Here's How You Can Help
While we don’t have the resources to run an organized volunteer program, there are several ways you can help and stand up to hate groups in your own community and across Canada. The most important thing is to organize with other likeminded people in your own community, collect information, and be ready to respond to hate group activity.
Monitor Hate Groups
We couldn’t do the work we do without dozens of community members across Canada that monitor the public social media pages of hate groups, taking screenshots and documenting examples of:
- Overt bigotry and racism
- Celebrations of violence and incitement to violence
- Death threats and targeted harassment
- Event planning
- Infighting and leadership changes
Read more about this vital and often invisible work done by anti-fascist and anti-racist members of your community and all across the country.
Some groups or collectives primarily monitor one group. For example, Yellow Vests Canada Exposed began by documenting and exposing the hundreds of examples of overt racism, bigotry and death threats shared by Yellow Vests Canada and its affiliated pages. Others, like Halifax Against Hate, focus on local groups, particularly when they plan events. We recommend this level of specificity rather than trying to cover everything at once. Pick a group and individuals (especially if they're active locally) that you find concerning and don't be afraid to switch focus as you learn more.
Archive.org is useful for saving individual pages, but it doesn't work on social media pages. We recommend copy and pasting entire Facebook pages and Twitter feeds into Word documents and taking screenshots of the most important pieces. Make sure what you find is well-documented and can be verified by other observers.
Keep your files organized, and please send an email to email@example.com if you hear about events, or find death threats or targeted harassment campaigns. Try not to work in silos - flag important information for our attention, but please also connect with others doing this work and share your publicly available findings.
Infiltrate Hate Groups
Some individuals take on the necessary work of infiltrating hate groups online, creating a false persona and posing as supporters to gain access to less public online spaces where hate groups often share the worst and most telling examples of hate and racism, and encourage and plan violence and events.
We will not recruit individuals to infiltrate groups, but will work with individuals already undertaking this necessary work. If you are infiltrating groups you must be responsible for your own safety. You should not attempt this work without first learning deeply about the group over several months and taking a number of precautions, including protecting your identity. We also recommend reading the Anti-Racist Canada blog to gain some insight into the methods used.
Cancel Hate Group Events
Individuals and groups have been very successful in getting hate group events cancelled by convincing venue owners to make the principled decision to cancel events. Be polite but firm. Start by speaking with the venue and providing information on the hate group that has booked their space. If they won’t cancel the event, talk to your friends and family and use local Facebook groups to encourage community members to send emails and make phone calls. It’s always in their best social and business interest to have a good relationship with the community, which you should emphasize. Stand by the venue if they receive any backlash, and be sure to thank and support them in the coming days if they cancel the event.
Events held in public spaces are more difficult to cancel. While no city has an obligation to provide venue space (eg. a library) to hate groups, there’s less they can do when a group is planning an unpermitted event in front of city hall, for example. If you can’t get the event cancelled, the best way to disrupt and demoralize hate groups is to participate in a counter-demonstration with a coalition of anti-fascist and anti-racist community groups that use direct but nonviolent tactics and massively outnumber the hate groups and their supporters. We do not organize demonstrations, so we encourage you to find and connect with your local organizations.
Pitch us a story
We take story pitches that deal with hate groups, often about upcoming events or ones that just occurred, or explainers that will get our audience (and your community) up to speed on local events. Send a short email to firstname.lastname@example.org that explains the story, why it matters, and what information you have to back it up. We can pay $100 for stories from members of the community and $200 for stories from individuals with some kind of professional writing experience, i.e. writers/researchers/journalists.
University of British Columbia Hosts Anti-Trans Event Despite Outcry from Students, Faculty, and Staff
One protester faces assault charge after Jenn Smith’s event against sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) education
Special to the Canadian Anti-Hate Network
June 29, 2019
Anti-trans demonstrators gather in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery on June 15th.
2019-08-02 update: The assault charges against the member of the LGBTQ+ community, referenced below, have been dropped.
Three people were detained by the RCMP, and one is reportedly being charged with assault, after protesting an anti-trans event at the University of British Columbia (UBC) on June 23rd. The talk featured Okanagan resident Jenn Smith, who refers to himself as a “transgender-identified male.”
