Groups 'are a direct threat to the safety and well-being of workers of all backgrounds'
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is applauding the federal government’s designation of four far-right extremist groups as terrorist organizations.
These groups ― the Proud Boys, the Base, Atomwaffen and the Russian Imperial Movement ― “are a direct threat to the safety and wellbeing of workers of all backgrounds and specifically to those who are Indigenous, Black, Jewish, Muslim or who represent other minority communities,” says Hassan Yussuff, president of the CLC.
“We have seen a drastic resurgence in far-right extremist behaviour over the past several years. Letting these groups operate unchecked is dangerous and poses a real threat to our democracy and to the wellbeing of our communities. Today’s announcement is a welcome step in addressing this scourge.”
The four groups have been listed as terrorist entities which means they can no longer raise money or organize.
The designations also mean that any crimes committed by group members can now be treated as a terrorist activity. However, officials point out that being included the list will not necessarily result in the arrest of group members
“Violent acts of terrorism have no place in Canadian society or abroad,” says Bill Blair, minister of public safety and emergency preparedness. “Today's additions to the Criminal Code list of terrorist entities are an important step in our effort to combat violent extremism in all forms. Canadians expect their government to keep them safe and to keep pace with evolving threats and global trends, such as the growing threat of ideologically motivated violent extremism.”
Unions fight back
Labour unions have long been organizing against racism through various advocacy and educational programs, but far-right groups have “thrived online,” using social media to spread misinformation, recruit new members and mobilize, says the CLC.
“The reality is that white supremacist groups have not faced the same scrutiny as other racialized groups and that has allowed them to mobilize with relative freedom and impunity,” says Yussuff. “Furthermore, under anti-terror legislation, stereotypes and guilt by association have led to the over-surveillance of Muslim and Arab communities.
The climate of hatred these groups foster puts workers’ health and safety at risk, says Larry Rousseau, executive vice-president of the CLC.
“Attacks by white supremacists tend to be targeted and do not happen in isolation,” he says. “[These incidents] must stop. Everyone deserves to live free from violence and harassment.”
Experts say that employers play a vital role in fighting racism in the workplace, which has been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic.
But to do this, some experts believe that major changes in office culture and organizational policies need to be implemented.