The standoff between an upstart far-right political party and a group of anti-fascists came to a head in Canada last week.
Last month the Canadian Nationalist Party (CNP) became an official party in Canada. To attain this status, a party provided Elections Canada with 250 names of members. These names become public information when party status is granted. Knowing this, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, Anti-Racist Canada, and Yellow Vest Canada Exposed (YVCE) threatened to release the names if they ever became a party.
Well, the anti-fascists kept their word, and released the names on Thursday—VICE has viewed the documents.
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network describes the CNP as “a neo-Nazi party.” The party’s far-right leanings are obvious. Their “demographic policy” explicitly endorses white nationalism, reading "we must maintain the demographic status of the current European-descended majority.” The party infamously published a screed against “parasitic tribes” in June, was accused of anti-Semitism, then put out a correction months later claiming they weren’t talking about Jews.
“It's at the very least the far-right party, certainly strays into National Socialism with a lot of the rhetoric,” said Chris, an activist with Anti-Racist Canada who did not give a full name out of fear of repraisal. “They are a xenophobic racist party that, you know, all that’s missing are the brown shirts.”
“Their whole goal is to get the stuff they're talking about to be more mainstream. To become things that people can discuss without being accused of being racist,” he added. “They're pushing the envelope and attempting to move politics further and further to the right so that their views are longer anathema and become more acceptable.”
The party is driven by a single man in a small prairie town—28-year-old Travis Patron of Redvers, Saskatchewan. Patron has been confirmed as a candidate in the riding of Souris–Moose Mountain, at the time of publication he was the only CNP candidate. Patron and his supporters didn’t respond well to being outed. Patron filed a complaint to Elections Canada and many involved with the CNP described the process as doxxing. Doxxing typically involves publishing information like an address, but activists took pains to remove the addresses of the members and publish just their names and hometowns.
Some of the members had hardline connections to the far-right. Paul Fromm, a longtime member of Canada’s far-right who is described as a neo-Nazi by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, is a member. Kevin J. Johnston, an online figure who recently lost one of the largest lawsuits in Canadian history for his attacks on a Muslim businessman, is also a member. Other members were connected to the Soldiers of Odin and Blood and Honour—the latter was recently added to the Canadian terror watch list.
Overall though, the majority of members were unknowns.
“If it was all names that we recognize that would be kind of expected, but to see so many people who seem like normal, everyday people is a little concerning,” said one person with YVCE, who spoke to VICE using the pseudonym Liz. “Number one, we don't know if they know what they signed on to it. Number two, is, are those ideas more prevalent than we initially thought?”
The group say they were vocal about their plans to give some people time to revoke their support—one former CNP member desperately sent 14 emails to Elections Canada to pull their support. In a statement to VICE Patron distanced himself from some of the names on the list.
“It is important to note that anyone can submit a declaration in support of registration to Elections Canada,” wrote Patron in an email. “We have no ability to deny someone from doing this as we have no control over the postal system and therefore, it does not imply endorsement of the signatories’ actions or beliefs.”
According to the Elections Canada, the party was founded in 2017 and membership is $20 a month. The supporters came from across Canada and were distributed across both urban and rural locations. The majority of the signatories were from Ontario, followed by Saskatchewan. The small town of Redvers, population 975, provided 30 of the 266 signatures—the most of any town. Toronto came in second with 20.
Seemingly as a response, the CNP posted the names on their website after they were posted by the anti-fascists. In a video accompanying the post, Patron praised the people as "heroes," but doesn’t give a reason why he posted the names. The names are tabulated in the same way as the anti-racists, leading Liz from YVCE to think Patron straight-up copy-and-pasted it from their site in a ploy to show "that it doesn't bother them." Obviously some members were confused by Patron posting the names and one asked if he had "permission" to post the information.
VICE reached out to some of the people listed on Facebook and the few who responded didn't seem worried about the connection becoming public.
“Not worried, kinda glad,” one person told VICE.
The nonchalant attitude didn’t extend to some of those who operate on a CNP forum. One user who wrote his wife would probably leave him if he was outed. Another member attempted to rally his far-right compatriots into a letter-writing campaign to convince Elections Canada not to release their info. He and other users posted several prewritten emails that a worried CNP supporter could send to Elections Canada to voice how upset they were. When the ploy didn't work, the user angrily posted the Elections Canada response.
"Basically, they don't care that their actions have consequences," wrote the CNP supporter.
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