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Canada has a Nazi problem

John Bell

September 29, 2023
Canada has a Nazi problem
There is a problem with Nazis in Ottawa.
No, I’m not referring to the standing ovation given in the House of Commons to a 98-year-old veteran of the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, made up of Ukrainian Nazi collaborators. I will return to this shameful episode later.
I am referring to the ongoing, organized attacks on Ottawa school trustee Nili Kaplan-Myrth. She came in the cross-hairs of the extremist right during the convoy occupation where she used her platform to expose and oppose them. She has been a tireless advocate for better health measures in schools, including mandating mask-wearing for kids, and vaccinations. And she is an unflinching champion of inclusion and safe spaces for all in schools, and a vocal defender of trans rights.
In short, she is everything that the fascists despise.
Kaplan-Myrth has been subjected to a vile barrage of anti-Semitic anonymous attacks on social media. She and her family have been doxed and threatened. Far-right, anti-LGBTQ+ bigots have targeted her, and tried to pack school board meetings to attack her. Some of her fellow trustees, who are on the right, have colluded with the attacks.
Police have not addressed the racist, hate attacks. A defiant Kaplan-Myrth has refused to back down, and continues to publicly champion public school inclusion despite the personal risk.
There is a Nazi problem in BC’s lower mainland.
Posters for a “Whites Only Mom and Tots” gathering have appeared in the Vancouver suburbs of Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam. It says, in part: “Escape forced ‘diversity’ and join other proud parents of European children as we create an atmosphere in which our kids can feel like they belong.”
“European Pride” events are a long-time tactic of Nazi and white-supremacist groups, to try to put a positive spin on their racism.
There is a Nazi problem in London Ontario.
On a pleasant spring evening in 2021, members of the Afzaal family went for a walk. Nathaniel Veltman saw them and drove his truck onto the sidewalk and murdered 4 family members.
Veltman admits that he adheres to Nazi propaganda, conspiracy theories and Islamophobic hatred. To him, just seeing an openly Muslim family enjoying themselves was motivation to commit murder.
Quebec City has a Nazi problem. Saskatoon has a Nazi problem. Canadian Forces and police are training and recruiting grounds for fascist groups. White nationalist parties have popped up in BC, Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan. Nationally, Maxime Bernier’s Peoples Party openly courts fascist, anti-immigrant activists – they got almost 900,000 votes in the last election.
Far-right pundits promote denial of the genocidal treatment of Indigenous people. Encouraged, far-right racists invaded the grounds of a BC Residential School to dig it up and prove there were no graves.
Then there is the “convoy” movement that pretends to be about freedom but organizes attacks on individual freedoms: a woman’s freedom to choose; a person’s right to choose who they love; the freedom to express one’s identity. Far-right Christians, white-nationalists and fascist groups were active in convoy organizing from the start. Wolves in sheep’s clothing, they pretend to be against “woke” censorship, while working overtime to destroy individuals, groups, behaviours and organizations they oppose.
Now that they have shifted their efforts into the “parental rights” attacks on 2SLGBTQ+, their fascist roots are being exposed. At their attempts to shut down public library story time readings, and at anti-trans protests, they are showing up in Nazi regalia and giving the Fascist salute, as they did at a recent “parental rights” rally in Burnaby. For a glimpse of the future is this isn’t shut down, witness Florida where Nazi groups that grew bold within the “parental rights” movement are now openly waving the swastika in front of Disney World.
Canada has a Nazi problem. 
Our media treats these events as isolated, acts of maladjusted lone wolves, unwilling or unable to connect the dots and dig into the systemic roots of racism. They boomerang from downplaying the threat, to sensationalizing a gotcha story like the Nazi in the House of Commons gallery.
The details of the Yaroslav Hunka saga are now well known. The 98-year-old veteran of a volunteer Ukrainian Nazi SS battalion was invited by the Speaker of the House to sit in the gallery during Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to parliament. Introduced as an anti-Soviet veteran, not a single MP had the brains or the guts to put 2 and 2 together and come up with Nazi. They unanimously rose and gave the aging fascist a hearty ovation.
