The Canadian federal government recently designated the Proud Boys, as well as 12 other extremist groups, as ‘terrorist entities’, early in February 2021, putting them in the same classification as ISIS and al-Qaida.
Public Safety Canada issued a statement on the move, saying that these groups were classified as terrorist organizations as they meet the legal threshold, as defined by the Canadian federal government and studied by legal practitioners like MyDefence.ca, noting how each of these groups, Proud Boys included, have demonstrated terrorist activity and/or acted on behalf of or in association with terrorist organizations.
As for the Proud Boys specifically, the PSC describes the group as a neo-fascist organization that engages in political violence, while also espousing discriminatory ideas, covering misogyny, Islamophobia, anti-immigration, and white supremacy, among other things.
Public Safety Canada also noted how the Proud Boys played a prominent role in the Capitol Riots back in January 2021, noting how, on January 6, the group played a key role during the insurrection. PSC explained that the group’s leadership planned their participation in the violence, setting objectives, issuing instructions, and even directing the insurrectionists during the chaos.
This designation means that Canadian financial institutions are legally required to freeze assets connected to any of these groups and that anyone who does business with them knowingly can be legally persecuted by the Canadian legal system. It’s also illegal to give any form of support to these groups.
One common issue that legal practitioners like MyDefence.ca have had is that US federal law has no provisions which allow it to identify and criminalize domestic groups as terrorist organizations, a legal problem that was made more complicated by the First Amendment.
In 2018, the FBI classified the Proud Boys as an extremist group with ties to white supremacy, a decision made following an internal report that came from Washington state law enforcement.
Notably, the Canadian government also classified other groups as terrorist organizations, including The Base, the Atomwaffen Division, the Russian Imperial Movement, three al-Qaida affiliates, five ISIS affiliates, as well as the Hizbul Mujahideen.
The Minister of Public Safety stated that this classification and the moves against these organizations are part of their efforts in combating violent extremism, regardless of what form it takes.