By renowned social media and data sciences expert Megan Squire.
Peter Shawn Taylor
We are contacting you today about factual errors in a piece published by the Manning Foundation’s C2C journal on January 22nd by John Klein titled The Wrath of CAHN. We are simultaneously publishing this letter on our platforms in the interests of transparency.
First, we were not contacted prior to publication to answer any of the allegations in the piece, or we would have corrected several falsehoods and obvious and easily fact-checked errors. We will list dozens of examples.
Second, the editorial language and clear biases in the piece would suggest this is an op-ed, but it is not properly marked as such.
Thirdly, and unsurprisingly, the Manning Foundation’s falsehoods have now been repeated by others who seek to discredit our organization and its work.
While we will detail the specific falsehoods and errors later, we will begin by debunking the broad theses of the piece in order, which are as follows.
Without any merit, that the author’s criticisms of the Southern Poverty Law Center apply to the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
CAHN received a $25,000 start-up grant from the SPLC with no strings attached. We have also exchanged information about threats, hate groups, and aspiring terrorists on an ad hoc basis. The author’s perceived complaints against the SPLC are not applicable to CAHN, a small and independent organization (and vice versa). The SPLC, along with Anti-Racist Canada and Hope Not Hate, were all inspirations for CAHN, insofar that Canada deserves to have a non-profit organization that monitors hate groups.
That CAHN invents or exaggerates the threat of hate group activity in Canada, which the piece makes out to be insignificant, in order to make money; that CAHN profiteers from hate and wishes that there were higher hate crime statistics.
CAHN is a non-profit with a volunteer board. Nobody is getting rich doing this, and that’s not the goal. Right-wing extremism is responsible for two major terrorist attacks in Canada. There are larger demonstrations and more hate groups active today than the last major resurgence in Canada in the days of the Heritage Front in the 80s and early 90s. Every knowledgeable observer agrees it is worse today. CAHN is advocating for StatsCan to collect better data on hate incidents. The very underreported data we have, aside from a dip in 2018, shows a significant 5-year increase. In the absence of good data, we also must rely on the experiences of the communities that are targeted, and they say it’s getting worse. We want accurate statistics on hate incidents. To claim that CAHN wants higher numbers, and therefore more hate crime so as to profit from them is a grossly malicious lie and beneath an organization purporting to be about democratic education.
That CAHN engages in doxing and is therefore a threat to public safety; that the tactics used by CAHN are equivalent to those used by hate groups.
The term ‘doxing’ has come to be conflated with threats and behaviour CAHN does not engage in. The difference between doxing and journalism is method, intent, and outcome. Doxing is the practice of publishing private information, often to encourage targeted harassment, death threats, and violence. The most common hallmark of doxing is the publishing of addresses. Exposing the name and city of a host of a neo-Nazi podcast and explaining his neo-Nazi activism using his own words is journalism. Conversely, when far-right activists targeted Alaa Al-Soufi and his family, they published information on his family and their family’s restaurant address and phone number repeatedly, leading to death threats and physical visits. That’s doxing. There is no equivalency between the two.
That CAHN addresses individuals who are undeserving; that neo-Nazis are merely polemicists or naïve.
Examples of individuals CAHN has expressed concern about include well-known neo-Nazi Paul Fromm, who was a border-crossing hate group organizer, associated with Blood and Honour (now named a terrorist group by the Government of Canada and Fromm himself indicates he is now denied entry to the United States). Fromm continues to be active including republishing and endorsing the writings of the terrorist who murdered 51 men, women, and children in New Zealand on the basis of their religion - yet despite all of this, the Manning Foundation piece refers to Fromm as only a ‘polemicist’. It refers to Kevin Goudreau the same way, despite Goudreau’s gigantic swastika tattoo, longstanding history on neo-Nazi forums, his calling for us, journalists, police, and government workers to be murdered, and his role in the radicalization of a young man who expressed a desire to murder anti-fascists with a pipe bomb. The piece similarly whitewashes a self-proclaimed “propaganda arm” for the neo-Nazi movement, and a group founded by a self-proclaimed Finnish neo-Nazi found guilty of racially motivated assault.
That CAHN ignores egregious activity by the far-left.
CAHN focuses on hate group activity regardless of political bent because of the threat to public safety, and because relatively few resources are spent to counter it. With our limited resources we prioritize the most concerning groups, determined by their public impact, size, activities, whether and to what degree they are already being addressed, and danger. That said, we would consider any Canadian group a hate group if it meets the definition, published openly on our website, which is based in Canadian law. Anti-fascist groups and anti-racist groups do not meet the definition, they are the antithesis.
That human rights laws have been found unconstitutional.