UBC’s Vancouver campus was the latest stop in Smith’s speaking tour of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. Smith weaponizes his asserted identity in trying to undermine trans rights, including sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) education in schools.
A video shared on Facebook shows a young woman, who identifies as queer, stand up and run towards the exit at the back of the room after someone outside pulls the fire alarm. She swings her arm as she rounds a corner at the back of the auditorium, and the Pride flag she is holding may come into contact with the head of a man, who ducks. Smith can then be heard screaming from the front of the room, “That is assault! Detain her!” The RCMP then detain the young woman.
Based on what is shown in the video [audio warning: the video is quite loud], Students Against Bigotry believes the assault charge against the protester is without merit. Furthermore, we believe she would not be facing charges were it not for Smith insisting it was assault.
The two others detained are both hijra, a non-binary identity recognized in South Asia. They can be seen in the same video sitting on the floor at the front of the room, then calmly being escorted out by police officers.
A trans person against trans rights?
Sponsored by the Canadian Christian Lobby, Smith is an anti-trans activist who denies the validity and lived reality of transgender people. He spreads misinformation and fear about transgender people as predators harming women and children, claiming that SOGI education is “brainwashing.”
This flies in the face of established research which shows that this inclusive programming reduces bullying and suicides, not just among LGBTQ2S+ youth but among all children. It is difficult to reconcile Smith’s apparent concern for kids with his position against policies that have been proven to save the lives of young people.
Smith pathologizes transgender people by alleging that mental illness is responsible for their gender identity. He describes his own as "impulses" that "came out of his childhood traumas and a sense of rejection."
Furthermore, he only acknowledges male and female identities, another anti-scientific view which erases not just intersex and non-binary people, but also Indigenous Two Spirit people, recognized by the Musqueam nation on whose stolen and occupied land this talk took place.
Smith writes on his website:
“We must at all times remain tethered to physical reality, and the physical reality in this case is that men cannot be women (and vice versa), no matter how much they pretty themselves up.
They can live and express any way they want, but they cannot force others to surrender physical reality, because that is selfish and dangerous to both women and children, and increasingly towards freedom itself.”
In addition, Smith has links to the Soldiers of Odin, a violent anti-Muslim hate group, which he has used as bodyguards for past events. In attendance at the UBC event was Vancouver neo-Nazi Brian Ruhe, as well as at least two individuals wearing People’s Party of Canada hats — further examples of Smith’s far-right support.
A few days before the talk, the UBC Faculty Association issued an open letter to the university’s Board of Governors urging them to cancel the event. Similarly, the Association of Administrative and Professional Staff (AAPS), the largest employee group at UBC representing nearly 5,000 staff members, stated in no uncertain terms in its own letter that hosting such an event on campus “risk[s] physical injury to the students, staff, and faculty of the University.”
This risk was made apparent when one event attendee, Donald Smith, filmed himself taunting and threatening queer protesters and allies with gendered profanities, and bragging that he knows where they live. “Come to Edmonton,” he can be heard saying in the video. “We'll show you how we do it down there. We hold baseball bats!"
According to UBC policy, the university “reserves the right to ensure that any use of Bookable Space does not compromise UBC’s or the UBC community’s activities, as well as the safety and security of persons and facilities.” But president Santa J. Ono apparently feels that hosting events of this nature does not compromise the community’s safety and security, or undermine the university’s research on transgender health or SOGI.
Administrators felt differently at Douglas College and Trinity Western University, which cancelled bookings by Jenn Smith once they became aware of the nature of the events, which they claim was not initially clear in the booking request.
Community responds with love and support
Smith is just the latest in a growing series of hateful and discriminatory individuals UBC has platformed with speaking engagements under the guise of “free speech.” In the past year alone, the university has also welcomed Jordan Peterson, Meghan Murphy, Ricardo Duchesne, and Ben Shapiro.
Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux were also scheduled to appear at UBC this past March, but efforts by Students Against Bigotry, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, and other groups forced them to relocate their event, then cancel it altogether
On Sunday, at a fountain near the building where Smith was speaking, about 50 people responded by gathering for a rally in support of the transgender community and their loved ones. The rally was organized by BC Families for Inclusivity (BCFFI) and included students, faculty, staff, and other community members.
