Montréal Contre-information
Montréal Contre-information
Montréal Contre-information

Queers, Are You Ready for the Backlash? Preparing for a Poilievre Government

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May 282024
 

Anonymous submission to North Shore Counter-Info

A zine version of this text is available.

I’ve always liked connecting with other queer people and talking politics, comparing notes on how we see society and what is affecting us. But lately, this has been feeling quite urgent. The countdown is on until we end up with a reactionary federal government — there will be a federal election no later than October 2025, and if current trends hold, there will be a Conservative landslide that brings Pierre Poilievre to power.

This is soon, but we can still do a lot in 17 months. It feels important to me that queers and their friends use this time wisely, to try to get organized and prepare for a backlash against our social gains of the last few years.

But what makes Poilievre so special? He’s been in government a long time — isn’t he just a regular politician?

Poilievre has said a couple of things that would make for a departure from typical governance in Canada, but I want to focus on two: using the notwithstanding clause to bypass charter protections and rolling back transgender inclusion policies.

The notwithstanding clause (also known as Section 33) is particular to the Canadian political system and basically acts to limit the Charter framework of individual rights (and the courts that enfore it) when a government sees this as going against the public good. It can be used to make laws immune to court challenge for five years, which guarantees there will be an election before it expires, but it can just be applied again. The idea is that governments should be more powerful than the courts, so by invoking the notwithstanding clause, a government can pass laws that they know would be successfully challenged in court based on Charter rights.

Although historically very rare, the context for using the notwithstanding clause has been built up by conservative provincial governments over the past few years. The Coalition Avenir Québec party has used it to go after anglophones and religious minorities, the Ontario Progressive Conservatives used it to force striking workers back to work and limit electoral donations by unions, and the government of Saskatchewan used it to attack trans kids. All this since 2021. Poilievre has promised to use it to bring back criminal sentencing that was struck down as cruel and unusual, but there is no reason to think he will stop there.

The use in Saskatchewan is interesting, since Saskatchewan isn’t the only province that has passed so-called “parental rights” legislation. Alberta and New Brunswick are also bringing in laws restricting the ability of young people to transition, but Saskatchewan’s was the first to be delayed by the courts. So Scott Moe reconvened the legislature in order to break out the notwithstanding clause.

This brings us to what Pierre Poilievre thinks about trans people. He loudly supports the provincial legislation restricting transitions for young people, including access to puberty blockers and even using chosen names. And, as we’ve seen in the US, governments that start out restricting trans youth tend to move on to trans adults. So naturally, Poilievre also opposes the rights of transgender adults. Just this past February, he said he believes washrooms and changerooms should be restricted based on sex at birth, although he added it’s not clear that would be in federal jurisdiction.

Whether or not it has the ability to regulate the washrooms in the public library, a reactionary federal government won’t restrain the provinces or municipalities, leaving an open path for other levels of government to go after trans rights. As a trans person, I’m aware that in two years time, it might be illegal for me to use the washroom in public spaces.

A reactionary federal government probably won’t come right out and take gender identity and expression out as a protected ground in the Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (at least not immediately). Instead, it will allow those rights to atrophy, to get picked apart by reactionary laws passed at all levels of government that are shielded by the notwithstanding clause when necessary. We will end up with a patchwork of restrictions on our ability to live openly and authentically rather than a blanket ban.

What stands in the way of this happening?

Politicians will try to have you believe that electoralism is the only way, that the NDP or the Liberals are the only ones who can stop the Conservatives. But the fact that we are even talking about rights being rolled back shows how fragile legislative victories are. Laws come and go. They are (unfortunately) an indispensable part of political and social equality, but they are not the most important piece.

The most important piece is self-organizing. We need to get organized as queers around issues that affect us — not to lobby politicians, but to build a context in which queer liberation cannot be legislated away.

We need to continue changing the culture and building equality and inclusion in practice (and I realize these fall short of liberation). This can happen on a social level by creating more spaces where people can be out and proud. It can happen on the institutional level — remember that many spaces (social services, workplaces, schools) were trans inclusive long before the law required them to be. We can continue that work, going block by block, regardless of which way the political wind blows.

We also need to organize for collective self-defence. Fortunately, we are used to having to defend ourselves. This might occasionally mean physical defence, like at Pride in Hamilton in 2019 or the drag defence actions that happened across the country. It’s worth repeating that without the ability to be violent, the choice to be peaceful is meaningless.

But just as important is social and spiritual defence. Social defence might look like identifying reactionaries in order to undermine and isolate them. This could be local politicians, business owners, or bureaucrats just as much as far-right jerks. Spiritual defence means taking care of yourself while also looking out for those most targeted and helping them to live with strength and dignity. Because the reaction isn’t going to come for everyone at the same time, even if it will sooner or later get around to all queers if left unchecked.

The rallies about these issues have started — we all come as isolated individuals to feel strong together for an hour. But we need to stop going home alone. It is time for us to talk to our friends and set a meeting to talk about the situation, about our strengths and desires, what we can bring to the table. Once we’ve gotten talking, we can reach out to friends of friends and extend the conversation. Let’s form crews of 3-5 people and practice going demos together. Let’s get on the same page about our analysis and about what kinds of actions we are excited to take.

We still have some time to get ready before the attacks intensify, but the coming months will pass quickly. We can’t trust politicians, but I have nothing but faith in our collective strength. We will weather the coming storm as we always have and might even come out stronger for it.

Download this text as a printable zine.

We Accuse Enquête and Radio-Canada

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Mar 192024
 

From P!nk Bloc

With its report Trans Express, Enquête gives above all else a platform to the discourses of transphobic groups, inviting discredited pseudo-experts such as Lisa Littman with her theory of “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.” We consider that the editorial decisions made by this show are clear, political, and dangerous. Enquête does not present a rigorous investigation, but an hour of sensationalist demagoguery echoing the far-right.

The CBC instrumentalizes specific detransition experiences to reinforce their transphobic discourses. However, detransition experiences are varied, and are often in opposition to the idea that gender must necessarily be stable. In any case, ease of access to transition care is a net positive. While the system is just beginning to take the voices of trans people an their experiential knowledge seriously, something this report seems to want to paint as a problem. We reaffirm that trans people should have the final say on our own medical decisions.

It is also not harmless that this report focuses once again on the question of children in a perspective of moral panic. The conservative right, as usual, uses the “protection” of children as a primary argument. It is essential to highlight that their demands are never truly for the protection of youth, much less the protection of trans and queer youth, but instead instrumentalize the figure of the child to push an oppressive agenda.

The report centres the voices of parents and the medical community, almost completely erasing those of trans youth (only one young trans person is allowed less than 5 minutes of screentime in an hour-long report). Enquête posits that listening to trans youth is a major professional misstep. In this sense, the report echoes last year’s far-right demonstrations which called for “parental rights,” read: the right to control the lives of their children. It is essential to recognize the ability of youth to reason, to reflect on their own identity, and to make decisions about their bodies. The real best protection for youth is to assure them a sense of agency and bodily autonomy.

We are particularly alarmed by the publishing of this report in the climate of ongoing transphobia, and on a platform supposedly renowned for its neutrality. We must denounce the clearly transphobic intentions of the CBC, and their blatant disregard for journalistic integrity and ethics. This report is all the more dangerous in its attempt to normalize transphobic discourses in the “centre-left” by presenting it as a question of “common sense.”

It would be an ideological backslide to consider the results of this report as legitimate in determining sociopolitical positions on access to care for trans children. We must absolutely not consider these results, which demonstrate a total lack of methodological soundness, as equivalent to the many scientific studies of transition. The results of sound and ethical scientific studies overwhelmingly demonstrate the importance of access to transition care for the protection of trans youth.

In lending social acceptability to the far-right, the CBC propagates hate and violence against our communities. This must not be taken lightly, especially given the news of the murder of Nex. This tragedy has reminded us that transphobia is far more detrimental to the well-being of children than supportive doctors are. It is also important to recognize that institutional mainstream media outlets like the CBC are a tool of the dominant social order, regardless of where they seem to position themselves on the political spectrum. This has also been evident in their treatment of the genocide in Palestine, which they have all but denied through constant use of passive language.

For these reasons and many more, it is important to develop our own platforms of discourse and analysis that centre marginalized and revolutionary voices. We must listen those directly affected by the oppressive status-quo to gain a better understanding of it. We must propagate our words and acts of resistance to mobilize and collectively revolt against the systems that oppress us all.

Radio-Canada has blood on its hands: a look back at the windows destroyed on the night of March 12-13th

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Mar 152024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

On the night of March 12-13th, the windows of the Radio-Canada building were destroyed by activists, in response to Radio-Canada’s choice to use its broad platform to amplify transphobic rhetoric akin to that of the far right.

The TransExpress news report aired on February 29th, 2024 is an intellectually and scientifically dishonest attack on trans people and their access to healthcare. It represents an ideological shift that legitimizes the far right’s transphobic demands, and it will fan the flames of violence against trans communities, currently increasingly targeted. Radio-Canada and its journalists have chosen to feed into a moral panic that puts the trans community, and especially trans youth, in danger.

Let’s not be fooled by the pretense of journalistic neutrality and “simple curiosity”:
Pasquale Turbide and the Radio-Canada team have chosen to give the floor to discredited pseudo-experts, like Lisa Littman and the SEGM. Their alarmist speeches have already been linked to an increase in violence in England and in the US. The reporter refuses to do any real research or understanding effort. In the report, she uses transphobic and disrespectful language, and constantly misgenders trans people. Even the passages that pretend to recognize trans realities do so within a framework of psychiatrization of transidentity, inviting more medical control from the state. We do not want the state’s control on our bodies! Everyone should be able to experiment as they see fit, even if it means making mistakes, without having to ask permission from the state’s watchdogs. We will do what we wish with our bodies, rightly or wrongly, no matter how the state and the cultural petty bourgeoisie feel about it.

We can see though Radio-Canada’s agenda and its enthusiasm to capitalize on this moral panic to increase its ratings. How else can you explain bringing Pasquale on Tout le monde en parle without an informed voice to counter her transphobic and sensationalist rhetoric?

As ever, capitalism and the state, faced with repeated crises and popular unrest, are trying to divert the attention of the working classes. Rather than talking about the collapse of public services, the housing crisis, the climate crisis, the rise of fascism, police violence, or the genocide in Palestine, they prefer to focus on an imaginary threat. Our society’s fascist drift is using the trans community as a scapegoat. The increasingly authoritarian and violent state seeks to turn us into an enemy to justify its power and violence. And they won’t stop until we stop them.

Such rhetoric has real consequences on decisions about access to healthcare for trans people, but also on the hostility and violence that trans communities, especially trans youth, experience on a daily basis. It’s not a neutral thing to repeat on prime time the rhetoric pushed by the alliance of far-right forces. How shameful to hear the arguments of the religious far right, neo-nazis, masculinists and the rest of the camp of hate on a public news channel! This misleading report will fuel hate movements responsible for the death, by suicide or murder, of trans youth, just like what happened recently in Oklahoma. When a young trans person will die as a result of transphobia, will the Enquête team take responsibility? Will they do an hour-long report on transphobic violence which, unlike access to care, kills? We see though the game they are playing. We will not let this happen.

There is no “trans problem”, but there are trans people who have a problem with you.
When choosing to participate in a hate and misinformation campaign against our communities, behind a pseudo-scientific veneer that is all the more dangerous, maybe these reporters thought that the trans community was an easy target, small in numbers, isolated, and multi-marginalized.

But understand that we are not alone : Our allies are many and our rage runs deep. We are determined and our solidarity is strong.
This will be neither the first nor the last time that queers bash back!

Baby’s First Synagogue Protest: A Review

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Mar 142024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Yeah, it’s a fucked up title, I know!

But it’s a fucked up world, isn’t it?

THE FACTS

On March 2, there was a real estate event in Thornhill, a suburban community within Greater Toronto. The event took place at a synagogue, and people were there to buy properties in Palestine. So there was a protest. One guy, who I guess we can probably call a Zionist, showed up with a nail gun, shot at people, and landed a few hits. Apart from this guy, there was representation by the Jewish Defense League (a brand strongly associated with the politics and thuggish approach of its progenitor, the rabbi Meir Kahane) in the security detail for the synagogue.

Basically the same event happened on Tuesday, March 4, at Montréal’s Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, starting in the afternoon. I came to the neighbourhood of Côte-des-Neiges (not my usual part of town) for this event; this was the first time in my life that I have ever personally gone to any demonstration targeting an event at a synagogue.

It was a day after another small crowd, on Monday, March 3, just across MacKenzie King Park from the synagogue, blocked access to “a building that also houses Montréal’s Holocaust museum” (as some have been putting it) for a few hours. What was happening there was a talk by IDF reservists that the local Israeli and pro-Israeli activist cohort had initially planned to have happen at Concordia University.

