Far-right and white nationalist groups urge followers to support Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada

OTTAWA — Far-right and white nationalist groups are pushing their followers to support Maxime Bernier’s insurgent People’s Party of Canada in next week’s federal election.On the fringes of the internet and in encrypted chat rooms, groups like Canada First and the Canadian Nationalist Front are encouraging their thousands of adherents to back Bernier’s PPC.While not all People’s Party supporters are motivated by white nationalism or far-right extremism, it is clear that white nationalist and far-right groups view the party as a viable vehicle for their grievance-fuelled politics.The party, which polls suggest has seen a surge in public support in recent weeks, has found support among some in far-right circles over its opposition to mandatory vaccinations, vaccine passports, and Bernier’s pledge to dramatically curb immigration.But the party’s anti-establishment pose appears to be the common thread uniting far-right groups behind Bernier.“Justin Trudeau, Jagmeet Singh and Erin O’Toole may get the grand share of the votes, but they represent nobody other than the system; and we f - - - - - - hate them,” reads one recent post on Canada First’s Telegram channel, which boast nearly 5,000 subscribers.“Vote PPC, take as much power away from these three shills as you possibly can.”“Beware of people that sow division, ‘tis the tactic of our leftist enemies to spread disinformation,” reads another from the Canadian Nationalist Front. “Stick to the important issues like immigration reform and economics, ignore the dividers, PPC is the only viable option in the future for our future.” Bernier has capitalized on the anger and anxiety over COVID-19 public health measures like lockdowns, as well as vaccine hesitancy and opposition to mandatory vaccinations and vaccine passports. Bernier himself claims to have refused the COVID-19 vaccine.He has also openly courted groups on the far-right fringe. On Friday, Bernier was interviewed by Rebel Media after he was excluded from the official leaders’ debates. On Tuesday, his public schedule said he was being interviewed by Jordan Peterson, the University of Toronto professor turned online guru for disaffected young men.“The big debate in far-right spaces last election was whether to strategically vote (Conservative) or vote PPC,” said Evan Balgord, an anti-racism campaigner with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.“This time around, it’s all PPC.”On Tuesday, the Star notified the People’s Party about the far right and white nationalist groups promoting its cause online. “We have nothing to do with extremist groups and have nothing to offer them. We’ve been more than clear since the party’s founding that there is no place for racists in our party,” party spokesman Martin Masse replied in an emailed statement. “Every time it has come to our attention that someone who supports extremist positions has any position in our party, they were expelled. That’s how we ensure they don’t find a home in the PPC.”Based on current public polling, it is unlikely that the People’s Party will gain a significant toehold in the next Parliament. The Signal, the Star’s election forecast by Vox Pop Labs, put the party’s support at 6.7 per cent nationwide Tuesday, but only projected it winning a single seat — in Beauce, the Quebec riding which Bernier formerly represented as a Conservative MP.But even without winning seats, the People’s Party could have a significant impact on the election’s outcome, according to Vox Pop’s Clifton van der Linden.“If the trend in voting for PPC candidates holds out until election day, and holds out at the numbers we’re currently saying, then I think you’re going to see some seats go to the Liberals in particular where the Conservatives would have otherwise won,” van der Linden said in an interview.Vox Pop Labs has assembled a database of 8,685 self-identified PPC supporters. According to that data, the majority of PPC support — 59 per cent — comes from voters who previously supported the Conservative party.PPC support skews male — 58 per cent — and from voters aged 18 to 40. Regionally, PPC supporters are concentrated in Ontario (42 per cent), followed by Alberta, the Prairie provinces and British Columbia. Most would fit in a broad definition of middle class and hold decent-paying blue collar jobs, van der Linden said.The PPC’s comparatively strong support compared to its 2019 election finish has led some Conservatives to worry the parties will split the right-of-centre vote — as the Reform party and the Progressive Conservatives did in the 1990s. That would be especially concerning for the Conservatives in Ontario, the province likely to decide the election and where the party has been aggressively targeting working-class voters.A senior Conservative source downplayed those concerns Tuesday, suggesting the party’s internal polling is not registering the same PPC spike that public pollsters are reporting.“They are not costing us any seats,” the source, who agreed to discuss th

Far-right and white nationalist groups urge followers to support Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada

OTTAWA — Far-right and white nationalist groups are pushing their followers to support Maxime Bernier’s insurgent People’s Party of Canada in next week’s federal election.

