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“Confrontational but Not Violent”: An Assessment of the Potential for Violence by the Anti-Authority Community in Canada



Despite a pervasive concern among law enforcement and security agencies, there are relatively few academic explorations of the likelihood of violence associated with anti-authority activists from groups such as the Freemen-on-the-Land, Sovereign Citizens, and similar movements within Canada. In order to begin addressing this gap in knowledge, this article uses a multi-method approach to explore and assess the potential for violence by the Canadian anti-authority community against the state in particular. Data were gathered from interviews with law enforcement, lawyers, judges, notaries, and movement adherents (n = 32), as well as from the analysis of open source data which included media reports, court documents, and movement websites. Results suggest that there are three distinct classes of violent activity, directed specifically at the state and state actors, that are prevalent among Canadian anti-authority movements: a) offensive/extremist violence; b) defensive/reactionary violence; and c) harassment and intimidation. The article concludes with a discussion of two emerging areas of concern related to Canadian anti-authority violence and responses to the anti-authority community in Canada.
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Terrorism and Political Violence
ISSN: 0954-6553 (Print) 1556-1836 (Online) Journal homepage:
“Confrontational but Not Violent”: An Assessment
of the Potential for Violence by the Anti-Authority
Community in Canada
Barbara Perry, David C. Hofmann & Ryan Scrivens
To cite this article: Barbara Perry, David C. Hofmann & Ryan Scrivens (2018): “Confrontational
but Not Violent”: An Assessment of the Potential for Violence by the Anti-Authority Community in
Canada, Terrorism and Political Violence, DOI: 10.1080/09546553.2018.1516210
To link to this article:
Published online: 19 Sep 2018.
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Confrontational but Not Violent: An Assessment of the
Potential for Violence by the Anti-Authority Community in
Barbara Perry
, David C. Hofmann
and Ryan Scrivens
Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, Ontario,
Department of Sociology, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada;
School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
Despite a pervasive concern among law enforcement and security agen-
cies, there are relatively few academic explorations of the likelihood of
violence associated with anti-authority activists from groups such as the
Freemen-on-the-Land, Sovereign Citizens, and similar movements within
Canada. In order to begin addressing this gap in knowledge, this article
uses a multi-method approach to explore and assess the potential for
violence by the Canadian anti-authority community against the state in
particular. Data were gathered from interviews with law enforcement,
lawyers, judges, notaries, and movement adherents (n = 32), as well as
from the analysis of open source data which included media reports, court
documents, and movement websites. Results suggest that there are three
distinct classes of violent activity, directed specically at the state and state
actors, that are prevalent among Canadian anti-authority movements: a)
oensive/extremist violence; b) defensive/reactionary violence; and c)
harassment and intimidation. The article concludes with a discussion of
two emerging areas of concern related to Canadian anti-authority vio-
lence and responses to the anti-authority community in Canada.
anti-authority; anti-
government; anti-statist;
Canada; sovereignty
In 2010, two Arkansas police ocerswereshotandkilledwhentheystoppedasovereign
citizen and his son on Interstate 40.
This case of a routine tracstopgonetragically
awry soon epitomized the presumed threat that anti-authority
adherents posed to
North American law enforcement. Ironically, the West Memphis Chief of Police, Bob
Paudert, was the father of one of the slain ocers. Motivated by the murders, Paudert
began to look more deeply into anti-government, anti-statist, and anti-authority move-
ments, ultimately retiring from policing to devote himself full time to educating law
enforcement on their associated risks. It was, in part, Pauderts background and training
that seemed to cement the conviction among law enforcement and security practitioners
that the threat of violence posed by adherents of movements aligned with Sovereign
Citizens and Freemen-on-the-Land (FOTL) was more severe than previously conceived.
When one of Pauderts training videos began circulating in Canada in the mid-2010s, it
CONTACT Barbara Perry Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, University of Ontario
Institute of Technology, 55 Bond Street East, Oshawa, ON L1H 7C1, Canada
This article was originally published with errors, which have now been corrected in the online version.
© 2018 Taylor & Francis
helped stir fears among Canadian law enforcement that similar violent events precipi-
tated by anti-authority adherents in the United States (U.S) couldand perhaps, were
likelyto happen in Canada.
The reality of these fears was concretized with two high-prole violent incidents against
Canadian police by perpetrators with anti-authoritarian worldviews. In June 2014, Justin
Bourque killed three Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) ocers and injured two others
during a shooting rampage,
and in June 2015, Norman Raddatz murdered an Edmonton police
constable and injured another ocer when he was being served with legal papers related to anti-
semitic, racist, and homophobic online posts.
law enforcement, much has been made of the threatposed by FOTL and similar anti-authority
movements in Canada in the past few years. Media reports have drawn attention to legal conicts
involving adherents, particularly those that involved bizarre or odd behaviour.
The Canadian
Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)s threat assessments have labeled anti-authority movements
as security risks.
Moreover, a 2015 study on right-wing extremism (RWE)
in Canada also
identied FOTL as one of the more active elements of the broader far-right movement. It was this
widespread attention and concern that motivated us to look more closely at what we identify as
the anti-authoritymovement in Canada, an umbrella term for a host of ideological strains that
nonetheless share some antipathy toward the state.
At the outset of our study, academic explorations of the FOTL and related anti-
authority movements were virtually non-existent in Canada. Perry and Scrivens
refer to
right-wing adherents of this movement in their Public Safety report on RWE in Canada.
has written a chapter on Canadian Freemengrounded in open source
materialsin an upcoming volume on terrorism. Donald Netolitzky,
legal counsel for
the Alberta Court of Queens Bench, has published two articles from a legal perspective
that describe and assess the backgrounds, tactics, and methods of several prominent
Canadian anti-authority movements. Lastly, Stephen Kent
has published a pair of
analyses on FOTL through the lens of cultic/new religious movement studies. Although
these rst studies provide important insights, there is still a paucity of scholarship on the
motives, nature, and methods of the FOTL and similar anti-authority movements in
Canada that are informed by primary data. The most systematic analysis grounded in
primary data to date is a groundbreaking legal decision penned by Associate Chief Justice
Rooke in the Meads v. Meads decision,
which he wrote in response to his experience
with loose collections of individuals and small cells known as vexatious litigants:
members of movements who employ Organized Pseudo-legal Commercial Arguments
However, Rookes decision is descriptive rather than analytical, and fails to
account for the worldview and viewpoints of the OPCA movements and their adherents.
In short, the current literature on the Canadian FOTL and similar anti-authority move-
ments suers from signicant gaps in knowledge and understanding. In order to begin
addressing this lacuna in knowledge, we embarked on a year-long funded study aimed at
gathering primary accounts and data on Canadian anti-authority movements from law
enforcement, legal practitioners, and movement adherents. While our focus and ndings
were wide-ranging and included identication of diverse ideological strands and motiva-
tions for membership.
This article focuses on the nature of violence associated with
Canadian anti-authority adherentsin particular, as it relates to anti-statist violence.
The results of our analysis suggest that there are three distinct types of violent activity,
directed specically at state actors, that are prevalent among Canadian anti-authority
movements: a) oensive/extremist violence; b) defensive/reactionary violence; and c)
harassment and intimidation. We also note two emerging areas that cause some concern
and that are worthy of close monitoring by academics, legal scholars, police, and security
agencies. The rst is that some adherents subscribe to the belief in an unrestricted right to
bear arms and to defend themselves with lethal force where necessary. Second, there is a
risk that some elements of the Canadian anti-authority movement might potentially blend
into an emergent militia movement, similar to certain groups currently active in the U.S.
We begin our analysis with a discussion of the methods used during the data collection
portions of the study. This is then followed by a brief discussion of our denition of anti-
authoritymovements, prior to our exploration of anti-authority violence against state
actors. We then conclude with consideration of ways in which both the anti-authority
movement and perceptions of the movement might be challenged.