BCFFI’s Brad Dirks gave a heartfelt speech about the harassment his family has faced from people like Smith. Last year, Dirks gave a TEDx Talk titled “My Journey as the Proud Parent of a Transgender Son.”
“You wouldn't speak to a neo-Nazi to obtain credible information about the Holocaust,” Dirks told a crowd that included other parents and their children. “So please treat your transgender friends, family, students, co-workers, and neighbours with the same respect . . . Stop obtaining information from transphobic bigots who spread lies and misinformation about our transgender loved ones.”
Another speaker, one of the people later detained, expressed her outrage and frustration that UBC administrators and president Santa J. Ono continue to allow far-right speakers to spew hate on campus.
The crowd then marched to the building where Smith was speaking, carrying balloons, banners, and flags. Slogans being chanted included “Protect trans kids,” “Save our kids from suicide,” and “Trans rights are human rights!” While some of the people with the rally entered the building and purchased tickets to attend Smith’s talk, most of the group continued to make noise outside.
The mood among the protesters was one of defiance and solidarity throughout the evening, in spite of attempted provocations by event attendees like Donald Smith.
No more hate speech at UBC!
This year’s Pride Month has been a difficult one for the LGBTQ2S+ community, which continues to be disproportionately targeted by violence. Recent confrontations at marches in Detroit, Hamilton, and Toronto again call the role of the police into question.
Just one week before the UBC event, Soldiers of Odin were present at an anti-trans rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery alongside members of the People’s Party of Canada and the neo-Nazi Ruhe.
Students Against Bigotry stands in complete and unwavering solidarity with all those targeted by hate speech, and all who oppose it alongside us — including the young woman protesting anti-trans hate and now facing what we believe to be an unjustified assault charge. We await the announcement of her court date, and we intend to be there to support her.
Students Against Bigotry is a grassroots student organization working to build community solidarity in opposition to hate speech at the University of British Columbia and beyond.
Editors note: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
Hate Groups say police are “probably saluting and cheering for us all right now” after assaults at Hamilton Pride parade
Badly mismanaged demonstrations and hate group members not being charged for assaults are emboldening hate groups across Canada
June 21, 2019
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Chris Vanderweide of Kitchener, Ontario was caught on camera carrying out several unprovoked assaults.
There was a brawl on the fringes of the Hamilton Pride parade last Saturday that started when hate group members attacked anti-fascists who were blocking them from disrupting Pride by holding up a large black fabric dividing wall.
The anti-Pride protest included anti-LGBTQ+ street preachers, Yellow Vest Canada vloggers, and members of the Canadian Nationalist Party, which just released a barely-coded antisemitic video calling for Jews to be “removed once and for all” from Canada.
Anti-Racist Canada has identified Chris Vanderweide of Kitchener Ontario as the man who is on video smashing two of the Pride defenders in the face with a helmet. Vanderweide later tried to use his new notoriety to raise money through a GoFundMe campaign that was reported and removed.
The scene quickly turned into a brawl after a hate preacher sucker punched an anti-fascist in face. Police are being criticized by Pride Hamilton for taking “far too long” to respond.
Yellow Vests Canada Exposed has compiled clips of unprovoked strikes and assaults.
One attendee tweeted that a uniformed police officer told them they wouldn’t stop a fight because they weren’t invited to Pride.
This follows a pattern of policing at demonstrations across Canada that has led hate groups to believe they have the support of police officers.
“I know in my heart there are dozens and dozens of police officers who are handcuffed and haven’t been able to do their duty,” says Yellow Vest Canada vlogger Rick Boswick, “. . . they’re probably saluting and clapping and cheering for us all right now . . . you can’t tell the cops they’re not welcome [at Pride] and then bitch that they didn’t have a quick enough response. You know why they had a response? We called 911. We called and got them there.”
Both hate groups and anti-racist, anti-fascist groups are calling for reinforcements to come to the PEGIDA anti-Muslim demonstration in Toronto on Saturday.
2019-06-22 update: The article originally reported that police were in the background of videos of the assaults. A source on the ground tells Yellow Vests Canada Exposed that the figure in the background was, in fact, a security guard trying to call the police.
