Canada on Wednesday described the far-right Proud Boys as a “serious and growing threat” and designated the movement as a banned terrorist organization.
Founded in 2016 and present in Canada, the United States and other countries, the Proud Boys played a “pivotal role” in the insurrection at the deadly US Capitol on January 6, the public safety ministry said in a statement.
It is, according to the Canadian government, a “neo-fascist organization that engages in political violence” and whose members “espouse misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and/or white supremacist ideologies.”
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told a news conference members “represent a serious and growing threat to Canadian society.”
“There has been a growing body of evidence... of the escalation of violence that this group has been involved in,” he said, noting that Canadian authorities have been monitoring the Proud Boys since 2018.
Members number possibly in the thousands in North America and they are present in every major Canadian city, an official told a briefing.
Three other “ideologically motivated violent extremist groups” – Atomwaffen Division, the Base and Russian Imperial Movement – were also added to Canada’s list of banned terrorist groups, which was created after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
The remaining listed entities are affiliates of al-Qaeda or ISIS, as well as the militant Kashmiri liberation group Hizbul Mujahideen.
Each is believed to have “knowingly participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity,” the ministry said.
Being added to the watch list does not automatically criminalize the groups themselves, but allows authorities to seize their assets and prosecute members or associates for carrying out extremist activities.
The list features some 70 groups.