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

Cheryl Roberts said she's having to consider putting down her cat, Burley, because she can't afford his dental surgery. (Cheryl Roberts photo)
COVID impact on Langley woman’s finances puts her kitty’s future in jeopardy

A Langley woman said money was tight before COVID and now she struggles to afford vet care

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia’s (CFSEU-BC) Uniform Gang Enforcement Team (UGET) has arrested a man who was on the run for nearly a decade. (File photo)
9-year search for international drug trafficking suspect ends with arrest at YVR

Khamla Wong, charged in 2012, taken into custody Feb. 24 by BC-CFSEU

Maple Ridge and Langley Township have made the Smart21 list.
Virtual conference co-hosts Maple Ridge and Langley Township make list of Smart21

21 communities shortlisted for Intelligent Community of the Year after online event

Clean Up Aldergrove will be picking litter on 200 Street this Sunday, Feb. 28. (Special to The Star)
Organizer of litter clean-up event in Langley looking for volunteers

Earth Ninja group will be tackling 200th Street on Sunday, Feb. 28, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

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

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

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

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

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

Shaelene Keeler Bell. (Facebook)
Candlelight vigil planned for Chilliwack mother missing for four weeks

Virtual event to ‘spread some light’ for 23-year-old Shaelene Bell of Chilliwack

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

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

Most Read