Here in Canada, we often like to assume that we’re a little bit better than the States when it comes to tolerance and issues such as immigration, gay marriage, health care and extremist politics. We don’t have a deep south, and our history in general is much more peaceful–our status as a country wasn’t established through war. We get comfy here in Canada, but a clash in Quebec City over the weekend reminds us that alt-right radicalization is alive and well in Canada too. Charlottesville isn’t the only place this stuff can happen.
On Sunday, the far-right Quebec group, La Meute (The Wolf Pack), obtained a permit to protest the federal and provincial governments’ decisions to continue allowing border-crossers from the States into Canada. Their protest was stalled in its tracks, however, when the group was barricaded inside a parking garage by pro-immigrant counter-protesters.
When the counter-protesters got riled up–throwing bottles at La Meute members and ‘jostling’ police–the protest was declared illegal. At least one protester was arrested for a violence-related charge.
After the counter-protest had dispersed in the evening, La Meute resumed their own protest, marching silently carrying flags imprinted with the group’s wolf paw logo. They ended their march with chants of ‘We are La Meute’ and ‘Long live La Meute.’ The juxtaposition between the chaos of the counter-protest and perceived peacefulness of the anti-immigration rally paints the far-right group as less extreme–a dangerous assumption.
Former La Meute member Maxime Fiset told CBC that he considers this clash a ‘PR victory’ for the far-right group. Fiset now works for Quebec’s anti-radicalization center and is worried about what this could mean for extremism in Canada.
‘I’m mad at such a display of violence because it was useless,’ he said. In the face-off, La Meute members come across as looking disciplined and calm in the face of provocation.
These events are in opposition to a rally that occurred across the country in Vancouver the day before, where thousands showed up to protest a rumoured anti-Muslim demonstration. The anti-Muslim group never showed and the event remained peaceful.
It’s unnerving to see these kinds of events (or even the threat of them) in our own country. We might feel a separation between ourselves in Canada and the extremist politics of the States (and thankfully we don’t have a Donald Trump feeding them) but we do have our own radicalized far-right and it will only gain steam along with America’s. This is why counter-protest and speaking out against racism, white supremacy, neo-Nazi ideals and other acts of non-tolerance is so important.