This is a Jewish neighbourhood. In response to the demonstration, which sought to prevent access the building, a counterprotest formed. Dispersing and on the way to the métro station on Monday, there was a physical confrontation instigated by pro-Israeli protesters, in which a banner or a flag was seized; this devolved into a situation where some people were arrested. The next day there was more shit. A presumably mostly Jewish crowd with a bad sound system faced off with a Palestinian and pro-Palestinian crowd with a good sound system, starting around 3 pm. Nearby Jewish schools were shut down early. Nothing stabby happened, but a small crew of proto-JDL goons were present to do security, liaise with the SPVM, etc., and there were certainly many opportunities for some kind of ugly incident to happen on the sidelines – in the park, or at an intersection nearby – especially once the Sun had set.

By now, Memri TV has circulated its supercut of some of the worst lines from the Tuesday event. I want to note that, while obviously this is manipulative, the vibe is not entirely wrong. It’s not taken out of context. You never know with a hasbarist, but I presume they wouldn’t be so bold as to provide blatantly false subtitles for the Arabic.

On Thursday, as I began to write this article, another synagogue in Thornhill was the target of a demonstration. Arrests were made, and I don’t have the details, but I have been told they were pro-Israeli folks. The synagogue was the venue for yet another real estate event, this time, like the event on Tuesday in Montréal, selling properties in the West Bank. The event on Sunday had been mistaken for this one, where none of the properties on sale were in territories occupied by Israel after 1967; that event had gone ahead, however, because the demonstrators also reject the legitimacy of properties in Tel Aviv being sold.

LIKE, MY OPINION OR WHATEVER

I don’t think it’s worth much time second-guessing the actions of others. To everyone in the pro-Palestinian movement right now who isn’t ready to hear this criticism, fair enough. Maybe it doesn’t apply to you – and fuck, you’re certainly dealing with a lot of criticism right now that is bad faith and concern trollish, so I get why your defenses are up.

Although I can’t speak to its tactical execution or to the individual politics of every person who showed up (I wasn’t there), I think that what happened on Monday night, in Montréal, was entirely appropriate. The same building was the target of an occupation of the lobby in 2014, that time by a crowd of actually Jewish activists who, in the context of uneven exchanges of bombardment happening then, opposed the Federation CJA’s (that is, the local Jewish community council’s) position on, and indeed support of, the occupation of Palestine.

But what happened the next day was pretty fucked up. Not for the asinine reason that it is never appropriate to protest at a synagogue as a non-Jewish person, basically for any reason you want to, but because of who was on the mic and how the danger dial got turned up yet again, and this time for no strategically good reason.

I am not involved in these organizing group chats, but what I understand is that, after the events of Monday evening, which were already being widely reported (and to be be sure, lied about), there was a general sense in a large section of the local pro-Palestinian movement – for instance, in both the Palestinian Youth Movement and Independent Jewish Voices – that something needed to happen to oppose the real estate event at the synagogue, but it would have to have very different “optics” than what had happened at the Federation CJA building. This was supposed to look like a “Jewish-led event”. Incidentally, one had already been planned on Tuesday for several days before Monday, since the synagogue was not willing to cancel the real estate event.

What happened, however, is that another group apart from the PYM and IJV, called Montreal4Palestine, swooped in and organized their own event for when the real estate event was actually going to happen, at 3 pm. Their event brought a predominantly Muslim crowd, along with a handful of mostly silent, sign-holding Neturei Karta guys, to the area in the afternoon. I only knew about the IJV event, which started around 6 pm, because I don’t follow Montreal4Palestine’s Instagram account and I hadn’t checked local news.

I do not know what thought process, or lack of thought process, brought this about. I suspect the personalities who operate the Montreal4Palestine didn’t even know that IJV had planned this thing. If they did know, I can imagine one good reason for organizing something earlier in the day, which is that, if the event is happening at 3 pm, there is no possibility of a blockade or a disruption – as had happened on Monday – if the opposition is only showing up at 6 pm.

Beyond that, though – what the fuck?

Sorry for the run-on sentence, but it’s the same vibe as some of what I heard from the mic on Tuesday. At least one of the guys on the mic had some mixed up ideas about the Jews who were living in 7th-century Medina that he got from his religion (who, the hadith tells us, were very bad Jews indeed), modern-day conspiracy theories about Jews “colonializing” Germany that he probably got from YouTube, and some kind of half-baked version of an anti-colonial counterhistory – when he mentions that Jews that “oppressed” and “colonialized” South Africa, this is true insofar as a countable number of individual Jews were broadly speaking involved in or complicit with the consolidation of a settler-colonial and/or apartheid state in South Africa, but of course in a subsidiary and second-order role, as has also been the case with the colonization of Turtle Island (where, so far at least, you don’t see people outside of gurdwaras or in Chinatown bringing up the true fact that Sikhs and Chinese people, or certainly countable numbers thereof, are complicit in the Canadian colonial project) – and I have to ask, Why the fuck does this guy have the mic?

A full discourse analysis isn’t worth anyone’s time, but obviously a lot of what Memri TV highlighted isn’t that bad, in isolation. To offer another opinion: the guy in the keffiyeh who spoke the most in their supercut definitely has some weird ideas, and he clearly let his impulse to be provocative drive him to say a few fucked up things that, well, go beyond his expertise (for instance, when he spoke about who is “the true Jewish”). But whatever, he’s just one guy, and I have no doubt in my mind that in situations where adversarial social movements face off one with another, people are going to get hyped up and say stupid shit.

The question, for me, is why do this sort of thing at all. There was never any realistic possibility of disruption; the SPVM were in force in the neighbourhood by 2 pm, as any dedicated Montréal anti-systemic street activist should have expected. Hence a brawl of any kind over access to the synagogue – which I don’t think would have been a good idea, in the same way that I think that showing up to Montréal’s palais des congrès on April 21, 2012, wasn’t a good idea – would have been resolved decisively in favour of the pro-Israeli side in every respect.

This is not Concordia University, e.g. a downtown battleground, and neither is it a building somewhere in one of Montréal’s industrial parks where work is being done that will materially aid the Israeli war machine. It’s not the port, out of which something might be shipped to Israel. It’s not a lab that collaborates on weapons development with a lab in Israel somewhere. Except insofar as police resources may have been drawn to Côte-des-Neiges, which perhaps somewhat diminished the capacity of the police to respond to new events elsewhere in the territory of Montréal (I do not know of any anti-systemic action that took advantage of this during the hours of the opposing Tuesday rallies), it is clear that this did absolutely nothing to materially advance the struggle for a free Palestine.

Instead, it has rattled some of the shakier solidarity with the movement for a free Palestine that exists in local Jewish communities in a way that the events of Monday had not, and led to all sorts of capacity-diminishing soul searching and anguished exchanges on social media and over text.

There are some who will not be bothered by losing fairweather allies, but this is short-sighted. Whereas the Neturei Karta guys will probably stick with the free Palestine movement through thick and thin, they are also never going to actually do anything. Jewish anarchists, on the other hand, have a range of beliefs, and they might even be willing to hold to their opinions no matter how much you say that that’s kind of a colonial or privileged attitude. It is possible that they won’t be stoked by chants of “Judaism yes, Zionism no” in the full context of other shit that was being said. So perhaps they’re sensitive snowflakes and demanding brats – maybe. What Jewish anarchists (and their friends!) bring to the table, however, is an at least occasional willingness to do direct action that is actually useful, that generates productive conflict, rather than capacity-diminishing mutual acrimony that the police don’t even need to stoke themselves, of the kind that Tuesday’s events brought into being.

In the proper circumstances, like for instance a blockade, I am willing to hold my nose to work with people who don’t think exactly the same way as I do. Anyone who has spent any time in an Occupy encampment or at an indigenous-led blockade has had to deal with someone who believes in run-of-the-mill conspiracy theories, the false dream of international law, or some other kind of distracting inanity – and in the crucible of conflict with a more important adversary, like the SPVM or the RCMP, these differences of ideas don’t amount to much.

But the protest at the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue on Tuesday was different. There was no conflict that the SPVM did not have well taken care of. Even if we took the police out of the equation, and there had been direct conflict with “the Zionists”, I think it is worth asking whether or not it was a good idea to oppose them on their own turf, in a neighbourhood where they are thick on the ground, where the most hormonal, virile, and stupid as well of their youth go to school. Personally, I think that this is not worth it – certainly not a day after another action that was successful, and which therefore, in the logic of the forces of order (who very much still have a handle on things in the local context), cannot be allowed to be repeated the next day.

Of course it would have been a bad thing to let the real estate take place entirely unopposed, but that would have not happened. Yes, the Jewish-led event, scheduled for 6 pm (which, as an outsider, I have to insist was a mistake, it should have been scheduled for earlier), would have been wholly symbolic – but there is clearly some value in anything that creates fissures within the Jewish community of default sympathy for the Zionist cause, that demonstrates the non-identity of Jew and supporter of Israel in a way that cannot be ignored.

That didn’t get to happen. Sarah Boivin might have said some real shit, but the Jewish-led event effectively did not happen at all because Montreal4Palestine had swooped the earlier time slot. And the M4P folks did not cede the mic at 6 pm, either; a number of people who had been speaking in the hours earlier continued to say some dumb shit. A very rusty anti-oppressive framework, sorry heritage of the QPIRG scene and a cliché version of what well-salaried scholars tell us we were supposed to learn from the struggle of Black people in the United States, suggests that this is as it should be – Jews as mere auxiliaries to a Palestinian-led movement, the oppressor class submitting to the leadership of the oppressed.

As anarchists in Montréal, though, I want us to finally catch up with comrades in some other cities’ anarchist scenes and start and identifying this half-baked claptrap as not fucking good enough. Not fit for purpose, if it ever was. These are not ideas that uphold revolt, insurrection, revolution, or “positive change” of any kinds; they uphold the management of those energies that could otherwise produce graffiti, food given away for free at the corner, upside-down cruisers with their windshields smashed in, and disrupted supply chains, including those chains that sustain the Israeli national project.

Every social movement benefits from individuals freely associating, developing their own capacities to struggle, and establishing an independent range of action that doesn’t tie them to the bad decisions of other elements of the movement – for instance, those that content themselves with symbolic actions, lazy provocations, and predictable maneuvers. Like what happened on Tuesday.

Refusing to say these things publicly, out of fear of “throwing our allies under the bus”, is also not a good idea. Anyone who isn’t myopically committed to the growing power of the social movement, which is heterogenous and therefore mostly bad and not good (because fuck this pseudo-Trotskyist “multitudes” bullshit, we need influential minorities and not every asshole we can round up), should be able to come to their own idea about Montreal4Palestine, about how much the crowd as a whole should wear the worst excesses of certain speakers that Memri TV thought it was worth it to highlight, and so on – but they would need to know the story of what actually happened. The public statements available so far, crafted by activists using a consensus process over group chat, have not been up to task of letting people reach their own conclusions.

THE FUTURE OF LOCAL SYNAGOGUE PROTESTS

On Wednesday, March 6, a judge has banned protests for 10 days at the synagogue, the Federation CJA building, and a few other Jewish institutions in the same radius of a few blocks. It expires Saturday, March 16.

On Thursday, March 7, at a small pro-Palestinian event held in another part of town, a certain fellow whose name I shall not disclosed positively mentioned the website of Yves Engler, who is at a minimum annoying as hell, and promoted Assad regime supporter Aaron Maté’s speaking event at Concordia’s Hall building on the evening of March 15, a day when there is pretty much only one evening event in Montréal that’s worth promoting.

This same man, in his pontificating, told everyone gathered that they should oppose the Zionists and defy the injunction.

Personally, I have defied a bunch of injunctions like this over the years, and I generally think it is a good thing to do, because fuck the authority of the courts. But following this idiot once again into the breach – that is, once again into the Jewish neighbourhood around MacKenzie King Park – not even to protest any particular pro-Israeli event that the injunction protects, but simply the injunction itself, is plainly a waste of time and resources. A crowd of angry Jews will form, and some of them will probably be provocative in their own way. The stupidest person in the pro-Palestinian crowd will say or do something fucked up at some point (like how at least one person yelled “Death to Israel, death to Jews” in Arabic during the Monday action), and then a thousand stupid people on the internet will say that what is predictable, what is frankly very human, was definitely just a hasbarist fabrication, an AI-generated deepfake, etc., rather than a real racist thing that a real person really said.

Of course the police, empowered by an injunction and feeling more sympathy with Jews (Zionists, Israelis…) than Palestinians (Arabs, terrorists…), will probably crack heads. They will do so with no discrimination for whichever young well-meaning Concordia University student is there for their very first direct action.

Fuck this shitty plan offered up by this dusty campist.

If actions for a free Palestine continue happening in this corner of Côte-des-Neiges over the next week (or for however long the injunction is extended), or in any other conspicuously Jewish area of Montréal, anarchists should note that – but mostly to note that police resources will be tied up in that area at that time, indicating that perhaps we should be somewhere else, doing something else. Whether that something else is related to Israel, the war, or anything else “on theme” is an entirely different matter.

