Defence Department vows to examine extremism in Canadian-trained foreign troops

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OTTAWA — The Defence Department is vowing to review how the military screens for extremist views in the foreign troops it trains.

The move comes after a report found that far-right extremists in the Ukrainian military bragged on social media that they received training from the Canadian Armed Forces and took part in joint exercises.

The study this month from an institute at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., says that members of Centuria have worked with and accessed training from Canada, among other western countries.

Centuria is a group that holds ties to far-right movements, venerates Nazi figures and aims to protect what it calls Europe's "ethnic identity."

In response to the report, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center this week called for an investigation by the Defence Department.

Efraim Zuroff, director of the centre's Israel office, says training far-right extremists in foreign militaries empowers groups who foster hate and could turn their weapons against members of their own population.

The Defence Department says in an email that Canada currently relies on the Ukrainian government to vet its security forces, but adds that if Canadian soldiers suspect their foreign counterparts hold racist views they are "removed immediately" from joint activities.

"In light of these findings, DND (Department of National Defence) will be conducting a thorough review of this report, including whether current policies and procedures in place are sufficiently stringent to flag and prevent the CAF (Canadian Armed Forces) from unwittingly aiding those whose views it fundamentally opposes," the department said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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