Organizing Rules: A Guide to Combating Hate Groups

ORGANIZING RULES: A Strategic Guide to Combating Hate Groups

Dale Cornish and Alan Dutton, Editors

Canadian Anti-racism Education and Research Society

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ISBN 0-9697312-0-6

Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data

Main entry title:

Organizing Rules

1. Canada - Hate Groups

2. Canada - Racism

3. Canada - Social Movements

4. Canada - Canadian Society

“Plan for what is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small. The most difficult things in the world must be done while they are still easy, the greatest things in the world must be done while they are still small. For this reason sages never do what is great, and this is why they can achieve that greatness.” ( Art of War , Sun Tzu)


After a thorough examination of fascism in Canadian history, Louise Betcherman concluded that: “During the thirties Canadian fascists had been permitted, in the name of freedom of speech, to spread their message of hate unhindered, but post-war revulsion over Hitler's enormities led to legislation to combat overt racism. Fascist movements and racism did not vanish, but withdrew to await a more welcoming climate” ( The Swastika and the Maple Leaf : 1975; 147).

It was just a few short years after Betcherman's pronouncement that Canadian fascists took to the streets once again, having become convinced that a “welcoming climate” was at hand and that Canada was theirs for the taking. Throughout the early 1980s in Toronto and Vancouver, the Ku Klux Klan emerged once again from the shadows to help build a new and improved white supremacist movement that could withstand the challenge of Canadian hate crime law. Even the conservative press in Canada could not ignore the resurgence of the Klan and newspaper headlines began to scream that fascist groups had re-surfaced and that Nazi groups were once again recruiting youth in both small towns and major urban centers throughout the country.

The resurgence of violent racist and fascist groups caught Canadians by surprise. Academics as well as government and law enforcements agencies were slow to realize the danger to public safety and to democratic institutions posed by right wing domestic terrorist groups such as the Western Guard, National Party, Canadian League of Rights, Ku Klux Klan and Church of Jesus Christ Christian, Aryan Nations. Anti-fascist and anti-racist groups were also ill prepared to support the targets and survivors of violent hate groups or to effectively respond to hate group recruitment having been lulled into believing that it could not happen here again.

One of the first government agencies to recognize the growing threat of domestic right wing terrorism was the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). By the late 1980s CSIS had begun to recognize that white supremacist groups in Canada were planning and directing “the use of serious violence as a tactic to achieve their stated political objective[s].” The political objective of white supremacist groups was, of course, to commit genocide, overthrow elected governments and to create a white racial state. According to CSIS documents, white supremacist groups were also showing a “growing sophistication in weaponry” and that there was a growing threat of the “co-ordination between extremist groups in Canada and internationally.”

CSIS was clearly concerned, as were law enforcement and intelligence agencies throughout other industrialized countries, that right wing terrorists groups had become a serious threat to those who were not Christian, Northern European or able bodied and to national security itself. CSIS was particularly concerned that white supremacist groups had begun to infiltrate mainstream political parties in Canada. In fact, CSIS was well aware that white supremacist groups had infiltrated both the Reform Party of Canada and the Social Credit Party of Ontario. CSIS had information that one of the largest hate groups in Canadian history -- the neo-nazi Heritage Front -- had organized security for Preston Manning, the leader of the Reform Party of Canada on more than one occasion. CSIS claimed that Paul Fromm -- a school teacher from Ontario, had contacted a member of a British Columbia Reform Party of Canada constituency association in the Lower Mainland to arrange a celebration of Hitler's birthday. While the Reform Party was notified of the threat of neo-Nazi infiltration attempts, many months went by before the most prominent neo-Nazi organizers were expelled from the Party. But anti-racist researchers feared that not all the neo-nazis were identified or expelled from the Party.

What can be done about well-financed racist and fascist groups that attempt to take over mainstream political parties? What can be done when racist skinheads parade in downtown Vancouver, Winnipeg and Toronto yelling “White pride!”, “White power!”? What can be done when young white Canadian youth make a business out of promoting white power bands like Odin's Law in Surrey, BC or the Toronto-based RAHOWA (the acronym for Racial Holy War), or when the Knights of Ku Klux Klan begin to recruit youth in your town or neighbourhood? What can be done when newspaper columnists like Trevor Lautens of the Vancouver Sun argue that 500 racist skinheads in Canada are no cause for alarm and that better hate crime laws are not needed? What can be done when mainstream newspapers promote anti-semitism?

There is no simple solution to racism and bigotry or to any other complex socio-economic problem. But there are ways and means to help expose and oppose racist and fascist groups. Exposing and opposing hate groups is critical to combating hate groups since many attempt to conceal their real objectives and operate under the pretext of freedom of expression or patriotism, or some such ruse. By exposing and opposing hate groups, their activities are brought to light, community-based coalitions can be formed to support the targets of their hatred and the recruitment of youth into hate groups can be prevented. How a particular community responds to hate group activity depends, however, on the resources that can be mobilized, the public perception of the problem and the proposed solution and how public attention can be focused on the negative consequences of anti-democratic forces for all Canadians. There is no cookie cutter approach to organizing, but the following chapters offer insight into the response of a number of efforts to counteract racism and hate group activity in Canada.

There have been many successful anti-racist and anti-fascist coalitions in Canadian history. But much of this history has not been well documented or brought to public attention. Groups involved in the day-to-day struggle of organizing communities, schools, and neighbourhoods have little time to chronicle their struggles, strategies and victories. Certainly, the mainstream media has been extremely negligent in providing information about community-based initiatives to fight hate. For much of the mainstream media, anti-racism is just one side of the coin with racists and fascists on the other. Are not racists just excersizing their freedom of expression and association and would not any restriction inhibit the right of the media to present the news? Does not democracy depend on the free flow of ideas, even if minority groups suffer and are prevented from excersizing their rights because of violence and intimidation?

In fact, much of the Canadian media until quite recently has seen racist groups as more newsworthy than opposition to those groups. As a result, few outside of the city of Winnipeg appreciate what the Western Anti-Racist Network and United Against Racism have accomplished working with youth and few outside the city of Toronto appreciate what Anti-Racist Action has accomplished in that city. Even fewer know what youth in Provost, Alberta accomplished and how they stopped Aryan Nations organizing in their town.

The absence of accurate information about anti-racist organizing is a major problem in combating hate groups since everyone must reinvent the wheel. To make matters worse, each community that is targeted feels isolated and vulnerable. The present handbook is intended to help address this lack of knowledge and to provide assistance in combating hate group activity. The handbook is based on years of exposing and opposing hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations in both small communities and large urban cities throughout Canada. The argument of the handbook is not that government and law enforcement are not needed. The reverse is true: Good laws are badly needed. The argument of the present handbook is that real sustainable change must come from community-based and community-driven initiatives and that governments should actively support those initiatives instead of feeling threatened by them.

The first chapter examines several case studies of anti-racist and anti-fascist organizing against hate groups in Canada. The chapter does not pretend to discover a general model for responding to hate groups that can be used in every part of the country without regard to particular conditions. There is no cookie cutter approach to successful community organizing on any issue. Instead, it is hoped that by presenting a range of anti-racist strategies and tactics that have been employed by different types of groups facing very different conditions and problems, a number of useful general strategic guidelines can be developed for application by groups concerned by the rising tide of hate and violence.

Chapter two provides a summary of those guidelines for non-violent community action. It is argued that we should not fear exposing hate mongers because of the concern that public attention will only create further support for racists. In reality, ignoring hate groups gives them tacit license to practice hate. A lack of opposition to hate group activity is interpreted by those on the far right as a sign of support; that the wider society supports racism, homophobia and bigotry and is not concerned with the immediate victims of hate. Silence in the face of hate also adds to the sense of alienation that the targets of crime experience and to their frustration with seemingly uncaring and unresponsive government agencies. In fact, ignoring racist and fascist groups and allowing them to organize outside the glare of public attention will ensure that hate groups will increase in size and number.

