One of Canada’s most prominent far-right groups, La Meute, is tearing itself apart.
Reports from Quebec media show the French-Canadian organization dealt itself another self-inflicted blow this week, with several club executives being forced out of the group and having a former co-founder, Patrick Beaudry, publicly declare “the ship is sinking.” Shortly thereafter, the groups staunchest defender and most well-known member, spokesman Sylvain Brouillette, was ousted and accused of essentially stealing money from them.
The story of La Meute, which translates to The Pack, is the story of many of upstart far-right groups. While they’re built entirely around pushing back against a perceived enemy— an other—their biggest threat is almost always petty interpersonal drama and infighting.
La Meute was founded in 2015 by two Canadian Force veterans and, like other far-right groups at this time, grew quickly afterJustin Trudeau was elected and a perceived rise in immigration. It claims to have tens of thousands of members but a VICE investigation in 2017 showed that was mostly smoke and mirrors.
The current schism comes shortly after a victory for anti-immigration proponents in the passing of Bill 21 in Quebec, something that the group was strongly behind. Bill 21 essentially bans religious symbols from those in “positions of power” which critics say targets Quebec’s minority populations and creates a segregated society.
This is the second large schism to occur in La Meute, the first, an event they called the Putsch, took place in 2017 with several leaders, including Beaudry, being forced out. Beaudry told VICE he thinks the current purge is La Meute is attempting to out “crooks” from the organization and believes “some people are trying to get some credibility back to the organization.” He said that, as far as he knows, “nobody” is leading the group for now and estimated the group only had a couple hundred members.
“I believe this group is almost dead,” said Beaudry. “At the very least it’s dying.”
Yannick Veilleux-Lepage, an incoming assistant professor at Leiden University’s Institute of Security and Global Affairs has done in-depth research into several Canadian groups including the Soldiers of Odin. He said while La Meute has been good at guarding itself against media and infiltrators but it's obvious something significant is happening.
“I'd say for a movement having three high ranking executives leave in such a public fashion tends to point to wider structural issues within the group,” Veilleux-Lepage said. “Research has shown us that groups in the far-right in Canada are constantly splintering, reemerging, with individuals essentially changing hats quite often and moving from one group to another.”
Veilleux-Lepage says that there are several reasons why this will happen with “accusations of financial impropriety” being a common one, as these groups tend to have a substantial amount of money running through them. Other reasons include ideological fighting and interpersonal conflicts such as failed relationships. Veilleux-Lepage adds the leader's exile may cause a snowball effect as the group won’t just lose the three high profile members but also those who were loyal to them.
Like a majority of these groups—including the Three Percent, and Soldiers of Odin—have a large Facebook following with their real-life membership being significantly smaller. They also attempt to promote themselves publicly as a community-focused group but online, in the private groups where they organize, hatred abounds. In one case, a journalist who gained access to the group’s private pages saw a member of the group’s “security team” discussing leaving a pig's head at a Mosque several months before someone did that very thing. Some of their members have been affiliated with hard far-right groups like Atalante, neo-Nazis and one participated in the deadly Charlottesville Unite the Right rally.
Brouillette said that he was expelled from the groups secret organizing pages but still has control of the public page and the group’s trademark. Watchers of the group, including Xavier Camus, have said internal discussions indicate Brouillette is accused of stealing money from the groups war-chest. La Presse has reported that La Meute is accusing their former spokesman of negligence and a lack of transparency. Brouillette for his part is adamantly denies any wrongdoing and told VICE he was going to release documents next week that will vindicate him. In a statement he sent to members, Brouillette says there is a purge taking place.
“A purge is taking place right now,” reads a translated version of his statement. “The new leaders of the Secret Pack expel anyone who asks to see evidence of their accusations against me or anyone trying to defend me.”
Brouillette isn’t the only leader to be facing trouble, in February, a former leader was arrested in the Dominican Republic in connection to drug trafficking.
La Meute will most likely carry on in some sort of sense but without the weight it once had in Quebec, and its members will most likely continue but aligned with other groups. That said, as Veilleux-Lepage puts it, just because the group’s power is waning doesn’t mean “it will cease to exist or won’t morph into something more potent.”
Whether it is allegiance to a European mother organization that tears the group apart, like with Soldiers of Odin; sexual harassment, like with Storm Alliance; or financial accusations, like with La Meute, these group’s biggest threat is, and most likely always will be, themselves. Over the years, the biggest enemy to far-right organizations hasn’t been Antifa, deplatorming on social media, or law enforcement, but instead their own petty BS.
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.