The study
In the absence of academic assessments of the FOTL movement in Canada based upon quality
primary data, we embarked on a one-year exploratory and multi-method study in which we
reached out and interviewed anti-authority movement adherents, as well as government, police,
and legal ocials who have come into contact with the larger anti-authority community in some
form. Overall, a convenience sample of 17 police ocers, two notary publics, two lawyers, and
one judge was attained through word of mouthtactics and a letter of invitation through email
communications. All interviews were semi-structured and conducted with an interview guide.
Interviews ranged from 20 minutes to 120 minutes in length, with an average of 45 minutes for
law enforcement ocials and 90 minutes for notaries, lawyers, and the one judge. All interviews
were audio recorded and transcribed.
We also made a concerted eort to reach out to a wide range of adherents of anti-
authority movements across Canada, particularly the rank-and-le membership. With the
help of law enforcement and notaries who were in contact with local activists, paired with
an in-depth analysis of court records and media sources, we identied 75 adherents whom
we hoped might participate in the study. To recruit participants for interviews, we used
our personal Facebook accounts to friendadherents, often by sending them an informal
introductory message asking if they would be willing to speak with us to provide insight
into the movement. Given adherentsdistrust of dierent forms of authority, we kept
initial conversations and contact as simple and straightforward as possible. For the most
part, once the more suspicious adherents were satised that we did not have actual or
perceived aliation with the government, most were willing to continue speaking with us.
We managed to interview a wide array of Canadian anti-authoritarians from across the
political and ideological spectrum on their perceptions of broadly dened anti-authority
ideology and activities. In total, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 10 anti-
authority adherents, either face to face, over the telephone, or through Skype. Interviews
ranged from 55 minutes to 1 hour and 48 minutes in length, with an average duration of
approximately 60 minutes. All but one participant agreed to have their interview audio
recorded, and all other audio recordings were transcribed.
Canadian anti-authority movement adherents are especially active online, so our interviews
were supplemented by assessment of related social media venues. We identied and analyzed
the websites and message boards (i.e., web-forums and blogs), as well as social media sites (i.e.,
Facebook and YouTube) established by Canadian FOTL adherents and those who subscribed
to anti-authoritarian beliefs. This included analysis of the many instructionalvideos created
by FOTL members, online discussions on specic web-forums, and discussions on Facebook.
In total, we analyzed approximately 140 online sources that were created by members of
Canadian anti-authority movements. Similarly, court records were also useful in helping us to
garner insights into the ideologies and pseudo-legalstrategies associated with the move-
ment. While Justice RookesMeads v. Meads
decision was indispensable to us, we used
CanLii to identify and access relevant cases. However, we focused our eorts on a select
number of legal cases earmarked by Justice Rooke (Meads v. Meads)
and Netolitzky
provided us the most insight and information into the ideology, methods, and motivations of
the Canadian anti-authority community. We examined approximately 50 court documents
related to those who were associated with the Canadian anti-authority movements.
Dening the Canadian anti-authority movement
At the outset of the data collection process, we were somewhat surprised by the heterogeneous
nature of the Canadian anti-authority community. Up until that point, we were using the FOTL
as an umbrella term that encompassed the larger anti-authority phenomenon within Canada
(e.g., Hofmann).
However, it became apparent to us that while the FOTL is perhaps the most
publicized and prominent anti-authority movement in Canada, we could not ignore the
ideological and strategic diversity that we encountered. As a result, we made a conscious decision
to broaden the studys focus beyond the FOTL to encompass the many distinct movements that
make up the larger Canadian anti-authority community.
It is interesting to note that the leading decision on the anti-authority movement in
Canadadelivered by Associate Chief Justice Rookes decision in Meads v. Meads
made the argument about its relative diversity. In his decision, Rooke coined the phrase
Organized Pseudo-legal Commercial Argument litigant(OPCA) as an umbrella term,
and highlighted the heterogeneity of the OPCA community, observing that they
do not express any stereotypic beliefs other than a general rejection of court and state authority;
nor do they fall into any common social or professional association. Arguments and claims of
this nature emerge in all kinds of legal proceedings and all levels of Courts and tribunals.
This group is unied by:
(1) A characteristic set of strategies (somewhat dierent by group) that they employ;
(2) Specic but irrelevant formalities and language which they appear to believe are (or
portray as) signicant; and
(3) The commercial sources from which their ideas and materials originate.
(4) This category of litigant shares one other critical characteristic: they will only
honour state, regulatory, contract, family, duciary, equitable, and criminal obliga-
tions if they feel like it. And typically, they dont.
In broader terms, the Canadian anti-authority movement currently consists of many diverse
and frequently contradictory sub-groups with dierent goals, aims, ideologies, and methods. In
fact, some adherents explicitly distanced themselves from the FOTL label, while others embraced
ideologies and practices that bore only passing resemblance to FOTL specically. Some of the
adherents we interviewed espoused far-right worldviews, while others embraced more leftist
viewpoints. Some outright rejected violence and confrontation as a solution, while others were
more sympathetic to these types of methods. In short, it is a Sisyphean task to provide a singular,
immutable denition of the groups and individuals who comprise the Canadian anti-authority
movement. With this in mind, we purposefully took a broad and inclusive approach when
identifying ideologies, individuals, and groups associated with the Canadian anti-government
movement. First and foremost, our study included any individuals and groups who frequently
associated with, or self-identied as members of, previously noted anti-authority, anti-statist, and
extremist protest movements. We also sought out singular individuals who, while not associating
with a formal anti-government group or movement, embraced some aspect of ideological,
oppositional, or conspiratorial material or worldviews common among anti-government
Lastly, we included in our study any individuals or groups that actively employ
pseudolegal techniques meant to subvert or control the Canadian legal system.
We identied ve distinct variants of anti-authority adherents in Canada:
(1) Detaxers
(2) Freemen-on-the-Land
(3) Sovereign Citizens
(4) Moors
(5) Indigenous groups
Additionally, we were able to identify diverse levels of commitment to and motivation
for adherence to any of the above noted factions:
(1) Fantastical Believers
(2) Conspiracy Theorists
(3) Escapists
(4) Dabblers/Opportunists
(5) The Committed
(6) Violent Extremists
(7) Entrepreneurs
(8) Established/Emergent Gurus
Like Rooke, noted above, the consensus amongst study participants was that the
contemporary anti-authority movement in Canada is best characterized as a loose collec-
tion of ideologically linked individuals—“a bunch of lone wolvesor a lone wolf group-
ing,according to several sources. As one ocial put it, Its hard to even really call it a
movement. To say its a movement is sort of misleading. Its an ideology(Participant 6).
Furthermore, none of the dierent types of anti-authority adherents that we identied
constitute the majority within a single groupor a formal movement.Even anti-
authority adherents and sympathizers interviewed for this study acknowledged this reality.
One suggested that there was no identiable group,just several individuals who share a
similar view of the world. He further claimed that You dont meet at a weekly meeting,
you know? Monthly meeting. I mean, theres online things and groups like that, but youre
just exchanging ideas and stu(Participant 5). Perhaps it is no surprise, given the
resistance to authority, that adherents eschew bureaucratic hierarchies, instead opting for
decentralized and loose organization.
A key reason for the looseness of anti-authority movements in Canada is that they
are also ideologically disparate. As one study participant reminded us: When youre
talking ideology, its also very heterogeneous. Theres a lot of variety there in terms of
what people claim to be acting on(Participant 9). Of particular interest is where
movement adherents fall along the political spectrum of left- to right-wing. Ironically,
we originally proposed this investigation of the anti-authority movement in response
to the numerous references made to FOTL while conducting a study of RWE in
When asked about the extreme right-wing movement in Canada, many
police and intelligence ocers noted their concerns with FOTL rather than with
white power/white nationalist adherents and other anti-authority movements. As we
came to learn in the current study, however, the larger anti-authority community
within Canada cannot be attributed to a single end of the political spectrum. In other
words, while we came into the study thinking that the bulk would or could be
identied with right-wing political aliations, it soon became clear that they were
just as likely to reect left-wing sentiments. Some adherents even professed to be
apolitical, eschewing aliation with either the right or the left. One participant stated,
quite simply, that Im not really all that political really.He further claimed that:
I dont know what that [right-wing ideology] is. I think its just people looking for answers.