And people ought to get a fucking clue: we need to fight in our own neighbourhoods; otherwise, we need to fight at sites of production and at logistical hubs; we don’t need to follow the leader when the leader is an idiot (and in fact we should maybe shut him the fuck down); and things are far too serious to let ourselves lose a grip on what we’re trying to do and why we’re trying to do it.

A Look Back at the “Defend Trans Youth” Counter-protest

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Nov 292023
 

From P!nk Bloc

On October 21st, more than a thousand people acted on a call to counter-protest for the defence of trans youth’s rights and inclusive sex ed, called by a coalition of queer and antifascist groups including the Pink Bloc. This call was officially endorsed by more than fifty organisations, including unions, student associations, teacher associations, feminist groups, militant collectives, community sector organisations, and more.[1]

The goal of this action was to block the path of a demonstration organised by the transphobic, homophobic “Ensemble Pour Protéger Nos Enfants” (“Together to protect our children”) group in response to a canada-wide call from 1MillionMarchForChildren. The political agenda of this demonstration and its associated groups includes censorship of queer and trans subjects in schools, forcing educators to out trans youths to their parents, and the broad removal of trans healthcare for young folks. Through their statements, they claim to want to protect children, but even the most basic research will show you that these groups want to reinforce parental control on youth, and to give parents the ability to prevent their children from expressing themselves how they want, and from being themselves. 

This negates the right to youth self-determination, to freedom of expression, and to safety and security.

In the weeks leading up to their demonstration, political and personal infighting broke out between the groups and individuals involved in their organising,[2] creating division and confusion in their ranks which greatly diminished their turnout.

On our end, we saw a panoply of movements, groups, and individuals join our struggle and decide to form a common front against hate and exclusion!

By 9am on October 21st, we had occupied the space outside 600 Fullum Street with canopy tents, music,[3] and food. By 10am, we had already formed a large crowd despite the rain and the cold, and occupied the whole block on Fullum Sainte-Catherine to Notre-Dame. Across police lines, towards Notre-Dame, around a hundred anti-lgbtq demonstrators had gathered by around 11am. These demonstrators were dissapointed by their low turnout and were kept far away from their planned meeting point in front of 600 Fullum.

Although the struggle is never over, we can all collectively congratulate each other for our enormous success. We succeeded in completely dispersing the demonstrators and were able to declare total victory at 1:30pm, all while ensuring a secure and festive space at the heart of our counter-protest. Our mobilisation efforts in the community and union sectors were unprecedented for this type of action. This resulted in bonds of solidarity that will be crucial in the long term, and allowed us to develop strategies and resources for counter-protestors which will be indespensable in our future mobilisations. 

This was a beautiful show of solidarity by and towards our community, affirming that protecting children also means protecting trans children and teens by offering them a safe environment and defending their rights to self-determination.

Young trans folks are able to evaluate their situation, their identity, and their relationship with the world, and to make decisions to improve their lives, whether or not these decisions please their parents. We are the queer and trans youths of yesterday, who affirmed ourselves throughout the years, and who grew into adults who are comfortable in the bodies and identities that represent us. No one has the right to deprive today’s youth of this. 

Going forward we will continue to develop and form solidarity bonds, notably with struggles against islamophobia, in opposition to homonationalism and pinkwashing which use lgbtq+ rights as an excuse to justify attrocities,[4] and with mobilisations for Palestinian liberation. 

Congratulations to everyone who was there on the 21st, and thank you to all who supported us!

We hope to not have to organize another counter-protest for a long time, and we will see you in the streets in solidarity with Palestine!


1. List of organisations that endorsed our call to counter-protest

2. See https://ici.radio-canada.ca/rci/fr/nouvelle/2018688/identite-genre-guerre-israel-hamas-gaza for context

3. In light of comments we’ve received concerning the inclusion of Disney songs in our playlist, we would like to mention that in no way do we support Disney. Playing copyrighted music is a frequently used tactic to ensure livestreams are taken down by social media platforms, and Disney is known to be particularly strict in enforcing their copyrights. Livestreams are frequently used by far-right actors to doxx our comrades. We unequivocally support the BDS movement and calls to boycott Disney for their support of Israeli apartheid, and we will be sure to select different copyrighted music next time.

4. We will soon publish an article developing this idea further

Shining a Light on Shawn Beauvais MacDonald, the Neo-Nazi from NDG

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Nov 292023
 

From Montréal Antifasciste

Since 2017, Montréal Antifasciste has regularly mentioned a local neo-Nazi named Shawn Beauvais MacDonald in its publications. However, we have never taken the time to devote a full article to him. As he has clearly never questioned his beliefs in the face of negative attention and continues to drag his carcass—usually decorated with neo-Nazi symbols—through the streets of Montreal, we decided to correct this oversight. This is all the more important now that we’ve learned of his recent attempts to infiltrate Palestine solidarity demonstrations and other spaces that should be safe, inclusive, and in solidarity with the groups and people whose destruction this individual seeks. Let’s be perfectly clear, Beauvais MacDonald is stridently racist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic and, of course, crassly antisemitic.

What follows is a portrait of one of the Montreal area’s most visible and unrepentant neo-Nazis, who, in recent years, has collaborated in one way or another with most of Québec’s white supremacist and neo-fascist projects. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that Beauvais MacDonald is not a once lost sheep, now back on the fold, but that he is to this day a white supremacist militant, ideologically fanatical, hardened, and irreformable. We hope that his case will be widely publicized, so that this despicable individual can never feel comfortable anywhere in our city.

[Note: Some of the information in this article has already been published in recent years.

Warning: this article contains racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic,
and antisemitic content
].

///

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald (SBM) first appeared on our radar in August 2017, in the wake of the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally, in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 11–12, 2017. He was quickly identified as one of the Québecers who made the trip to Virginia to take part in this North American alt-right mecca, along with, among others, Gabriel Sohier Chaput, alias “Zeiger” (sentenced in September 2023 to fifteen months in prison for fomenting hatred against Jews) and Vincent Bélanger Mercure. SBM appears briefly in the Vice News reporting devoted to participants at “Unite the Right,” where he is seen shaking hands with the infamous “crybaby Nazi” Christopher Cantwell. Recall that on the afternoon of August 12, after several hours of often-violent clashes between various supremacists (neo-Nazis. KKK, etc.) and anti-racists/anti-fascists, James Alex Fields, a neo-Nazi associated with Vanguard America, drove his car into an anti-racist march, injuring numerous people and killing the militant Heather Heyer. This fateful event marked the beginning of the decline of the alt-right movement.

A subsequent analysis of the images captured during these events shows SBM at the torchlight march on August 11, chanting the anti-Semitic slogan “Jews Will Not Replace Us!” He was also spotted wearing a distinctive red baseball helmet in clashes the following day, during which, he later explained in an episode of the American alt-right podcast “Late Night Alt-Right,” he suffered an elbow injury.

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald (left) in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 11, 2017, with Gabriel Sohier Chaput (gray t-shirt), Vincent Bélanger Mercure (Ensemble t-shirt), and Christopher Cantwell (right).
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald at the white supremacist “Unite the Right” torchlight march, August 11, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald at the white supremacist “Unite the Right” torchlight march, August 11, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald at the white supremacist “Unite the Right” torchlight march, August 11, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald at the white supremacist “Unite the Right” torchlight march, August 11, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

SBM Never Misses an Outing…

We didn’t know it at the time, but we had crossed paths with him several times in the preceding months. Investigations into SBM after Charlottesville revealed that he had, in fact, been an active member of La Meute, the Islamophobic populist group formed some time earlier by veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces. For a time, it seems, he managed La Meute’s anglophone social media accounts. Notably, he was present for La Meute’s baptism by fire in Montréal on March 4, 2017 (the first in a series of Islamophobic demonstrations), which he attended with several other members of a small local alt-right group whose existence we were to discover only a little later (see below). On this occasion, he and a comrade found themselves briefly among the anti-racist counterdemonstrators. The two scumbags were encouraged to leave with a kick in the ass after having the bright idea to call the counterdemonstrators “race traitors.” He would later explain to his peers that his involvement with La Meute was primarily aimed at propagating his “race-based” philosophy and his ethnic (read: racist) nationalist vision.

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald at the La Meute protest in Montréal, March 4, 2017.

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald talks about his role in La Meute in the chat room of the local alt-right group in August 2017.

In 2017, he also developed close relations with the Soldiers of Odin Québec (SOO), the regional chapter of an anti-immigrant network founded by a neo-Nazi, and the neo-fascist organization Atalante Québec, befriending Raphaël Lévesque, the group’s leader. He trained with the other members of Atalante at their private boxing club, “La Phalange.” Here are just a few of dozens of examples of his involvement with these groups during this turbulent period:

  • On September 30, 2017, he was spotted again at a demonstration near the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border crossing organized the anti-immigration organization Storm Alliance.
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald, with the Atalante/Soldiers of Odin contingent, in Québec City, November 25, 2017.
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald, with the Atalante/Soldiers of Odin contingent, in Québec City, November 25, 2017.

In 2018 and 2019, SBM took part in various Atalante visibility actions in Montréal, where the neo-fascist group unsuccessfully attempted to gain a foothold.

  • In December 2018, he was identified in our “Unmasking Atalante” article as a member of the Montreal chapter.
  • On September 30, 2019, he distributed sandwiches in Montreal’s Quartier Latin and the Village. A few Atalante members posed in front of Berri Metro station and tried to intimidate customers at the L’Escalier bar, without much success.

In September 2019, SBM was identified, among others, in our article “Chasing Atalante: Where Do the Fascists Work?” where we revealed where he worked and studied. Thereafter, he seemed to distance himself from Atalante, possibly to avoid muddying the reputation of Raphaël Lévesque, who was then preparing for his trial in the Vice Québec affair. Nonetheless, he was part of the security detail that accompanied Lévesque to his court appearances.

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald takes part in Raphaël Lévesque’s security detail at the Palais de justice de Montréal, fall 2019.

It’s easy to imagine that SBM’s presence wasn’t unanimously welcomed in Atalante’s ranks, since he’s regarded in his own circles as a troublemaker whose rancorous presence alone often causes his comrades problems. Whatever the case, Lévesque’s trial didn’t go as planned (the assault at Québec City’s LvlOp bar cast a pall over the proceedings), and the Atalante project lost steam and fell silent at some point during the pandemic.

Alt-Right Montréal

In winter 2018, a leak from the “Montreal Storm” chat room, a local neo-Nazi alt-right group (ARM), led to the public exposure of the identity of Gabriel Sohier Chaput, alias “Zeiger” and several other members of the group, including SBM, who took part under the pseudonyms “Bubonic” and, later, “FriendlyFash.”

An analysis of these discussions quickly revealed that SBM was at the heart of the group and was one of its most active militants. During this period, he was probably involved in neo-Nazi postering campaigns, in particular pasting up posters produced by “Dark Foreigner,” Patrick Gordon Macdonald, a prolific graphic designer and propagandist now charged with terrorist activity by the Canadian justice system. The “Dark Foreigner” propaganda is notably associated with the reissue of the book Siege, by James Mason, considered the bible of contemporary neo-Nazi movements, and the activity of the Atomwaffen Division network, now designated a terrorist organization in Canada and a number of other countries.

One of the neo-Nazi-inspired stickers that appeared in Montréal when members of the Alt-Right Montreal group were going out at night. The image is by “Dark Foreigner.”

SBM also promotes the identitarian group ID Canada (born of the same alt-right networks and modelled on the European example of Generation Identity and similar organizations), designed by racist activists as a more “socially acceptable” vehicle for promoting white nationalism in Canada. ID Canada stickers appear notably in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce district, where SBM lives.

Under cover of the false irony that characterized extremist alt-right forums and message boards, SBM made absolutely unabashed and aggressive racist, antisemitic, and misogynist comments on the “Montreal Storm” Discord server. As if to confirm his involvement in this milieu, SBM turned up, on July 1, 2017, in Old Montreal, with other members of the Alt-Right Montreal group, including the alleged leader, Athan Zafirov, alias “Date,” to harangue an anti-colonialist demonstration.

A sample of Shawn Beauvais Macdonald’s racist and misogynist comments in the “Montreal Storm” chat room.
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald with his Alt-Right Montreal buddies, in Old Montréal, July 1, 2017.

During this period, he posted on Facebook under his own name and, later, under the pseudonym “Hans Grosse,” a reference to a famous Lufftwaffe pilot (and a character in the video game Wolfenstein).

A sample of Shawn Beauvais Macdonald’s uplifting Facebook posts in 2017.

