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Despite the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's recent concern with the growing threat from right-wing extremists nationwide, we have little contemporary scholarship on the far right movement in Canada and fewer attempts to systematically analyze their ideologies and activities. Drawing on a three-year study involving interviews with Canadian law enforcement officials, community organizations, and right-wing activists, as well as analyses of open source intelligence, this article examines the endogenous factors that facilitate and inhibit the right-wing extremist movement in Canada. Findings suggest that strengths and weaknesses of the groups themselves can be exploited as a means of debilitating them.
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Studies in Conflict & Terrorism
ISSN: 1057-610X (Print) 1521-0731 (Online) Journal homepage:
Uneasy Alliances: A Look at the Right-Wing
Extremist Movement in Canada
Barbara Perry & Ryan Scrivens
To cite this article: Barbara Perry & Ryan Scrivens (2016) Uneasy Alliances: A Look at the
Right-Wing Extremist Movement in Canada, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 39:9, 819-841, DOI:
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Published online: 05 Feb 2016.
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Uneasy Alliances: A Look at the Right-Wing Extremist
Movement in Canada
Barbara Perry
and Ryan Scrivens
Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, ON, Canada;
School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada
Received 15 September 2015
Accepted 4 January 2016
Despite the Canadian Security Intelligence Services recent concern
with the growing threat from right-wing extremists nationwide, we
have little contemporary scholarship on the far right movement in
Canada and fewer attempts to systematically analyze their ideologies
and activities. Drawing on a three-year study involving interviews with
Canadian law enforcement ofcials, community organizations, and
right-wing activists, as well as analyses of open source intelligence, this
article examines the endogenous factors that facilitate and inhibit the
right-wing extremist movement in Canada. Findings suggest that
strengths and weaknesses of the groups themselves can be exploited
as a means of debilitating them.
Right-wing extremist groups and those who subscribe to far right beliefs are not new to
Canada. In fact, they have openly operated in the country since the earlier part of the twenti-
eth century. For instance, the 1920s marked the era in which the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) estab-
lished its roots in Canada, and was pronounced in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, and
After the sanitary decadesof the 1940s to 1960s, Canada saw an explosion
of right-wing extremist activity. The atrocities of World War II and Hitlers anti-Semitism
had begun to dim; major changes in Canadas immigration laws were introduced; and unem-
ployment and ination were rampant.
Together, these factors created a powder keg of pent
up frustration and anxiety. Neo-Nazi skinheads began to appear in the United States and
Canada in the late 1970s, springing up in numerous urban settings.
Canada continued to see a rise in neo-Nazi activity in the 1990s, particularly around the
skinhead music scene. The Heritage Front continued to grow in Toronto, Hammerskin
groups made their presence known in Montreal,
the Aryan Nations gained momentum in
Alberta and Saskatchewan, and Final Solution Skinheads continued to surface in parts of
The birth of the Internet also increased right-wing extremistsvisibility, as well as
their potential for recruitment and lone wolfactivity. Websites and online communities
provided connections amongst right-wing extremists and groups, as well as a venue in which
far right ideologies were embraced.
CONTACT Barbara Perry University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Faculty of Social
Science and Humanities, 2000 Simcoe Street North, Oshawa, ON, L1H 7C1, Canada.
© 2016 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
2016, VOL. 39, NO. 9, 819841
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Entering the twenty-rst century, the KKK, Church of the Creator, and skinhead
groups such as Aryan Guard/Blood & Honour have maintained their presence in Can-
ada, staging rallies against antiracists, disseminating xenophobic iers, and engaging in
an array of violent and deadly activities. A German-based neo-Nazi, nationalist, and
anti-Islam groupthe Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West
(PEGIDA)protested in the streets of Montreal in 2015, sending the message to all
Canadian Muslims that they are not welcome.
The same year, two neo-Nazi sympa-
thizers from Halifax were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, conspir-
acy to commit arson, and illegal possession of weapons for a purpose dangerous to the
Most recently, an Edmonton man, known to police for his anti-Semite and
homophobic online rants, unloaded a high-powered rife on hate crime ofcers, killing
one and injuring another.
In spite of these historical and contemporary patterns, we have seen little current
scholarship or systematic analysis on the state of the right-wing extremist movement in
Canada (notable exceptions include Parent and Ellis
; Perry and Scrivens
; Tanner and
). Indeed, there is a limited perspective on the threat posed by members of
the far right,
despite the fact that law enforcement ofcials have identied this move-
ment as a signicant threat.
For example, in the 2015 National Security and Defense
Committee report Countering the Terrorist Threat in Canada: An Interim Report,the
ebec is cited as saying that the majority of their extremism les are associ-
ated with the right wing.
In the latter part of the twentieth century, the Canadian right-wing movement was the
focus of a mere handful of studies. Barrett
interviewed members of the radical move-
ment and described the membership, ideologies, and actions of its groups and fringe
right gures. Ross
measured the likelihood of right-wing actors to engage in violence
using a chronology of events methods, and Kinsella
interviewed members and provided
a journalistic account of the web of hate. The same era also saw some accounts of the
Canadian skinhead subculture, including interviews with violent youths involved in skin-
head street gangs in Vancouver,
and an in-depth understanding of skinhead culture via
participant observation and interviews with skinheads living in a city in Western Can-
More recently, Tanner and Campana
have offered an assessment of the radicali-
zation process of skinheads in Quebec using social media scans and interviews with
current right-wing activists; Parent and Ellis
penned a brief overview of the current
state of right-wing extremism in Canada, comparing it with radical right-wing move-
ments in the United States and Europe. Interestingly, what emerges from the latter report
is the implication that while the Canadian right wing has close connections to the U.S.
movement, it is distinct by virtue of being more secularin its ideological foundations.
Hence, it is perhaps more akin to European movements, shaped as they are by the poli-
tics of immigration and multiculturalism.
With the exception of Parent and Ellis
and Tanner and Campana,
our current under-
standing of the Canadian movement is dated, and there is little doubt that a contemporary
assessment is needed. Drawing from Perry and Scrivenss
environmental scan of the right-
wing extremism in Canada, this article provides an in-depth look at the endogenous factors
that both facilitate and inhibit the movement. While the broader project accounted for exter-
nal factors shaping the movement, we focus here on only those factors inherent in the move-
ment itself.
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Framing Right-Wing Extremism in Canada
There is no shortage of efforts to dene what is meant by right-wingextremism. For exam-
ple, a team of U.S. scholars has adopted a broadly descriptive conceptualization of the term:
We dene the American far-right as individuals or groups that subscribe to aspects of the fol-
lowing ideals: They are ercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orien-
tation), anti-global, suspicious of centralized federal authority, and reverent of individual liberty
(especially their right to own guns, be free of taxes), and they believe in conspiracy theories that
involve a grave threat to national sovereignty and/or personal liberty, that ones personal and/or
national way of lifeis under attack and is either already lost or that the threat is imminent
(sometimes such beliefs are amorphous and vague, but for some the threat is from a specic eth-
nic, racial, or religious group), and in the need to be prepared for an attack by participating in
paramilitary preparations and training, and survivalism.
This is perhaps an apt characterization of the right-wing extremist (RWE) movement in
the United States, but may not be as useful in the Canadian context. There is much less
emphasis here, for example, on gun rights, or survivalism. Canadas historical background
and cultural fabric does not include the promotion or celebration of gun rights, nor does it
embrace the glorication of survivalists or survivalism. Alternatively, other observers have
identied key pillars of RWE that likely have more resonance here. Jamin (2013)
that the core tenets are: (a) the valorizing of inequality and hierarchy, especially along racial/
ethnic lines; (b) ethnic nationalism lined to a mono-racial community; and (c) radical means
to achieve aims and defend the imaginedcommunity. Perlingers
list adds some ele-
ments: (1) nationalism; (2) xenophobia, racism, exclusionism; (3) traditional values; and (4)
antidemocratic. Finally, Lauders
enumeration of core themes includes: (1) Race/ethnicity
as the foundation of social solidarity/nationalism; (2) xenophobia, racism, especially anti-
Semitism; and (3) illegitimacy of established regime of power. Parent and Ellis
the movementas:
a large, loose, heterogeneous collection of groups and individuals espousing a wide range of
grievances and positions, including: anti-government/individual sovereignty, racism, fascism,
white supremacy/white nationalism, anti-Semitism, nativism/anti-immigration, anti-globaliza-
tion/anti-free trade, anti-abortion, homophobia, anti-taxation, and pro-militia/pro-gun rights
With these conceptions in mind, we suggest that RWE is a loose movement, animated by
a racially, ethnically, and sexually dened nationalism. This nationalism is typically framed
in terms of White power, and is grounded in xenophobic and exclusionary understandings
of the perceived threats posed by such groups as non-Whites, Jews, immigrants, homosex-
uals, and feminists. As a pawn of the Jews, the state is perceived to be an illegitimate power
serving the interests of all but the White man. To this end, extremists are willing to assume
both an offensive and defensive stance in the interests of preservingtheir heritage and their
As we discuss at length elsewhere,
elements of mostbut not allof these positions are
evident within the Canadian RWE movement.What we are particularly interested in here
is not so much the ideological positions of the movement as the ties that bindor not
within and between groups. More specically, our analysis draws on the framework derived
from the work of sociologist Donald Black,
who has articulated an account of terrorism as
a form of social control in response to what is characterized or interpreted as deviant
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behavior. From this perspective, it is a form of justice pursued by organized civilians who
covertly inict mass violence on other civilians.
