The country that seems so attractive to so many Americans fatigued by Trump, racism, and conservative politics is not immune to the violent nationalism that plagues its southern neighbors. For the Globe and Mail, Shannon Carranco and Jon Milton examine some 150,000 messages posted on a video game app to expose the new Canadian far-right’s attempts to expand its network, recruit members, and influence politics. Better educated and organized than past generations, this new generation of racist, anti-immigrant, sexist homophobes aims to create a white ethno-state. Rather than paraphrase the nationalists’ vitriol, the Globe chose “transparency and accuracy” by including direct transcripts of offensive conversations in order, the paper writes, to paint “a disturbing portrait of a virulent subculture that speaks in a graphic, hate-fuelled vernacular.” This is excellent reporting.
Not long ago, the far right seemed a negligible force. In 2014, CSIS declared on its website that right-wing extremism was not a significant problem in Canada. In part, that lack of concern reflected a view of the far right as self-defeatingly fractious. Groups tended to spring up – and disappear – with regularity, often destroyed by infighting. They were dismissed as an ineffectual rump of high-school dropouts who couldn’t effectively organize anything.
According to Barbara Perry, a professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and a leading expert on the far right in Canada, the threat of far-right violence here is often underestimated. Between 1985 and 2015, her research shows, roughly 120 violent incidents in Canada could be attributed to far-right groups and individuals. That compares, she says, with a relative handful of incidents that can be attributed to Islamist-inspired suspects, who tend to draw far more intense scrutiny from police and intelligence agencies.
Among the most horrific examples in recent years were a deliberate attack on police in New Brunswick in 2014, in which three officers were killed; and a shooting at a Quebec City mosque in January, 2017, that left six people dead. In both cases, the men convicted of the killings had been radicalized online.