Notorious anti-LBGTQ+ activist Bill Whatcott ordered to pay $55,000 for anti-trans flyers
While victory sets a strong legal precedent, it also underscores need for better legislation
March 28, 2019
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
On March 27, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled that notorious homophobe Bill Whatcott’s anti-trans flyers targeting Morgane Oger were a discriminatory publication likely to expose a person or a group or class of persons to hatred or contempt. The Tribunal has ordered Whatcott to pay Oger a total of $55,000.
Oger ran as the NDP Candidate in Vancouver – False Creek in 2017. During her campaign Whatcott distributed 1500 copies of an anti-LGBTQ+ flyer referring to Morgane as a “transvestite” in the riding and published it online. She lost the election by 400 votes.
Whatcott is well known for his anti-LGBTQ+ screeds and is no stranger to courtrooms. In 2013 he was the subject of a Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) case as the result of flyers, one of which was titled “Keep Homosexuality out of Saskatoon’s Public Schools!”. This resulted in the SCC upholding Canada’s hate speech laws as constitutional. In June of 2018 Whatcott was charged by the Toronto Police Service for infiltrating the Toronto Pride Parade under a fake name in 2016 to hand out ‘anti-sodomy’ pamphlets.
Neo-Nazi Paul Fromm came to Whatcott’s defence as an intervenor in the case under the auspices of his organization, the Canadian Association for Free Expression (CAFE). The Tribunal writes: “the intervention was not helpful and at times constituted an unwelcome and inflammatory distraction.” Further, “CAFE’s comments about Ms. Oger are completely improper and could fairly be the subject of a costs award if made by a party.” CAFE has been recognized as an intervenor in several cases.
Oger’s lawyer Susanna Allevato Quail tells the Toronto Star that the ruling in Oger’s favour sets a legal precedent that it’s not “a legitimate subject of public debate whether or not it’s OK to be transgender or whether transgender people are real.”
While this is a victory for human rights in Canada, not every province has this legislation; legal fees are expensive; and even if the wronged party wins and is awarded restitution and/or costs, they may never recover enough money from the people that wronged them to cover their legal expenses.
Bringing back Section 13 (s. 13) of the Canadian Human Rights Act is one solution which is currently being considered by the House of Commons Justice Committee.
S. 13 made it possible for any Canadian to make a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission regarding individuals or groups communicating hate online. If the CHRC found the complaint to be reasonable, it would go to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, a semi-judicial body which could order a cease and desist and a small fine. If the individual refused to stop, they would be in contempt of court and may face jail time.
Canadian Anti-Hate Member board member Richard Warman researched, filed, and litigated 16 successful complaints against online hate and the individuals and groups responsible under s. 13, resulting in a generation of hatemongers being forced offline.
This legal tool to address the spread of hatred was found constitutional by the Supreme Court, but removed by the Conservative government nonetheless in 2013. There are relatively few tools to address unrepentant hate propagandists in its absence.
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network supports bringing back s. 13, but notes that it will only be a successful tool if the CHRC and Tribunal are sufficiently resourced.
James Sears and Leroy St Germaine have been found guilty of wilfully promoting hatred towards women and Jews. What follows are key passages from the 11 June 2018, 37-page expert report by Professor Derek Penslar on anti-Jewish hate propaganda published by James Sears (aka Dimitrious Sarafopoulos) and Leroy St Germaine in Toronto tabloid newspaper Your Ward News.
This summary was originally published at http://www.richardwarman.ca/penslar-expert-report-on-your-ward-news-anti-jewish-hate/ by Canadian Anti-Hate Network board member and human rights lawyer Richard Warman.
The report was prepared as part of the criminal prosecution against Sears and St Germaine for the wilful promotion of hate contrary to s. 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The report dissects the anti-Jewish hate propaganda content of Your Ward News and places it in the historical context from which Sears and St Germaine found inspiration. Both Sears and St Germaine were found guilty and the full criminal judgment can be found here.
Penslar Report Key Excerpts:
The full 37-page Penslar Report is here.
