Far-Right Hoping For Violence At Their July 1st Rally On Parliament Hill
Maxime Bernier and the People’s Party of Canada are co-opting the event
June 29, 2020
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Parliament Hill, Ottawa. Source: David Wilson. Wikimedia.
While planning for the rally began shortly after the 2019 election, there are numerous event pages on social media, making it difficult to predict what, exactly, is going to happen. That said, far-right organizers have never hit their ambitious turnout projections. They say they will have thousands, but less than a few hundred is much more likely. We have compiled together who is going, who is speaking, and their talk of violence.
Events have been created on Facebook with names like Unity - Rally For Human Rights And Liberty, Ottawa Freedom Rally on Canada Day, however the CDN Coalition For Liberty - “I’ll Meet You On The Hill” event is the largest we could find, with over 1000 people having clicked that they’re attending. The event organizer’s page displays the red ensign flag prominently; a common dog-whistle calling for the return to the days when Canada was mostly white.
Attendees claim to be fighting against tyranny, globalism, marxism and communism, buzzwords with antisemitic origins, and are calling for the removal or execution of Trudeau and the Liberal Party. They are also suggesting laying hands on journalists, which is a new development.
Maxime Bernier and the People’s Party of Canada are seemingly stealing the event away from the original organizers, prompting arguments between former PPC candidate Mark Friesen and other far-right organizers who believe that Bernier will distract from their grassroots anti-government message.
“I certainly hope this isn't a platform for the PPC...Hardly makes it about the people for the people then does it ??,” writes Sylvia Holowach.
Lottie Fraser says, “How wiil [sic] we get them to leave and who wsnts [sic] to listen to bernier, another crooked politician?”
The People’s Party of Canada is promoting the event on their website. In a now-deleted tweet, Bernier wrote: “Looking forward to seeing you too in Ottawa on Canada Day! Let’s take back our freedoms!” The tweet included a link to Friesen’s Forum for Canadian Sovereignty website. FFCS combines anti-lockdown rhetoric (“I refuse to live under a regime which bans hugs!”) and generalized far-right populist messaging (“Tyranny or freedom”). Friesen has promoted individuals like white supremacist vlogger Stefan Molyneux, and tweeted a racist cartoon aimed at NDP leader Jagmeet Singh during the 2019 election. It’s unclear whether Bernier will speak at the rally.
Canadian Combat Coalition (C3) have promoted the event, and president Dan Dubois has put out a call for their members to attend on the Canadian Combat Coalition National Facebook group. C3 is an anti-Muslim group and has associated with neo-Nazis like Kevin Goudreau.
The Three Percenters are encouraging their members to attend, calling for people to “enlist now and smash Trudeau’s fascists” on their Facebook pages.
Members of the Northern Guard, a violent anti-Muslim militia/outlaw styled group, are also attending.
The Ontario regulars are coming, like Ed Jamnisek of the Northern Guard and Lily, who last year were under investigation for harassing the Al-Soufi family. Ron Banerjee of Rise Canada and Pegida, who last year was forced by the courts to apologize to entrepreneur and philanthropist Mohamad Fakih for anti-Muslim statements, is reportedly attending, as is vlogger Derek Storie. Storie has interviewed neo-Nazi Paul Fromm along with Ed Jamnisek.
Hate preacher Artur Pawlowski and former Wexit leader Pat King are coming from Alberta.
Conspiracy vlogger Dan Dicks, who most recently has been disrupting Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Vancouver, will also be making an appearance.
On June 27th, Mark Friesen posted “Sounds like at least a thousand are coming from Quebec.”
Far-right vlogger Rick Boswick is reportedly speaking at the event. Boswick has been present at numerous far-right actions in Hamilton, including 2019 Pride, at which several people were violently attacked by the far-right. He and Lily were instrumental in instigating the harassment campaign against the Al-Soufi family, frequently sharing the address and contact information of the family restaurant.
Former PPC candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson will be speaking. Tyler Thompson has recently appeared with neo-Nazi Paul Fromm in Vancouver and has previously hired the anti-Muslim hate group Soldiers of Odin as her personal security at events. Tyler Thompson has been a vocal supporter of conversion therapy.
Kevin Johnston is reported to be speaking. Johnston is a well-known anti-Muslim activist on social media, and last year was ordered to pay $2.5 million to Mohamad Fakih for defamation. In the court decision, Ontario Superior Court justice Jane Ferguson declared Johnston’s actions were “hate speech at its worst.” He has been in and out of jail, and is still facing hate charges.