This is false. The piece makes several factual errors which will be detailed below. In short, the courts, including the Supreme Court, have consistently upheld human rights laws as constitutional.
We will now detail specific falsehoods and errors in order of appearance.
- You have used a copyrighted photo of Richard Warman without permission, so respect for the law and intellectual property rights are clearly not high on the Manning Foundation list of concerns.
- Open expressions of racism are not rare in Canada. The best data we have is from the General Social Survey (GSS - 2014). The next iteration is due to be published later this year. Individuals self-reported experiencing a hate crime at a rate over 20 times that of the annual police-reported statistics due to a number of systemic failures. The GSS should be repeated annually and be our metric, and we should be working as a country to decrease that number year over year.
- CAHN does not engage in doxing (see above).
- CAHN never threatened to publish the addresses of members of the Canadian Nationalist Party. The very tweet that is linked says “we are going to publish the names and cities of residence,” making this a deliberate falsehood. In fact, we opposed any publication of addresses that were included with the list made public by Elections Canada.
- CAHN is explicitly nonviolent. To suggest we want more than social and legal consequences, implying violence, is a lie without even a semblance of evidence.
- CAHN has never been critical of an individual or group only because they have called for illegal immigrants to be deported. This is a fallacious straw man argument which disingenuously suggests the individuals CAHN expresses concern about are simply controversial, instead of documented wilfully fomenting an environment of hatred leading to harassment, threats, and violence against identifiable groups protected under Canadian law.
- The paragraph calling us “investigator, adjudicator, and punisher” is ridiculous and self-contradicting. CAHN does not have the powers of a court or government. CAHN exposes individuals, using their own words or actions, to foster social accountability.
- CAHN board member Richard Warman requested, and received, a judicial restraining order against Kevin Goudreau for encouraging people to murder us, journalists, police and government workers. He told people to shoot these people twice in the head to ensure their murder. Maybe the Manning Foundation is thinks counselling murder is inconsequential, but we don’t, whether it’s us or anyone else.
- Paul Fromm and Kevin Goudreau are not “polemicists,” they are well-known neo-Nazis. The Soldiers of Odin are not simply “nativist bikers,” the SOO was founded by a self-identifying neo-Nazi in Finland, the first crop of SOO in Canada were largely neo-Nazis, and those that remain do so under the name of a neo-Nazi group.
- Yellow Vests Canada is related to the Gilets Jaunes movement in France only by name and anti-government sentiment. Yellow Vests Canada Exposed and others documented hundreds of examples of death threats and overt and obvious racism which came to define the movement. The Yellow Vest movement, especially in its heyday, was primarily anti-Trudeau (not a reason we monitor them, but noted here in the interests of accuracy) and anti-Muslim as demonstrated by the proportion of posts on those topics on their Facebook pages, which has been extensively documented by YVCE.
- Travis Patron is a neo-Nazi who called for Jews to be removed once and for all from Canada. Patron referred to Jews as “the parasitic tribe.” He also very recently published an antisemitic cartoon of a Jewish puppet-master controlling both Nazis and Jews. Patron is also now also facing charges for allegedly physically attacking two women in Regina.
- It’s newsworthy and concerning that Canada has an officially recognized neo-Nazi political party (the Canadian Nationalist Party), with all the benefits that entails, including benefiting from public funds, for the first time since Adrien Arcand’s political parties in the WWII era.
- CAHN has never criticised a group or individual only for calling for illegal immigrants to be deported.
- The Peoples Party of Canada attracted leaders, members, and supporters of hate groups, including individuals who were openly and obviously bigoted. It was further infiltrated by neo-Nazis, including the former leader of the National Alliance, a large US neo-Nazi group, who had done time for organizing racially motivated assaults (he formed the PPCs second ever riding executive). We believe that Bernier’s anti-multiculturalism message signalled that this was the party for them, and many members and supporters of hate groups said they would be voting PPC. The PPC and these groups and individuals are inextricably connected.
- We challenge C2C Journal to provide one or more examples of groups or individuals that we have described as “neo-Nazi” only because they want to debate immigration, as the piece alleges.
- CAHN has a mandate to counter hate groups. That mandate is clearly spelled out on our site and by our statements with an explanation of how we define hate groups, based in Canada’s clear human rights and judicial decisions including repeatedly from the Supreme Court.
- Hate groups which are not presently planning attacks may still inspire significant, premeditated violence, and many are a threat to public safety. Pro-terrorism groups that literally glorify serial killers and domestic terrorists like Atomwaffen Division and The Base, which were planning domestic terrorist attacks in the United States, should be defined as terrorist groups.
