Canada became the first country Wednesday to formally designate the Proud Boys a terrorist entity, according to the nation’s public safety ministry.
The ministry said in a statement the group was “a neo-fascist organization” that “played a pivotal role in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol” in Washington.
The ministry said Canadian officials were already considering the move and that the January 6 insurrection contributed to the decision.
“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 ministry said.
The designation could allow Canadian police to handle crimes committed by the group as terrorist activity as well as empower authorities to seize financial assets.
Reputation for violence
The Proud Boys group is considered a far-right, male chauvinist extremist organization with a reputation of engaging in violent activities at political rallies.
Members have been under increasing scrutiny in the United States after embracing the former Trump administration’s nationalist policies and being a major agitator during previous protests and last month’s riot at the Capitol that left five people dead.
According to the U.S.-based Southern Poverty Law Center, members of the Proud Boys were “aggressively front and center during the attack on the Capitol.” The SPLC also defines the Proud Boys as a hate group.
Then-President Donald Trump urged the group to “stand back and stand by” when a moderator asked him to denounce it during a presidential debate in September.
After the attack on the Capitol, the head of Canada’s opposition New Democratic Party, Jagmeet Singh, began urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to declare the Proud Boys a terrorist group.
The Canadian government added a total of 13 groups to its terrorism list, including three other neo-Nazi or far-right organizations. The Base and the Atomwaffen Division operate mostly in the U.S., while the Russian Imperial Movement, based in Russia, has operated in Europe, the Middle East and other regions.