government’s case was based not on hard evidence but ideological prejudice and media reports about a U.S. group whose small Canadian affiliate had nothing to do with the events in question. Kline’s research reveals a government motivated by clinging to power, cozying up to the Biden Administration and elevating “right-wing extremism” into a major national security concern.
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In the pre-dawn twilight of January 8, 2020, a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 took off from Tehran’s international airport, bound for Kyiv. Aboard were 176 people, including 63 Canadians from six different provinces. The aircraft didn’t get far. Barely 1 minute into the air, flight PS572 was struck by a Russian-made SA-15 anti-aircraft missile operated by the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC), followed less than 30 seconds later by a second missile. The stricken aircraft crashed in a fireball a few miles from the airport, killing everyone aboard. Despite the regime’s initial denials, the IRGC was soon fingered as the culprit.

“An act of terrorism”: In January 2020 a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 was struck by two missiles minutes after taking off from Tehran’s international airport, killing all 176 people on board including 63 Canadians; Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was soon fingered as the culprit. (Sources of photos: (top) LLBG Spotter, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0; (middle and bottom) Mehr News Agency, licensed under CC BY 4.0)

The organization, which has trodden a blood-soaked trail numbering thousands of civilian victims in numerous countries, was denounced in May 2021 by an Ontario judge overseeing a class-action lawsuit brought by some of the victims’ families. He wrote that the downing of flight PS572 “was an act of terrorism and constitutes ‘terrorist activity’” under both international law and Canada’s Criminal Code. This view is shared by the United States government, which long ago designated the IRGC a foreign terrorist organization. Europe’s Parliament has voted to do the same.

But not Canada, where the Justin Trudeau government has rebuffed repeated calls to add the IRGC to its listed terrorist entities. The Liberals’ reluctance extends to a number of such violent or dodgy groups. Recently the Trudeau government even resumed its flow of funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, whose Gaza offices sat atop an elaborate underground Hamas operations centre, and some of whose members actively assisted Hamas, one of the world’s most vicious terror groups.

The Trudeau government’s indulgence and leniency have not, however, extended to a small and obscure group of native-born Canadian citizens who broke no known laws and whose most aggressive act was attempting to block destruction of a statue of one of Canada’s most important historical figures. In February 2021 – just over a year after the downing of Flight PS572 – the Government of Canada officially designated the Canadian branch of the Proud Boys a terrorist entity, placing them on par with Al-Qaida, ISIS and Boko Haram. Legally at least, this meant Canada’s government considered the Proud Boys to be worse than the IRGC.

Ottawa urgently needed to act, explained Bill Blair, federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Asked by one reporter whether the Proud Boys “pose a current, serious security threat to Canada,” Blair replied, “Absolutely yes,” and added, “There is a great deal of evidence to support that there has been a serious and concerning escalation of violence, not just rhetoric…”

The United States has designated the IRGC (emblem at left) a terrorist organization and the European Parliament has voted to do the same, but Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has refused numerous calls to do so – while moving quickly to add Canada’s Proud Boys to the official terror-entity list. (Source of right photos: NCRI)

While Blair’s claims seemed somewhat weakly founded from the start, new research conducted by a fellow researcher and myself, and published for the first time here in C2C Journal, reveals virtually the entire Liberal narrative as exaggerated if not false. The research took place over the past six months and involved Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) requests addressed to Public Safety Canada, plus inquiries to police services and review of open-source material. It reveals that:

  • 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.

Public Safety Canada responded to our ATIP requests by e-mailing three pdf’s, each of approximately 150 pages, containing a variety of partially redacted Government of Canada documents, such as e-mails between officials or transcripts of discussions between officials and reporters. All references and quotations from Public Safety documents below (as well as the quotations from Blair above) are drawn from these three pdf’s.

Mad, Sad, but hardly Dangerous

Going by their public portrayal, Canada’s Proud Boys were a decidedly odd bunch, guys whom many Canadians would probably find hard to like. The CBC in a 2017 piece said they described themselves as a “fraternal organization of Western Chauvinists who will no longer apologize for creating the modern world.” Other Canadian media outlets noted the group’s rules included requiring members to be able to name five types of breakfast cereal while being severely hazed by fellow members, and to swear an “oath” to limit masturbation to once a month. Media reports routinely described the Proud Boys as “white supremacist”, “misogynistic” or “far-rightist” – although often without any backup.