Were not looking for left-wing, right-wing, you know? We want accountability. Were
straight down the middle. Theres not grey area. Its black and white. (Participant 5)
A law enforcement ocial interviewed for this study drew a similar conclusion from their
experiences with anti-authority movements:
In Canada, it is more reective of the political landscape here. I would say . .. sort of both
right and left wing. From what I have seen typically, if you dont like the government, there is
a place for you. But you dont have to be . .. it is not exclusive to anybody on a racial or
cultural basis. I would say it is a lot more inclusive in Canada. (Participant 6)
Nonetheless, Hofmann
has suggested that the Canadian FOTL movement is best characterized
as right leaning, given its derivation from American far-right entities like the Montana Freemen.
Consequently, they share core themes revolving around individual liberty, a threateningand
corrupt state, and defence of inalienablerights by any means. Indeed, there is a great deal of this
sort of rhetoric in the documents and online narratives associated with many arms of the various
active anti-authority movements. In the Canadian context, the anti-authority adherents who self-
identify as members of the Sovereign Citizen movement are probably most closely aligned with
these worldviews.
Violence within the anti-authority movement in Canada
There has been relatively little violence associated with the anti-authority movement in
Canada when compared to similar events in the U.S.
The widely shared sentiment
among adherents is that Canada tends to be devoid of the sort of aggressive, somewhat
revolutionary stance taken by many Sovereign Citizens or militias currently active in the
For example, one interviewed adherent vehemently argued that:
No, no, no you just y under the radar. Were peaceful. We dont go out antagonizing
anybody. We dont go out starting riots. We dont go out lighting houses on re. We dontgo
out calling people bad names. Were just like you. We live our life, right? (Participant 2)
Other adherents interviewed for this study suggested that advocating for violent action
actually damaged the credibility of the movement. One interviewee went so far to
admonish the more actively militant members of the Canadian anti-authority community,
saying: You dont go out with a gun, or burn down a government building, or throw a
Molotov-cocktail. You go to court and you challenge(Participant 5).
When study participants were asked if anti-authority adherents represented either a
public safety or national security threat in Canada, there was broad consensus that neither
was the case. However, some interviewees acknowledged that, under the right conditions,
violent outcomes were possible. In his assessment of the security threat posed by Canadian
FOTL, Hofmann
noted two conditions that may precipitate some form of violence: a) a
credible charismatic leader, and b) a precipitating event that galvanizes and invigorates
some form of organized action. One ocer interviewed for this study reinforced this
assessment, stating that:
I think there is a huge potential for physical threat when it reaches that level. And the for lack
of better words [when you] have a charismatic leader that could make them become a more
coherent group, then yes, denitely there is some potential for that. It hasnt reached that yet,
so yeah. (Participant 7)
Despite the fears expressed by law enforcement and Canadian security agencies, ocers
interviewed for this study generally agreed that there are very few incidents where
members of the public at large were aected by anti-authority activities (some exceptions
noted below). Rather, they claimed that agents of the state (i.e., police ocers, court
personnel, notaries, and judges) are the most likely targets of anti-authority violence in
Canada. However, there is an acknowledgement that even that threat is minimal. For
example, one of the interviewed ocers declared that probably a small percentage would
only be considered an ocer safety threat, and the remainder would be more in the
regulatory round or just an ocer annoyance or nuisance(Participant 8).
Many of the interviewed anti-authority adherents also explicitly rejected the very
notion that violence could in any way advance their agendas. They indicated that the
public risk associated with anti-authority groups is rare, and typically very specically
targeted those whom adherents see as connected with illegitimateauthority: law enfor-
cement, judiciary, and notaries, in particular. However, even anti-state violence was rare,
the obvious exceptions being Ian Bushs murder of a Chief Court of Canada Tax judge, his
wife, and a third-party neighbor in 2007,
Justin Bourques murder of three RCMP
ocers in 2014,
and Norman Raddatzs murder of an Edmonton police ocer in
Even within law enforcement, some of the study participants noted that initial
concerns about the movement arose out of media reports, and especially those coming
from the U.S where there is a history of extremeone might say, extremistviolence on
the part of Sovereign Citizens.
In other words, it was not the direct experiences of
Canadian law enforcement that drew attention to the potential threat, but their exposure
to incidents and patterns emerging outside of Canada. One ocer that we interviewed
who had previously managed a FOTL portfolio was very explicit about this, saying:
My understanding of what Freeman-on-the-Land was the kind of thing that I saw on TV
when you saw what was happening down in the States with some of that . . . quasi-Freeman-
on-the-Land, quasi-white supremacist violence, all that kind of stu. And it seemed sinister to
me in that respect, although it is a little bit dierent. (Participant 10)
Much like the above study participant, few Canadian ocers have had occasion to engage
with anti-authority activists directly. Perhaps it is for this reason that there was general
consensusamong both law enforcement and adherents in our studythat the anti-
authority movement in Canada is not, by and large, a violent one. Frequent comparisons
to the U.S context were drawn, whereby ocers asserted that Canadian adherents were
not like Americansin this respect. They were seen as far less likely to resort to violence
than their counterparts in the U.S where they are in fact identied explicitly as a domestic
security threat.
One interviewed ocer stated outright that the core ideologies are not
themselves violent, but that violence is a potential, albeit rare, concern among adherents.
Another ocer claimed that the overwhelming majority of people that identify with
Freeman ideology I would describe as non-violent and have no interest in engaging in any
violence(Participant 6). An interesting distinction was drawn, whereby Canadian actors
were thought to be confrontational but not violent,or that they might rant and rave,
but wont cross the line to physical violence,as one interviewee noted. Law enforcement
generally attributed this to the historical absence of the sort of gun culture that tends to
permeate the U.S. In short, study participants indicated the public risk associated with
anti-authority groups is anti-authority is low in Canada, and when violent attacks do
occur, they are typically targeted toward those whom adherents see as connected with
Nonetheless, as Table 1 indicates, anti-authority violence is not unheard of in Canada.
We were able to identify three classes of violence largely directed at state actors: a)
oensive violence; b) defensive violence; and c) harassment and intimidation. We also
highlight two areas of concern that may signal the growing potential for violence in the
future: d) gun ownership and defensive narratives; and e) militia movements. We discuss
each in the sections below.
Oensive/extremist violence
Oensive violence (i.e., a planned attack with no precedence of provocation) is the
least common action associated with the anti-authority movement in Canada. When
asked, none of the study participants were able to recall any incidents of anti-authority
oensive violence, aside from BourquesattackonRCMPocers in 2014. The only
other incident of anti-authority oensive violence that we were able to identify was
John Carlos Quadross violent attacks in St. Paul, Alberta in May of 2014. After fatally
shooting a local priest, Quadros proceeded to a local RCMP detachment where he
opened re on the building. He was immediately pursued in his pick-up truck, which
he then used to purposefully ram a police vehicle at high speed, trapping an ocer
inside. His next move would prove fatal, as he opened re on several ocers. He was
shot and killed in that exchange. In the end, he had wounded three RCMP ocers.
When ocers were able to access the truck, they found several weapons, including a
high-powered rie, two shotguns, a pistol, and several rounds of ammunition for
It is apparent from his actions and from this arsenal that he was ready for a
Table 1. Anti-authority violence in Canada (20052016).
Actor(s) Date Location Incident
James Roszko March 2005 Mayerthorpe, Alberta Roszko shot and killed four RCMP ocers who were executing a property seizure on the farm, where Roszko operated a
marijuana grow-op.
Rodney Wayne King June 2006 Jasper, Ontario When an attempt was made to serve King with an eviction order, he red on his landlord and an Ontario Provincial Police
(OPP) ocer, permanently injuring the latter.
