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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bernie M. Farber, email@example.com
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
New report demonstrates more resources need to be spent on right-wing extremism to properly understand the threat
A key error in the Public Safety Canada report suggests that insufficient resources are being spent by security services and law enforcement to adequately monitor hate groups
December 14, 2018
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Source: Yellow Vests Canada Saskatoon event page
Source: Yellow Vests Canada public group
The Public Safety report acknowledges right-wing extremism is a concern, perhaps more so than any other report to date. However, it characterizes the threat as one to “the fabric of Canadian society” rather than a threat to national security.
The report incorrectly states that individuals with extreme right-wing views are not openly promoting violence. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAN) and others have documented hate groups in Canada issuing calls to violence, death threats, and celebrating violence towards targeted groups on a near-daily basis.
"The federal government is missing a big piece of the puzzle in its efforts to capture the threats to our collective and individual sense of safety and well-being," says Evan Balgord, Executive Director of CAN, "and we believe that's because our security services and law enforcement haven't invested sufficient resources to monitor the threat."
For example, in 2016 on the now-defunct neo-Nazi forum Iron March, a leader in Blood and Honour connected with a high school student on Vancouver Island. Blood and Honour is an old-school neo-Nazi group in Canada responsible for criminality and assaults. Now it interacts with the alt-right neo-Nazi movement on forums. The high school student posted that he was frustrated with 'leftists' at his school. Another user told him to get his firearms license. The Blood and Honour organizer told him “If you really want to stop the leftists at your school you’re going to have to use more than just arguments, but at least it’ll be a permanent solution.” Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
Today, CAN has documented death threats towards Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Omar Khadr on the Yellow Vests Canada Facebook page, as well as threats to beat anti-fascists with a baseball bat and another comment from an individual who says he will break people's legs. Yellow Vests Canada draws its inspiration from the yellow vests movement and riots in France. In Canada it is heavily integrated with the far-right movement and right-wing extremism.
The leader of the III%ers, an anti-Muslim militia, has posted that “the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim.” Several other threats from anti-Muslim groups are well documented.
This past month, representatives of the RCMP have gone on record to say that the Soldiers of Odin aren’t a threat - despite clear indications that they are, including a report from the Canada Border Services Agency, which states the SOO are “not afraid to use violence to achieve objectives.” Another spokesperson told a reporter that they don’t know who or what the Proud Boys are. It's important to also note that CSIS had previously closed its desk on right-wing extremism and only reopened it after the Quebec mosque shooting.
"We need a renewed focus on right-wing extremism, especially since it is responsible for more than 16 murders in 18 months* in Canada," says Bernie M. Farber, board member with CAN and a long-time advocate against hate activity.
*In January 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette killed 6 in the Quebec mosque shooting. In April 2018, Alek Minassian used a van to kill 10 in Toronto.
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
Amira Elghawaby, Canadian Anti-Hate Network board member, writes in the Toronto Star:
"No one would have anticipated the ugly wave of hatred and anger that would rise up against Muslims and other minority communities just as the nation sought to grapple with the aftermath of the horrific massacre of six worshippers at a Quebec City mosque.
But new statistics show that hate crimes in 2017 year rose by nearly 50 per cent since the previous year. Crimes targeting Muslims increased by a staggering 151 per cent; those targeting Jews, by 63 per cent, and those targeting Black people, by 50 per cent, among other increases.
It’s clearly time for some deep reflection — particularly amongst our elected officials. What should have been a straightforward effort to examine the ongoing harassment and discrimination against minority communities that year became a highly contentious wedge issue. The steep price of pandering to populist tendencies couldn’t be more clear."
Large coalition of far-right, anti-Muslim groups in Ottawa this weekend
They are holding a protest against the UN agreement on migration, the newest cause célèbre of the far-right
December 4, 2018
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Top left: III%ers; top right: La Meute; bottom left: Northern Guard; centre: Darren Jones, former Saskatchewan VP for the Northern Guard posing in front of Nazi flags; bottom right: the Soldiers of Odin
On December 8th, a collection of far-right groups are going to hold a rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to protest against the United Nation Global Compact for Migration. The compact, which aims to promote human rights and make conditions safer for migrants, is not legally binding. However, the far-right have labeled it, among other things, a ‘suicide pact’, and have made it their cause célèbre of the past few weeks.
A petition against the Compact sponsored by Maxime Bernier and shared by far-right and alt-right neo-Nazi figures has garnered nearly 35,000 signatures, led by Ontario which has contributed 11,000.
On November 24th, Faith Goldy, a self-proclaimed propagandist for the alt-right neo-Nazi movement, held a similar, but only 40-strong, rally in Toronto. They were counter-demonstrated by an equally large crowd of anti-racist and anti-fascist demonstrators who were loud enough to ruin Goldy and her supporters’ livestream broadcasts.
Two different event pages are promoting the far-right rally on December 8th - one in English hosted by the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens, and one in French hosted by representatives of several far-right and anti-Muslim groups.
