The Al-Soufi family is facing new threats as police investigate individuals responsible for the harassment campaign
Rick Boswick, Lily, and Ed Jamnisek are under investigation after disrupting restaurant re-opening
October 14, 2019
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Dr. Mohamad Fakih (centre) intercepts Lily (red vest) Rick Boswick (filming) and Northern Guard member Ed Jamnisek (right) as they try to enter Soufi's restaurant. Source: YouTube.
Police are investigating after Rick Boswick, Lily, and Ed Jamnisek disrupted the reopening of Soufi’s Restaurant, a much loved Syrian eatery in downtown Toronto. The restaurant had closed days earlier after a barrage of death threats and abuse, only to reopen with the help of Dr. Mohamad Fakih, owner of Paramount Fine foods.
Boswick, Lily, and Jamnisek went to the restaurant and were intercepted at the entrance by Fakih. Filming the interaction, Lily asserted (without evidence) that the family came as refugees and demanded to know where they got their money. She then started yelling about communism and ‘Antifa’.
Comments on one of Boswick’s videos from that interaction refer to Fakih and the Al-Soufi family as invaders and parasites, and say it’s only a matter of time before they are attacked with a molotov cocktail.
Boswick and Lily are also setting their sights on Mohamad Fakih, who is no stranger to this type of harassment. Earlier this year Fakih won a landmark defamation suit against video blogger Kevin Johnston, who made similar comments and is facing a hate crime charge for his videos which target women, LGBTQ+ persons, and Muslims. Johnston is an associate of Boswick, Lily, and Jamnisek.
The harassment campaign against the Al-Soufi family began on August 22nd with a now-deleted video Lily posted on Youtube. In it she claims the Al-Soufi family is connected to ISIS, that their food is tainted, and she names the restaurant and gives its address. This was in retaliation to their son monitoring one of Rick Boswick’s court dates, who faces a charge of uttering threats towards an anti-fascist. In the now deleted video, she also says they filmed the son within the courthouse, which is illegal.
“They’re fucking ISIS militants. Former militants . . . You come here. You have a plan. You don’t like Christianity. Okay. You want to wipe out Christianity. You want to turn this country into Sharia law . . . we know everything, where you located. And we want Canadian people to know if you order food from [address], you are supporting terrorists. Did you know that they send money back home and Canadian soldiers die in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq. When you go to that restaurant [address] you’re supporting terrorists.”
This harassment campaign escalated after a video went viral showing the son standing next to anti-fascists who are blocking an elderly woman’s path and shouting at her at a People’s Party of Canada event at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. The son and the family apologized, but the harassment continued.
Boswick and Lily quickly made more videos identifying the son, publishing information on his family and their restaurant, and calling them terrorists because they are Syrian. For the next week the far-right ecosystem in Canada had one target: the Al-Soufi family. The family started receiving a barrage of death threats; some were posted as comments on Boswick's videos.
After news that the restaurant would close due to these death threats, far-right video bloggers started claiming these threats were made up. In a video dated October 10, Lily says “[the son] is not a good Muslim. He’s a terrorist . . . [the Al-Soufi family] got advice from Muslim Brotherhood . . . to play victim . . .just tell that you’re getting death threats.”
If you have any information that would assist in serving these individuals with legal documents, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RICK BOSWICK, OTTAWA ON
- Is facing criminal charges for threats towards an anti-fascist
- Rick is a video blogger, primarily targeting anti-fascists, LGBTQ+ and Muslim persons
- Has disrupted various LGBTQ+ events, including the attack on Hamilton Pride
- Participated in the pre-meditated brawl in the Eaton Centre after a PEGIDA rally in Toronto
- Former Vice President of Canadian Combat Coalition, an anti-Muslim group, and associates with most hate groups in Ontario, including those with neo-Nazi ties
- Has claimed mass shootings by right-wing extremists are fake or media spin
- Supporter of Faith Goldy, self-proclaimed “propaganda arm” for the alt-right neo-Nazi movement
LILY, HAMILTON ON
- Video blogger primarily targeting anti-fascists, LGBTQ+ and Muslim persons, and regular demonstrator at Hamilton Yellow Vests Canada and Toronto PEGIDA rallies
- Supports the neo-Nazi Canadian Nationalist Party, whose leader is under investigation for a video in which he calls for Jews to be removed “once and for all” from Canada
- Attended neo-Nazi Kevin Goudreau’s court dates to show her support; Goudreau is now subject to a peace bond for encouraging supporters to murder us, journalists, and government workers.