The original and much larger U.S. organization was formed in 2016, apparently geared to the working-class, becoming early supporters of Donald Trump. The Proud Boys gradually began making themselves known as informal volunteer security at conservative demonstrations that were expected to be harassed and disrupted by hard-left counter-demonstrators, such as the frequently violent Antifa. Although Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes explicitly disavowed white supremacy and anti-Semitism, the group was routinely denounced by mainstream and far-left media, and soon appeared on the FBI’s radar, which flagged them as domestic extremists.

But nerdy clothes, strange habits and failing to loathe Western civilization with sufficient intensity are hardly evidence of violent intent, let alone imminent action. Contrast the Proud Boys with any randomly selected organization from Canada’s terror list – like, say, Ansar al Islam, which “was responsible for a coordinated double suicide bombing on the respective headquarters of two Kurdish political parties that killed more than 60 people and wounded over 200 others,” or Boko Haram, whose members routinely hack the heads off people belonging to different religions or kidnap hundreds of innocent schoolgirls at a time.

Canada’s Proud Boys (top left) have been described by the mainstream media as “white supremacist”, “misogynistic” and “far-rightist”, although often without evidence; the original and much larger U.S. organization has been flagged as domestic extremists by the FBI. (Shown on bottom left, an image from the Proud Boys Canadian chapter’s Facebook page.) (Sources of photos: (top left) Geoff Livingston, retrieved from The Hill Times; (bottom right) AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez, File)

There are only two known events associated with Canada’s Proud Boys that could be stretched into potential “red flags”. Each was covered by news media and is discussed in the Public Safety documents acquired through ATIP.

On Canada Day 2017, five young men walked up to a group of about 50 mostly Indigenous demonstrators at a small park in Halifax protesting the legacy of Sir Edward Cornwallis. The park held a statue of Cornwallis, the first governor of the British Colony of Nova Scotia, who founded the city in 1749 – and then authorized the scalping of Mi’kmaq Indians in retaliation for the French paying the Mi’kmaq a bounty for the scalps of British solders. Wearing yellow-trimmed black polo shirts, with one carrying Canada’s historical Red Ensign flag, the young men identified themselves as Proud Boys and politely accused the Indigenous protesters of “disrespecting” Cornwallis, whom the protesters were loudly accusing of “genocide”. The Proud Boys apparently also worried that the protesters intended to vandalize or pull down the statue.

A Canadian “red flag”? One of two incidents involving Proud Boys Canada discussed in government documents was the polite interruption of an Indigenous protest in Halifax in 2017; the men, all members of the Armed Forces, had shown up to prevent destruction of the statue (upper photo, at centre-rear), identified themselves as Proud Boys and broke no laws, but were quickly denounced and threatened with severe discipline by the military. (Source of photos: Anjuli Patil/CBC)

News photos from the event show the five young men in relaxed postures, generally smiling as they briefly interact with the demonstrators surrounding them. The news media, however, portrayed them as “disrupting”, “interrupting” and “oppressing” the protestors, who were led by one “Chief Grizzly Mamma”, a B.C. woman who had theatrically cut off her hair to symbolize scalping. The five Proud Boys all turned out to be Canadian Forces members and, although they broke no laws, were quickly denounced and threatened with severe discipline or even dismissal by their commanding officer, the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Minister of Defence. (As it turned out, the City of Halifax soon had the statue of Cornwallis covered in a black tarp and then removed.)

In October that same year, a number of Proud Boys attended a “Let Trudeau know he has to go” protest rally that its organizers billed as focusing on rising taxes, deficit spending, encroachments on free speech, and the recent $10 million settlement for Omar Khadr, but which left-wing counter-demonstrators charged was anti-immigrant, bigoted and Islamophobic. The two sides had words that escalated into pushing and shoving and a minor injury to a police officer. Four were arrested and charged; none of the four was confirmed to be a Proud Boy.

