Skip to main content

Politics Three soldiers suspended over online surplus store said to be selling white-supremacist merchandise

The Canadian military has suspended four of its active members as it looks into allegations that they are running an online army-surplus store catering to white supremacists.

The Canadian Forces said in a statement on Friday that, as of Wednesday of this week, all of the soldiers who are behind Fireforce Ventures, a Calgary-based operation that sells the clothes and memorabilia of foreign militaries, have been “relieved from the performance of their duties” pending the outcome of an investigation.

The suspended men include reservists Henry Lung, Ryan Jorgenson and W. Taylor, as well as Kyle Porter, who is a full-time member of the military. All are stationed in Alberta.

Story continues below advertisement

“This decisive action is necessary due to the severity of the allegations and the potential impact on unit morale and cohesiveness,” the military said in the statement. “Racist conduct, be it through words or actions, is completely incompatible with our values and culture.“

While Fireforce Ventures sells military clothes from a number of different countries including Germany, Sweden, Israel and Russia, it specializes in merchandise related to the short-lived and white-ruled state of Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe.

Fireforce’s website says it was “founded by a few guys from Canada who initially just wanted to get their hands on some Rhodesian brushstroke camouflage.”

But Fireforce was a military tactic used by the Rhodesian security forces during the Rhodesian Bush Wars in which the government tried to suppress the black-led militias and maintain a segregationist state.

And, in recent years, Rhodesia has become a symbol of the white-supremacist movement in the United States. Dylann Roof, who killed nine black people in a racially motivated attack on a church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015, had been photographed with a Rhodesian flag on his jacket.

A disclaimer on the site says Fireforce does not attempt to make any political or racial statements with its products and it reserves the right to refuse sales to customers who are members of an identifiable hate group.

When the Canadian Forces learned in April that Private Lung and Corporal Taylor were involved in the online surplus store, it conducted an investigation and concluded that its code of ethics had not been breached and the two men were merely operating a legal business during their civilian hours.

Story continues below advertisement

But, in late October, the military was informed by Ricochet, an online media organization, that Pte. Lung had allegedly participated in a podcast that holds white-supremacist views. That prompted an additional investigation by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service as well as an internal summary investigation.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter