Canadian Anti-Hate Network
In Summer 2020, Alex Vriend began travelling and networking within the neo-fascist Diagolon movement under the name “The Ferryman’s Toll.” The Plaid Army streamers, and their Diagolon community, regularly push far-right and conspiracy content and detail their fantasies of an inevitable and bloody revolution.
Diagolon is increasingly becoming a militia network. Their goals are ultimately fascist: to use violence to take power and strip rights away from people who do not meet their purity tests based on ideology, race, and gender. With power or permission, they would execute their perceived enemies. Their motto is “gun or rope.”
Vriend has become one of the more outspoken and influential members of this growing national network, and runs many of their chat rooms. Like many of Diagolon’s supporters, he is rarely shy about pushing antisemitism and, more recently, outright Holocaust denial. His violent rhetoric was one of the reasons a PPC rally in December was cancelled.
Vriend remained anonymous while he travelled across Canada. Reportedly selling many of his possessions, he took his van and dog on the road to meet other “bigots” – the tongue-in-cheek moniker adopted by members of the Diagolon network to refer to themselves.
The concept of Diagolon started as a joke among the Plaid Army streamers. Running southeast from Alaska, capturing most of the western provinces, and ending in Florida, it envisions absorbing the “sane” regions of North America into a new country in the shape of a slash. It’s become the symbol and identifier for Plaid Army fans who push each other to train and prepare for a coming conflict. They are especially animated by their belief that there’s a sinister plot behind COVID-19 and public health measures.
Vriend said in live streams that he is a trained draftsman, originally from Ontario, and was regularly referred to as “Alex” by other members. He says he studied political science in university and allegedly had given up building his own home prior to moving to Alberta.
His full name was revealed during a spate of infighting within Diagolon by Bryan Trottier, a far-right troll known for his harassment campaigns which, even for the far-right, are notably disgusting and vicious. He also has a tendency to burn bridges on his own side.
A longtime member and booster of the Plaid Army, Trottier was banned from the Diagolon controlled community spaces after launching into a sexually explicit smear campaign against one of its female members. As the conflict spread, Trottier took aim at some of the group's most popular streamers, eventually landing on Vriend, who he decided to name.
Photo posted by Alex Vriend (left) with Bryan Trottier (right) and other members of the Diagolon network. Source: Telegram.
After Trottier called Vriend and Plaid Army’s de facto leader Jeremy Mackenzie, AKA Raging Dissident, “controlled opposition” and a federal agent, Vriend posted links to social media threads naming Trottier’s family members. Another member posted Trottier’s home address in Wakefield, Quebec.
All three men claimed to have incriminating evidence on the other that they could take to law enforcement or “antifa,” though none was offered.
Don’t Pay The Ferryman
As The Ferryman’s Toll, Vriend regularly boosted the work of the originator of the Diagolon concept, Jeremy MacKenzie. MacKenzie is a former combat veteran turned conspiracy streamer, antisemite, and accelerationist – meaning he believes a revolution is inevitable and necessary to collapse the current system.
With MacKenzie streaming less frequently, Vriend has stepped in to fill the void. Sometimes hosting his own streams, and now regularly holding an “after-party” video call after MacKenzie finishes his own program, Vriend ventures down much of the same path as the Raging Dissident, regularly introducing historical revisionism and outright Holocaust denial into his streams and chats.
Vriend has shared the 10-part documentary series “Europa: The Last Battle” on his channel. The film is a spanning piece of propaganda that blames Jewish people for starting the Second World War as part of a larger plot to lead to the foundation of Israel, erstwhile Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist Workers Party were merely defending themselves and Europe.
Within the chats, Vriend defends the documentary’s message, posting links to newspaper headlines that allege to refute that six million Jewish people died during the Holocaust. When one member of the chat said “everything [the Nazis] stood for was lunacy and the world is a better place because they were wiped off the face of the earth,” Vriend responded first with “You’re an idiot.”
He added that the gas chambers that were used during the Shoah in German death camps had “wooden doors,” a common trope used in Holocaust denial.
“He did a lot of great things too,” Vriend said about Hitler. “Times Man of the Year, 1938. That must have been because he was so tyrannical and oppressive.”
When another posted a meme reading “Hitler did nothing wrong,” Vriend again jumped in.
“Yes, he did. He invaded Russia without a winter strategy.”
