Far-right groups, which have tripled in Canada since the election of Donald Trump, are now the country’s worst internal security threat, experts say.
N … go to the US and let Trump deal with you, Make Canada Great Again, KKK is great, heil Hitler…
These messages, along with swastikas and other racist, homophobic and misogynistic symbols were tagged, plastered in the streets and distributed in mailboxes across the country, including in Quebec, as of the the day after President Trump was elected in November 2016.
“This is what the elected US president and his supporters have released,” denounced a female rabbi from Ottawa, Anna Maranta.
His residence, like two synagogues in the capital and a church where a black priest officiates, were the target of heinous attacks in the days following the American poll.
The following year, the number of hate crimes reported to police across the country skyrocketed with 2,073 cases reported in Canada (+ 67%), including 489 in Quebec (+ 66%).
The worst remains the attack on the mosque in Quebec, which claimed the lives of six people and injured eight.
The murderer was fascinated by guns, Hitler and Donald Trump, according to the computer extraction carried out by investigators on his computer.
If this attack may itself have pushed more people to denounce hatred, the increase in 2017 can also be explained “by a possible Canadian ‘Trump effect'”, analyzes the League of Rights and Freedoms.
For criminologist Barbara Perry, there is no doubt that the election of Donald Trump has “energized” white supremacists by making this racist ideology acceptable in the United States as at home.
Mme Perry directs the Center on Hate, Bias and Extremism at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, near Toronto. In 2015, his team identified around 100 organizations. Today, it numbers more than 300. Most are based in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta.
Mme Perry notes that Donald Trump has continued to support the far right since his election. He recently encouraged the Proud Boys to be ready for the ballot. Mme Perry says this small group is one of the most dangerous in the country.
United, hyperactive and violent
This organization is one of those which “train with explosives and live ammunition” and “operate from coast to coast,” the organizations worried in a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau in early October.
“These movements have killed more people in Canada for 10 years than the jihadists,” adds David Morin.
The co-director of the Observatory on Radicalization and Violent Extremism at the University of Sherbrooke, explains that the far right here was divided, but that the groups now share a common message that echoes anti-system and anti-immigration discourse of Trump.
The pandemic has only reinforced the phenomenon, notes the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. In an analysis published in June, this group of British experts indicates that Canadians are among the most active in the world in virtual far-right forums, just behind Americans and the British.
What is white supremacism?
This ideology popularized to justify slavery is based on a system of beliefs implying the superiority of peoples of European origin over others. The “whites” would thus be empowered to dominate politically, economically and socially the “non-whites”, considered inferior, less evolved. The movement of white supremacists manifests itself in a brutal, conscious and assumed way, individually or through political organizations of the extreme right.
Source: League of Rights and Freedoms
4 groups to fear, who are they?
According to the Center on Hate, Prejudice and Extremism, there are more than 300 far-right groups in the country, and their influence is growing online without anyone knowing exactly how many active members they have. Four are particularly dangerous because of their presence across the country. Some have ex-soldiers and reservists within them. They are armed and trained.
This group describes itself as an organization of “patriotic citizens who love their country”. But according to observers, it is an anti-Islam militia born in the United States shortly after the election of Barack Obama. Its members must hold a license to carry a weapon and engage in armed struggle. In Canada, his supporters are often seen armed and wearing bulletproof vests and helmets during demonstrations.
▶ In November 2017, Three Percenters in military uniform were in Quebec City during a demonstration organized by Storm Alliance and La Meute which resulted in clashes and around 40 arrests.
This organization was formed in Finland in 2015 by Mika Ranta, a white supremacist affiliated with a neo-Nazi-inspired ultranationalist Pan-Candinavian movement. The first Canadian locals were created in 2016. They severed ties with the Finnish section in 2017 because they considered it too racist, but the Quebec section maintained links with its Finnish cousin.
▶ In January 2019, Soldiers of Odin broke into the country’s oldest mosque, in Edmonton, to intimidate worshipers on a day of prayer.
This group was born in 2016 on the American West Coast. “We will kill you. That’s it, the Proud Boys in short […] We need more violence from the people of Trump, ”says founder, Canadian Gavin McInnis, one of the magazine’s co-founders. Vice. The movement’s Facebook page glorifies guns, free speech and the housewife. In April 2017, the group created a “tactical defense” unit called the Fraternal Order of the Alt Knights.
▶ In July 2017, four Proud Boys members of the Canadian Armed Forces intimidated Mi’kmaq during an Indigenous ceremony in Halifax.
German acronym meaning “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West”. It is a German anti-Islam and anti-migrant nationalist movement. Founded in 2014 by an admirer of Hitler, the group sided with the far-right German party and is emulated in several European countries and in Canada. In Canada, the group supports the People’s Party of Canada led by Maxime Bernier. Its supporters, who believe that a “racial war” is underway, lead “migrant hunts” in the streets.
▶ In March 2015, Pegida Quebec attempted to organize a demonstration in the Petit Maghreb district of Montreal.
Canadian spies worried
Hatred did not wait for Donald Trump to grow, in Canada as elsewhere in the world, warn sociologists and economists. Rather, it is a major trend that began 10 years ago and continues to grow, to the point of worrying Canadian spies.
For the first time, in June 2019, Canada added two of these groups to its list of terrorist organizations.
“We are increasingly concerned about the number of far-right extremists, people who invoke a number of different philosophies and approaches like white nationalism, ethnonationalism and white supremacy,” said the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, David Vigneault, to the Senate in April 2019.
“From there to attribute all this to Trump, it’s going a bit fast,” warns anthropologist Denise Helly, of the National Institute for Scientific Research.
She explains that the president is rather the product of the same soil as that of the far right: the growth of inequalities.
In Canada, while in 1980, the wealthiest, representing 1% of the population, held 8.9% of gross national income, they monopolized 13.6% in 2010, according to the Laboratory on Global Inequalities, who is worried about the rise of global tensions.
Although it does better than the United States at reducing inequality, Canada does little better than Poland and Greece. Thus, the middle class is crumbling, and resentment grows among those who do not accept their loss of achievements and privileges, says Mme Helly.
When added to this an anti-immigrant and anti-minority public discourse that trivializes hatred and a pandemic that exacerbates tensions, we obtain an explosive cocktail, notes the researcher.
In September, “an individual with apparent links to a certain disturbing rise in neo-Nazism” stabbed a man to death in front of a Toronto mosque, a broad human rights coalition worries in a letter to the Prime Minister. minister on October 8.
Twenty-five organizations, including Amnesty International, are urging the government to act to “dismantle white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups”.
Justin Trudeau himself is the target of repeated threats from the far-right, for which he represents the antithesis of Trump, the cosmopolitan elite hated by conspirators, says criminologist Barbara Perry.