Mario Antonacci/
Andreas Pirelli
Montreal, Quebec An elderly landlady was pushed down a set of stairs by Antonacci, who was squattingat her property. The fall resulted
in broken bones.
Ian E. Bush June 2007 Ottawa, Ontario Three murder victims were tied up, beaten, and suocated by putting bags over their heads. One of the victims was a
Chief Court of Canada Tax judge who had previously held against Bush.
Daren McCormick March 2011 Amherst, Nova Scotia Convicted of uttering threats to kill police ocers, McCormick told an ocer that he could outdraw police and that if a
police cruiser ever pulled up in his yard, he would kill the ocers. When police moved to arrest him the following day,
they found him with a loaded .44-calibre revolver in a holster strapped to his hip.
Brad Clarke and
Sawyer Robison
February 2012 Killam, Alberta Two RCMP ocers were shot and injured in Robisons house, where a cache of guns and ammunition was discovered.
Robisons uncle Brad Clarke was also killed. Robison was later cleared of attempted murder charges.
Steven Finney October 2013 Kitchener, Ontario After refusing to cooperate with police during a trac stopon the basis that they had no jurisdiction over himFinney
accelerated in his vehicle toward an ocer who had been called for backup.
Glenn Fearn October 2013 Coutts, Alberta Fearn, a Sovereign Citizen adherent from Arizona, was arrested while attempting to cross the border into Canada while in
the possession of restricted rearms.
John Carlos Quadros May 2014 St. Paul, Alberta Quadros shot a Catholic priest at the local cathedral, then travelled to the local RCMP detachment and red shots at the
building. He rammed a police vehicle with his own vehicle and engaged in a shootout with ocers. Quadros fatally shot
Justin Bourque June 2014 Moncton, New
Justin Bourque led law enforcement on a frightening chase after targeting and shooting RCMP ocers in Moncton, NB,
killing three and injuring two others.
Norman Walter
June 2015 Edmonton, Alberta As he was serving Raddatz with legal papers and a warrant, Constable Daniel Woodall of Edmonton Police Service was
shot and killed. Another police constable was injured. Raddatz had a history of anti-Semitic harassment, and racist,
homophobic, and anti-authority online posts.
Samuel Maloney December
London, Ontario During a confrontation with police trying to arrest him at his home, Maloney shot and injured one of the ocers with a
crossbow. During the ensuing confrontation, Maloney was shot and killed by police ocers.
sustained assault on law enforcement. Police at the time said that it was not arandom
The website associated with Quadross health food store provides addi-
tional insight into his motives. The mission statement for the business states that:
At Health Mart 2000 we believe that the road to optimal health may be achieved thru a
natural approach, using Herbs and Natural products given to us by GOD, as our inherent
right as his adopted children; and a continued daily eort to know our Lord and saviour Jesus
Christ, the way to Salvation and ever Lasting Life.
Elsewhere on the site, Quadros complains about government regulation of natural health
products, arguing that in doing so they are protecting the various agendas of the Big Billion
dollar Corporations even if it means the suering and death of countless numbers. May GOD
protect you and the TRUTH set You FREE.
This is reminiscent of some of the theologically
informed variants of the movement.
Targeting law enforcement is also an indicator. However,
aside from the obvious role of police as agents of the state, it is not clear why he focused his
animosity toward them.
Defensive/reactionary violence
Relative to oensive anti-authority violence, defensive or reactionary anti-authority violence
directed toward law enforcement and other agents of the state are more common. Police ocers
reections on adherents in this study suggest three key interrelated reasons for their concerns
about the threat posed by adherents. First is their obvious lack of respect for, indeed, dismissal of
authority. Second is their unpredictability. Each case is dierent; each individual interprets the
scriptslightly dierently so it is very dicult to generalize about how they might react or how
an ocer should approach them, making them dicult to manage. Third and nally, there is a
perception, whether accurate or not, that anti-authority adherents are likely to be armed and also
ready to use force and/or weapons. One ocer who was interviewed for this study shared a
pertinent illustrative example of this fear among law enforcement professionals: during a routine
trac stop on Highway 407 in Ontario, a FOTL adherent refused to exit his vehicle, so the
highway was shut down in order to obtain tactical support because the arresting ocers feared
that he might have been armed(Participant 27). As another ocer in our study noted, we are
always conditioned to think of the worst-case scenario(Participant 8). In the case of anti-
authoritarians, that worst case is armed and aggressive adherents.
Police trac stops were highlighted by many law enforcement ocers as a primary
context fraught with tension and risk. As one ocer put it:
The things that youre gonna [sic] nd is that some of the acting out on the part of FOTL has
been in the interactions with the police. They nd that the police are kind of like agents of the
government, and they dont recognize the government. Therefore, they dont recognize the
police, and it created some pretty tense situations. (Participant 10)
There are countless videos available online, posted by adherents, that indicate the nature and
depth of the antagonism that arises when anti-authority adherents are confronted by police.
Yet the vast majority of these incidents do not escalate beyond minimal physical violence. Law
enforcement ocers in our study most often described incidents of pushing or shoving, largely as
means of resisting arrest. One ocerdid,however,mentionacaseinwhichasuspectattempted
to grab an ocers gun. Had that suspect been successful, the consequences could have been dire.
Aside from tracstops,ocers indicated to us that they feared the potential for anti-
authority violence during disturbance calls to homes, or when serving ocial papers (e.g.,
evictions and notices). One ocer recalled an incident in Cornwall, Ontario, where a
colleague was shot in the arm by an adherent during an attempt to remove him from his
former home. The bank had foreclosed on the property and in fact sold it. However, when the
new owner arrived at what was now her home, the FOTL adherent was still occupying it. It
was when the ocer was called in to evict him that he was shot. This example is eerily
reminiscent of the most widely known case of anti-authority defensive violence in Canada. In
2015, Norman Raddatz shot and killed Edmonton police ocer Daniel Woodall. Raddatzs
social media accounts provided clear indications of his aliation with FOTL ideologies. He
often complained about how he had been consistently harassedby bylaw tickets, which he
characterized as an extortion racket.He posted a photo of one such ticket on his Facebook
page, with the notations No Consentand No Contractwritten on it. He also insisted that
police engaged in such tactics as threats, intimidation, and illegal behaviour.
His contempt
for authorityand especially law enforcementcame to a tragic head when heopened re on
the police ocers who attended at his home to serve warrants, one of which was related to
ongoing anti-semitic harassment. Before taking his own life, Raddatz red more than fty
shots, killing Constable Daniel Woodall, and seriously injuring Seargent Jason Harley.
Similarly, it is possible that a violent incident involving James Roszko might have been
inuenced by anti-authority ideologies. Roszko ambushed ocerswhocametohisfarmoutside
of Mayerthorpe, Alberta with warrants to search for further evidence of drug production after
they rst noted signs of a marijuana grow-op. Killed in the ambush were Constables Anthony
Gordon, Leo Johnston, Brock Myrol, and Peter Schiemann. In addition to later nding a large
crop of marijuana plants and growing equipment on the property, police also found a list of the
names and call numbers of RCMP ocers from the local detachment. Like many anti-author-
itarians in Canada, Roszko was reclusive and distrustful. Yet unlike most adherents, he had a
history of crime and violence. To defend his propertyand his privacyhe resorted to booby
A 2000 psychiatric assessment concluded that he denied responsibility for his
criminal behaviour, but was hostile toward the government and police, for whom he blamed
his legal troubles.
In addition, a local bailitold the media that Roszko blamed all of his
problems on the RCMP.
Even his father admitted that Roszko seemed to be fated to come to a
violent confrontation with police, saying that he thought he had a terrible hate against the
There seems little doubt, then, that Roszkos calculated assault on the ocers was
shaped by extremist views on the legitimacy of the law and its enforcement ocers.