On the fringes of the internet and in encrypted chat rooms, groups like Canada First and the Canadian Nationalist Front are encouraging their thousands of adherents to back Bernier’s PPC.

While not all People’s Party supporters are motivated by white nationalism or far-right extremism, it is clear that white nationalist and far-right groups view the party as a viable vehicle for their grievance-fuelled politics.

The party, which polls suggest has seen a surge in public support in recent weeks, has found support among some in far-right circles over its opposition to mandatory vaccinations, vaccine passports, and Bernier’s pledge to dramatically curb immigration.

But the party’s anti-establishment pose appears to be the common thread uniting far-right groups behind Bernier.

“Justin Trudeau, Jagmeet Singh and Erin O’Toole may get the grand share of the votes, but they represent nobody other than the system; and we f - - - - - - hate them,” reads one recent post on Canada First’s Telegram channel, which boast nearly 5,000 subscribers.

“Vote PPC, take as much power away from these three shills as you possibly can.”

“Beware of people that sow division, ‘tis the tactic of our leftist enemies to spread disinformation,” reads another from the Canadian Nationalist Front. “Stick to the important issues like immigration reform and economics, ignore the dividers, PPC is the only viable option in the future for our future.”

Bernier has capitalized on the anger and anxiety over COVID-19 public health measures like lockdowns, as well as vaccine hesitancy and opposition to mandatory vaccinations and vaccine passports. Bernier himself claims to have refused the COVID-19 vaccine.

He has also openly courted groups on the far-right fringe. On Friday, Bernier was interviewed by Rebel Media after he was excluded from the official leaders’ debates. On Tuesday, his public schedule said he was being interviewed by Jordan Peterson, the University of Toronto professor turned online guru for disaffected young men.

“The big debate in far-right spaces last election was whether to strategically vote (Conservative) or vote PPC,” said Evan Balgord, an anti-racism campaigner with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.

“This time around, it’s all PPC.”

On Tuesday, the Star notified the People’s Party about the far right and white nationalist groups promoting its cause online.

“We have nothing to do with extremist groups and have nothing to offer them. We’ve been more than clear since the party’s founding that there is no place for racists in our party,” party spokesman Martin Masse replied in an emailed statement.

“Every time it has come to our attention that someone who supports extremist positions has any position in our party, they were expelled. That’s how we ensure they don’t find a home in the PPC.”

Based on current public polling, it is unlikely that the People’s Party will gain a significant toehold in the next Parliament. The Signal, the Star’s election forecast by Vox Pop Labs, put the party’s support at 6.7 per cent nationwide Tuesday, but only projected it winning a single seat — in Beauce, the Quebec riding which Bernier formerly represented as a Conservative MP.

But even without winning seats, the People’s Party could have a significant impact on the election’s outcome, according to Vox Pop’s Clifton van der Linden.

“If the trend in voting for PPC candidates holds out until election day, and holds out at the numbers we’re currently saying, then I think you’re going to see some seats go to the Liberals in particular where the Conservatives would have otherwise won,” van der Linden said in an interview.

Vox Pop Labs has assembled a database of 8,685 self-identified PPC supporters. According to that data, the majority of PPC support — 59 per cent — comes from voters who previously supported the Conservative party.

PPC support skews male — 58 per cent — and from voters aged 18 to 40. Regionally, PPC supporters are concentrated in Ontario (42 per cent), followed by Alberta, the Prairie provinces and British Columbia. Most would fit in a broad definition of middle class and hold decent-paying blue collar jobs, van der Linden said.

The PPC’s comparatively strong support compared to its 2019 election finish has led some Conservatives to worry the parties will split the right-of-centre vote — as the Reform party and the Progressive Conservatives did in the 1990s. That would be especially concerning for the Conservatives in Ontario, the province likely to decide the election and where the party has been aggressively targeting working-class voters.

A senior Conservative source downplayed those concerns Tuesday, suggesting the party’s internal polling is not registering the same PPC spike that public pollsters are reporting.

“They are not costing us any seats,” the source, who agreed to discuss the issue on the condition they not be named, told the Star.

“The PPC is tapping into an anti-establishment/pox-on-all-their-houses sentiment which is strong … (Voters) want to send a message, and the PPC is the only vehicle to do that.

