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CFB Valcartier commander disapproves of far-right group La Meute but won't tell soldiers to quit

The top-ranking officer at CFB Valcartier disapproves of members of the Canadian Armed Forces belonging to the far-right Facebook group La Meute, but won’t issue a direct command for the 50 or so soldiers in the group to leave.

'What we see goes against our code of conduct,' says Col. Stéphane Boivin, but he can't legally investigate

Colonel Stéphane Boivin, who took over command of the Canadian Forces Valcartier in June, says he would never approve someone joining the Facebook group La Meute. (Cathy Senay/Radio-Canada)

The commander of Canadian Forces Base Valcartier says the values of people in the far-right Facebook group La Meute are in direct contradiction to those of the military, but he's not about to order soldiers to leave the group.

La Meute — which mean wolf pack in French — takes the position that Quebec's policies of immigration and cultural diversity threaten Quebec society, and its members are particularly worried about Islamic fundamentalism making inroads in the province.

In an exclusive interview with CBC/Radio-Canada, Col. Stéphane Boivin said the group's values and ideology, from what he has seen in the media and in recent protests in Quebec City, contradict the Armed Forces' code of conduct.

"The Armed Forces are about integration, diversity, freedom of speech, freedom of culture, freedom of religion, freedom of sexual orientation," said Boivin.

"Some of those groups that have ideas and ideologies which are against the Canadian Armed Forces' approach, they are certainly not entertained."

Some Armed Forces personnel are members of La Meute's private Facebook group. 2:17

But he said he doesn't believe he has to single out the group specifically and order people to leave it.

"They all understand which groups are not reflecting the Canadian values. It could be La Meute, it could be another, I don't need to be specific."

Since a November investigation by Radio-Canada into the "members-only" section of the online group, 20 members of the Canadian Armed Forces have left the group and 50 remain.

"I'm certainly happy that you can confirm that people have left, because they realized it was not the right thing to do," said Boivin.

He said soldiers who want to take part in a political, social or networking group need to ask permission from the Force's director of ethics, who in turn acts on his recommendation. 

Boivin said he would never recommend a request to join La Meute, and he's received no such requests to date.

Boivin took command of CFB Valcartier, about 25 kilometres northwest of Quebec City, in June 2017.

It's the fifth time he has been posted to the base, and he said he's never heard anyone make disparaging remarks about Muslims.

Clear message sent

​Boivin said when he took over at Valcartier, he spoke to each unit about his philosophy of command, telling soldiers they were expected to follow the 2012 Code of Conduct.

Boivin said he has sent a clear message to those under his command — some of whom will be deployed to Muslim countries such as Iraq over the next 18 months.

"I didn't have to mention the Meute, I did explain what I was expecting. I had nothing specific to say about the Meute itself, just groups in general."

Boivin added it's impossible for him, or anyone in the Armed Forces, to investigate what groups soldiers belong to unless someone brings it to their attention and supplies them with a name.

"Collecting intelligence is illegal from an open-source domain for the Canadian Armed Forces, according to a regulation established in 2014," he said.

If the Armed Forces finds someone has infringed the code of conduct, that person is subject to administrative and disciplinary measures, up to and including a court martial, he said.