Immediately, this resonates with the
motives and intents of organized hate groups, who aim to constrain and punish those who
dare to step outside the boundaries of what is deemed their appropriateplace, dened
according to their location on any number of relational hierarchiesrace, gender, religion,
or sexual orientation for instance.
Blacks utility does not end there, however. Following
from his core denition of terrorism, Black identies a series of characteristics that can prove
valuable in analyzing and describing terrorist groups, including hate groups.
the seven derivative elements, identied and described below, provide a useful tool by which
to systematically analyze RWE. The framework allows identication of the nature of violence
associated with diverse groups (i.e., severity, frequency, visibility), as well as key factors that
are likely to contribute to the tendency to engage in violence (e.g., perceived threat/griev-
ance, and organizational capacity of the group).
characterizes the methods of terrorism as recurrent, and typically as highly vio-
lent. As Mark Hamm
stresses, it is important to remember that terrorism involves at root
criminal events: murder, bombing, hostage taking, and so on. In his book, Terrorism as
Crime, Hamm unpacks his relatively simple thesisthat terrorism is ordinarycriminal
behavior, carried out for extraordinarypurposes.
Nonetheless, at its worst, terrorism
constitutes mass violencemultiple victims, even into the thousands. Regardless of the
nature of their criminal activities, terrorist organizations typically carry out their strategies
covertly, whereby they operate underground. Clearly, this is the case for organizations like
Al Qaeda, or the Irish Republican Army (IRA). So, too, does this describe the activities of
right-wing hate groups. For example, beginning in the 1980s, Louis Beam, a long time Klans-
man and virulent racist in the United States, was the architect of the militia movements
strategy of leaderless resistance,which was an attempt to enhance the invisibility of White
supremacist and antistate activists.
This is not to say that such groups are wholly invisible.
All too often they crawl out of their dark corners to engage in visible forms of violence, or in
very public demonstrations.
The intent of terrorists, regardless of their focus, is to manage or respond to a grievance
with aggressionmeant to intimidate and instill fear.
Violence is thus perpetrated with the
aim of terrorizing their targetsindividual and collectiveinto submission. Moreover, this
intimidation is not onlyor even primarilytargeted at just the immediate victim. Rather,
the goal is to terrorize secondary victims, or more broadly, a nations people and/or their
governing body. Looking at the workof terrorists like White Aryan Resistance (WAR), for
example, the grievance might be what they perceive as lax immigration law or loss of White
male privilege. Regardless, such groups are typically reacting against what they perceive to
be threatening behavior on the part of their victim(s) (i.e., collective liability). Moreover, ter-
rorists are often animated by structurally grounded grievances, derived from an interpreta-
tion of a social order as itself illegitimate. Both Christian and Islamic extremists, for
example, are waging a battle to maintain or restore a social order based on the fundamen-
tals of faith, family and community against a rootless world order of abstract markets, mass
politics and a debased sacrilegious tolerance.’”
Typically, terrorists sport membership in identiable bodies with the ability to organize:
internal communication, decision making, leadership, fund-raising, and recruitment.
accurately describes such traditionalterrorist groups as Al Qaeda and the IRA, noted
above. These generally have a formalized structure and chain of command, as well as access
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to material and nancial resources that facilitate their operation. So, too, by denition, do
organized right-wing extremist groups. The KKK is a classic example, having as it does a rig-
idly structured hierarchy, and depending on the specic clavern, access to substantial nan-
cial support. However, there is some evidence that this is becoming less the case as hate
groups move toward leaderless cells, or in fact, simply collapse into loosely connected indi-
viduals and groups due to their lack of ability to garner resources.
The purpose of the article is to explore those endogenous factors that shape the develop-
ment of right-wing hate groups in Canada, and that make them more or less likely to plan,
engage in or incite violence toward targeted objects and communities. Informed by Blacks
we identify a number of key characteristics that shape group membership, sus-
tainability, and organizational capacity, as well as group or individual violence, such as
saliency/immediacy of the perceived grievance, and organizational capacity of the hate
group. Ultimately, we observed that RWE groups in Canada are actively engaged in targeted
violence, especially in Western Canada, and western Ontario. However, it is also the case
that they are generally weakly organized, and prone to rapid phases of morphing and
The Project
The often-scattered nature of data on right-wing extremist groups requires a multifaceted
approach. Information is fragmentary, and often depends on local resources and capacities
for data gathering. Those directly concerned with the policing of extremist activity tend, nec-
essarily, to have a narrow lens that allows them to see the immediate context of their work.
They typically have neither the time nor the resources to see how events and activities in
their own communities may dovetail with activities elsewhere. Thus, we have a limited
national perspective on the threat posed by RWE in Canada. The sources of intelligence and
data for this project are therefore largely localized and time specic. For an academic, in con-
trast, any incident has meaning only in relation to its earlier history and its political and
cultural context.
The intent, then, was to engage multiple methodologies that allow us to
see the bigger pictureof the RWE in Canada. The project involved a combination of archi-
val research and primary research.
Website Analysis
We identied and analyzed the websites established by Canadian hate groups, as well as
those that contained Canadian content, but might be on domains outside of Canada. The
online environment has allowed unprecedented opportunities for recruitment and for the
enhancement of existing collectives, and the creation of new online-shared identities. It is
thus a location that is rife with insights into the ideologies and belief systems of the groups.
The analysis pays attention to the grievancesidentied, where blame is assigned, potential
solutionsto problems identied, links to other sites and organizations, and so on.
Court Records
In recent years, there have been a handful of prosecutions of hate activists under s. 318 and s.
319(1) of the Criminal Code.
Some of the accused have indeed been afliated with
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organized extremist groups. Again, a review of court transcripts associated with those cases
provides direct insight into the motives and beliefs associated with right-wing terror.
Media Scan
Similar to court records, media venues can be valuable sources of information on commu-
nity impacts of extremist activities through reporting on reactions to the initial offense and
subsequent legal proceedings. They often include detailed descriptions of the alleged events,
and sometimes provide background details as well.
Interviews with Law Enforcement and Intelligence Communities
We interviewed more than 40 personnel associated with the Alberta Hate Crime Committee,
the British Columbia Hate Crime Team, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Extremism and Hate Crime section, and police ofcers
from communities in which there has been RWE activity. These interviews uncovered addi-
tional data on activities, membership, and ideologies associated with the groups and
Interviews with Community Activists
There are a number of national, regional, and local community organizations in Canada
like BNai Brith, and Anti-Racist Canadathat have set themselves the task of monitoring
RWE activity in this country. Their publications, along with interviews, provided additional
information about the distribution, membership, activities, ideologies, and threats associated
with relevant groups. They also added to knowledge and awareness of antihate initiatives by
which extremists are challenged. In all, we interviewed more than 30 individuals from such
Interviews with Hate Group Activists
We were able to conduct three interviews with former/current members of hate groups. We
also had access to a number of similar interviews conducted some years ago. These inter-
views provided the most direct access to the motivations for engaging in right-wing extrem-
ist activities.
The Right-Wing Extremist Movementin Canada
The project revealed that the RWE movement in Canada is more extensive and more active
than public rhetoric would suggest. We found clear evidence of activity across the country,
with concentrations in Quebec, western Ontario, Alberta, and the lower mainland of British
Columbia. Triangulating across methodologies, we estimated no fewer than 100 active
groupsranging in size from three to over 100 membersin the opening years of the
twenty-rst century. Far from simply the three man wrecking crewsnoted by more than
one police ofcer we interviewed, some of these individuals and groups were actively
engaged in brutal acts of violence directed at an array of targets.
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A considerable amount of the violence that RWE individuals and groups engage in seems
to be unrelated to their ideological positions. Rather, it is random brutality, apparently for
its own sake. For example, Calgary saw 55-year-old Dave Burns, known as The Nazi
around his ofce, walk into his workplace in 2010 and start shooting, killing a co-worker
and later himself. No ideological motive for the attack was reported.