In spring 2018, following the publication of a series of articles in the Gazette about Gabriel Sohier Chaput and the Alt-Right Montreal group (articles based in large part on the investigative work of antifascist militants), an aggressive postering campaign was organized in the NDG district to make the community aware of the presence of SBM and his comrade Vincent Bélanger Mercure. The next day, SBM was seen frantically tearing down posters bearing his photo and personal information.

During the 2019 federal election, SBM served as bodyguard for independent candidate in LaSalle-Ville Émard-Verdun, Julien Côté Lussier, an Immigration Canada employee who leads a double life as a white nationalist ideologue (he’s a spokesman for ID Canada, among other things) and a leading light in the local alt-right scene, where he goes by the pseudonym “Passport.”

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald serves as the bodyguard of white nationalist candidate Julien Côté Lussier, in Verdun, October 19, 2019.

The Pandemic Years

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, SBM could be found on the Telegram platform, where he still operates under the pseudonym “FriendlyFash.” At this point, his profile caption is “Meine Ehre heißt Treue” [my honour is called loyalty], an SS motto. SBM is active in the chat room of the local white supremacist group White Lives Matter Québec (WLM). He and other members of this group showed up at an anti–health measures demonstration in Montreal on January 22, 2022.

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald at the anti–health measures demonstration on January 22, 2022, with other members of the White Lives Matter Québec group.

In March 2022, he turned up in the same chat room as another die-hard neo-Nazi, Sylvain Marcoux, discussing the hate speech trial of his former comrade Gabriel Sohier Chaput. He also promotes the “Active Club”» (AC), a direct descendent of the Rise Above Movement (RAM), explicitly affirming the need to develop some sort of militant neo-Nazi combat club in preparation for the coming race war. SBM had already expressed his support for RAM founder and AC spiritual father Robert Rundo. The Frontenac Active Club (the Québec section of the network) was born out of the WLM Québec discussion group. We know that the young Raphaël Dinucci, alias “Whitey,” who was undoubtedly directly influenced by SBM, is today the administrator of the Telegram channel WLM Québec and a leading activist at the Frontenac Active Club.

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald debates neo-Nazi Sylvain Marcoux about his “old buddy” Gabriel Sohier Chaput.

We have no direct evidence of SBM’s involvement in the Frontenac AC project, but it’s reasonable to infer it, if only on the basis of his past publications. He is certainly a kind of “godfather” to that scene. Another hint of his involvement came on April 21, 2023, when Frontenac AC stickers appeared in Montreal’s Village neighbourhood on the eve of an anti-fascist event being held nearby. On the evening of the event, SBM had the crazy idea of showing up alone at the Yer Mad bar, an establishment well known for its far-left anti-fascist leanings, no doubt with the aim of intimidating the clientele. Instead, he was aggressively removed by antifascists who arrived shortly afterwards.

Frontenac Active Club stickers were stuck up in Montreal’s Village neighbourhood in April 2023, on the eve of an antifascist event two blocks away. We suspect Shawn Beauvais MacDonald was involved.

Recently…

SBM has been seen regularly on the streets of Montreal in recent months, always wearing neo-Nazi symbols, including a totenkopf pin that he wears on the lapel of his coat collar. When he’s recognized, he usually reacts in an aggressive manner, taking advantage of his imposing physique, making hard eye contact, and generally behaving like a lunatic.

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald was the subject of this post on the Montréal Antifasciste Facebook page in February 2021.
This photo of Shawn Beauvais MacDonald was sent to us by a supporter on November 15, 2023, less than two weeks before this article was published.

Recently, SBM has been spotted at demonstrations organized in solidarity with the people of Gaza, who are being targeted by the latest ethnic cleansing operation carried out by the State of Israel. It’s important to note that he appears to be there alone, walking through the crowd without interacting with anyone, suggesting that he has no real contact with the pro-Palestine movement. It was against this backdrop that he posted a lengthy antisemitic diatribe on Instagram after the October 13 demonstration in downtown Montreal. In fact, during the week of November 20, he changed his Instagram account name from “FriendlyFash88” to “Awakened_amalekite” (a biblical reference to the enemies of the Israelites).

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald posted an antisemitic rant on his Instagram account on October 14, 2023, the day after a demonstration in solidarity with Palestine. Note that he took the time to edit his commentary to remove a racist and Arabophobic passage.
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald changed his Instagram handle in the week of November 20, about a week before the publication of this article.
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald has the handle « FriendlyFash » on Telegram to this day, which he decorated with a Nazi logo in the days preceding publication of this article.

He was seen again at the November 4 demonstration, and on that occasion was expelled by the demonstration’s security service at the instigation of anti-racist comrades. He was seen and confronted again on November 11, but then disappeared in the crowd. This is one of the motivations for producing this article: to communicate to the wider community and to the driving forces of the Palestine solidarity movement this neo-Nazi’s intention to infiltrate their ranks. It is out of the question that the movement’s adversaries be allowed to exploit the presence of this isolated bozo to demonize the entire movement. He must be immediately and systematically expelled whenever he attempts to infiltrate spaces of solidarity with Palestine.

Let’s be perfectly clear: Shawn Beauvais Macdonald was and is a white supremacist and a neo-Nazi. He can still be seen in public adorned with neo-Nazi symbols, so it would be completely unreasonable to believe that he’s reformed, and any claim to that effect should be rejected. There is no space for him in any inclusive space.

Let’s Increase the Pressure…

Since appearing on the radar of Montreal’s anti-fascist community, SBM has suffered a series of setbacks and inconveniences. First, he lost jobs when his participation in the Charlottesville protests was revealed. Posters exposing his activities were put up in his neighborhood. He was visited by antifascists at his home (2045 rue Elmhurst, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce). Then leaflets denouncing him were distributed at the Centre intégré de mécanique, de métallurgie et d’électricité (CIMME), where he was briefly enrolled in 2019.

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald was visited by antifascists at his home in 2018; the Nazi flag he used as a bathroom curtain was confiscated.
These flyers exposing Shawn Beauvais MacDonald were distributed at the Centre intégré de mécanique, de métallurgie et d’électricité (CIMME), where he was briefly enrolled in 2019.

SBM currently routinely trains at the Nautilus Plus in LaSalle (he used to frequent the Nautilus Plus downtown). Sympathizers regularly pass on information about him, particularly on the bus routes where he is regularly seen. Of course, we have no intention of leaving him alone. If you have any other useful information to share with us, particularly about Shawn Beauvais MacDonald’s current employment, please don’t hesitate to contact us at alerta-mtl@riseup.net.

Fascists out of our neighbourhoods; no quarter for fascists!

Report-back from the October 21st Counter-demonstration in Defense of Trans Youth

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Nov 272023
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Saturday, October 21 in Montreal saw a face-off between a shrinking coalition of religious conservative transphobes and a counter-protest in defense of trans youth. TL;DR: trans defenders won. 

Called as a Canada-wide day of action by “1 Million March for Children”, with the group “Ensemble pour protéger nos enfants” (hereafter EPPNE; “Together to protect our children”) leading the Montreal event, it was the follow-up to the clashes on September 20th in front of McGill University. That day, an unexpectedly large crowd, mostly composed of Muslim families, with children holding signs reading “I belong to my parents” and shouting transphobic and homophobic insults, confronted an underprepared counter-protest and succeeded in marching through downtown Montreal, leaving trans defenders and their queer and antifascist comrades shaken. 

EPPNE called their demonstration in front of 600 Fullum, the address of the Quebec Ministry of Education, to whom they address a series of demands concerning school curriculums that is but a pretext for seemingly limitless transphobia. We recommend checking out Montréal Antifasciste and P!nk bloc for more detailed perspectives on the developing political context, including the impact of war in the Middle East (it turns out the advocates of one genocide can be divided concerning another). This report-back will emphasize the tactical dimension of what we observed on the 21st.

The EPPNE protest was called for 11am, and the counter-protest was announced for 10, with the intention of occupying the area first. Predictably, it was barely past 8am when the dedication of a small group of early arrivals allowed us to claim the street in front of 600 Fullum and relegate the EPPNE organizers, who arrived at 8:15, to a patch of grass between the south side of the building and the bike path running alongside the highway. Dozens of police were already on site, and they cordoned off a segment of the roundabout at the bottom of Fullum with police tape to create a buffer zone between the two groups, informing counter-protesters that crossing the tape would be considered a criminal offense.

If we gathered in front of the offices housing the Ministry of Education, it was not as defenders of the education system, which, as a general rule, seeks to turn children of all genders and sexualities into docile subjects of settler-colonial capitalism, respecters of democratic authority, workers and consumers with the ability to ask questions but not too many. Rather, holding the space where the transphobes planned to be denies them the visibility they crave and demonstrates that we will stand in their way, wherever they may try to organize publicly.

Both sides arrived to a scene that had been covered in antifascist, pro-trans, and pro-Palestine graffiti the night before, with the ministry building, construction machinery and nearby walls bearing tags including “YOUTH LIBER(A)TION [&] TRANS LIBER(A)TION NOW!”, “Dykes for Palestine” and “Fuck transphobes”. Together with the rapid setup of five canopy tents directly in front of 600 Fullum, which would serve as a logistical base camp for the counter-protest and provide us occasional shelter from the rain, it could not have been more clear who controlled the space where the transphobes had intended to gather, or that our fight extends beyond the liberal defense of a tolerant social order.

Our numbers gradually then more quickly swelled as 10am approached. The arrival of a sound truck (a couple powerful speakers strapped to the bed of a pickup) helped to introduce a festive vibe. And newcomers were dispatched to one of two mobile units, color-coded pink and black (people with mobility restrictions or who just preferred to hang out around the base camp could do so).

One note concerning mass media cameras: a CTV News cameraman was spotted wandering the crowd in front of 600 Fullum, filming counter-protesters from close range. Guidelines published in the lead-up to the 21st had encouraged attendees to wear masks and watch out for mass media and livestreamers, but we’re not aware of planning around making sure journalists couldn’t freely explore our infrastructure, in areas where some people would be having private conversations or inevitably removing masks to eat or drink. Comrades took the initiative to confront the CTV crew and physically expel them after they refused a verbal request to leave. While banners and umbrellas can work well against media approaching our hard lines, we need to also be able to repel those who find their way into areas like those for welcoming newcomers. We think a team dedicated to this task is probably the best move going forward.

Around 9:30am, the pink unit moved north on Fullum to begin blocking the street at the top of the block, just south of Sainte-Catherine. They would hold this position, allowing new arrivals of our side to enter and denying entry to transphobes, for the remainder of the action. Because this intersection was the main access point for protesters who were arriving from Papineau metro or from street parking to the north, the pink unit blockade succeeded in turning away numerous anti-trans protesters, who left thinking the EPPNE protest had been cancelled or completely overwhelmed by the counter-protest.

Shortly after 11am, the black unit set off to try to make its way around the police lines protecting the anti-trans protest at the bottom of Fullum. After turning left on Ste-Catherine from Fullum, there was an altercation with a lone fascist wearing a t-shirt reading “Kill All Pedophiles”, who was knocked to the ground. About one-hundred-strong and protected by multiple side banners, the black unit moved two blocks west, then turned south on De Lorimier, before being blocked from turning east on René-Lévesque towards the EPPNE grouping by a line of riot police. For about 45 minutes, they held the intersection of De Lorimier and René-Lévesque, not able to advance closer to the transphobes, but blocking another possible access route from the metro to their gathering point, and blocking the way toward the Gay Village and downtown for any march (national 1MM4C organizers had called for marches at 1pm).

Outnumbered roughly tenfold under pouring rain, gradually being encircled by multiple groups of counter-demonstrators, and their march route to downtown blocked, the EPPNE crowd was visibly demoralized. Some vented their frustrations on their Facebook Lives, telling (and showing) viewers how much better organized our side was and reprimanding theirs for not showing up. One remarked on Whatsapp that their opponents were “only 0.33% of the population. But very smart and evil.” And we can only take that as a compliment.

Close to noon, the black unit met up with a group of reinforcements at the corner of Ste-Catherine and De Lorimier and set off again southward, with a plan. Upon reaching René-Lévesque, one contingent stopped and faced the line of riot police like before, forcing them to stay in place, while the rest of the group, about a hundred people, continued south, then cut east through the gap between two buildings. Despite these movements being slowed by some general confusion, the SPVM appeared completely on their heels for the first time that day, their plans for protecting the anti-trans protest at risk of breaking. Police vans sped around the corner, and a half-dozen riot cops moved in, shouting at the contingent to reverse course, as one made a show of loading his rubber-bullet gun and others brandished pepper spray. This intimidation succeeded in holding the crowd back for long enough that a number more riot cops and bike cops could arrive and form a proper line. Hopefully, these experiences with coordination in the streets will nourish our tactical imagination and help us prepare even better for next time.

The following map shows the final positions of the transphobes, counter-protesters and police:

Shortly thereafter, as the black unit regrouped on De Lorimier, word spread that EPPNE had called the dispersal of their protest, confirming their defeat by not even attempting to march and needing to instruct their attendees on safe routes out of the area.