Chapter three presents an outline of the types of security precautions undertaken by pro-choice activists in Vancouver, British Columbia in the wake of the shooting of an abortion provider in the city. Security precautions are often taken for granted by activists until they face attack, but steps to ensure the safety of individuals and groups are critical to successful coalition building. The chapter includes a checklist of security steps for specific situations.

Chapter four examines the legal remedies available for fighting hate in Canada. Hate crime legislation is weak in Canada and amendments to the Criminal Code are past due. An examination of legal redress by the Southern Poverty Law Center based in Montgomery Alabama is provided to illustrate what groups have been able to accomplish in other jurisdictions.

Chapter five examines anti-racist theory and concepts. To effectively combat hate groups, it is important not only to expose and oppose them, but it is also important to develop a language and understanding of hate groups as a new and growing social movement. The use of racist concepts and theory have hampered efforts to combat racism and have compounded the problems of working effectively with the mainstream media. The chapter offers suggestions for responding to assumptions about the nature of hate groups generally made by reporters and news agencies.

The handbook ends with a glossary of terms, a comprehensive bibliography, a list of resources for anti-racist and anti-fascist organizing, and guidelines for dealing with racial violence. Readers are advised to contact the organizations listed in Appendix A for professional advice on how to deal with hate groups, security issues and how to support the targets of hate. Readers are also cautioned that the information provided in this handbook is not meant to be legal advice and that legal council and community groups with specific experience fighting hate should be consulted.

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1.5 Anti-racist Action in Toronto - ARA

1.5 Anti-racist Action in Toronto

By Ida Fink

1992 was a year of increasingly public fascist activity in Toronto. The Heritage Front (HF), which was formed in 1989, had begun to focus on recruiting in high schools. Racist flyers were distributed targeting Black History Month programs and black youth in general, at a time of resurgent pride in fighters like Malcolm X. In May of 1992, members of the HF appeared at a demonstration against the acquittal of the six cops charged with beating Rodney King, carrying provocative banners and attempting to intimidate protesters.

Billing itself as a "white separatist" group, the Front's aim was to soft-pedal its blatant white supremacist message and recruit a core of disaffected white youths, as exemplified by David Duke and Tom Metzger. Its primary organizing tool was a telephone hate line. By September, a complaint about the hate line had been brought to the Ontario Human Rights Commission by the Native Canadian Centre, and the Heritage Front announced their plan to march on the Provincial Courthouse to "defend" the hate line.

At this point, a group of young activists, many of whom were personally familiar with the high school recruits, decided that this public show of Nazi ideology should not be tolerated. One hundred and fifty strong, and with only a few days' notice through word of mouth, the nameless group unexpectedly showed up at the Courthouse to confront the Heritage Front members parading with confederate and swastika flags, sending them running for cover.

Out of this, Toronto's Anti-Racist Action was born. Since then, ARA has developed and maintained a consistent anti-racist and anti-fascist presence in the city.

Through demonstrations, propaganda, campaigns against fascist recruitment in high schools, parties and other creative means, the group has confronted Nazis on the streets, at their events, and even at their homes and organizing centers. More generally, the group has tried to popularize an anti-racist and anti-fascist cultural politics, especially among young people.

Those drawn to the regular meetings following that initial courthouse confrontation agreed that if the Heritage Front was mostly mobilizing young people, anti-racist youth had better organize some sort of presence to counter them!

As our contribution to this manual on fighting white supremacist groups in our communities, we will describe some of the strategies and tactics we've developed over the past two and a half years.

* * * *

From the beginning, Anti-Racist Action (ARA) encompassed people from different backgrounds and political perspectives. Everyone agreed that a street level response to fascist organizing was crucial, not because fascist groups pose an immediate political threat, but because of their potential to recruit young people and to terrorize the broader community on the street.

There was a lot of discussion about whether ARA should also actively organize against institutional and systemic racism, especially racist police brutality. In the end, the group agreed to focus on the far right, hoping to make an effective contribution in that one area to the overall anti-racist movement. To take these perspectives into account, the group adopted a basis of unity "to expose, oppose and confront racists and the far right agenda in Toronto through education and mass action, and to support broader anti-racist struggles."

As we began to pierce through the apathy and indifference that Nazis enjoy in this "liberal and democratic society", the basic organizing principle of the group came to be "Zero Tolerance for Nazis Everywhere!"

As a group committed to preventing Nazi groups from growing and becoming a serious threat to the broader community, ARA supports and promotes self defence against racist and fascist attacks. It is not enough to wait until attacks occur, or to allow public shows of Nazi ideology which embolden the racists. Rather, only an active commitment to challenge anything they try to do will succeed in driving them back under their rocks. This political approach is reflected in our demonstrations and other public work. Nazis are not tolerated in meetings or parties we participate in, and we will not debate with Nazis in the media or in public forums. Demonstrations are carefully planned to be as direct and as empowering as possible, because nobody wants to spend their afternoon chanting outside a faceless building.

One of the challenges for ARA as a youth-oriented group has been to develop an autonomous strategy. This has often been viewed with condescension or suspicion by older activists whose primary frame of reference is the classic symbolic protest at an institutional site, with police cooperation. The notable exception to this is the Black Action Defense Committee, formed in response to police shootings and brutality. Never having enjoyed police "protection" in demonstrations, BADC understood ARA's street strategy to a far greater degree.

The group also organizes demonstrations to be as safe as possible -- using the power of numbers and encouraging expression of the natural outrage we feel seeing white supremacists trying to organize. At the same time, ARA supports other initiatives and strategies used by more institutional groups to confront white supremacist groups. We work with school boards where possible to introduce youth oriented anti-racist material into classrooms. Information tables at various fairs and community events give us an opportunity to present the group's strategy and activist materials alongside other, more traditional groups.

When more mainstream groups bring fascists to court, we take the opportunity to get more information on Nazi individuals and tactics, as confront them when they use these challenges as opportunities for a public presence. The use of stickers, graffiti, public art, posters, T-shirts and the like has been most effective in creating a vibrant anti-racist presence in the streets and public spaces. It's easy, fun and creative, and doesn't have to cost a lot.

Anti-racist musicians, artists and performers generate support and awareness of the issues in fresh and non-rhetorical ways that reach people on a different level than demonstrations, forums and meetings. Toronto anti-racists created a series of "UNWANTED" posters exposing the faces of Toronto's Nazi leadership and some of the more prominent Heritage Front supporters, with captions that included both humour and "sensitive" information. These posters alone caused major grief among the Nazis! ARA's public activity, in the form of demonstrations and pickets, is generally what brings new people to the group.

Internally, it's important to prevent burnout in this area of organizing which often demands quick response time and considerable commitment. At the same time, setting up solid outreach, and acknowledging past mistakes to ourselves and our allies, is what will make the group sustainable.

Every demonstration (about 20 in just over two years) has been a learning experience. The fact that we do not back away from confrontation with Nazis carries with it two consequences: one, the Nazis take us seriously. In this regard, we believe that recruitment into racist groups has been slowed by the existence of a counter force on a physical as well as a political level. Two, the police consider ARA demonstrations an opportunity for overtime, and there have been arrests of anti-racists at ARA demonstrations.

In order to justify heavy police presence at ARA events, the group itself must be characterized as "criminal" by police and pro-police media. Ultimately, all charges laid during or as a direct result of ARA demonstrations have been dropped. However, fighting any charge takes time and money, and some members of the group may be more vulnerable than others.

Following the first courthouse confrontation, ARA's next two major demonstrations were formative. The first, at the Roma Cafe in the downtown West End, took place in November, 1992. The Heritage Front had called a secret meeting to "celebrate" Holocaust-denier David Irving's visit to Toronto. Irving, however, was deported earlier in the day.

