Neo-Nazis Bring Red Ensign To Minister's Office To Protest Anti-Hate Toolkit

It is the flag Canada fought Adolf Hitler under and hangs proudly in Legions across Canada. However, some neo-Nazis have been waving it for years. To them, it is a symbol of a whiter Canada.

Canadian Anti-Hate Network

Protesting a toolkit recently released by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, a handful of greying neo-Nazis gathered outside the constituency office of The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Youth. Minister Hussen had endorsed the toolkit at its launch.

The demonstrators brought Canadian Red Ensign flags with them in protest of a paragraph in the toolkit referring to the flag’s appropriation by white supremacists. Several are longtime supporters or organizers on the far-right, including Paul Fromm, Raychyl Whyte, and Gus Stefanis, one-time leader of the now-disbanded neo-Nazi Canadian Nationalist Party.

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On June 28, CAHN launched Confronting and Preventing Hate in Canadian Schools to help caring adults identify and intervene when a young person is being groomed and recruited by white supremacist movements. Its pages address a series of symbols, language, and subcultures that make up Canada’s far-right and racist scene. Included among them was the Canadian Red Ensign.

White supremacists see this particular flag as harkening back to a time when Canada was whiter, before multiculturalism was Canadian policy, and celebrating Canada’s colonial legacy. 

Groups such as Blood and Honour and Aryan Guard flew the ensign at their rallies and the flag is featured extensively in the propaganda of today’s young white supremacists. Many of Diagolon’s more public faces have a “Black Ensign,” a version of the flag recast in dark camouflage. 

However, under the Red Ensign, Canadian soldiers fought and beat back the fascist Axis forces during the Second World War. It is still flown by Legions, some military veterans, historians, and others without a hateful agenda. 

Editor’s note: The toolkit has been updated to provide additional information about the Red Ensign, including that it’s often flown without a hateful agenda, and with the warning that the surrounding context is important to take into consideration.

More recently, Canada First – a young white supremacist group – adopted the ensign as part of their regular iconography. Their supporters have also used the flag to celebrate Canada's history of colonialism. 

In June 2021, there were discussions about removing statues celebrating the men who presided over the genocides of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples. 

Opposed to the idea of removing those statues, four men who are associated with Canada First, including its leader Tyler Russell, brought a Red Ensign to a statue of John A Macdonald. While climbing the statue, one of them fell off, breaking his arm.

Paul Fromm at the March 08, 2020 #IStandWithGreece Rally in Toronto.

Paul Fromm has been active in white supremacist circles for nearly 50 years and, to a certain generation, may be Canada’s most recognizable neo-Nazi. He will sometimes show up to protests uninvited, often holding the Red Ensign. Though he’s less prominent today, at his peak Fromm was a networker, often making international trips, and gave talks to racist skinhead crews like Blood & Honour, and Volksfront. He still arranges the occasional sparsely attended lecture at private venues.

Paul Fromm pictured with former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke. In the background hangs the Red Ensign, the American Flag, and the Confederate Battle Flag. 

The other big fish in the rain puddle is Gus Stefanis. Briefly the leader of the Canadian Nationalist Party, Stefanis only managed to garner 52 votes in the last federal election. Videos posted to Stefanis’ personal Facebook page also feature an excerpt from William Luther Pierce, author of “The Turner Diaries” and “Hunter,” both incredibly influential books in the international white power movement. The former is often credited as part of the inspiration behind the Oklahoma City bombing perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh that killed 168 people in 1995.

Gus Stefanis pictured in front of the Canadian Red Ensign. 

A January 2020 video posted to YouTube titled “Join Patriot Gus” uses footage of a man identified as Andre Chiasson wearing a Canadian Nationalist Party sweater while burning a copy of the Quran and then throwing the book on the ground. The profile image and name used by the channel are the same used by Stefanis across various social media accounts. More recent videos include footage of him speaking during WLM protests.

Another video of Stefanis, posted in January 2021, refers to a Scarborough by-election as “The Great Replacement by-election,” when he proceeds to point out that the large number of Asian candidates means the “great replacement is real,” referencing a white nationalist conspiracy theory that the replacement of white Canadians is part of a larger plot to eliminate the race.

After joining a public chat of an overtly neo-Nazi Telegram chat on July 17, 2020, Stefanis, posting as "Gus Smith," confirmed he is a member of and promoted the CNP.  He also promoted neo-Nazi Kevin Goudreau's Canadian Nationalist Front, and pointed to a picture of the group’s antisemitic postering as his reason for being there.

Raychyl Whyte pictured during the recent protest with the Red Ensign. Source: Facebook

Another attendee, Raychyl Whyte is a long-time booster of Fromm and his Canadian Association for Free Expression. Often cited on the organization's website as running annual fundraisers for Fromm. Her own social media history includes posting videos that call the COVID-19 vaccination the “jew jab,” and others that cite the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion

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