By Remi Tremblay
O n June 16, two small towns of southern Quebec saw the irruption of dozens of combat-dressed federal agents, supported by a light tank. Provincial police were on standby, ready to intervene if anything went wrong. The official objective of this unusual deployment was to conduct searches in two apartments believed to be inhabited by dangerous neo-Nazi terrorists, supposedly linked to the Atomwaffen Division.
Nothing had been spared to demonstrate the extent of the threat represented by the two men. The operation was heavily publicized on the social media accounts of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), something extremely rare in Canada. Some of the 60 soldier-like policemen were exhibiting military range weapons, as if they were expecting some kind of standoff.
For RCMP Cpl. Charles Poirier, the operations in the towns of Saint-Ferdinand and Plessisville were related to a “national security operation” and represented the climax of a two-year investigation into the so-called terrorist group’s activities.
From then on, a wave of panic has shaken the media: a neo-Nazi terrorist threat does exist, they say.
However, any critical observer could see that the whole operation was a psyop from the very beginning. First, despite the show of force, the deployment aimed at a rather simple objective: conducting two search warrants. During the searches, the potential terrorists were left unguarded, without even being handcuffed. Plus, no weapon was seized, and nothing unusual seems to have been found.
The RCMP is usually very proud of advertising pictures of their seizures, but here there was no such photoshoot at the end of the day. We can also note that after two years of intense investigation from Canada’s best anti-terrorist investigators, nothing could be held against the suspects, who were not even charged with “hate speech.”
In fact, it is likely that, except for some posts on forbidden internet sites, the two young men had done nothing remotely illegal.
Now that a month has passed since the searches were conducted and nothing else has happened, it is undeniable that the deployment was a display of power aimed at demonstrating how dangerous the far right supposedly is. As a matter of fact, it proves the opposite to any critical mind.
The fact that a two-year investigation inside one of the most violent terrorist organizations in Canada led to nothing, not even an unregistered gun or a hate speech violation charge, proves that the so-called neo-Nazi threat is nothing but a scarecrow.
Over the last few years, certainly since current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election in 2015, the number of terrorist organizations has risen sharply. However, it is not the result of any increase in terrorist acts, rather of a shift in the definition of terrorism. Before Trudeau, a terrorist organization was characterized by several features including the will to attain its objectives by violent means or by overthrowing the government. Since his election, any activist movement going against Trudeau’s agenda, criminal or not, can be labelled terrorist. Stalin pathologized dissent, Trudeau criminalizes it.
The political bias explains why on the list of terrorist entities we can find several peaceful organizations from the right, but none from the far-left, even those related to Montreal Counter-Info, a group that commits terrorist acts and publicly boasts about them.
The impacts of being on the list go beyond reputation. It is not a crime to be listed as a terrorist entity, and the government is honest enough to admit that those organizations have not necessarily broken the law. Still, “it is an offense to knowingly participate in or contribute to, directly or indirectly, any activity of a terrorist group.”
One could think that with the rise of Islamic terrorism in the West, militant Muslim groups would be the ones most often targeted. However, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland had stated in March 2019 that white nationalism “needs to be at the top of our agenda when we talk about confronting terrorism.”
It is, according to her, “one of the most serious terrorist threats of the current age.” Therefore, on June 25, 2021, out of the four new terrorist entities added to the list, three were considered “neo-Nazi”: the Three Percenters, the Aryan Strikeforce and James Mason, the only individual to be listed.
Earlier that winter, the Atomwaffen Division, the Base, the Proud Boys, and the Russian Imperial Movement had been added to the list, where we also find Blood and Honor. The “Freedom Convoys” of truckers were often called “terrorist” and “extremist” by officials, but are not officially considered as such, although with the Emergency Act imposed by Trudeau in February, the leaders have been treated like real terrorists, some of the leading figures still being held in jail for their peaceful protests.
Rémi Tremblay is a Canadian publisher, author, historian and the editor of Le Harfang (“The Snow Owl’) magazine in Canada.