Even more common
is retaliatory violence within or across RWE groups, as is the case of Jessie Lajoie, a former
Aryan Guard member. In 2013, Lajoie was charged with aggravated assault, disguise with
intent, and conspiracy for his alleged attack on a victim presumed to be afliated with rival
Blood & Honour in Kitchener, ON.
We found targeted extremist violence to be widespread, identifying hundreds of incidents
between 1980 and 2015. There is some variability in the targets of RWE violence. In line
with the prevailing White power inuence, the targets of both verbal and physical attacks
are predominantly Muslims, Jews and people of color, such as Afro-Canadians, Asians, and
South Asians especially. In the Western provinces, Aboriginal individuals and communities
are common targets. In all areas, members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer
(LGBTQ) communities may also be at risk. An illustrative example occurred in 2008, when
a 17-year-old Aryan Guard member attacked a 26-year-old Japanese woman in Calgary. The
youth rst made disparaging comments about Asians, and then followed Asako Okazaki as
she left a bar. He dropkicked her in the back of the head and continued to kick her after she
hit the ground, all while wearing steel-toed boots.
What is especially noteworthy is that there are several instances of campaignsof
extremist violence targeting particular communities. St. John, NB was the site of several
attacks against Chinese students in 2007. Initially, four students were beaten with baseball
bats and wooden sticks. Days later, two more Chinese students were attacked, and a bus stop
was spray-painted with the words, Gooks go home.The assaults and vandalism took place
in the same neighborhood where Chinese students were pelted with eggs, ice, and reworks
two years prior. A 19-year-old male and two youth with neo-Nazi afliations were charged
with the 2007 assaults.
A similar spree of racially targeted violence was reported in Mon-
treal in 2008, when 20-year-old neo-Nazi Julien-Alexandre LeClerc and a male youth
attacked several people in a series of racially motivated assaults, rst against a group of Arab
men. After stabbing two of them, the offenders continued by insulting and assaulting two
successive cab drivers, one Haitian and one of Arab descent.
By far the most commonly noted category of RWE is that associated with neo-Nazism or
White supremacy. The anti-Semitism and racism that characterize so many hate groups can
be traced to the theocratic principle of Christian Identity. On the basis of a creative reading
of biblical scripture, those advocating this perspective claim the White race to be the direct
descendants of Ancient Israel, and therefore Gods chosen people. In addition, some regions
of Quebec appear to be home to the last vestiges of the Skinhead movement in Canada. The
nationalist wing of the movement tends to be particularly radical and prone to violence.
Not all extremists are explicitly afliated with particular groups. Nonetheless, they con-
tribute extensively to the movement,especially in terms of providing ideological fodder on
which others may feed. Somelike Paul Fromm, one of Canadas most notorious White
nationalistsdo not claim membership in extant right-wing groups but are known to associ-
ate with them, attending their rallies or other public events.
This third broad strand of the
movement may be described as lone wolves who independently feed their hunger for
extreme right-wing rhetoric by attending to related websites, collecting propaganda, or
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disseminating messages with the intention of inuencing others. For example, Fromms
online criticism of multiculturalism and non-White immigration may have encouraged
American Dylann Roof to murder nine Black parishioners in a South Carolina church in
2015. Prior to the slaying, Roofs online manifesto credited the Council of Conservative Citi-
zens for drawing attention to black on white crime.Fromm, the international director of
the council, denied responsibility for Roofs actions and denied claims that he himself was a
Canadian neo-Nazi.
Our exploration of these strands also revealed a number of endogenous factors shaping
extremists and activists, some of which served to strengthen the RWE movement in Canada,
while others contributed to their apparent instability.
Building Solidarity
Creating the Fa¸cade of Legitimacy
The visible face of the extreme right wing, the one that we typically envisage, is the tattooed,
snarling, angry young White male. There is a great deal of truth to that image, as some of
the most active and in fact dangerous representatives of the movement do offer a malevolent
presentation of self. Seles and other photos posted to RWE websites, for example, often fea-
ture images that reect tough guypostures. Yet these are the storm troops, the front lines.
Behind the lines stand others who seek to further their cause through slightly more subtle
means, in a way that makes it more palatable, more acceptable to a public sensitized by a
generation of discourse of equality, multiculturalism, and diversity. In a word, hate is
increasingly mainstream,and thus increasingly legitimate. In part, this has been accom-
plished by toning down the rhetoric, and doing away with the white robes and brown shirts.
But it has also accomplished by forging links with the ultimate authority: the state.
In Ontario, the 2014 election year was unusual for the slate of right-wing actors who
entered the race. The Greater Toronto Area, for example, had such candidates as Jeff Goodall
(Edmund Burke Society) running for Oshawa City Council,
John Beattie (former Nazi
leader) vying for municipal ofce in Minden,
and Paul Fromm running for mayor of Mis-
Even Don Andrews, founder and current leader of the Nationalist Party of Can-
ada, threw his hat in the ring for Torontos mayoralty.
While the electoral success of these extremists is limited, they have nonetheless made
their mark at the level of political discourse; they injected a note of intolerance into political
debate. As part of the ofcial political apparatus, they have created the appearance of legiti-
mate actors with valid interpretations of the state of economic and cultural relations
throughout the country. They are the visible and audible presence of RWE and intolerance
within the machinery of the state. They bring their ideals to the peoplein hopes of spread-
ing the word and strengthening the movement.
Web of Hate
An important conduit for the dissemination of the messages of hate and intolerance
exploited by the politiciansnoted above and the RWE movement generally is clearly the
Internet, and especially social media forums. The results of this study indicate that the reach
of the movement is enhanced by ready access to communication technologies. For members
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of the right-wing hate movement in Canada, online supportis offered to the extent that
users typically nd their views reinforced and mirrored by others, rather than challenged by
antiracist sentiments. Sociability is similarly important in so much as users nd themselves
able to freely communicate racist, or sexist, or other sorts of views that might be unpalatable
in other contexts. There are multiple e-venues that users can access for purely social pur-
poses (e.g.,,, and
It is also the Internet websites that has the potential to foment violence. Law enforcement
and intelligence ofcers that we spoke with often suggested that it was the online calls for vio-
lence that drew their attention to particular groups. One ofcer voiced his concern about web-
sites that urged its audience to kill the Aboriginals, kill the Jews, kill the blacks, kill the gays.
Internet communication helps to close the social and spatial distance that might other-
wise thwart efforts to sustain a collective identity across the movement. Given the geographi-
cal dispersal of hate groups across the country, and indeed the globe, the medium of
cyberspace allows members in Ottawa and Kamloops, as well as Munich, Toronto, and Oslo
to engage in real time conversations, to share the ritual and imagery that bind the individuals
to the collective without having to travel great distances or incur great costs. Virtual conver-
sations and ready access to webpages, aggressively asserting the shortcomings of the Other,
strengthen the resolve of individual members by creating the framework for a shared sense
of both peril and purpose. Such sites provide at least the fa¸cade of cohesion and collective
security, but even more importantly for isolated and atomized members, a collective vision
of shared fears, values, and ideologies.
Another indicator of its power is its ability to not only enhance the connectivity of domes-
tic groups with one another, but to connect with their international counterparts as well; the
Internet facilitates global communication and the exchange of information and rhetoric. For
example, many Canadian RWE organizations have direct links to American and European
counterparts. Quebecs Vinland Hammerskins, for example, have a page on the international
Hammerskin Nation website. Canadian bloggers and posters frequently appear on Storm-
front venues and host their very own sub-forum. Similarly, the Creativity Movement
Toronto website features numerous links to international groups, such as the British Nation-
alist Party (BNP), and American Creativity groups, as well as regularly posted interviews
with prominent White racialists from beyond our bordersMatt Hale, Craig Cobb, and
members of the Croatian racialist band Invictus, among others.
In the spring of 2015, a
German based anti-Islam groupPatriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West
(PEGIDA)emerged in Quebec. The Quebec group draws on the same sentiments of the
incompatibility of Islam with Western values as its European parent group.
then, the Internet and social media facilitate ideological afrmation, recruitment and con-
nectivity, publication and dissemination of materials, and an array of other strategies for
right-wing extremists in Canada and worldwide. Regardless of national afliation, Internet
communication allows White people across the globe to share in the celebration of a com-
mon race.