- Has neo-Nazi merchandise in her home (note the totenkopf)
ED JAMNISEK, MARKHAM ON
- Member of the Northern Guard, a militant anti-Muslim group with neo-Nazi ties and a regular at Yellow Vest Canada and PEGIDA demonstrations
- A regular on conspiracy theorist video streams (such as Duke Willis), including alongside neo-Nazi Kevin Goudreau
Hate Groups Find Foothold on East Coast
Here's what you need to know
Olivia Boonstra & the Canadian Anti-Hate Network
July 29, 2019
New Brunswick and Halifax members of the Northern Guard. Source: Facebook.
White supremacist and far-right groups have been trying to gain a following in the Maritimes for almost a year now. Their activities are escalating and they’re carrying out ‘patrols’, rallies, and demonstrations.
Three groups are particularly active on the East Coast: The Northern Guard (NG), The National Citizens Alliance (NCA), and the remnants of Yellow Vests Canada (YVC), now producing content under the name 'NL Media'. Stephen Garvey, leader of the NCA, is running in the riding of Cumberland-Colchester, Nova Scotia, in the federal election.
The escalation started about a year ago, when the Soldiers of Odin (SOO) began carrying out so-called patrols in Halifax in late 2018. SOO rebranded as the Northern Guard in NS in early 2019 and continued these ‘patrols’, which sometimes included giving pizza to the homeless.
This kind of hate group ‘volunteerism’ is commonplace and part of a simple public relations strategy. Elsewhere the Soldiers of Odin pick up needles and the neo-fascist, neo-Nazi Atalante Quebec give meals to white people who are homeless, for example.
Fagan has been banned from all Domino's locations in Nova Scotia.
A post from Northern Guard president, Norman English, took umbrage with what occurred, including a statement acknowledging, “yes we are against any ppl that come here to change our way of life”.
A recent video also shows Northern Guard member Tobin Parker threatening people on the street with pepper spray during the a National Citizens Alliance rally on June 22nd.
The National Citizens Alliance (NCA) is a federal party led by Stephen Garvey, who has done events in the past with the explicitly anti-Muslim Worldwide Coaltion Against Islam, a neo-Nazi tied organization which refers to Muslims as vermin and sewage. NCA aims to put a ‘temporary pause’ on immigration and a massive reduction in immigration over time.
The party is working hard to secure a following in Nova Scotia, attending popular festivals and attempting to hold rallies and demonstrations. However, it has now been banned from events and has been met by counter-protests.
On June 22nd, National Citizens Alliance held a rally in Halifax in an attempt to recruit members in the area. The NCA were largely outnumbered by counter protestors organized by Halifax Against Hate (@HFXAgainstHate), a Halifax collective documenting far-right activities in Halifax and organizing against their actions.
During the rally, and shortly following the rally, police arrested two counter-protestors. Video shows a man being arrested after knocking Garvey’s hat off (without otherwise making contact with him).
Following the rally, the Halifax Regional Police arrested another counter-protestor for allegedly damaging an NCA banner. A video appears to show the counter-protestor being attacked by NCA members, ostensibly after damaging the banner, and it’s alleged that they were pepper sprayed by an officer while NCA members attacked them.
Only one National Citizens Alliance member was arrested, allegedly for public intoxication, according to a Halifax Against Hate press release.
The party has rallies planned in cities across Canada, and according to their website, have raised $16,520 dollars in donations.