“When it comes down to it, only one of two leaders is going to be prime minister. The one thing that unites all PPC voters is that they want change.”

Alex Boutilier is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @alexboutilier

Source : Toronto Star More   

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In her new book, Canada's 'Indian in the cabinet' has harsh words for Justin Trudeau

OTTAWA—Jody Wilson-Raybould’s book may not swing an election. But it is giving new fuel on the campaign trail to Justin Trudeau’s rivals.Titled “Indian in the Cabinet,” Wilson-Raybould’s second book since leaving the Trudeau government amid the SNC-Lavalin affair is a 304-page personal memoir that landed like a stink bomb in the last week of the 2021 election campaign and Trudeau’s third bid for the highest office in the land.In it, the former justice minister and attorney general offers a deeply personal and scathing perspective, with a few new revelations about her time in federal politics and her relationship with the Liberal leader.It should be required reading for anyone interested in knowing more about how she saw partisan politics played in Ottawa (roughly) or what kind of prime minister Trudeau is (he has a temper yet holds himself oddly distant from cabinet members, requiring loyalty above all). And on the brink of next week’s vote, Wilson-Raybould offers a sobering view of how likely “real change” is on Indigenous reconciliation, criminal justice reform and climate change if a Liberal government is re-elected (hint: not very).Wilson-Raybould is not running again as an Independent in this election after her 2019 win, and gives no hint in her book or in an interview with the Star where she plans to next make her mark.But the publication tees up her desire to ensure her voice is heard, once again, at the highest political reaches. The book was supposed to come out in mid-October. Its publication date was moved up to six days before Canadians cast a vote. She said that was entirely coincidental, not planned to maximize impact on Liberal electoral fortunes.“There wasn’t an election campaign at the time that the date was moved up,” she said. “The publisher moved it up to today’s date, because it was done, and there was demand for it.”On the campaign trail, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh are holding up Wilson-Raybould’s experience as a cautionary tale and an inspiration for voters.O’Toole said Trudeau “will threaten anything if he doesn’t get his way. Don’t believe me? Ask Jody Wilson-Raybould.”Green Leader Annamie Paul name-dropped and thanked her at the opening of the leaders’ debate on national television, a surprise to Wilson-Raybould, she says.Wilson-Raybould shrugs it all off. She is “pleased” to show that “independent MPs can have impact” on the debate today.One of her primary indictments against Trudeau is the book’s opening chapter: after a couple of face-to-face meetings after the Globe and Mail broke news that Trudeau and his office had exerted political pressure on her to intervene in a criminal case against Quebec engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin, Wilson-Raybould again met Trudeau at a Vancouver hotel and says she had a moment of clarity. “In that moment, I knew he wanted me to lie” — an assertion Trudeau flatly denies.To this day, she stands her ground: “This is not just about a policy choice that may or may not be made. This is about the rule of law and the norms and core principles of our democratic system. So my approach to it was, of course, different. I was the attorney general, for f - - -’s sake.“I knew from the outset that even the conversations that were happening were dangerous and wrong, and that we should not be discussing the matter casually or loosely.”The impact of her critique likely depends on who wins a credibility contest with readers between Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould.At the Toronto Star’s editorial board Friday, Trudeau downplayed its impact.“Listen, politics is a challenging career to be part of. And always there are very strong perspectives from anyone writing their own side of the story and devoting the whole book to it. I think people will look at it with a level of interest, but also a healthy level of skepticism, including people in the Indigenous community who’ve worked with her and know her.”Wilson-Raybould denies being the source of the original leak, or knowing who was responsible.But she is unequivocal, as she was in 2019 when the scandal exploded, that Trudeau and his top staffers applied improper if not illegal political pressure, claiming thousands of jobs at the Quebec company were at stake if it couldn’t cut a deferred prosecution deal to escape a criminal finding of guilt on a corruption charge, and retain its ability to bid on federal contracts.Wilson-Raybould notes that the company later pleaded guilty to a single count of fraud and was fined $280 million, but it didn’t quit Canada and didn’t kill thousands of jobs. She also underscores that the federal ethics commissioner agreed with her.Mario Dion found Trudeau guilty of violating the conflict of interest law against furthering private interests.Trudeau has repeatedly said in the past several days that the issues Wilson-Raybould raises were thoroughly aired by parliamentary committees two years ago.The RCMP said Wednesday in a statement

In her new book, Canada's 'Indian in the cabinet' has harsh words for Justin Trudeau

OTTAWA—Jody Wilson-Raybould’s book may not swing an election. But it is giving new fuel on the campaign trail to Justin Trudeau’s rivals.