Harassment and intimidation
Members of Canadian anti-authority movements are often referred to as paper terrorists,
referencing the common pseudo-legal techniques employed by FOTL and OPCA movements to
harass and intimidate their detractors or opponents. One interviewee characterized this threat
as the disruption of government functionality that causes a lessening of services available for
others . . . because they are spending so much time on being with them(Participant 7). From this
perspective, the risk posed to ocials by anti-authority movements that employ paper terror-
However, several law enforcement participants in this study took issue with this characterization,
arguing that it trivialized the activities of anti-authority adherents in Canada. For them, even the
bureaucratic approach to challenge the law and the state constitutes out and out intimidation.
This was a sentiment shared by notaries, law enforcement, lawyers, and judges, as one ocer
Those sorts of processes to try to intimidate is a very, very dierent tactic than you see
anywhere else. It makes them quite dierent from any other sort of grouping you might see
on the extreme right or left, or anywhere else. (Participant 9)
A common strategy used by anti-authority adherents in Canada involves extra-legal ling of an
array of claims against individuals, police ocers, even the Prime Minister of Canada and the
Queen.Typically,thesearethesortsofvexatious claimsidentied in Meads v. Meads.
Interestingly, several study participants suggested that it is harder to use pseudo-legal techniques
in Canada when compared to the U.S noting that there are fewer loopholesand more
restrictive civil remediesin this country. The aftermath of the Meads decision seems to have
restricted this avenue even more dramatically, with the exception, of course, of the collapse of the
Crowns paper terrorism case in Alberta against Allen Boisjoli in early April 2018, in which
Boisjoli was accused of launching a paper terrorism campaign against a peace ocer who issued
him a speeding ticket.
Regardless of this court decision, the ling of these vexatious claims is
also often associated with language and behaviour that constitute harassment, intimidation, and
persecution. Lawyers and notaries, for example, often bear the brunt of this pressure. In a very
early assessment of the risk associated with FOTL, Bilinsky
published an article in the Law
Society of British Columbia BenchersBulletinissuing a warning about the growth and activism
of the movement. He cautioned that thwarted attempts to have their frivolous documents
notarized had the potential to escalate into anger and violence, including verbal tirades and
threats in person and by letter and email. Ron Usher of the British Columbia Society of Notaries
also remarked that Theyre [FOTL] very confrontational. Weve had a number of instances now
where theyve needed to call police or security.
Perhaps unsurprising, law enforcement also bear a signicant brunt of harassment and
intimidation eorts by anti-authority activists in Canada. Ocers are often served notice
with bills for services rendered,nes for their illegalattempts to detain them, and even
have ctitious liens placed upon their property. Following a trac stop in which police
ocers allegedly behaved unprofessionally,Robert Menard, one of Canadas anti-
authority gurus, wrote in a lengthy letter excoriating the ocers, warning that: You
will be getting a bill. If you do not pay it I will take lawful measures to collect.
The fee:
$2,000 per hour for the time spent interacting with law enforcement. Such actions are
consistent with the logic that police have no formal jurisdiction over peopleand thus
any attempt to engage with them, or to demand identication, licenses, etc., constitutes
anything ranging from fraud to illegal detention.
Other agents of the stateand perceived authority gures have also been targeted by
Canadian anti-authority adherents. In light of the frequency with which adherents come to the
movement in the context of child custody disputes, it is not surprising that child welfare workers
are often threatened and harassed, both bureaucratically and physically.
In rural areas, Fish and
Game or Conservation ocers face risks when confronting those who are choosing to live othe
land, often poaching and shing illegally or, as in a case described below, when attempting to
evict squatters from properties they have illegally occupied. Judges, like law enforcement, come
under particular re. As an example, at the close of the trial that would see him sentenced to three
years in custody, Dean Cliord nedthepresidingjudge$50,000forthetimehehadspentin
Cliord would also eventually submit a True Billfor over $500 million for his
incarceration. Another albeit extreme case involved the murder of a Chief Court of Canada
Tax judge, whom Ian Bush held responsible for a failed tax fraud appeal from 2001. Later that
same year, Bush sent a summonsto Chief Judge Garon, demanding that he attend at an appeal
of the caseat Bushs home. Tragically, six years later, Garon, his wife, and neighbor were killed,
The illegal occupation of homes and property is perhaps one of the few contexts in which
members of the general public may be at risk of harassment or intimidation by anti-authority
adherents. A highly publicized case in Alberta in 2013 was that of Andreas Pirelli, who rented a
property from Rebekah Caverhill, then proceeded to gut and redecoratethe house. When
Caverhill came to check on the house, she found that Pirelli had also changed the locks and
would not let her enter. He claimed the rental home as an embassy houseto which Caverhill
had no rights.
Pirelli was a self-proclaimed FOTL, and Senior Chief Justiceof the Tacit
Supreme in Law Courts (TSILC). It was later learned that he had previously occupied a rental
home in Quebec, where he had been known as Mario Antonacci. He was accused in that
province of pushing his landlady down a ight of stairs, resulting in a broken pelvis, arm,
wrist, and ankle.
Around the same time as Pirelli was occupying Caverhillshouse,trappers
near Grande Prairie, Alberta also faced FOTL squattersin their hunting cabins, and on their
trap lines. The squatters threatened the owners with raised guns, and also made it clear to
Forestry personnel that they would defend theircabins with all necessary force.
One of the
men removed from the cabins was found in possession of two rearms and ammunition.
Ultimately, he was charged with uttering threats, using a rearm in the commission of an
oence, and possession of a rearm while prohibited.
Gun ownership and defensive narratives
Cases where anti-authority individuals are armed and ready to use force, like the case
involving FOTL squatters in Grande Prairie, are of particular concern to Canadian police
and security agencies. While the anti-authority adherents almost universally eschewed
violence or violent tactics, there is nonetheless an element within the Canadian anti-
authority community that embraces the idea, inspired by a conservative interpretation of
the American second amendment, of the rightto bear arms and to use force when
This confrontational worldview, which combines gun ownership woven into
a defensive narrative of standing ones ground in the face of hostile external forces,
demands attention and care from police, security agencies, and the Canadian government.
While perhaps not as overt as in U.S anti-authority movements, rhetoric involving the
justication of violence to defend sovereignty and individual rights is present in Menards
foundational writings. In an early bookthat was a reaction to his experience with child
welfare services, he explicitly stated that:
You have the right to use potentially lethal force against anyone who attempts to abduct your
ospring, even if they are government agents and operating under the color of Law.
Menard elaborated on this later in With Lawful Excuse, a graphic novel that laid out a
number of key tenets of his understanding of FOTL philosophy. Included there are
warnings directed at law enforcement specically:
And pay VERY close attention to this part: WE OUT NUMBER YOU VERY BADLY. And as
peaceful and well mannered as we can be, wake our ire and you will pay very dearly. We are
not sheep; we are peaceful, patient and perhaps slumbering guards dogs, and it will be your
greatest woe if we wake to you shearing our freedoms and rights, stealing our wealth or
harming our families and country. You will be made to pay. When I say you will pay, I do
mean very dearly indeed.
If you cross that line inadvertently with shiny boots and accept correction nothing harmful
happens. Cross that line with muddy boots however and you are a threat and have breached
our trust. Attack us and you will see the truth. We out number you rather completely, and we
all have boots too.
It perhaps comes as little surprise, then, that Menard and others like him have made
eorts to establish para-legal police forces or what they refer to as Peace Ocers.In
With Lawful Excuse, Menard maintains that:
If you think your job is tough now, wait until there are a million Freemen who know the Law, have
created and convened new Lawful courts, and have charged NEW Peace Ocers empowered to
arrest existing ones who attempt to impose statutory obligations on said Freemen.
If existing ocers refuse to accept the ndings of lawful courts, they will have to face our
lawfully empowered peace ocers.
