White su­prem­a­cist posters found in Mil­ton Parc

SSMU com­piles list of far-right groups in Mon­treal to watch for on cam­pus

The McGill Daily - - News - Nora Mccready The Mcgill Daily

Early last week, white su­prem­a­cist posters were put up around Mil­ton Parc on be­half of a group called “Gen­er­a­tion Iden­tity.” The posters ad­ver­tise a book called “Canada in Decay,” en­cour­ag­ing anti- im­mi­gra­tion sen­ti­ments. The sub­ti­tle of the book ref­er­ences the “eth­no­cide of Euro- Cana­di­ans.” Sim­i­lar posters were found in Mil­ton Parc and on cam­pus in Septem­ber. These ear­lier posters also ad­ver­tised Gen­er­a­tion Iden­tity and fea­tured the slo­gan, “de­fend your free­dom,” in the con­text of mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism.

Gen­er­a­tion Iden­tity is a group that started in France in 2002 and be­gan or­ga­niz­ing in Canada in 2014. They claim that eth­ni­cally Euro­pean Cana­di­ans are “los­ing their iden­tity” to im­mi­gra­tion and di­ver­sity. On their Face­book page, they write, “Canada is a na­tion of con­querors and col­o­niz­ers. […] We refuse to spit on the names of our an­ces­tors and those who sac­ri­ficed ev­ery­thing to build this beau­ti­ful coun­try only to pro­tect the de­cay­ing ideals of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness and ‘di­ver­sity.’”

In an in­ter­view with The Daily, the Stu­dents So­ci­ety of Mcgill Univer­sity (SSMU) VP Ex­ter­nal, Con­nor Spencer, dis­cussed why the dis­sem­i­na­tion of these posters has been iso­lated to the area around Mcgill. Spencer stressed that while it is un­likely that these posters were put up by stu­dents, they are clearly meant to re­cruit the Mcgill pop­u­la­tion. More­over, the posters haven’t been posted on Con­cor­dia’s cam­pus, which im­plic­itly re­veals that the Mcgill cam­pus was per­ceived as more tol­er­ant to white su­prem­a­cist ideals. This ex­poses flaws in the way in which Mcgill has ad­dressed white su­prem­a­cist or­ga­niz­ing in Mon­treal.

She ar­gued, “There aren’t re­ally wide­spread tools or con­ver­sa­tion plat­forms about these kind of ide­olo­gies be­ing on our cam­pus and around our cam­pus. So I think one of the first things that we have to do is in­clude our­selves in the con­ver­sa­tion,” said Spencer. “Con­cor­dia is much far­ther ahead than we are in talk­ing about the alt- right as it hap­pens in Mon­treal. […] They have work­shops, they have info- ses­sions, they have a much more ac­tive and mo­bi­lized net­work and they have stu­dent groups that are specif­i­cally about ad­dress­ing that, which we don’t re­ally have, or at least we don’t have vis­i­bly. […] Mcgill stu­dents are talk­ing about it, but not at a plat­formed level.”

In re­sponse to this lack of vis­i­bil­ity, Spencer is or­ga­niz­ing work­shops in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the “Grande man­i­fes­ta­tion con­tre la haine et le racisme,” an anti-racist demon­stra­tion tak­ing place on Novem­ber 12. These work­shops will fo­cus on iden­ti­fy­ing the lan­guage of white su­prem­a­cists, and dis­cussing ways to com­bat the spread of their move­ments.

“There’s an alt- right tool­box, and you don’t nec­es­sar­ily need to be an alt- right group to use altright tools,” said Spencer. “I think that’s why it’s re­ally im­por­tant that we have those spa­ces where we can dis­cuss that and teach each other what those tools are so that we can iden­tify them, be­cause things are a lot less scary when you can iden­tify when some­one is […] re­work­ing ar­gu­ments or us­ing cer­tain ways of com­ing at top­ics to con­fuse peo­ple or make them feel like they’re crazy.”

Spencer also stressed the con­nec­tion be­tween white su­prem­a­cist groups in Mon­treal and the re­cent pass­ing of Bill 62, which de­nies pub­lic ser­vices to women who cover their faces. This law pro­ports to fur­ther “re­li­gious neu­tral­ity,” while tar­get­ing Mus­lim women who wear niqabs and burqas.