And that was it. Neither the news media nor Canada’s combined intelligence and law enforcement apparatus turned up any other such events involving the Proud Boys – let alone acts of violence or terrorist conspiracies. For a bunch of raging right-wing extremists who were threatening the safety of Canada itself, the Proud Boys proved remarkably low-key, law-abiding and peace-loving.

Absence of Malice

Phil Gurski, a former terrorism and intelligence specialist with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), said sources inside CSIS told him the agency was not pleased by the Trudeau government’s terror designation, seeing it as a “knee-jerk” response deeply infected with politics. Nobody inside CSIS, Gurski told me in a recent interview, thought the Proud Boys had the intention or ability to terrorize Canadians. Gurski himself snorts that the group “couldn’t even organize a piss-up in a bar.”

Gurski says the terror designation was, however, consistent with “a trend of late to include more right-wing groups,” one reflecting “a desire to not be seen as ‘all jihadi all the time’ even if jihadis pose the greatest threat to Canada.” Before his retirement in 2015, Gurski worked on “jihadist” or, as it later became known, “religiously focused” terrorism. The terror threat from the right was “not on the political radar”, leaving CSIS free to focus its resources where the service felt they belonged in the post-9/11 environment. But after the 2015 election, Gurski notes, the new Liberal government elevated “right-wing extremism” into a major national security concern.

A “knee-jerk” response: Phil Gurski, a former terrorism and intelligence specialist with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, says the Trudeau government’s designation of the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity is consistent with its eagerness to focus on “right-wing extremism”. (Source of screenshot: Canadian Intelligence Eh!/YouTube)

Nothing known about the Proud Boys’ Canadian chapters came close to meeting Canada’s criteria for terror entity designation, however. As Public Safety Canada’s anti-terrorism-related web pages explain, “The process of listing begins with criminal and/or security intelligence reports on an entity disclosing the reasonable grounds to believe that the entity has knowingly carried out, attempted to carry out, participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity; or the entity has knowingly acted on behalf of, at the direction of or in association with, an entity involved in a terrorist activity.”

Leah West, a national security professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, would later express concern over the Trudeau government’s decision. “There has to be an intent to intimidate a section of the population about their security, or to get the government to do something using violence, serious violence that could threaten someone’s life,” she told the Toronto Star. While those elements were present in the U.S. Capitol riot, West asserted, they couldn’t be attributed directly to the U.S. Proud Boys. That, in turn, would make it very difficult to pin anything at all on the Canadian wing. Indeed, the Government of Canada’s subsequent description of the Proud Boys among its list of terror entities consists entirely of accusations against the American group.

What, then, might account for the Trudeau government going after Canada’s Proud Boys? Here too, part of the answer may lie to the south. However one chooses to regard January 6, 2021, it’s inarguable that it became of great importance to the U.S. Democratic Party, the mainstream media, the national security establishment and “polite society” to demonstrate that the events constituted an “insurrection” that threatened the lives of U.S. legislators and aimed to violently overturn the recent election of Joe Biden.

Documents show the Government of Canada had no interest in the Proud Boys until after the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot in Washington, D.C.; substantially all of the “evidence” it offered to justify designating the Canadian chapter a terror entity consisted of overwrought (and often false) media reports about that day, frequently mentioning that the U.S. organization was founded by Canadian-born Gavin McInnes (bottom right). (Sources of photos: (top) AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File; (bottom right) StevenCrowder, licensed under CC BY 3.0)

The law enforcement response was comprehensive and forceful. Although no rioter had carried a weapon, and the sole violent death was of a protester shot by law enforcement, hundreds of protesters were arrested and some were held without bail for a year or more. Over 1,200 individuals were eventually charged and a number sentenced to long terms in prison. Among them are several U.S. Proud Boys, including U.S. leader Enrique Tarrio, who was sentenced to 22 years’ imprisonment although he wasn’t present at the riot or in Washington, D.C. No member of Proud Boys Canada is known to have been there, either; none has been arrested or charged. But the organization’s overall founder, the aforementioned McInnes, is a former Canadian who has lived in the U.S. for decades, and left the group in 2018.