Now Speaker Anthony Rota has resigned in disgrace. A red faced Justin Trudeau gives apologies as his government is seemingly adrift in a sea of scandals and self-inflicted wounds. Pierre Poilievre tries to use the screw-up for political gain, conveniently forgetting that 3 of his MPs were caught having lunch with a Euro-fascist MEP just 6 months ago. 
The press was in a lather trying to find out how the nonagenarian Nazi got in the gallery. They miss the point: how did this Nazi get in the country and become a Canadian citizen in the aftermath of WWII?
It is necessary to point out that all the ingredients of fascism and Nazism have been found in Canada since before its inception. The whole colonial project is racist, based on the conquest and, if necessary extermination, of Indigenous people who are “inferior” by definition. This allows the conquerors to paint their brutality as altruism when it suits them.
John A Macdonald and the “Fathers of Confederation” were mostly enthusiastic supporters of the Confederacy – as a lawyer, Macdonald was employed by the South to arrange the return of stolen “property”, i.e. runaway slaves smuggled into Canada through the underground railway.
In the 1920s the Ku Klux Klan readily took root in the prairie provinces. It was said, if you wanted to get ahead in business or politics in Saskatchewan, you need to be in the KKK. It is believed that soon-to-be Tory prime minister John Diefenbaker got his start wearing a hood. In the eastern provinces, the Orange Order had the same racist ideology, but without the bedsheets and cross burnings.
It wasn’t Toryism alone that fostered the ingredients of fascism. It was a liberal strain of superiority and more polite racism that contributed the pseudo-science of eugenics in the 1920s. 
There isn’t space here to catalogue the racist affronts of the Canadian ruing class and its two political heads, the Liberal and Conservative parties. The short form it this – the ruling class has always required new waves of immigrants to work its farms, factories and mines. And those immigrants often brought dangerous new ideas with them, ideas like collective bargaining, socialism and solidarity with the oppressed.
The ruling class fostered divide and conquer, and workers were driven by their circumstances to unite. This tension would often lead to explosions, like the general strike wave of 1919. In 1933, Jewish immigrants on Toronto’s west side, along with their neighbours, beat hell out of the “Swastika Clubs” that tried to rally in Christie Pits Park
These are the two rival streams of Canadian history — the official one, whitewashing racism, genocidal violence and exploitation; and one of resistance and struggle, to unite and fight. 
Coming out of the Depression and the WWII years, the Canadian working class had won a toehold for unions, and the fight for those organizations in the auto factories, in the mines, on the seaways brought the ideas of socialism as organizing tools. The Communist Party was influential beyond its numbers and its dead-end Stalinist politics.
One tactic for combatting this danger was allowing — even recruiting — former Nazis and their sympathizers to immigrate from Eastern Europe. Anyone who was anti-red was welcome. Corporations like nickel mining giant Inco actively sought former Nazis — people like the Waffen SS Galatian Division veterans from Ukraine — to control the workplace. If they couldn’t destroy the unions, they could expel Communists and socialists from the leadership and replace them with more cooperative types. The cold war backlash was never as severe in Canada as in the McCarthy era US, but the same processes were at work, and the ingredients of Nazism were again encouraged.
Through the ups and downs of class struggle, those ingredients — white supremacy, racism, anti-immigrant hatred, misogyny and homophobia — have never been far from the surface.
Nothing epitomizes the Canadian ruling class’s equivocal attitude toward fascism than its votes at the UN. For the past decade, Canada has either abstained or voted against resolutions condemning the glorification of Nazism. It was followed this cowardly course in lockstep with NATO allies, most of whom welcomed ex-Nazis into their industries and militaries in the post-war years.
Small wonder that our parliament itself no longer recognizes the evil of fascism when it sees it. Canada will continue to have a Nazi problem until our racist, genocidal history is honestly confronted, and until the ruling class that manipulates the forces of hatred and division is defeated for good.
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