Supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. The storming of Capitol Hill in Washington by right-wing extremists earlier this month has spurred calls for Canada to add groups such as the Proud Boys and The Base to its terror list. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manuel Balce Ceneta

Terror list a ‘problematic’ way to fight white supremacists, civil society groups say

OTTAWA — As the Trudeau government ponders adding more right-wing groups to a federal terrorism blacklist, long-standing opponents of the process are urging officials to find more democratic and transparent means to address neo-fascism and white nationalism.

Groups on Canada’s roster of terrorist entities, created following the 9-11 attacks on the United States, can have their assets seized and there are serious criminal penalties for helping listed organizations carry out extremist activities.

The federal government placed two right-wing extremist groups, Blood & Honour, an international neo-Nazi network, and its armed branch, Combat 18, on the list in 2019. They joined more than 50 other listed organizations including al-Qaida, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Boko Haram and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The storming of Capitol Hill in Washington by right-wing extremists earlier this month has spurred calls for Canada to add groups such as the Proud Boys and The Base to its terror list. Public Safety Canada says it is marshalling evidence with an eye to doing just that.

MPs ratcheted up the pressure by passing a motion in the House of Commons calling on the government to use all available tools to address the proliferation of white supremacists and hate groups starting with immediate designation of the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity.

The Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group says it is imperative that the Liberal government take concrete steps to counter hate and violence, but it stresses the terror list is a “deeply problematic” provision that undermines basic principles of justice.

In a lengthy statement, the national coalition of dozens of civil society organizations noted the federal listing process takes place in secret, based on advice from security agencies.

“Groups who are added are not informed in advance, nor given the chance to address the accusations levelled against them,” the coalition said. “Only once a group is added does the listing become public, and they are in a position to challenge their listing.”

Even then, a group is not granted access to all the information used against it, which can be withheld based on several exceptions — including national security grounds — making it “incredibly difficult” to mount a defence, the civil liberties coalition added.

Ottawa lawyer Yavar Hameed went to court on behalf of the Canadian branch of the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy, known as IRFAN-Canada, after it was added to the list in 2014.

The government said that between 2005 and 2009 the organization transferred about $14.6 million worth of resources to various organizations with links to Hamas.

While the attorney general can authorize specific transactions by a listed group, it refused to allow IRFAN-Canada to raise funds to pay legal fees, Hameed said.

“Ultimately, this crippled the ability of the charity to maintain its delisting application and to challenge the constitutionality of the listing provisions themselves.”

It also meant that all donations ceased, as contributing to the charity would make donors liable to criminal prosecution, Hameed said.

“In turn, the listing caused a chilling effect within Muslim communities throughout Canada as the threat of legal prosecution forced donors to completely disassociate themselves from any link with the charity.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who spearheaded the House motion on white hate groups, disputed the notion the terror list could harm religious minorities or racialized groups.

Systemic racism means policing resources have been devoted to people who are not causing any problems, while others who do pose a threat have been allowed to act with impunity, he said in an interview.

Singh called for a realignment of “the limited resources we have with who’s really causing a threat to security, and that’s white supremacists and extreme right-wing groups.”

Hameed says any broadening of the national security state in ways that fundamentally circumvent procedural fairness and basic constitutional safeguards is dangerous.

“Ultimately, the more that we laud and sabre-rattle about the necessity of listing entities under the Criminal Code, the more that the regime becomes strengthened,” he said.

“Criticism becomes muted and a perception grows that listing is the appropriate response that will make Canadians safer.”

It is easier said than done, but Canada can use other tools in the Criminal Code to protect safety and address organized violence, the civil liberties monitoring coalition says.

“We need lawmakers to have the political will and courage to devote the resources necessary to take on these groups, and counter violence and hate in general.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. Health Canada is just “days away” from approving Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, adding a fourth option to Canada’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Health Canada just days away from decision on Johnson and Johnson vaccine

Johnson and Johnson was authorized in the United States last weekend

Parliament Hill is shown in Ottawa on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
In pre-budget request, cities ask Liberals for $7 billion for rapid-housing program

OTTAWA — Canada’s municipalities are asking the federal government to include $7… Continue reading

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Churches’ challenge of public health rules back in B.C. Supreme Court

Three Fraser Valley churches argue health orders interfere with charter right to freedom of religion

Red Deer Rebels forward Jayden Grubbe is one of three Rebels on the NHL Central Scouting players to watch list for the 2021 NHL Draft. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Rebels seek consistency ahead of matchup with Hitmen

The Red Deer Rebels had to deal with a pang of regret… Continue reading

Premier Jason Kenney and Minister of Health Tyler Shandro to announce investments to reduce surgery wait times. (File photo by BLACK PRESS)
More than 16K surgeries, procedures delayed in Alberta due to COVID-19

COVID-19 has delayed more than 16,000 surgeries and procedures in Alberta, as… Continue reading

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Dillon Dube scores hat trick for Flames in 7-3 win over Senators

Dillon Dube scores hat trick for Flames in 7-3 win over Senators

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp gives instructions during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Thursday, March 4, 2021. (Phil Noble, Pool via AP)
Liverpool slumps to historic 5th straight loss at Anfield

Liverpool slumps to historic 5th straight loss at Anfield

Philadelphia Flyers' Sean Couturier (14) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry (35) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Flyers rally from early deficit to stun Penguins 4-3

Flyers rally from early deficit to stun Penguins 4-3

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen reacts to a goal by Winnipeg Jets' Paul Stastny, left, during first-period NHL hockey action in Montreal on Thursday, March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Pierre-Luc Dubois scores overtime winner as Winnipeg Jets edge Montreal Canadiens 4-3

Pierre-Luc Dubois scores overtime winner as Winnipeg Jets edge Montreal Canadiens 4-3

Toronto Raptors guard Terence Davis (0) shoots after grabbing a rebound against Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Boston. At right is Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Tatum scores 27, Celtics outlast depleted Raptors 132-125

Tatum scores 27, Celtics outlast depleted Raptors 132-125

International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel answers a question during a news conference addressing hockey issues at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. The International Ice Hockey Federation has confirmed the postponement of the women's world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May 6-16. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP /Mark Humphrey
IIHF postpones women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May

IIHF postpones women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May

Quebec Premier François Legault chairs a virtual news conference Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. The premiers from the left are: John Horgan, B.C.; Jason Kenney, Alberta; Scott Moe, Saskatchewan; Legault, Quebec; Brian Pallister, Manitoba; Doug Ford, Ontario; and Blaine Higgs, New Brunswick. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Premiers reiterate demand for $28-billion increase in health transfers from Ottawa

Premiers reiterate demand for $28-billion increase in health transfers from Ottawa

Most Read