My name is Derek Jonathan Penslar. I am the Samuel Zacks Professor of European Jewish History at the University of Toronto and a Visiting Professor of History at Harvard University. On July 1, 2018, I will assume a permanent appointment at Harvard as the William Lee Frost Professor of Modern Jewish History. I hold a B.A. in History from Stanford University, and an MA and PhD in History from the University of California at Berkeley. In addition to Toronto and Harvard, I have taught at Indiana University, Bloomington, where I was a professor of history and of Jewish studies, and at the University of Oxford, where I was the Stanley Lewis Professor of Modern Israel Studies. I have research and teaching expertise in the history of Jewish civilization, Jewish-Christian relations in medieval and modern Europe, antisemitism, the Holocaust, and the state of Israel.
As per your request, I have studied all issues of Your Ward News (hereafter, YWN) published between 2015 and Spring 2018 and have considered whether YWN’s language and imagery are antisemitic. I have read YWN against the background of my intimate familiarity with antisemitic texts and images produced in Europe, North America, and the Middle East over several centuries. My reading is also informed by a substantial body of scholarly literature on antisemitism, some of which I have authored or edited.1 Based on my reading, I have determined that YWN espouses antisemitic doctrines and that both its textual and visual representations of Jews are rooted in antisemitic concepts with a long historical pedigree. I have further determined that YWN’s antisemitic rhetoric frequently echoes or resembles language employed by neo-Nazi extremists in the United States and disseminated either in print or, more recently, via the internet.
YWN consistently expresses hatred of Jews via five distinct yet overlapping mechanisms:
1) Expressions of revulsion against the Jewish faith and its practitioners;
2) Accusations that Jews were collectively responsible for Bolshevik
atrocities in the USSR;
3) Claims of Jewish conspiracies to conquer and control humanity, especially through banking and finance;
4) Demonization of the state of Israel; and
5) Holocaust denial.
Undergirding these five forms of antisemitic expression is a consistent and explicit admiration for Nazism in general and the
German dictator Adolph Hitler in particular. Since antisemitism was a key component of German National Socialism and motivated the Nazis’ persecution and genocide of European Jewry, YWN’s emulation of Nazi Germany deepens and intensifies the various forms of Jew-hatred that the newspaper espouses.
The scope and range of conspiracies attributed by YWN to the Jews is part and parcel of modern antisemitic thinking. The classic antisemitic texts mentioned earlier in this section presented Jews as responsible for the cruelties of communism and capitalism alike, for the decline in religious observance and other rapidly changing social mores, for any form of art, literature, or cinema that they found avant-garde and distasteful, and for universalistic (as opposed to militant-nationalist) political ideologies. In neo-Nazi writings of our own day, Jews are associated with contemporary processes of social and cultural transformation, such as globalization, mass migration, racial and economic protest, feminism, and gender fluidity. In antisemitic thought, Jews are akin to a universal solvent, which eats away at any social mooring. Antisemitism’s hatred of the Jews rests in fear of what antisemites believe to be Jewish preternatural power and unshakable determination to attain global domination. In its most recent iteration, antisemitism maintains the fear of internationalism, be it governmental (e.g., the United Nations) or economic (transnational corporations).
In this report I have demonstrated linkages between YWN and a long historical legacy of antisemitic writings. YWN’s depictions of Jews are consonant with antisemitism as set out in the IHRA’s definition with which I began this report. YWN makes “mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective.” It preaches numerous myths “about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.” YWN presents the state of Israel as a point of origin of or prime beneficiary of these conspiracies. In its writings on politically-motivated persecutions in the former Soviet Union’s security services, YWN “accuses Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.” YWN explicitly denies “the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).” Moreover, it “accuses the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust. In its depictions of Jews, YWN resembles a variety of North American neo-Nazi publications that, since the 1970s, have preached antisemitism as a prominent component of a fearful, hateful, and conspiratorial world-view.
Judge rules that James Sears and LeRoy St. Germaine are guilty of two counts of wilfully promoting hate towards women and Jews.
"Sears, 55, a former doctor and pickup artist, was found guilty of promoting hatred against women and Jewish people."
One of the less offensive images from the pages of Your Ward News.
Canada Post should donate the hundreds of thousands of dollars they earned delivering hate propaganda to anti-hate efforts
November 28, 2018
A relatively inoffensive image on the home page of the Your Ward News website.
