While the federal government pursues policies to regulate the internet over concerns of “white nationalism,” Canada’s international allies disagree on the gravity of the threat.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland faced pushback from her counterparts at a G7 meeting over her desire to reference white supremacy in her policy push.
In reaction to the tragic Christchurch shooting, Freeland told the UN white supremacy was one of the world’s greatest security threats.
During her announcement she called on the fellow nations “to act collectively to address” online hate.
According to sources at the G7 summit, Freeland insisted the nations involved issued a joint statement denouncing white supremacy. Some of the countries’ representatives disagreed with Freeland’s characterization of the threat level posed and refused to include any mention of it in their joint statement.
Instead the statement released by the G7 countries said that members were “deeply concerned about resurgent forms of racism, and discrimination, including anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim sentiment and the targeting of Christian minorities, leading to violence worldwide.”
It remains unclear which countries pushed back against Freeland’s assertions.
However the disagreement is not only international, as intelligence agencies within Canada seem undecided on the threat level white nationalism and far-right extremism pose to Canada’s national security.
According to internal communications between Canada’s security establishment from 2018, law enforcement and intelligence agencies are yet to be convinced that the problem is a grave threat to national security.
“Within the broader context of extremism in Canada, the number of right-wing extremists who promote or are willing to engage in politically-motivated violence is extremely small,” claimed one memo by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
White nationalism is referenced in the “2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada” by Public Safety Canada. However, according to the ministry’s website, there are no far-right groups named on their “Listed Terrorist Entities” page, while Islamist terrorist groups take up a majority of the list.
“Although the majority of recent global terrorist attacks can be attributed to individuals inspired by terrorist groups such as Daesh and AQ, other recent events around the world are bringing attention to the threat of violence from individuals who harbour right-wing extremist views,” claims the report.
“However, while racism, bigotry, and misogyny may undermine the fabric of Canadian society, ultimately they do not usually result in criminal behavior or threats to national security.”
While the security threat of right-wing extremism may be real, the Liberals have recently weaponized the threat of white nationalism for political purposes ahead of the upcoming election.
Recently, Justin Trudeau accused the leader of the opposition Andrew Scheer of sharing a stage with white nationalists.