Canada’s military has created a new “hateful conduct” policy to help detect and weed out members with links to white supremacist or other hate groups.
The Canadian Armed Forces said the new Defence Administrative Order and Directive will address harassment, violence and discrimination, including hateful conduct among its members and reservists.
The term “hateful conduct” is now defined as: “an act or conduct, including the display or communication of words, symbols or images, by a CAF member, that they knew or ought reasonably to have known would constitute, encourage, justify or promote violence or hatred against a person or persons of an identifiable group, based on their national or ethnic origin, race, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics or disability.”
Canada’s military has been struggling with recent examples of right-wing extremism in its ranks, including the case of Patrik Mathews, a former Manitoba-based reservist with alleged ties to a neo-Nazi group, who was arrested in the U.S. in January.
In court documents, prosecutors allege Mathews videotaped himself advocating killing people, poisoning water supplies and derailing trains, while espousing racist and anti-Semitic views.
An internal military report, as first reported by Global News last year, found 16 members with links to six hate groups since 2013 and another 37 were alleged to have engaged in racist or hate-motivated conduct between 2013 and 2018.
The report by the Military Police Criminal Intelligence Section found the members were active in the Proud Boys, Atomwaffen Division, La Meute, Hammerskins Nation, III% and Soldiers of Odin.
“All of the groups identified fall under the far-right spectrum of political discourse and beliefs, specifically anti-Islam and/or white supremacy,” according to the Nov. 29, 2018 document.
The CAF said it’s also implementing a new system to help monitor and track any suspected incidents of hateful conduct within its ranks and will include a network of researchers to help military investigators.
“It is unacceptable for a Canadian Armed Forces member to participate in an activity or have membership in a group or organization that is connected with hate related criminal activities, and/or promotes hatred, violence, discrimination,” the military said in a statement.
Under the new directive from the CAF, members who are found to have violated the “hateful conduct” policy could face disciplinary action that ranges from additional training courses to having their cases investigated by law enforcement.
“The women and men who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces are held to the highest standard for their professional and personal conduct and are expected to exemplify Canadian values,” Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson, commander of Military Personnel Command, said in a statement.
“Any instance of misconduct by a member diminishes our authority as a force for good in Canadian society, and around the world.”