But the worst was yet to come for the "master race" celebrants: the already rattled crowd was besieged by 250 angry anti-racists. Surrounding the Roma Restaurant, whose windows were covered in eggs by the end of the night, the demonstrators chanted for hours in freezing weather circled by (relatively sympathetic) cops who were more representative of the city's diversity than at any future ARA demo. A little over half the boneheads left, in small groups and disarray, before the "concert" shut down, and the remaining Nazis stayed to watch local bands Negative Response (now reformed as White Riot) and the Church of the Creator band RaHoWa (short for Racial Holy War) rant and scream from a makeshift stage.

Even though the gig was not entirely shut down, the general feeling was that our counter-organizing had been successful. The second major demonstration was again at the University Avenue Courthouse in January 1993. Once again, the Front had announced that they would be marching on the Courthouse in protest of the inquiry into their hate line. This time close to 500 antifascists met early in the morning to prevent the Nazi march.

We marched down University Avenue and into City Hall Square, stopping when we neared the entrance to the Courthouse. But this time the police were prepared with a mounted unit between us and the Nazis.

As the Nazis advanced across City Hall Square, the mounted unit charged the front lines of the anti-racists, injuring quite a few people. The Nazis were able to pass by our ranks only under cover of this mounted police attack on the anti-racists. In retrospect, had we simply continued marching towards the Nazis and denying them the public space to march, the effects would have been no worse.

By the summer of 1993, after a series of increasingly bold and vicious Heritage Front led attacks including arson, sexual assault and a near fatal beating of a Tamil refugee following a RaHoWa concert, ARA took a demonstration right to the door of the "voice" of the Heritage Front hate line.

Again exposing a "secret" location, the demonstration at Gary Schipper's house was the most militant of our demonstrations. We kept the final destination secret even from our demonstration until we got close to the actual house, thus ensuring that neither Nazis nor police had forewarning.

We did not invite the media or ask for endorsements from other groups. During the demonstration, a masked group rushed the house, smashing windows, white paint, shit and eggs were thrown. The location of Schipper's residence had been determined by surveillance, which sent a message that "we know where you live".

Second, because the property damage was confined to Schipper's house, and local residents were informed as the demonstration entered the neighbourhood, the media had to focus on the actual reasons for the demonstration.

We have at times been characterized as a street gang, "no better than the Nazis" and sometimes accused of not organizing against the broader problem of racism in society -- as if Nazis were the only thing that mattered.

We have tried to answer these criticisms by joining in coalition with other anti-racist groups where they set the agenda, where we support and organize along and limit confrontation. One third of ARA's demonstrations have been organized in this way.

Solidarity with First Nations, Black, Jewish, Latino and Queer groups is in fact a priority among members of ARA, many of whom are active in other groups as well. Anti-fascist activity should indeed be informed by the broader struggle against racism, sexism and homophobia, as well as all forms of discrimination. At the same time, other anti-racist groups need to understand the particular menace of organized neo-Nazi particularly in terms of young people, and support us in our specific and targeted approach to the problem.

2. Anti-Klan Organizing

Anti-Klan Organizing

By Julian Sher

In the early 1980s, when the Canadian Ku Klux Klan once again began to stir up racial hatred, the response from the provincial and federal governments was sluggish at best. This was best typified in British Columbia when the then opposition New Democratic Party tried to introduce a toothless resolution against the Klan. The ruling Socreds refused to allow the motion onto the floor of the legislature for debate.

Every single top leader of the Klan in Ontario - James McQuirter, Wolfgang Droege, Jacob Prins, Armand Siskna - had previous criminal charges or convictions. Several Klan members were arrested for breaking a public mischief law. But in no jurisdiction anywhere in Canada in the 1980s were any Klan members ever accused, much less arrested or put on trial, for hate crimes.

Not that Canada's hate propaganda laws have much teeth. The Criminal Code states anyone who "incites hatred against an identifiable group" is liable to up to two years in prison. But there are plenty of legal loopholes through which the Klan can ram a burning cross.

The law says you must "willfully" promote hate -- but intent is very hard to prove. And the law says belief in the truth of your statements can be a defense. So, not surprisingly, the Klan's newspaper, The Statesman, published a disclaimer saying the KKK "does not willfully promote hatred. The Statesman believes all statements made on its pages to be true."

With lawmakers and the law unable to stem the Klan's rise, it fell to popular movements - local anti-racist coalitions, trade unions and progressive groups - to take on and ultimately defeat the modern Klan.

When the Klan opened its first Canadian office in the multi-ethnic working class area of Riverdale, residents were quick to respond. Rev. John Robson of the local Presbyterian Church knew the dangers the Klan posed: "Where there's unemployment and fear because of people from different cultures moving into an old community, it's a good way for the Klan to organize a political base - by capitalizing on those feelings and trying to fan that into a flame."

Resolutions against the Klan were passed by community centers, church groups and legal aid clinics. In the summer of 1980, RACAR was born - Riverdale Action Committee Against Racism. "We got together and set out to build a community-based organization," said coordinator Dierdre Power. "Its focus was simple: to get rid of the Klan."

RACAR set up groups to produce a regular newsletter which decried "government inaction and the media's game of sensationalism." To counter the Klan's recruitment of young people, RACAR handed out brochures in school yards and playgrounds. When the KKK appeared in some schools, teachers invited RACAR people to speak to the students. RACER also went door to door in the neighbourhood near the Klan headquarters, handing out literature in English, Greek, Punjabi and Portuguese. In a few months, more than 3,000 Riverdale residents signed an anti-Klan petition. Racer’s efforts reached a peak in May of 1981 when 1,000 people took part in what was by far the largest anti-Klan rally Canada had seen. The community festival was sponsored by 60 trade unions, community groups and a broad spectrum of organizations such as the Native-American Prisoners' Rights Committee and the Chinese-Canadian National Council for Equality. As the crowd marched through the streets past Klan headquarters, residents came out to cheer them on. Less than a month after this show of force, the Klan moved out of Riverdale.

Finding a new home proved difficult. The Klan moved to Toronto's west end, on a quiet tree-lined street in Park dale. It did not take long for the KKK to find out it was not welcome there either. A demonstration was organized by community activists. "No Nazis, kick the Klan out," 350 people chanted as they marched past the Klan's new headquarters.

The protest laid the basis for a new coalition modeled after RACER - this time called the Park dale Action Committee Against Racism. "We wanted to make it clear that opposition was going to follow the Klan wherever they went and that communities were not going to tolerate the KKK," said one of the founders, John Meyers. PACAR brought together Filipino, Caribbean, Chinese, Japanese, Latin American and other members of the community. A public education group produced a leaflet on the dangers of the Klan. More than 4,000 people signed a petition against the Klan. And 500 protest letters were sent to the phone company for allowing the KKK to have a listing. To end the year, PACAR held a "Rock against Racism" dance attended by 500 people.

PACAR was so effective that the Klan never achieved the level of activity in Park dale that it had elsewhere - not a single school in the area was visited by the Klan, not a single street was hit by Klan literature distribution. "The Klan just can't get a foothold because the community is healthy," Meyers concluded.

In British Columbia, the Klan faced the same kind of popular resistance. In November, 1980, the British Columbia Organization to Fight Racism (BCOFR) was created and made the Klan one of its first targets. The BCOFR called for a legal ban on the Klan and its activities. "Freedom of speech is definitely a fundamental right," argued a leader of the BCOFR. "But the Klan should not be allowed to infringe on the rights of others, to propagate hatred towards national and ethnic minorities."

The new organization held its first public meeting in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey, attracting more than 400 people to its "Take a Stand, Ban the Klan" rally. Many of its members and organizers came from the province's South Asian community - a prime target of the Klan's racism - but the BCOFR also took steps to build a much broader coalition against the Klan. Its actions were endorsed by groups such as the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, the Tribal Council of British Columbia and the Chinese Benevolent Association. Several trade unions backed the BCOFR, including the B.C. Teachers Federation, the Vancouver and District Labour Council and the Telecommunications Workers Union (which invited a BCOFR representative to its annual convention). "We have a united front against the Klan," explained a BCOFR representative.

