Far-Right Coronavirus Conspiracies
Some think it’s a hoax, others hope it’ll kill more Chinese
March 16, 2020
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Source: Twitter. March 16, 2020. The artwork in this image is by Jenn Kovachik, and it was used by Peter Downing without her consent.
The far-right in Canada have been spreading misinformation about the coronavirus since day one. To them, COVID-19 is clear evidence of a massive and sinister conspiracy – they just don’t agree on which conspiracy or conspiracies are to blame.
Importantly, many commenters are expressing a desire for the virus to kill groups they feel are deserving, particularly Chinese and indigenous persons.
“I hope this dirty virus decimates china’s population.”
“Fucking subhumans. They deserve the plague."
“I’ll go get carona [sic] virus or Ebola and I’ll make sure I come to a bunch of reserves and touch everything ;) . . . Your species will die out and then my hard work tax money can go towards better things than your free pay cheque.”
Some believe COVID-19 is a hoax.
Nick Gallant, founder and leader of the Northern Guard (a splinter group of the Soldiers of Odin), says, because the media hasn’t provided any names of victims and he doesn't know of anybody who’s sick, information regarding the virus isn’t “validated.” This falls apart when one of his friends says she personally knows someone who has the virus.
Today, Peter Downing, head of the western separatist project Wexit Alberta tweeted:” If Alberta shuts down schools and daycares, just about every parents has to stay home from work to care for their kids…. SHUTTING DOWN our Economy. Just like the Feds want. The “Climate change” scare failed. Don’t fall for the new scare.”
Joey Deluca of Calgary who runs the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam says either the virus or its severity is being made up by Democrats as “part of their evil plan to take the White House and the Senate in November.”
The idea that the virus is an anti-Trump ploy could be found on several Canadian far-right social media platforms and Facebook groups. Here, the conspiracy is that COVID-19 is an effort by the “deep state” to undermine Trump who, because of his anti-immigrant and Islamophobic rhetoric, is widely admired by the Canadian far-right.
Other groups acknowledge that the virus both exists and is a health hazard. Their conspiracies run darker.
Many are linking COVID-19 to the conspiracy theory that the United Nations has a plan to eliminate as much as 90% of the world’s population. George Soros makes an appearance in these conspiracies, having become the ubiquitous boogeyman for the far-right. Among the groups pushing this theory is a Facebook group for supporters of the III%ers, an anti-Muslim and anti-government militia.
Some believe the coronavirus is the precursor to forced vaccinations which many members believe are a method of mind control, sterilization, or simply an effort to kill them outright as part of their shared delusion that the UN is trying to eliminate them.
The antivaxxers say they will never take any future COVID-19 vaccine.
A comment on a Northern Guard page says it’s part of a plot to make people “complacent, obedient, and easily subdued,” leading to mandatory vaccinations, which they call “medical totalitarianism.”
Then there is the belief that COVID-19 is in fact a weapon created by China to attack people of European descent. One of the individuals pushing this narrative is Brad Salzberg, the leader of the Cultural Action Party, a fringe but officially recognized political party in BC. He is further claiming that the Canadian government is pushing for the immigration of infected non-white and Muslim immigrants to wipe out “old stock” (read: white) Canadians.
There are even more outlandish theories – that the virus is designed to purposely target the elderly since they are more inclined to be conservative, for example – but they have too many theories to discuss each in detail.
Few of them, however, are very original; they are variations of the same conspiracies that you’d hear on shortwave radio back in the 1990s. What’s different right now is that coronavirus itself is real and on everybody’s mind. People are scared and vulnerable. The far-right are taking advantage.
This is part of a series of articles and investigations into trends and new developments among Canada’s hate movements. We would like to thank an anonymous donor and the Urban Alliance on Race Relations for supporting this project.
State of Hate: Canada 2020
An overview of the activity of Canada's hate movements as we move further into 2020
February 26, 2020
Today the far-right movement is targeting Wet'suwet'en solidarity demonstrations and encouraging each other to murder or assault indigenous persons and allies. Source: Twitter.
At the end of January the CBC reported that the Canadian government was struggling with how to both define and respond to the dangers posed by far-right extremism. Groups such as the Canadian Anti-Hate Network and Anti-Racist Canada have been monitoring groups and individual tied to extremism for years. As such it might be instructive to discuss where we are as we enter 2020.