Music as a Recruitment Tool
Perhaps one of the most appealing components of the world of online hate is the widespread
White power music. Even before the growth of the Internet, this genre had long been a
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powerful recruitment and retention tool among supremacists, in particular. In fact, Canada
was once the site of one of the most successful music distributorsResistance Records. The
enterprise was founded by Ontario native George Burdi who was at the time a key member
of the World Church of the Creator, and part of the band RAHOWA. Under the threat of
Canadian propaganda laws, Resistance Records ceased to operate in Canada, but sprang up
again in the United States. However, thanks to the Internet, hate music circulates freely on
right-wing extremist sites, YouTube, and other similar social media sites.
Participants drew attention to the appeal of the White power music that was so readily
available. For youths who are drawn to heavy metal music, the sound is powerful and stimu-
lating. Often, the lyrics are unintelligible, given the gravelly voices and pounding rhythm. It
is typically the latter that initially draws listeners in. It is only when they nally chance upon
songs in which the words can be heard that the message becomes clear. These, too, have
some cach
e among disenfranchised youth looking for answersto their own problems. As
many participants in the study suggested, the rhetoric of the hate movement provides a
ready account of who is to blame for the lack of success of young White men: it is the Jews,
the liberal state, immigrants, anyone but the individual. As a rousing conduit for the ideolo-
gies of racism, or xenophobia, then, music has tremendous capacity to bring people into the
Quebec appears to be the current centre of the White power music scene in Canada.
Tanner and Campanas
recent exploration of the skinhead movement in Quebec identied
at least 19 skinhead music crews, mostly in Montreal and Quebec City; however, one of their
informants indicated that there could be as many as 45 crews in Quebec City alone. Simi-
larly, a former right-wing activist in our study noted that Alberta is a hotbed for a more sub-
tle form of White power music: black metal. While the song lyrics are encrypted and not
overtly xenophobic, it is the pro-apocalyptic nature of the music that brings street level skin-
heads and veteran members from the Church of the Creator into the same venue, for exam-
ple, bridging extremist ideologies. Band members dress in German military fatigue, display
the Nazi salute, and reenact the fall of the economic system, a result of Jewish conspiracies.
Like-Minded Others
While some activists might be drawn into the movement by accidentalcontact at music
venues or online, the bulk of individuals are lured in by people they know personally. Group
members are often friends or associatessometimes even relatives of potential recruits
prior to joining. They are thus encouraged by people they know and presumably trust. This
may, in part, account for the apparent clustering of groups in particular areas. For example,
the KKK and assorted variants of Aryan Nation/Aryan Guard remain visible in the Western
regions. A close cousin of the KKKthe Creativity Movementcontinues its lengthy tenure
with an active voice in Ontario, and skinhead groups are especially prevalent in Quebec.
Many of those like-minded individuals in the RWE movement share another signicant
trait: the propensity for violence. Membership in the movement does not make people vio-
lent. They typically enter with a lengthy history of violence prior to their membership, and
some are drawn in because they see it as an outlet for their violent tendencies. Many of the
activists who were known to police had ofcial and unofcial records of violent crime—“act-
ing out,as one ofcer euphemistically termed it. Their past offenses covered the gamut
from threat, to harassment to violencesome bias motivated, but by no means all. For
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example, Robert Reitmeier, co-founder of the Western European Brotherhood, has a lengthy
history of violent activity. His most recent arrest in 2011 was for a brutal homicide that did
not appear to be hate-related.
With this sort of prole, it is perhaps not surprising that
such gures are attracted to the inherent violence of the movement.
It is also the presence of this extreme form of violence that unies and facilitates RWE in
Canada. Members showcase their love for violence in an environment that is both accepting
and praising. In British Columbia, for example, indications were that actors were exploiting
this tendency by engaging with the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) culture. Key informants
noted the extent to which MMA became a rallying point for a number of right-wing extrem-
ists, providing both an outlet and training grounds for violence. Similarly, the Canadian
armed forces hosts a number of RWE sympathizers, if not activists within their midst, rang-
ing from Cpl. Matt McKays military scandal involving the death of a Somali teenager,
the armed heist by Sgt. Darnell Bass of the Canadian Airborne Regiment.
A recent Cana-
dian report also warned of the increase in White supremacist membership within this coun-
trys armed forces.
Again, this linkage implies a risk associated with the combination of
RWE ideology and the capacity for lethal violence.
Connections to Criminal Organizations
More worrying than association with legitimateorganizations are the linkages between
RWE groups and traditionalcriminal groups such as outlaw biker gangs and drug gangs.
Law enforcement ofcers expressed concerns about these latter connections, insisting that
the potential risk associated with the combination of RWE ideology and arms must not be
underestimated. Findings suggested that RWE groups and biker gangs share similar subcul-
tural characteristics, such as slang, language, dress, and a propensity for violence. For exam-
ple, a former right-wing activist described his relationship with outlaw biker gangs in
Vancouver as a seamless t, noting how heand othersserved club members in various
ways. He had acted as an enforcer for the club, collecting money from low level criminals
and drug addicts, and a doorman at the clubs locally owned taverns. The risk of this sort of
afnity is the mixing of right-wing ideologies with the armed violence often associated with
biker gangs.
Another trend that Canadian law enforcementespecially in Western provinces and
Quebecare observing is a frequent morphingfrom White supremacist to drug gangs.
For example, the White Boys Posse, which has shown some presence in Alberta and Sas-
katchewan, was initially afliated with White supremacy, as their chosen name implies.
Established as a neo-Nazi group, their membership reached as high as 50 to 100, and by
2008 they were more closely aligned with Hells Angels. Consequently, the activity of this
puppet group has shifted toward illegal markets, as evidenced by police seizure of drugs,
weapons, and cash. They have also become a very violent faction of the movement, with
criminal activity ranging from attempted murder to three gruesome and shocking
Berserkingand Opportunistic Crime
Another facilitator of right-wing violenceaccording to law enforcementappears to be the
consumption of beer. One police ofcer offered the following equation: beer Cmusic C
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hateful rhetoric Ddangerous rampages.Occasionally, this means that, after consuming sev-
eral pints, members decide, collectively, to seek out and target random individuals or prop-
erty associated with particular groups according to ethnicity, race, religion, or gender/sexual
identity. More commonly, however, ghts erupt among themselves, or between them and
some Other who is thought to have offended them in some wayby a particular look, or by
accidentally bumping into them in stores, for example.
The fact that violence perpetrated by extremists is often primedby beer is also con-
nected to another contributing factor: opportunity. Indeed, several participants pointed to
the opportunistic nature of much of the violence associated with RWE groups and individu-
als. While it is sometimes the case that targets are explicitly selected, it is more common for
violence to emerge in the context of mundane activities. A classic example was the 2009 case
of Lacey Dan Snyder, 22, and Dylan Alfred Trommel, 23, who were charged in a racially
motivated attack on 32-year-old Congolese student Valentin Masepode. The two confronted
Masepode in a convenience store, calling him a niggerand telling him this is our country
niggerbefore dosing him in the face with bear spray. Trommel, who had a swastika tattoo
on his back, blamed the assault on the fact that he was drunk.
In some instances, extremists create their own opportunities, and it is not uncommon for
violence to erupt in the context of RWE events. In early 2013, a neo-Nazi march in Edmon-
ton was followed by a spree of targeted violence against visible minorities. Edmonton was
also the site of an equally common occurrence, that is, violence between activists and their
challengers. On that occasion, neo-Nazis clashed with members of Anti-Racist Action
(ARA) Calgary. Ofcers in Western provinces, in particular, expressed their concern that
this was a real risk whenever RWE groups made public their plans to appear on the street.
In addition, retaliatory forms of violence appear relatively common among extreme right-
wing activists in Canada. ARA members have been targeted outside of public contexts. For
years, members Jason and Bonnie Devine have been subjects of a series of attacks, presum-
ably by RWE assailants, in retaliation for their ongoing antiracist activism. In 2010, two
years after the couples home was rebombed by suspected Aryan Guard members, Jason
was brutally beaten with a hammer when a group of what were alleged to be Blood & Hon-
our members broke into his house.
Quebec police reported similar incidents directed
toward the antifascist movement in that province. There, however, the violence tended to go
both ways, with counterattacks from both sides.
Destabilizing the Movement
Ideological Commitment
Foremost among the limitations of the RWE movement in Canada is the fact that there is a
general lack of commitment to the professed ideologies associated with particular groups.
This is not true of all members. There are some who remain committed to the cause regard-
less of the consequences. Many ideologues and propagandists such as Paul Fromm
Marc Lemire,
a key gure in the movement who works closely with Fromm, have certainly
spent much of their lives spewing anti-Semitic or anti-immigrant rhetoric, for example. This
dedication is apparent in the fact that even after some have been the target of multiple law-
suits, even arrests, they maintain their convictions. For example, both the deceased Wolfgang
founder of the ultra-violent Heritage Front, and Kyle McKee,
founder of the
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ultra-violent Aryan Guard in Alberta, served a number of prison sentences; yet they contin-
ued to engage with their formerneo-Nazi colleagues. German publisher Ernst Zundel is
another example. Deported from both the United States and Canada for disseminating his
anti-Semitism and holocaust denial propaganda, he was convicted in his home country,
Germany, in 2007 on 14 charges relating to the incitement of racial hatred. Undeterred, he
continued to correspond with other holocaust deniers even while in prison.