Indeed, this is a threat that law enforcement and intelligence personnel noted during
several interviews. They were aware and very concerned that certain anti-authority move-
ments have made attempts to create alternative police forces. In the case of the FOTL,
Menard founded an organization that he dubbed the Canadian Common Corps of Peace
Ocers(or C3PO,a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Star Wars character), described
as an association created for the lawful purpose of preserving and maintaining the public
As a result of activities surrounding C3PO, Menard was charged with several
counts of impersonating a police ocer. During one interview, an ocer recounted an
incident with another adherent with similar ideas in northern British Columbia: He told
people he could be a police ocer. You can basically self-declare the police ocer and at
one time he had an idea to organize like a Freeman police force(Participant 6).
Additionally, the TSLIC group in Alberta intended to create their own communitya
mini-state.According to one study participant, members of the TSLIC went as far as
buying and surveying a tract of land, with the intention of creating an independent
community with its own police force, consisting of
what they called territorial marshals, and these guys were uniformed with their own realistic
looking badges. The uniforms were good enough that at the Alberta legislature they walked in
through security and werent stopped. (Participant 15)
Militia movements
Another area of concern surrounding the potential for anti-authority violence involves the
nascent militia movements within Canada, who hold similar far-right worldviews akin to militia
movements currently operational in the U.S Comparative assessments of the RWE movements
in Canada and the U.S generally suggest that the relative peacefulnessof Canadian extremists
has to do with the lack of a parallel and/or connected militia movement here.
The militia and
related patriot movements in the U.S have a long and violent history.
In contrast, there has
generally been little indication of any similar organizing in Canada. Perhaps this has to do with
the absence of a vocal and powerful gun rights lobby, and the trend toward less gun violence
across Canada. Several ocers interviewed for this study also pointed to the lack of a militia and/
or gun rights movement in accounting for the muted nature of the Canadian anti-authority
movement. One ocer, for instance, claimed that itssodierent from the U.S where you have
that cross over with xations with second amendment type of stu.He further noted that:
But in the States, you might see sort of . . . more kind of bent towards right-wing ideology . . . I
mean in the sense that historically there has been a connection between hate groups. And
then of course the whole sort of survivalist kind of like bunkering down at a ranch . . . you
dont see that here. Culturally itssodierent. (Participant 6)
Despite their rarity, there are several known far-right militias operational in Canada. One
salient example is of the Three Percenters,who have recently established chapters in
Canada. The Three Percenters are a far-right preppermilitia movement who are actively
arming and engaging in paramilitary training in Alberta.
In June 2017, VICE published a
disturbing article on the ideologies, aims, and activities of this explicitly paramilitary
Informed by rabid Islamophobia, the Alberta groupnumbering in the area of
150200is actively training to defend Canada from what they see as the inevitable
invasion by Muslims. The VICE reporter quotes the leaders Facebook post, in which he
claimed that We are at war folks, we have been at war, and we are in the middle of the
ght of our lives . . . Its on mother fuckers. Its time to do patriot shit. You wanna fuck
around, youve seen nothing yet. We will win this war.
Subsequent searches revealed the presence of other similar groups, such as the Milice
Patriotique Quebecois, and the Permanent Active Militia. Despite the recent emergence of
small militia movements across Canada, they were not raised in many of the interviews with
law enforcement and intelligence ocers. However, Quebec seemed to be one province where
the militia movement was visible, with up to 200 adherents, according to one law enforcement
ocer interviewed for this study. There, as with Albertas Three Percenters, members are known
to train in weaponry, paramilitary tactics, and survivalist strategies. The Milice Patriotique
Quebecois, for example, sees itself as the army of New Quebec,willing to intervene in a civil
war intended to reclaim the province for white Francophones. While not technically Sovereign
Citizens or FOTL, militia groups share their anti-authority positions. Moreover, the U.S
experience suggests a cautionary tale. In that country, it appears as if the line between the two
movements has been blurred historically.
Discussion and conclusion
Throughout the interview process, law enforcement and other legal experts were explicitly
asked their thoughts on the ocial response to anti-authority movements in Canada.
Somewhat surprisingly, they did not provide much guidance in this respect. In fact,
among law enforcement, there was a tendency to deny that they had any role to play
aside from responding to criminal incidents, as stated explicitly by two ocers:
It really only factors into how to respond to the ideology . . . I dont really think you can
respond to the ideology. The police can only respond to criminal activity or evidence of
criminal oense. . . . I dont think there is any specic response the police can give, again
because it is not a movement. You can only respond to the individuals to the extent that the
police have interactions with people who identied with the ideology. I dont think there is
really any way to respond to the ideology as the police have to do and the courts as well.
(Participant 6)
Well, from a law enforcement perspective, what we do is we enforce the law, right? Prevent
crime, detect crime, apprehend criminals. So, if they cross the line then we have a respon-
sibility. If they arent crossing the line, then they have their rights and protections.
(Participant 9)
Granted, the role of law enforcement is just thatto enforce the law. However, as we
argued in our earlier assessment of RWE in Canada,
police also have a role to play, with
community partners, in countering emerging threats. We have highlighted the value of
multi-sectoral responses to extremism.
Approaches that combine the resources and
capacities of several agencies stand the greatest likelihood of success.
Countering anti-
authority movements can be, in part but not only, a law enforcement responsibility.
Rather, it also requires the engagement of educators, social service providers, even the
media. Collaborative action is key to building resilient communities. Local police services
can work with local notaries to identify risks; they can work with local academics or open
source analysts to counter the narratives that might be emerging. And they can certainly
work with local court ocials to challenge the legitimacy of pseudo-legal arguments.
Some ocers in our study also suggested that they would like to see indicators that
suggest the risk associated with anti-authority adherents, as did the following:
When you do your report, certainly any clarity you can bring to . . . sort of . . . intensions
around criminal activity, around capabilities, around changes in the movement if there are
warning signs; changes to increasing militants lead[ing] to increasing threat of violence. That
would always be valuable. (Participant 9)
Sometimes my concern, in an overall safety concern, is that we tend to react a lot after the fact
so . .. and sometimes necessary [is that] the most eective controls require for us to anticipate
and be able to try and predict a little bit sooner and provide this information to certain
individuals. Im not sure we are at that stage yet. (Participant 7)
Like the last ocer stated, we are not certain we are at that stage,or whether we can
even get there. As our discussion of related violence suggests, there are considerable
challenges with predicting the violent potential associated with adherents. Most signicant
is the fact that, contrary to media reports, at least in the Canadian context, the movement
tends not to engage in a high level of violence. The fact that there are so few Canadian
cases makes it exceedingly dicultperhaps even irresponsibleto attempt to identify
indicators of the escalation to violence. Unfortunately, there is not much advice to oer in
this context. It is not even the case that those who most persistently challenge the courts
and loseare most likely to escalate to violence. Rather, violence is often an unpredictable
outcome of a single interaction. One point worth raising in this respect is the relationship
between anti-authority sentiment and gun rights activism, and/or support for militia. We
saw how these factors intersected to bring Justin Bourque to the point of extremist
violence in Moncton, New Brunswick. Indeed, this suggests that there is still a threat
posed by loners or fringe members of anti-authority movements who, completely under
the radar, embrace or interpret teachings in a violent, radical manner.
The long history of RWE violence in the U.S suggests that a major determinant in the
genesis of anti-authoritarian violence is correlated with how law enforcement ocials
respond to crises and standos with adherents.
Although radical right and anti-author-
itarian movements have not been as violent in Canada when compared to the U.S, our
ndings suggest that front-line ocers who mishandle a situation, such as when pulling
over an adherent driving with fake licence plates, may not only lead to a stando, but may
precipitate a bloody conict at the time of the event, or at some point in the future.
Canadian law enforcement should pay attention to the hard lessons learned by their U.S
counterparts during the aftermath of the 1992 standoat Ruby Ridge and the 1993 siege at
Waco, Texas.
Both of these violent encounters with American extreme-right activists
were fuelled, in part, by the aggressive tactics embraced by law enforcement that played
into the conspiratorial threat narrative embraced by the radical right.