There was so much going on in different places across the multiple city blocks spanned by the counter-protest on the 21st that it would be impossible to give a comprehensive account in one report-back, though we want to send a specific shout-out to everyone who ensured the delivery of food or served it and to everyone who held banners for hours on end.

While the logic of counter-protest can place us on the defensive, intuition tells us that we can move beyond a purely reactive posture — that we have something to gain — when we get organized on a basis of solidarity and put our faith in each other rather than media, law or the police.

Until next time,
– some anarchists

Ottawa: June 9th Community Defence Reportback

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Sep 292023
 

From North Shore Counter-Info

On a Friday morning in June, something like 200 fascists descended upon Broadview and Carling in suburban ottawa. By the time they’d formed up, a blockade of defenders had already taken the north side of the intersection. Over the next several hours, those two large contingents split into smaller blockades spanning several blocks, with a series of confrontations that ended in around 400 defenders completely corralling the fascists off. There we stayed until the end of the school day, leaving the fash with no one to harass or proselytise to and heading home victorious.

Through the last months of face-offs, our enemies have gotten bolder and more willing to be violent. This demo brought supporters in from all across the country, even one guy from all the way down in Florida. On top of all the regular pushing, shoving and punching, people were sexually assaulted and threatened with dogs. There was at least one credible knife sighting. Many of us were hurt, some injured in ways that lasted beyond that week.

But we’ve also witnessed some pretty goddamn beautiful collective skill-building through being in the streets together over and over after the convoy. The difference in discipline and open-ness to militance from the much-mythologised shitshow of Billings Bridge is drastic. Not that long ago, it was hard to imagine anyone just showing up in black bloc on ottawa streets – and if they did, they were immediately badjacketed by marshalls.

In contrast, on June 9, we had walls of banners multiple rows deep, at multiple heights, completely shutting out livestreamers’ cameras. As the day went on, they broke into four smaller, maneuvrable units to cover the terrain. Honourable mentions also go to black umbrellas and pole-mounted banners with text facing inwards at our own people – “WEAR A FUCKING MASK” and “STOP FILMING” – caught on camera by liberal streamers who characteristically ignored the messages. Bloc crews saw their fashion choices working just as intended. Fash tried and failed miserably at picking out individuals from the crowds, accusing anyone in black of anything and everything.

Set the tone and people will follow

The most inspiring part of that day has to be how readily people stepped up to wall off the fash – even if it meant chasing after them as they popped up out of side streets left and right. It wasn’t just the usual bloc crews and trans punks holding down those lines, it was everyone, government employees, grandparents and other Love-Not-Hate types. Even the most cynical among us hardly noticed if anyone was urging peace and non-confrontation.

It turns out civil servants will follow the lead of a vest and megaphone even if they’re calling to confront fascists head-on. It’s hard to tell how much of that is a growing familiarity and acceptance of antifascist tactics in ottawa and how much of that is just liberals’ deeply ingrained desire to follow authority – any authority, apparently.

Sometimes, liberals can also be handled by just keeping their hands busy. At the start, the crowd kept making way for clusters of cops, risking the police splitting our side down the middle and forcing us off the street. A massive horizontal pride banner, requiring about a dozen pairs of hands to hold taut, and other banners were distributed to the back. Redirection worked to prevent them from parting again though they’d never dare, or want, to knowingly stand in the cops’ way.

Trans liberation means youth liberation

There are three schools along those few blocks of Broadview: Notre Dame High School, Broadview Public School (K-8) and Nepean High School. Billboard Chris chose this specific street and these specific schools for a reason – because on October 18, 2021, students from that neighbourhood completely fucking humiliated him and ran him out of town.

This time around, schools – “on advice of police” – invoked “shelter-in-place” protocol. In other words, they locked youth into their classrooms – “for their protection.” (Note the totally uncritical parroting of police rhetoric here from progressive media.)

As governments all around Canada go all-in on attacks on trans youth, we must understand that trans liberation requires youth liberation. It means liberation not only from right-wing legislators and parents who want to own their children but all the carceral power of the state. It means understanding schools as themselves a site of violence through police and policing by staff. It means empowering trans kids to exercise their own agency while showing them that they aren’t alone in this three-way fight. It means the end to adult supremacy and settler colonial power as a whole.

Tout le monde déteste la police

June 9th was probably the biggest police response a lot of new antifascists in ottawa have seen. Near the beginning, bike cops faced up against our frontlines and we braced ourselves, expecting them to try to bash their way through us. Instead, our numbers grew and we reinforced our lines. They seemed to give up on gaining full control of the terrain, though they got in more than their fair share of assaults against us in defence of the fash. But we held our positions even as the cops had to call for water and switch out their overheating forces.

The arrest count at the end of the day was 5 catch-and-releases, no charges. Of those 5, 4 were defenders and 1 was a brown teen on the other side. As always, the cops couldn’t be clearer about their allegiances. Though no one has to shell out for legal fees or mass-delete Signal chats this time around, that still means being identified to the state and unmasked in full view of the fash.

We also had the first uses of pepper spray against our side in a while. And some mainstream media journos – much as they’re not our friends, either – got shut out by the cops. A drone watched us throughout, now a regular feature of community defences in ottawa. All this reminds us of RCMP tactics, catch-and-releases and media exclusion zones at Fairy Creek. Is that a coincidence, or is our new chief pig bringing out the tricks he tested in his old job out west? We’re seeing shifts in police tactics now, away from their mostly hands-off approach to the left in the past couple years but different too from the police lines that would whale on our comrades pre-2020. Where that’s headed remains to be seen.

Ottawa is one of those cities where everyone leaves or burns out. It often seems like no one still around remembers that fascists rallied in ottawa long before January 2022. So as shit keeps heating up, we want to remind the folks who got into this through the pandemic or convoy about the recent history of pig violence and repression against antifascists in ottawa.

In ye olden days of 2016 to 2019, ottawa cops were known to ram their bikes and beat the shit out of antifascist lines. Like police everywhere, they slapped people with bullshit charges and dragged them through the legal system for years. At the 2016 March for Life, pro-choicers were pepper sprayed and 2 arrested, their full names released to the public and published in the media.  4 arrests happened at the behest of Kevin J. Johnston in June 2017 during an optimistically named “Million Canadian March” and rally on Parliament. A counterdemo to an anti-immigration rally in December 2018 ended in 9 arrests on our side and hours-long jail support, following crowds of riot cops that made liberal use of their batons The list could go on.

While we hope we won’t have to deal with them again so soon, we should all be reminding ourselves what to do when arrests happen. The crowd was slow to respond when people were grabbed and hauled away. Some belatedly rushed in with umbrellas to block streamers’ cameras, but far too late. When that one youth was arrested, those around him visibly turned away. (We know what the cops can do to brown kids and we know the fascists aren’t going to have his back. Opposing white supremacy means being against it even when a youth’s chosen the wrong side.) Possible witnesses for narrowly-avoided legal cases vanished with no way to get in touch. We should count ourselves lucky and make sure we’re prepared for the arduous task of supporting someone through charges if and when they stick in the future.

As always, we keep us safe

In the wake of that June demo and in the months after, we’ve seen more and more calls for government action, safe zones, pride funding for safety and security (cops-and-cops-and-more-cops). To that, we say: not in our fucking names.

When heads of corporate prides come together with their fancy press conferences to beg Daddy Trudeau for more money for their TD-sponsored festivals, we call it what it is: a fucking insult. We reject the co-optation by politicians and nonprofit who spit in our faces by making us into victims and not proud defenders.

We must remember that June 9th was an unequivocal victory. No amount of politicians wringing their hands and crying in the press can change that we fucking did that. Trans people and our comrades-in-arms corralled hundreds of violent fascists and held them in place for over two hours. We did it ourselves, despite the best efforts of the police to stop us. And we can and will do it again. In the face of resurgent fascism, neoliberal co-optation and state repression, we will win.

From Embers: Drag Defence in Quebec

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Jul 222023
 

From From Embers

Talking with Louve Rose from P!nk Bloc Montreal about Quebec’s transphobic far right, drag defence, and building a revolutionary anti-capitalist queer organization for both community self-defence and to intervene against gay assimilationism.

Links

P!nk Bloc MTL – Instagram, Facebook, Linktree

August 12 Rad Pride (Facebook Event)

Montreal Antifasciste

MAF reportback from April 12 drag defence

From Embers – Anti-Fascism in Quebec

Revolutionary Trans Politics and the Three Way Fight

Submedia: Pride and Prejudice

Music

The Muslims – Fuck the Cistem

The Current Situation of the Far Right in Québec in 2023

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Jul 032023
 

From Montréal Antifasciste

This text was produced by the Montréal Antifasciste collective and printed in zine format for free distribution at the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair, May 27-28, 2023.

In the wake of emerging crises (economic, climate, migration, health, etc.) and in the absence of a structured alternative on the left of the political spectrum, a right-wing wind is currently blowing across the world that nothing seems to be slowing down. In keeping with this trend, the far right is on the rise in a number regions across the world, both in its reactionary and institutional forms (loyal to the systems in place) and in its so-called revolutionary forms (hostile to the systems in place), especially in the United States and in some Western European countries, including Italy and France, but also in Russia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, in the Middle East, and in India, to provide but a few examples. With a few months’ or a few years’ delay, Canada and Québec are also impacted by this trend, as much in terms of institutional politics (e.g., the populist turn of the Conservative Party of Canada and the media breakthrough of the Conservative Party of Québec) as in terms of soft power (e.g., in Québec, the dominant influence of the Quebécor empire’s media on the “agenda”) and popular or pseudo-popular movements (e.g., opposition to health measures).

The so-called “Freedom Convoy,” which paralyzed the Canadian capital for several weeks in the winter of 2022, confirmed the convergence of several phenomena that are superficially distinct but all play a role in the re-emergence of the far right: a leadership partially derived from supremacist movements and groupuscules that are influenced by the alt-right and “accelerationist” principles (but that are above all rooted in the anti-Trudeau resentment that characterizes western Canadian populism/separatism), anti–health measures conspiracy theory (including a New Age and alternative health component) rooted in confusionism and misinformation propagated by far-right actors, and a populist undercurrent taking advantage of the growing (and largely legitimate) hostility toward political and economic elites.

In Québec, Montréal Antifasciste has documented the parallel emergence and rise of national-populist and neo-fascist movements and groups in the 2016–2020 period, roughly corresponding to the presidency of Donald Trump and the golden age of the alt-right in the United States. During this period, populist Islamophobic and anti-immigration groups like La Meute and Storm Alliance rubbed shoulders with overtly neo-fascist and supremacist activist and ideological organizations, including Atalante, the Fédération des Québécois de souche, Soldiers of Odin, and local incarnations of the alt-right.

On the one hand, a combination of anti-racist and anti-fascist mobilizations, as well as internal tensions and dissension, the institutionalization of some of their demands, and finally the global COVID-19 pandemic greatly destabilized (and in some cases neutralized and eliminated) these organizations. On the other hand, the pandemic provided some actors—both familiar faces and newcomers—the opportunity to push the populist right and the far right in new directions, and the current period is marked by the emergence of a number of new projects strongly to the right of the traditional conservative right. Furthermore, and perhaps most significantly, the mainstream and institutional political and cultural landscape continues to shift to the right, with potentially serious consequences in the short and medium term. In that context, we offer this—no doubt incomplete—overview of the current situation in Québec.

Working Definitions

We are acutely aware of the difficulty of providing a concise and precise definition of a phenomenon as complex as fascism, but for the purposes of this pamphlet and the orientation of the Montréal Antifasciste collective, we propose the following definitions:

Fascism is an anti-liberal, ultranationalist ideology centered on re-founding an imaginary version of the primordial nation,* which has been lost to “modern decadence,” liberal values, and equality-seeking groups, and which is to be restored through the forced consolidation of hierarchies and the normalization of discrimination against different categories of humans (on the basis of gender, “race,” social status, sexual identity, culture, religion, ethnic origin, etc.). The far right designates the currents of thought and political action, both within and outside of the system, that are more radical than the traditional conservative right in consolidating these hierarchies and normalizing relations of oppression and discrimination, thus favouring the emergence of fascist formations.

Anti-fascism refers to the people, organizations, social movements, and currents of thought and action that oppose not only realized fascism but also all the political, social, and cultural factors that facilitate the re-emergence of a fascist spirit and the realization of old or new fascist forms. including xenophobic and reactionary national-populist agendas, neo-fascist, “revolutionary nationalist,” and neo-Nazi groups, as well as confusionist conspiracy theory currents that recycle far-right themes. Liberal anti-fascism largely operates within the limits established by the capitalist system and the bourgeois order. Radical anti-fascism favours a far-reaching egalitarian reorganization of society, i.e., freedom from systemic hierarchies and discriminations, including capitalism, white supremacy, colonialism, and heteropatriarchy. The diminutive “antifa,” which was coined in Germany in the 1970s and 1980s, generally refers to radical anti-fascism.