Such undying fealty to RWE creeds is not the norm among the Canadian movement.
Many members seem to be trying on different coats,according to one ofcer. They are typ-
ically youths looking for a place to belong, and seeking explanations for their lot in life. They
might just as easily have been drawn into other kinds of groups, such as drug gangs or vio-
lent street gangs
had such collectives been available. Tottens work with violent gang mem-
bers reminds us that the need to belong underlies the appeal of an array of local gangs.
The presence and activity of a RWE group at a critical moment in time provides just one
such possibility. Thus, whether it is ideologues, or friends in the movement, or music, poten-
tial recruits buy into the messages of hate, but often only for a short term. They nd some
comfort in the initial appearance of solidarity. Another ofcer observed that it was the sense
of community, grounded in hate, that holds groups togethernot the hatred itself. In fact,
the same ofcer also shared the insights that, among those who have left the movement,
many spoke about feeling tired, and that hating was exhausting.They nd themselves
managing contradictions, and constantly justifying why they are racist, or homophobic, or
anti-Semitic. A former right-wing activist shared similar views, noting how he eventually
realized that the movement was a sham,and that others were not truly committed to the
cause. Other observers suggested that, while ideology was the professed glue that bound
groups together, their gatheringswere largely social rather than political events. That is,
they came together as much to party as they did to discuss their philosophies of race and
identity. Black metal concerts, for example, drew people in for the melody as much as the
coded message behind the lyrics.
Transitions like those experienced by the White Boy Posse lent credence to the suggestion
that many RWE groups are fragile due to their lack of deep commitment to the cause.
While a supremacist ideology might have some initial appeal to those searching for identity,
the biker or drug culture present a more attractive allure in light of the enhanced potential
for violence and prot. In short, the frailty of the movements rhetoric quickly becomes clear.
Ideological Inghting
We noted that individuals often join the Canadian movement for short periods of time. This
goes some way to explain the short-lived nature of the groups as well. With a few key excep-
tions (i.e., KKK, Church of the Creator, and Aryan Nation/Aryan Guard organizations),
RWE groups rarely have a shelf life of more than a few months, and certainly no more than
a year. The contemporary conguration of Canadian neo-Nazi groups especially is one char-
acterized by discord and recurrent inghting as members jockey for power and status. This
parallels the uidity of American White power organizations, which have been described as
fragmented and prone to ongoing friction (see Bowman-Grieve
; Freilich, Chermak, and
). Morphing and splintering are normative, and many members move from group to
group throughout their lives. The recent history of the constellation of groups Aryan Guard,
Blood & Honour, and Western European Bloodline are illustrative. The latter two arose out
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of the original Aryan Guard group founded by Kyle McKee, after prolonged conict among
its members.
Contemporary groups, especially, are moving targets, shifting and changing quickly
depending on intra-group dynamics. One law enforcement ofcer expressed it most effec-
tively, observing that they hate so much and so many that they start to hate one another
that is why they splinter.From this perspective, group membershostility expands to
include their peers, not just their ideological foes. This internecine conict can also turn
bloody. Key informants often alluded to physical skirmishes within the groups. Occasionally,
this is planned as a form of entertainmentsetting up challengers against one another in
unarmed combat. However, it also emerges organically as a result of disagreementstypi-
cally fomented by alcohol. Videos posted on RWE websites, Facebook pages, and YouTube
capture the aftereffects of some of these, if not the contests themselves. At the extreme, rival
groups target one another, or act in retaliation for some presumed slight. For example, Ste-
phen Long, a 22-year-old White supremacist who belonged to the racist Hammer Heads
gang, was murdered in 2006 by up and coming White supremacist Christopher Broughton,
29. While sleeping, Long was attacked with a baseball bat, in retaliation for an event earlier
in the evening.
In 2009, Tyler Sturrup, member of Western European Bloodline, and Caro-
lyne Kwatiek, a White nationalist, were targets of two homemade pipe bombs allegedly
planted by Kyle McKee.
Members of the White Boy Posse mistakenly murdered a woman
in 2012 after members were ordered to kill a man who left the gang.
In 2013, former Aryan
Guard member Jessie Lajoie, 24, used an edged weapon to attack a man who was allegedly a
guest of the McKee-aligned Blood & Honour in Calgary.
The inability of some members to get along also means that there is a degree of mobility
associated with the RWE movement. For example, we uncovered a lengthy history of move-
ment back and forth between western Ontario and Western provincesAlberta in particu-
lar. Sometimes this was because members were trying to distance themselves. Occasionally,
it was a form of outreach, wherein they attempted to recruit new members, or establish a
new chapter in other cities. For example, the Edmonton Blood & Honour group sought to
exploit the potential for mobility in the early 2000s, and went so far as to offer incentives for
like-minded individuals who wanted to migrate to Western Canada to join their brethren in
Alberta. Promises of paid rent and travel, assistance with job seeking, and so on lured a small
number westward. However, it appeared that the attraction was more in the nancial incen-
tives than in the ideological message.
Most often, the transience of RWE actors is connected to the fact that law enforcement
ofcers turned up the heatin particular cities. When it becomes uncomfortable in Calgary,
actors may move to Edmonton. When that becomes too risky, they may move on to
Vancouver, or London, ON. The biographies of Nathan Touchette and Kyle McKee are illus-
trative. Touchette, of Combat 18, and McKee rst made news when they ew the Nazi ag
over their shared apartment in Kitchener, ON. When they made it very public that they
intended to move to Calgary to one of the many constructions jobs available, the mayor of
Calgary announced through the media that they were not welcome. They moved there any-
way, but their stay did not last long. Touchette went back to Ontario within a few months,
returned to Alberta to live in Edmonton, then left that city under a cloud of suspicion
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regarding a number of assaults and arson. McKee was arrested for assault, possession of a
weapon, and disguising his identity and spent a number of months in an Alberta jail. Upon
release he went back to Ontario; however, he did eventually return to Calgary, where he
impregnated his 16-year-old girlfriend and co-founded the Aryan Guard and later Blood &
Overall, it is exceedingly difcult to maintain a collective presence when members
move on a regular basis.
Weak/Loss of Leadership
The instability of group membership is also a manifestation of the weakness of the leadership
within. The sort of inghting noted above is often a contributing factor, in that current lead-
ers are oftentimes challenged by other members in a display of hypermasculinity. Or it is
simply the case that leaders are themselves not really leadership material. Several of those
interviewed highlighted this particular limitation. While some members of the movement
are educated and relatively intelligent, the consensus is that that this is not the norm, even
among leaders. They may be strong, tough, and charismatic, but they are not necessarily
articulate or strategic enough to maintain group cohesion.
Where leaders are sustainable, they are typically also highly visibleand volatile. Conse-
quently, they become known to police,falling under ongoing surveillance. It is not uncom-
mon for law enforcement to have a chatwith leaders of the movement, just to let them
know they are being watched. This alone can weaken their position within the group. More
typically, however, leaders eventually cross the line into illegal behavior and nd themselves
under arrest. Kyle McKee, for example, follows such a trajectory. As noted previously, he
was chased out of Kitchener by police activity, and as the leader of Blood & Honour, he was
arrested on assault and weapons charges. As there was no worthy second in command, the
group collapsed while he was in jail. This parallels the earlier trajectory of Wolfgang Droege.
After he was arrested for his involvement in Operation Red Dogin 1981, far right activists
began to lack urgency and commitment in Canada, and the movement saw a decline in
activity. Once released, however, Droege and his organization, Heritage Front, once again
became a force to be reckoned with,
all of which highlights the importance of leadership to
group sustainability.
Lone Wolf Mentality
The fact that particular groups are neither cohesive nor well organized should not lead to
complacency. Tragic events like Anders Breiviks killing of 77 civilians in Norway,
more recently, Justin Bourques murder of three police ofcers in New Brunswick
Dylann Roofs slaying of nine black parishioners in Charleston
have brought the risks asso-
ciated with lone wolvesto the forefront of our attention. These are generally individuals
who may or may not be afliated with identiable groups, but who in any event act on their
own. They nd inspiration from the tenets of some element of the movement, but are
unlikely to engage in group activities such as marches or rallies. In short, they keep a low
Several key informants indicated that they were aware of local individuals who seemed to
t this prole. That is, they were loners who nonetheless subscribed to RWE ideologies, tak-
ing their cue from related websites that fed their fantasies of White supremacy, for example.
