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‘We will find you. And you will be dealt with’: Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan warns white supremacists

“This is something we’ve been aggressively dealing with not only since I became the minister, but as you know from the t...

OTTAWA—Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has succinct words of advice for white supremacists looking to join the Canadian Armed Forces.

“One thing I can assure you, we will find you. And you will be dealt with.”

His voice seeming to border on anger, Sajjan said he was “disappointed” after the Star revealed a man claiming to be training with the CAF also claimed to be a member of neo-Nazi groups in Canada, and sought to join a U.S. militant white supremacist group.

But Sajjan also said that he’s personally aware, through his time as a police officer, of organized crime and extremist groups attempting to join the CAF to gain access to combat training.

“This is something we’ve been aggressively dealing with not only since I became the minister, but as you know from the time I served (in the CAF) as well,” Sajjan said in an interview with the Star.

“We’ve got a phenomenal Canadian Armed Forces, and we want to attract the best. This type of conduct, serious issues like this, just erodes the tremendous work that our (CAF) does.”

While the U.S. has well-documented instances of white supremacists and extremists attempting to infiltrate law enforcement and military organizations to gain access to training and weapons, comparatively little is known about the phenomenon in Canada. So Sajjan’s confirmation is notable.

But the minister described the screening process to join the CAF as “thorough,” and noted that there are checks and further screening as members rise up through the ranks.

“There’s many steps along the way before you’re even allowed to take on greater responsibilities. But every single time we do identify (a problem), it is reviewed how this person got in, and are there things we can change to make things better,” Sajjan said.

The Star reported Thursday that a man attempting to join a U.S. militant white supremacist group, The Base, claimed to be undergoing basic training with the Canadian Armed Forces while belonging to neo-Nazi groups in Canada.

The unidentified man, who is only known as “Dakov,” told Base leader Rinaldo Nazzaro that he expected to be deployed in 2020, according to a transcript of the conversation provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center...

...According to the Department of National Defence, candidates for basic training already undergo extensive screening before being admitted to the Forces, including criminal record checks, suitability screening and a personality test.

“Recruiters who conduct suitability screening interviews undergo training aimed to identify members who are not suitable for military service,” wrote DND spokesperson Daniel Le Bouthillier in a statement.

Le Bouthillier also noted that all CAF applicants sign a declaration they will “refrain from racist and discriminatory behaviour.” If they do not sign the declaration, they are not eligible to serve...

...The new orders against hateful conduct also outline expectations of members’ behaviour once they join the Forces, with a range of disciplinary possibilities up to and including dismissal from the ranks.

DND has also committed $750,000 for two outside researchers to conduct a multi-year study into hateful conduct and extremism within the CAF, in efforts to prevent “radicalization,” and to anticipate “future challenges.”

The research will be conducted by Barbara Perry, one of Canada’s most prominent experts on far-right extremism, and David Hoffman, a University of New Brunswick professor focusing on terrorist risks, terrorist leadership and far-right and anti-government movements in Canada.

For his part, Sajjan said there’s “far more significant” action the CAF has planned to address extremism within the ranks.

“I’m just so disgusted by these types of (extremist) organizations that are trying to use the Canadian Armed Forces, that is there for protecting people. We’re coming up to Remembrance Day. (The Canadian Armed Forces) has fought tyranny, has fought those types of organizations,” Sajjan said.

“That is what they don’t understand.”

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