OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — The Canadian Armed Forces is not doing enough to detect and prevent white supremacists and other violent extremists from infiltrating the military, said a report released Monday by Defense Minister Anita Anand.
The report comes after a yearlong review by a panel of retired Armed Forces members and follows a number of incidents linking some military personnel with violent extremism and hate groups, including white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
The report describes the suspected presence of extremists in the military as a “pressing moral, social and operational issue,″ with such members representing a threat to unit cohesion and Canadians’ trust in the institution.
Despite adopting a zero-tolerance approach, efforts to detect extremists were “siloed and inefficient″ and extremists themselves were more adept at avoiding detection.
“The need for education and training for leaders at all levels of the defense team was highlighted repeatedly during the advisory panel’s consultations,″ the report said.
Anand said the government has earmarked more than CDN$200 million (US$157.1 million) to help change the military’s culture but did not lay out any specific new measures.
Gen. Wayne Eyre, chief of the defense staff, said the military needs to find a balance between privacy concerns and remaining vigilant when it comes to things like monitoring members’ social media posts.
The report also took the military to task for not acting on dozens of previous studies and reviews on racism in the ranks over the past two decades.
White men account for 71% of Canadian military members but only 39% of the country’s civilian workforce. The report notes Indigenous people and women are significantly under-represented in Canada’s armed forces.
One example of right-wing extremism in the Canadian military came in 2017 during an incident in Halifax where a group of sailors associated with the Proud Boys disrupted an Indigenous ceremony.
A military intelligence report later linked dozens of Armed Forces members to extremist groups and warned that such organizations were actively recruiting or otherwise trying to infiltrate the military to gain training, experience and equipment.