In the same conversation, he posts a quote from Adolf Hitler outlining the difference between the “Marxist socialism” Vriend feels is promoted by every major Canadian political party and National Socialism, the ideology embraced by the Nazis.
Photo posted by Alex Vriend (back, second from the right) posing with Diagolon supporters. Source: Telegram
When People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier and Ontario First MPP candidate Randy Hillier announced they would be attending a rally at X University – formerly known as Ryerson University – Vriend was one of several members who publicly called for violence during the event against counter-protesters.
“You’ve heard me talk about protests before, I don’t think they’re viable,” he said about the event. “You know what I do think is viable? This Saturday at Ryerson University, a bunch of communist and antifa fucks are going to show up to confront the people at the Randy Hillier/Maxime Bernier rally. There’s someone to confront. You can go make a statement. Get in their face, be like fuck you.”
Vriend, then safely in Alberta, asked his audience to assault the opposition.
“You know those Proud Boys videos we all love to see where they just march down antifa and start cracking them? Don’t you want to be one of those guys? It’s your chance. If you can go, go. It's a prime propaganda opportunity for us."
He also encouraged attendees to wear armour, saying, “If you don’t have knuckleduster gloves, like the padded gloves, you can get them at the dollar store. If you don’t have those, get them because you know what? Punching people in the head hurts your fucking hands.”
“Put lead in them,” someone responds, laughing.
“We’ve been saying the same thing this whole time,” he commented to others joining him through audio and video, “that these mother fuckers need to die.”
After the Canadian Anti-Hate Network exposed these incitements to violence, The Ryerson Conservatives, a former campus club that saw its charter revoked by the university, said they would no longer host the event.
“The Ryerson Conservatives do not associate with any other political groups, especially Tyler Russell and “Canada First” or the “Plaid Army,” the organization wrote.
The statement adds, "we will never tolerate threats of violence at our event and will never associate with those that seek to cause violence."
The PPC cancelled the event altogether shortly afterwards, but blamed The Ryerson Conservatives for “caving to the woke mob.”
Members of the Diagolon network are ardent supporters of both the PPC and the entire Hillier family. Diagolon threw its full weight behind the PPC during the last federal election, including Randy Hillier’s daughter Chelsea Hillier, who ran for the party in Elgin-Middlesex-London.
The River Styx
The Diagolon community is unique in how it has transitioned from a few dedicated content producers pushing well-worn antisemitic theories and their fans, into what is now an increasingly offline network of in-person local groups. This is in no small part thanks to Vriend.
While popular among the online and offline followers for his van trip across the county, he has been guarded about his identity, revealing personal details slowly over the course of a series of live streams. This tour included meeting his eventual exposer, Trottier. During the ensuing arguments, both men would say that Vriend had visited Trottier’s home in Wakefield, Quebec.
“I used to plan things for a living and now I find it very difficult to plan two days ahead of myself,” he said in a short video recorded from the road.
Rarely shy to show his face, Vriend has also exposed other members that he has met along the way. Photos posted in some areas show the faces of the people that he has linked up with, while others have faces covered by a skull containing the white slash of Diagolon or a ram’s head.
Vriend has not always been careful. In posts to Diagolon chats late last year showing images of multiple meet-ups across the country, Vriend would upload pictures in one space with the faces of some of his friends covered, only to later post video of them exposed.
Images from a video upload from Vriend. Source: Telegram
Before his time among the plaids, however, much of Vriend’s biography appears to line up with the details he has given to his compatriots. Claiming to be from rural Ontario, local newspaper reports show a young Vriend taking a babysitting certification course in 2001 in the Greely area.
Source: Algonquin Times
Flash forward to over a decade later, Vriend was enrolled as an architectural technology student at Algonquin College. Written up in the school’s paper for his part in a winning team awarded for a project involving green small houses in 2015, he also claims to have attended the University of Guelph where he played defensive end in football and studied political science.
In 2017, he was the owner of a company named Imersiv Virtual Models that offered 3D and virtual reality modelling for real estate, allowing viewers to take a complete “walk” through commercial and residential properties for sale.
Vriend says he discovered MacKenzie after finding “his video from the aftermath of the Nova Scotia shooting” in 2020. Other posts under the Ferryman moniker in other places on the internet show an interest in buying and trading silver. By July 2021, he had a small side business selling Diagolon themed t-shirts until the store was shut down by the online retail platform.
Alex Vriend declined to provide comment for this story.