Some attendees are threatening violence
On a post about the upcoming rally, Stephen Rogerson posted “Picking 2 to take to Ottawa,” with a picture of a bottle of alcohol, marijuana, a telescoping baton, and a knuckle duster.
Rick Boswick shared a post about a citizen's arrest of an OPP officer, said “I think this tactic is in order for the wanted terrorists from the Eaton center riot. Let us see on July 1.” In the summer of 2019 Rick Boswick and members of various hate groups, including members of the neo-Nazi Canadian Nationalist Party, engaged in a brawl in Toronto’s Eaton Centre after a Pegida rally. Footage from Boswick shows that the far-right planned the fight in the Eaton Centre. Boswick has been re-posting his footage from that brawl, riling up his supporters.
Kelly Elizabeth wrote on Facebook, “Several of the groups coming are fully prepared for ANTIFA...And they have a few tricks up their sleeve.”
On the Canadian Revolution Facebook page, which has over 31,000 members, Chris Gamble wrote, “it may help a lot if everyone showed up carrying nooses.” A page admin, Miranda Remillard, responds, “have something they can show up carrying that’s better than nooses Stay tuned for that…”
Some attendees are looking to motorcycle clubs to defend them against any opposition. Kathy Paquette asked, “Anyone....do we have anything to fear with ANTIFA showing up? Do we have any Hells Angels or others? Not just cops to protect us?” Lorraine Armstrong replies, “There will be bikers in attendance. Not sure how many, but a couple of clubs I think. No, not just cops.”
On a post about the rally on the Canadian Revolution page Denny Driver suggests that people “be on the lookout for Antifa paid terrorists slipping into the crowds to use the protests as cover to start riots and cause mayhem.” Kelly Pengelly responds, “identify, confront, take down as a fellow Canadian, detain, de escalate, peacefully or combat, citizen [sic] arrest one of these fuckers. Cable tie kit with duct tape, pink spray paint, and rope and tags sus [sic] them and leave them laying for the police to pick up.”
Members of the media should also be on the lookout for attempts to disrupt their work or forcibly eject them from the event, as Rick Boswick has suggested. While there’s always been a very strong anti-media sentiment among the far-right in Canada, talking about laying hands on them is a new and concerning development.
Mindy Thomas wrote on Facebook, “Block their cameras with signs just like antifa does to us!! #defundthecbc.”
Many attendees are upset with the idea of the media being present simply for the fact that they feel they won’t cover Bernier’s attendance favourably. Valerie Leidal writes, “Absolutely mainstream media will be detrimental to Max, it is fake news, not real news, boot them out of the event, in fact do not allow them in! It is a free country after all, isn’t it, keep the puppets out!”
Not all attendees are upset with the media’s plans to be there. Mark Friesen writes, “I’m actually looking forward to seeing the media there. They can hear us denounce them as the globalist shills they are. Then we can also use their nonsense against them like we usually do.”
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We Convinced an Art gallery to Cancel a People’s Party of Canada Event in Winnipeg
You can too with a little persistence and the help of an informed and supportive community
Special to the Canadian Anti-Hate Network
August 8, 2019
Neo-Nazi Paul Fromm (left) pictured with Maxime Bernier at Mississauga, Ontario immigration policy announcement. July 24, 2019. Source: Facebook.
On July 25th 2019, the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) was supposed to have their first candidate rally in the riding of Winnipeg Centre.
I contacted the venue and convinced them to cancel the event with the help of Winnipeg’s anti-fascist and arts community.
This peaceful tactic has disrupted hate groups across Canada, forcing them to cancel public events, and can be initiated by any community member. It does, however, require awareness and support. That’s why Winnipeg FF1, an anti-fascist group I’m part of, puts community action and education at the forefront of anti-racist activism.
The People’s Party of Canada, led by Maxime Bernier, attracts supporters and sympathizers of hate groups. Its immigration policy was endorsed by Faith Goldy, a self-proclaimed “propaganda arm” for the alt-right neo-Nazi movement, and neo-Nazi Paul Fromm. Not long after one of its candidates issued a call for more hate speech so that right-wing extremists won’t resort to murder, an argument that was thoroughly debunked by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. Bernier told journalists he stood by his candidate's comments.
