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Right-Wing Extremism in Canada Dr. Richard A. Parent & James O Ellis III
Does Canada Have Right-Wing Extremism? Louis Proctor joining the Calgary KKK (Calgary Sun Aug 14, 1981)
Research Questions The research questions for this project were: • What factors may promote violent right-wing extremism in Canada, and how is it connected to similar movements in the US and Europe? • What impacts might this violence have on radicalization within other communities, and what strategies can security and intelligence organizations employ to detect or reduce violent right-wing extremism?
Definitions There is much disagreement over the definitions of extremism and terrorism. For this working paper, extremism was defined as: • Holding political, social, economic, or religious views that propose far-reaching changes in society that conflict with, or pose a threat to, the democratic order, while supporting criminal and non-criminal acts to achieve these aims. Violent extremism was defined as: • Serious threats, harm, murder, mayhem, and damage to property which are motivated and justified by extremist beliefs.
Definitions A terrorism act is defined by the Canadian Criminal Code as: • Committed “in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause” with the intention of intimidating the public “…with regard to its security, including its economic security, or compelling a person, a government or a domestic or an international organization to do or to refrain from doing any act. ” • Terrorist acts can produce death and bodily harm, risks to the health and safety of the public, significant property damage, and interference with or disruption of essential services, facilities or systems. Terrorism represents a specific form of violent extremism that is criminal and political in nature.
Right-Wing Extremist Beliefs Right-wing extremism contains a complex set of interrelated, and occasionally, conflicting beliefs, including: • anti-government/pro-individual sovereignty; • racism; • fascism; • white supremacy/white nationalism; • anti-Semitism; • nativism/anti-immigration; • anti-globalization/anti-free trade; • anti-abortion; • anti-gay; • anti-taxation; • pro-militia/pro-gun rights stances
Types of Right-Wing Extremists 1) General White Supremacists (e. g. , Aryan Brotherhood, Ku Klux Klan). 2) Single Issue Extremists fixated with one particular ideological issue, such as taxes or abortion. 3) Neo-Nazis who maintain an anti-Semitic, racist, nationalist, and homophobic ideology. 4) Militia and Patriot Movement members that are skeptical of centralized government. 5) Christian Identity adherents that believe Whites are the true “chosen people. 6) Sovereign Citizens that hold the Federal government is currently illegitimate.
Overarching Themes • Right-wing extremists usually argue for the innate superiority of the own race or national group, while simultaneously expressing intolerance towards contact or mixing with other cultures, nationalities, or ethnicities, to maintain their “purity” or distinctiveness. • The future extinction of their liberty, culture, or race is assured unless action is taken. • Political, racial, or religious ties can extend beyond traditional national boundaries.
Dehumanization Process 1) Perceive a harm committed to oneself or one’s community. 2) Find or invent an external source for this harm to blame. 3) Construct a negative image of the enemy to spawn a shared hatred. 4) Diminish enemies by describing them as: • • • subhuman (mud people); inhuman (the System); animals (pigs or monkeys); parasites (leeches or vampires); disease (plague or cancer); or evil incarnate (demons or Satan’s spawn). 5) Underscore harm will continue or grow worse if nothing is done. 6) Call for action and violence to stop the threat.
Examples of Historical Racism in Canada • Despite public perceptions, there is a long tradition of racism and anti-immigrant sentiment within Canada. • Canada’s first race riots took place in 1784 in Shelburne and Birchtown in Nova Scotia. • Race segregation was legalized in Ontario schools in 1849. • Chinese, Japanese, and South Asian migrants were heavily targeted in British Columbia in the early 20 th century. • The Canadian Immigration Act used “climatic suitability” to block entry of various nationalities deemed undesirable.
Fringe Religious Extremism • Canada has played host to a variety of small, religious fringe communities that occasionally produce violence. • The Sons of Freedom Doukhobors typify how a small segment of a fringe religious community can generate widespread political violence. • Following early protests against public schooling in Saskatchewan in 1929, the Sons of Freedom conducted over a hundred bombing and arson attacks in the 1960 s against government buildings, businesses, railroads, power stations, and co-religionists, accounting for the second largest source of terrorism in Canada.