* This definition is based on the work of the British historian and political scientist Roger Griffin.

From La Meute to the CAQ: The Institutional Integration of Islamophobic and Anti-Immigration Demands

Montréal Antifasciste was formed shortly after the Islamophobic rallies organized by La Meute in Montréal and Québec City on March 4, 2017. These coordinated demonstrations, which came just weeks after a mass shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Québec City left six dead and many seriously injured, were intended to protest Motion 103 (M-103), a non-binding resolution aimed primarily at getting the federal government to recognize the importance of “condemning Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination,” which passed on March 23, 2017. In the following years, La Meute and other similar projects—Storm Alliance, the Front patriotique du Québec, Soldiers of Odin Québec, and later the so-called Gilets jaunes and the Vague Bleue among them—organized multiple Islamophobic and anti-immigration demonstrations and actions in Montréal, Québec City, Trois-Rivières, and Ottawa, as well as at the border crossing of Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle and at Roxham Road. These latter mobilizations demanded the closure of the “irregular” passage used by a relatively large number of refugee claimants under the provisions of the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the US. From the outset, these demonstrations were flanked by half-assed militias (inspired in part by the III% and US alt-right street-fighting groups like the Proud Boys), including the Groupe Sécurité Patriotique and the Gardiens du Québec, as well as various well-known local far-right figures seeking to pick a fight with anti-fascists.

Although these formations and mobilizations may have seemed marginal at the time, they were, in fact, part of a much broader right-wing drift of the institutional political field in Québec, which had been taking place since the so-called “reasonable accommodation” crisis in 2006–2007.[1] The CAQ’s arrival in power in 2018 served to accelerate this process, as was quickly confirmed by Bill 21, which, under the pretext of ensuring the “secularity of the state,” clearly targeted Muslim women and other religious minorities. The CAQ’s obsession with immigration thresholds during the election campaign (now recuperated by the PQ) also betrayed a populist desire to satisfy the demands of an electoral base among whom the Islamophobic and xenophobic sentiments expressed by La Meute resonated strongly. Despite official denials, in an interview with Radio-Canada in 2019, François Legault half-heartedly admitted that Bill 21 was a “compromise” of sorts with the Islamophobic movements:

Pour éviter les extrêmes, il faut en donner un peu à la majorité. […] Je pense que c’est la meilleure façon d’éviter les dérapages. » […] On délimite le terrain, parce qu’il y a des gens un peu racistes qui souhaiteraient qu’il n’y ait pas de signes religieux nulle part, même pas sur la place publique. [To avoid extremes, you have to give the majority a little bit. . . . I think that’s the best way to avoid slippage. . . . We are marking out the terrain, because there are people who are a bit racist and would like there to be no religious signs anywhere, not even in the public square.]

No one missed the point, especially not the leaders of La Meute, e.g., Sylvain Brouillette, who during the 2018 election said that the CAQ advanced La Meute’s ideas, and vice versa:

“Si La Meute est sur le bord du racisme, cela veut dire que vous l’êtes aussi, M. Legault. […] c’est ceux qui pensent comme vous que vous traitez de racistes.” [If La Meute is a bit racist, that means that you are too, Mr. Legault. . . . You are calling people who think like you racist.]

Again in 2019, when Bill 21 was tabled:

Quand ils disent qu’ils n’ont rien à voir avec La Meute, c’est assez risible. Les revendications de La Meute, c’est exactement le programme de la CAQ et c’est là-dessus qu’il a été élu. [When they say they have nothing to do with La Meute, it’s quite laughable. The demands of La Meute are exactly the program of the CAQ, and that’s what he was elected on.]

The fact is that the institutionalization of the xenophobic and Islamophobic demands of groups like La Meute may have contributed as much—if not more—to their obsolescence and decline as the anti-fascist opposition and the many internal crises that have plagued them (power struggles, financial malfeasance, sexual assault accusations, etc.). Nothing illustrated this phenomenon as grotesquely as the Vague Bleue movement (2019), which ultimately demanded nothing more than what the CAQ government was already putting in place, while puerilely protesting against the media organization (including the TVA network) that is largely responsible for the right-wing drift that in no small way fed the growth of the national-populist movement.

Of course, the reframing of the political landscape on the right is continuing today without the contribution of these groups. Every day, the Québecor media empire, primarily through the work of a small army of reactionary columnists, engages in mass ideological structuring whose discourse is often found in the mouths of elected CAQ officials. The proof is in the fanatical resistance to recognizing the existence of systemic racism and François Legault’s recuperation of the “woke” strawman in National Assembly debates. Mathieu Bock-Côté, whose 2020 book L’empire du politiquement correct was praised by Legault, whose column “Éloge de notre vieux fond catholique” was recently diffused by Legault, and who peddles his rants about the imminent fall of Western civilization in the pages of Le Journal de Montréal and on TVA/LCN on a daily basis, is undoubtedly one of the most important purveyors of far-right ideas in the mainstream, both here and in France (where he served as a mouthpiece for Éric Zemmour during the last presidential election, and where he is still active as a columnist and regular contributor on various far-right platforms, including CNews, Causeur, Valeurs actuelles, etc.). Yet, at home, he is still portrayed as a moderate conservative, and any attempt to associate him with the far right is met with anti-“woke” hysteria.

While unquestionably a win for the CAQ, the recent closure of Roxham Road was also another triumph for the xenophobic movements that have been clamouring for it for years.

Finally, the relative vacillation of the CAQ on various issues, including immigration thresholds and, more recently, its flip-flop on the third link, opens up a space on its right, which Éric Duhaime and his Conservative Party of Québec are happy to occupy with a toxic mix of libertarianism and populism that has enormous appeal for the disappointed fringe of the CAQ’s base and carries current far-right obsessions into the mainstream (including the “anti-drag” hysteria, to which we will return below).

Whatever the institutional context, in 2023, La Meute only survives online and is a shadow of its former self (which was not much to begin with), and Storm Alliance has completely disappeared from the map. The same goes for the Front patriotique du Québec, which organized nationalist marches every July 1 for several years, the Groupe sécurité patriotique, the Gardiens du Québec, the Gilets jaunes du Québec, and all the groupuscules of greater or lesser consequence that formed during that period. However, some of the leading activists of these organizations, including Steeve “l’Artiss” Charland (La Meute) and Mario Roy (Storm Alliance), recycled themselves into the anti–health measures movement that gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic, as we shall see below. Donald Proulx’s Parti patriote and other similar fringe groups continue to exist but have no significant influence.

What Happened to the Hardcore Fascists?

One of the Montréal Antifasciste’s major preoccupations in the 2017–2020 period was to track and document the trajectory and activities of the group Atalante, which, in some ways, is both a contemporary iteration of the Québec white power movement, whose origins can be traced back to the bonehead groupuscules of the 1990s, and a sort of vanguard of the European-inspired identity/neo-fascist (specifically, revolutionary nationalist) movement in Québec. Atalante has arguably been the most developed and determined group that Montréal Antifasciste has opposed to date.

When Atalante was founded in 2016, the organization could already count on a number of activists from the Québec City Stomper Crew and, more generally, from the Québec neo-Nazi milieu. Unlike most of the other groups discussed in this text, which we have watched emerge and disappear in recent years, Atalante’s members were already ideologically and politically trained, notably through the activities of the Fédération des Québécois de souche and its own precursors, such as the Bannière noire. Moreover, the organization that clearly inspired Atalante, from its foundation to its most minor actions (to the point of using the same style of lettering on its banners), did nothing to reassure us: CasaPound is an Italian neo-fascist organization, founded in 2003, which claims several thousand members, is well established in several Italian cities, and makes life hard for immigrants and anti-fascists.

Atalante is, to all intents and purposes, based in Québec City, despite some unsuccessful attempts to create a functioning cell in Montréal and the presence of a few activists scattered across the province (notably in the Saguenay). As for our collective, as its name indicates, it is based in Montréal, and this distance has prevented a full and far-reaching mobilization against this Québec City–based neo-fascist group. We must salute the anti-fascist activists in Québec City, who were initially few in number but nonetheless tirelessly fought on the ground against Atalante, its members, and its ideas.

The existing context—a favourable political climate (Islamophobia and the resurgence of identity-based nationalism) was initially a winning recipe for Atalante, which reached sixty members and sympathizers at its peak in 2018–2019, in addition to having a receptive audience within the national-populist movement. When it opened its boxing club in 2017, we feared that the next step would be opening a meeting place for organizing its political activity, which would have marked a clear turning point. Following the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” we decided to put the necessary energy into preventing Atalanta from flourishing and taking root. From 2017 to 2022, the Montréal Antifasciste collective produced a series of articles aimed at combating Atalante’s toxic ideas and publicly exposing its members.

The existing context—a favourable political climate (Islamophobia and the resurgence of identity-based nationalism) was initially a winning recipe for Atalante, which reached sixty members and sympathizers at its peak in 2018–2019, in addition to having a receptive audience within the national-populist movement. When it opened its boxing club in 2017, we feared that the next step would be opening meeting place for organizing its political activity, which would have marked a clear turning point. Following the adage “prevention is better than a cure,” we decided to put the necessary energy into preventing a group like Atalanta from flourishing and taking root. From 2017 to 2022, the Montréal Antifasciste Collective produced a series of articles aimed at combating Atalante’s toxic ideas and publicly exposing its members.

Under the combined impact of constant negative attention from anti-fascists and the banning of the organization from the main social media platforms, which had served the dual function of showcasing the group’s politics and recruitment, Atalante’s activities had dramatically dwindled by late 2019. Raphaël Lévesque and Louis Fernandez’s legal setbacks certainly didn’t help: the assault at the bar Lvlop in December 2018 cast a pall over the organization, and Lévesque’s trial in the Vice case did not provide the political showcase hoped for. It also appears that a number of interpersonal conflicts may have diminished cohesion within the group and led to the creation of sub-cliques. Finally, the members of Atalanta, as “anti-system” as they say they are, seem to have gotten caught up in the system as they have passed their thirties and forties: more comfortable jobs, families, and houses in the suburbs do not lend themselves to revolutionary nationalist militancy.

Since 2020, the group’s outings have become less frequent, and there are fewer activists in the photos. The pressure on the region’s anti-fascists has almost entirely dissipated. The podcast L’armée des ondes, launched in October 2020 to revive the group’s activities and mainly broadcast on its Telegram channel, was initially released every month but has been slowly fading since 2022. In the winter of 2021–2022, the group did attempt to gain a foothold in the anti–health measures movement, without much success. On June 24, 2022, we were informed that the band Légitime Violence participated in the “La Saint-Jean de la race” event organized by Nomos.tv and Alexandre Cormier-Denis.

Since then, key Atalante members seem to have recycled themselves in counter-cultural or professional projects. Cerbère Studios, registered with the Registraire des Entreprises under the name of Félix-Olivier Beauchamp, probably gives graphic design contracts to the couple Étienne Mailhot-Bruneau and Laurence Fiset-Grenier. Louis Fernandez was for a time registered as head of the company Saisis la foudre/Éditions Tardivel, with Gabriel Drouin, but the company was struck off in 2021. Jonathan Payeur, for his part, has teamed up with neo-Nazi musician Steve Labrecque to run a distributor of identity/neo-Nazi clothing under the banner Pagan Heritage (at the time of writing, however, the distributor’s website appears to be empty and inactive). The group’s suspected main ideologue Antoine Mailhot-Bruneau keeps a low profile and continues to work as an ambulance driver in Lévis. Raphaël Lévesque, now a father, seems to be alone when he tries to intimidate anti-fascist activists. That said, we cannot say that this means the official end of Atalante. Nothing prevents a future resurgence of the group in one form or another. A handful of militants, including Jo Payeur, recently emerged from under their rock to pay homage to their intellectual master Dominique Venner, who committed suicide. Nevertheless, it can be said that the group’s activity is largely at a standstill at the moment.

The Rest of Them

For its part, the neo-Nazi-inspired Islamophobic group Soldiers of Odin Québec, which drew attention to itself with a series of public outings and provocative actions in 2017 and 2018, did not last long after coming up against real-life anti-fascists. Despite a change in leadership, the group never recovered and now seems to have disappeared completely.

The Fédération des Québécois de souche (FQS), with its website and its newspaper Le Harfang, has long been one of the most important Québec far-right platforms for information and ideological formation. Founded in 2007 by neo-Nazis, the FQS has been taking a large-tent approach for more than a decade, creating a milieu where reactionary and “revolutionary” far-right families rub shoulders—probably not without tension. At the time of writing, the domain name quebecoisdesouche.info seems to have been hijacked or not renewed, and the last posts on the FQS Twitter account date back to 2020. Le Harfang’s Telegram channel, which has 288 followers at this point, is still very active, however, and appears to be the group’s main platform. Le Harfang, whose most recent issue (Spring 2023) focuses on the “Great Replacement” theory, continues to be published as well. Based on the most recent available information, the paper is headed by the pseudonymous FQS author Rémi Tremblay, as well as by Roch Tousignant and François Dumas, dinosaurs from the Cercle Jeune nation, who were already trying to unify the different tendencies of the far right in the 1990s. (On this subject, see the pamphlet Notre maître le passé?!? Extrême droite au Québec 1930–1998.)

