Canada has formally labeled the Proud Boys, the far-right extremist group that has been gaining notoriety in the U.S., as a terrorist group, Ottawa announced Wednesday.
The Proud Boys were recognized as a “terrorist entity,” meaning the government may seize property and other belongings connected to the group and financial institutions “are subject to reporting requirements” with respect to the group’s property under Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act.
The Proud Boys, a key player in the U.S. white supremacist movement, with followers in Canada — Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes was raised in Canada — has increasingly been a focus of the far-right hate movement on this side of the border.
“The Proud Boys consists of semi-autonomous chapters located in the United States (U.S.), Canada, and internationally,” Public Safety Canada said in a statement. “The group and its members have openly encouraged, planned, and conducted violent activities against those they perceive to be opposed to their ideology and political beliefs.”
Proud Boys activists have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, when pro-Trump mobs stormed the building to keep Congress from formally accepting state election results that elevated Joe Biden to the White House.
Months previously, during a debate between Biden and President Donald Trump on Sept. 29, moderator Chris Wallace pressed Trump to disavow the Proud Boys; Trump instead pivoted to antifa, the loosely organized association of anti-fascist activists.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, but I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem,” Trump said.
Disciples largely embraced Trump’s declining to denounce the Proud Boys as a presidential show of support.
The Proud Boys are a self-described “Western chauvinist” organization willing to use violence to move their nationalistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and misogynistic ideals forward, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit organization that tracks extremist groups.
Members of the Proud Boys marched at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and they have organized against Black Lives Matter protests.
The 12 other groups added to the list of terrorist entities have ties to white supremacists, Nazis, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and Kashmiri terrorism.
The Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group also known as the National Socialist Order, was added to the list. Atomwaffen was founded in the U.S. in 2013, and members were also active in the 2017 Charlottesville rally, Ottawa said.
Another U.S.-founded neo-Nazi group, The Base, made the list for encouraging “lone-wolf terror attacks, bomb making, counter-surveillance, and guerilla warfare.”
The Russian Imperial Movement, which seeks to “create a mono-ethnic state led by a Russian autocratic monarchy,” was put on the list, accused of seeking ties to “neo-Nazi organizations in Europe and the United States to offer them paramilitary training and bomb making instructions.”
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said: “Violent extremism has no place in Canada. Canadians can be confident in the work our agencies do every day to keep our communities safe from all forms of violent extremism.”