It showed. A petition calling for a ban on the Klan was circulated in trade union and student circles and in various ethnic communities; 16,000 people eventually signed it. Then, 750 people took part in the largest anti-racism demonstration Vancouver had seen in years, as they marched to the downtown government offices to hand the petition to the Attorney General.

In other parts of the country, too, community response to the Klan was sharp and effective. In Nova Scotia, a quickly-formed Coalition against the KKK brought together members of the province's large black community, some Jewish residents and other citizens. About 250 people came to the coalition's first public meeting, where messages of support were read from East Indian, Chinese and African groups and labour unions.

It was ironic. The Klan's avowed goal was the separation of the races and the incitement of race hatred, yet its appearance in Canada sparked a vigorous, grassroots movement that united diverse national, ethnic and political forces. Black groups such as the Black United Front in Halifax and the National Black Coalition of Canada spoke out against the Klan. So did the Chinese Benevolent Association, the Chinese Canadian National Council for Equality, and the Indian Peoples Association of North America. Native American groups in Regina and Vancouver added their voices to the anti-Klan chorus. Jewish and Catholic groups called on governments to take stronger action. Labour unions also lent their support. Labour councils in Vancouver, Regina, Windsor, Sudbury and Cape Breton passed resolutions calling for a ban on the Klan.

"By its own presence, the Klan has sown the seed of its own destruction," said Norman Kwon at one of the first anti-Klan rallies in Toronto. "They think they can divide us, but they have actually brought us together."

The Klan of the 1980s lasted only a few years. But the lessons of unity and direct action that were learned in communities across the country would linger for much longer.

3. Combating Hate in Alberta

3. Combating Hate in Alberta

By Dick Chamney

In September of 1990, a group known as "The Brotherhood of Regularly People" (also know to police as the Brotherhood of Racial Purity) hosted Aryan Nations and Ku Klux Klan members from Alberta and Saskatchewan at a farm just outside Provost, Alberta for what was described by local organizers as an "Aryan fest". Although the event drew fewer than thirty participants, it did attract national media coverage and for several nights the image of Provost, Alberta in national television news clips and newspaper headline was one of a burning thirty foot cross. The incident left community residents in various states of shock, confusion, anger and fear and, more generally, with a feeling of shame and powerlessness.

Local and provincial responses to the incident were anything but consistent. Many local people felt violated by the fact that this sort of activity could take place in their community. Others felt the media was responsible for making a spectacle of Provost. Some people were too frightened to speak about the incident and others wanted to march in the streets to protest the Aryan fest.

Alberta's Solicitor General ordered RCMP to maintain a "low profile" during the Provost event and other provincial departments suggested "ignore them, don't give them more attention than they deserve". It is difficult to ignore an incident that leaves people sick at heart, angry and afraid.

Turning Points

One local group that was adamant about making a statement of protest against racism was the student body at Provost Public School. Within two days of hearing that the Aryan fest was coming to their community, student leaders organized an in-school demonstration which called for students to wear black in opposition to racism. An overwhelming majority of students responded and the school principal supported them by providing an assembly for students to gather and speak about the impact of the forthcoming event, their community's image and their personal feelings. This was the first large voice in the community that spoke in concert and said “NO, this is wrong. We don't accept racism. It is not and will not be tolerated in our school and it does not reflect the feelings of Provost students.”

A second local group to express concern was the Town of Provost Economic Development Committee. This committee was engaged in trying to attract industry, commerce and a diversity of human services to the community. They were, specifically at this time, attempting to recruit physicians to the Provost area. A burning thirty foot cross on national television was not an attractive introduction to Provost, particularly for people who were not from a white or white-Christian culture.

The Economic Development Committee wanted to let prospects know that racial and religious discrimination were not representative of the policies of the Town of Provost or its business community.

It became apparent to some community leaders that there was a significant number of groups and individuals who would like the image of their community and themselves to be more accepting and welcoming than the image created by the Aryan Nations and Ku Klux Klan one weekend in September, 1990. It was also acknowledged that people are generally reluctant to speak out in a public "soapbox" manner, particularly regarding controversial, even dangerous, issues, but, given an opportunity to share ideas and concerns in a less threatening and supportive environment, people might be more willing to express themselves.

I recall the comment of a woman from the Chinese community in Calgary while we were working at developing a "Cultural Ambassadors" program for the Alberta Multiculturalism Commission. She said, "this program is not about ambassadors, it's about racism. It has taken me two years to develop the confidence and courage to say that.”

Remembering that people often need a safe environment to face frightening issues was the cornerstone of the community's action plan and certainly, very significant to its success.

Building For Success

A small planning group was formed through the coordination of Provost and District Family and Community Support Services. The group included teachers, church leaders, community service board members, youth leaders, seniors and chamber of commerce members. By the time this group met, one provincial government organization -- the Alberta Multiculturalism Commission -- had also contacted the community to offer assistance.

In the committee's discussion about effectively responding to the Aryan fest and cross burning, some guiding principles began to emerge:

• a reactive, confrontational approach may frighten and alienate as many as it attracted and further disturb the community. A positive, proactive approach would serve the community better than drawing "battle lines"

The concept of providing a forum that would allow people to speak to these questions evolved: "If we are not a community of racists and bigots, then who are we?... What do we want our community to be like?... Who do we see ourselves interacting with the rest of the people on this planet?... And, what do we need to do to ensure our vision of ourselves materializes?"

• a truly effective response would have to be seen (and felt) as "the community's response" rather than that of a special interest group.

Invitations to participants included significant representation from community leaders and authorities. The mayors, reeve and councils of surrounding municipalities, school trustees, hospital board members, church leaders, chamber of commerce and CEOs from all of Provost's major public institutions were invited as well as representatives from the petrochemical industry that supports a major share of Provost's economy. Any kind of common statement from this cross section would certainly be "legitimized" as a community statement.

• a recognized and respected authority would help establish a common values base that participants could share and be comfortable with through the forum

Planning committee members invited Mr. Fil Fraser, First Commissioner of Alberta's Human Rights Commission to open the forum. It was not coincidental that, while this planning was taking place, Mr. Fraser, the Human Rights Commission and the Alberta Legislature were honoring a group of Provost students for their actions and leadership related to the Provost incident. These students deserve a great deal of the credit for the ultimate success of the community initiative. There are few things easier to value than the achievement of our children. Mr. Fraser's praise of these students and those who chose to take part in the forum certainly established a common pride for participants.

• an understanding that, although it may be easier to discuss public relations and "community image", this forum was really about issues of the heart and people needed an opportunity to express "feelings" in the forum

It was important to have a significant cross section of community authority "legitimize" the outcome of this forum, but participants were asked not to attend as representatives of their organizations, but rather as themselves, residents of this community. A good deal of small group time was built into the forum and groups were provided with good facilitators and private, more intimate space for their discussions. Although the groups were given the task of answering the preceding questions that served as the framework for the forum, they had a great deal of time to discuss other issues. Personal feelings about the Aryan fest were discussed at length and a good deal of grieving and healing took place.

The CEO of Provost's Health Care Centre said, "I came to this forum because I direct a major institution and it's important for us to be here, but I really came here because of my kids. When the Aryan Nations event was happening, they came to me and asked what they should do. I didn't know what to tell them and I should have. I should have known what to say to my children about this".

A common sense of pride in being associated with this "speaking out" process developed as people spent time together.

• sharing feelings and values is difficult, but can be very positive and supportive. Discovering common values and beliefs is a powerful bonding experience

Small groups were brought together in plenary sessions at intervals in the forum. As they reported their deliberations and "answers" to the questions they were presented, common themes emerged. Participants shared a sense of celebration around values of caring, compassion and reaching out to others.

• some of the most productive time people will spend in sharing exercises is unstructured. Breaking bread is a simple way to bring people together without a formal agenda.

