The Canadian Forces is looking into the soldiers behind a white supremacist web store following an investigation by Ricochet, and another one of the soldiers involved has been identified.
On Monday a story from this outlet revealed the identities of a group of soldiers who co-own a business that glorifies the era of white minority rule in Rhodesia, which later became Zimbabwe, and sells Rhodesian memorabilia that is popular with the far right.
The article also tied company Fireforce Ventures and its operators to social media posts that use racial and ethnic slurs, as well as a white nationalist podcast on which one of the company’s founders made a debunked claim linking race and intelligence and warned that countries such as Rhodesia and South Africa show what happens “when we have civilizations with high IQ populations giving over the reins of power of the state apparatus to people with low IQ.”
Since publication of the story, the company’s Discord server, where company personnel and fans chatted and shared memes, has been deleted. Social media accounts associated with company personnel were being deleted or locked down throughout the day.
- Read the original investigation: Meet the Canadian soldiers behind a white supremacist military surplus store
- Update: Jason Kenney expels former senior campaign operative from party
- Update: Rhodesia nostalgia ‘screams out extreme hatred,’ say Zimbabweans
- Update: Canadian Forces suspend soldiers behind white supremacist web store
Another soldier identified
Ricochet revealed the names of three soldiers who founded the company, Henry Lung, Ryan Jorgensen, and Kyle Porter, along with a civilian, Adam Strashok. Another individual believed to also be part of the military, who uses the pseudonym “Willy,” had not been identified.
After publication of the investigation, Ricochet received a message from a source who provided information identifying “Willy” as Wesley Taylor.
The Canadian Forces has confirmed that Taylor is a corporal in the military reserves, serving in the 3rd Canadian Division with Lung.
Taylor was also involved with the University of Calgary Firearms Association, which was founded by Lung and Strashok.
Canadian Forces respond
When first contacted by Ricochet, the Canadian Forces said that the chain of command was aware of Fireforce Ventures and that the company did not violate the military’s code of conduct. When provided with quotes from the podcast appearance and copies of social media posts, head of media relations Daniel Le Bouthillier stated that the Forces would “look into this issue further.”
Late Monday night, that response came in the form of a statement from Brigadier-General Trevor Cadieu, who said the Canadian Forces are conducting two investigations.
“I have asked the National Investigation Service to review available information and investigate potential criminal activity, while also ordering the completion of an administrative investigation,” he said.
“I will leverage administrative and disciplinary tools at my disposal to address intolerant attitudes, which could include the removal of members from our ranks,” if any investigation finds a violation of the military’s code of values and ethics, added Cadieu.
Not the first investigation
But it turns out that this isn’t the first time the military has investigated these soldiers for their association with the company.
Acting on a tip from a different source, Ricochet asked the military whether they had previously conducted an investigation of Fireforce Ventures and its owners. The answer was yes.
An internal investigation was undertaken in April by the 3rd Canadian Division, where Lung and Taylor are reservists.
“Based on the testimonials of the members and information available on the company,” Major Lena Angell told Ricochet, “the investigation concluded that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Code of Values and Ethics was not breached.”
This investigation likely occurred in response to inquiries from the New York Times, which published a story the next day about the popularity of Rhodesian nostalgia with white supremacists that mentioned Fireforce Ventures and identified one of its owners as a member of the Canadian Forces.
In a statement to the Globe and Mail, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said he was asking for more information about Fireforce Ventures, and that he was “very happy the Chief of Defence Staff takes this extremely seriously.… Canadians expect anybody in the Canadian Armed Forces to put their uniform on to uphold the values that we hold so dear in Canada.”
Ricochet will continue to follow this story and provide more updates as they become available.