Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Vincent Laanstra pushed open a bar door in Calgary as wind and snow beat down on the windows outside. Driving his parents’ car, he came from work at a major airline, where he claims to have helped conduct anti-discrimination classes before being laid off during the pandemic. A long time far-right activist, a few months later the son of Dutch immigrants would find himself the heir apparent to the leadership of ID Canada -- an anti-immigrant, antisemitic, anti-LGBTQ2S+ organization dedicated to preserving the country for who they view as its true founders, white Europeans.
Once one of the largest white nationalist/alt-right organizations in Canada, I watched bickering and paranoia dwindle their numbers across the country into a handful of poorly motivated hangers on. Now paralyzed by the pandemic, the group is desperately trying to recover after its former leader isolated and cast out numerous members as suspected CSIS agents and repeatedly failed to spark renewed recruitment.
After his predecessor’s ousting in July 2020, Laanstra aimed to expand and make IDC a ”globally known player in the rightwing activist sphere.” Despite these lofty goals, forging these connections has seemed elusive for the young organizer.
Recruitment was always a chief priority in the organization. During my first in-person meeting with the group, a nurse named Craig talked about how close he was to bringing his friends over to their side.
“They’re like alt-lite,” he explained, using a term used to describe what are also called civnat or civic nationalists -- groups that may be fascist in goals or policy, but will accept racialized people into their ranks. “Just a little further right, and they could be one of us.”
IDC falls into the category of the now largely out of vogue “alt-right.” Popularized by American neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, it was an attempted rebranding of white supremacy and its methods attracted a new, younger generation. IDC would deny that they are neo-Nazis, preferring to call themselves “Identitarians,” a European movement that pre-dates but is analogous with the alt-right.
“At IDC we only let in Europeans, because Europeans are the only true Canadians.” -- IDC Founder Jonathan McCormack
There were brief mentions of a collaborative “pan-Canada nationalist” server which included groups like the Proud Boys. Laanstra told me that the plan was moving forward, but nothing materialized before publication.
The alliance was a surprise considering he had mocked the Proud Boys in the chat previously.
When Laanstra stepped into the bar it was still early into the COVID-19 pandemic, travel between provinces unrestricted, and in Calgary, restaurants remained open but mostly empty. The Irish decor that littered the walls extended to the bartender, who greeted the familiar patron in a brogue. Laanstra is a regular, and the pub is the site of Calgary’s monthly in-person get-togethers. When we shook hands that evening, he was chapter leader of the only branch not currently hemorrhaging members.
He doesn’t recognize me -- we met only once during a Christmas party in Toronto -- but after some awkward introductions, he doesn’t waste time laying out the organization’s new vision: a stronger push into universities, a countrywide nationalist security force, and increasingly visible activism.
“Calgary and area [sic] is getting to that point, I’m seeing our stickers constantly everywhere and I have no idea or don’t even remember who put them up,” he’d tell members across a private room on the gamer chat app Discord. “On campuses, in towns, at the mall, everywhere. Have been getting Snapchat’s as well [sic].”
Anecdotally this was true, as the long CTrain ride to the bar included multiple versions of stickers bearing IDC’s red Lambda symbol along the way.
Sitting in that bar was the result of a focused and gradual infiltration operation. Months of attending meetings under an assumed name, taking audio recordings of conversations, detailed notes, and travelling under the auspices of a fake work trip to Calgary had brought me there.
IDC is broken into regional and city-based groups. Most of the Calgary branch was initially confirmed to come, but heavy snow, early coronavirus fears, and what may have amounted to one of another series security checks within the group meant that Laanstra was the only person to arrive that night.
ID Canada’s then-commander was a man allegedly in his 30s, living near Chestermere and Strathmore, Alberta. He was referred to as Alex by multiple members, but only ever communicated to the Toronto chapter through voice call or text under the name Alpine or Thor. When he took the reins from the founders, he quickly tried to pull the organization in a more aggressive direction, spurring the organization's virulent antisemitism, anti-immigration, and unblemished view of European society.
