Turns out Andrews is quite the art collector, too. Photos via Angela Hennessey.
This is Don Andrews, a self-described white racist and the leader of the Nationalist Party of Canada. He co-founded far-right white supremacist group the Edmund Burke Society and waged war with Toronto's communists in the 70s. His front door and car have been bombed by various resistance groups, and a house he owned was burnt down while he was on vacation in Mexico. Andrews' other claims to fame include being the first person in Canada to be charged with promoting hate and having Toronto's laws changed specifically because of him—he came in a distant second in the 1974 mayoral elections, but that scared council enough to change the law, from where the runner-up would take the mayor's place if the position became vacant between elections, to one where council gets to choose the replacement, probably one that didn’t believe in the superiority of the white race. He's run multiple times since then, his previous attempt being in 2010.
After hearing that he had put his name in the race for the 2014 election, I decided to visit Andrews in his home near the Beaches area of the city. As a little Asian girl who used to hang out with anarchists, you can imagine that I was a little apprehensive meeting the guy at his home. What I wasn't expecting was to be welcomed into the house by a heavily limping, 71-year-old man who's fairly well versed in history and geography. Nor did I expect to have a civil, in-depth interview with Andrews that lasted over an hour. The following is an edited excerpt of our conversation.
VICE: On Wikipedia, you're identified as a Neo-Nazi. Do you agree with that label?
Don Andrews: Well what does “neo” mean? “New” or “like”? I'm not a new Nazi, okay? That's one. Like a Nazi? Well the Nazis were imperialists. They took off and tried to subjugate other peoples. I'm against that. I'm a nationalist. So I'm a racist, I'm a white racist, I'm a white nationalist, and I'm just a man.
When did you start developing a white-supremacist attitude?
Well, let's say over a period of time where I saw the city changing. The whites were disappearing, and anyone who complained about it was immediately attacked as being something worse than a war criminal. A racist. Not to be a racist is to be an idiot. Everyone's a racist, and if they say they're not they're liars.
Is it true that your father was killed by Nazis while fighting in Yugoslavia?
It's hard to say who my father was, in fact. My mother was a real, shall we say... party girl. She enjoyed herself plenty, plenty. She had more men than she could shake a stick at, and they had to be just right dressed and all of that stuff. She ran 'em with like whips and things. She was a real Zsa Zsa Gabor. She was a good person in the end, though.
What are you campaigning on?
My message is to maintain white society standards in Toronto. And as for the non-whites, my message to them is: “You have many reasons to vote 'cause you came here for those standards.” Not to be lowered down to a third-world standard. And that means no cutting of services, doubling the welfare, and making sure that the Canadians that lost their jobs here because of globalism and the rich shipping the jobs out to Thailand, Mexico, the factory islands of Japan, which are finished now, they're radiated. I mean, these people deserve to be compensated. They were brought here as cheap labour to begin with. I want to maintain that the mail services are kept. It's disgusting to think they want to cut that out. That's a mainstay of white society standards—daily mail service. Our mailman.
What would you define as white society, or white values?
Well, there are standards. You can go from England to Russia, and from Scandinavia down to Italy and still expect a certain attitude, towards prisons, if you're arrested, what your rights are, the kind of cleanliness you expect, you know? I'm not saying they're all exactly the same, but when you go to the Third World, these aren't their standards and their rules. And they don't consider the things that we consider important, as important. And don't forget that every white nation, black nation, yellow nation, whatever colour nation, race-mixed people, all went off in different directions 'cause they had a special way that they wanted to live. That's why there's Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians. Side by side, but totally different. Different languages, and different religions, and different attitudes for sure. That's basically a natural order.
For the future of Toronto, it's already half non-white, we have to deal with the people who are here and maintain the society standards that we still control in this country. And that's my attitude and anywhere that I rule. I believe in common sense, good will and fair play.
Some non-white stuff Andrews has around his house.
Do you think any other cultures or any other races have those values?
Of course, that's where we can get along. Wherever their values coincide. Where they don't? There'll be a situation to resolve.
Can you give an example of when they don't coincide?
Well, I don't even like eating on the subways and on the streetcars. I'm going to cut that out. It's messy, I don't think it's white man standard or white man's way. I don't like torture, for instance. Anyone who tortures, as far as I'm concerned, is not a white man to me. So I'm not for the bigots. I don't tell bigot jokes. I sometimes tolerate them and listen to them and give a chuckle, don't want to hurt the guy's feelings, but otherwise, there's no point in that. I enjoy other people, other races, other cultures. You can see around my house, it's not just Vikings or something like that. I'm not a skinhead, although I've had tons of skinheads around me, you know what I mean? I try to moderate and edumacate people.
