Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Maxime Bernier and the People’s Party of Canada may have failed to net any seats in parliament this election cycle, but that did not stop one of his candidates from spending election night with known white supremacists, including an appearance alongside American Groyper Nick Fuentes.
Failed Elgin-Middlesex-London candidate Chelsea Hillier spent the evening appearing on Tyler Russell’s election night live stream, which was allegedly held at her election night party. Russell is the host of “Canada First,” an online show so crude it cost him his job at a Toronto-area Urban Outfitters, and led classmates to write a petition asking for him to be expelled from Ryerson University, where he studied political science.
Russell is also the leader of the youth-oriented white supremacist chat of the same name, which the Canadian Anti-Hate Network exposed in June.
The stream featured a cavalcade of guests that included Chelsea Hillier, her father, Ontario MPP Randy Hillier, and her former riding manager, white nationalist Shane Marshall (who had reportedly been fired from the campaign after being charged with assault). Other guests included multiple members of the racist Plaid Army streaming collective, a swath of American streamers, and the guest of honour, white nationalist Nick J. Fuentes -- host of America First.
Fuentes appeared later in the evening, calling into the program through audio-only, with Russell chanting the word “Groyper” as his guest entered the chat. The enthusiasm is warranted -- Russell’s show is a pale imitation of Fuentes’ own stream. From the name of his show to Russell’s speaking cadence and contempt for women and minorities, right down to the blazer and hat Russell wears repeatedly, Canada First is the “Great Value” brand of its US counterpart.
Fuentes himself gained notoriety after reportedly receiving threats at Boston University after attending the 2017 “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville. A popular streamer and organizer, he has been removed from multiple social media platforms for his views that include support for the Great Replacement Theory, COVID conspiracism, and condemnation of interracial relationships -- “We want children to be happy and not on drugs, and that’s why we opposed mixed marriages.”
Fuentes has said previously, “If you are a White male zoomer, remember that the people in power hate you and your unborn children and they will try to genocide you in your lifetime.”
On Russell’s show, he started off low energy, unsure that he was meant to be supporting the Conservatives Party of Canada or the People’s Party.
“I’m a little in the dark when it comes to Canada, not going to lie… we’re the blue team?” he asked Russell.
Snickering at Russell’s descriptions of Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole attending Pride events and the CPC “going full tr*nny-mode,” Fuentes delighted at the prospect of “Groypers in Ottawa.”
Not content to let Russell do his Fuentes impression alone, other guests on the stream included Matt Evans, AKA “Beardson Beardly,” -- who joked that those who refuse to donate to the stream are "race traitors" -- another streamer named Dalton Clodfelter, and several other American and Canadian Groypers. Two of the US guests were asked to look up NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, laughing at his appearance and turban, while Russell repeatedly referred to him as a "terrorist."
The streamers all appeared positive about the PPC’s chances heading into the election and though it became clear after several hours of streaming that they would win no seats, Russell and his guests quickly moved into the acceptance stage of grief.
“There’s nothing to take here but W’s. You can look at the negative side of it,” he said. Adding, “The freedom movement doesn’t end just because there’s one election... when the next election is called we’ll improve more.
“Things are going to get hard, we know that. I’m not stopping.”
In his Discord server, Russell urged his people on further.
“Although we didn’t get any seats, we made huge ground in support. We have another year and a half to campaign boys...Canada First is inevitable and honestly, trust the plan. I’ve got something up my sleeve.”
PPC’s Problems Start At The Root
The gains made by the party are significant, seeing Bernier’s vanity project surpass the Green Party of Canada in popular support only a couple years after its founding. While the PPC won no seats, rallying around the COVID conspiracies paid off for them in a snap election that frustrated many Canadians.
Bernier’s statements and policies while forming the party in 2019 were heard by Canada’s far-right as a signal to them. This election earned the support of both the far-right and the intertwined COVID conspiracy movement.
During this election, the PPC has become a nexus for neo-Nazis, a youth white supremacist group, the anti-lockdown movement, and people who want to burn down parliament and think there’s already a “race war” going on in the United States.
PPC Candidate Mark Friesen commented the night before on a stream with Russell, "It's necessary for us to go through this so we can unite to defeat [vaccine passports]. It is what it is. The Overton window is moving to where we put our flag."
The Overton window is a concept that only a certain range of politics are viewed as acceptable by the general public. The goal of the far-right is to shift the overton window far enough that their ideas become possible to discuss in the mainstream, in the hopes of eventually seizing political power.
On the eve of the election, Bernier did “virtual shots” with an antisemitic vlogger, briefly joining PPC candidates Chelsea Hillier and Mark Friesen who spent the night before the election on a white supremacist web show hosted by Derek “Rants” Harrison, one of the founding members of Plaid Army.
The stream was to support Russell’s then-upcoming election coverage.
Harrison, Hillier, and Russell spent a lot of time talking about Indigenous peoples on the stream, with Tyler claiming the PPC is the only party that will improve conditions (and that they aren’t racist).
This despite the fact that after the discovery of 215 Indigenous children who died at a residential school in Kamloops, BC on his show, Russell took offence to the media calling the event a tragedy.
“They’re evil, and they’ll say whatever they have to to push their narrative, which by the way, is a false narrative,” he told his viewers on May 30, 2021. “Residential schools are actually pretty based. The whole point behind the residential school system was to bring in the Indian and Native kids and assimilate them into European-Canadian culture.”
The PPC continues to deny that it is affiliated with white supremacy and racism in any way while simultaneously hosting Jeremy MacKenzie, a much more prominent member of the Plaid Army, who jokingly refers to himself and his fans as “bigots.” MacKenzie also tried to join Russell’s stream, but was unsuccessful.
MacKenzie previously said he was attending an election night party at the PPC headquarters in Saskatchewan. He also attempted to stream a section of Maxime Bernier’s speech but was also unable to deliver.
Bernier drew fire even when still a member of the Conservative party for statements made about a “Cult of victimhood and obsession with past wrongs,” during discussions for a potential day of remembrance for Indigenous children who suffered under the residential school program. When he left the CPC, he called the party morally bankrupt and added that a focus on racial issues will "divide us into little tribes" and bring "distrust, social conflict, and potentially violence."
Neo-Nazi Shaun Walker was identified as a PPC riding director in St. Catharines and a founding member of the party. Walker is a former member of a US-based neo-Nazi group who was jailed for assault and later became the head of the American white supremacist group National Alliance after the death of its founder William Pierce in the early 2000s until he was arrested for orchestrating a series of racially motivated assaults.
Bernier refused to condemn the Christchurch, New Zealand terrorist attack that left 51 Muslims tragically slain. While telling the press at the time he, as a rule, does not condemn any terror attacks in foreign countries, others quickly pointed out he has done so repeatedly in the past when the perpetrators were Muslim.
The PPC was also caught employing Darik Horn, a founding member of the neo-Nazi Canadian Nationalist Party whose former leader Travis Patron called for Jews to be removed "once and for all" from Canada. Darik Horn had the Proud Boys act as security for a 2019 PPC event in London. The Proud Boys were later designated a terrorist group in Canada.
With files from Sébastien Roback