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Some even went so far as to display White pride symbols in their windows. However, that
was the limit of their solidarity with the movement. Ofcers in Quebec described one indi-
vidual who self-identied as a committed skinhead, but who had never met any other skin-
heads; he had become radicalized solely through his use of the Internet. While his most
enduring wish was to gather enough money so that he could buy an AK47 with which to
kill a bunch of blacks,it was unknown whether he would ever act on this objective.
The cumulative effect of this constellation of inhibiting factors is that the RWE movement
remains distinctly unorganized. The fact that a handful of law enforcement ofcers refer
independently to hate groupsin disparate communities as something like three man
wrecking crewssays volumes about the nature of the organizational capacity of Canadian
groups. Interestingly, some of these groups have the appearance of being organized, often by
virtue of their websites. Kevin Goudreau of Ontario, for example, manages a White Nation-
alist Front website,
which offers the appearance of being a hub for the groups activities.
However, there is no concrete evidence that he is anything more than a community of one.
Certainly there are people who are attracted to his site, but not necessarily enough to take
their beliefs any further. In fact, site visitors are as likely to engage him in a war of words
as they are to support his views.
Responding to Right-Wing Extremism in Canada
It is evident that Kinsellas
now classic phraseand titleWeb of Hate continues to reso-
nate, perhaps even more so to the extent that the Canadian RWE movement has a greater
capacity to connect and share than ever before. In many respects, the Canadian RWE
movementis no more or less uid or heterogeneous than the Skinheads interviewed by
Craig and Young in 1997. If anything has changed, it is probably their online versus ofine
presence, and not necessarily their structure or lack thereof.
Contemporary right-wing extremists, like their predecessors, have created the fa¸cade of
legitimacy, uniting through music and the Internet, and forming alliances with violent crimi-
nal organizations. In spite of that, we argue that while the far right represents a movement of
sorts, this does not necessarily imply coherence. In fact, to refer to hate groupsor RWE
groupsgives them too much credit. It implies the capacity to be or become disorganized.
In contrast, it seems as if adherents are, rather, decidedly unorganized and constituted by
small loosely linked cells, lone wolves, or as more than one police ofcer suggested, three
man wrecking crews.For all of the potentially uniting factors, the far right movement in
Canada suffers from an array of disabling factors that are inherent in the movement. Cumu-
latively, these generally have the effect of limiting the growth, activities, and impact of RWE.
Indeed, the weaknesses can be exploited in order to further diminish their capacity.
There is much to be learned about confronting extreme right-wing groups from the
broader ndings represented here. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the
groups themselves can provide leverage for then exploiting them as a means of debilitating
them. The task is daunting, and clearly cannot be restricted to a police response. The founda-
tions of right-wing extremism are complex and multifaceted, grounded in both individual
and social conditions; so too must counterextremist initiatives be multidimensional, drawing
on the strengths and expertise of diverse sectors: law enforcement certainly, but also educa-
tion, social services, public health, youth workers, and victim service providers to name a
few. We are some way behind American initiatives in this respect, in that there is a lengthy
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history of antihate/anti-extremism activity within both the government and nongovernmen-
tal organization (NGO) sectors there. Alongside federal initiatives like the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO)swhite hate group
bodies like the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Anti-Defamation League
actively monitor, challenge, and confront extremism. We have few such mechanisms in
place. We might also, then, take our cue from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (SDI),
which has established itself as a global leader in research and praxis around RWE. Their
2014 report, On the Front Line,
is an invaluable guide to global best practices around
countering RWE.
Specic to the sorts of endogenous factors addressed in this article, we would draw
particular attention to strategies directed at movement fragmentation. Foremost among
such tactics is the mobilization of counternarratives, which must necessarily target right-
wing extremists and potential recruits where they live.They must reect the interests
and day-to-day realities of those directly involved. For example, in light of the emerging
connections, noted above, between RWE and MMA, a Polish initiative stands out. The
Mixed Martial Arts Club invites skinheads who have been involved in, or shown interest
in, cage ghting or MMA into a group that includes MMA training alongside dialogue
that counters the allure of right-wing extremism. This is an apt illustration of how the
use of recreationalactivities favored by right-wing extremists can become a venue for
redirecting their energies.
More broadly, contemporary efforts to reach right-wing activists and sympathizers could
not do better than to engage through social media and other similar forms. As noted in this
article, a signicant site of exchange and recruitment for right-wing extremists is online,
through websites and social media venues. Consequently, parallel or even directly engaged
online resources must be exploited. For instance, Bailey
would have antagonistsengaging
with the hate movement online. Zickmund
draws attention to the dancebetween racists
and antiracists online, where by the latter facilitate an ideological dialectic.A quick look at
some of the publicly accessible White power sites reveals some attempts by antiracists to
challenge right-wing positions (i.e., Anti-Racist Canada and Canadian Anti-Racism Educa-
tion and Research Society). A similar reading of the commentssections that follow online
news stories about racist or homophobic incidents, for example, also reveals the steps of the
danceto which Zickmund refers.
There are frequent exchanges to be found there
between right-wing and left-wing posters.
European countries have also invested a signicant amount of resources into counternar-
rative initiatives, such as EXIT programs in Germany and Sweden. In short, these programs
target right-wing extremists specically. They attempt to challenge the belief structure and
behavioral aspects of an individual, and offer them a route out of extremist groups.
Another example, the Against Violent Extremism (AVE) network, is a global organization
that counters extremist narratives and prevents the recruitment of at riskyouth. Made up
of former violent extremists and survivors of violent extremism, AVE utilizes the lessons,
experiences, and networks of those who have experienced extremism rst-hand.
In Can-
ada, AVE developed the Communitas Projectwith the goal of strengthening individuals
and communities through social interdependence, active citizenship, dialogue, and youth
leadership. This project spotlights the various needs of diverse communities, and has
branched out to Montreal, Ottawa, the Greater Toronto Area, London, Calgary, Edmonton,
and Vancouver.
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Key informants, community-based organization, and police ofcers in this study agreed
that a key factor enabling the emergence and sustainability of right-wing groups was a weak
law enforcement response. Typically, activities of the far right have not been monitored or
taken seriously, and while community groups conrmed a level of right-wing activity, there
was a tendency for ofcials to deny or trivialize the presence and threat. In a sense, law
enforcement ofcials have been more reactive than proactive.
However, in contrast, we also identied areas in which law enforcement has taken the
lead on combating hate crime and extremism in Canada. British Columbia and Alberta, for
example, have demonstrated a strong and visible law enforcement response by developing
teams that are grounded in collaborative and multisectorial approaches to addressing hate.
Here, they integrate and utilize an array of experts, such as police ofcers, policymakers, vic-
tim service providers, and community organizations. They are strongly engaged with the
communities in which they operate, and they rely heavily on the public to enhance policy.
Police services can learn a great deal from these agencies that acknowledge and attempt to
respond to the potential threat of RWE.
It is also clear that, in many communities, law enforcement are closely monitoring and
responding to RWE activity with the objective of fragmenting them where possible. The
ebec is clearly cognizant of the diverse RWE groups and leaders in that prov-
ince, and keeps a watchful eye on them. Calgary police are also vigilant in their treatment of
right-wing extremists, keeping the heat on them to the extent that they have successfully
beheadedsome of the most active groups through arrests, or even through surveillance
that has gently encouraged activists to move on to other cities. Finally, RWE marches and
demonstrations in cities like London, Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver are closely moni-
tored by law enforcement, particularly in the interests of minimizing the likelihood of violent
exchanges between RWE and antiracist activists.
Ultimately, the goal of any research in the eld of RWE is to facilitate efforts to nur-
ture safe and inclusive communities in Canada. To that end, we argue for the necessity
of multi-agency efforts coordinated around acknowledging and responding to RWE. The
divisive rhetoric and damaging violence associated with this movement are shaped by
and in turn shape the communities around them. The motivations for the formation of
RWE beliefs derive from the conuence of multiple social processes and institutions. It
is imperative, therefore, that it not be seen as only a law enforcement or intelligence
issue. It is a social issue. We stress the need for law enforcement ofcials to partner with
various antihate community organizations and human rights activists, sharing both
knowledge and ideas for change.
The project on which this article is based was funded by Public Safety CanadasKanishka Program,
PS-SP-#680090-1AKPCP R2.
