Five individuals in the video below are reportedly members of the Canadian Armed Forces. And, on Canada Day, they went to a Mi'kmaq event in Halifax, held to remember missing and murdered Indigenous women.
They weren't there as members of our military, or to show support. They were there because they wanted to attack the Mi'kmaq. They were there because they said they are part of the white supremacist group, the Proud Boys.
The Proud Boys are a hate group founded and led by Rebel Media star Gavin McInnes. McInnes has written on the Rebel's website about how he hates Jews, calls blacks "monkeys," calls himself "anti-Semitic," says Jews should "get over" the Holocaust, and authors essays titled "I'm Not a Racist, Sexist, or a Homophobe, You Nigger Slut Faggot."
The Proud Boys and McInnes are what they are: racist, anti-Semitic human garbage. They're on the record, and the record is clear. That's not the issue, here.
All of us should contact their commanders and demand answers.
The issue is that these are people celebrating after attacking a group of peaceful Indigenous people, and four of them are giving white power salutes in a Halifax bar. That's the issue.
Anti-Racist Canada has the right idea: all of us should contact their commanders and demand answers.
This isn't the first time Canada's Armed Forces have been linked to organized racism in this way. In 1992-1993, while working as a special assistant to Jean Chretien, a group of us worked to expose the involvement of the Canadian Airborne Regiment in neo-Naziism. As I wrote in my book Web of Hate, one of their number, Matt McKay, even had a swastika flag in his barracks and made Nazi salutes for the cameras.
Initially, the then-Conservative government was indifferent to the growing controversy. The Conservatives' case was not helped, perhaps, when Defence Minister Kim Campbell revealed to reporters in Edmonton that she had known about the presence of white supremacists in the armed forces "for ages." Minority activists were shocked; the Jewish community, in particular, was outraged. Irving Abella, president of the Canadian Jewish Congress and author of the acclaimed None Is Too Many, told reporters that McKay should immediately be removed from active service.
He said: "The very idea of neo-Nazis within the Canadian Armed Forces should send a chill down the spine of every decent Canadian. At the very minimum, an immediate government inquiry is needed to determine the extent of this infiltration and reasons why the Department of National Defence has taken no action."
Organized hate has no place in Canadian society.
In the United States, members of white supremacist and neo-Nazi organizations are not tolerated on military bases or in barracks. In 1979, after a group of U.S. soldiers stood guard at a rally in Euless, Texas, attended by KKK leader David Duke and Louis Beam, Jr., the military cracked down. In that same year, the navy transferred and disciplined several men based on the USS Concord who had been involved with the Ku Klux Klan.
Other soldiers were disciplined in other branches of the military. In September 1986, the U.S. Defense Department gave field commanders authority to prevent military personnel from engaging in activities sponsored by racist groups, including fundraising, public demonstrations and recruiting and training members.
CHRIS WATTIE / REUTERS
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ont., March 6, 2017.
But in Canada, where tough hate laws had been enacted, no such action had ever been taken.
Ultimately, however, McKay's racist misadventures -- and the Airborne regiment's appalling conduct in Somalia -- led to contributed to the regiment being disbanded by a Liberal government.
Organized hate has no place in Canadian society -- and it particularly has no place among the men and women who proudly wear the uniforms of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, what say you?