Titled “Indian in the Cabinet,” Wilson-Raybould’s second book since leaving the Trudeau government amid the SNC-Lavalin affair is a 304-page personal memoir that landed like a stink bomb in the last week of the 2021 election campaign and Trudeau’s third bid for the highest office in the land.

In it, the former justice minister and attorney general offers a deeply personal and scathing perspective, with a few new revelations about her time in federal politics and her relationship with the Liberal leader.

It should be required reading for anyone interested in knowing more about how she saw partisan politics played in Ottawa (roughly) or what kind of prime minister Trudeau is (he has a temper yet holds himself oddly distant from cabinet members, requiring loyalty above all). And on the brink of next week’s vote, Wilson-Raybould offers a sobering view of how likely “real change” is on Indigenous reconciliation, criminal justice reform and climate change if a Liberal government is re-elected (hint: not very).

Wilson-Raybould is not running again as an Independent in this election after her 2019 win, and gives no hint in her book or in an interview with the Star where she plans to next make her mark.

But the publication tees up her desire to ensure her voice is heard, once again, at the highest political reaches. The book was supposed to come out in mid-October. Its publication date was moved up to six days before Canadians cast a vote. She said that was entirely coincidental, not planned to maximize impact on Liberal electoral fortunes.

“There wasn’t an election campaign at the time that the date was moved up,” she said. “The publisher moved it up to today’s date, because it was done, and there was demand for it.”

On the campaign trail, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh are holding up Wilson-Raybould’s experience as a cautionary tale and an inspiration for voters.

O’Toole said Trudeau “will threaten anything if he doesn’t get his way. Don’t believe me? Ask Jody Wilson-Raybould.”

Green Leader Annamie Paul name-dropped and thanked her at the opening of the leaders’ debate on national television, a surprise to Wilson-Raybould, she says.

Wilson-Raybould shrugs it all off. She is “pleased” to show that “independent MPs can have impact” on the debate today.

One of her primary indictments against Trudeau is the book’s opening chapter: after a couple of face-to-face meetings after the Globe and Mail broke news that Trudeau and his office had exerted political pressure on her to intervene in a criminal case against Quebec engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin, Wilson-Raybould again met Trudeau at a Vancouver hotel and says she had a moment of clarity. “In that moment, I knew he wanted me to lie” — an assertion Trudeau flatly denies.

To this day, she stands her ground: “This is not just about a policy choice that may or may not be made. This is about the rule of law and the norms and core principles of our democratic system. So my approach to it was, of course, different. I was the attorney general, for f - - -’s sake.

“I knew from the outset that even the conversations that were happening were dangerous and wrong, and that we should not be discussing the matter casually or loosely.”

The impact of her critique likely depends on who wins a credibility contest with readers between Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould.

At the Toronto Star’s editorial board Friday, Trudeau downplayed its impact.

“Listen, politics is a challenging career to be part of. And always there are very strong perspectives from anyone writing their own side of the story and devoting the whole book to it. I think people will look at it with a level of interest, but also a healthy level of skepticism, including people in the Indigenous community who’ve worked with her and know her.”

Wilson-Raybould denies being the source of the original leak, or knowing who was responsible.

But she is unequivocal, as she was in 2019 when the scandal exploded, that Trudeau and his top staffers applied improper if not illegal political pressure, claiming thousands of jobs at the Quebec company were at stake if it couldn’t cut a deferred prosecution deal to escape a criminal finding of guilt on a corruption charge, and retain its ability to bid on federal contracts.

Wilson-Raybould notes that the company later pleaded guilty to a single count of fraud and was fined $280 million, but it didn’t quit Canada and didn’t kill thousands of jobs. She also underscores that the federal ethics commissioner agreed with her.

Mario Dion found Trudeau guilty of violating the conflict of interest law against furthering private interests.

Trudeau has repeatedly said in the past several days that the issues Wilson-Raybould raises were thoroughly aired by parliamentary committees two years ago.

