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Canada Names Proud Boys a Terrorist Group

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OTTAWA—Canada designated the far-right Proud Boys as a terrorist organization, weeks after the group’s involvement in the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Government officials said Wednesday that the Proud Boys met the legal threshold under Canadian law to be classified as a terrorist entity, citing reasonable grounds to believe that the group knowingly participated in or helped execute a terrorist act. Officials added Canada is believed to be the first jurisdiction to list the Proud Boys as a terrorist group.

“There is a growing body of evidence, collected here in Canada but also [by the U.S.], of an escalation of violence that the Proud Boys has been involved in,” said Public Safety Minister

Bill Blair.

“This is not about politics,” he added, “and it is not about infringing upon the freedom of belief, association or speech. It is about controlling violent activities of ideologically-motivated extremism.”

Enrique Tarrio,

leader of the Proud Boys, said the decision was unjustified and demonstrated heavy-handedness from Canada’s Liberal government.

“There is no case for the Canadian Proud Boys doing anything besides protesting. It’s an attack on free speech,” he said. “They are really good dudes. They don’t merit this.”

The designation marks the latest fallout for Proud Boys following the Jan. 6 rally and then riot at Capitol Hill. A Wall Street Journal investigation showed that at many of the day’s key moments, members of the Proud Boys were at the forefront. Federal authorities have arrested multiple members of the Proud Boys for their alleged involvement in the attack on the Capitol, along with some other far-right groups.

The Proud Boys, a far-right group, have tried to downplay their role in the Capitol riot. A WSJ investigation shows that at many of the day’s key moments, Proud Boys were at the forefront. Photo illustration: Laura Kammermann

White House press secretary

Jen Psaki

said Wednesday the Biden administration would make a decision on any action against the Proud Boys after a review that is under way. “It’s an ongoing review and when it’s concluded I’m sure we’ll have more to say about our view,” she said.

“This demonstrates that Canada is taking seriously the risk of extremism stemming from the U.S. as opposed to what we traditionally think of as terrorist organizations from foreign lands,”

Leah West,

an international-affairs professor at Ottawa’s Carleton University and an expert in national-security law.

The Proud Boys describes itself as a men’s organization for “Western chauvinists” and has often fought with left-wing activists. The Proud Boys gained notoriety after former President

Donald Trump

told them to “stand back and stand by” in the first presidential debate last year.

In documents supporting its decision, Canada said the Proud Boys have encouraged and planned violent activities against people who oppose their ideology and political beliefs. The government cited Proud Boys’ “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,” the documents said.

With the designation, officials said, Canadian authorities can impose penalties on people and groups that have financial dealings with the terrorist entity. The Proud Boys and people with ties to them could be denied entry into Canada, officials added.

Lawmakers in the country’s legislature voted unanimously last week, calling on the Canadian government to classify the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity. Mr. Blair said that vote had no impact on the government’s decision, noting Canadian security officials have been tracking the Proud Boys’ activity since 2018.

Write to Paul Vieira at [email protected]

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