In the same family, the Front canadien-français, which was inspired by its fundamentalist Catholic precursors, the Cercle Tardivel and the Mouvement Tradition Québec (close to the FQS), as well as the Alexandre Cormier-Denis’s projects, proved to be a shooting star in 2020, its key activists never quite recovering from an article exposing them to the light of day. However, a few of its activists bounced back in 2022, creating a new nationalist project, the Nouvelle Alliance (NA). Strictly speaking, it would be going too far to call this groupuscule fascist at this point, but it is also rather difficult to pinpoint its political programme, except to say that it is part of the conservative pro-independence tradition and tends toward confusionism. What can be said with certainty, however, is that its activism is directly based on Atalante’s methods (posters, collages, banner drops, commemorative rallies, all relying heavily on an ostentatious social media presence). As we have seen, these tactics are derived from European neo-fascist movements. Recently, NA activists have been seen at CF Montreal games (making explicit threats and successfully alienating all fan groups in the process), signalling an intention to enter “cultural” spaces historically contested by fascists. We are also told that NA activists are intimidating environmentalist students, which also indicates a clear desire to antagonize the left and anti-fascists. Without dwelling on the previously mentioned affiliation with the FCF and the affiliation of individuals already identified with the far right, it is quite obvious that behind the image of a preppy nationalism that has more or less shed the stench of the explicitly fascist groups, the same ulterior motives underlie the activity of this new project. Even if it is ambiguous, their sticker with the famous slogan “Le Québec aux Québécois” should leave no doubt about this, given the context. In any case, if they were seeking the attention of anti-fascists, they have it.

Another notorious fascist who strenuously denies being one (because fascism, as is well known, completely disappeared from the face of the earth in 1945) is Alexandre Cormier-Denis, who, with his acolytes, hosts the web TV channel Nomos.tv. Since its inception, Nomos has promoted an explicitly racist and xenophobic ultranationalism, generally reactionary, but not necessarily hostile to “revolutionary nationalism” (Cormier-Denis rolled out the red carpet for Atalante’s Raphaël Lévesque in June 2020). In addition to its support base in Québec, this ethno-nationalist project has found a particularly favourable echo in French identity networks in recent years, as confirmed by the high level of activity on Nomos’s public Telegram channel and the ridiculous accent Cormier-Denis has adopted in his news capsules for some time now. Cormier-Denis also warmly supported the candidacy of Éric Zemmour (whom he facetiously refers to as the “magic Sephardic”) during the last French presidential elections, which drew the wrath of rabid antisemites like Sylvain Marcoux (see below). Cormier-Denis and Nomos adhere to the metapolitical strategy theorized by the French far right from the 1980s onwards (in the bosom of the Groupement de recherche et d’études pour la civilisation européenne—GRECE), which consists of betting on the gradual transformation of the cultural and ideological landscape until the general context is deemed favourable for the seizure of political power by the far right. This strategy has been pursued in France for more than a generation and (among other factors) explains why Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National is getting closer to power every election cycle.

The Nomos channel was deplatformed from YouTube in October 2021, in response to a complaint from the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, and its hosts chose to transfer their activities to the Odyssey platform, retreating to a pay model. Despite this, it is reasonable to say that Nomos.tv is currently a leading far-right ideological vehicle in Québec.

And the Neo-Nazis

The activity of neo-Nazi scum in Québec has suffered a series of setbacks in recent years, but has never entirely disappeared.

Montréal Antifasciste has been closely following the hate speech trial of Gabriel Sohier Chaput, aka Zeiger, which resulted in a guilty verdict in January 2023. Despite this verdict (which the key interested party intends to appeal), the trial was botched and revealed the incompetence of the police investigation and the lack of preparation on the part of the prosecution, starting with the inadequacy of the charges brought against this extremely prolific and influential neo-Nazi militant and ideologue, who was active from 2014 to 2018. Sohier Chaput was an author and frequent contributor to The Daily Stormer website, in addition to being a co-administrator of the Iron March discussion platform and producing a shitload of neo-Nazi and white supremacist propaganda for a number of years. He was identified by anti-fascists in 2018 and was the subject of a series of articles in the Montreal Gazette in May of that year. Sohier Chaput now lives in the small Gaspé community of Marsoui, presumably with a family member.

Someone who had a strong opinion on Zeiger’s trial was Sylvain Marcoux. Marcoux and his Parti nationaliste chrétien (PNC) have not had a very good year. After being arrested in August 2020 for criminal harassment and intimidation of public health director Horacio Arruda, and having to publicly apologize in September 2021 to avoid serious consequences, Marcoux was unable to get his Nazi-inspired party recognized by the province’s Chief Electoral Officer during the provincial election in autumn 2022. No matter, Marcoux and his PNC cronies, including a certain Andréanne Chabot, run rampant on Telegram and Twitter, where they create new accounts every time they’re banned.

Recently, Sylvain Marcoux appeared on the sidelines of an anti-drag demonstration in Sainte-Catherine, on the South Shore of Montréal, where he received a hands-on greeting from the anti-fascists gathered there to block the homophobes.

A couple of other bozos also decided to make an appearance at the event, namely, White Lives Matter (WLM) activists, who had been the subject of an article in Montréal Antifasciste in March 2022. Two of them, Raphaël Dinucci St-Hilaire (from Laval) and David Barrette (from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu), also quickly learned that trans and queer people know how to defend themselves and now will have to deal with being identified as part of this white supremacist organization, with all the inevitable consequences that come with that.

The same goes for Shawn Beauvais MacDonald, another well-known neo-Nazi and WLM chatroom regular, who we strongly suspect is linked to the creation of a new local activist project, similar to WLM, the Frontenac Active Club. According to the Anti-Defamation League:

Active Clubs are a nationwide [and international] network of localized white supremacist crews who are largely inspired by Robert Rundo’s white supremacist Rise Above Movement (R.A.M.). Active Club members see themselves as fighters training for an ongoing war against a system that they claim is deliberately plotting against the white race.

On April 21, 2023, Frontenac AC stickers appeared on Atateken Street in Montréal’s Village, and on the same day there was a post on the Telegram channel @FrontenacAC claiming responsibility for the stickers, with the caption “J’débarque en drift à la pride, mon capot inclusive.” The message explicitly refers to car attacks like the one that claimed the life of Heather Heyer on August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, on the sidelines of the Unite the Right supremacist rally (which Shawn Beauvais MacDonald attended). The next day, after a book launch co-organized by Montréal Antifasciste at the Comité social Centre-Sud, which is a stone’s throw from where the Frontenac AC stickers were put up the day before, Beauvais MacDonald had the bizarre idea of showing up alone at the Yer’Mad bar, a well-known Montréal far-left hangout, with the obvious goal of intimidating the clientele. Having been informed of his presence, anti-fascists quickly arrived on the scene and expelled him manu militari. This sequence of events leads us to believe that Shawn Beauvais MacDonald is a key player in this new initiative. Frontenac Active Club stickers have also recently appeared in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Bromont.

In the Québec City area, the near disappearance of Atalante has left a void, but the neo-Nazis are never far away. In the spring of 2019, the neo-fascist outfit’s flagship group, Légitime Violence, attempted to hold a show with French neo-Nazi black metal band Baise ma hache in a Québec City community center, but community vigilance forced them to take refuge at the bar Le Duck. This establishment seems to cultivate a certain sympathy for neo-Nazis, since it hosted members of the Légitime Violence entourage, WLM activists, and Nomos sympathizers in June 2022 for an event called “Saint-Jean de la race.”

It is also worth drawing attention to a curious phenomenon that created ripples in the Québec City hardcore scene in 2023. Last February, a new band called R.A.W. began to create a buzz. With a little digging, we learned that this acronym stands for Rock Against Wokism (a not-so-subtle reference to the neo-Nazi movement Rock Against Communism). The famed “wokism” is personified in their visual material by a graphic of Justin Trudeau eating a knuckle sandwich. There are, of course, countless reasons to be angry with Justin Trudeau and his government, including the fact that he serves capitalist interests, but we don’t think that his defence of minorities is one of them. (It should be noted that the band’s visuals are loosely based on those of the metal band Pantera, whose singer also occasionally likes to throw up the stiff-armed salute.)

If that isn’t enough, the band’s drummer is Philippe Dionne, a former member of Légitime Violence, which doesn’t seem to bother the other members of the group all that much. For his part, singer Martin Cloutier, a follower of Tucker Carlson, Breitbart News, and other American far-right scum, made a confusing attempt to explain the band’s approach but only managed to publicly expose his transphobia.

The band had planned a show for March 4, but the province’s anti-racist hardcore scene quickly mobilized, and one after another the bands that was supposed to share the bill cancelled. The show ended up being held at Studio Sonum, known for employing fascists, with only one other band, Corruption 86, whose singer Laurent Brient is known to have also been a member of the white power band Bootprint, as well as for participating in an attempt to form a chapter of the neo-Nazi group Volksfront in the early 2010s. Birds of a feather flock together.

Other neo-Nazis in the region who we’ve previously mentioned continue to operate to varying degrees: Gabriel Marcon Drapeau continues to sell his Nazi junk under the Vinland Stiker banner, notably at the Jean-Talon flea market in Charlesbourg (whose administration seems to have tolerated a neo-Nazi selling Nazi merchandise there on a regular basis for months). Speaking of junk, earlier we mentioned Steve Labrecque and Jonahtan Payeur’s Pagan Heritage project.

The Anti–Health Measures Spiral, Conspiracy Fantasies, and the “Reinfosphere”

More than once, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, Montréal Antifasciste addressed the apparent convergence of certain far right-wing currents with the conspiracy movement and “conspirituality,” an anti–health measures phenomenon arising from hippie/New Age circles. Despite the increasingly blatant and widespread links between these three trends, which in Canada led to the grotesque “Freedom Convoy,” some voices on the left have been (and still are!) defending this convergence as the expression of a legitimate popular revolt against the elites, which should be joined and supported (the most cynical would say exploited) rather than denounced and fought against in view of its reactionary, egoistic, and anti-science dimensions.

We continue to believe that this is a gross analytical error, given the most recent orientation adopted by the conspiracy theory milieu, and that the anti–health measures spiral of the last few years is both a manifestation of the far right and an opportunity for it to spread its themes and obsessions. In doing so, it pushes the Overton window, the spectrum of acceptable ideas among the general population, considerably to the right. In an effort to reach a wider audience, anti–health measures echo chambers were established on social media during the pandemic (largely based on the xenophobic/Islamophobic echo chambers of the previous period), and the conspiracy theory milieu has in recent years equipped itself with dissemination platforms inspired, sometimes explicitly, by the concept of “reinformation” developed by the French far right over the last twenty years.

This is particularly true of the Lux Media project (formerly the Stu Dio), hosted by André “Stu Pit” Pitre, which openly acknowledges adhering to this concept. Pitre and his collaborators not only spread all the conspiracy fantasies in vogue (countless variations on the theme of deadly vaccines, climatoscepticism, the grooming panic and pedosatanism, Trump’s “Big Lie” and other motifs from the QAnon phantasmagoria, etc.), as well as innumerable other conspiracy fantasies, along with an untold number of crude lies (one could question Pitre’s sincerity and moral integrity, as he seems primarily concerned with maintaining his revenue streams), and many historically far-right topics, including the Great Replacement and other alleged machinations of the “globalists” (an antisemitic euphemism/dog whistle) to wipe out Western civilization. Just a few years ago, these themes were only discussed in the far-right ideological spheres, e.g., the Fédération des Québécois de souche, but the combined influence of the national-populist circles of the 2016–2019 period and the more recent anti–health measures conspiracy theory milieu have had the effect of greatly broadening the pool of people exposed to them. Confusionism—the deliberate blurring of the meaning of political words and concepts and their misuse for malicious purposes—is another means employed by these actors to manipulate minds and encourage adherence to this toxic assemblage of misleading rhetoric, conspiracy fantasies, and far-right clichés.

In a perpetual quest for clicks (whether to maintain their revenue stream or their newly acquired small-star status), a small army of conspiracy leaders and influencers exploit the anxiety generated by the crises of the current world, the fear of change, and the great credulity of a part of the population—which is fostered by the very nature of social media and the legitimate distrust of the mass media—to misdirect and fanaticize a base already susceptible to conspiracy fantasies. This insidious mechanism means that the conspiracy “agenda” is increasingly influenced, if not determined, by the far right, with the two becoming more closely linked.