- The article claims as a fact that CAHN board member Richard Warman has said that he uses a 'maximum disruption' approach to the alt-right. Had the Manning Foundation author or editor conducted rudimentary online fact-checking, they would have seen that 'Maximum Disruption' was the title of a 15-year old presentation given by Warman dealing explicitly with the neo-Nazi movement.
- The Islamic Party of Ontario was one individual with no support and is not, in fact, a registered political party. The Canadian Nationalist Party attracted the support of neo-Nazi criminals, over 250 members, and became an officially registered party. It’s rather obvious why one is more concerning and deserving of attention than the other.
- There is zero equivalency between anti-fascist groups, which historically appear when racist and fascist groups take to the streets, and largely disappear when they are beaten, and neo-Nazi groups that want to take power to carry out discrimination, deportations, and genocide. To compare the two, even if the author clearly dislikes anti-fascism, is an intellectually devoid exercise.
- Again, whether something is doxing or journalism is differentiated by intent and outcome. Anti-fascists may wear face masks because far-right activists will post their home addresses, information on family members, etc., leading to egregious harassment and death threats. Take the situation faced by the Al-Soufi family, for example. It is not equivalent.
- CAHN is not a defendant in Hategan’s suit.
- MP Keith Martin was first a member of the Reform Party and then the Canadian Alliance (1993-2004) and then switched to the Liberals only in 2004 so the claim he was a "Liberal MP" is technically accurate but misleading by omission when the Liberals voted en masse (save 1) against the repeal of the anti-online hate provision of the Canadian Human Rights Act (s. 13).
- Again, CAHN has never advocated for violence.
- CAHN is not involved in any spurious legal complaints and we challenge C2C Journal to substantiate any such claim.
- The claim that CAHN doxes individuals is expanded to the lie that CAHN publishes intimate personal details.
- CAHN is presently working on its first major update for supporters to be maximally accountable and transparent, which the author would have learned had he contacted us before penning his 5000+ word piece.
An entire section is necessary to show the multiple, easily fact-checked errors the author has made about human rights law in Canada.
First, the fact that individuals not directly targeted by online hate speech could file complaints under Section 13 is no different than any other type of complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
40 (1) Subject to subsections (5) and (7), any individual or group of individuals having reasonable grounds for believing that a person is engaging or has engaged in a discriminatory practice may file with the Commission a complaint in a form acceptable to the Commission.
Indeed, the fact that public interest complaints were filed to deal with online calls by neo-Nazis for ethnic cleansing and genocide upholds the principle that it is the duty of every Canadian to stand in solidarity against such illegal activity - not just the targets.
The CHRC “only rarely tried to mediate the complaints” because the respondents either denied it was them, or proudly stood by their postings calling for ethnic cleansing and genocide. Three complaints brought by CAHN board member Richard Warman were mediated or had a negotiated settlement.
The piece states that as part of his section 13 complaints, “[Warman] was awarded tens of thousands in dollars in monetary compensation.” In fact, Warman was awarded damages in relation to s 13 cases only in situations in which neo-Nazis targeted him specifically, believing he is Jewish (he is not) or threatened him after the human rights complaint was filed (both of which are illegal). Virtually none of the money was collected, and Richard covered expenses or donated what little money he did collect to groups defending the communities targeted.
The claim that Warman provoked extremist statements to use as evidence is a lie. No human rights decision cites any hate propaganda to uphold the complaint in response to any postings by Warman.
The article claims Warman’s complaint against Lemire failed which is simply legally wrong. The complaint was successful with the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal overturning the initial tribunal ruling and finding that the online anti-hate propaganda provision of the Canadian Human Rights Act (s 13) was constitutional.
It is factually inaccurate to claim that the Supreme Court has ruled that ‘hate speech’ requires intense and highly fact-dependent inquiry because it is “so far from a clear concept.” The Supreme Court has, in fact, defined “hate” and “contempt” since the 1990 Taylor decision. Most recently, in the 2013 Whatcott decision, the Supreme Court cited four of CAHN board member Richard Warman’s complaint decisions with approval including endorsing the 11-point ‘Hallmarks of Hate’ criteria from Warman v Kouba that lays out the criteria for identifying illegal hate propaganda.(see Warman v. Kouba, 2006 CHRT 50 (CanLII), http://canlii.ca/t/1q60v) The Supreme Court unanimously upheld human rights law controls on hate propaganda and much as the Manning Foundation’s author may favour a US-style libertarian approach, it has been repeatedly rejected politically and legally in Canada for the past 30-years.
The Manning Foundation has done a superlative job of savaging a Canadian Anti-Hate Network that doesn’t exist except in your author’s imagination. If, as you suggest, you ever want to actually talk to us, we’d be happy to sit down with you to explain the work we do.
We ask that you apologize and correct these errors.
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network