On July 19th, 2019, NCA announced that leader and founder, Stephen Garvey, would be running in the Cumberland-Colchester, NS federal riding in the 2019 federal election. Eight more NCA candidates were also announced, running in ridings in Saskatchewan, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Alberta.
NCA is planning more rallies across Canada in cities like Hamilton, Kingston, Charlottetown, and Nova Scotia.
Another somewhat recent entry in the East Coast hate scene is the Yellow Vests Canada movement, which began holding regular demonstrations across Canada, primarily targeting Muslims and Trudeau, in late 2018.
The Newfoundland & Labrador chapter of Yellow Vests Canada has been particularly active over the past few months, despite the general decline of the movement across Canada.
The group has organized small demonstrations in the St. John’s and Mount Pearl area. They are more active online where leader Kenny Winsor launched NL Media, one of many far-right, content-producing pages. NL Media primarily targets Trudeau and the LGBTQ+ community, with a particular focus on Liberal candidate Hasan Hai.
Winsor went to Hai’s campaign headquarters in May of 2019 to confront him directly after months of online harassment. Winsor harangued Hai and his staff before eventually leaving. Law enforcement was called but have not laid charges to date.
Winsor works with other content creators like Yellow Vests Canada alumni ‘Rollin with Pat and Jay’ who are touring across Canada, and have had several venues cancel on them after outreach by the anti-racist community.
‘Rollin with Pat and Jay’ hosts Pat King and Jay Riedel share anti-immigrant, anti-muslim, and anti-semetic sentiments, including Holocaust denial. King and Riedel were planning on touring Newfoundland & Labrador, however that leg of the tour has been cancelled due to the “great possibility they will face fierce opposition.”
The Northern Guard (NG) is a militant anti-Muslim group with neo-Nazi ties that is active across Canada. Their members have engaged in premeditated assaults targeting anti-racist, anti-fascist demonstrators.
The Northern Guard is an off-shoot of a similar group called the Soldiers of Odin (SOO), which disbanded in Nova Scotia and was reformed as the Northern Guard. The SOO were founded in Finland by a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi who has been found guilty of multiple racially motivated assaults. SOO chapters have been active in Canada since 2016.
There is some dispute over what motivated this ‘rebranding’ in Nova Scotia. Some sources say that there was internal conflict within the NS chapter of SOO about letting women join the group, which led to the creation of the ‘men only’ group, the Northern Guard. Women interested in being a part of the Northern Guard are encouraged to join their ‘sister’ group, the Northern Maidens, which works as a support group for the Northern Guard.
A statement from the Northern Guard insists that the split was due to financial conflicts within the group, with one post alleging that the president at the time, Billy Rushton, was stealing from the group.
National Citizens Alliance
The National Citizens Alliance (NCA) is a small federal party that was accepted by Elections Canada in January of 2019. Their website boasts that they will put a moratorium on all immigration, reduce foreign aid by 75%, reduce ‘bureaucracy’ by 50%, and make 9 amendments to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Their overall platform is anti-immigration, anti-globalization, and climate emergency denial.
Much like the Northern Guard, there is a specific anti-Muslim focus. The party itself walks a fine line so as to not portray itself as openly racist. It betrays itself, however, by it’s past associations with anti-Muslim and neo-Nazi groups such as the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam, and by its actions. Garvey attended the Arab Festival in Calgary last weekend where he livestreamed himself asking attendees where they came from and their immigration status.
Yellow Vests Canada
Yellow Vests Canada (YVC) is a far-right movement and Facebook page that has come to be characterized by hundreds of documented examples of death threats and overt racism, primarily targeting Muslims. At its peak it included members and supporters of virtually every anti-Muslim hate group in Canada. YVC is, by and large, a spent movement that can no longer carry out any significant demonstrations, however there is a particularly stubborn faction in Newfoundland & Labrador that remains active.
Today, it’s not so much a movement with any organizational capacity, but rather a Facebook page and a collection of content creators, including NL Media, Rollin with Pat & Jay, Rick Boswich (currently charged with uttering a threat), and Derek Storie.