Posters designed by the group point to the “ethnocide” of white Canadians, pushes to “stop the replacement” of Europeans, and attacks the use of the RCMP as “baggage boys” for border crossers.
“We can see the demographic replacement of Old Stock Canadians happening before our eyes. We’re one of the last generations of men and women who can change the tides, and that’s exactly what we intend on doing,” the IDC website reads. They positioned themselves as defenders against “Canada’s decaying identity, increased third-world immigration and the prevalence of anti-European sentiments in this country.”
Multiculturalism is viewed as an organized plot to replace Europeans, foisted upon Canada by globalists and radical professors that promote post-modernist, communist theories. This is what pushes ID Canada beyond typical nationalism into the territory of the alt-right -- beliefs rooted in antisemitism, anti-LGBTQ+, and Islamophobia built into its core.
“Since I stepped into the role as leader of IDC, I have been carefully assessing members and have been looking for people who are thoroughly committed to the cause, are humble and able to follow directions,” Alpine said as he promoted new leadership, all of whom are in the west -- Laanstra among them.
Peacekeepers logo developed by ID Canada. Source: Discord
Laid out was the basis of the group’s plans for expansion into more mainstream acceptance, networking through university conservative groups, and the establishment of a private group of enforcers, the “peacekeepers.”
“We will set up a sub-organization that will focus on public safety and will have a presence at protests, patrols, security for VIPs, etc,” Alpine wrote in an extended strategy plan.
Potential peacekeepers required a variety of skills and are ”required to train in martial arts and have a weekly workout routine. Members will also be required to get level C first aid training.” All serving, like the campus organizations, to recruit mainstream conservatives and eventually funnel them into IDC.
“We will promote nationalism starting with regional pride and transition that energy into national anti-globalist sentiment. As members are promoted through the ranks of this movement they will eventually reach a point where they have proven themselves to be our guys and will be initiated into IDC.“
Despite these ambitious plans, as 2019 ended, Alpine quickly descended into paranoia, casting members out en masse. He accused other leaders of being CSIS agents -- specifically Laanstra and IDC’s only remaining British Columbian member, a man known as Keiran.
Alpine’s downward spiral forced both of IDC’s founders back into the group only months after stepping away.
INSIDE ID CANADA
ID Canada is the creation of two Ontario tradesmen. One first reported by the Anti-Racist Collective Canada -- an activist blog that tracks white extremism -- is Stormfront user Tyler Hover. The other is a man the Canadian Anti-Hate Network has identified as Jonathan McCormack. IDC began as a mirror of the European group Generation Identity, but broke off when, according to McCormack, GI insisted on increasing amounts of control over its Canadian counterparts.
Images of Tyler Hover captured during a public IDC event (left) and during a private IDC Christmas party (right).
Attempting to gain entry into the group is markedly simple, but monetized at almost every level -- at least in Ontario. Their website includes a brief questionnaire that screens for ideology; social media accounts (a fake account was submitted); and a small amount of personal information, including views on immigration. Journalists are asked to self identify -- I did not -- and a secure payment of $15 is required for membership.
This was followed by a call through the Discord app. The questions were nearly identical to the ones on the sites, but delved deeper into feelings on immigration, the media, and a final question about “miscegenation.”
“It means the mixing of the races,” an anonymous interviewer explained when the word was repeated back.
After the voice screening, members are vetted in person. This took place in the middle of a busy Toronto McDonald's. When a man with shaggy brown hair, wearing thick boots and clothes, pushed through the doors, he introduced himself only as “John.”
Photo taken during an ID Canada meeting (right) and a Facebook photo uploaded by Jonathan McCormack (left).
This meeting, led by McCormack, seemed to follow a similar path as the last interview, but would take radical turns as he thought up new questions.
We drank coffee, which he complained made him jittery. He was upset about a lack of motivation among his other recruits.
They wanted “quality initiates,” he said, before having me unpack questions about immigration. I told him I was a fan of white supremacist Varg Vikernes and the openly racist Red Ice. This was before they were banned from YouTube.
Other members, who would later meet regularly at a series of local bars, included a computer science student, an event promoter, Craig -- the nurse who left IDC to join the military -- and several others.
