Canada’s government designated the Proud Boys and 12 other extremist groups as terrorist entities on Wednesday, placing the groups in the same list alongside the Islamic State and Al-Qaida.
“Based on their actions, each group meets the legal threshold” for the criminal designation, Public Safety Canada said as it announced the move. The agency cited “reasonable grounds to believe that an entity has knowingly participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity,” or has acted on behalf of or in association with such a terrorist entity.
The agency describes the Proud Boys as “a neo-fascist organization that engages in political violence” and whose members “espouse misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and/or white supremacist ideologies and associate with white supremacist groups.”
Public Safety Canada also notes the group’s prominent role in last month’s attack in Washington: “On January 6, 2021, the Proud Boys played a pivotal role in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Leaders of the group planned their participation by setting out objectives, issuing instructions, and directing members during the insurrection.”
There is no provision in U.S. federal law to identify and criminalize domestic groups as terrorist, a legal issue complicated by First Amendment free speech guarantees.
In 2018, the FBI designated the Proud Boys as an extremist group with ties to white nationalism (in 2018) — a categorization that first came to light through an internal report that was obtained from law enforcement in Washington state.
The Southern Poverty Law Center classified the Proud Boys as a hate group in 2019, sparking a defamation lawsuit by Gavin McInnes, who founded the far-right organization in 2016.
In addition to the Proud Boys, Canada’s government categorized the Atomwaffen Division, the Base, and the Russian Imperial Movement as terrorist entities. Also included were three Al-Qaida affiliates, five ISIS affiliates and the Hizbul Mujahideen, which operates in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Canada now lists a total of 73 terrorist groups,