Supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. The storming of Capitol Hill in Washington by right-wing extremists earlier this month has spurred calls for Canada to add groups such as the Proud Boys and The Base to its terror list. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manuel Balce Ceneta

Supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. The storming of Capitol Hill in Washington by right-wing extremists earlier this month has spurred calls for Canada to add groups such as the Proud Boys and The Base to its terror list. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manuel Balce Ceneta

Terror list a ‘problematic’ way to fight white supremacists, civil society groups say

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh disputed the notion the terror list could harm minorities or racialized groups

As the Trudeau government ponders adding more right-wing groups to a federal terrorism blacklist, long-standing opponents of the process are urging officials to find more democratic and transparent means to address neo-fascism and white nationalism.

Groups on Canada’s roster of terrorist entities, created following the 9-11 attacks on the United States, can have their assets seized and there are serious criminal penalties for helping listed organizations carry out extremist activities.

The federal government placed two right-wing extremist groups, Blood & Honour, an international neo-Nazi network, and its armed branch, Combat 18, on the list in 2019. They joined more than 50 other listed organizations including al-Qaida, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Boko Haram and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The storming of Capitol Hill in Washington by right-wing extremists earlier this month has spurred calls for Canada to add groups such as the Proud Boys and The Base to its terror list. Public Safety Canada says it is marshalling evidence with an eye to doing just that.

MPs ratcheted up the pressure by passing a motion in the House of Commons calling on the government to use all available tools to address the proliferation of white supremacists and hate groups starting with immediate designation of the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity.

The Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group says it is imperative that the Liberal government take concrete steps to counter hate and violence, but it stresses the terror list is a “deeply problematic” provision that undermines basic principles of justice.

In a lengthy statement, the national coalition of dozens of civil society organizations noted the federal listing process takes place in secret, based on advice from security agencies.

“Groups who are added are not informed in advance, nor given the chance to address the accusations levelled against them,” the coalition said. “Only once a group is added does the listing become public, and they are in a position to challenge their listing.”

Even then, a group is not granted access to all the information used against it, which can be withheld based on several exceptions — including national security grounds — making it “incredibly difficult” to mount a defence, the civil liberties coalition added.

Ottawa lawyer Yavar Hameed went to court on behalf of the Canadian branch of the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy, known as IRFAN-Canada, after it was added to the list in 2014.

The government said that between 2005 and 2009 the organization transferred about $14.6 million worth of resources to various organizations with links to Hamas.

While the attorney general can authorize specific transactions by a listed group, it refused to allow IRFAN-Canada to raise funds to pay legal fees, Hameed said.

“Ultimately, this crippled the ability of the charity to maintain its delisting application and to challenge the constitutionality of the listing provisions themselves.”

It also meant that all donations ceased, as contributing to the charity would make donors liable to criminal prosecution, Hameed said.

“In turn, the listing caused a chilling effect within Muslim communities throughout Canada as the threat of legal prosecution forced donors to completely disassociate themselves from any link with the charity.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who spearheaded the House motion on white hate groups, disputed the notion the terror list could harm religious minorities or racialized groups.

Systemic racism means policing resources have been devoted to people who are not causing any problems, while others who do pose a threat have been allowed to act with impunity, he said in an interview.

READ MORE: Proud Boys confrontation was wake-up call about military racism, hate: Defence chief

Singh called for a realignment of “the limited resources we have with who’s really causing a threat to security, and that’s white supremacists and extreme right-wing groups.”

Hameed says any broadening of the national security state in ways that fundamentally circumvent procedural fairness and basic constitutional safeguards is dangerous.

“Ultimately, the more that we laud and sabre-rattle about the necessity of listing entities under the Criminal Code, the more that the regime becomes strengthened,” he said.

“Criticism becomes muted and a perception grows that listing is the appropriate response that will make Canadians safer.”

It is easier said than done, but Canada can use other tools in the Criminal Code to protect safety and address organized violence, the civil liberties monitoring coalition says.

“We need lawmakers to have the political will and courage to devote the resources necessary to take on these groups, and counter violence and hate in general.”

—With files from Christopher Reynolds

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Racial injusticewhite supremacist

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Ladysmith Museum has two new exhibits open to the public. (Cole Schisler photo)
Ladysmith museum opens up with two new exhibits

The museum is featuring Prime Predators of Vancouver Island and ‘Red Flag, Red Flag’

Cole Schisler, editor of the Ladysmith Chronicle.
Hatred has no place anywhere

We accomplish so much more when we respect each other

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Rachel Dunstan Muller. (Submitted photo)
Ladysmith storyteller Rachel Dunstan Muller launches pair of podcasts

Hintertales: Stories from the Margins of History and Sticks and Stones and Stories are available now

(Black Press file photo)
Multiple vehicle collision at Grouhel Road stalls highway traffic

Two emergency services helicopters responded to the collision

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

The BC SPCA is offering many chances for school-aged kids to learn about animal welfare and other animal topics. Pictured here is Keith, a three-month-old kitten seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
From pets to wildlife, BC SPCA offers animal education programs geared to youth

BC SPCA offering virtual spring break camps, workshops and school presentations

Migrant farm workers transplant jalapeno sprouts from trucks into the tilted soil at a farm. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times)
‘They’re afraid’: Coalition sounds alarm over COVID vaccines for B.C.’s migrant workers

Though health ministry says anyone can get vaccinated, critics say barriers are keeping migrants from their dose

Most Read