Experts and activists say the Canadian military needs to do more to root out racism and hate in its ranks.
The calls follow separate military and RCMP investigations into a reservist suspected to being a recruiter for a militant neo-Nazi group.
Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews, a reservist in the Winnipeg-based 38 Canadian Brigade Group, faces allegations he may be involved with The Base, an organization described as a “neo-Nazi death cult” that promotes violence and hate.
Posters seeking recruits for The Base have appeared in multiple locations around Winnipeg in recent weeks.
RCMP officers raided Mathews’s home in the town of Beausejour, about 50 kilometres east of Winnipeg, on Monday night, seizing a number of fire arms but making no arrests.
“One would think that at this point in 2019, that the military would be able to act, or act more proactively, in terms of ferreting out these hate-mongers,” says Helmut-Harry Loewen, a retired University of Winnipeg sociology professor and anti-facism activist.
The military currently uses interviews and background checks to screen recruits for hateful beliefs and behaviour and new recruits must also sign an agreement stating they understand such behaviour is forbidden.
However, the chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, Bernie Farber, has his doubts about the military’s ability to do a thorough job.
“I don’t know what kind of education has been given to commanding officers,” Farber says.
Following the beating death of a Somali teenager at the hands of two members of the now-defunct Canadian Airborne Regiment, the military implemented a training program to prevent harassment and racism in 1998.
The program made several recommendations aimed at eliminating racism and discrimination in the military, including developing a list of banned extremist groups for service members, monitoring links between such groups and the Canadian Forces and having anti-racist groups help train commanders to identify racism and hate.
In 2015, former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps concluded the training program had “lost its lustre.”
With files from CBC, Huffington Post