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Extremism surging among Canadian military ranks, says report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Canada's Prime minister Justin Trudeau talks with soldiers during a visit of the Adazi military base, north east of Riga, Latvia, in March 2022. (Photo by AFP)

The number of white supremacists and other violent extremists within Canada’s military is growing at an “alarming rate” and the officials have failed to address the problem, a report has revealed.

The report by a four-member government advisory panel, published on Monday, found widespread anti-Indigenous and Black racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism within Candian military ranks.

“Membership in extremist groups is growing, it is becoming increasingly covert, and technological advances such as Darknet and encryption methods pose significant challenges in detecting these members,” the panel wrote.

It said the military’s efforts to detect extremist pockets or individuals are “still very much siloed and inefficient.”

The report said not doing enough to address this issue “negatively impacts operational capabilities, undermines the well-being of (military) members, and puts the security of Canada in peril.”

“The reality is that systemic racism exists in our institution and we need to root it out and eliminate it,” Defense Minister Anita Anand.

The 121-page report also found that “in addition to sexual misconduct and domestic violence, hate crimes, extremist behaviors and affiliations to white supremacy groups are growing at an alarming rate.”

Speaking to reporters Monday, Chief of the Defense Staff Wayne Eyre said the presence of members of extremist groups in the military is disturbing.

“This is an issue in our society that worries me tremendously as we see the polarization of our society,” he said. “As hate groups become mainstream in our society we have to be very vigilant and continue to educate ourselves as to what these signs and symbols are.”

In the last 20 years, about 258 recommendations, generated from dozens of inquiries, were made to address diversity, inclusion, respect and professional conduct in the military.

But the panel came to know that many of those recommendations were “poorly implemented, shelved or even discarded,” retired major Sandra Perron said during the news conference.

Atrocities against indigenous people in Canada are not a new phenomenon. In the past two centuries, the Church ran Indigenous Residential Schools in Canada with the aim of assimilating the Indigenous children into society.

About 150,000 indigenous children were separated from their families and taken to prison-like schools where they were subjected to abuse, rape and malnutrition. Many children died and were buried in unmarked graves.


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