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involve/capacity building for youth; (2) ending violent behavior and fragmenting movements; (3)
responding to hate speech and incitement; (4) managing threats to public order; (5) supporting
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... Drawing on academic studies of the endogenous ideological formation of RWEs, the Canadian RWE group radicalization process, and the construction of right-wing identities online (Perry and Scrivens, 2016a;Tanner and Campana, 2014;Perry and Scrivens, 2016b), we use social network analysis to map a large number of textual documents found online. Through this we determine interactions or links between key RWE thought leaders or nodes and their sympathizers. ...
... From there we then conduct both a discourse and correspondence analysis to substantively illustrate their ideological views and display in a simplified matrix (further elaborated on in the Findings section). Expanding on the methodology used by Perry and Scrivens (2016a, 2016b, we aim to understand the ties between RWE forum members particularly those with white nationalist, neo-Nazi, and anti-authority sympathies. We collected documents and texts by examining their Twitter accounts, forum postings, commentary, and discussions, news media outputs, and Facebook postings as inputs into or social network map. ...
... Canada's right-wing extremists include white nationalist groups such as the Aryan Guard, Blood and Honour, the Ku Klux Klan, and anti-authority movements such as the Freeman on the Land group. We have drawn upon previous research to determine which Canadian right-wing extremist individuals and groups to include in our analysis (see Perliger, 2012;Perry and Scrivens, 2016a;Scrivens and Perry, 2017). Specifically, we used Barbara Perry and Ryan Scriven's (2019) Right-wing Extremism in Canada, the AntiHate Canada network website, and for French-speaking RWEs involvement in La Parti Patriote to develop a primary list of RWE thought leaders (see Table 1). ...
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Canada has often been seen as a progressive country that is welcoming to immigrants, promotes multiculturalism, and generally as a kind and tolerant society. This study used a two-month close examination of Canada’s RWE online presence surrounding the 2019 federal election. Using social network analysis, this study fills a needed empirical gap in current understanding of this network that are known to produce and sustain domestic terrorism and extremist hate crimes in Canada. Then using both discourse and correspondence analysis, we find that Canada’s Right-Wing Extremists (RWEs) galvanize around the following key ideas: leftist-propensities towards violence, projecting especially views against the Antifa, anti-immigration, media corruption and dishonesty, anti-elite and anti-establishment values, anti-liberalism, populism, anti-LGBT, anti-environmentalism, biological determinism, white victimization, and anti-consumerism. By determining Canadian RWE’s ties, location and ideas our findings reveal that many RWE leaders are seen as authoritative for their views in the network and create content and community, potentially inciting active participation. As social contagion theory reminds us, these authorities in the RWE network may inspire others into concrete violent action and are of great concern to public safety.
... First, it justifies expanding securitization by accepting narratives of long-standing white supremacist movements as "new" forms of violence that should be addressed through counterterrorism. Second, it widens the ambit of counterterrorism policing granting them greater power to limit forms of legitimate political dissent, which have rarely been directed towards white or conservative movements (Perry and Scrivens 2016). Finally, and germane to our study, claims of colour blindness obscure how anti-Muslim racism is deeply embedded in national security practices (Nguyen 2019b;Nagra and Maurutto 2020;Sentas 2014). ...
... All of the "extremist travellers" mentioned in the workshop were Muslim. Notably, this skewed emphasis belies findings from systematic research that has underscored the threat of political violence from armed, white supremacist groups in Canada (Perry and Scrivens 2016). The second day began with a module on "Salafi-Jihadi Extremism" offered by an RCMP officer of Muslim background. ...
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Our article examines counterterrorism trainings for frontline workers as a site of socialization to the high policing métier. Here we build on the notion of the police métier as a term that encapsulates the interactive identities and practices that produce the police world. We twin the police métier with recent scholarship on pluralized policing and surveillance to illustrate how a desire to expand surveillance to plural actors requires a socialization process that recirculates key characteristics, identities, and assumptive worldviews that shape the typically reclusive domains of high policing. Through an ethnographic account of a three-day counterterrorism training workshop for an array of frontline workers, our article analyzes what we consider three key features of socialization within the high policing métier: (1) the recirculation of the “war on terror’s” racialized fixation on Muslims and Islam; (2) rationalities of preemption and expanding domains of surveillance; and (3) the sharing fraternal moments through the dehumanization of “outsiders.”
... Despite its liberal multicultural brand image, Canada has a significant "mainstream" and "far right" Islamophobia problem CBC Radio, 2021;Perry & Scrivens, 2016Wilkins-Laflamme, 2018;Zine, 2012Zine, , 2019Zine, , 2021aZine, , 2021b. The twenty-first century conditions for Islamophobia in Canada were fortified when the Canadian security state joined the United Statesled post-9/11 global war on terror. ...
... 1). Right-wing extremist groups such as Atalante, Paul Fromm's Council of Concerned Citizens, the Canadian National Front, ID Canada, La Meute (The Pack), PEGIDA Canada, Proud Boys, Soldiers of Odin, Three Percenters, the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam, and Yellow Vests add to Canada's conservative anti-Muslim milieu when organizing grassroots moral panics about Islam through events and rallies Orr, 2019;Perry & Scrivens, 2016. ...
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Background: To contribute to research on the transnational far right, Islamophobia, and social media platforms, this article interrogates the far right’s practice of using Twitter to produce and circulate a #removekebab hashtag. Analysis: The accounts behind the words and images of 100 #removekebab tweets are analyzed to show how they communicate the transnational far right’s hateful Islamophobic discourse. Conclusion and implications: The far right’s #removekebab tweets dehumanize Muslims, tacitly call for genocide against Muslims, and rationalize this violence by stereotyping Muslims as a collective threat to the West.
... Concurrent with this trend, online hate speech is proliferating at a dramatic rate (Conway et al., 2019;Perry & Olsson, 2009;Perry & Scrivens, 2016). There is no universally agreed term for categorizing the online users whose discourse we have examined for this paper. ...
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Background The term “weaponized autism” is frequently used on extremist platforms. To better understand this, we conducted a discourse analysis of posts on Gab, an alt-right social media platform. Methods We analyzed 711 posts spanning 2018–2019 and filtered for variations on the term “weaponized autism”. Results This term is used mainly by non-autistic Gab users. It refers to exploitation of perceived talents and vulnerabilities of “Weaponized autists”, described as all-powerful masters-of-technology who are devoid of social skills. Conclusions The term “weaponized autism” is simultaneously glorified and derogatory. For some autistic people, the partial acceptance offered within this community may be preferable to lack of acceptance offered in society, which speaks to improving societal acceptance as a prevention effort.
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Many observers describe prison subcultures as inherently and irredeemably antisocial. Research directly ties prison subcultures to violence, gang membership, and poor reintegration. In extreme cases, research has also suggested that prison subcultures contribute to incarcerated people joining radical groups or embracing violent extremist beliefs. These claims, however, ignore key differences in the larger cultural and social context of prisons. We examine the relationship between prison subcultures and prison radicalization based on semistructured qualitative interviews with 148 incarcerated men and 131 correctional officers from four western Canadian prisons. We outline several imported features of the prison subculture that make incarcerated people resilient to radicalized and extremist messaging. These features include 1) national cultural imaginaries; 2) the racial profile of a prison, including racial sorting or a lack thereof; and 3) how radicalization allowed incarcerated men and correctional officers to act outside the otherwise agreed‐to subcultural rules. Our research findings stress the importance of contemplating broader sociocultural influences when trying to understand the relationship between radicalization and prison dynamics and politics.
Background: In popular coverage and social media analysis, the alt-right has been described as a popular phenomenon. Following Stuart Hall’s understanding of popular culture, we question the status of the alt-right in Canada as both a political and methodological problem that requires critical attention to social media metrics and critical experimentation in developing new digital methods. Analysis: Our study developed a novel method to analyse image circulation across major social media platforms. We find that image sharing is marginal, yet the spread of images distinguishes political communities between Twitter hashtags, subreddits, and Facebook pages. We found a distinct alt-right community in our sample, active but isolated from other popular sites. Conclusion and Implications: While the findings suggest the limited significance of image sharing to conceptualize popularity in cross-platform analysis, our novel method offers a compelling alternative to corporate social media analytics and raises new questions about how popular politics, especially the popularity of the alt-right, may be studied in the future.
Immigration scholars have long observed that migrant workers are paradoxically both welcomed and deemed threatening within the nation state. In this paper, we investigate the extent to which mainstream media outlets reinforce these perceptions. Using critical discourse analysis, we analysed 561 articles in three mainstream newspapers to ascertain the various discourses used to describe migrant workers and migrant work. Our analysis specifically found that a cluster of ‘hiring scandals’ led to an increase in coverage on migrant work, and affected the types of discourses used in reference to migrant workers. Prior to these scandals, migrant work generated minimal media coverage. Ultimately, we find that migrant workers are deemed tolerable to the nation‐state at certain time periods, deemed as threats in other time periods, and, in the current moment of the global health crisis, are deemed absolutely essential. Migrant workers are thus only 'conditionally included' in the state.