Olivia Boonstra is a Masters student currently working in the areas of Harm Reduction and countering Right-Wing Extremism. She is completing a placement with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network as part of the Criminology and Social Justice MA program at Ryerson University.
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.
Yellow Vests Canada supporter threatens to kill law enforcement, claims to have cache of weapons
Gregory McNeil of Kamloops, BC was charged in 2010 after drawing a gun on RCMP officers
February 12, 2019
Special to the Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Greg McNeil's Facebook profile. Source: Facebook.
Yellow Vests Canada Exposed has documented dozens of death threats on the Yellow Vests Canada Facebook page directed towards Muslims, the Prime Minister, and others; hatred directed at Muslims, left-leaning individuals, government, the mainstream media, and, occasionally, law enforcement; conspiracy theories; and support for the Conservative Party of Canada and Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada. Its main Facebook group has over 100,000 members and one of its main organizers has a history of posting racist and antisemitic comments.
Regardless of what the gilet jaunes movement represents in France, the Canadian Yellow Vests movement has been entirely co-opted by the far-right and includes almost every anti-Muslim hate group in Canada. It is characterized as a public safety threat in a briefing note authored by the Canadian Association for Security & Intelligence Studies – Vancouver.
In response to a post about storming parliament, Yellow Vests Canada supporter Greg McNeil suggests they carry out mass arrests, shooting anybody that gets in their way. McNeil posts, “Time to start killing all the protectors…Police, security…etc.” He also claims to have a cache of weapons and friends who are similarly armed.
The pictures on Greg McNeil's Facebook profile appear to match a picture of Gregory Warren McNeil, who was arrested in 2010 and charged with multiple firearms offences and harassment. McNeil threatened to kill bank employees, prompting a visit by the RCMP. He drew a handgun and the officers shot him. McNeil told investigators that he’s a better shot than most police officers and could have shot the officers if he wanted.
The RCMP searched his home and found a hidden room full of weapons, ammunition and bullet resistant vests, as well as a B.C. sheriff uniform and a custom officer’s badge.
McNeil was sentenced to over 5 years in prison and has a lifetime ban on owning firearms.
The RCMP tells the Canadian Anti-Hate Network that they respect “[The Yellow Vests movement’s] right to peaceful, lawful, and safe protest. Should someone have concerns about their activities online or in person, we would encourage them to contact the police in the jurisdiction they live in, to report. The RCMP takes complaints of threats seriously.”
Greg McNeil is no longer a member of the Yellow Vests Canada Facebook group.
According to an article in the Vancouver Sun, law enforcement seized over 100 guns from Green’s home including a Bren machine gun, “homemade silencers, zip guns, prohibited over-capacity magazines, and untraceable firearms,” as well as explosive materials.
The Yellow Vests Canada movement have been holding demonstrations across the country every Saturday to protest immigration policies, what they believe is the United Nations takeover of Canadian sovereignty, and a host of other issues popular among the far-right. Now, they are planning to run a convoy of trucks from Alberta to Ottawa, which Tony Green promoted.
The ‘United We Roll’ convoy departs on February 14th and arrives in Ottawa on the 19th. Originally branded as a Yellow Vests event, organizer Glen Carritt claimed that the United We Roll convoy is no longer affiliated, citing “philosophical differences.” However, organizers of the convoy are also members of the Yellow Vests Canada group, and he has says his group still "identifies with the yellow vests" and they are welcoming them to the convoy.
Several of the organizers are also supporters of other hate groups such as Canadian Combat Coalition, Soldiers of Odin, and Worldwide Coalition Against Islam.
Both Yellow Vests Canada Exposed and the Canadian Anti-Hate Network have encouraged supporters to report the United We Roll GoFundMe page on the basis that the fundraiser supports the Yellow Vests Canada hate movement. Yellow Vests Canada Exposed has also encouraged supporters to contact the hotels where convoy participants intend to stay.
Yellow Vests Canada Exposed documents the overt racism, hate speech, death threats and calls to violence posted by members of the Yellow Vest Movement in Canada. Their work can be found on Twitter and Facebook.
