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

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

Victoria Police Department looks to identify a person of interest after a Friday night stabbing. (VicPD handout)
Police seek person of interest after Victoria stabbing

Friday night assault leaves one with potentially life-altering injuries

Daniel Foster, last seen in downtown Parksville on Saturday, May 1. (submitted photo)
RCMP seek help locating missing Victoria man, last spotted in Parksville

Daniel Foster, 43, seen via surveillance camera using an ATM

Police stopped, then let go this man and his large collection of cans during a stop Monday morning on Resthaven Drive. Police had received a report of a possible theft, but let him go after he had returned the property, which he believed was his to take after being left out in public. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Report of theft, balancing act on Sidney street draws curious onlookers

Incident happened just before 8:30 a.m. opposite of Vancouver Island Regional Library branch

Sean Hart, 34, unexpectedly left the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility in Saanich on Nov. 6, 2020 and has now been missing for six months. (Photo courtesy Penny Hart)
Search continues for Saanich man Sean Hart six months after his disappearance

Support from community, police keeps his mother hopeful

Victoria Police continue to investigate a stabbing in downtown Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Passerby calls police after finding man stabbed, sobbing on Victoria street

One man was sent to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in Comox

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

Most Read