Report denounces the rise of extremism in the Canadian military

The number of white supremacists and other violent extremists in the Canadian military is growing at an “alarming rate” and commanders are not doing enough to root it out, according to a report Monday.

The report of a four-member government advisory committee also found widespread anti-Indigenous and Black racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, as well as gender bias and bias against gays and lesbians in the military ranks.

Failure to address these issues, he concluded, “has a negative impact on operational capabilities, undermines the well-being of (military) members and puts the security of Canada at risk.”

“The reality is that systemic racism exists in our institution and we need to eradicate and eliminate it,” Defense Minister Anita Anand told a news conference.

She noted that a total of 326.5 million Canadian dollars (256 million US dollars) had been allocated in the last two federal budgets “for culture change in the military”.

The report found that “in addition to sexual misconduct and domestic violence, hate crimes, extremist behavior and affiliations with white supremacist groups are increasing at an alarming rate.”

He noted that members of extremist groups are increasingly better at concealing their activities and affiliations, for example using encryption and the Darknet, while military efforts to detect extremist pockets or individuals are “still very compartmentalised and inefficient”.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks to soldiers during a visit to the Adazi military base, northeast of Riga, Latvia, in March 2022. Photo: AFP/Toms Norde

And despite zero tolerance for hateful behavior, when discovered, the consequences of such conduct or membership in hate groups “are not normalized”, he said.

Advisory board member Ed Fitch said military leaders ‘still don’t know enough about these groups, who they are, where they are’ and that a concerted effort is needed ‘to completely clean up this area. unpleasant”.

Over the past 20 years, some 258 recommendations from dozens of investigations have been made to address diversity, inclusion, respect and professional conduct in the military.

But when the panel tried to identify progress on those recommendations, it found that many of them were “poorly implemented, shelved or even abandoned,” noted Sandra Perron, another panel member. .

The advisory committee made 13 of its own recommendations.

Chief of the Defense Staff General Wayne Eyre said the main challenge is that “once the spotlights are on (these groups), they change names, they change symbology.”

“As hate groups become common in our society, we need to be very vigilant and continue to educate ourselves on what these signs and symbols are,” he said.

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