Anti-authoritarian culture is steeped in the perceived threatby the government and its
agents. Hostile, angry, or aggressive encounters between adherents and law enforcement serve as
fodder for this narrative and can harden or conrm personal anti-authoritarian beliefs. In short,
law enforcement cannot give besieged anti-authority groups or individuals a reason to engage in
violence, or a reason to conrm their worldview that the government is out to get them.
Scholars who have examined the tragedies at Waco and Ruby Ridge have suggested that
academics can play a crucial advisory and bridging role in the event of a stand-obetween
anti-authority groups and law enforcement.
It is crucial that law enforcement, legal, and
government ocialswhoarelikelytocomeincontactwithsuchindividualsbeawareofthe
origins, beliefs, and methods of the dierent types of anti-authority groups active in Canada. To
thisend,thereshouldbeacollaborativeeort among government, law enforcement, and
scholars to create provincial and/or national training material for front-line and response ocers
who may come into contact with Freemen, Sovereign Citizens, or other anti-authority groups.
Our hope is that our study can provide the groundwork for a more social-scienticunder-
standing of whoand whatanti-authority adherents are and arent, rather than relying upon
the exaggerated portrayals often shared in the media.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
This work was supported by the Canadian Network for Research in Terrorism, Security and Society
(TSAS) through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
Partnership Grant (UW 895-2015-1000).
Notes on contributors
Barbara Perry is a Professor in the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities at the University of
Ontario Institute of Technology, and the Director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism. She
has written extensively on social justice generally, and hate crime specically. She has published
several books spanning both areas, including Diversity, Crime and Justice in Canada, and In the
Name of Hate: Understanding Hate Crime. She has also published in the area of Native American
victimization and social control, including one book entitled The Silent Victims: Native American
Victims of Hate Crime, and Policing Race and Place: Under- and Over-enforcement in Indian
Country both of which were based on interviews with Native Americans (University of Arizona
Press). She was the General Editor of a ve volume set on hate crime (Praeger), and editor of
Volume 3: Victims of Hate Crime of that set. Her work has been published in journals representing
diverse disciplines: Theoretical Criminology, Studies in Conict and Terrorism, Journal of History
and Politics, and American Indian Quarterly. Dr. Perry continues to work in the area of hate crime,
and has made substantial contributions to the limited scholarship on hate crime in Canada,
including work on anti-Muslim violence, hate crime against LGBTQ communities, the community
impacts of hate crime, and right wing extremism in Canada. She is regularly called upon by local,
national and international media as an expert on hate crime and right-wing extremism.
Dr. David Hofmann is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of New Brunswick, a
Research Fellow with the Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society, and a Senior Research
Aliate with the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security, and Society (TSAS). His
funded research focuses upon terrorist radicalization, illicit and criminal networks, threat assess-
ment, far-right extremism, and leadership within terrorist and criminal networks. His research has
appeared in scholarly journals such as Studies in Conict & Terrorism, Global Crime, Journal of
Strategic Security, and the Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice.
Ryan Scrivens is a Horizon Postdoctoral Fellow at Concordia University, working with Project
SOMEONE to build resilience against hatred and radicalization leading to violent extremism, both
on- and oine. Dr. Scrivens is also a visiting researcher at the VOX-Pol Network of Excellence, a
research associate at the International CyberCrime Research Centre (ICCRC) at Simon Fraser
University (SFU), and the Associate Theses Research Editor of Perspectives on Terrorism. His
primary research interests include terroristsand extremistsuse of the Internet, countering violent
extremism, right-wing extremism and terrorism, hate crime, and research methods and methodol-
ogy. His research can be found in, amongst others, Studies in Conict and Terrorism, Behavioral
Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal
Justice, and Critical Criminology. Dr. Scrivens has presented his research before the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Swedish Defence Research Agency
in Stockholm, and the Centre of Excellence for National Security in Singapore. He recently
completed a PhD in Criminology at Simon Fraser University.
1. J. Oliver Conroy, They Hate the US Government, and Theyre Multiplying: The Terrifying
Rise of Sovereign Citizens,’” The Guardian, May 15, 2017,
world/2017/may/15/sovereign-citizens-rightwing-terrorism-hate-us-government (accessed
August 9, 2017).
2. We opt to use the term anti-authorityfor this research, as opposed to other commonly used
labels (e.g., anti-statist, anti-government, anti-system) that describe movements akin to the
FOTL. We believe that anti-authorityis the most inclusive denition when describing the
myriad movements currently operational within Canada, since not all of these groups entirely
reject the state, government, or certain systems. In contrast, with almost no exceptions, the
movements described in this study reject some or all forms of authority.
3. Bill Graveland, Alberta Woman Fights to Reclaim Her Home after FreemanRenter Who
Declared it an Embassy,CTV News Channel, September 22, 2013,
man-1.1465820 (accessed August 9, 2017); Bill Graveland, Andreas Pirelli Evicted from
Freeman Embassy; Rebekah Caverhill Prepares to Reclaim Home,Hungton Post,
September 28, 2013,
4009241.html (accessed August 9, 2017).
4. CBC News, Justin Bourque: Latest Revelations about Man Charged in Moncton Shooting,
CBC News New Brunswick,June5,2014,
(accessed August 9, 2017).
5. CBC News, Norman Raddatz Had Extensive Police File for Hate Crimes,CBC News
Edmonton, June 9, 2015,
extensive-police-le-for-hate-crimes-1.3105901 (accessed August 9, 2017).
6. See Graveland, Alberta Woman Fights to Reclaim Her Home(see note 3); see Graveland,
Andreas Pirelli Evicted(see note 3).
7. See Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, Threat of Domestic ExtremismThe
Intelligence Assessment, Domestic Threat Environment in Canada: Left-Wing/Right-Wing
Extremism (Ottawa, Canada: Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, 2012).
8. Barbara Perry and Ryan Scrivens, Right-Wing Extremism in Canada: An Environmental Scan
(Ottawa: Public Safety Canada, 2015)
9. Ibid.
10. David C. Hofmann, Breaking Free: A Socio-Historical Analysis of the Canadian Freemen-on-
the-Land Movement,in Jez Littlewood, Lorne Dawson, and Sara Thompson, eds., Canada
Among Nations (Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, Forthcoming).
11. Donald J. Netolitzky, The History of the Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument
Phenomenon in Canada,Alberta Law Review 33 (2016): 60942; Donald J. Netolitzky,
Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Arguments (OPCA) in Canada: An Attack on the
Legal System,Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law 10 (2016): 137213.
12. Stephen A. Kent, Freemen, Sovereign Citizens, and the Challenge to Public Order in British
Heritage Countries,International Journal of Cultic Studies 6 (2015): 115; see Stephen A.
Kent and Robin D. Willey, Sects, Cults, and the Attack on Jurisprudence,Rutgers Journal of
Law and Religion 14 (2013): 30660.
13. Meads v. Meads, ABQB 571, Court of Queens Bench of Alberta (2012).
14. We use the term OPCA movementand anti-authority movement interchangeably through-
out this paper. The dierence in nomenclature stems largely from disciplinary viewpoints,
with legal scholarship tending to use the OPCA term, and academic scholarship using other
descriptive terms such as anti-authority,”“anti-system,”“anti-statist,and/or anti-govern-
mentto describe these types of movements.
15. Ibid.
16. While not technically Sovereign Citizens or FOTL, militia groups share their anti-authority
positions. Moreover, the US experience suggests a cautionary tale. In the case of the US, it
appears as if the line between the two movements is growing ever narrower, and that they are
far more likely to endorse and engage in extremist violence.
17. Meads v. Meads, ABQB 571(see note 13).
18. Ibid.
19. Netolitzky, The History of the Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument Phenomenon
in Canada(see note 11); Netolitzky, Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Arguments
(OPCA) in Canada(see note 11).
20. David C. Hofmann, Breaking Free: A Socio-Historical Analysis of the Canadian Freemen-on-
the-Land Movement,in Jez Littlewood, Lorne Dawson, and Sara Thompson, eds., Canada
Among Nations (Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, Forthcoming).
