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On the evening of August 19, Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews had his residence in the rural town of Beausejour, Manitoba raided by RCMP following accusations of his involvement with The Base, a far-right group in North America, was investigated by officials in the armed forces and RCMP.
So far, no charges have been laid, but the raid certainly sent a message of zero-tolerance regarding members of the Canadian Armed Forces potentially being involved with such groups.
Matthews’ neighbour, Tyler Wenzoski, caught the raid on video and posted it on Facebook. In the video, an officer can be heard speaking through a megaphone, saying, “Patrik Mathews, we have a search warrant for this residence. You can exit the back door with your hands in the air.”
Matthews is currently not in custody, but several firearms have been seized from his residence.
“I heard them asking him to come out of his house on the megaphone at around 10:30,” said neighbour Sarah Lockhart.
“I called my husband because my house was surrounded by a SWAT team, by police officers. There had to have been 15 vehicles.”
She said the arrest took roughly ten to fifteen minutes. The arrest occurred without incident.
“They were taking stuff out of the house, I believe. That’s what it sounded like,” Lockhart said. “I couldn’t see what it was.”
Matthews has been a part of the 38 Canadian Brigade Group for roughly eight years, and it is only recently that the investigative journalism of Ryan Thorpe, writing for the Winnipeg Free Press, has uncovered some of his private affiliations, prompting an investigation from the Department of National Defence.
Brigade commander Col. Gwen Bourque has said that common punishments if the investigation confirms Matthews’ involvement range from mandatory counselling sessions to being fired from the Canadian Armed Forces.
Upon Thorpe’s publishing of his article on Matthews and his connection with The Base, a statement was issued by acting commander of the 3rd Canadian Division, Brig.-Gen. David Awalt. In it Awalt said that the Canadian Armed Forces will “move forward to explore what immediate actions can be taken,” and “will continue to support the ongoing CAF investigation.”
The Base is an underground, international, online-based organization that promotes preparation for a coming race war in the West. It isn’t clear that The Base has ever been instrumental in motivating real-life violence, but they can be aptly characterized as far-right and intrinsically militant.
“When they are inciting violence or when they are promoting the idea of ‘we should attack group x, y and z,’ the way you do that is through violent means so they see it as advantageous in having military training of all sorts in order to facilitate that, which makes it all the more serious and all the more dangerous,” Ran Ukashi from B’nai Brith Canada told Global News.
“They consider the alt-right to be not extreme enough,” Bernie Farber, chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, said. “They are almost like a neo-Nazi death cult.”
According to the executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network Evan Balgord, The Base tries to convince its members (estimated at roughly 100) to join the military in order to receive training and spread awareness about the supposed race war on the horizon, likely with the goal of bolstering white support and white collectivization.
“According to [Thorpe’s report], Mathews put up Nazi posters across the city for The Base,” reports Global News. “He also allegedly expressed admiration for serial killers and mass shooters, such as Charleston shooter Dylann Roof. Members of The Base also consider the alleged Christchurch shooter “a saint,” the report said.”
“He wants to recruit young white men for a race war,” it alleged. “He thinks one is coming and can’t wait for it to get here.”
The allegation that Matthews’ was recruiting for The Base appears to be the main concern for the Canadian Armed Forces which prompted such a swift response.
“The Military Police Criminal Intelligence Section tracked incidents of racism and white supremacy within the CAF from 2013 to 2018,” reports CBC. “Less than one per cent of the military population was engaged in racist or hate-motivated activities, according to the military police.”
However, with an evermore diversified military, the Canadian Armed Forces take white supremacist views very seriously and hold no compunction over ousting those who voice such ideological leanings.
“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,” National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said.