Politicizing Canada’s Terror Designations

And therein lies the sole known connection – if that is the word – between the U.S. and Canadian organizations. As well as the slender legal reed upon which the Government of Canada seems to have assembled the terror designation: the Proud Boys in Canada somehow act “on behalf of” or “in association with” the U.S. group, making them a legitimate candidate for terror-entity designation. That seems to be it for the legal rationale.

Still unexplained is what the point of it all was. There had been vocal demands from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh that Canada respond to January 6. Singh charged that the Proud Boys “helped execute” an act of “domestic terrorism” and demanded that Trudeau designate the Canadian group a terror organization “immediately”. Trudeau’s minority government, of course, required Singh’s continuous support to remain in office.

Politics at play: Canadian NDP leader Jagmeet Singh charged that the Proud Boys “helped execute” the U.S. Capitol riot and demanded immediate action; Trudeau’s Liberal government needs Singh’s continuous support to remain in office. (Source of photo: David Josephy/Facebook)

Could the rest of the explanation be as simple – and cynical – as incoming President Biden just needing a quick favour from a willing ally? The designation would have come as welcome support to the narrative of the Capitol protests being a planned “insurrection” aimed at taking over the U.S. government. Canada’s move, indeed, became major news that same day in Washington (although the coverage was not all favourable). The circumstances made even mainstream media suspicious. As one CNN correspondent (name redacted) wrote to a Canadian media relations staffer soon after: “Hard to imaging [sic] PM Trudeau and President Biden didn’t discuss it.”

Each government’s respective cabinet certainly discussed the terror designation. Records provided under ATIP show it topping the agenda in talks between Canada’s ministers of Public Safety and Justice and their U.S. counterparts, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney-General Merrick Garland. In public, Blair insisted Canada’s designation was “about extremism and it’s about terror” – but did let slip that January 6 was a factor, though “just one of many”.

A quick favour from a willing ally? Documents provided under Canada’s Access to Information and Privacy law show the Proud Boys terror designation topping the agenda of talks between Canadian and U.S. cabinet members; “Hard to imaging [sic] PM Trudeau and President Biden didn’t discuss it,” wrote one CNN correspondent to a Public Safety Canada staffer.

Unlike in the United States, where it is extremely difficult to declare a domestic organization a terrorist entity, in Canada the federal Cabinet can do so virtually at will, as long as there is some evidentiary basis. Among the prerequisites is the Department of Justice preparing an assessment for Public Safety of the targeted organization that includes specific terrorist incidents.

Following the February 3, 2021 announcement, reporters pressed Public Safety’s media relations staffers about the evidentiary basis and whether it was duly prepared ahead of time as Canada’s anti-terror law requires. “How can you reassure Canadians that the process was independent and there wasn’t any pressure?” asked one. Asked another: “I’d like to know… why the Proud Boys is now classified…and not [groups] involved in violent acts…” One wanted to know whether the designation had relied solely upon what American Proud Boys members did in the U.S. Capitol. No answers were forthcoming. As a Public Safety staffer noted in one memo, “We have received several follow-up questions…which we clearly cannot answer.” Public Safety wouldn’t even disclose the date of the purported legal assessment, placing its very existence in doubt.

While Public Safety Minister Bill Blair claimed there was a “great deal of evidence to support that there has been a serious and concerning escalation of violence [by the Proud Boys],” he produced nothing of substance; “We have received several follow-up questions…which we clearly cannot answer,” wrote one Public Safety staffer in a memo. (Source of photo: BC Gov Photos, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

ATIP records do show Public Safety analysts tracking January 6 articles involving the Proud Boys – after the government had decided on the terror entity designation. This is odd timing for an agency “highly concerned” about Proud Boys Canada’s ties to an insurrection south of the border. And if this retroactive gathering of media reports was Ottawa’s sole “assessment” of Canada’s Proud Boys, it would make Canada’s terror listing illegal.

These documents fail to indicate any evidence against Proud Boys Canada: no bombings, no kidnappings, no conspiracies, not even “neo-fascist” regalia or displays of “white supremacy”. The only suspicious “event” was the Cornwallis statue incident: a brief attempt to prevent expected vandalism. An ironic aside: one Globe & Mail reporter (name redacted) noted to Public Safety staffers that even Canada’s far-left “anti hate and anti racist organizations are going to be surprised that the Proud Boys made the list.” And they were.