Throughout this day-and-a-half forum, meals were catered and participants had an opportunity to talk about themselves as well as issues. New friendships emerged around the values shared in the forum. The sense of safety in community that had been shattered by a few hateful, violent people began to return. A new sense of security, strength and pride was very apparent as participants interacted.

• it was important that this forum be more than an event. It needed to be the start of a process that would be ongoing.

The question, "what do we need to do to ensure our vision materializes?" was probably the most critical to the success of the forum. It gave people an opportunity to think about "what comes next", and some very specific action plans were shared in the closing plenary session and committed to by participants.

• to truly be effective, this proactive experience needed to be shared beyond the confines of Provost and forum participants.

Good public relations made this community action a positive one that carried benefits far beyond Provost. Maintaining contact with the same media people who reported the Aryan Nations event provided a vehicle to showcase the Provost community's response. Major newspapers, radio, and television carried the news that Provost "did something" about racism. Public speaking engagements across Western Canada are still being requested.

Community Outcomes

The forum described in the preceding pages was a one-and-a-half day exercise called "Stepping into the Global Community, a Symposium on Welcoming the World". This single event did not eradicate racism in Provost, but it certainly took a leading step towards becoming a more accepting and caring community that is open to all. The most significant achievement of this exercise was to demonstrate that the majority of Provost's residents already shared this vision. They were simply provided an opportunity to express themselves.

There have been racist incidents in other communities in Alberta (and there will certainly be others), but Provost might have been the first to speak out in a strong voice and re-capture their own sense of themselves. Other communities haven't given themselves an opportunity to grieve and heal and a significant number of people contacted Provost organizers to say, "they wish they had done something like this for their communities".

There were a number of very tangible outcomes from the symposium and I will list a few (and probably miss many). Not the least of these outcomes was to organize a second symposium early in 1992 aimed at a broader region of East Central Alberta. Some other significant developments included:

• Provost School Division developing specific policy of intolerance to racism or discrimination and including in the Division's Values and Beliefs statement;

• All students should have an equal opportunity to a quality education which addresses the growth and development of the whole person;

• All students should have an opportunity to learn in a safe and caring environment;

• Education must include a global focus which values cultural diversity;

• Schools developed their own programs to involve students in awareness of other cultures and interaction with students from other racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds. These included Human Rights Day celebrations, regular attendance at provincial, multicultural youth conferences, the formation of in-school groups promoting multiculturalism and association with other schools in the province doing the same;

• The Provost Economic Development Committee in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce undertook a one-year project to study "Immigration as an Opportunity for Economic Diversification" for the Provost community;

• Specific plans were made to regularly celebrate the ethnic diversity of Provost through church groups and other community organizations;

• A "parade if flags" was proposed to be situated in a prominent place in the community as a permanent demonstration of diversity that built our community;

Most importantly, participants leaving this community symposium took with them some common "tools" that helped them better understand the roots of racism and things they could do about it within their own organizations and peer groups.

• Understand that prejudice is most often based on myth, misinformation and fear and we must continually inform, dispel myths and educate;

• Understand that racism is aimed at groups, but it is practised by individuals, we can confront racism on an individual basis;

• Understand that the "ripple effect" is global. Our actions as individuals or groups can effect the world.


4 Combating Hate In Ottawa By Warren Kinsella

4 Combating Hate In Ottawa

By Warren Kinsella

One pleasant June evening in 1994, a few weeks after the publication of my book Web of Hate: Inside Canada's Far Right Network - a book that was variously described as harmful, exaggerated and (my personal favourite) alarmist by a few detractors at the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Sun and the like - I stood on my driveway, fishing in my pockets for my house key, when I heard a curious sound. It was the sound of male voices; they sounded youngish and not a little angry, and they seemed to be directed at me.

I squinted into the dark, in the direction of the voices. In the Ottawa neighbourhood in which my wife and I live - a neighbourhood for which the hackneyed phrase "quiet and residential" was probably invented - it is not every evening that one encounters angry young men bellowing at passersby near midnight.

I looked back at our darkened house, where I knew my wife was inside, asleep. The voices continued, barking a few curses and, unmistakably this time, my name. I started to walk to the end of our driveway.

Awaiting me on the opposite side of Imperial Avenue was a battered Pinto-style hatchback. In the back seat, there appeared to be a young man with close-cropped hair. Standing on the street, beside the open doors of the hatchback, were two other young men. They were muscular specimens, with shaved heads, and they both appeared to be holding something in their hands.

After a brief pause in which I was surveyed by my new friends, the shouting continued. While the one at the passenger door gave a Nazi-style salute, his colleague on the driver's side hollered something to the effect of: "Cameras won't save you, Kinsella."

This, undoubtedly, was a reference to the closed-circuit cameras that had been installed earlier that same day on the exterior of our home. The cameras had been recommended to us by the Ottawa Police Service, which had acquired reason to believe that certain Ottawa-area neo-Nazis - angry about Web of Hate - were planning to fire-bomb our home or blow up our car.

I reached into my jacket for the small cellular phone that I always carry, once again, at the recommendation of the police. I started to press a few buttons.

Seeing this, the skinheads climbed into their car and shut the doors. As they slowly made a U-turn to pull away, the skinhead in the passenger seat flashed his middle finger and bellowed: "White power!"

After the car had disappeared from sight, I went inside, where my wife was already calling the police. Both of us knew the number by heart. In the days and weeks following the publication of Web of Hate, we had been stalked by Anne Hartmann, crypto-Nazi leader of the Northern Foundation; I had been threatened (in a hallway at the Ottawa courthouse, no less, where I had been subpoenaed to testify in a hate trial) by Northern Hammerskin leader Dan Roussel; we learned the Nationalist Party of Canada and other white supremacist groups had decided to hold a whites-only "picnic" in the park directly behind our home, prompting the Ottawa Police to call in the riot squad; and, for good measure, the editors at Frank magazine -- who at one time, coincidentally enough, assisted Ms. Hartmann in the production of her far-right rag, Northern Voice, published our address for every neo-Nazi in the country to clip and save.

While my wife waited for a police officer to come on the line, I told her about my brief encounter with the trio of skinheads. As we sat there in the dark, waiting, I remembered that Bill Dunphy - the Toronto Sun's self-appointed expert on hate groups - had called Web of Hate "alarmist". I mentioned this to my wife.

"Alarmist?" she said. "Maybe Bill wouldn't think it was so alarmist if he had a bunch of Nazis sieg-heiling at the end of his driveway."

We both laughed. "Something tells me you're right."


Those who believe that Canada's far right is populated by a minuscule number of red-necked mouth-breathers with little organizational ability -- and even less smarts -- need only re-read the above passage. As one who has endured a harassment campaign that has gone on for months, I can easily testify to the ability of neo-Nazis and white supremacists to intimidate and terrorize. Just today, in fact, I returned home from work to find an envelope full of child pornography in my mailbox. The kiddie porn had been directed to our home, without much doubt, by some pro-Nazi coward. His or her objective has been simple: to provoke fear.

For those far-right types now reading these words, I have one message: it won't work. You won't scare us out of our home. You won't make us leave town. You won't stop me from speaking out against racism.

This, at the end of the day, is the best way to combat Canada's growing web of hate. To refuse to be intimidated. To refuse to be pushed around. To refuse to be afraid.

Fear, after all, is what Canada's organized hate movement is all about.

In the past two decades, Canada's racist right have acquired undeniable skills in their relentless campaign of fear. In the 1960s and 1970s, white supremacists were comparatively ineffective. They strutted about in ill-fitting home-made SS uniforms, mostly content with passing out pro-Nazi leaflets, mouthing the slogans of American Nazi boss George Lincoln Rockwell, and burning the odd cross in remote rural fields. After capturing a few headlines, they would inevitably shrink into well-deserved obscurity, drowning in the bile of their own hate.