The so-called “Freedom Convoy” of 2022, which was organized from the outset by activists identified with the far right, marked an acceleration in this respect. Opposition to compulsory vaccinations was quickly transformed into opposition to vaccinations altogether, and soon enough conspiracy theories and other elements of discourse that were at odds with reality became increasingly important in the rhetoric of the convoy’s ordinary supporters. Keep in mind that the Farfadaas, led by Steve “l’Artiss” Charland, former La Meute lieutenant, were deeply involved in the convoy and in the movement opposed to the health measures, as was Mario Roy, a leading figure in Storm Alliance and other Islamophobic groupuscules of the 2016–2019 period.

Last February, a year after the convoy was dismantled, Christine Anderson, a member of the European Parliament from the far-right German party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), was invited to tour Canada on the basis of her support for the convoy. The tour was sponsored in Québec by the Fondation pour la protection des droits et libertés du people, whose main spokesperson, Stéphane Blais, has become known for his outlandish legal actions against the Québec government. (Note: the organizers of Anderson’s conference in Montréal had to move the event out of the city due to anti-fascist pressure). Recently, another conspiracy influencer and money-maker, Samuel Grenier, announced that he was organizing a series of events in the summer of 2023, using the same approach, this time with a member of the French far-right Rassemblement National (RN).

However, the most significant recent development in the Québec conspiracy theory milieu from an anti-fascist perspective is the rapid increase in fanatical anti-LGBTQ+ discourses, which are both a central element of contemporary conspiracy fantasies and a recurring theme of the alt-right and the religious far right. In Québec, the “anti-drag” hysteria, which has already done significant damage in the United States on an institutional political level, is mainly driven by the anti-vaccine activist François Amalega Bitondo. He is close to evangelical currents that monetized the pandemic, including Carlos Norbal, the pastor-entrepreneur (sic) at the head of the Église Nouvelle création, and the hosts of the ThéoVox.tv channel, Jean-François Denis among them. He is also a recurring guest on Lux Media and has a strong influence on the conspiracy theory milieu through his regular interventions on social media. He is now fully dedicated to the anti-LGBTQ+ crusade, having notably organized (or attempted to organize) a series of protests against the artist and educator Barbada’s Drag Queen Story Hour. So far, these rallies (April 2 in Sainte-Catherine and May 16 in Mercier-Est) have been crushed by the trans and queer anti-fascist community, but at the time of writing, Amalega shows no sign of slowing down his homophobic/transphobic campaign and has issued a call to demonstrate in Jonquière on May 26. A call that his followers in the region seem disposed to respond to.

The strong anti-fascist opposition to the conspiracy theorists hateful offensive surprised many—including Amalega himself—when they came up against a form of resistance they had largely been spared until now. On this topic, let’s quote the Montréal Antifasciste report on the April 2 counter-demonstration:

It’s worth noting that the conspiracy theory milieu was largely spared having to deal with anti-fascists during the last three years of the pandemic. In spite of the close and often explicit proximity of the far right to conspiracy theory fantasies, the challenges raised by the health measures had to do with personal decisions, and responding to people and vaguely defined organizations whose key shortcoming is to adhere to anti-scientific nonsense is complicated and far from straightforward. Nonetheless, a line is crossed when these conspiracy theory fantasies directly target our communities and compromise our security, whether in the short-, medium-, or long-term, and that is the line the anti-drag movement has crossed with its ridiculous panic, and it is absolutely essential to deliver the message that queer and trans communities will defend themselves in the face of this intimidation. There should be no doubt: if the queerphobes/transphobes persist in their demonization exercise, they will always come face to face with us. Queers bash back, darling…

The Galaxy of “Reinformers”

In addition to the platforms already mentioned, such as Nomos.tv and Lux Media, a number of other media projects are actively participating in this convergence of the conspiracy theory and far-right spheres.

Perhaps the most influential during the pandemic was Radio-Québec, hosted by Alexis Cossette-Trudel. Radio-Canada demonstrated in 2020 that Cossette-Trudel was one of the main purveyors of QAnon delusions in the world. He was deplatformed (from Facebook in October 2020 and from Twitter in January 2021), but the new administration of Twitter, which is a great ally of the far right and disinformation, has recently seen fit to give him access to his account again. Radio Média remains without doubt one of the most important conspiracy platforms in Québec.

Another project that has emerged in the context of the pandemic on a quasi-conspiracy platform with a strong right-wing bias is Libre-Média. Its editor in chief is Jérôme Blanchet-Gravel, a sort of squalid Mathieu Bock-Côté pretender, who has made misogyny a way of life. Claiming to defend “freedom of the press and freedom of expression,” Libre-Media, in fact, takes up all the themes of the anti–health measures conspiracy movement and relays many of the conspiracy fantasies in vogue, accompanied by an aggressively “anti-woke” editorial line.

Rebel News Québec, a local chapter of Ezra Levant’s alt-light media project, described by Radio-Canada as a “fake news site,” was launched in 2022. It is essentially a one-woman show of the very cringe-worthy Alexandra (Alexa) Lavoie, assisted by a certain Guillaume Roy. Its style is messy and incompetent (while claiming professional journalism status), but that doesn’t matter, because the purpose of the enterprise is to provoke and fuel the anger of the conspiracy theory base. One only has to look at the particularly pathetic coverage of the defense action against the anti-drag mobilization on May 16 for an example.

We have already touched upon the evangelical platform TheoVox.tv, a web TV studio and “ministry” that promotes and feeds the obsessions of anti–health measures conspiracy theorists by wrapping them in a moralizing hyper-conservative discourse. TheoVox regularly welcomes François Amalega on its platform, where he freely spreads his hatred of LGBTQ+ people. Amalega is also a favourite of Pastor Carlos Norbal, who occasionally even invites him to preach at his Sunday services!

There is also a whole galaxy of more or less influential conspiracy vloggers, who together form a closed ecosystem where conspiracy fantasies with a fascist overtone circulate freely. These include Stéphane Blais, Dan Pilon, Amélie Paul, Samuel Grenier, Carl Giroux, Jonathan “Joe Indigo” Blanchette, Mel Goyer, Maxime “le policier du people” Ouimet, and a plethora of other similar nutbars.

Let’s close this overview by mentioning Jean-François Gariépy’s Odyssey channel (an alternative to YouTube that is extremely welcoming to the far right, where Nomos.tv has taken refuge). Gariépy is a Québec ethno-nationalist who enjoys considerable notoriety and influence on an international scale in what remains of the alt-right milieu.

Take Stock of the Problem and Respond Accordingly

Obviously, there is no simple solution to the rise of the far right or to the endemic problem of the conspiracy fantasies that are infecting a considerable section of the population through social media. However, it is important to know the sources of the disease and its main factors if we hope to contain it to some extent. It is also important to understand the mechanics by which these fantasies foster the fanatization of the conspiracy theory base and the rise of the far right, whose themes are increasingly exploited by the same malicious “reinformers.”

The question then arises as to how to turn things around. As we have already written, these developments are above all conditioned by systemic factors: a crisis of confidence in the institutions of power, multiple interlocking crises (including that of capitalism itself), the heteronormative white middle class’s loss of bearings and the erosion of its privileges, the integration of the programmatic elements of the populist right into the cultural and political mainstream, etc. Basic logic would, therefore, dictate that any proposal for a sustainable solution should take these factors into account and should also be systemic in nature.

It is also important to consider the attitude of the system to these phenomena and to anticipate its consequences for our own movements. It is worth mentioning, for example, how the state and the different centres of capitalist power use the fear of fascism to consolidate new tools of repression. In the case of the “Freedom Convoy,” the use of the Emergencies Act, the demonization of organizers, and the various ways in which the fear of fascism was invoked by right-wing and liberal commentators to justify extraordinary measures of repression provide an example. Not only does liberal anti-fascism not challenge the system, it can easily become a convenient way to consolidate a repressive political system and reaffirm the legitimacy of the state and its right to crush its opponents, regardless of their ideological position. As we wrote a few months after the convoy:

Some progressive observers who had been fulminating about the conspiracy theory movement for months joined the standing ovation when, following a lengthy grace period, the occupation was faced with a mild form of repression. More than a few of them also welcomed the application of the Emergencies Act to suppress a few hundred frustrated cranks. That sort of enthusiasm for repression betrays a poor understanding of the relationship between the bourgeois state and social movements. The primary utility of the measure for the government, beyond the immediate powers conferred to cripple this expression of anti-vaxx organizing, is creating a precedent for suppressing future manifestations of popular dissent and disobedience, whether they be progressive or reactionary. This precedent should give pause to anyone who sympathizes with movements for social and economic justice, decolonization, or environmentalism, which might, at some future point, feel the need to engage in civil disobedience. It’s not terribly difficult, for example, to imagine what the reaction of the state will be when an Indigenous community next decides to adopt extralegal means to defend its territory or when a new generation inevitably decides to take direct action to demand radical social and governmental transformation to address the pressing climate crisis we are facing. While this exceptional legislative measure was used on this occasion against a group with reactionary impulses that we find repugnant, there is nothing to guarantee that it won’t be invoked in the future to squash demands that we feel a strong commitment to. History teaches us that repression is almost always much more energetically and forcefully used against progressive movements than it is against reactionary movements.

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So, in 2023, what are our prospects for effectively countering the normalization of far-right themes and the dangerous reactionary convergence described above, as well as the reproduction of the systems of domination that cause it? We believe that part of the challenge we face is to link the multitude of particular expressions of resistances into a broad and unitary anti-fascist social movement. That is, to multiply solidarity so that, for example, the anti-racist, anti-colonial, and anti-heteropatriarchal aspects of the anti-fascist struggle (and any other dimension) progress simultaneously and link up with the ecological and anti-capitalist movements. To quote again from our May 2022 text:

As anti-fascists and anti-capitalists, we believe it is necessary to think these issues through and develop a resistance not only against the far right and the fascist threat but also against the bourgeois state and the related institutions of power that reinforce neoliberal hegemony and the colonial order. The bourgeois state is not interested in our well-being, and the interests of different social classes are irreconcilable today, just as they always have been. . . . Faced with the far right and the fascist threat, on the one hand, and neoliberal hegemony, on the other, our greatest hope is to see the forces devoted to freedom rally around a project that is simultaneously anti-racist and anti-fascist, feminist, anti-capitalist, and anti-colonial.

Of course, we also have to get down to the difficult task of deconstructing conspiracy discourse and exposing its right-wing roots, without getting lost in it. This is easier said than done, given Brandolini’s law, which states that “the amount of energy needed to refute nonsense is an order of magnitude greater than that needed to produce it.” Nonetheless, reason must triumph, so we must collectively find the means to solve this problem.

In the same vein, we feel one essential task is the daily deconstruction, in our living and working environments, of the anti-woke hysteria that has poisoned the public space in recent years. By definition, a person who claims to be anti-woke is essentially claiming to be opposed to anti-racism and anti-sexism and to be anti-equality, anti–social justice, and, ultimately, anti-empathy! In other words, to be anti-woke is to admit one’s dismay at a world that is changing and evolving toward greater acceptance of difference and diversity, toward a breakdown of white and heteropatriarchal supremacy, and toward a situation of more widespread justice and equality. This is the very definition of a reactionary mindset, and we feel it is necessary to combat this trend, which is increasingly present in the public space and the general culture. Without necessarily accepting the label of “woke” (which at this point is, in any case, nothing more than a hollowed-out caricature), our movements must recognize and continue to promote the importance of “staying woke,” in the original sense of the concept, i.e., remaining sensitive to systemic injustice and inequality and dismantling them to the best of our ability.

Finally, as always, “we invite our supporters to renew their commitment to anti-fascist practice, i.e., to popular/community self-defence, without ever losing sight of the revolutionary horizon. For true emanAs anti-fascists and anti-capitalists, we believe it is necessary to think these issues through and develop a resistance not only against the far right and the fascist threat but also against the bourgeois state and the related institutions of power that reinforce neoliberal hegemony and the colonial order. The bourgeois state is not interested in our well-being, and the interests of different social classes are irreconcilable today, just as they always have been. . . . Faced with the far right and the fascist threat, on the one hand, and neoliberal hegemony, on the other, our greatest hope is to see the forces devoted to freedom rally around a project that is simultaneously anti-racist and anti-fascist, feminist, anti-capitalist, and anti-colonial.cipation will never be achieved by petition.”

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¡No pasarán!

[1] The “reasonable accommodation” crisis is a sequence of controversies largely fabricated and hyped between 2006 and 2008 by the populist media of the Québecor empire and opportunistic political parties, including Mario Dumont’s Action démocratique du Québec (a direct precursor of the Coalition avenir Québec, formed in 2011) and the Parti québécois, whose “charter of values” project (2013) was championed by Bernard Drainville, who is today… a minister in the CAQ’s cabinet!