The Yellow Vest movement, characterized by hundreds of documented examples of threats and overt hatred towards Muslims, seems to have peaked with its convoy to Ottawa in February 2019. While there were rallies into the spring and summer in several Canadian cities, its supporters have largely retreated to their online echo chamber. Their much smaller than expected convoy and Liberal re-election has caused a great deal of disillusion and has resulted in infighting as different factions accuse each other of not supporting the cause enough to take to the streets, allowing the Liberals to win by voting for the “wrong” conservative party (most supported the doomed People’s Party of Canada), and financial malfeasance.
The Yellow Vest movement has since fractured in other directions. Prairie Yellow Vest supporters are now gravitating towards the even more fringe Wexit movement that wants the west to separate from Canada, but this hasn’t resonated with Ontario supporters. Many supporters and far-right vloggers are more preoccupied today with anti-anti-fascism, anti-leftism, and anti-liberalism than spreading hatred towards Muslims, LGBTQ+ and indigenous persons, etc., but the bigotry is still very prevalent, especially in response to the Wet'suwet'en standoff.
The anti-Muslim and so-called ‘patriot’ groups that participated in the Yellow Vests movement (but exist separately of it) continue to try to organize mass rallies but those that do occur have meager attendance. They are often countered by significantly larger counter-protests opposing them, leading to increased disillusion. Groups such as the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam (WCAI) and Canadian Combat Coalition have become primarily online groups that occasionally attend rallies. Anti-Muslim group PEGIDA Canada, whose founder and leader was identified as 2019 drew to a close, has not held a significant event since the fall. La Meute in Quebec has been quiet in part because of constant infighting, and in part because the election of Coalition Avenir Québec, which has enacted more restrictive immigration policies and passed Bill 21. The raison d'être for La Meute seems to now be in question since the provincial government has enacted discriminatory legislation in line with what they had been demanding.
Though many so-called ‘patriot’ groups seem to be stagnant or in decline, two exceptions are the Northern Guard based in New Brunswick and the Urban Infidels based in Alberta, both of whom are splinter groups of the Soldiers of Odin with whom they still work with on occasion. Both the Northern Guard and the Urban Infidels have been opening new chapters in cities across the country. One of their chapter presidents is Christopher Vanderweide, who became infamous during the spring of 2019 for attacking counter-protesters during a Pride event in Hamilton. Despite their growth, these groups are also subject to the same infighting plaguing other similar groups. The Northern Guard chapter in Calgary for example has already splintered twice, the most recent resulting in a new group called the Mammoths led by the former Northern Guard Alberta chapter president who had been voted out by the group months before, resulting in the usual recrimination and threats between erstwhile “brothers.” Also the vice-president of the Nova Scotia Northern Guard chapter abandoned the group and spoke out against the racist rhetoric of its members.
The electoral aspirations of the far-right seem to be thwarted, for now. The People’s Party of Canada, the favourite of most hate group supporters, failed to win a single seat. However, this election is notable in that for the first time since the 1930s an openly neo-Nazi party, the Canadian Nationalist Party, was registered and ran candidates. None of the three candidates from Travis Patron’s party managed much more than 100 votes, but Patron continues to post overtly antisemitic content on the party’s social media platforms, including a video referring to Jews as the “parasitic tribe.” Patron is under investigation for the willful promotion of hate propaganda and in November 2019 he was arrested and charged with assaulting two women in Regina.
Alt-right neo-Nazi activity continues, though this largely is limited right now to putting up posters and trying to recruit new members. Atalante in Quebec, a neo-fascist group more closely resembling traditional bonehead gangs, remains a significant concern. Some high-profile members have been identified by Montreal anti-fascists.
What’s more imminently dangerous on the neo-Nazi front is the pro-terrorism or ‘accelerationist’ groups. Members of these groups are facing arrests across the world, especially in the United States. These groups have members and supporters in Canada. Some have been identified. Others haven’t.
During the summer, journalist Ryan Thorpe identified a member of the Base who was recruiting for the group. Patrik Mathews, then a reservist with the Canadian Armed Forces, later fled the country. He and other members of a Base cell were arrested on various charges in the United States in January while planning the murder of anti-fascists and a terrorist attack. We also learned that Mathews himself was slated to be murdered by his fellow Base members because he wasn’t trusted to remain silent.
