It’s official: As of last week, the Proud Boys are a terrorist organization according to the Canadian Government. Last Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair added the group, along with 12 others including two neo-Nazi groups, to the Federal Government’s list of terrorist organizations on Wednesday.
This was due, in part, to pressure from Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. Also, the fact that the group took part in the violent attempted coup at the US Capitol last month probably motivated this decision more than a bit, despite Blair’s claims that it wasn’t a factor.
While this move, inevitably, has garnered Canada international coverage as well as praise, we can’t ignore the fact that the Proud Boys are, sadly, a Canadian export. Or at least they aren’t an import.
Founder Gavin McInnes is from Montreal, despite founding the group in the US. And while he isn’t the current leader, his ideas still dominate the Proud Boys.
It Took A While
Regardless, they are active here and have been since their founding in 2016 with hardly any pushback from the Federal Government. We can’t forget that.
We also can’t forget that this is the same group that harassed peaceful native protestors while carrying the Red Ensign Flag. Was that supposed to be a Canadian far-right attempt at a Confederate Flag?
We also can’t ignore the fact that, from the start, they have been and continue to be a white supremacist and misogynist (or as they call it: “western chauvinist”) organization. Their final initiation requirement is to get into a physical confrontation with a “member of Antifa.”
Since “Antifa” isn’t an actual organization and just means anti-Fascist, it’s been clear from the start that the Proud Boys are violent defenders of fascism. Still, that wasn’t enough for the Government of Canada to do something about them.
Neither was their participation in Charlottesville, where they marched alongside neo-Nazis and where one counter-protester was murdered. This is around when the US-based Southern Poverty Law Center classified them as a Hate Group.
But not Canada. No, it took their participation in an actual failed coup attempt in another country that resulted in multiple deaths for our government to act.
Canada Has No Excuse
The United States actually has an excuse for not trying to do anything about the Proud Boys on the federal level. The sitting President, up until a few weeks ago, was a wannabe fascist himself (albeit an inept and ineffectual one).
They were in his base. He called them “good people” and told them to “stand back and stand by” during a debate.
He was happy to give the terrorist label to Antifa, despite them being more of a concept than a group. This left the Proud Boys to be covered by the country’s anything goes free speech laws.
Canada, on the other hand, has hate speech laws. We also have (currently and during every year of the Proud Boys’ existence) a Prime Minister who espouses inclusivity and other progressive values every chance he gets.
We have no excuse for waiting this long. Of course, I’m not the least bit surprised:
- White fishermen in Nova Scotia terrorized Mi’kmaq Community (vandalism, arson) this past summer and fall while the RCMP just looked on.
- Closer to (my) home, synagogues and mosques are routinely vandalized in Montreal. Police do investigate, but never seem to go beyond the specific incident to a larger pattern.
- Quebec’s Premier still refuses to admit that systemic racism even exists here.
And those are just a few recent examples.
Hate groups exist in Canada. Just because the PM isn’t inviting them over for Tim Hortons doesn’t mean the government is doing enough, or anything, to combat right-wing extremism here at home.
Yes, we did something about the Proud Boys at the federal level, finally. That is a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s really just a necessary first step that we waited far too long to take.
Featured Image: Troll, a painting by Samantha Gold