In recent times, Canada has championed liberal policies like universal health care, legalization of same-sex marriage, carbon pricing, multiculturalism, legalization of cannabis, reproductive choice etc. attributed to the dominance of liberal politics in Canada. In the October 2019 election, Trudeau’s Liberal Party was able to barely hang on to a majority (despite Trudeau’s blackface controversy) in the House of Commons losing 20 seats from the 2015 election. The dominance of liberal policies however, doesn’t mean that there aren’t reactionary far-right groups and parties in Canada. Examples of such groups include: Nationalist Party of Canada, La Meute, People’s Party of Canada and Pegida Quebec. The most popular of the groups is the People’s Party of Canada led by Maxime Bernier. Famously, in the 2019 election, Bernier lost the one seat the party had (belonging to him) in 2015, despite having 338 candidates (a full slate). Bernier and his party have been described as racist, xenophobic, and populist by their opponents by making statements that “warn people of newcomers that threaten to bring distrust and political violence. However, there doesn’t seem to be any violence attributed to the party, and therefore can be classified as far-right as opposed to radical right. On the other hand, groups like La Meute, which have a strong presence in Quebec, have goals to “become large enough and organized enough to constitute a force that can’t be ignored”. The group was formed by 2 ex-members of the Canadian Armed forces and are a nationalist pressure group that claim to be fighting illegal immigration and radical Islam. The group regularly engages in marches and protests that are often met with counter-protests leading to violence. There is no doubt that this is a radical right group driven by hate. Similarly, Pegida Quebec is a radical right group that operates in Quebec but was originally founded in Dresden, Germany in 2014. Pegida Qubec aims to preserve “European heritage” and are anti-Islam, xenophobic and nationalist. Members regularly conduct anti-immigration marches and participate in burning Mosques. The Nationalist Party of Canada is an unregistered Canadian political party that aims to promote and maintain “European Heritage and Culture in Canada”. One can infer that there is a general theme between all of these far-right parties in Canada. They all appear to be anti-immigration (in particular anti-Islam), proclaim to be protecting the “European Heritage” of Canada, and resort to xenophobic and racist rhetoric to present their views. While some groups aim to achieve their goals through the political system, the more radical ones conduct marches and acts of terror/violence.
A thorough internet search did not uncover many active and popular extremist/violent far-right groups in Canada. Indeed, the Klu Klux Klan has branches of its organization located in Canada, but it does not pose a large threat or have a big influence on society as a whole. The biggest threat to Canadian society is the “terrorist inspired violent Islamic ideology” that allows groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and others to influence individuals who then engage in violence on the groups’ behalf. For example, a Somlian refugee broke a barricade at a football game, struck a police officer with his car, stabbed the officer, and then went on to strike four pedestrians with a U-Haul truck while trying to evade arrest. While not officially charged with terrorism, police did recover an Islamic State flag in his car and suspected him of extremism in the past. Another man from Quebec was killed by police after running over two soldiers in his car “in the name of Allah”. The man was already being monitored, as he had been placed on a radicalized watch-list for posting extremist messages on social media. Finally, another Canadian man, who was sympathetic to Islamic extremism, provoked a deadly shooting spree at the Parliament building and a national war memorial. These incidents demonstrate that acts of extremism and terror inspired by radical Islamic ideology, thanks to groups such as ISIS, have had resounding impacts on Canadian society and its view of far-right extremist groups. Another far-right extremist group that encourages violence among its members is Combat 18, the armed branch of Blood and Honour, and the first far-right extremist group to be recognized on Canada’s List of Terrorist Entities. This neo-Nazi group is responsible for politically motivated assaults, homicides, and attacks agaist anti-fascist groups. A 2017 mosque shooting in Quebec, although not directly tied to Combat 18 or Blood and Honour, is said to have been motivated by extreme right-wing ideologies. Driven by anti-immigrant, nationalist, anti-feminist, far-right views, local student Alexandre Bissonnette opened fire during the Mosque’s evening prayers, killing 6 people and wounding 19 others. Bissonnette was an active member of online far-right chat forums and networks and carried out his attack after President Trump banned immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US, and Trudeau consequently welcomed them to Canada. The far-right ideologies that Blood and Honour and Combat 18 espouse inspired other violent attacks, including the shooting of three police officers by a man spouting pro-gun, anti-government views. Thus, although violent/extremist far-right groups are not astoundingly prevalent in Canada, they do promote violence and contribute to far-right, nationalist rhetoric that inspires unaffiliated extremists to carry out attacks against others. In our increasingly interconnected world, far right groups are more and more looking across borders for allies and those they can spread their ideas to. Canada is no exception to this, and has a surprising amount of representation in the global far right community. For one, many online far right and/or white nationalist celebrities are from Canada, including Stefan Molyneux, Lauren Southern, and the online media conglomerate Rebel Media. Stefan Molyneux is a youtuber and podcast host with almost 1 million subscribers who espoused white nationalist rhetoric and has been described as a cult leader. Although he is from Canada much of his audience is international, and he has ties to much of the American far right including Jared Taylor, an avowed white nationalist who runs a pseudo-scientific magazine promoting anti-black and latino articles. He’s also toured Australia and has collaborated with many other right wing personalities. Lauren Southern is also a Youtuber which ¾ of a million subscribers who regularly pushes blatantly racist ideas such as the “Great Replacement” theory. She has worked with far right groups in Europe to stop aid being given to immigrants crossing the Meditteranean back in 2015, and she has spoken across the world including on a tour of Australia with Molyneux in 2018, at Berkley’s patriot day, and tried to speak in the UK before she was banned from there. She worked for Rebel Media up until 2017 and has appeared at White House press conference briefings in the US. Her youtube channel does not focus solely on Canada but on far right issues across the world. Rebel Media is a far right online news network founded by former Sun personalities in 2015. It is famous for it’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and has ties to the founder of the Proud Boys in the US Gavin McInnes, Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far right group the English Defense League, and has supported far right politicians and figures across the world such as Marine LePen, Richard Spencer, and Janice Athinson. The radical right in Canada also has ties internationally. As stated above both the KKK and ISIS have some influence among Canadians, however they are not the only international radical right groups operating there. The Soldier of Odin, a Finnish white supremacist and anti-Muslim group, has a presence in Quebec and is famous for it’s street patrols. Three Percent is a militia that was founded in America and has subsequently spread to all of Canada’s provinces. They have been linked to the actions of Justin Borque, who killed 3 police officers after sharing 3% memes and owned a confederate flag. PEGIDA, or the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident is a German anti-Muslin group that also has a Canadian chapter. Individual radical right terrorists have also been inspired by international right wing speakers and communities, such as Alek Minassian who drove a truck into a crowd in 2018 killing 10. He was inspired by Elliot Roger, who shot six women in California in 2014 because he was angry at women, and Alek had similar motivation. Lastly, Alexandre Bissonnette shot up an Islamic cultural center in Quebec, killing 6 and wounding 19 in 2018. He was an ardent Trump supporter and was a fan of Ben Shapiro, an American far right online personality. He was radicalized online and would later be the inspiration for the Christchurch mosque shooting in New Zealand the next year. Looking at overall statistics, Canada had a spike in hate-inspired criminal activity after Trump was elected in the US and have stayed high. I think it’s safe to say that although Canada is often seen as a peaceful and liberal country, it has an outsized influence within the international far right discourse, and has an especially close relationship with the far right of the US, and to a lesser extent those of the commonwealth and the UK.