Racial, Ethnic, and Homophobic Violence: Killing in the Name of Otherness

By Michel Prum; Bénédicte Deschamps et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
The role of violence in the far
right in Canada

Stanley Barrett


INTRODUCTION

The prevalent opinion among Canadians of British origin1 is that there is almost no racism in the country, especially the organised variety like the Ku Klux Klan. Admittedly, there may be a handful of neo-Nazis, but they are poorly-educated, half-crazy thugs clinging to the periphery of society, unconnected to the mainstream. To the extent that racism exists at all in Canada, it can be dismissed as an American virus which has unfortunately breached the border.

These, of course, are myths, and they go a long way in explaining how Canadians are able to continue to believe that they dwell in an exceptionally tolerant nation, and why the study of racism remains somewhat of a taboo subject even today. My purpose is to puncture these myths by providing an overview of organised racism and anti-Semitism in Canada, and analysing the nature of violence connected to them. The chapter will conclude with an examination of why there has been less violence associated with the radical right in Canada compared to the USA, what the impact of 9/11 has had on the far right in Canada, and what overlap, if any, exists between white supremacists and anti-Semites and the wider Canadian society.


OVERVIEW OF THE FAR RIGHT

There have been four distinct periods of organised far-right activity in Canada. In the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan took root in several provinces, including Saskatchewan, where it assisted the Conservatives in their successful attempt to overthrow the ruling Liberals.2 At that time the Klan was not only anti-Asian and anti-African, but also strongly opposed to French Canadians and Catholics. In the 1930s, fascism made its appearance on Canadian soil, led by Adrian Arcand in Quebec,3 who described Hitler as the greatest man except Jesus Christ who had ever existed, and John Ross Taylor in Ontario, who during an interview in the early 1980s remarked: ‘Hitler was

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