By the 1980s, however, the haters had changed. They became better-organized. They became more articulate. They became more numerous.

David Duke changed the formula of hate. Appearing on talk shows in natty suits, with long hair and a deferential manner, Duke captivated Middle America. Over and over, artless interviewers would gush: "But he doesn't look like a racist! He doesn't sound like a Nazi!" Duke would merely smile. This klansman had succeeded: he had brought organized racism out of the shadows and, along the way, manipulated the media - and, through the media, hundreds of thousands of Americans into believing that he was not "anti-black" but merely "pro-white".

Like most media-generated phenomena having their origins in the United States, it was only a matter of time before the Duke dynamo attracted the attention of Canada's own haters. Among the first to come and pay observance were James Alexander McQuirter and Wolfgang Droege, an unlikely pair who had forged a friendship over coffee tables at meetings of Toronto-based groups such as the Western Guard and the Nationalist Party of Canada.

McQuirter and Droege, who would go on to form the wildly successful branch-plant operation known as the Canadian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, were awestruck by Duke's charisma and leadership skills. At Duke's knee, the pair learned the power of the mass media and the effectiveness of modern organizational techniques pioneered by U.S. political parties. They learned the value of conducting media interviews in sober, modulated tones; they learned the value of showing up to debates and rallies in dress shirts and ties; they learned the value of presenting a reasonable and friendly image to those they wished to recruit.

Although both McQuirter and Droege would eventually spend some time in prison for their enthusiasm, the Duke-inspired Klan they brought to Canada became the model for all later such efforts. From the Nationalist Party to Aryan Nations to the Heritage Front to the National Alliance, all took note of the McQuirter/Droege experience, and built on the undeniable success of the Canadian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

In the intervening years, dozens of neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations have plagued school yards, army barracks, street corners and (most of all) airwaves with their homily of hate. Like McQuirter and Droege did before them, Canada's newer racist leaders have embraced the "kinder, gentler" tone -- and learned how to spread their message using everything from the fax machine to the Internet.

Just as the haters have become better at what they do, so too must those who push back against the rising wave of intolerance. To quote a cliché, education is the key. But education must take place at two distinct levels - in our schools, and in the strategies and tactics of anti-racist activities.

School yards -- from primary and post-secondary -- are the first battle-ground. Since the debut of the Canadian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1970s, home-grown hate groups have paid particular attention to our youth. Knowing that burgeoning unemployment and lack of opportunity have marginalized many (if not most) of Canada's next generations, the likes of Wolfgang Droege have elevated recruitment of disenfranchised young people to an art form.

At its peak in early 1993, Droege's Heritage Front group could reliably claim to have captured new members at virtually every high school in the Metropolitan Toronto area. Offering youngsters much of what they are seeking -- an anti-parent culture, a uniform, a secret society, a sense of belonging, an identity and even "racist rock" groups -- Canada's hate group leaders have seduced thousands of adolescents into racist ideologies. Success in school yards and in classrooms is crucial to the future growth of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups. It is no accident, for instance, that our schools have attracted so many men who subscribe to racist views: Jim Keegstra in Alberta, Malcolm Ross in New Brunswick, Paul Fromm in Ontario.

To beat racists on this level, we need to appeal to the hearts and minds of young Canadians. Intellectually, they must be shown that the various manifestation of hate promotion -- Holocaust denial, racial epithets and discriminatory practices -- are harmful and contrary to a modern society's best interests. Emotionally, majority students need to experience the pain and anxiety that are natural consequences of anti-semitism, homophobia and racism.

But education must take place at another level, too. Anti-racist activities must adopt new and sophisticated tactics and strategies for combating a hate movement that is better-organized and better-funded than ever before.

Among these strategies and tactics are:

• acquiring, updating and sharing accurate information on the activities and members of hate groups;

• continually monitoring the media - in news stories, editorials and letters-to-the-editor - for any uncritical/favourable coverage of racist groups, then quickly responding to same;

• encouraging metropolitan police forces to develop a built-in expertise to deal with white supremacist and neo-Nazi organizations or, ideally, to form bias crime units; reporting, in a timely manner, any and all racist activity, from the distribution of "pro-white" pamphlets to the appearance of discriminatory graffiti;

• avoiding vigilantism, however frustrating such a strategy might be, and leaving policing activity to the RCMP, CSIS and local police services;

• learning the significance of particular dates (e.g. April 20 is Adolf Hitler's birthday); particular symbols (e.g. "88" refers to "h", the eighth letter of the alphabet, and is a short form for "Heil Hitler"); particular forms of dress (e.g. red laces on Doc Marten boots typically mean the wearer is a neo-Nazi); and particular subcultures (e.g. skinheads are not always racist, but it is safe to assume the vast majority have or have had involvement with racist groups);

• finally, never underestimating the cunning and ability of the neo-Nazi and white supremacist leaders of the 1990s.

Every once in a while -- not often, but often enough -- my wife and I muse about what our lives would be like had I not written a book about Canada's racist right. Undoubtedly, we would be able to dispense with the numerous personal security devices both of us always carry. We would not need to position video cameras and lights on the exterior of our home. We would not need to register in hotels under assumed names, or change our unlisted telephone number every four months.

We would not need to snap awake past midnight, having heard an unfamiliar sound outside our bedroom window.

But Web of Hate was written, and published. Many of Canada's white supremacists and neo-Nazis don't like it. And I am not ashamed I have raised my voice against them. All of us need to raise our voices. All of us need to remember that Canada's racist groups are watching, waiting and growing stronger. They have not gone away in the past, and there is not much chance that they will go away in the immediate future.

5. Building Coalitions in Ontario By Karen Mock and Lorne Templeman

5. Building Coalitions in Ontario

By Karen Mock and Lorne Templeman

Case Study: Minden, Ontario - July 1989


The ex-leader of the Canadian Nazi Party, John Beattie, organized a "Whites Only” rally on his rented property in Minden, Ontario on the July 1, 1989 Canada Day Weekend. Minden is a rural community 2 hours North of Toronto and West of Peterborough. The event was designed to attract young people particularly skinheads based in Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston and Montreal.

The event was modeled on racist gatherings events in the United States but was the first of its kind in Canada. The event attracted over 90 Skinheads from as far away as New Jersey. The program included guest speakers such as convicted hate monger John Ross Taylor and a KKK style cross burning on the Saturday evening.

Chronology Of Events

June 10, 1989 - Shaarei Shomayim Synagogue in Toronto and a neighbouring Jewish School are defaced with swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans.

June 15, 1989 - League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada is notified of a rally from a media source. The League confirms information with Minden Ontario Provincial Police. The Race Relations Directorate (renamed Ontario Anti-Racism Secretariat in 1991) is notified of the rally. The Minister of Citizenship’s office staff is notified of the event.

June 16, 1989 - The rally becomes public knowledge in print, radio and television.

June 19, 1989 - The League for Human Rights receives phone calls from Minden residents looking for information and advice. The League gives background on John Beattie and advises that people be informed and oppose the rally.

June 19, 1989 - The Minister of Citizenship organizes a meeting in his Boardroom for representatives of a number of ethno-cultural communities to discuss synagogue defacement and the racist rally. There is general agreement that groups must be supportive during times of crisis. Communities lend their support to the Jewish community.

June 20-24 - The League maintains contact with Minden residents, Police and Directorate staff. The League lays the groundwork for counter-demonstration.

June 27 - A League and Directorate staff member go to Minden to meet with concerned citizens, police and local town council members. Three separate meetings focus on the situation and potential response.

June 2 - A Skinhead is arrested for the synagogue desecration and it is discovered that he is the Toronto organizer of the Minden rally. A reward organized by the Canadian Jewish Congress which is supported by various groups leads to the arrest.

July 1 - Skinheads arrive at Beattie’s property. Local residents hold a counter-demonstration with songs and anti-racist, pro-multicultural speeches, led by the United Church Minister. A cross is burned on Beattie’s property.