Also concerning is the growth of the far-right vlogger ecosystem in Canada, which promote the conspiracy theories and ideologies that underpin all of the above, support their organizing or organize themselves, and lead campaigns of targeted harassment. More on that later.
This is the first in a new series of articles and investigations into trends and new developments among Canada’s hate movements. We would like to thank an anonymous donor and the Urban Alliance on Race Relations for supporting this project.
Why was the alleged leader of Atomwaffen’s Washington State cell travelling in Canada?
Kaleb James Cole was detained, deported and banned from the country
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
November 13, 2019
Kaleb James Cole (left) and posing in front of Auschwitz (right). Source: court documents.
On Sept 26, the Seattle Police Department seized a stockpile of weapons from 24-year-old Atomwaffen cell leader Kaleb James Cole. Thanks to court documents, we have learned that Cole was travelling in Canada and has a girlfriend in British Columbia.
Atomwaffen Division is an international neo-Nazi terror group founded in the United States which follow an accelerationist ideology – meaning they believe in the use of terrorist attacks to accelerate what they see as an inevitable societal collapse and race war. They are collectively responsible for five murders, and two members were arrested with weapons and explosives which they were allegedly planning to use to “harm civilians, nuclear facilities and synagogues."
Atomwaffen in Canada:
The now defunct Iron March forum for self-described fascists and neo-Nazis which spawned Atomwaffen had approximately 87 members with Canadian IP addresses, including some of its key admins and propagandists.
Atomwaffen-affiliated cells in Canada have operated under the names Northern Order and The Solar Contingent. Northern Order has put up stickers and posters in Toronto and Ottawa. The Solar Contingent involved at least four individuals who put up a series of posters in Toronto in May 2018, but has not since been public under that name. Artwork for both groups was produced by or copied from ‘Dark Foreigner’, Atomwaffen’s one-time graphic designer. Dark Foreigner posted on the Iron March forum in June 2017 that he and his friend ‘Bobby Fasher’ are from Ontario, and would now be in their early 20s.
Our investigation with VICE Canada revealed an Atomwaffen member who had served in the Canadian Armed Forces and was serving in the reserves. Thanks to the new Iron March data dump, we know that Montreal man Gabriel Sohier Chaput, aka ‘Zeiger’, was also in contact with Atomwaffen. Chaput, currently wanted and on the run from a Quebec warrant, was a key figure in the Iron March forum and to the Alt-Right Montreal group.
Canadian Atomwaffen members may have travelled to the United States to participate in hate camps.
Here’s what we have learned from the Seattle Police Department’s Petition for an Extreme Risk Protection Order against Kaleb James Cole:
Kaleb James Cole, born October 13, 1995, resides with his father in Washington State. His listed occupation is as a general labourer. According to ProPublica, he lives in Blair, Washington, a suburb of Seattle.
Cole, who used the alias Khimaere, was identified in a February 2018 ProPublica piece. He is believed to have organized hate camps in Washington State.
He travelled to Prague, Wroclaw, Kiev, and Krakow in December 2018, taking an Atomwaffen flag with him, and took a photo in front of Auschwitz. He was travelling with Aidan Bruce Umbaugh and Edie Allison Moore.
Cole was interviewed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection upon returning to the United States. He told them he was travelling to see a music festival in Kiev and that he doesn’t use email or social media.
Cole was in Quebec in May 2019, and flew from Quebec to B.C. to see his girlfriend in late May/early June.
He was then detained for 42 days, deported under Section 34 (1)(F) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act on the grounds that he is a “member of an organization that may engage in terrorism,” and banned from Canada for life. Note: While Atomwaffen has not been officially designated as a terrorist organization in Canada, this may indicate that the Canadian Border Services Agency and other security entities have internally (formally or informally) recognized Atomwaffen as a terrorist group.
We have filed an ATIP (access to information) request for Cole’s deportation order and any supporting materials, which we hope will shed light on his activity in Canada.
The Seattle Police Department says Cole “poses a significant danger” and confiscated a number of weapons, including weapon parts which could be combined to make untraceable firearms.
If you have additional information about the Canadian activity of Atomwaffen or affiliated groups, please write us at email@example.com.