The Proud Boys is a far-right, male chauvinist extremist group known for engaging in violent clashes at political rallies.
Canada is the first country to designate them as a terrorist entity.
During a September presidential debate, Donald Trump had urged them to “stand back and stand by” when asked to condemn them by a moderator.
Senior officials speaking on a technical briefing said authorities had been monitoring and collecting evidence about the Proud Boys before the Capitol Hill insurrection but confirmed that the event provided information that helped with the decision to list the organization.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said they revealed themselves.
“It’s no longer about speech, it’s about violence and it’s about extremism and it’s about terror,” Blair said. “Based on the totality of evidence that my our national security intelligence organizations and law enforcement have gathered, also that we have obtained from our international Five Eyes partners, particularly from the United States, I think provides us with an overwhelming preponderance of evidence that the activities of that organization now meets the threshold of a terrorist entity and that’s why we’ve listed it.”
The terrorist designation means the group may have assets seized and face harsher terrorism-related criminal penalties. A government official said just because they are a member doesn’t mean they will be charged with a crime, but if they do engage in violent acts they could be charged with terrorist crimes.
Sending money to the organization or buying Proud Boys paraphernalia would also be a crime.
The government calls the Proud Boys a neo-fascist organization with semiautonomous chapters located in the United States, Canada, and internationally. It said it engages in political violence and that members espouse misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and white supremacist ideologies.
Blair said four right-wing groups are among 13 additions to the list, which include three groups linked to al-Qaida, four associated with the Islamic State group and one Kashmiri organization.
“Canada will not tolerate ideological, religious or politically motivated acts of violence,” Blair said.
The Proud Boys were formed in 2016 by Canadian Gavin McInnes, who co-founded Vice Media.
In 2018, police arrested several Proud Boys members and associates who brawled with antifascists after McInnes, delivered a speech at New York’s Metropolitan Republican Club.
McInnes has described the group as a politically incorrect men’s club for “Western chauvinists” and denies affiliations with far-right extremist groups that overtly espouse racist and anti-Semitic views. McInnes sued the Southern Poverty Law Center, claiming it defamed him when it designated the Proud Boys as a “hate group.”