Toronto business owner donates $25,000 to confront hate in Canada
Announcement comes fresh on the heels of apology by local anti-Muslim activist
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Mohamad Fakih (left) presenting Bernie Farber with $25,000.
(Toronto - Monday, Dec. 17, 2018) Mohamad Fakih, owner of Paramount Fine Foods, is donating $25,000 to the Canadian Anti-Hate Network today.
The donation will bring the network closer towards its first major fundraising goal – to hire an additional full time investigator to monitor and report on hate groups in Canada.
The donation comes just as Mr. Fakih received an apology from Ron Banerjee, a regular presence and bit-player in the anti-Muslim movement in Toronto.
In August 2017, blogger Kevin J. Johnston and Ron Banerjee made videos in front of Paramount Fine Foods during an anti-Muslim demonstration and made comments that were overtly hateful towards Muslims and specifically targeted Fakih and his business.
Fakih launched a defamation suit against both individuals, resulting in an apology from Banerjee.
“I am grateful that I was able to confront this hatred, though it has taken a significant emotional toll," says Fakih. "Not everyone is able to do what I felt I needed to do. It is for this reason that I will be marking this moment by further supporting efforts to combat hate in Canada. We need to protect our rights and freedoms so that everyone can fully contribute without fear of discrimination or hatred.”
“We are immensely grateful for this generous donation. This donation will help us to do even more critical work in calling out those who fuel hatred and division in our communities,” says Bernie M. Farber, Chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network and former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress.
“Mr. Fakih demonstrated a true sense of courage and civic responsibility. In standing up to this virulent Islamophobia, Mr. Fakih spoke out on behalf of all who have suffered racism, bigotry and hatred. He made it clear that anyone promoting hatred can and will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law."
“We’re all in this together.”
"We are pushing for new tools to hold individuals who spread hate propaganda responsible for their actions," says Evan Balgord, Executive Director of CAN. "That hard work should not always fall on the shoulders of the targets of hate and defamation."
The suit against Kevin J. Johnston, a blogger who makes videos targeting Muslims, women and LGBTQ+ persons, continues. Johnston is also facing a separate criminal charge for the wilful promotion of hate.
To see the Mr. Banerjee's apology to Mr. Fakih, click here.
For further inquiries, please contact:
Evan Balgord, email@example.com
Bernie M. Farber, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ron Banerjee represents RISE Canada - the same 'group' that at one time included Jennifer Bush, the woman who heckled Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and later went viral for yelling at Jagmeet Singh. RISE Canada is, however, largely a one-man group of Ron Banerjee.
Banerjee identifies as a Hindu nationalist and is a regular presence at the near-monthly anti-Muslim demonstrations in Toronto alongside groups like the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens, Jewish Defence League, and the III%ers, an anti-Muslim self-styled militia group.
Banerjee has been active for years, and for a fuller history of his actions, visit https://anti-racistcanada.blogspot.com/search?q=banerjee
Mayor Dale Bumstead
MLA Mike Bernier
MP Bob Zimmer
Dawson Creek RCMP
We represent the Canadian Anti-Hate Network (antihate.ca), a non-profit organization which monitors hate groups and their activities in Canada. We deliver information to the public and media and we provide information and evidence to law enforcement, and have done so on several criminal investigations across Canada.
Our advisory group is made up of Canada’s leading experts on hate groups and hate crimes, including human rights lawyers, academics, journalists, court-recognized experts, and leaders in targeted communities.
We are writing you this public letter today because we are deeply concerned by reports that the Soldiers of Odin are active in your community, engaging in volunteerism and participating in civic events, seemingly with the tacit acceptance or support of some public officials.
The Soldiers of Odin are an anti-Muslim hate group. They were founded in Finland by a self-identifying neo-Nazi who has been found guilty of racially motivated assault. It’s well documented that the Canadian organization has attracted white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
Several political parties and figures in Canada have disavowed the support of the Soldiers of Odin, like the United Conservative Party in Alberta. Others have found associating with the Soldiers of Odin to be a setback to their political aspirations. There is a growing recognition of what the group represents.
