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Recent news articles discussing some of Winnipeg’s municipal candidates are quick to point out that several of these political hopefuls have connections to the “convoy” protests that blockaded the streets of Ottawa in February.
However, of the several candidates with connections to COVID-conspiracy protests – one is a former Proud Boy.
Winnipeg’s municipal elections will be held on October 26, 2022.
Todd McDougall is a host of Winnipeg Alternative Media (WAM). A former member of the since-terrorist designated Proud Boys, he produces regular streaming content for the site, specifically the Prairie Truth live stream.
He is a candidate in Pembina Trails Ward 2 for school board trustee. After working in childcare for 13 years in the district where he is running, he says he hopes that all sides of the political spectrum become increasingly involved in local politics.
“I want to see packed gymnasiums [for school board meetings],” he said over the phone, adding that an “excited” electorate is good for democracy.
McDougall has been a part of WAM for nine years and uses this platform to explore a number of topics and unique theories – which run the gamut from weather modification to water fluoridation, and 9/11 trutherism – and interviews a series of guests. People appearing on his live streams include PPC leader Maxime Bernier, flat earth proponent David Weiss, anti-2SLGBTQ+ pastor Artur Pawlowski and other Canadian and international subjects.
By his own telling, McDougall was a member of the Manitoba Proud Boys until the January 6 siege of the US Capitol building in Washington DC, when he says he left and the group disbanded. Multiple pictures show him with other members of the group prior to this date, sometimes in a black and yellow polo shirt similar to the Fred Perry brand adopted by the Proud Boys as their uniform.
While still a member, he attended multiple events attended by members of the Yellow Vests Canada movement, including one in Estevan, SK in August 2019, where he told the crowd, “Proud Boys from coast to coast are with us right now too,” while showing off his black and yellow polo shirt, associated with the group.
In addition to palling around with Northern Guard and Canadian Combat Coalition, McDougall is repping the fact that he's a Proud Boy pretty hard - including a knock-off Fred Perry shirt. /9 pic.twitter.com/qVF0wjsIhw— YVCE 🧛♂️🧛♀️🧛♂️🧛 - ARCHIVE (@VestsCanada) September 1, 2019
McDougall was arrested in June 2021, for his participation in a protest against public health measures and vaccine mandates.
According to numerous live streams posted to the Winnipeg Alternative Media Facebook page, McDougall travelled to Ottawa in late January to participate in the self-proclaimed “Freedom Convoy” turned weeks-long occupation of the city.
When reached for comment, McDougall says he understands people’s concerns about his membership in the Proud Boys, but believes many of the issues plaguing the club stem from the United States and maintains the Manitoba branch did not allow any racism.
Todd McDougall (top, left) and the Manitoba Proud Boys
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Patrick Allard is a trustee candidate in Winnipeg’s Ward 8. An organizer of numerous COVID-conspiracy protests in Winnipeg, he – like McDougall – is included among the self-proclaimed “Winnipeg Five” who were charged with violating health measures around public gatherings.
“Stop teaching kids they are victims because they are of certain races, and stop teaching other kids they are guilty for simply having less pigment in their skin,” Allard wrote on his Facebook in September. “That's the truth and that’s how you reconcile.”
Allard has made numerous hateful statements, typically targeting 2SLGBTQ+ people, or boosting organizations that actively work against them.
He has shared multiple posts to his personal Facebook from Action4Canada, a wildly conspiratorial network of Christian Nationalists that boost 5G cell tower conspiracy theories, COVID and vaccine misinformation, anti-trans propaganda, and Islamophobia.
The organization has created a series of “cease and desist” letters they encourage supporters to hand out as a legal remedy for previously existing mask mandates. Allard posted copies of the letters on his social media, encouraging others to hand them out.
“I’ve seen a lot of these notices and was going to write one myself until I came across this one from Action4Canada, and it says everything that’s needed to be said,” he wrote on Facebook. “A notice of liability alerts any party that they may be held personally accountable for any damages or harm caused by their actions or lack thereof. This notice of liability for parents to sign and he has hand over to their child’s school.”
Far from a new tactic, numerous attempts at combating health restrictions through the delivery of these letters have been attempted over the course of the pandemic.
Allard has also made no bones of his support for the far-right in other parts of the world.
“At least Italy is winning,” he wrote following reports that the far-right Brothers Of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni would likely become the nation’s next prime minister.
In other posts to his social media, Allard decries an alleged plan by Conservative Party Of Canada Leader Pierre Poilivere to “bring in 26,000 foreign nurses,” saying the politician is “Justin with glasses.”
Running in Pembina Trails Ward 1 is Dick Eastland. Eastland is an artist and regular creator of COVID-conspiracy videos that he posts to his following on social media.
He told the CBC he never considered running for a school board seat before the pandemic, but changed his mind after becoming involved with the pandemic’s thriving protest scene.
"We have been talking about this a lot privately from person to person and trying to inspire each other, to show some strength," he reportedly said. "For a lot of people, they're getting completely out of their comfort zone."
In a post on his social media in September 2021, he mentions that “Patrick Allard has been asking for people to step up and run for positions of influence in government” and that he was considering running for trustee. He outlines a platform that includes “making education a priority,” “following actual science,” and putting “a stop to discussing sexuality with children.”
Gaining a small following for his videos on social media, in November 2021, Eastman was a guest on the Bigots Corner live stream associated with Diagolon. Diagolon is a mostly Canadian community built from the fandom of far-right influencers like Jeremy MacKenzie. While MacKenzie currently is in custody awaiting a bail decision for four charges in Saskatchewan, other men from the community were arrested during February 2022’s border blockades near Coutts, Alberta.
During the stream, recorded before the arrests, Eastland mentions that he has never heard of Diagolon or MacKenzie specifically, a point he reiterated in a request for comment.
Also included was a list of his election priorities.
“Number one,” he wrote, “is sex and gender discussion with children. I am not convinced this is healthy or necessary with youngsters. There is plenty of math, science, language, and art that kids can be taught.
He adds that there is a “time and place” for “sex talk,” but that schools are not supposed to be a “groomers paradise.”
Running in the Seine River School Division in Ward 3 is Katie Howe.
Howe is a PPC supporter based on her social media posts during the last election. Videos posted by others include her attending rallies for the political party in 2021. Her husband, Sean Howe, was also a candidate for the PPC in the Kildonan/St. Paul riding.
Few public statements could be found outlining Howe’s platform. In a video announcing her candidacy, Howe offered some insights into her plans if elected to the board.
“If you believe that every child should be treated equally; if you believe in transparency for parents and guardians and for parental rights; and if you believe that highly sexual content and gender ideology should be removed from the curriculum, then you believe in me,” she told the camera.
Katie Howe did not respond to a request for comment.
In Pembina Trails School Division Ward 1, candidate Linda Karn is aiming for one of the positions of trustee.
According to her campaign website, she wants parents to serve as “first educators of children” in the areas of race, sex and gender due to a disagreement about what is “right and true.”
“On one end of the spectrum, there are people who believe in supporting the original, traditional male and female gender roles. On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who believe in a plethora of different genders which are too numerous to even list,” her website reads. “There are people whose ideas range between those ends of the spectrum. Parents vary widely on what age children should be taught about sex and its various forms.”
She also advocates that critical race theory – “a theory and a very confusing entity” – be kept out of curriculums, despite the fact that the theory is an advanced concept not studied in elementary or secondary school.
In response to a request for comment, Karn wrote said, “there isn't currently a model of sexual health education for school that I would endorse or find merit in.”
Karn adds that she would like “in depth consultation with parents” to determine “how or even if those topics should be covered.”