Christian Identity Movement and Canada • Born in Newfoundland, Richard Brothers, developed British -Israelism in 1794, claiming that Anglo-Saxons were direct descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel. • W. H. Poole brought the ideology back to Canada and transformed it into a strongly anti-Semitic belief system in British Columbia in the 1930 s, which spread to the Ku Klux Klan through a series of meetings and conferences. • Another Canadian, William J. Cameron used his position as chief spokesman for Henry Ford and editor of the Dearborn Independent to spread anti-Semitism south of the border, particularly through the 1920 s series The International Jew.
Christian Identity Beliefs • Modern Christian Identity spread to the US and beyond, spurring attacks by groups like the Aryan Nations, the Order, the Christian-Patriots Defense League, and The Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord. • There is no central Christian Identity church or leader. • Christian Identity doctrine states non-whites are “beasts of the field, ” Jews descend from Eve and Satan, and the white race descends from Adam. • Christian Identity “true believers” can only bring about God’s Kingdom on earth by fighting the forces of darkness (identified as Jews, non-whites, Communists and others).
Odinism • Odinism, or Ásatrú, is a fringe religion based on Viking traditions combined with the occult, Nazism, and white supremacy. • Odinist followers range from neo-Nazis, to bikers, to skinheads, and more. Canadian and American Odinists are linked to those in the United Kingdom, Germany, Iceland, Scandinavia, South Africa, and Australia. • Australian Alexander Rud Mills made Odinism more anti. Semitic following WWII, and Else Christensen spread these beliefs through the Toronto-based Sunwheel and the American-based The Odinist. Her Odinist Fellowship became a prison ministry, geared towards rehabilitating white prisoners by instilling them with racial pride.
Holocaust Denial • Canada has hosted outspoken Holocaust deniers like Ernst Zündel since the 1970 s. • Zündel moved briefly to the United States in 2000, but he was subsequently deported back to Canada. • He was deported to Germany in March 2005, where he was charged with inciting racial hatred and defaming the memory of the dead. Toronto KKK (Sher 1983)
Right-Wing Extremist Groups in Canada Groups active in Canada over the last 50 years: • Aryan Guard • Aryan Nations • Berzerker Boot Boys • Blood & Honour • Canadian Anti-Soviet Action Committee • Canadian Association for Free Expression (CAFÉ) • Canadian National Socialist Party • Canadian Nazi Party • Celts of Quebec • Church of the Creator (COTC) • Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform (C-FAR) • Combat 18 (C-18)
Right-Wing Extremist Groups in Canada (continued) • • • • Concerned Parents of German Descent Edmund Burke Society Hammer Skins Heritage Front John Birch Society Ku Klux Klan Nationalist Party of Canada Northwest Imperative Social Creditists of Quebec Social Credit Party of Alberta Western European Bloodline (W. E. B. ) Western Guard Party White Aryan Resistance (WAR) White Boy Posse
Canadian KKK • The KKK is the oldest right-wing extremist group active in Canada, crossing into the country from the United States in the 1920 s. • Klan groups appeared in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Quebec under various names, such as the Kanadian Ku Klux Klan, the Ku Klux Klan of Canada, and the Ku Klux Klan of the British Empire. Invitation to Vancouver KKK (Baergen 2000)
Canadian KKK Early Days • A Klan klavern appeared in Montreal in 1921, followed by one in Vancouver in 1924. • The British Columbia Klan claimed five MLAs amongst its members, and it built onto extant anti-Asian sentiments and calls for deportation of Chinese, Japanese, and Indian immigrant workers. • In Alberta, the Ku Klux Klan focused more on European immigrants and Catholics. • The Klan made major inroads in Saskatchewan, boasting between 15, 000 -40, 000 members.
