OTTAWA – Canada’s unions welcome today’s announcement by the federal government that it has added four violent, far-right extremist groups to its list of terrorist organizations.
The Proud Boys, the Base, Atomwaffen, and the Russian Imperial Movement have been listed as terrorist entities. This means that these groups can no longer raise money or organize.
“These groups are a direct threat to the safety and wellbeing of workers of all backgrounds and specifically to those who are Indigenous, Black, Jewish, Muslim, or who represent other minority communities,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). “We have seen a drastic resurgence in far-right extremist behaviour over the past several years. Letting these groups operate unchecked is dangerous and poses a real threat to our democracy and to the wellbeing of our communities. Today’s announcement is a welcome step in addressing this scourge.”
Unions in Canada have a long history of organizing against racism through advocacy and education. But far-right groups have thrived online, and the use of social media in particular has made it difficult to stem their use of misinformation to recruit new members and to mobilize.
Last year and for the first time ever, the federal government added two white-supremacist groups to the list of terrorist organizations.
“The reality is that white supremacist groups have not faced the same scrutiny as other racialized groups and that has allowed them to mobilize with relative freedom and impunity,” added Yussuff. “Furthermore, under anti-terror legislation, stereotypes and guilt by association have led to the over-surveillance of Muslim and Arab communities. Public safety measures must not stigmatize specific communities.”
According to counter-terrorism experts in Canada, there were 100 alt-right or white supremacist groups operating in Canada in 2015. There is widespread concern that those numbers are growing.
“Attacks by white supremacists tend to be targeted, and do not happen in isolation. The climate of hatred they foster puts workers’ health and safety at risk,” said Larry Rousseau, Executive Vice-President at the CLC. “Incidents of intimidation at work and online harassment are on the rise, and must stop. Everyone deserves to live free from violence and harassment.”
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