Feb 3, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Canada designates far-right Proud Boys as terrorist group

A man wearing a Proud Boys T-shirt

Proud Boys march in support of former President Trump in Washington, D.C, on Dec. 12. Photo: Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Canada's government has added the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, to its list of terrorist entities alongside al-Qaeda affiliates and ISIS, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced at a press conference Wednesday.

Why it matters: Canada is the first country in the world to designate the Proud Boys as a terrorist organization. U.S. law currently limits terrorist designations to "foreign" entities, but the Department of Homeland Security has warned that violent white supremacy is the "most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland."

The big picture: Members of the Proud Boys joined the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol in support of former President Trump, in an effort to obstruct the counting of Electoral College votes for President Biden.

  • Trump currently faces a charge of impeachment for allegedly inciting the siege on the Capitol, which his lawyers deny.
  • The former president famously declined to explicitly condemn the Proud Boys at a debate with Biden last September, saying instead that they should "stand back and stand by." He said two days later that he condemns them unequivocally.

What they're saying: “The group and its members have openly encouraged, planned, and conducted violent activities against those they perceive to be opposed to their ideology and political beliefs,” the Canadian government said in briefing materials, according to AP.

  • Blair stressed at a press conference that the decision was not a political one, but the result of research by the country's national security officials.
  • Blair said that Canada has "seen an escalation towards violence" from the Proud Boys since 2018 and over the past several months. He added that in the "aftermath of the U.S. presidential election," Canada has seen increased violence from a variety of extremist groups, including the Proud Boys.
Go deeper