When the Canadian Nationalist Party decided to go legit they may not have read the fine print too carefully.
The upstart far-right party followed the rules and filled out the forms. Now, in the final step before filing their application, they’re attempting to get 250 signatures from members. However, since it’s a political party, their information becomes a matter of public record. So that paperwork becomes a bit of an issue when you’re a party best known for nationalistic and bigoted rhetoric.
Now, in an attempt to keep the party from registering, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAN) is openly stating they will access that information and publicize the names of the 250 supporters. At last count, the party has 214 of 250 signatures and many of those may have come from people who did not know they would be publicly associated with the party. By all accounts, it seems the last 36 will have to come from people who knowingly will publicly connect themselves to the party.
“Neo-Nazis should know there are consequences for their activities,” said Evan Balgord, the executive director of CAN. (Disclosure: VICE has worked on investigations in cooperation with Balgord and CAN.)
The Nationalist Party is essentially a one-man unit run out in the Prairie town of Redvers, Saskatchewan, by a man named Travis Patron. Their platform is a mishmash of far right and conservative ideas including abolishing the Senate, conspiracies surrounding M-103, reducing immigration to a standstill, banning the burqa, defunding anything associated with Pride, and so on. “A society that celebrates homosexuality is a society that will soon no longer exist,” reads a typical statement of the party.
One recent video, focusing on “parasitic tribes” garnered them a hate crime complaint from the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. In recent weeks, supporters wearing Canadian Nationalist Party shirts have been caught on video violently clashing with anti-fascists in Hamilton and Toronto.
"The Canadian Nationalist Party is a neo-Nazi project started by Travis Patron,” Balgord claims. “Most recently, they put out a video about ‘Parasitic Tribes’ in which he blames Jews for a number of problems using Jewish stereotypes and calls for Jews to 'be removed once and for all from Canada.'"
“The community has a right to know if there's somebody who lives down the street from them who is helping a neo-Nazi party, become an official political party in Canada.”
Patron, who claims he is funding the party with money he made from cryptocurrency, told CBC he was referring to “globalists” who “go by many names.” He denies the group is racist. In terms of the CAN plans to out the names of their supporters, the Nationalist Party told VICE that they will not be backing down in the face of these tactics.
“We will indeed be moving ahead with our application and we continue to monitor the threats that this particular organization is making against our members,” Paton said in an email.
The Nationalist Party has found at least one group willing to support them, the Canadian Association For Freedom of Expression (CAFE). The thing is, CAFE is a one-man show run by infamous neo-Nazi Paul Fromm who is known for his long-time white nationalist activities and connection to Blood and Honour, a neo-Nazi group recently designated a terrorist entity by Canada.
This kind of action has become a bit of a talking point with the far-right who dub journalists who uncover the identity of far-right figures, doxxers. For many on the far-right releasing their actual name and identity of them or their compatriots is a crime of the worst degree. For obvious reasons, a connection to the far-right can be detrimental for one’s future. Steve Holmes, an assistant professor at George Mason University, has written about the ethics of doxxing. Holmes said the ethics of this kind of action is hazy. Holmes suggested the actions CAN is taking share a “common root with doxxing”.
“I suspect that most of us intuitively tend to support acts of doxxing when it’s in the service of a cause or belief that we already agree with,” said Holmes. “However, ethical considerations of doxxing have to consider the wide range of possible harm that a given personal information disclosure might result in.”
The bet that this will dissuade supporters from connecting their names to the party seems to have been a good one. Since the CAN made the threat in early July, the Nationalist Party has garnered few signatures.
"Are people rethinking expressing their public support for a neo-Nazi party?" said Balgord "Maybe."
A tweet from the Nationalist Party shows they thought their supporters would be kept anonymous, writing that “personal information of an elector is not made available to a non-government actor upon request” and that they would treat CAN’s actions as a threat. They, and Fromm, say they have made complaints to Elections Canada about the looming threat. Balgord said he believes Patron told his supporters they would be anonymous. The Nationalist Party continues to publish news releases in which they demand Elections Canada doesn’t release the information. Balgord said he finds these attempts “laughable.”
“He's going to have some pretty pissed off neo-Nazi party supporters who thought that they could just do that secretly in the shadows,” Balgord said.
Elections Canada confirmed to VICE that if the Nationalist Party does file the paperwork, once the chief electoral officer makes a decision the information package submitted by the party, which includes the names of the members, becomes publicly accessible.
“That’s par for the course,” a spokesperson said. “Anybody can see the application, it’s not posted on our website but anybody will be able to make a request and see the 250 people who claim to be members of the party. It’s not a new thing.”
CAN says the reason they decided to telegraph the move ahead of time was to give people the option of removing their name in case they didn’t fully “know what the party is about.” Balgord said the tactic is one of the strongest weapons for taking down the far-right without violence.
“It's probably one of the most effective, nonviolent tactics. It holds people directly responsible, and by identifying them, you know, they face those social consequences,” said Balgord. “Deliver unto me a list of 250 neo-Nazi Party supporters in Canada and I will use that list.”
In the meantime, the Canadian Nationalist Party is still searching for 36 more individuals who will publicly connect their names to the party, knowingly this time.
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