Manitoba RCMP refuse to say why they carried out a raid Monday and seized weapons at the Beausejour home of a Canadian reserve soldier who has been recruiting for an extremist neo-Nazi organization.
Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews was taken into custody and later released without charge.
The Mounties have declined an interview request from the Free Press and refused to answer any written questions, including whether they executed other search warrants linked to Mathews and whether several firearms removed from the home have been, or will be, returned to him.
The RCMP investigation, as well as a linked Canadian Armed Forces investigation, was launched in the aftermath of a Free Press report identifying Mathews, 26, as a military reserves combat engineer and an active recruiter in The Base, a violent, hate-fuelled, radical paramilitary organization.
The Base had plastered recruitment posters all over the city in the weeks leading up to last week's publication of Homegrown hate, in the Free Press. And while the membership drive was disrupted by the report, there are indications the group has grown over the past few days.
The Free Press has obtained content from one online platform The Base is using to communicate and there seem to be more participants in the discussion than there were before.
In a video clip dated Aug. 18, seven masked men are shown firing a combination of shotguns and semi-automatic rifles at a paramilitary training event known as a "hate camp."
Also posted was a chilling audio clip of one member delivering a fiery call to arms, his voice rising to a fever pitch as he encourages his comrades to pick up weapons and commit attacks and mass acts of violence.
"Action is what is needed most in these trying times and that action must be driven towards our white revolution. Do not get bogged down with nostalgia for days gone by. Instead, channel that nostalgia into action. Bring about that glorious world that could have been through revolutionary action," the member says.
"It is an honour that we should live in such times that the existence of our people rests upon our shoulders. It is the most supreme of gifts. Times like these birth heroes. The moment you feel any fear or doubt strike it from your heart. Understand that if it is not us, it will be no one. Embrace the chaos."
The members are also following how often terror attacks take place and believe they are happening more frequently. This is used as evidence to confirm their belief a race war is just around the corner.
Christian Leuprecht, a national security expert and a professor at Queen’s University and the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., says there are signs federal Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan recognizes he has a problem on his hands when it comes to extremists in the armed forces.
"I think you see the chief of defence staff (Gen. Jonathan Vance) taking a hard line by going to the ombudsman and really being very concerned by this.... (There is evidence) to suggest there is concern with the chief of defence staff," Leuprecht said.
"Implicit in the questions to the ombudsman are: do we have the right mechanisms in place to screen for this? Do we have the right mechanisms to detect these individuals who developed their sympathies after joining? Are the remedies sufficient and expeditious enough to remedy that bad behaviour or release them from the forces in a timely manner."
The consequences of extremist rank-and-file members in the armed forces could be catastrophic if the military was dispatched to support law enforcement in a potentially violent confrontation with a radical group.
"Imagine if you have military members who sympathize with the very people they are sent in to engage with in a standoff," Leuprecht said. "That’s why this is so unacceptable."
Meanwhile in Ottawa, Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer was asked Wednesday if he believes the military has a problem with far-right extremists and members of hate groups within its ranks.
While he did not directly answer the question posed, he said hatred has no place in Canada’s armed forces.
"I think it’s important that all institutions in Canadian society — and indeed the Canadian government — must always be free from people who are using their positions to promote extremist views," Scheer said.
"We will do everything we can to ensure that people who wear Canada’s uniform and represent Canada in any number of ways, including in our military, must always uphold the very values and freedoms that our country stands for — that must be free from any type of hateful ideology."
— With files from Dylan Robertson
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.