Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Covering themselves in Canadian flags, the far-right anti-mandate and ‘freedom’ movement is descending on Ottawa for the July 1st long weekend. Many of them plan on staying, or at least returning, over the summer.
Organizers of most events have taken great pains to show their support for the February “Freedom Convoy” blockades that paralyzed the downtown core – they are, largely, the same people – while assuring residents and authorities that they won’t be as disruptive.
As of now, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network is not aware of any significant counter-demonstrations being planned.
Here are some of the events we will be keeping an eye on.
Far-right protest season is being kicked off today by a march led by anti-mandate activist James Topp and Pierre Poilievre. Topp is an army warrant officer who began a slow march to Ottawa from BC months ago. Traversing over 4,000 km from Vancouver’s Terry Fox statue to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Topp initially made headlines after he released several videos showing him in his dress uniform voicing opposition against mandated vaccines for federal employees.
“I am now aware of the sentiment that my endeavour might be connected with the Freedom Convoy. This is not the case,” a statement attributed to Topp reads. “While I was inspired by the Freedom Convoy, my initiative stands on its own and has its own clear direction.”
Topp was, however, flanked by one of the convoy’s spokespeople, Tom Marazzo, when he met with conservative MPs in Ottawa on June 22nd. Marazzo had previously called for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Doug Ford and others to be “criminally charged with Conspiracy to commit murder” because of vaccine mandates.
Topp has been welcoming to interviews from many in the far-right landscape. Speaking to Christian nationalist Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, the hosts of the Freedom Report – Derek Storie and Ed Jamnisek – and Jeremy MacKenzie, de facto leader of Diagolon, a far-right accelerationist movement.
Topp is finishing his hike this evening at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
CTV News published a complete list of the 23 MPs who met with him, including Marilyn Gladu, Dean Allison, Jeremy Patzer, Ryan Williams, Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Warren Steinley, John Barlow, Arnold Viersen, and Alex Ruff.
“My objection is primarily is with the intrusion of these mandates, these federal government policies, into my personal life,” Topp told the crowd of MPs last week.
Topp says of the many people who came to speak to him said their issue is “not so much mandates anymore,” but a broader dissatisfaction with Ottawa and a political class not addressing their needs.
Topp will also be appearing at an event held in Strathcona Park to give a speech at a family event held by the organization Police On Guard, of which he is also a member. Initially slated to occur outside the Supreme Court, it was moved reportedly at the request of the city’s bylaw enforcement.
Veterans For Freedom
Veterans For Freedom is fundraising and has vowed to keep a consistent presence in the city. V4F is made up of former military members that oppose a swath of government policies, specifically around the pandemic response.
A spokesperson told Global News V4F was creating a semi-permanent camp about 40 minutes outside Ottawa dubbed “Camp Eagle” that will also be hosting events throughout the season.
V4F also organized the wreath-laying ceremony in April as part of Operation Rolling Thunder and has made part of its mandate carrying out “lawful civic action on the ground, and sustain the effort until the fundamental rights of Canadians have been restored.”
The organization’s Canada Day plans primarily appear to be supporting the march of James Topp, with plans for a longer and sustained presence in Ottawa for the summer season.
Conspiratorial far-right podcaster Jeremy MacKenzie, also a CAF veteran and member of V4F, has hosted Topp on his stream at least twice during the soldier’s march east. MacKenzie told the viewers of another live stream, “I don’t want to give too much away but there’s going to be a sustained presence there for a while.”
MacKenzie, like many other V4F members, was a regular feature during the blockade in Ottawa in February.
Freedom Fighters Canada
Freedom Fighters Canada’s plans involve meeting and then marching from Parliment Hill later in the afternoon. The route of the protest has not been released publicly at this time, but plans to return to Parliament for speeches and music.
The speakers have not been announced by time of writing.
Run by Grand Prarie Alberta man, Jerome O’Sullivan, FFC was an organizer of marches during the original blockades in February. On his social media, O’Sullivan has repeatedly told his supporters to be peaceful during the course of the July 1 weekend.
“Keep the peace, stay within the framework of the law, and we will get through this weekend just fine,” he wrote.
Notable for their prolific flyering, stickering, banner drops, and flag production, The Line’s signature black circle cut through by a red line continues to be a feature at many protests, despite some animosity from other groups. The Line holds small actions, waving its slogans and banners at traffic from highway overpasses as well as organizing short protests sometimes made up of convoys of cars.
In Ottawa this weekend, there is a march organized by The Line Canada and The Canadian Democratic Defence Association (CDDA) planned for Saturday evening through the Byward Market. They are also promising a band.
The Line may have never stopped protesting over the course of the pandemic, but their star quickly faded among other COVID-conspiracy groups as infighting and accusations -- specifically around Daigle and comments made during his time with a men’s club called the ManKind Project -- made by other prominent members of the movement dimmed their appeal. Recent months have seen a resurgence as the number of other organizations willing to organize with, or at least tolerate, The Line seems to be increasing.
Other organizations involved with the Canada Day protests include Canada Frontline Nurses – whose founders gave a speech during the January 6 riot in Washington DC, – Police On Guard and their anti-vaccine “Mama Bear Project,” Mounties For Freedom, Take Action Canada, Taking Back Our Freedoms, and Vaccine Choice Canada. These groups all form something they have dubbed the “Canadian Citizens Coalition” or C3 (not to be confused with the Canadian Combat Coalition, an anti-Muslim hate group previously attached to the “United We Roll” convoy in 2019).