The Royal Canadian Navy has reversed course and now intends to release a Calgary reservist who was identified by CBC News as the former administrator of a neo-Nazi forum.
The decision to sever ties with Leading Seaman Boris Mihajlovic was made following a command level review of his case and the decision by the leadership of the HMCS Tecumseh Naval Reserve base to readmit him.
In a statement circulated throughout the navy Tuesday afternoon, Vice-Admiral Craig Baines, the new commander of the maritime force, announced Mihajlovic’s departure and reaffirmed the military’s commitment to fighting hateful conduct.
In December 2019, a CBC News investigation identified Mihajlovic as Moonlord, one of the former administrators of Iron March, a notorious neo-Nazi hate forum that gave rise to the terror group Atomwaffen Division.
The site was closed down in 2017.
Contacted at the time by CBC News, Mihajlovic said he regretted his actions and had turned his life around.
In the wake of the story, the reservist was suspended and sought counselling with a group that helps extremists recover, and volunteered with an immigrant support organization.
Mihajlovic was, however, readmitted to the navy last summer after a review and the officer in charge, Cmdr. Joseph Banke, said he believed in rehabilitation over retribution, and that it was time for the “member” to return to work.
‘We need to do a better job’: Baines
Some of his comments upset other sailors at the reserve unit and that’s when the former commander of the navy, now the chief of the defence staff, Admiral Art McDonald instituted the command review of the decision to readmit Mihajlovic.
“During the conduct of this review, deficiencies were identified with respect to precision in the exchange of information,” between the reserve unit and the military’s career development branch, said Baines in his statement Tuesday.
The navy has faced criticism — both externally and internally — for readmitting Mihajlovic and for the way it handled the case.
Baines said it was treated with “procedural fairness” and followed all the relevant policies, but he acknowledged the criticism.
“I want to assure you all that concrete measures are being implemented to ensure that the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) has the ability to appropriately handle cases pertaining to hateful conduct in the future,” he said.
“We are also cognizant that we need to do a better job of addressing issues of systemic racism more holistically as an institution, and we are committed to doing so.”
The message, which was sent to every naval installation and ship’s company, said racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny and discrimination exist and sailors need to “acknowledge this and commit to fixing it.”