The Proud Boys will be deemed an “ideologically motivated violent extremist group” along with three others: Atomwaffen Division, The Base and Russian Imperial Movement, the government said in a press release.
Officials say the move will help Canada freeze the groups’ financial assets and criminalize financing, training and recruitment for all such groups.
Last month, Canada’s Parliament unanimously passed a motion calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to designate the Proud Boys as a banned terrorist group.
But some rights’ groups in Canada say listing the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity could broaden the definition of terrorism to the point of endangering protest and free speech rights.
CNN reached out in the morning to the leader of the Proud Boys, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, for comment but had not heard back by early afternoon.
In January, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network said in a blog post that, “The Canadian Proud Boys should continue to be countered, exposed, and held accountable, but a terrorism designation is a serious step that merits further discussion,” adding, “… we are also wary of definitions being loosened, power being misused, and eroding civil liberties or the criminalization of legitimate protest that would likely rebound…”
There’s no US law to designate a wholly domestic group as a terrorist organization.
In online statements, Proud Boys have claimed they have used violence only in self-defense. But members are often seen carrying firearms and bats and donning protective gear, and some have been convicted of crimes against anti-fascist protesters.
The group’s ideology has been labeled “misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic, and anti-immigration” by the Anti-Defamation League.
In September, members of the Proud Boys celebrated comments made by then-US President Donald Trump after he was asked to condemn White supremacists, and refused to do so, during a presidential debate.
Trump instead used his allotted time to blame what he called “antifa and the left” for violence and to tell the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”
CNN’s Paul Murphy and Sara Sidner contributed to this report.