'Hands in the air': RCMP raid home of army reservist accused of ties with neo-Nazi group
Master corporal could lose job if alleged link to white supremacist group proves true
The RCMP raided the rural Manitoba house of a military reservist who is suspected of recruiting for a global neo-Nazi terrorist group late Monday night and seized a number of firearms.
No charges have been laid against Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews, a member of the Winnipeg-based 38 Canadian Brigade Group, but both RCMP and the military are investigating his alleged ties to The Base, an organization that promotes hate.
Mounties descended on Mathews's home in the rural town of Beausejour, about 50 kilometres east of Winnipeg, late Monday, ordering him out of his house.
In a video of the raid, posted to Facebook a short time later, a voice can be heard saying: "Patrik Mathews, we have a search warrant for this residence. You can exit the back door with your hands in the air."
Watch RCMP outside the Beausejour home:
RCMP said later they searched a house in Beausejour and seized a number of firearms, but no one is in custody at this time.
RCMP wouldn't confirm who owns the house, but neighbour Tyler Wenzoski, who shot the video, told CBC News it belongs to Mathews. A search of the property registry by CBC News showed that the house is owned by Patrik Jordan Mathews.
Sarah Lockhart, who lives across the street, said dozens of police officers and a tactical team were at the home across from hers around 10:30 p.m. CT.
"He came out quietly," she said. "It took them about five minutes to get him out."
Outside his home today, Mathews declined to comment.
The Department of National Defence is investigating claims that Mathews, an eight-year member of the 38 Canadian Brigade Group, is involved in a neo-Nazi group.
If the allegations are confirmed, Mathews could be forced to undergo counselling or lose his job, among other possible consequences, said brigade commander Col. Gwen Bourque.
"It's completely unacceptable for [Canadian Armed Forces] members to participate in any activity or have any membership in a group or organization that the members know or should have ought to have known that is connected to criminal activities," Bourque said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters.
"Every soldier must respect the dignity of all persons, at all times."
Details of Mathews' alleged activities were originally revealed by the Winnipeg Free Press, whose reporter went undercover posing as a white nationalist wishing to join the group. According to the report, Mathews has training with explosives.
Bourque acknowledged Mathews, as a combat engineer, has "very rudimentary" explosives training that involves basic understanding of demolition.
Bourque also stressed that Mathews would only have access to explosives as part of sanctioned military exercises. She described his master corporal rank as a "junior" position within the Army Reserves but said he would've received leadership training and been in charge of a section of reserve soldiers.
Mathews most recently worked in May for a total of six hours and that's the last time he was paid, said Bourque.
The military had no knowledge of his alleged involvement in hate activities or with The Base at that time, Bourque said, and his unit isn't scheduled to work again until September.
Bernie Farber, chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, described The Base as an extreme right-wing North American hate organization.
It's focused on growing its membership through recruitment and training for violence, he said.
"They consider the alt-right to be not extreme enough," he said. "They are almost like a neo-Nazi death cult."
It isn't clear how many people belong to the group in Canada, but Farber said the size of the group isn't necessarily the most important detail.
"It only really takes one or two very committed, ultra-violent individuals to create all kinds of havoc," said Farber.
One of The Base's stated goals is for members to get into the military in order to receive training and then spread that to others in their group, according to Evan Balgord, executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
He said The Base idolizes mass killers and pledges to carry out terrorist attacks to accelerate what they see as a coming race war.
Posters seeking recruits for The Base have appeared in multiple locations around Winnipeg in recent weeks.
Some experts estimate the membership in The Base is around 50 to 100 members.
National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan wouldn't comment on the current investigation into Mathews but denounced the actions of hate groups.
"Any type of behaviour like this is completely unacceptable in the Canadian Armed Forces and we take this very seriously," he said.
Watchdog investigates racism
Last month, Sajjan asked the Canadian military ombudsman to investigate racism in the Armed Forces. There's no timeline for that study.
"Even one person with this type of behaviour is completely unacceptable and we don't want anyone in uniform with that type of behaviour festering in the Canadian Armed Forces," he said.
The Military Police Criminal Intelligence Section tracked incidents of racism and white supremacy within the CAF from 2013 to 2018. Less than one per cent of the military population was engaged in racist or hate-motivated activities, according to the military police.
Punishment for this type of behaviour ranges from counselling to career consequences, including dismissal and legal repercussions. The military said seven administrative reviews have been conducted related to extremism and racism, which has led to two individuals being released from the Forces.
Watch: How it felt going undercover with neo-Nazi terrorist group
With files from Meaghan Ketcheson, Angela Johnston, Laura Glowacki