Manitoba CAF member being investigated for possible involvement in hate group still an 'active member'
Published Tuesday, August 20, 2019 12:20PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, August 20, 2019 5:28PM CST
The Canadian Armed Forces is investigating allegations that a member of Lieutenant-Colonel Harcus Strachan Armoury in Winnipeg may be involved in an organization that promotes hate.
Via a tele-conference Tuesday, Col. Gwen Bourque, Commander of 38 Canadian Brigade Group, provided an update on the member, Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews.
“I became aware that one of my soldiers in 38 Canadian Brigade Group is alleged to have been involved in a hate organization. I can confirm that a military investigation is ongoing. We are moving forward to take immediate action on this matter, and we are ensuring that we are focusing on the safety of our soldiers,” Bourque said.
She said the member is a Class A soldier who has been with the organization since 2010, works part-time and has full-time civilian employment.
Bourque said the member is a current active member and last worked in May, parading with his unit on two occasions for about six hours.
“At this time we were not aware of any of these issues,” she said.
Bourque said the member, who is scheduled to return with the unit in September, is being assessed, and it’s not clear if the military investigation will wrap by September.
“No ability to obtain explosives through the military’: CAF
“Master Cpl. Matthews has no ability to obtain explosives through the military, and he does not have the authorization, and he does doesn’t hold any of the requisite qualifications in order to draw any type of explosives,” said Bourque.
She said he has no access to weapons and has some very rudimentary training on explosives as any combat engineer would.
Bourque said he has a basic understanding of demolitions and he only has access to sanctioned military exercises.
She said in May the CAF was not aware of any racist extremist activities.
No military charges laid
Bourque also said it’s important to be cognisant of due process.
“No military charges have been laid, nor have ever been laid against this member, so there should not be any assumption of guilt,” she said.
Should it warrant a charge, it will be dealt will by the military justice system.
“It is completely unacceptable for a CAF member to participate in an activity or have membership in a group or organization that the member knows, or ought to know, is connected with criminal activities, promotes hatred, violence, discrimination, or harassment on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination as defined in the Canadian Human Rights Act,” a spokesperson for the Department of National Defence said Monday.
“Hateful conduct, be it through words or actions, is completely incompatible with Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) values and culture. Any form of hateful conduct erodes cohesion and esprit de corps, and diminishes our authority as a force for good in Canadian society and around the world. We will not tolerate it in any form.”
House raided in Beausejour
RCMP raided a home in Beausejour, Man., around 10 p.m. on Monday night. Officials said a number of firearms were seized and that no one is in custody.
A search of the property registry by CTV News confirms the house involved in the raid belongs to Mathews.
A video circulating on social media shows police surrounding a house with lights and sirens blaring, asking for Patrik Mathews to exit the home with his hands in the air.