OTTAWA — Canadian Forces intelligence officers have been warned that a U.S. white supremacist group is expanding into this country and that military members could be attracted to the organization.
Officers with the National Counter-Intelligence Unit were told about the expansion of such groups into the Canadian Forces, as well as the attraction these groups have for members of the Forces, during a meeting of specialists looking into hate crimes and extremists movements. “Many of the conference speakers and attendees were aware of serving or retired DND/CF members that are part of these groups,” the counter-intelligence summary report from January 2011 pointed out.
The Citizen obtained the report through the Access to Information law.
The name of the white supremacist group expanding into Canada was censored from the documents for reasons of national security.
Asked about the counter-intelligence reports, the Canadian Forces issued an email noting, “The beliefs held by white supremacist groups are not compatible with the ethics and values of the CF.”
“The men and women of the Canadian Forces are held to high ethical standards and the Canadian Forces has a zero tolerance for white supremacist or otherwise racist behavior,” the email stated. “Any reports of members being associated with white supremacist groups would be thoroughly investigated.”
But the report noted that military intelligence specialists were following up on the information they were provided about military members and their affiliations with extremists groups.
In addition, in a July 2011 counter-intelligence report, the officers provided an update on an ongoing operation against extremists based in Edmonton, Alberta. All the details, including the code name of the operation, were censored from the records for reasons of national security.
The presence of white supremacists in the ranks of the Canadian Forces has been an issue that has dogged the military over the years.
In March 2011 the military launched an investigation into the activities of a Winnipeg-based soldier who planned to attend a white pride rally in Calgary. The 17-year-old reservist denied he was a racist, although he acknowledged posting comments on racist websites and planned to travel to Calgary to watch the rally.
In 2003 the military launched investigations into allegations that six members of the Canadian Forces were involved with white supremacist groups.
In 1997 the Canadian Forces kicked out a 25-year-old soldier from Canadian Forces Base Petawawa after he was involved in theft and found to have hate literature among his possessions. Just weeks after his removal from Petawawa, Nathan LeBlanc took part in the fatal beating of Nirmal Gill, 65, on the grounds of a Surrey, BC Sikh temple.
LeBlanc received a 12-year sentence while some of his fellow neo-Nazis involved in the attack received 15 years in prison. The judge called them “unrepentant racists.”
During a subsequent investigation, four other privates in LeBlanc’s company were identified as having possible racist involvement. No charges were laid, but all four were the subject of administrative action such as mandatory probation and counselling.
The counter-intelligence report obtained by the Citizen acknowledges that white power and neo-Nazi groups are “attractive to some members of DND/CF.”
“Major recruiting tools used by these groups are social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube,” the report stated. “The music is also known to be a major recruiting tool.”
“Groups such as the (censored) could potentially cause an individual to change allegiances from the (censored),” the report added. “Belonging to a White Power/Skinhead/Neo-Nazi group could foster the spread of hate for minorities within DND/CF.”
The National Counter-Intelligence Unit is responsible for identifying and dealing with threats to the military from a variety of sources. Those include foreign spies, terrorists, extremist organizations and criminals.
The reports obtained by the Citizen covering 2010 and 2011 also contain details about possible espionage but the incidents appear minor. They include reports of individuals possibly taking photographs of military personnel or equipment. Another report outlines warnings to Canadian government and military personnel that hotels in a particular country might be outfitted with listening devices. The name of the country is censored from the documents but the report contained warnings that military personnel should be careful what they discuss with each other when travelling to that nation.
In one of its reports, the intelligence officers also provided for “situational awareness” a synopsis of the October 2011 Occupy protests in various cities in Canada. It pointed out that such protests were peaceful and did not pose any threat to DND or the Canadian Forces.
“Protestor numbers increase on weekends and in the evenings when supporters are not working,” according to the report. “Many Occupy camps appear to have attracted the local homeless population in addition to the core protestors.”
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