OTTAWA — Canada formally designated the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity under its criminal law on Wednesday, a move that could lead to financial seizures and allow police to treat any crimes they commit as terrorist activity.
Government officials said Wednesday that they believe Canada is the first nation to label the Proud Boys a terrorist group. The events last month in Washington, they added, contributed to the move, which was already under consideration.
An official, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified, said that while information gleaned following the attack on the Capitol in Washington was a “contributing factor, it certainly wasn’t the driving force.”
Members of the Proud Boys, a far-right, all-male organization that lauded street brawling as part of its founding idea, played a prominent role in storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Since the attack, Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the opposition New Democratic Party, has pushed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to declare the Proud Boys a terror group.
It was among 13 groups added to the government’s terrorism list, including three other far-right or neo-Nazi groups: the Russian Imperial Movement based in Russia, and the Atomwaffen Division and The Base, which largely operate in the United States. The other groups added to the list are affiliated with the Islamic State and Al Qaeda.
Officials stressed that the designations are unlikely to lead to arrests in the near term. “Just because you’re listed doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you’re now going to be charged with a crime,” one said.
But the official added that any crimes committed by members of the group can now be the subject of terrorism charges under criminal law. Those potential crimes include providing a terrorist group with funds or other assistance — such as purchasing Proud Boys paraphernalia or clothing from the group, although displaying or wearing them publicly breaks no laws.
In its designation, the government said that members of the Proud Boys “espouse misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and/or white supremacist ideologies and associate with white supremacist groups.”
The government did not indicate how many chapters of the Proud Boys are active in Canada. In 2017, five members of the Canadian Armed Forces were part of a Proud Boys group that disrupted an Indigenous ceremony in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada Day. They were disciplined but not charged by the military.
The Proud Boys was established in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, who was born in England but raised in Ottawa and helped to found the Vice media empire. Vice has sought to distance itself from both Mr. McInnes and the Proud Boys.
At protests, Canadians members of the Proud Boys often carry the red ensign, a flag containing the Union Jack in one corner that was Canada’s official banner until it adopted its maple leaf flag in 1965. Members of the group have a history of engaging in violent street clashes with left-wing activists known as antifa.
Some Canadian news outlets reported that the websites of Proud Boys chapters in several Canadian cities disappeared last month following the events in Washington. It appears that they were removed by the groups themselves rather than service providers.
Neil MacFarquhar contributed reporting from New York.