Background: Wexit, a movement for the secession of the provinces in Western Canada, gained national attention and visibility in the federal elections of 2019, boosted by social media platforms. Analysis: This article explores #wexit interactions on Twitter as a Canadian digital issue public by analyzing the main actors spreading and controlling information and interactions to see if the public Wexit conversation on Twitter engages in alt-right discourse and rhetoric. Conclusion and implications: The analysis shows how #wexit, as a Canadian alternative to mainstream conservative movements, engages regional concerns and/or petrocultures about “Western culture.”
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Le français suit] The far right seems to have been more visible in Quebec in recent years. We may wonder whether this is due to an actual increase in their activities or simply to the effect of more sustained media and scientific attention. This report provides an answer to these questions by presenting a chronology of the activities of the far right in Quebec between 2010 and 2020. We also sought to verify whether the extreme right in Quebec had "radicalized" during this period by becoming more violent. A total of 521 events were recorded and we noted a substantial increase in far-right activities in Quebec between 2010-2020 -- from 2 to 129 events annually. Out of the 521 events, 113 events involved violence (22%). An upward trend is observed, with a marked acceleration in the second half of the decade: from an annual average of 2.6 events involving violence between 2010 and 2015, there was an average of 19.4 between 2016 and 2020. --------------------[FRANÇAIS] -------------------- L'extrême droite semble de plus en plus visible au Québec depuis quelques années. On peut se demander si cela relève effectivement d'un accroissement de leurs activités ou simplement de l'effet d'une attention médiatique et scientifique plus soutenue. Ce rapport apporte une réponse à ces questions en dressant une chronologie des activités de l'extrême droite au Québec entre 2010 et 2020. Nous avons également cherché à vérifier si l’extrême droite québécoise s’était « radicalisée » au cours de cette période en devenant plus violente. Au total, 521 événements ont été enregistrés et nous avons noté une augmentation substantielle des activités d'extrême droite au Québec entre 2010 et 2020, passant de 2 à 129 événements annuellement. Sur les 521 événements recensés, 113 ont impliqué de la violence (22 %). On observe ainsi une tendance à la hausse, avec une nette accélération dans la seconde moitié de la décennie : d'une moyenne annuelle de 2,6 événements violents entre 2010 et 2015, la moyenne est passée à 19,4 entre 2016 et 2020.
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Recent years have witnessed increasing academic, media, and political attention to the threat of far-right terrorism. In this article, I argue that scholarship on this threat has suffered from two limitations, each with antecedents in terrorism research more broadly. First, is an essentialist approach to this phenomenon as an extra-discursive object of knowledge to be defined, explained, catalogued, risk assessed, and (ultimately) resolved. Second, is a temptation to emphasise, even accentuate, the scale of this threat. These limitations are evident, I argue, within scholarship motivated by a problem-solving aspiration for policy relevance. They are evident too, though, within critical interventions in which a focus on far-right terrorism is seen as an important corrective to established biases and blind spots within (counter-)terrorism research and practice. In response, I argue for an approach rooted in the problematisation and desecuritisation of the far-right threat. This, I suggest, facilitates important new reflection on the far-right’s production within and beyond terrorism research, as well as on the purposes and politics of critique therein.
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That terrorism associated with right-wing extremists is largely absent from the public agenda in Canada is evident from even a cursory review of the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC) website, for example. The list of Terrorist Incidents, while international in scope, includes only one right wing terrorist incident – Anders Breivik’s horrific attacks in Norway in 2011. The list of Terrorist Entities does not include any reference to right wing extremist or white supremacist organizations. Nor do the publications included on the site mention these extremist elements. In contrast, that the extreme right continues to represent a viable and active presence is clear from recent events in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec, for example, where multiple right-wing attacks, demonstrations and prosecutions have been recorded (e.g., Blood and Honour, White Nationalist Front, and PEGIDA) in recent years. The attacks of September 11, 2001 shifted terrorism from the periphery to the centre of the public consciousness. What had heretofore been restricted to “fringe” groups, or something that happened “over there,” suddenly appeared to be something much larger, much more threatening, and much closer to home. One significant consequence of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is that they drew attention away from the more typical white domestic terrorist – such as Timothy McVeigh and members of right-wing extremist groups. Now the terrorist is defined by his brown skin, and his Muslim religion. Yet it behoves us, in the interests of domestic security, to continue to pay attention to the more traditional form of “home grown” RWE. Right-wing extremists continue to represent a distinctive threat to the well being of Canada’s diverse communities. This report aimed to paint a picture of the contemporary RWE movement in Canada, providing an analysis of membership, distribution and activities.
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To see the Internet as only a ‘tool’ or ‘resource’ for disseminating ideas and products, as much of the literature has done, is to miss an even more significant aspect of online venues. The Internet is also a site of important ‘identity work’, in which collective identities can be accomplished interactively. This chapter explores how collective identities are constructed by white supremacists who specifically exploit the web as a venue for expressing ‘white pride worldwide’. Drawing on social movement literature around the building of collective identities, we examine the online identity work of the ‘globalizing’ right-wing extremist movement through four key frames: alternative media/alternative messaging; identity borders; shared identity; and mobilizing hate. Here, we explore the Internet not as a tool, but as site for the active construction of collective white identity.
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This study examines whether the presence of hate groups increases the likelihood of serious ideologically motivated violence committed by far-rightists. While hate crime research has generally focused on a single state or made comparisons across several states, we seek to examine this relationship within the context of U.S. counties. A smaller unit of analysis allows for the simultaneous consideration of several social processes operating at the community level, which might also influence ideologically motivated offending by far-right extremists. We test the relationship using data from the Extremist Crime Database (ECDB) for the dependent measure, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for the hate groups measure, and various other sources for additional variables. We find that the existence of a hate group in a county is significantly related to the occurrence of far-right ideologically motivated violence.
Technical Report
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This working paper provides an initial, comparative assessment of right-wing extremism, political violence, and terrorism in Canada. By comparing Canadian right-wing extremist organizations and individual radicals with those in the United States and Europe, policymakers and public officials can gauge the relative security threat posed by these groups and manage the unique challenges they create. Through an examination of case studies and incident data, this working paper offers contemporary research exploring right-wing anti-immigrant sentiment and other drivers. The following research questions guided this project: 1) What factors may promote violent right-wing extremism in Canada, and how is it connected to similar movements in the US and Europe? 2) What impacts might this violence have on radicalization within other communities? 3) What strategies can security and intelligence organizations employ to detect or reduce violent right-wing extremism? With a better understanding of this phenomenon, leaders can develop effective, evidence- based policy for preventing future right-wing extremist violence and terrorism, including acts aimed at undermining the integration of immigrants within Canadian society.
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This note describes a new and unique, open source, relational database called the United States Extremist Crime Database (ECDB). We first explain how the ECDB was created and outline its distinguishing features in terms of inclusion criteria and assessment of ideological commitment. Second, the article discusses issues related to the evaluation of the ECDB, such as reliability and selectivity. Third, descriptive results are provided to illustrate the contributions that the ECDB can make to research on terrorism and criminology.
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This article compares and contrasts the responses to right-wing extremism in the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany. Essentially, the approaches of these respective countries represent two polarities on a continuum. Whereas in theory, the United States allows extremist groups much more freedom to espouse unpopular ideas, the Federal Republic of Germany has the legal authority to disband extremist groups and parties that it deigns a threat to the country's constitutional democracy. Despite these seeming differences, both countries have responded resolutely to manifestations of right-wing extremism and have actually cooperated on numerous occasions to stymie American extremist activists that have propagandized in Germany. There are advantages and disadvantages to the approaches these two countries employ in countering extremism.
American extremists have traditionally cultivated technology to enhance efficiency and pro mote goals. This article concentrates on how domestic right-wing and other extremists have used computer networks to these ends. Although the concept of a guerrilla insurgency through "leaderless resistance " became a factor in right-wing extremist movements before the Internet's advent, cyberspace hastened its popularity. The Internet has been useful to hatemongers and extremists because it is economical and far reaching, and online expres sion is significantly protected by the First Amendment. Various court decisions have estab lished that not all communication is protected, in cyberspace or elsewhere. Although the government cannot regulate Internet expression because it offends sensibilities, it can regu late expression that constitutes crimes that fall under various unprotected areas of speech. Courts have convicted hatemongers who use the Internet to communicate threats rather than merely ideas. Private service providers and foreign governments have greater latitude to prohibit offensive and hateful expression that does not constitute a threat.