One of the organizers claims to have an event permit, which would require approval by the Committee for the use of Parliament Hill.
According to the French Facebook event page, fifteen far-right groups are involved and have convened a ‘round table’ including a leader from each group. While La Meute says they aren’t organizing the event, they are arranging for transportation and sending a ‘security team’. The rally plans to include groups such as Storm Alliance, Northern Guard, the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens, Le Meute, “Patriote” (likely Patriotes du Québec) and the III%ers.
All of the above groups are a regular feature of anti-Muslim demonstrations. While the anti-Muslim movement and its associated groups claim to only be critical of Islam, in both their public, but especially their private, online spaces, they have been exposed as overtly racist. Many celebrate or promote violence towards Muslims. Some, like the III%ers, are proudly militant. The III%ers are an armed militia-style group that have stockpiled weapons, conducted paramilitary training, and staked out mosques. Several groups also have ties to neo-Nazism, like the Northern Guard, an anti-Muslim group with a biker aesthetic.
Last week La Meute denied any association with Patriotes du Québec following revelations that a member of ‘Patriote’, who may also be a member of La Meute, was discussing creating “a fake terrorist attempt” to “scare the hell out of Quebecers,” according to an article in the Montreal Gazette.
La Meute spokesperson Slyvain Bouillette tells the Canadian Anti-Hate Network that several groups use the 'patriote' name and claims that, despite there being a ‘round table’ of leaders organizing together, that doesn’t constitute an endorsement of any other group.
Anti-fascist and anti-racist activists in Ottawa are planning a counter-demonstration on December 8th.
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network would like to thank a contributor from Ottawa for their help in researching and authoring this article.
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.
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.
"Experts say Canadians should also be concerned about the rise of hate groups in this country. There are at minimum 130 active right-wing extremist groups across Canada according to Dr. Barbara Perry, an expert on hate crime — a 30 per cent increase from 2015.
Most of these groups are organized around ideologies against religion and race — with anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish sentiments being the most common, followed by hate against immigrants, Indigenous people, women, LGBTQ communities and other minorities.
. . .
[Evan Balgord, Executive Director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network,] says the radicalization process happens quickly and that people typically go from consuming hate material online to organizing offline. Balgord says they are increasingly involved in mainstream politics. 'Now we’re seeing in terms of real-life organizing, they are coming out to support Faith Goldy’s campaign for mayor of Toronto. They are also excited by Maxime Bernier’s party,' he shares."
Canadian Anti-Hate Network chair Bernie Farber calls on Doug Ford to renounce alt-right candidate who associates with neo-Nazis.
"On Saturday, Faith Goldy, in the race for Toronto mayor, well-known for embracing and supporting white supremacist views, turned up at the Ford Fest BBQ in Vaughan. Following a photo-op with the premier, a scandal ensued as Ford refused to renounce Goldy, her white nationalist views and support to neo-Nazis when asked to do so in the legislature by the NDP."
"Ford has condemned hate speech but refuses to renounce Goldy by name and her associations. His words do not live up to his actions. Canadians still expect decency and leadership from those we put in office. Ford can still make this right, but not until he fully dissociates himself from those like Faith Goldy and their vile ideas."
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network and the Urban Alliance on Race Relations want answers from Toronto Police
Toronto Police Service officers push through a line of anti-racist activists. Photo credit: Ali Javeed, Twitter @alijaveed_
On Saturday, the Toronto Police Service repeatedly used force to break a line of peaceful protesters in order to permit a march down Bay Street by members of racist and neo-Nazi groups.
The rally, hosted by the anti-Muslim extremist group PEGIDA, was joined by members of the Soldiers of Odin and Northern Guard, groups with demonstrated neo-Nazi ties, and the Proud Boys, who have been responsible for a number of assaults at recent demonstrations.
At the beginning of the rally, the hate groups were separated from anti-racism counter protestors by fencing and police. “The police could have maintained public order by allowing the hate groups to complete their rally where they started. Instead, Toronto Police called reinforcements to force a march by hate groups through peaceful counter-protestors,” said Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAN) board member and lawyer Richard Warman.
Saturday is only the most recent example, but similar situations have played out several times over the past year. Hate groups will continue to turn rallies into marches to use the police as a weapon against citizens who stand up to their poisonous message if the Toronto Police Service permit themselves to be used in this way.
"The police have a responsibility to maintain order and public trust," said Nigel Bariffe, president of the Urban Alliance of Race Relations. "That public trust is eroded when the police give the perception of being on the side of those who are spreading messages of hate and division."
Unfortunately, this is nothing new, notes Warman.
“In the early 90s I witnessed Toronto Police on horseback use batons against hundreds of anti-racism protestors to clear a path so that members of the neo-Nazi Heritage Front could enter the University Avenue courthouse en masse. This flies in the face of the fact that Canada has repeatedly signed international legal treaties obliging us to counter hate group activity - not protect it."
We are requesting a meeting with the Toronto Police Service to discuss these concerns and find positive solutions to this and other related issues.