The nexus of right-wing extremism and the Canadian Armed Forces
University of New Brunswick
Since 2016, there have been several high-profile Canadian incidents that have linked members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to right-wing extremism (RWE) related activities. This increased public scrutiny came to a head with the revelation in the summer of 2019 that an active reservist, Master Corporal (MCpl) Patrik Mathews, had active ties to the white separatist movement, the Base. As a result, there have been concerted efforts by both CAF leadership and Canadian RWE scholars to better understand the breadth and depth of the relationship between RWE ideologies and certain members of the CAF. In this qualitative research, a thematic analysis of 15 semi-structured interviews with CAF personnel from across Canada was conducted to address the following three questions: How and why do Canadian soldiers become radicalized with RWE ideologies? How do RWE ideologies spread through the CAF and radicalize its members? And what are some of the social and environmental factors that may play a role in how Reservists may adopt RWE ideologies in comparison to Regular Force members? The interview data revealed three major findings that contribute to answering these questions including: RWE master narratives and collective identity/action as two important concepts regarding RWE radicalization among CAF personnel; RWE adherents and ideologies are more likely to be found within the Army (including Rangers Units) and Combat Arms within the CAF; and RWE adherents and ideologies are more likely to be found within Reservist Forces, when compared to Regular Forces.