The RCMP said Wednesday in a statement it had no update to provide “as the RCMP continues to examine this matter carefully with all available information and will take appropriate action as required.”

In some ways, the book is less about the details of who said what to whom — though there’s lots of that — than it is an exploration of a doomed political relationship.

Wilson-Raybould’s background in consensus-building Indigenous politics — she was an elected commissioner on the B.C. Treaty Commission and served as regional chief of B.C. First Nations at the Assembly of First Nations — did not prepare her for the command-and-control style of partisan politics as it is practised by the Trudeau Liberals and other parties as well, she says.

“In our Canadian political culture, the goal is not only to become government but to stay in government. I came to realize that this goal — to hang on to power — is the paramount objective through which every decision is filtered.”

Wilson-Raybould ran into the biggest headwinds on Indigenous reconciliation, on getting rid of mandatory minimum penalties in criminal law that disproportionately affect Indigenous and racialized offenders, and on taking the politics out of judicial appointments.

Access to Trudeau was all but blocked. She had neither his cell number nor his email address, and says Prime Minister’s Office staffers made clear that ministers were not to meet — even to have dinner together — to hash out policies unless the PMO’s hand-picked aides were present. She took to writing memos and slipping them to Trudeau, hoping he would hear her out on policy files.

Wilson-Raybould is frank that Indigenous politics is also fraught, with misogyny and divisions among leaders on how best to advance causes. “Indigenous politics remain, to this day, very colonial and very male-centred, although this is changing.”

She writes of a heavy toll that all the “leadership roles” she occupied in her professional and political career had on her personal life with husband Tim Raybould.

“I desperately wanted children, as did Tim. We tried in all ways possible and suffered many losses along the way. But if I am honest, there is part of me that knows the health impacts of the work I was doing made it much harder for me to get pregnant, and stay pregnant.”

She describes speaking at a WE Day event in Vancouver in 2011 — years before the children’s charity made pandemic headlines — when she realized she had started to have a miscarriage, while onstage.

Wilson-Raybould pulls back the curtain on another low point, when she says she was forced to attend a fundraiser at the Bay Street law firm Torys.

“I had pulled out of the fundraiser because I had learned that some people who were expected to attend might have submitted applications to be appointed judges and also because of certain expectations that the party had about supporting important donors and allies. The PMO basically ordered me to attend.”

Wilson-Raybould writes that despite changes, “The possibility of political interference in the (judicial) appointment system has not been eradicated as fully as it should have been.”

Most “shocking,” Wilson-Raybould writes, was the control unelected PMO officials exerted over ministers.

Trudeau’s “mode of functioning is in some ways worse than what I knew of and heard about former prime minister Harper’s. Harper was at least transparent about the fact that he and the PMO controlled everything; he let everyone know it. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office controlled the workings of government while creating a different public perception. For me, this is not good leadership or good government.”

Wilson-Raybould charges that on Indigenous reconciliation, the Liberal government has been deliberately dragging its feet. Legislation on preserving Indigenous languages and children touches on critical issues “but is piecemeal and not comprehensive.”

“The reality today? More endless negotiations on the same subject matters bereft of a rights recognition framework and without clear mandates. The ‘Indian industry’ continues to be fed. The real work of nation rebuilding is still delayed, pending the signing of agreements.”

In her book, Wilson-Raybould concedes that “much of what the Trudeau government has done and is still doing is good.”

But she concludes with a devastating critique of how ill-fated the relationship with Trudeau was:

“One way or another, my time with this government was not going to be long, for any number of reasons: Aga Khan. India. Vice-Adm, Norman. SNC-Lavalin. Blackface. WE. Payette. General Vance. There are similar patterns reflected in all of these … Over time, if it hadn’t been SNC-Lavalin, something was going to arise that made it clear this way of governing was not my way of governing and that I did not want to be part of it — to be complicit.”

The partisanship now on display on the campaign trail worries her but her book places much of the blame at the Liberals’ feet, saying the emphasis on partisanship serves to replace “hope and trust” with “fear and anger.”

“This can contribute to other kinds of movements that are less constructive and even dangerous. This is why I think the image-driven emptiness of much of how the Liberal government operates is becoming dangerous. Selling lofty rhetoric but failing to act in ways that live up to it breeds cynicism and even hopelessness that change can ever take place through our regular political processes and culture.”

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

Source : Toronto Star More   

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