Carla Qualtrough, the Minister in charge of Canada Post has issued a final order that the neo-Nazi newspaper Your Ward News can’t be sent out through Canada Post’s bulk mail program anymore.
Before the ban, Canada Post is believed to have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars to deliver Your Ward News. We are calling on Minister Carla Qualtrough and Canada Post to donate the proceeds for distributing hate propaganda to organizations that work to counter hate groups and promote equality and multiculturalism in Canada.
Your Ward News spread hatred towards women, Jews, Muslims, LGBTQ+ persons and other groups of Canadians. It encouraged raping women, compared Jews to Satan, and pictured its critics in a gas chamber. The hate propaganda was so bad, its editor and publisher were ultimately charged criminally for the wilful promotion of hate propaganda and their trial starts today in Toronto.
From March 2015 to May 2016, Canada Post delivered individual issues of Your Ward News to as many as 300,000 households in Toronto per edition.
Canada Post started receiving complaints immediately from postal workers and the community about the fact they were delivering hate propaganda. Canada Post incorrectly claimed it wasn’t their job to review mail. Your Ward News was an open newspaper and its content was self-evident from each cover. Canada Post’s own regulations bar people from using the mail to break any law and Canada Post must respect the Canadian Human Rights Act that prohibits them from discriminating against or harassing their employees or the public on the basis of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc. If Canada Post had really felt their hands were tied, they could have asked the Minister to review the problem.
But Canada Post didn’t stop delivering Your Ward News voluntarily. Minister Qualtrough, had to issue an order prohibiting them from continuing. The order was then appealed by the editor and publisher of Your Ward News, triggering a lengthy Board of Review process.
The independent Board of Review was composed of two lawyers and a political science professor. While not a criminal court, they found that Your Ward News is likely criminal hate propaganda and the postal ban was justified.
While community advocacy was ultimately successful, Canada Post profited from delivering hate propaganda for sixteen months before being forced to stop. During the Board of Review process, one of the delivery contracts for Your Ward News was disclosed and indicated Canada Post was paid in excess of $40,000 to deliver one edition. While earlier editions were not as large, Canada Post delivered the paper 14 times and therefore likely earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in total.
Now, Canada Post and Minister Qualtrough have the opportunity to invest that money earned by distributing hate propaganda into efforts to fight overt hatred towards groups of Canadians.
James Sears (editor) and Leroy St. Germaine (publisher) have been charged with the wilful promotion of hate, Canadian Criminal Code S319(2). Sears is appearing in court today (November 28, 2018) at the College Park courthouse, room 508 at 10AM.
Anti-Muslim blogger facing hate crime charge ran for mayor of Mississauga and came in second place
Kevin J. Johnston’s next court date is later this month
November 8, 2018
Kevin J. Johnston selling Faith Goldy for mayor t-shirts.
Elections in Ontario last month drew international media attention to the failed candidacy of Faith Goldy, a self-proclaimed propagandist for the alt-right neo-Nazi movement. Although she ended the Toronto mayoral race in distant third place, she received more than 25,000 votes, or 3.4 per cent of the total ballots cast.
In nearby Mississauga, Canada’s sixth largest city, anti-Muslim blogger Kevin J. Johnston came second in the mayoral race, securing 13.5 per cent of the vote — despite facing a hate crime charge.
For many, Johnston may have been the default protest vote against Mayor Bonnie Crombie. The third-place candidate received less than 4 per cent of the vote.
Police charged Johnston in June 2017 with wilful promotion of hatred against Muslims following a five-month investigation. The case is still before the courts. If convicted, he could face up to two years in prison.
Johnston’s record of anti-Muslim activism goes back several years.
In 2015, he led a racist campaign against a proposed mosque in Mississauga. On his website StopTheMosque.com, Johnston claimed without evidence that the Meadowvale Islamic Centre would lead to an increase in vandalism and sexual assaults, and that the mosque’s presence would erode free speech and women’s rights. He published an article on his website in 2016 baselessly accusing Muslim high school students of widespread sexual assault against their classmates and inciting Mississauga residents to “take the law into your own hands.”