21. Meads v. Meads, ABQB 571(see note 13).
22. Ibid., 2.
23. Hofmann, Breaking Free: A Socio-Historical Analysis of the Canadian Freemen-on-the-Land
24. See Netolitzky, The History of the Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument
Phenomenon in Canada(see note 11); see Netolitzky, Organized Pseudolegal Commercial
Arguments (OPCA) in Canada(see note 11); see Meads v. Meads, ABQB 571(see note 13).
25. Perry and Scrivens, Right-Wing Extremism in Canada: An Environmental Scan.
26. Hofmann, Breaking Free: A Socio-Historical Analysis of the Canadian Freemen-on-the-Land
27. Jessica Rivinius, Sovereign Citizen Movement Perceived as Top Terrorist Threat,The National
Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism,
news/sovereign-citizen-movement-perceived-top-terrorist-threat (accessed August 9, 2017).
28. This is not to imply that the movement is therefore law-abiding. Rather, they are by nature
criminalentities in that one of their central objectives is to aunt if not completely sidestep
state laws. See Netolitzky, The History of the Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument
Phenomenon in Canada(see note 11); see Netolitzky, Organized Pseudolegal Commercial
Arguments (OPCA) in Canada(see note 11).
29. Hofmann, Breaking Free: A Socio-Historical Analysis of the Canadian Freemen-on-the-Land
30. Shaamin Yogaretnam and Glen McGregor, Ian Bush Linked to Notorious 2007 Ottawa Triple
Homicide,Ottawa Citizen, February 17, 2015,
bush-linked-to-notorious-2007-ottawa-triple-homicide (accessed August 9, 2017).
31. CBC News, Justin Bourque(see note 4).
32. CBC News, Norman Raddatz Had Extensive Police File for Hate Crimes(see note 5).
33. Charles E. Loeser, From Paper Terrorists to Cop Killers: The Sovereign Citizen Threat,
North Carolina Law Review 93 (2014): 110647.
34. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sovereign Citizens a Growing Domestic Threat to Law
Enforcement,Domestic Terrorism, September 1, 2011,
cles/sovereign-citizens-a-growing-domestic-threat-to-law-enforcement (accessed August 9, 2017).
35. Caley Ramsay, Two Men Killed, Three Mounties Injured in Wave of Violence in St. Paul,
Global News, May 10, 2014,
confrontation-with-gunman-in-st-paul (accessed August 9, 2017).
36. Bob Weber, St. Paul Shooting Suspect, John Quadros, Committed Suicide: ASIRT,
Hungton Post, May 23, 2014,
cide_n_5380317.html (accessed August 9, 2017).
37. Ramsay, Two Men Killed, Three Mounties Injured in Wave of Violence in St. Paul(see note 35).
38. The Canadian Press, Health-Store Managers Role in Deadly Alberta Shooting Under
Examination,The Globe and Mail, May 12, 2014,
cle18607296, 2 (accessed August 9, 2017).
39. Trevor Robb, Dead Gunman in Alberta Police Shootout a Religious Zealot,Toronto Sun,
May 11, 2014,
out-a-religious-zealot, 1 (accessed August 9, 2017).
40. Hofmann, Breaking Free: A Socio-Historical Analysis of the Canadian Freemen-on-the-Land
41. For examples, see the following YouTube videos:
42. Slav Kornik, Social Media Highlights Norman Raddatzs Hatred of Authority,Global News,
June 11, 2015,
hatred-of-authority (accessed August 9, 2017).
43. Ibid.
44. Edmonton Journal, AWicked Devil,aNutcase,’” Edmonton Journal, March 9, 2015, http://
cludes/4516107/story.html (accessed August 9, 2017).
45. CBC News, The Suspect: Jim Roszko,CBC News Online, March 9, 2005,
news2/background/rcmp/suspects.html (accessed August 9, 2017).
46. Edmonton Journal, AWicked Devil,aNutcase’” (see note 43).
47. CBC News, The Suspect: Jim Roszko(see note 44), 2.
48. Mack Lamoureux and Wallis Snowdon, “‘Paper TerrorismCase Leads to Charge against
Freeman on the Land Member,CBC News, September 21, 2016,
ber-1.3772454 (accessed August 9, 2017).
49. Meads v. Meads, ABQB 571(see note 13).
50. Janice Johnston, “‘Paper TerrorismTrial Against Freeman on the Land Collapses as Charges Stayed,
CBC News, April 9, 2018,
freeman-on-the-land-collapses-as-charges-stayed-1.4611650 (accessed April 10, 2018).
51. Dave Bilinsky, Practice TipsThe Freeman-on-the-Land Movement,The Law Society of
British Columbia Benchers Bulletin 4 (2012),
Shared/docs/bulletin/bb_2012-04-winter.pdf (accessed August 9, 2017).
52. Dene Moore, “‘Freeman On The LandMovement Concerns Police, Notaries,Hungton
Post, September 2, 2013,
3856845.html, 1 (accessed August 9, 2017).
53. Robert Menard, With Lawful Excuse. Self published (n.d.), 55.
54. Netolitzky, Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Arguments (OPCA) in Canada(see note 11).
55. Lorraine Nickel, Judge Scolds FreemanDean Cliord for Wasting Courts Time,Global
News, September 14, 2015,
ford-for-wasting-courts-time (accessed August 9, 2017).
56. Yogaretnam and McGregor, Ian Bush Linked to Notorious 2007 Ottawa Triple Homicide
(see note 29).
57. Graveland, Alberta Woman Fights to Reclaim Her Home(see note 3).
58. Graveland, Andreas Pirelli Evicted(see note 3).
59. Dave Lazzarino, Freemen Occupy Cabin South of Grande Prairie and Refuse to Leave,
Edmonton Sun, October 2, 2013,
cabin-south-of-grande-prairie-and-refuse-to-leave (accessed August 9, 2017).
60. CBC News, Freeman-On-The-Land Complaint in Northern Alberta Leads to Arrest,CBC
News Edmonton, October 9, 2013,
land-complaint-in-northern-alberta-leads-to-arrest-1.1931570 (accessed August 9, 2017).
61. See Stewart Bell, Who Are CanadasFreemen?,National Post, October 29, 2010, http:// (accessed August 9, 2017).
62. Robert Menard, Your Child or Her Life. Self published (n.d.), 13.
63. Ibid., 49.
64. Ibid., 157.
65. Ibid., 156.
66. Ibid., 165.
67. The YouTube video can be found by visiting
68. Rick B. Parent and James O. Ellis III, The Future of Right-Wing Terrorism in Canada (Vancouver:
Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society. No. 1612, 2016).
69. See Daniel Levitas, The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right (New
York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2002).
70. Barbara Perry corresponded with VICE journalist, Mack Lamoreux, via email in January 2017.
71. Mack Lamoreux, The Birth of Canadas Armed, Anti-Islamic PatriotGroup,Vice News,
June 14, 2017,
patriot-group (accessed August 9, 2017).
72. Ibid., 10.
73. Perry and Scrivens, Right-Wing Extremism in Canada: An Environmental Scan.
74. Ryan Scrivens and Barbara Perry, Resisting the Right: Countering Right-Wing Extremism in
Canada,Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice 59(4) (2017), pp. 534-558.
75. Anja Dalgaard-Nielsen, Countering Violent Extremism with Governance Networks,
Perspectives on Terrorism 10 (2016): 13539.
76. See Stuart A. Wright, Patriots, Politics, and the Oklahoma City Bombing (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2007).
77. See Levitas, The Terrorist Next Door (see note 68); see Wright, Patriots, Politics, and the
Oklahoma City Bombing (see note 75).
78. Jean E. Rosenfeld, The Importance of the Analysis of Religion in Avoiding Violent
Outcomes,Nova Religio 1 (1997): 7295; Catherine Wessinger, Religious Studies Scholars,
FBI Agents, and the Montana Freemen Stando,Nova Religio 3 (1999): 3644.
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