Canadian military knew about suspected neo-Nazi: top general

Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance speaks out for the first time about Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews

Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance speaks to reporters after a change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

The military “did not miss” a Manitoba reservist’s alleged links to a neo-Nazi group, but in fact first started looking into it months before media reports on the subject began to surface, Canada’s top general said Thursday.

Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance was speaking out for the first time about Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews, whose case has raised questions about whether the military is doing enough to address hate and right-wing extremism in the ranks.

He promised to be more active in rooting out such behaviour and beliefs from the military ranks, and issued a stern warning to those hoping to use the Canadian Forces as a training ground or avenue to spread their “vile ideology.”

“We’re a serious institution that does serious things to protect Canadians, to protect this country, to protect our way of life,” Vance said following a ceremony to install the military’s new chief of personnel.

“We are not a place for sick hobbyists to practice their vile ideology. And we won’t stand for it. We will react and where we can be proactive, we will be. But I assure you, we will react.”

The combat engineer with the 38 Canadian Brigade Group in Winnipeg first met with his commanding officers in April to discuss “his utterances,” Vance said without providing further details. On Monday, the Winnipeg Free Press published a story linking the reservist to a neo-Nazi group.

Following that meeting, Mathews applied to leave the Forces even as military officials launched a formal investigation into his activities — a probe Vance said was underway in July, weeks before the Free Press story was published.

READ MORE: Defence minister asks watchdog to investigate racism in the military

“The Canadian Forces national counter-intelligence unit had already begun to deal with him by the time that story broke,” he said. “I’m happy to say we didn’t miss the signal.”

Mathews has not been arrested or charged with any crime, and Vance isn’t providing further details, citing privacy laws and the ongoing investigation.

The RCMP are reportedly conducting their own investigation, but have only said that they raided a house in Beausejour, Man., on Monday and seized a number of weapons.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mat program not quite ready to open its doors

Committee hopes to bring people out from the cold with overnight shelter program

Ponoka County writes off quarter of a million in taxes

Bankrupt energy companies hitting county financially

Radon screening kits now available at Ponoka Jubilee Library through PRL

Radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and it could be in your home

A salute and farewell to history columnist Mike Rainone upon his retirement

Mike Rainone served Ponoka in different capacities for 57 years

VIDEO: Prince Harry takes on first duties since royal crisis talks

Britain’s Press Association says Duke of Sussex to carry on meetings into next week

Sylvan Lake RCMP seek assistance in locating missing male

Mark Crier, 17, was last seen in Sylvan Lake on Jan. 13

UPDATE: Supreme Court dismisses B.C.’s appeal in Trans Mountain pipeline case

Judges decide whether B.C.’s power to protect environment can include impeding a federal project

Alberta says universities over-budget; need to freeze travel, hiring, hosting

Demetrios Nicolaides says spending is not meeting expectations

Over 16,000 people nabbed by RCMP between border crossings in 2019

In 2019, 63,830 claims were filed, up from 55,040 in 2018

Iran must compensate crash victims’ families, Canada-led group agrees

‘We are judging Iran every day, demand by demand,’ says Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne

Beer-league hockey player awarded $700,000 for body check that caused head injury

Ontario court rules in a March 2012 incident in which a 36-year-old hit his head on the ice

Canadian polar bears’ ‘ingenious’ survival seen in BBC Earth series

Film crews also go to Tofino to watch black bears snap up crabs under massive boulders

Alberta promises to fix rules on aging energy wells

Cleanup group says companies must be prevented from buying facilities they can’t afford to clean up

Most Read