You're a racist but you say you respect other races—how does that work? That's a little mind blowing for me.
Well you're here talking to me. If I was a bigot, I'd say, “I'm not talking to you!” That's part of it, okay? I treat you as an equal. I think you got a maybe smarter brain than me, maybe less information, but that's it. I have black “friends,” I have Chinese people, and other ones who give me bottles of wine…
Wait, you put “friends” in air quotes.
Friends in the sense that I consider them as friends. I don't know how they feel. 'Cause I don't know their mind. People are a little different, believe it or not. That's why we went off in different directions. It's a whole psyche.
If you go back far enough, this was originally Aboriginal land. How do you feel about that?
I feel sorry for them. They're a good-looking people... A lot of Indian women start off really looking good when they're young, then they plump out because they can't take this diet. They were meant to be in a survivalist society, not having chips any day you want.
Uhhh wow. Okay, so how do you feel about the LGBTQ community in Toronto?
They're interesting if nothing else. Hey, there's a limit to public morality, but…
Where's your limit?
Well, I think ejaculating on the streets should be forbidden.
That's your only rule?
Don't ejaculate publicly pals, please. You'd be surprised how many homosexuals are racists. Yeah, they're snotty. They have standards.
A portrait of Andrews while he was in the Young Pioneers. He says it was done by a black artist.
You also feel strongly about helping the poor. Why?
I want to help the poor, that's right. I want to double their welfare. $597 a month? That's impossible. An average room is $500. You're supposed to live on $97 for the whole month? What if you got some habit you're trying to kick? This is like a serf society. As far as I'm concerned, every vote is equal and everyone is equal as a consequence.
Should you win the 2014 race, how do you plan on maintaining these standards?
Whether it takes shaming guys like Harper, or Kathleen Wyne, yelling about it, embarrassing them, whatever it takes. And I'm not buying into the attitude of, “Oh, this is not your department or protocol.” These are all just games that the rich put in for the poor people here, and there's plenty of them.
How do you feel about Rob Ford?
I'm totally against him. Not for his smoking crack, or marijuana, or hanging around with, you know, rough people. I'm plenty guilty of that. It's just for his lying and that officiating attitude of, “You didn't ask me the right question.”
But if you look at Rob Ford, he's pretty clearly white.
Of course he's white. He's just a white renegade. Isn't he anti-racist? Ask him. He's probably anti-white racist.
Actually, he’s been caught making racial slurs.
He's a bigot. He's probably just as racist as me. We'd probably get along just fine privately if we met somewhere in a bar as long as he didn't muscle me.
Have you ever smoked crack?
Yes, I have.
How'd you like it?
I liked it, but of course, it's a date with yourself. It's very dangerous. You should totally avoid it…It’s a sex drug. It makes you so super sexy that you feel guilty for being that sexy around anyone else. And you can go start hugging lampposts. It's that bad.
What other drugs have you done?
Just cocaine. I sniffed it but you end up talking a lot and it's pointless and ridiculous and you feel stupid doing it. And, let's see. I think that's it.
It sounds like you have bigger ambitions than just the city. Do you have any plans to run for provincial or national politics?
My ideas, if they get spread, are the real underlying base of what people really feel. Oftentimes I have to kick people's asses and say, “Don't be afraid.” Because people have been intimated. I've been convicted of the notorious hate laws, for spreading hate. Woo! First I went to penitentiary for two years. By the way, if you ever get the choice of two years or two years less a day, choose the two years, they'll treat you like a man in the federal prison. But that was for violent activity during my heyday. I had three or four dozen people, we drove the communists out of the east end, stuff like that.
How did you drive them out, exactly?
Firebombs, shot guns [laughs]. Excuse me, but I paid for it. And after that, I was charged with... I was pretty good with chemicals and they caught me with some chemicals in my trunk which didn't pass for a chemistry club.
You were also charged with hate speech, but you think it was freedom of speech?
Totally. There's no such thing as hate speech, please. If I can't say I don't like you, then I don't have freedom of speech. You know what I mean?
Do you think freedom of speech has any limits to it?
Well, would you like to be in a relationship where you had no freedom of speech, to say anything you wanted to, to your partner? You wouldn't like it too much. You'd be living under pressure and anxiety. And that's not the white man's way, living under pressure and anxiety.
What do you think your chances of winning the 2014 elections are?
Special thanks to Angela Hennessy for accompanying me to the interview.