History of the Ku Klux Klan in Canada First Public Meeting of KKK in Edmonton in 1932 (Baergen 2000)
History of KKK in Canada KKK in Edmonton in March 25, 1932 (Baergen 2000)
KKK in the Modern Era • The Canadian Klan was violent from the beginning, starting with a rash of anti-Catholic arsons in 1922 in Quebec, followed by a 1924 arson at St Boniface College in Manitoba that killed 10 Catholic students, another at Juvenaut College, and a church robbery in Samia, Ontario. • After WWII, the Klan settled into its familiar pattern of attacks against visible minorities, Leftists, Jewish and immigrant communities. • In the 1980 s, the Canadian KKK was further influenced by David Duke via Alexander Mc. Quirter, and in the early 1990 s, Dennis Mahon of Oklahoma also crossed the border to better encourage and network with Canadian klaverns. The Canadian Klan has lost many of its leaders to prison.
Church of the Creator • Ben Klassen, the founder of the Church of the Creator (an anti-Christian, racist organization), developed his radical ideas during his formative years in Canada from 1925 -1945. • Klassen established his “church” in the US in 1973. • Creativity was later spread by the Canadian band RAHOWA, whose name is an acronym for RAcial HOly WAr. • The term “RAHOWA” is now used as shorthand by rightwing extremists across the world. The band’s record company, Resistance Records, was later acquired by William Pierce - chairman of the National Alliance and author of The Turner Diaries.
Creativity Beliefs • Klassen authored Nature’s Eternal Religion (1973), The White Man’s Bible (1981), and Salubrious Living (1982). • Klassen felt Christianity was fundamentally flawed by recognizing Jews as the chosen people, and he believed that it was a conspiracy to subvert the White race, part of a millennia-long struggle between Jews and whites. • He believed an ethnically-based religion could advance the white race as a whole. Creativity sought to define the white race’s purpose in the world, and it claimed to answer all fundamental questions about life through racial pride. • Creativity also spurred many ZOG conspiracies.
Skinheads • Skinheads emerged from the British punk music scene, adopting fashion from Nazism to maximize shock value. • By the 1980 s the skinhead movement became associated with right-wing groups like the UK’s National Front, which identified immigrants and Jewish elites as the banes of the British working class. • Many skinheads are motivated by unemployment and economic dislocations. • They attack immigrants out of the belief they are stealing jobs or housing from the white working-class.
Canadian Skinheads • Skinheads came to Canada in the 1980 s. • Skinheads exist in over 30 different countries. • According to a previous survey of worldwide Neo-Nazi Skinheads by the Anti-Defamation League, Canada ranked 11 th in skinhead activity, despite its small population. • Canadian skins have been labeled anti-American, antiimmigrant, anti-free trade, and anti-gay, and many have belonged to the cadet corps or military reserve. • Most skins have no formal organizations.
Conditions in the United States • According to the Extremis Crime Database (ECDB), there were 370+ homicides committed by US right-wing extremists from 1990 -2010, claiming over 600 lives. • There are 150 hate crimes reported in the US every week. • US right-wing extremists are fragmented and heavily influenced by religion, particularly Christian fundamentalism.
Martyrs in the US • US right-wing extremists are heavily influenced by cherrypicked martyrs, in whose memory they often dedicate their actions. • Examples include: tax protestor Gordon Kahl; The Order’s Robert Mathews; and Randy Weaver’s wife and son killed at Ruby Ridge; and David Koresh and The Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas.
US Right-Wing Extremism After 1995 • The demobilization of the Patriot movement following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing led to growth in the white nationalist and related supremacist organizations. • Right-wing leaders, such as David Duke, Tom Metzger, Jared Taylor, and William Pierce, tried to shift the attention away from militias towards non-European immigration. • The 9/11 attacks were used to criticize pro-Israel US foreign policy and to highlight the dangers of immigration and diversity as an attack on white culture. • US right-wing extremists reached out to foreign terrorists who also opposed the US government and Israel.