July 2 - The League for Human Rights hold a counter-demonstration with speeches and a march thanking the citizenry of Minden for their support and standing up against racism. The March concludes at the Minden United church in order to thank Rev. Moll and his congregation for their leadership.

December 3 - Rev. Moll hosts an interfaith brunch with members of the League in order to learn more about each other and to discuss strategies for preventing another rally and combat racism in general.


1. Time - The event became public knowledge only three weeks prior to the target date. Resources would be difficult to mobilize at short notice.

2. Location - The rural site meant that local response resources did not exist and Toronto resources were somewhat remote.

3. Date - The event was billed as a “Save Our Canada Day” festival on the July 1st weekend. The date would make organizing a response difficult, due to prior commitments. Locally, an international sporting event was taking place, so local resources were depleted. Local government wanted to ensure that the negative publicity was limited and, therefore, developed a policy of ignoring the racist rally.

4. Legal Response - Since the event was being held on private property and since no laws were being broken, the legal response was negligible. The local police were concerned but lacked expertise in this area. They had prior knowledge of the event but saw no jurisdiction for interference in the matter

5. Experience - This was the first rally of this nature as far as we were aware. There was no prior Canadian case studies to draw upon.


The regional supervisor for the Race Relations Directorate was assigned to the case. He liaised with community groups, primarily the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada, and arranged for a meeting with the Ontario Provincial Police and town council. In conjunction with the League’s regional director, information sessions were held in Minden for concerned citizens, police and town council.

The regional Directorate consultant attended the League rally on July 2, 1989, and a Metro consultant attended the December brunch. The Directorate helped with the follow-up to the strategies planning discussed at the brunch.

The primary function of the Directorate was to liaise officially with other government agencies i.e. police, local government. This was a clear example of a positive partnership between the government and community groups., Each served a credible function and offset the work of the other, rather than competing over jurisdiction and role.


The police, after being convinced of the severity of the neo-Nazi rally, investigated the situation and liaised with local and Toronto community groups to ensure security and safety. The local OPP detachment liaised with intelligence officers from other police services and provided security for counter-demonstrations on the weekend.

In all, the police responded effectively. They gathered information, continued surveillance, and used their position to ensure that the counter-demonstrators could function without fear of reprisals.


The local media played an important role. They kept the local population informed and denounced the event. They exposed Mr. Beattie's racist past, and provided an outlet for the community to express its disgust with the rally. They devoted a full page to a poster which could be used by local citizens, groups and business to express their outrage by placing it in their windows.

External media gave extensive coverage. They exposed Beattie’s activities to a wider audience. Initially, they informed the local citizens of the event and made them aware of the rally. They also gave extensive coverage to the groups combating Beattie and the skinheads.

The role of the media is often questioned in these circumstances. It is important to note that all evidence, including the rally organizer’s material and actions, suggest that they wanted to avoid the media. It is also important to recognize that the media see these events as newsworthy. It is therefore important that they are provided with enough information to cover the issue sensitively by showing these events are abhorrent and there are those who are ready to stand up to racism

It is also important to contact the media prior to the event, in order to establish credibility and to inform them of alternate angles on the story.


The Minister of Citizenship organized an information session and spoke out against the rally in the Legislature.

The local government was reluctant to get involved. They viewed the event as a nuisance, which meant that, according to them, the media, concerned citizens and the League for Human rights were simply exacerbating the problem by bringing attention to it. They wanted to avoid the issue.

Leadership must be shown from our elected officials. These individual often hold the key to adequate resources to combat the growth of hate group activity. Police and local institutions fall under their jurisdiction. Public opinion can be swayed by their participation in efforts to counter racism.

Community Groups

Concerned local citizens formed an ad hoc committee which wrote letters-to the editor in the local paper and organized a counter-demonstration. the driving force was the local United Church and the Royal Canadian Legion.

In Toronto, the League for Human Rights developed an information package on the event, liaised with police and the Directorate, advising the local ad hoc committee and organized a counter-demonstration.

The Canadian Jewish Congress and the Jamaican Canadian Association launched an Ontario Human Rights code complaint against the rally because it discriminated against non-whites.

Unfortunately, the use of the Human Rights Code is often slow. Laws can play an effective role in setting limits, but have not proven to be as effective as developing a strong public outcry against racist events.

At a grassroots level there must be coalition built between aggrieved communities. Groups must recognize the interrelationship of acts of racism directed toward other communities and acts against themselves. Non-aggrieved groups must also be involved in order to make the response inclusive and strengthen the support against racism.


The neo-Nazi event took place in Minden in 1989 and it laid the foundation for a similar event held the following year in Metcalfe, Ontario.

However, the groundwork was developed by community groups to combat future racist events. In fact, the town of Minden was better prepared for other occurrences and Beattie was ostracized in the community. Anti-racist demonstration grew in strength and impact, with the League leading a coalition in an anti-racist demonstration on July 1, 1990 that began on Parliament Hill and ended in Metcalfe. The anti-racist demonstration was so successful that no racist event took place in 1991 due to the reluctance of the landowners to provide a venue, while anti-racist initiatives were welcomed. The police also became more sensitive to these type of events and the media was also able to play a positive role.

However, there are a number of issues that may never be resolved. It would appear that lead time will always be short in organizing counter-demonstrations so any anti-racist response must be quick and efficient. Therefore, it is important that the groundwork for a response be laid before an event takes place. Following the simple action plan described below can help.

Action Plan

Develop a race relations committee in your municipality so that there are individuals who have the responsibility to respond quickly to racist incidents or anticipated hate group activity. Develop a list of reliable contact persons in other organizations, so that if you need each other in a crisis, it won't be the first time you have worked together (a crisis is not a good time to develop relationships). If an incident similar to the Minden gathering occurs then:

• Contact the police (in your own and targeted jurisdiction)

• Contact the Ontario Anti-Racism Secretariat

• Contact appropriate community organizations

• Develop a media strategy (Make anti-racism newsworthy)

• Notify politicians and encourage public pronouncements

• Form coalitions of interested individuals and groups (e.g., religious organizations, service clubs, business, community groups)

• Organize a non-violent and non-confrontational counter program or demonstration

• Utilize Human Rights Codes, if appropriate

• Follow-up to ensure that proper programs are in place to prevent future occurrences (e.g., municipal by-laws, race relation committees etc.)

Case Study Gulf War - Muslim - Jewish Dialogue

Harassment, Vandalism, Hate Mail, Bomb Threats January 1991


After the beginning of the Gulf Was, Jewish, Muslim and Arab Canadians discovered a dramatic increase in vandalism of religious institutions, harassing phone calls, bomb threats and hate mail.


Similar events were happening to community groups with a history of animosity and distrust.

Local leaders had no influence on the international events which were causing domestic problems. Local communities were emotionally linked to events in the Middle East. Therefore, their energy and recourse were being drained.


The League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith contacted leaders in the Muslim and Arab communities to ascertain the extent of the problem facing their community. Invitations were extended to attend a meeting at the League office.

The Minister of Citizenship met with representative form various communities affected by the Gulf War. The Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission initiated similar action.

Muslim leaders met with representatives of the League for Human Rights. Information about racial incidents was exchanged. the League shared its handbook on security with the Muslim community. A series of meetings were organized to break down barriers between the communities on local issues and to work together to combat racism and anti-Semitism. A joint statement of concern and support was issued.

Case Study: Vandalism: Har Tikvah Synagogue - Brampton Ontario

November 16, 1991


In the early hours of Saturday, November 16, 1991, the Har Tikvah Synagogue in Brampton, Ontario was severely desecrated with anti-Semitic graffiti. The congregation had been advertising a bazaar that they were hosting on the Sunday. The promotion was widespread throughout the Brampton-Bramalea area. David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, was campaigning for Governor of Louisiana. There was wide coverage of this event in the media and the election was that Saturday.


