Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Tuesday the federal government is “concerned” about white supremacy leading to acts of terror within Canada and abroad.
The announcement followed a meeting Goodale attended last month with his counterparts from Canada’s Five Eyes intelligence allies — the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
Goodale said that during the meeting, the nations ended up discussing the threat of white supremacy in light of recent violent events.
“We had a very interesting conversation about that set of issues — the extreme of right-wing organizations, white supremacist organizations, neo-Nazi organizations — in the context of the Five Eyes meeting,” Goodale told reporters.
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He noted that a shooting in Gilroy, Calif., took place while that meeting was underway. During the July 28 shooting, 19-year-old gunman Santino William Legan fatally shot three people — including two children — with a Romanian-made AK-47-style rifle before turning the gun on himself. FBI officials announced Tuesday they had launched a domestic terrorism investigation into the shooting.
The shooting was closely followed by two other mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, which occurred the weekend after.
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Texas authorities are investigating the possibility that Saturday’s shooting in El Paso was a hate crime and are working to determine whether a racist, anti-immigrant screed posted to the 8chan board shortly beforehand was written by the man arrested in the attack.
Though he was targeting Latinos rather than Muslims, the first sentence of the online rant expressed support for the Christchurch shooter.
Officials in Dayton, Ohio, noted Tuesday that there is no evidence of a racial motivation in that shooting.
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“At least in some of those cases, it’s pretty apparent from the evidence that’s followed so far that there were strains of right-wing extremism and violent extremism that laid the foundation that contributed to that behaviour,” Goodale said.
“We have indicated for some time now that we are concerned about this,” Goodale added, outlining the steps the government has taken since the Christchurch, New Zealand, mass shooting and even prior to that.
Among those steps was the listing of certain right-wing extremist groups, Blood & Honour and Combat 18, as outlawed terrorist organizations, which Global News first reported in June.
On Tuesday, Goodale said adding those two groups to the list of terror organizations “enhances the tools available to law enforcement to deal with those organizations.”
The minister added that the government intends to continue examining the issue “on the basis of the right evidence.”
Goodale noted that the problem of right-wing extremism isn’t just one reserved for other countries. He cited Canadian examples, such as the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre, which was driven by misogyny, and the Quebec mosque shooting in 2017.