Among them, “Joe” claimed to be an infanteer in the Canadian Armed Forces. Travelling from Owen Sound to attend meetings, he later griped about the group’s lack of action.
ID Canada members (left) Tony, who said he works in event promotion and Craig in a red shirt with IDC founder Tyler Hover in black (right). Craig left the group to allegedly join the military.
“I drove two hours to eat wings,” he complained during a call. He was asked to start his own chapter, but did not want to poster streets emptied by the pandemic.
Hover, a self employed metal worker, reportedly taught himself web design to create the IDC website. Canadaland would identify a man by the same name who was paid by Faith Goldy’s Toronto mayoral campaign to design its website, after ARC Canada found her campaign store appeared to be listed under ID Canada’s Shopify account.
Membership dues are required monthly, allegedly all going towards the production of high gloss posters and stickers that are distributed a few hundred at a time to activists both inside and outside the organization.
After the leadership handoff to Alberta, it was revealed that only Ontario members appeared to have been regularly required to pay dues. Other membership requirements were made more clear.
“At IDC we only let in Europeans because Europeans are the only true Canadians,” McCormack said before launching into an explanation about his “100% Basque” lineage.
The postering itself is rarely a solo affair. Until the pandemic, group members were expected to go out at least once a month. At the height of activity during the 2019 federal election, teams of two or three would paste them throughout high traffic areas in the dead of night. A combination of flour and water is used to make the adhesive paste. Ironically, the recipe was provided through a link to an anarchist website.
I had to take part in these posterings, but would return later to rip them down.
The tests do not end at the in-person meeting. Initiates are continually screened to check for police affiliation, “antifa,” or general “degeneracy.” The initial vetting had gone well, but my first chapter meeting involved quizzes about my beliefs -- “how much Jewish ancestry before someone stops being European?” -- and on my background, part of which included being a former military member.
After an error in a piece of Navy trivia, access to the chat was severed without warning.
“You’re a cop,” McCormack wrote under the screen name Woad when contacted. After providing more background information, including an old service number (I was, in fact, in the Navy), access was granted again.
Operational security, or OPSEC, is a primary concern among the group, and members are regularly reassured that the vetting process is secure enough to protect against infiltrators. They took note of our expose on the Alberta Separatist Youth League, and Laanstra promised everyone it wouldn’t happen to them.
“Let this be an example as to why we keep everything so locked up here and why our vetting is so strong,” he wrote. “Antifa infiltrated this group, who's modelled after a lot of IDC.”
ASYL is a youth group dedicated to “optics friendly National Socialism.” Despite regular claims that IDC are not neo-Nazis, Laanstra said he was in contact with the group and was offering support.
During the 2019 federal election, posters bearing the logo of Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada were distributed by IDC, littering street corners and lampposts. Though there was no affiliation, IDC supported the nascent political party wholeheartedly. According to Hover, the push to circulate simple printer made posters with the phrase “Sovereign Nations Have Borders,” was done in tandem with other nationalist groups, though the specifics were never divulged. By their own estimates, thousands went up across the country.
Members were instructed to wear no clothing affiliated with the group, and leave no IDC propaganda or stickers nearby. They were hoping to generate media coverage and add to the controversy the party had garnered.
The posters were noticed, especially in Hamilton, where Yuri Baziuk-Swaga, Toronto’s final chapter leader, delighted in raising the ire of journalists at the Hamilton Spectator. On the eve of the election, he posted pictures boasting of placing the PPC marked posters on a constituency office of the NDP.
Yuri Baziuk-Swaga. Source: LinkedIn
Baziuk-Swaga was also a volunteer for Faith Goldy’s mayoral run. Goldy is a self-described “propaganda arm” for the alt-right movement, and her failed run for office is where he met McCormack. Afterwards, Yuri would serve as an organizer for the PPC at its Etobicoke EDA before being removed from his position, with the official PPC Etobicoke Centre Twitter account eventually disavowing him.
Another pair of members pictured working with Laanstra during a postering and clean up campaign are now believed to be David Majak and Andrea Baker. Both were identified after comparing multiple photos shared on the chat with their publicly available images.