The Brampton Jewish community is small and ill-equipped for a crisis of this nature. The event took place on a weekend so other resources were difficult to mobilize. Municipal election had taken place within a week so Municipal officials were unprepared. The media covered the desecration before an effective media strategy could be developed.


The rabbi and congregation leaders called Jewish organizations in Toronto, including B'nai Brith and the Canadian Jewish Congress. But their offices were closed for Sabbath. The police were notified and began their investigation. Representatives of Canadian Jewish Congress saw the media reports and quickly notified the Minister of Citizenship.

On Sunday, November 17, 1991, the Canadian Jewish Congress officials and the Minister of Citizenship met with Brampton synagogue leaders. The Minister went out to the site and made a public statement denouncing the act of vandalism. Congress offered a $5,000.00 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect.

On November 18, 1991, The League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith called the Rabbi and congregational leaders to offer additional assistance. The League later met with the Rabbi of the congregation to develop a response strategy.

The League contacted and put the Rabbi in touch with the local school boards’ race relations coordinator to discuss curriculum and specific responses. The League called local Christian communities in order to encourage them to use their pulpits to speak out against racism and anti-Semitism and to lend support to the local Jewish community.


On November 21, 1991, League and Har Tikvah official met with the Mayor of Brampton and encouraged him to make a public pronouncement which he did.

On November 23, 1991, the Rabbi devoted his sermon to dealing with the fear and vulnerability of the community in order to reassure them that action was being taken and good work was coming out of a bad situation.

On November 24, 1991, the League and Har Tikvah officials made a deputation to the Brampton City Council to provide information and to socially support the local community. They also encouraged the race relations committee to take a more pro-active approach.

Community Action

1. Introduction

Community action is the key to preventing racist and fascist attacks on people and on all our democratic rights. The following pages present case studies of successful organizing by community based groups, schools and unions in Canada. These case studies clearly demonstrate that non-violent response to hate groups do work and are the basis on which successful anti-racist can be launched. We need to learn from and extract guidelines from these studies to build successful anti-racism movement that will prevent hate group recruitment and hate crime.

The first case study examines attempts in the early 1980s to stop the Ku Klux Klan from organizing in Vancouver and Toronto. The Klan was experiencing a sudden and unexpected rebirth in the early 1980s due to the work of a number of young, articulate and dynamic leaders who tapped into the growing fear that comes with economic upheaval. Few Canadians realize that the Klan had been one of the largest hate groups in Canada during the 1920s when tens of thousands of Canadians, including mayors and other elected officials, became members. The appeal of the Klan in much of Western Canada during the 1920s lay in its anti-Catholic and anti-francophone rhetoric. But the Klan quickly lost favour due to internal disputes and scandals in both the United States and Canada. Full fledged Nazi parties filled the gap during the 1930s in Quebec, Ontario and Western Canada. The rebirth of the Canadian Klan in the 1980s was based on wide spread economic fears and opposition to immigration. The new cadre of Klan leaders sensed that fear about job loss could be used to build a renewed national Klan organization and the Klan rebounded with a vengeance. Julian Sher examines the community opposition to the Klan that stopped its growth. Sher points out that, despite the hate spewed by Klan leaders, not one was charged with a hate crime.

The second case study was written by Dick Chamney of the Provost School District in Alberta. Provost, was the scene of an Aryan Fest organized by Terry Long and Ray Bradley during the early 1990s. Long was then national leader of the violent and neo-Nazi Church of Jesus Christ Christian, Aryan Nations. The Aryan Fest attracted racists throughout the prairies, including Carny Nerland of Prince Albert Saskatchewan. A videotape of a confrontation at the site of the Aryan Fest in Provost shows Nerland brandishing a shotgun and saying that the shotgun is a perfect form of Native birth control - “a perfect way to customize the womb” to “prevent Native births.” Chamney examines the actions of the students, the school board and community groups in opposing Aryan Nations and extracts from this experience a number of important guidelines for working with mainstream groups against racist groups.

The third study, written by Warren Kinsella, examines how to oppose hate groups based on his personal experience. Kinsella is a well known author and lawyer who wrote the best-selling, Web of Hate, which provides one of the best descriptions of the white supremacist movement and its leaders in Canada. Kinsella was the subject of numerous death threats and racist skinheads often paraded in front of his home following his expose’ of the racist movement. Kinsella ran against Ted White of the Reform Party in the riding of Capilano-Howe Sound in British Columbia in the 1996 federal election. White was an early member of the Western Canada Concept, a group founded by Victoria lawyer Douglas Christie. The Western Canada Concept advocates the separation of the Western provinces from Canada. The WCC does not support multiculturalism but a return to “traditional” sources of immigration, i.e., white, Christian, Northern European immigrants. Christie is also a long-time supporter of racist school teachers like James Keegstra, who was fired for forcing students to believe in a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world, Malcom Ross, who was fired for anti-semitic publications, and Paul Fromm, who was fired for his continued association with white supremacists. Christie also supports Holocaust deniers like Ernst Zundel, who wrote The Hitler We Knew and Loved, and the self-admitted fascist, David Irving, who was deported from Canada in the early 1990s.

The fourth study was written by Anti-Racist Action (Toronto). ARA was formed in response to the formation of the Heritage Front, which became the largest hate group in Canada since World War II. The Heritage Front is headed by Wolfgang Droege who has a long history of violence and association with terrorist groups. In the early 1970s, Droege became a member of the racist Western Guard with long-term Nazis like Don Andrews and John Ross Taylor. In 1976, Droege attended a neo-Nazi conference organized by David Duke, then head of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, in New Orleans and was appointed as a Ku Klux Klan representative in Canada. In 1979, Droege became the head of the KKK in British Columbia and organized a cross-Canada speaking tour for David Duke. In 1981, Droege, two other Canadians and a number of US nationals were convicted in the US on charges of conspiracy for the attempted armed takeover of the island of Dominica in the Caribbean. In 1985, Droege began serving four years in the United States for possession of cocaine. In 1993, Droege was charged with the possession of a weapon, following a fight in Toronto. In 1994, Droege served three months in jail in Toronto for contempt when he refused to stop spreading hate on the Heritage Front “hotline”. In 1997, Droege was arrested for car theft.

ARA faced a formidable opponent, but has continued to make important inroads into neo-Nazi organizing in Toronto. After numerous confrontations and anti-racist demonstrations, ARA finally forced the Heritage Front out of Toronto. Unfortunately, the group is now organizing in the surrounding suburbs where there had been less opposition to the Heritage Front. In response, ARA has begun to help organize ARA chapters in smaller towns and suburbs.

The fifth study was written by Dr. Karen Mock, National Director of the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith (Canada) and Lorne Templeman a researcher with the League. Dr. Mock is a registered clinical psychologist who has worked for many years with communities against hate. Templeman was an employee of the League who was responsible for tracking hate groups before moving to the Ontario Anti-racism Secretariat. The Secretariat has since been disbanded by the Tory government of Mike Harris. Mock and Templeman write about several community-based initiatives the League was involved in during the early 1990s that helped to significantly change the balance of forces between the racist and anti-racist forces in Ontario.

The final study was written by Dale Cornish and Jessica Black of the Canadian Anti-racism Education and Research Society-. The study examines how communities responded to an advertised meeting of US-based Tom Metzger of the White Aryan Resistance Movement (WAR) in Vancouver, BC.. WAR is one of the main North American racist groups that devotes particular attention to working with and promoting young racist skinheads. The Vancouver meeting of WAR was organized by Tony McAleer who operated a computerized racist telephone message system that promoted the views of his mentor, Tom Metzger. The study also examines in some detail the response of communities in the smaller towns of Chilliwack, Kelowna, and Yahk, B.C. to the growth of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, Aryan Nations. The report concludes with an account of successes in exposing leaders of the Knights of Ku Klux Klan and the B.C. Chapter of the Heritage Front.