Manitoba

Army reservist fired over alleged links to neo-Nazi group

An army reservist whose alleged links to a neo-Nazi group led to a raid on his rural Manitoba home last week has been fired, according to the Department of National Defence.

Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews 'will not be returning to work,' military says

Mathews went missing shortly after his alleged links to a neo-Nazi group were reported by the Winnipeg Free Press. (Courtney Rutherford/CBC)

An army reservist whose alleged links to a neo-Nazi group led to a raid on his rural Manitoba home last week has been fired, according to the Department of National Defence.

Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews, a member of the Winnipeg-based 38 Canadian Brigade Group, "will no longer be a participant in military activities in any form, and will not be returning to work," a military spokesperson wrote in an email to CBC News.

"This action was deemed necessary, considering the seriousness of the allegations and the risk to unit morale and cohesion."

The military and RCMP are investigating his alleged ties to The Base, an organization that promotes hate, for which he is alleged to have recruited. Posters for the group began popping up around Winnipeg in late July. 

Mathews requested a release from the Canadian Armed Forces in April, according to the spokesperson. It is not known why. He was with the Forces for eight years, worked as a combat engineer and was trained in the use of explosives. 

The RCMP raided Mathews' home in Beausejour, Man. last week and seized multiple firearms. He has not been charged with a crime.

Posters for the Base have been put up in various locations around Winnipeg since late July. Mathews is alleged to have recruited for the group. (Facebook/FF1)

'Favoured recruiting ground'

Mubin Shaikh, a counter-terrorism expert, says he wasn't surprised by Mathews' removal, and says the publicity surrounding the story might have contributed to the decision.

"It's hard to know if the public pressure is what forced the hand of the Canadian Forces in this regard," Shaikh told CBC News. 

He says there might be others in the military with similar ideologies.

"The military is a favoured recruiting ground for white supremacists. It's also a place where they've long since talked about obtaining training by joining the military," Shaikh said.

But this case also hands the military an opportunity to weed out extremists. 

"The Canadian Armed Forces is going to use this as an instance, as an example, as precedent," said Shaikh.

"I can guarantee you that there are soldiers all over the country reading that story and getting the message that, listen, we literally can't be a Canadian and a supporter of Nazism."

Mathews' alleged ties to the group came to surface after a Winnipeg Free Press reporter went undercover posing as a recruit.

Further details about Mathews are covered under the Privacy Act and the military declined further comment. 

Counter-terrorism expert Mubin Shaikh predicts the military will use Mathews' case as an opportunity to weed out extremists. (John Lancaster/CBC)

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