Blair, for his part, claimed to have a “trove of evidence” derived from January 6. But it now seems clear this “evidence” was comprised not of high-level intelligence briefings drawing upon meticulously assembled hard data and rational analysis, but of overwrought (as well as generally distorted if not false) U.S. media accounts. For instance, Blair repeated the New York Times’ false assertion that Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher (he died of a stroke).

That the news media can affect public authorities’ decisions to discredit law-abiding groups and deprive citizens of their liberty is especially troubling when the media fail to properly scrutinize and truthfully report events. Even worse in this case, Public Safety officials can be observed in emails sharing skewed and hearsay-laden sources about the Proud Boys as if they were fact.

Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

Understandably (at least in most cases), a group about to be listed as a terror entity is not informed in advance, nor given a chance to address the accusations and evidence against it. Only afterwards is it even informed and, technically at least, allowed to attempt to refute the accusations. Such awesome legal powers placed in the Government of Canada’s hands impose a similarly heavy responsibility on it never to abuse its powers and falsely designate a group for political reasons. In this case, however, the Trudeau government seemingly decided to crush an organization following just the barest deliberation and then, mission accomplished, forgot all about them. (Canada’s Proud Boys officially announced their dissolution in May 2021, reiterating that they were never a white-supremacist group.)

Further circumstantial evidence that Canada’s terror-entity designation was a political act is the absence of subsequent law enforcement action against the Proud Boys. Normally, a terror designation unleashes the legal hounds of hell upon the target. The government’s sweeping powers include:

  • Seizing property, including financial assets;
  • Penalizing those who deal with the entity or its members;
  • Requiring banks to report on the entity’s/members’ assets, and freezing those assets, preventing the entity/members from using their banks;
  • Placing members on no-fly lists;
  • Limiting the entity’s/members’ internet access;
  • Conducting electronic monitoring (wiretaps);
  • Imposing no-contact orders;
  • Requiring regular reporting to law enforcement;
  • Applying a terrorism peace bond on any “potentially threatening” individual, restricting their liberty in a variety of ways; and
  • Revoking or refusing passports.

With Proud Boys Canada now officially as terrifying as ISIS – and if they were truly about “extremism and terror” – one might expect Canadian authorities to employ at least some of their newly authorized powers. None of this happened.

Canada’s Proud Boys announced their dissolution in May 2021; neither the group nor any of its known members have faced any recorded or publicly known law enforcement action, further suggesting the terrorist designation was primarily a political act. (Source of photo: The Senior)

The aforementioned powers are exercised by a smattering of authorities including the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (as well as provincial and municipal police forces), CSIS, several bank regulators, and the Canada Border Services Agency. I reached out to each, including numerous sub-offices, requesting data about any such action being taken against Proud Boys Canada. I was careful to avoid requesting any personal identifiers. In response to over 30 emails and follow-ups, I received a mix of buck-passing (such as police saying contact CSIS, or Public Safety saying contact police), non-answers, refusals to respond, ghosting, and (seemingly deliberate) mischaracterizations of my enquiry.

Sergeant Kim Chamberland at the RCMP’s Ottawa headquarters, for instance, told me the force would not respond to questions about “investigations”, despite my request for data relating only to closed actions. I drew the sergeant’s attention to the fact that there is nothing stopping the RCMP from providing such information. I showed her the results of a 2-second Google search noting that the RCMP does publish information about completed terrorism peace bond actions (and in a way that appears far more detailed than my simple data request).

The report I cited stated the RCMP had “repatriated two Canadian citizens and two children from Syria, one of whom was the subject of a bail hearing in relation to a Terrorism Peace Bond application under the Criminal Code and the other was charged with four terrorism and conspiracy-related criminal charges.” I restated that this was the sort of information I was seeking in relation to the Proud Boys. Chamberland merely responded: “We will not be able to comment any further on this request,” and thereafter ceased all further contact with me.