The statement by the RCMP that the Soldiers of Odin are not a concern is incorrect. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network and others have documented overtly racist statements targeting Muslims and other groups, and posts celebrating or encouraging violence.
Whether the local chapter engages in these behaviours is besides the point – you wouldn’t welcome a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in your backyard even if they were doing garbage pickups and promised never to burn a cross. By using the same name, engaging in volunteerism, and finding the tacit acceptance of prominent figures in your community, they are whitewashing the Soldiers of Odin brand Canada-wide.
We call on you to send a strong message that you do not support hate groups such as the Soldiers of Odin operating in your community, and that they will not be part of any community policing plan.
Bernie Farber, Chair
Richard Warman, Board Member
Amira Elghawaby, Board Member
Evan Balgord, Executive Director
Police reported hate crimes increase nearly 50 per cent in 2017 - but that's just the tip of the iceberg
The police only report a small fraction of actual hate crimes to Statistics Canada
November 29, 2018
Evan Balgord & Amira Elghawaby
M103, the motion against Islamophobia, was a lightning rod for an anti-Muslim
street movement that firmly established itself in 2017. Source: Twitter.
The 2017 police reported hate crime statistics have been released. They show an increase in hate crimes across the board compared to 2016 with a larger increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims, Blacks, and Arabs. Every year the release of these statistics generates media stories and opinion pieces - almost always without reflecting the serious methodological issues with the statistics.
To us in the field, these statistics are an indication of something we already know and can be a way to share that knowledge with the public. Hate groups and dogwhistle politics have further normalized racist and hateful attitudes that create an increase in everyday bigotry, overt hate, and violence towards our neighbours. However, we know the bad data underestimates the size of the problem.
According to research by Dr. Barbara Perry and Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui, two of Canada's leading researchers on hate crime, there are systemic issues in how these numbers are collected and reported by law enforcement.
First – hate crime or a hate incident? Hate incidents are noncriminal harassment, while hate crimes must contain an element of criminality independent from the hate motivation. Some jurisdictions will take reports of both – others only take reports of hate crimes.
Over two thirds of victims of hate crimes don’t report to police. In some communities – and particularly among newer migrants – this number can be as high as 85 per cent.
Those that do report to police are sometimes discouraged from filing a report - in examples we've heard, either because it's not criminal (a hate incident) or because the officer doesn't believe they will be able to find the perpetrator and suggests to the victim that reporting is a waste of time. If the responding officer takes their report, the officer has to have to have the training to recognize an incident as a hate crime and tick a box on a form. In some jurisdictions, there will be another level of review which may remove the hate crime designation if there isn’t sufficient evidence (note: not disproving the incident, but not having the evidence to state it as fact either).
The cases that remain are stuck in limbo. If there is sufficient evidence to indicate the incident occurred and to move forward with an investigation, that case will be reflected in the numbers law enforcement pass to Statistics Canada. If the investigation isn’t going anywhere, it may not be included in the numbers. This process isn’t the same in every jurisdiction and the patchwork nature of hate crime training and reporting is another issue.
The result? Only a tiny proportion of hate crimes are reflected in the police reported statistics.
Then there are the issues of classification. For example, there are multiple categories an anti-Muslim hate crime can be coded as – racially based (eg. Arab) or based on religion (eg. Muslim). The system forces officers to make very subjective judgement calls - for example, race or religion, pick one - but bigots and racists often don’t draw these distinctions. In the United States, a Sikh man was killed in ‘retaliation’ shortly after 9/11. Often, brown skin is enough. Or consider this example – a swastika is scrawled over a poster of a woman in hijab. How should that be coded? Antisemitic, anti-woman (part of the 'other motivation' category), anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, or all of the above?
Since newer immigrant communities are less likely to report, and classification difficulties dilute the statistics further for groups and people with intersectional identities, some communities – like the Muslim community - are very likely underrepresented in the statistics.