Johnston publishes daily videos on his website, where he has called for violence and harassment against Muslims. In early 2017, he offered a $1,000 bounty for videos of Muslim children praying in Peel Region schools. In another video, according to the Toronto Star, Johnston said it was time to “take our masculinity back and beat the living hell out of Muslims.”
“Pin them down on the ground, and beat them until they pass out. And when they’re passed out, you beat them further; and when they’re on the ground passed out, kick them, break a kneecap, break an elbow, press their hands backwards turn their wrists sideways, start breaking these guys down,” Johnston said in the video.
Leila Nasr, the communications coordinator for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said such quotes underline how disturbing it is that Johnston received 16,079 votes for mayor.
“Mississauga is an incredibly diverse community with a significant Muslim population, which makes the vile sentiments expressed by Mr. Johnston even more concerning to us,” Nasr told the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. “Like many in the community we are very troubled that these elements not only exist, but have increased in prominence so quickly.”
Johnston also regularly attacks women, the LGBTQ+ community, and others. His videos rarely receive more than a few hundreds views online, and his crowdfunded Patreon account receives a paltry $31 a month from supporters. Johnston has appeared on Rebel Media shows and until at least December of 2017, he co-hosted a YouTube series called Rebel Yell with Rebel correspondent David Menzies. He has also been a guest on the far-right conspiracy outlet InfoWars.
Johnston previously ran for mayor of Mississauga in 2014, when he came in 11th place with 741 votes, comprising 0.5% of the final tally. His second-place finish last month marks a dramatic increase in support.
Johnston’s campaign appeared to downplay his inflammatory views. On his campaign website, Johnston listed housing, crime, and transportation issues as some of his top priorities. Johnston claims he would have won if the media covered his campaign. He was not invited to the main election debate, held at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus. The Mississauga News published an op-ed by Johnston about his campaign that didn’t mention his hate crime charge and ran without any sort of editorial note.
In an interview with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, Johnston said that while his campaign website highlighted local issues, he did not hide his views about Islam and other social issues during private conversations with Mississauga voters. He claims to have taken part in over 100 public speaking engagements.
Unlike in 2014, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie did not face an established opponent in the election and won re-election with 77% of the vote, suggesting Johnston benefited as the default alternative or protest vote against the incumbent from voters who may not have been aware of his record.
“In the better part of 15,000 people I spoke to over the course of five months,” says Johnston, “everyone said the same thing - they hate Bonnie Crombie - they just didn’t know who the alternative was.”
Johnston continues to produce videos targeting Muslims, LGBTQ+ persons and others and said he plans to run more political campaigns in the future, as well as finish a documentary that denies Myanmar is carrying out a campaign of what the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing" against the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority. Johnston was allowed into the country to work on this ‘documentary’, escorted by military handlers, while Reuters journalists were imprisoned.
Johnston livestreamed our interview on his Youtube and Facebook channels. In the same video he says that “LGBTQ laws” would legalize the rape of four-year-olds by adult men. At other points in the interview and his subsequent monologue, Johnston said Islam is not a religion but a political ideology, and that he refuses to eat halal meat or fly on airplanes with Muslim pilots. In response to a viewer question, he encouraged parents to train their children to respond to bullying with extreme violence such as breaking bones, adding that the children’s criminal records would be expunged at age 18 anyway. In arguing for the superiority of “Western culture,” Johnston said: "African culture right now is to just walk around the country and kill white people. Rape them first, then kill them second." He described new immigrants from Muslim-majority countries as violent “psychopaths.”
"We have imported 100,000 psychopaths into this country and they're going to choke you, they're going to hit your kids, they're going to lift your daughters' skirts up and grab their asses," Johnston said.
Johnston says his lawyer was recently in court to receive disclosure from the crown regarding the hate crime charge and that there will be another court date at the end of November to review that disclosure.
Asked about the election result, Mississauga Mayor Crombie said the city remains a place where diversity is respected: “I think we can all be more vigilant to call out hate and discrimination and to better vet our candidates for office.”
The Toronto Police Service has reportedly charged notorious homophobe Bill Whatcott for Public Incitement of Hatred, aka hate speech. Whatcott infiltrated Toronto Pride under a fake name in 2016 to hand out ‘anti-sodomy’ pamphlets.Read more