Members of ID Canada's Alberta chapter including David Majak and Andrea Baker (left) as well as chapter leader Vincent Laanstra and an unknown individual (right). Source: Discord
Both Majak and Baker were also on scene during a community picnic to address racial inequality in Red Deer, which broke into several instances of violence.
“A friend told me that he would love to see the middle east turned to glass,” Majak wrote in a verified profile on the “free-speech” Twitter-mirror Gab. “I then told him that the Jews were the real threat to the West, and he told me that I shouldn't be so hateful.”
In the chats, Baker bragged to ID Canada about her side outnumbering the anti-racist demonstrators.
In a video she posted to her YouTube channel, Baker can also be seen shouting “white lives matter” at passing BLM protesters. In the comments section, she called white people marching in the crowd “self hating” and liked a reply calling them “race traitors.” Elsewhere, Baker has tweeted “Fuck you #WhitePride #Itsok.”
David Majak and Andrea Baker. Source: Facebook
Also in Red Deer, posters placed by an account linked to Baker about the “great replacement” were found littering the outside of a refugee centre.
“I went to put up more but then homeless people started yelling things at me so I left,” she wrote under the screen name Juturna, after posting the photo.
“Exemplary work as always,” Laanstra wrote, “everyone can learn from your effort.”
Besides being the basis of a longstanding racist conspiracy theory, “The Great Replacement,” was also much of the title and subject of the manifesto of the Christchurch shooter who killed 51 people in a New Zealand mosque.
Picture posted to ID Canada member's chat. Source: Discord
According to reports, the terrorist also donated to Martin Sellner, a leader and spokesman of Generation Identity.
IDC aims to remain aloof, but wants media attention. By refusing to talk with the media about their sometimes cryptic and on-the-face benign phrased propaganda, they can denounce the same reporting they desperately seek as biased and unfactual.
The actual political goals of the group, even after 18 months inside, were ill defined, rather focusing on each member’s identity as a European and rejection of globalism as leading attributes. They focus on “traditional values,” but pull from a menagerie of far right-wing beliefs. New posters include anti-pornography messaging and demand an end to “white guilt,” while conspiracies around planned demographic change and white erasure remain the primary cause célèbre.
ID Canada also embraces some of the oldest and most generic of conspiracy theories. Main chat channels were policed for incendiary talk that could be used against the group later. Members are responsible for deleting these conversations after they happen. But in the spaces meant for longer serving members, ones that are reset less frequently, Alpine once shouted down a suggestion that laurel leaves be used as part of an IDC poster for its connection to both the Masons and Zionism.
“I'm saying given the ties between masonry and Zionism it will give people the wrong impression,” he wrote. “The people importing massive amounts of people into our country and destroying our children's future are masons.”
Also away from the main chats, Toronto members were told to create multiple Reddit and Twitter accounts, with the purpose of creating the appearance of support or condemnation for targeted issues and topics.
“From now on we’ll be spending more time on social media as part of our activism. This includes identifying posts to brigade (mass comment and vote/like) making anon posts about our activism, and shutting down or subverting posts,” McCormack wrote.
Like so many urgent initiatives, members had to prove the accounts were set up within 24 hours. He never asked us to do anything with the accounts.
BROADER CONNECTIONS TO THE FAR-RIGHT
The group has been trying, largely unsuccessfully, to reestablish connections to the larger European Identitarianism movement, while also attempting to court figures and platforms that could raise its profile in the movement. This has included attempting to interview Swedish nationalist YouTuber Marcus Follin, aka The Golden One; being offered an appearance on the white supremacist podcast Red Ice (which never materialized after members allegedly were not willing to show their faces;) and volunteering to engage in activism across the Atlantic.
After a stop in Toronto in December 2019, Laanstra travelled to Europe, where he appeared in a picture with Italy’s Matteo Salvini, and claimed to have met Belgium’s Tom Van Grieken, both prominent far-right, anti-immigration politicians. Boasting in the chat about a rendezvous with other Identitarians while in Europe, he proudly added IDC’s logo to a wall of nationalist stickers, and postered unknown streets with signs reading “Plant more trees, save the seas, deport refugees.”
