Canada Considers Listing Proud Boys As a Terrorist Group Alongside ISIS

Canadian officials are considering listing the Proud Boys as a terrorist organization following the insurrection attempt at the Capitol last week.

Canada's Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair told CTV News he was mulling over adding further extremist groups to Canada's list of recognized terrorist organizations following the deadly pro-Donald Trump attack on January 6—in which the Proud Boys played a part.

If the move is sanctioned, the Proud Boyd will be on the same list as ISIS, Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda. In 2019, neo-Nazi groups Blood & Honour and Combat 18 were also included in the list of terrorist entities by Canada.

"We're very mindful of ideologically-motivated violent extremists, including groups like the Proud Boys. They are white supremacists, anti-Semitics, Islamophobic, misogynist groups. They're all hateful, they're all dangerous," Blair said.

"We're working very diligently to ensure that where the evidence is available, where we have the intelligence, that we'll deal appropriately with those organizations."

Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party, called for the Proud Boys to be listed as a terrorist organization almost immediately after the attack on Congress, launching an online petition on January 7 that crashed due to its popularity.

"Earlier this year, the Proud Boys, a right-wing extremist group that promotes white supremacist views made international headlines after being bolstered by Donald Trump," the petition states. "Since then, they've escalated their hatred.

"Members of the Proud Boys joined a group armed with deadly weapons as they led an assault on the U.S. Capitol—this was an act of domestic terrorism."

Singh and the petition note that while Proud Boys are notorious for their violent rallies and altercations with antifa in U.S. cities such as Portland and New York, the group was established in 2016 by Canadian Gavin McInnes, co-founder of Vice Media and prominent far-right figurehead.

Listing the Proud Boys as a terrorist organization would mean that the group's assets could be seized by Canadian authorities.

Blair did not indicate when a decision on the Proud Boys' status as a terror group will be made.

In a statement to Newsweek, a spokesperson for Blair added: "Our greatest responsibility is keeping Canadians safe. To fulfill that responsibility, our government and agencies must keep pace with evolving threats and global trends, such as white supremacy.

"Terrorist designations are not a political exercise. They are decisions based on legal processes requiring concrete evidence and information. Such listings send a strong message that Canada will not tolerate such acts of violence.

"The internet and social media can play an important role in the radicalization to violence process. Through online propaganda and social media efforts, individuals can be actively encouraged or radicalized to conduct violent attacks. Our officials will be analyzing useful intelligence and evidence as that comes forward.

"When this work is completed, it will form the basis of the decision whether or not the Proud Boys or any other ideologically motivated violent extremist organization reaches the legal threshold for listing."

In the U.S., it would be difficult to class the Proud Boys as terrorists as there is no definition for domestic terrorism organizations. People in the U.S. expressing far-right and white supremacist views can also be protected under the First Amendment, unlike in Canada.

In the wake of the Capitol attack, a petition calling for the Proud Boys to be declared a terrorist organization attracted significant support three months after it was originally created.

The petition gained more than 200,000 signatures since Proud Boys were seen at Washington D.C. on January 6 and currently has been signed by more than 432,000 people.

In November 2018, the FBI had to deny media reports that they categorized the Proud Boys as "an extremist group with ties to white nationalism." The far-right organization, which frequently denies it is white supremacist, is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

proud boys
Members of the Proud Boys gather in support of President Donald Trump and in protest the outcome of the 2020 presidential election near freedom plaza on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Canada is considering listing the Proud Boys as a terrorist organization in the wake of the attack at the Capitol. Tasos Katopodis/Getty

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts