By Tim Kitz, with files from Sladjana Qurishi
On Sept. 30 a motley crew of alt-right trolls, crypto-fascists, white supremacists, and outright neo-Nazis gathered on Parliament Hill. Yes, in Canada. In 2017. Here’s a guide for the perplexed to these rotters:
The Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens (CCCC): An alt-right, anti-immigrant, and Islamophobic organization.
CCCC claims that it “will never tolerate any bias, discrimination, or violence against anyone based on their religion, gender, race, and/or political preferences.” But it also explains its mission as “mobilizing citizens within each Canadian community to assist in the protection and preservation of Canadian culture and the safety of the nation.”
For CCCC, this means that immigration is legitimate only as long as immigrants assimilate into Canadian society. This Canadian identity is conceived in the most mainstream and traditional of terms. Founder George Hallak, a Lebanese immigrant, likes to speak at length about learning to love hockey and free speech, but also believes Canada is a “Christian country” and that Islam should not be tolerated in public places.
CCCC was the main organizer and Facebook event host of the Parliament Hill rally.
Like many in the alt-right, Hallak and the CCCC can present a relatively reasonable and benign face, appealing to the anxieties and causes of vaguely right-wing citizens. CCCC listed the Liberals tax on small businesses among its laundry list of complaints motivating the Parliament Hill rally, for example. And its denunciation of Prime Minister Trudeau as an avatar of globalism speaks to the working and (sinking) middle class’s bewilderment at the effects of trade “liberalization” — the total failure of any mainstream party to meaningfully oppose free trade agreements.
Much more dangerous is CCCC’s obsession with stopping “illegal immigrants,” which spills out constantly in its call to action and Facebook page. The Québec Bar Association has pointed out in an Aug. 25 letter to the media that ironically it is the category “illegal immigrant” which has no legal status in Canada — “le statut d’immigrant illégal n’existe pas au Canada.” What CCCC really means by “illegal immigrant,” then, is “refugee.”
But refugees in fear for their safety have a right to present themselves at an international border and claim asylum, as mandated by the 1951 UN Refugee Convention — a convention created in the wake of the Holocaust to prevent the repetition of the kind of shameful refusal Jewish refugees fleeing Nazis faced from Canada and many other countries.
Regardless of legal or moral precedents, for the CCCC, these refugees are “queue jumping” over “legitimate” (i.e. economic) refugees.
In the end, turning refugees fleeing for their lives into “illegal immigrants” is a hateful term-swap that only opens the gate to more extreme groups. This kind of doublespeak makes radical right groups and individuals feel welcome when CCCC publicly extends a relatively respectable call for protest — complete with a promise the event would be child-friendly.
Storm Alliance (SA): A crypto-fascist group with vigilante fantasies.
Storm Alliance issued the original call for the Parliament Hill rally alongside CCCC. Its founder Dave Tregget has explained to the CBC that his goal is to unite the far right by softening its image. To this end, Storm Alliance’s public mission statement asserts that it “will work to uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada.” Tregget also separated — or was dismissed — from a similar group, the Soldiers of Odin, over their explicitly-racist views.
That said, Storm Alliance vows to “protect and save Canadian values.” This salvation is from — again, above all else — “illegal immigrants.” The rhetoric they invoke has a militaristic, apocalyptic, and messianic feel to it.
Sometimes this plays out in hilariously inept ways. Check out the Facebook video they released calling for this rally, with its “dramatic” montages of Canadian cityscapes and natural features poached from tourist promos, “stirring” orchestral/dubstep martial music, and awkwardly uninspiring slogans like “there’s a storm coming that Environment Canada couldn’t predict.”
However, there’s nothing funny about the way Storm Alliance has organized field trips for its members to patrol the border crossing in Hemmingford Québec. And on the same day as the rally on Parliament Hill, Storm Alliance members and other fascists temporarily shut down the crossing at St-Bernard-de-Lacolle.
The group quietly aims to act as an informal right-wing “security” group, standing ready to protect “our” communities. If this sounds chillingly familiar, it should.
The very name, acronym, and logo of Storm Alliance invokes the memory of the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA) — also known as Hitler’s brownshirts, Stormtroopers, or most literally “Storm Brigade.” The SA was the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi party — the original violent thugs who helped Hitler sweep to power, before they were supplanted by the more disciplined and efficient SS.
Northern Guard: An ultranationalist and anti-immigrant boy’s-only club.
Northern Guard is another splinter group of the Soldiers of Odin (SOO). It was formed by SOO men who couldn’t stand taking orders from a woman, after Dave Tregget was replaced by Katy Latulippe as the head of SOO.
Northern Guard would like to see all borders closed to immigration, and has told Vice that it “aims to defend the country against its internal enemies.”
Northern Guard members are strictly prohibited in their hierarchical bylaws from ever “displaying racist or culture bashing posts or comments in a public setting.” Of course, if you are able to get into their private Facebook group, like poster “Nosferatu200” of the Anti-racist Canada website managed to do, you too could take screenshots of Northern Guard members casually dropping racial epithets like “coon,” “raghead,” “monkey,” and “sandniggers” while they discuss Canada’s impending civil war and “alternate views of Hitler.”
About a dozen Northern Guard members acted as a security force for the Parliament Hill rally, bravely facing the antifa behind police lines.
Proud Boys: Self-described “Neo-masculine reactionaries” and “Western chauvinists.”
As the Canadian Proud Boys’ Facebook page classily explains, to join you must “be the owner of a penis.” Don’t worry though, you are not expected to be a “male chauvinist,” only to “venerate the housewife.”
The Proud Boys proclaim in their most common catchphrase that they are “Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.”
This Canada Day, five military members of the Proud Boys disrupted a protest in Halifax to mourn missing and murdered Indigenous women. Following a formal investigation by the Canadian Armed Forces four of the five members were placed on probation (one them resigned from the military during the process), and while the length of probation was not disclosed, no charges were laid. Apparently the considerable financial investment spent to train these individuals was relied upon to justify the tepid punishment — and ultimately, to de-facto state-sanction their hate.
The Proud Boy who walked into a crowd of antifascists at the Parliament Hill counter-protest (see our companion piece “No Platform for Hate”) was probably seeking to pass the Proud Boys’ “fourth degree.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, this involves “brawling with antifascists at a public rally.” (Presumably he had a lot of pent-up frustration from having adhered to a strict “masturbation regime” to pass the third degree).
There you have it gentle reader, a fascistic bestiary. We hope this catalogue of lowlifes has left you repulsed, amused, and inflamed.
This article first appeared in the Leveller Vol. 10, No. 2 (Oct/Nov 2017).