Photos posted to IDC group chat by Vincent Laanstra. In Calgary, he showed a version with his face exposed. Source: Discord.
Despite constant attempts at growth, IDC’s foothold in many provinces has dwindled to the point of near non-existent. A once thriving Halifax chapter has completely collapsed, the Prairies have several members but they are spread out across the region, and BC’s branch suffered mass attrition into another group called Northern Identity.
McCormack claims they once used the nationalist “book club” to vet initiates by proxy and in turn Northern Identity “took like 10 guys from us.”
IDC has also long claimed connections to more of Canada’s white nationalist movements, though Laanstra complained to me later that the leadership turnover involved no handoff of connections to the international far-right community.
While the similarly aligned Students for Western Civilization explicitly continued their association with phrases like “White Nationalism,” IDC has made efforts to move away from it. This has included making inroads with the Proud Boys. Lines of communication were said to be open between the two, despite them not being wholly aligned on racial issues. When talk of a collaboration began, The Proud Boys seemed to confirm this relationship, as they began reposting pictures of IDC’s various garbage cleanups and posterings on Telegram, an encrypted networking and chat app.
Alpine/Thor indicated at various points he was being pressured by Faith Goldy, Canadian Infidels, and SWCiv to put up posters imitating anti-fascist symbols with offensive messaging in an attempt to smear them.
ID Canada's former leader Alex, posting as Thor, about plans to smear opposition groups. Source: Discord
Like many of their ideas, it didn’t come to fruition.
After publication, SWCiv commented that they have "never engaged in or encouraged any kind of false flag poster campaigns or other deceptive tactics. Our posters are never anything but sincere messages."
Alex also shared screenshots of a message from Johnathan Boone, the pseudonym used by the former producer of the Canadian neo-Nazi This Hour Has 88 Minutes and Ensign Hour podcasts. He suggests the group begin distributing posters that read, “It’s okay to hire white.” Boone’s plan was discussed, but rejected as members mocked the notoriously secretive figure’s fear of exposure.
Every level of this world is steeped in irony. Meant to distract, embarrass, and muddy the waters around the discourse of race and diversity in the country, posters with seemingly innocuous messages like “It’s okay to be white” or “Sovereign nations have borders,” are designed to provoke the media, frustrate anti-racists, and draw in “old-stock Canadians.”
McCormack and Hover stepping down from leadership signalled a major change in energy and tactics. McCormack left, telling me privately that he was frustrated and unmotivated. Looking to focus on personal issues, he was concerned about the direction of the group, which he viewed as his legacy. For Laanstra and Alpine, however, the departure of the old leadership allowed them to push through a physical requirement and a concise plan to only recruit attractive, young, white members.
These plans were quickly dashed at the start of 2020 when Alpine withdrew from almost all communication. He would re-emerge briefly to demand more activity, increased propaganda production, and stronger membership drives, only to disappear again for weeks. When he began to level accusations over another encrypted app called Wire, accusing his most senior leaders of being in bed with CSIS, he was booted from the group and locked out of the chat servers.
Generation Identity, IDC’s European parent, never successfully rooted itself deeply into legitimate European politics after emerging in 2012, but their visibility on the continent is many magnitudes larger than its Canadian offspring has ever been able to muster. The only other part of the sprawling collective of European GI groups ever to acknowledge IDC was a note on the website of GI Slovakia, according to researchers from the UK-based Hope Not Hate.
Aiming now to rebrand as a gentler “safe space” for young nationalists, ID Canada finds itself with few friends, desperate for airtime to swell its ranks, and banned from all major social platforms.
The “alt-right” brand is on its way out, having been widely associated with Charlottesville, violence, and neo-Nazism. ID Canada seems like it’s on its way out too.
Despite previously having a public spokesperson, ID Canada does not talk to the press and did not respond to requests to do so before publication of this article.
Follow Peter Smith on Twitter @misterEpete
Discord chat logs will be made available to researchers upon request. For a copy, email [email protected].