“There’s a lot of un­der- stir­rings of the very Que­bec men­tal­ity [ that] neu­tral­ity is [ syn­ony­mous with] white Chris­tian, […] or white Catholic,” said Spencer. “The un­der­ly­ing racism within that sen­ti­ment is get­ting stirred all back up again with Bill 62.”

“Those kinds of sen­ti­ments that we see get re­oc­curred, they’re al­ways hashed out by leg­is­la­tion,” she con­tin­ued, “It’s not that po­lice are go­ing to go onto buses and force ev­ery woman to un­veil, but now it’s go­ing to em­power cit­i­zens to feel like they are able to con­front women who wear veils on pub­lic trans­porta­tion, […] that they have that within their right, and that’s what’s ter­ri­fy­ing.”

In re­sponse to this re­cent mo­bi­liza­tion of white su­prem­a­cist groups on both the lo­cal and pro­vin­cial lev­els, Spencer is work­ing with Matthew Sav­age, a SSMU Coun­cilor from the Fac­ulty of So­cial Work, to con­demn harm­ful groups and en­sure that they don’t have a plat­form on cam­pus.

“The coun­cilors gave me a man­date to bring this con­ver­sa­tion up again and to pre­pare a list of the kind of alt-right, far-right groups that are ac­tive in the Mon­treal area to this coun­cil, which is tonight, and that’s ex­cit­ing be­cause hope­fully we can ac­tu­ally ad­dress some of this,” said Spencer.

In an in­ter­view with The Daily, Sav­age raised con­cerns about these groups’ use of vague lan­guage, such as ethno- state, which al­lows them to dis­sem­i­nate dan­ger­ous ideas un­der the guise of free speech.

“Any­one that says they be­lieve in an ethno- state shouldn’t have the power to as­sem­ble,” said Sav­age. “Just be­cause you’re giv­ing hate speech po­litely, still makes it hate speech. When you use terms like ‘eth­no­cide’ or we want to ‘ peace­fully as­sem­ble to cre­ate an ethno- state’, what are you say­ing with that? You’re say­ing that any­one that isn’t of Euro­pean de­scent has less claims to the land than you. […] And then when you do achieve the power, what hap­pens to peo­ple that have lived here for gen­er­a­tions? What do you do with them then? Where does that ques­tion lead? You have two choices: you’re ei­ther go­ing to have to force peo­ple out or you’re go­ing to have to do some­thing worse. Ei­ther way you’re us­ing vi­o­lence and just be­cause you’re say­ing it po­litely doesn’t make it non-vi­o­lent.”

Spencer and Sav­age are com­pil­ing a list of white su­prem­a­cist groups that are ac­tive in Mon­treal. The list in­cludes groups such as La Meute, Que­bec’s largest white su­prem­a­cist group, and Ata­lante, a group that “ad­vo­cates openly for a ‘re­nais­sance of the neoFrench in Que­bec,’” ac­cord­ing to a Jan­uary 2017 ar­ti­cle in the CBC.

As of now, SSMU’S plan is to openly con­demn these groups, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for them to as­sem­ble on cam­pus. “If some­thing isn’t said in poli­cies, or in stu­dent con­duct, or in any of those con­tracts be­tween the fac­ulty and stu­dents,” said Sav­age. “Then you can find a way in, and that’s why I re­ally want to close these gaps.”

They have a much more ac­tive and mo­bi­lized net­work and have stu­dent groups that are specif­i­cally about ad­dress­ing that , which we don’t have, or at least we don’t have vis­i­bly. –Con­nor Spencer, SSMU VP Ex­ter­nal Now it’s go­ing to cit­i­zens to feel like they are able to con­front women who wear veils on pub­lic trans­porta­tion [...] that they have that within their right, and that’s what’s ter­ri­fy­ing. –Con­nor Spencer, SSMU VP Ex­ter­nal “Any­one that says they be­lieve in an ethno-state shouldn’t have the power to as­sem­ble. Just be­cause you’re giv­ing hate speech po­litely, still makes it hate speech. –Matthew Sav­age, SSMU Coun­cil­lor

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