In the past two years FF1 has counter-demonstrated a Manitoba branch of the militant anti-Muslim Soldiers of Odin, which hasn’t been back since, convinced hotels to cancel an event planned by Paul Fromm, and exposed local activity of the neo-Nazi Canadian Nationalist Party, among other victories.
These successes are the result of an entire community that springs into action any time hate groups try to organize in our neighbourhoods.
On July 19, a community member sent us a photo of a poster for a Winnipeg Centre People’s Party of Canada rally at the Cre8ery gallery. They were upset the gallery, known to be an inclusive space, would host an event for the PPC given Maxime Bernier’s anti-trans statements and close proximity to hate groups.
Winnipeg Centre is one of the most ethnically and economically diverse ridings in Canada, with a large indigenous, refugee and immigrant population. It’s also home to our arts community.
Only a week earlier, the entire PPC executive in another Winnipeg riding, Elmwood-Transcona, quit due to concerns about their own members, the sort of people that would have attended this rally at Cre8ery gallery:
"The biggest problem we face locally though, are our own supporters. Racists, bigots, antisemites, and conspiracy theorists have large presence in the public conversation surrounding the People's Party of Canada. Many of these PPC supporters would deny freedoms to Canadians and close our physical and economic borders. Many more spread disinformation and distrust online via their personal, and sometimes official party channels. None of these are things we would have expected you [Maxime Bernier] to stand beside during the leadership campaign. We are appalled to see it encouraged with a wink and a nod now."
We consulted with folks in the art community and we agreed to give Cre8ery the benefit of the doubt and raise our concerns privately, which we’ve done with other venues in similar situations.
I emailed the gallery owner with examples of the PPC’s transphobia, islamophobia and racism from their leaders, candidates and members, and shared with them the resignation letter of the PPC Elmwood-Transcona executive. I suggested it would be in the best interest of the gallery and the community it served to cancel the event and keep the gallery an inclusive place for folks in marginalized communities.
Our exchanges can be found here.
Gallery owner Jordan Miller responded kindly, but said she isn’t into politics, has no interest in the party or its platform, and as a business that rents space, was obliged to keep the $75 booking.
I offered to cover the cost, and promised that we would rally the community to support her and the gallery if there was any backlash from the PPC. We also made it clear that if the gallery decided to host the PPC that we would make that decision public and urge people to boycott the gallery. This is one way we use our free expression rights to counter hate group activity.
We don’t take the promise of a public boycott lightly. As was the case with the Canadian Nationalist Party’s event at the Belgian Club last year, our exposing this kind of activity can lead to financial consequences for organizations that host hate groups. In this case, because the art community for the most part embraces anti-fascist principles, I knew that the gallery would be doing itself a disservice by hosting a PPC event.
Up to this point we were keeping our exchange private, hoping that the venue would cancel on its own. Unfortunately, Miller told me the PPC rally would continue as planned.
We therefore made the decision to inform the community that, despite all efforts made with the gallery owner, they were still planning to host the PPC rally. The community sprung into action and made phone calls, sent emails, and made posts urging the gallery owner to cancel the event for the sake of inclusivity in our community. Community members provided education and made their feelings known.
It worked, as it usually does. The gallery owner cancelled the PPC rally, returned their money, and declared that they won’t do political events and that they are proud of being an inclusive space.We took our post down and replaced it with one informing everyone of the good news. Folks responded with their support, and thanks to Miller and the gallery for making the right decision.
We expected some backlash from PPC members for ruining their day, and later that night they went after me personally.
Monique Choiselat, the head of the Winnipeg Centre PPC riding executive, made multiple posts calling me a “terrorist,” including my picture, address, and phone number. Those posts were removed by Twitter and Facebook, including those posted by the PPC Winnipeg Centre account. To be clear: this is a racist and defamatory accusation that further demonstrates how PPC organizers and supporters target racialized people like myself.
The important takeaway here is that we were successful. All it takes to disrupt hate groups when they are planning events is staying vigilant, sharing research, and asking the community to help convince venues that they don’t want to associate with hate groups. You can do it too, either by getting one of these campaigns started, or by making phone calls and sending emails.
I want to thank my friends at FF1 and this fantastic and active community that has always been there to help keep hate groups out of Winnipeg and make this one of the hardest places in Canada for them to organize. As we say here in the Prairie capital:
Peg City Don’t Play.
Omar Kinnarath is an anti-fascist activist and organizer with FF1, an organization that monitors, exposes, and organizes against far-right activity in Winnipeg, Manitoba.