Source: London/Middlesex Superior Court of Justice - Court Exhibit

An Ontario judge has ruled that a man’s slaughter on a Muslim family in London was an act of terrorism, marking the first time a court has made a decision of this kind in a case of white nationalism. 

Nathanial Veltman, 23, killed four people and injured a nine-year-old boy after running them over in a truck in June 2021. The family were dressed in traditional Pakistani attire at the time. 

“I find that the offenders’ actions constitute terrorist activity,” said Justice Renee Pomerance during the sentencing hearing on Thursday in London.

The ruling won’t affect Veltman’s sentence for first-degree murder as it comes with an automatic 25 -year life-sentence without parole, but the ruling will still set a standard for Canadian terrorism laws in relation to white nationalism.  

“The events of June 6, 2021, have caused many to question their safety when going about their business in London and beyond,” said Pomerance.

Veltman was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder last fall. He was sentenced to an additional concurrent life sentence for the attempted murder. 

At the time of the attack, Veltman was armed and wearing body armour. 

Following his arrest, he would confess to police that his attack was “politically motivated 100%.”

The jury was told about Veltman’s disdain for mass immigration and Muslims via his personal writings. 

Justice Pomerance said that such crimes must be denounced using the strongest possible terms, due to the widespread fear that ensued following the attack. 

“There is no place in Canadian society for the hatred and racism that spawned the offender’s actions,” she said.

Video evidence of the attack would reveal that Veltman made a U-turn after driving past the Afzaal family, before accelerating towards them at full speed. 

The victims included parents Salman and Madiha Afzaal and their 15-year-old daughter Yumnah, as well as her paternal grandmother, Talat, aged 74. 

A nine-year-old boy was also struck but survived. 

Thursday’s ruling will provide police and prosecutors with a better understanding of when terrorism charges will be applicable in future cases involving white nationalism. 

“It’s never fulsomely been dealt with before,” Leah West, a Carleton University professor told the Globe and Mail in an interview. West specializes in national security law. 

“What does it mean to have an ideological motive such that it drives you to do this kind of violence? What evidence is necessary or sufficient to meet that criteria? We don’t have any law that explains that.”

Previous invocations of the Anti-Terrorism Act have only been in cases where suspects were accused of having ties to the Islamic State or well known terrorist groups like al-Qaeda.