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 intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP locate driver and vehicle, but are asking for video footage

Students from AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni write anti-bullying messages and draw colourful chalk art around their school for national anti-bullying Pink Shirt Day, Feb. 24, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY LISA ARBANAS)
Chalk art brightens public walkway on Pink Shirt Day

Students from AW Neill Elementary in Port Alberni write messages of hope

Mary Mason of Owls Path Foundation presents plans for a Nuu-chah-nulth Cultural Centre to Port Alberni city council. The structure pictured in this image is the Copenhagen Opera House. (SCREENSHOT)
Nuu-chah-nulth cultural centre pitched for Port Alberni

Three possible locations put forward for multi-million-dollar centre

An endangered Vancouver Island marmot suns itself on rocks at Mount Washington, near the Comox Valley. Learn more about this endangered species with the Alberni Valley Nature Club. (PHOTO COURTESY SANDY MCRUER, AV NATURE CLUB)
Marmots, underwater mysteries part of Alberni Valley Nature Club lineup

Club kicks off membership drive with series of Zoom chats

The current exhibit at the Rollin Art Centre. The art gallery has COVID-19 protective measures in place. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre puts out a call to artists

Port Alberni’s Community Arts Council will hold a pandemic-inspired art exhibit

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read