We have a much better tool – in 2014 Statistics Canada did a survey on victimization as part of the General Social Survey. This self-report has its own methodological flaws but it’s the best tool we have, and suggests far higher levels of hate crimes across Canada.
That survey is scheduled to be repeated for release in 2019.
We need an audit and standardization of police-reported hate crimes. However, there is a more immediate solution. If we want a better measure of hate crimes in Canada, Statistics Canada should add additional questions and do the victimization survey every year.
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.”
"A Toronto judge has reserved his decision in the case of a former paralegal accused of advocating genocide and promoting hatred in email and on the internet, including an open Twitter account.
Rupen Balaram-Sivaram has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges, including the rare charge of advocating genocide. The charges stem in part from a series of hateful social media posts and emails he allegedly sent to public figures and media organizations that call for death to Jews, homosexuals, Westerners and Christians.
. . .
In her written submissions, [Crown attorney Kim] Motyl wrote that Balaram-Sivaram’s 'entire social media footprint is riddled with evidence of his belief that those of Jewish descent and homosexuals should be exterminated. Further, his hard devices — his computer, two USB drives and his cellphone are likewise full of such sentiment.'"
The United Conservative Party and the Soldiers of Odin
Controversy in Alberta sparked by UCP nomination candidates posing for a photograph with the Soldiers of Odin, an anti-Muslim group with ties to neo-Nazism. Here's what you need to know.
October 23, 2018
UCP candidates pose with Edmonton-based Soldiers of Odin on Oct 5. Source: Facebook.
United Conservative Party nomination candidates were photographed at an early October pub night in Edmonton with members of the Soldiers of Odin, a militant anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant group.
The Soldiers of Odin was originally founded in Finland by Mika Ranta, who has a conviction for a racially-motivated assault and self-identifies as a neo-Nazi, according to The Times of Israel.
In Canada, the Soldiers of Odin have leaders and members with demonstrated ties to white supremacy and neo-Nazism. The organization splintered throughout 2017, but chapters with dozens of members are still in operation.
The UCP pub night was held at Brown’s Social House in Edmonton on Oct. 5. In attendance were three UCP candidates running for the party’s nomination in the Edmonton-West Henday constituency who posed for photos with Soldiers of Odin members wearing branded Soldiers of Odin shirts, hats, and vests.
Two of the candidates have since said they were also unaware that members of an extremist group had attended the pub night.
“Had we known at the time, we certainly would not have had our pictures taken with these individuals,” Nicole Williams and Leila Houle said in a joint statement.
The third candidate in the race, Lance Coulter, was disqualified by the party for defending the Soldiers of Odin, saying he was aware of their white supremacist views but found them “polite” and “cordial” at the event. In a Facebook post on his campaign page, Coulter accused Williams and Houle of lying in their statement.
"I was disqualified because I refused to lie when the party asked me to, unlike the two other candidates," he wrote in a Facebook post.
The UCP constituency association condemned the views of the Soldiers of Odin and said party representatives would have asked them to leave had they known what "S.O.O." represented. UCP Leader Jason Kenney described the Soldiers of Odin’s appearance at the party function as an act of “political mischief.”
The UCP has blamed the appearance of the Soldiers of Odin on Dave Bjorkman, an organizer for the fringe Alberta Independence Party. However, Bjorkman also appears to be a UCP member, based on screenshots of emails he shared on Facebook which included his membership number and an invitation to the pub night. The party did not respond to questions from the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
"This is not an isolated incident," says Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley, who attributes the incident to UCP's dog-whistle politics.
The Soldiers of Odin group in Edmonton whose members attended the UCP pub night announced it was renaming itself the Canadian Infidels. A spokesperson for the group told the Canadian Anti-Hate Network the group will continue its activism, including street patrols. They claim the Canadian Infidels are open to everyone, and that it is a "pro-Canadian" group that stands against terrorism. On its Facebook page, the group continues to share anti-Muslim and anti-immigration messages.
A different Soldiers of Odin group in Edmonton continues to operate as the ‘Soldiers of Odin’ and disavows any connection with the rebranded splinter group.