Members of designated terrorist groups can have their assets seized, their bank accounts frozen and passport revoked, among other non-criminal punishments; it’s not known if any of the Canadian Proud Boys have suffered such sanctions because nearly all have effectively vanished. (Source of bottom photo: lezumbalaberenjena, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Nor is there any criminal or civil case law involving Canadian Proud Boys members indicated on Canada’s free case-search website. Nor any media reports on the same subject. It seems safe to say that no action from law enforcement has ever been taken against Proud Boys Canada in the more than three years since the Trudeau government declared them a terror entity.

Who Might be Next?

While this distinct lack of attention from Canada’s security establishment must come as a relief to any former Proud Boy, a terror-entity designation can still do enormous indirect damage. Even the gathering rumours in January 2021 sent Canada’s Proud Boys into disarray, with chapters disbanding, websites abruptly being taken down and social media posts halting. After February 3, even buying a hat from the Proud Boys became a criminal act. How, then, could a “listed” group or any member whose assets were frozen pay for a lawyer or fund a court challenge?

The terror designation also opens a person to a wide range of shunning, harassment or defamation from private organizations without whose cooperation it is difficult to function in modern society: banks, credit card and payment processing companies, airlines and social media, to name a few. Not to mention how much harder it becomes to find a job or obtain a mortgage. This is an escalating problem for the politically disfavoured throughout the Western world.

 

Former UK MP, European Parliament Member and prominent pro-Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, for example, was infamously “de-banked” for his political views – causing a major political scandal but reportedly not prompting Britain’s banks to halt the practice. In Canada, numerous individuals continue to suffer extralegal if not illegal punishments from a range of organizations for opposing the Covid-19 vaccine or donating to the Freedom Convoy.

In the U.S., financial officials from 13 separate states recently issued a public letter to express concerns about the Bank of America’s “troubling record of politicized de-banking,” which they say deliberately targets conservative and Christian groups. In addition, many companies and organizations in numerous fields now openly demand ideological conformity as a condition of employment or membership.

Canada’s Proud Boys have been discredited and driven from the public square without any evidence against them, while incontrovertibly murderous groups like the IRGC escape a similar fate and supporters of Hamas shout hateful, anti-Semitic slogans in cities across Canada. (Sources of photos: (left) pooyan, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0; (right) Shutterstock)

It is not known whether any of this has been suffered by former Proud Boys Canada members, because nearly all of them have effectively vanished. I was able to identify one former member, but he or she did not respond to an interview request. But it would be surprising were they all to have escaped unscathed. To repeat: these are former members of an organization that is not known to have broken any law nor engaged in violence, nor been accused of conspiring to do so. Yet their group has been discredited and disbanded, its former members driven from the public square. What might be the prospects for a former member of a “terror entity” routinely described as “white supremacist”, “hateful” or “neo-fascist”?

Meanwhile, indisputably murderous groups like the IRGC continue to escape a similar fate in Canada, while supporters of Hamas shout hateful anti-Semitic slogans on a daily basis in cities across the continent. “What I do find concerning in a general sense, is the blanket labelling of groups as illegal or terrorism, without sufficient justification,” says Marty Moore, Litigation Director with Charter Advocates Canada, a Toronto-based organization that provides pro bono legal support to individuals or groups attempting to defend their Charter-based rights. “Such actions, in my view, unjustifiably violate Canadians’ freedom of association. Individuals who cross the line and engage in violence should be prosecuted. Unless a group is dedicated to engaging in or supporting terrorism, however, banning that group as terrorism raises serious constitutional concerns, and opens the door for governments to criminalize their ideological opponents.”

Which is just what the Trudeau government did to Canada’s Proud Boys. Based not on a thoroughly assembled dossier of hard evidence, but on ideological prejudice and media reports – most of them later revealed as exaggerated, distorted or false – about a U.S. group whose Canadian affiliate had nothing to do with the events in question. If that’s how things now work in Canada, one can only ask: who might be next?

John Kline is a U.S.-based lawyer who has contributed to the Heterodox AcademyAreo MagazineGatestone InstituteAmerican SpectatorChronicles Magazine (print edition), Western Journal, Russia Today, the Libertarian Institute, CNS News, and Law & Liberty.

Source of main image: Brian Hayes/Statesman-Journal via AP, File.

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