Canadian Neo-Nazis Join Anti-Drag Protests

Canada’s far and radical-right have almost universally pivoted to targeting the 2SLGBTQ+ community, especially drag shows and trans rights.

Canadian Anti-Hate Network

An unidentified WLM Canada leader known as McLeafin and SpencerTheFirst. Source: Telegram

Protesters outside of family-friendly drag events are quickly becoming more commonplace in Canada. Painting these events, often held in libraries and always with parents or guardians present, as grooming children to be the victims of abuse and pedophilia by members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. 

While neo-Nazi attendance at anti-drag protests in the United States and the United Kingdom is well documented, Canada is no exception.

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Drag shows intended for adults can contain adult themes, but they almost always take place in age-restricted venues. Family-friendly drag events, on the other hand, do not have adult themes and instead feature fully-clothed performers in colourful costumes who may dance, sing, or read a storybook for kids.

In June 2022, White Lives Matter (WLM) staged a small protest in Ontario they said was in “solidarity” with their “brothers” in the US white nationalist group Patriot Front

“We protested the perverse ‘drag queen story hour’ in our local area,” the group posted online, along with a video from their protest.

Arguing with attendees gathered in a public park, they waved signs and shouted slogans like “groomers go home” from a distance. 

At least one member of WLM’s branch in Alberta appears to have attended two of three consecutive weekend protests against drag events in Calgary on January 28 and February 4. While the individual was masked, antifascist activists identified him as long-time racist skinhead and neo-Nazi Jason Harley.  

Carrying a large canvas banner to this and other protests, it reads “Reject degeneracy, embrace tradition,” in red and black stencil letters.

WLM is a decentralized global movement of racist and far-right activists who have adopted the language of Black liberation to spread hateful and often false narratives about the replacement of people of European ancestry. 

In Canada, WLM operates numerous small chapters across the country. Responsible for placing propaganda banners at highway overpasses and littering various locations with their branded stickers, the northern iteration of the movement began in Toronto by hosting public protests that have yet to break double-digit attendance. 

The organizer appears as a host and guest on numerous neo-Nazi podcasts and live streams. In 2022, under the monicker “Mcleafin,” he told the Canadian Anti-Hate Network he considers himself a “National Socialist” – the political movement led by Adolf Hitler – and quoted a number of figures, including George Lincoln Rockwell, the late founder of the American Nazi Party

While early in the organization’s origins, Mcleafin would ask members not to “name the Jew” or post explicitly pro-Nazi content in their open online chat, all public Canadian WLM social channels reviewed by CAHN contain open support for fascism, fascist literature, and links to multiple other neo-Nazi accounts.

Harley has also been identified as a member of Alberta’s Active Club chapter. Like WLM, this is a decentralized movement, with chapters across Canada, the United States, and Europe. Founded by an American white nationalist last found to be hiding in Bulgaria by an investigation published in Bellingcat, these international white-only work out clubs are linked by their common use of the Active Club brand and aesthetics rather than a clear hierarchy. 

In British Columbia, a January 28 protest took place outside of a library with a very similar theme. Once again a small number of people gathered to protest a drag event and were met by hundreds of supporters.

Shooting video from the crowd was Timothy Coish, who runs a small neo-Nazi blog. Coish, a former hockey player, flew from BC to Ontario in 2022 to document a national meet-up of Active Club Canada – though he maintains in his writing he is not a member. 

He attended the event with another individual wearing clothing from a company run in part by Josh Bruce, a member of the VHS or its feeder club, Crew 38. Activists who attended the event told CAHN the man with Coish was Bruce, but this could not be independently verified. In 2022, our investigation into the Active Club found that Bruce was the organization's BC recruiter.

Other Hammerskins, including from the larger Hammerskin Nation’s European chapters, have appeared in promotional photos for the clothing company – often with their faces obscured.

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