US Threat Assessment “The combination of environmental factors that echo the 1990 s, including heightened interest in legislation for tighter firearms restrictions and returning military veterans, as well as several new trends, including an uncertain economy and a perceived rising influence of other countries, may be invigorating rightwing extremist activity, specifically the white supremacist and militia movements. To the extent that these factors persist, rightwing extremism is likely to grow in strength. ”
Lone Wolf Terrorism • Though not confined to right-wing extremists, lone wolf attacks are chiefly linked with white supremacists, Christian Identity adherents, tax protestors, survivalists, sovereign citizens, and antigovernment activists in the US. • The threat from lone wolves in the United States has been consistent over the last two decades, and it represents a significant proportion of the attacks in the country. • DHS assessed that “[W]hite supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy—separate from any formalized group—which hampers warning efforts. ”
Lone Wolves and CBRN • On April 8, 1993 Thomas Lewis Lavy was caught trying enter Canada near Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory. • He had 130 grams of 7% pure ricin, $89, 000, along with a shotgun, rifles, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. • He committed suicide while in custody for terrorism charges in 1995. Post and Courier Dec 24, 1995
Conditions in Europe • Primary ideological drivers for European right-wing groups are unemployment, immigration, nativism, anti. Semitism, and anti-Islamic sentiment. • European right-wing extremists tend to follow a more secular ideology than those in the US, however there are strong ties amongst North American and European organizations and individuals.
Anti-Immigrant Attacks in Europe • A small cell of neo-Nazis were linked to 10 murders of Turkish and Greek merchants and a female police officer from 2000 to 2007. • They also carried out a dozen bank robberies and a bombing in Cologne in 2004. • Three of them had previous criminal records from a failed 1998 bombing plot, but weren’t kept under surveillance following release.
Lone Wolves in Europe • Franz Fuchs carried out a bombing campaign from 1993 to 1997 that targeted immigrants and those working their behalf, killing 4 and wounding at least 10. • He used 25 mail bombs and 3 pipe bombs to fight discrimination against German -Austrians. • Fuchs was arrested in October 1997 after blowing off his hands and one forearm.
Canadian Threat Assessment • “Although very small in number, some groups in Canada have moved beyond lawful protest to encourage, threaten and support acts of violence. As seen in Oklahoma City in 1995 and in Norway in 2011, continued vigilance is essential since it remains possible that certain groups—or even a lone individual—could choose to adopt a more violent, terrorist strategy to achieve their desired results. ”
Research Findings • There has been steady right-wing extremist activity within Canada over the last 50 years, and anti-immigrant sentiment continues to crop up across the country. • Canadian right-wing extremists have been surprisingly influential in the global movements associated with white supremacy, Neo-Nazism, Identity Christianity, Creativity, skinheads, and others. • Based on historically strong connections and exchanges between Canadian extremists and those abroad, it would be imprudent to presume that Canada is immune to the importation of rising right-wing extremism in the United States and Europe.
Policy Implications • Canadian security officials and intelligence organizations should remain vigilant in monitoring the highly heterogeneous right-wing extremist network, including a variety of financial and non-traditional media like white power music. • Both the United States and Norway have modified their policies to better handle lone wolf terrorism following recent attacks. Canada would do well to reorient more of its focus towards detecting and intercepting lone actors, since it will likely see similar future incidents. • The radicalization processes of lone operators and small cells are not well-studied, and more work is needed in this area.
Policy Implications • There are historical precedents for reciprocal radicalization between right-wing extremists and other groups, so Canada should not discount the potential for violent escalations. • There is room for more engagement of civic leaders, charities, and immigrant interest groups in identifying hate crimes and low-level violence before they build into more lethal manifestations. • More can be done to articulate threat, as well as the history of political violence and extremism in Canada via the Canadian Incident Database (CIDB).
Canadian Incident Database • CIDB will be a free-access resource to provide unclassified information to national security researchers, which can be used to identify patterns and trends in order to improve our understanding of terrorist/ extremist crime in Canada. • The CIDB contains data on incidents of terrorism and extremist crime occurring within Canada or with a Canadian link since 1960.
Contact Information Principal Investigator Dr. Richard A. Parent rparent@sfu. ca James O Ellis III james. ellis@ubc. ca