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Right-wing extremism in Canada: anti-hate experts' take – CTV News

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Anti-hate experts are urging policy makers to take action against what they describe as growing right-wing extremism in Canada.

One of these experts says research suggests that millions of Canadians have been drawn into the far right over the course of the pandemic, some of whom have been indoctrinated by misinformation and lies that were then amplified by the Freedom Convoy.

Evan Balgord, the executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, says the convoy’s organizers were able to successfully use the month-long February protest to recruit vaccine-hesitant people into their movement.

“They were now rubbing shoulders with, you know, racists and bigots and people who would like to use violence to overthrow the government. A portion of those people are getting further radicalized.”

GIVING COVER TO EXTREMISTS

Balgord was one of more than a dozen experts who spoke at “Hate Among Us,” an international conference held in Ottawa Tuesday that discussed solutions to growing extremism.

Although some of the Convoy’s leadership is now facing criminal charges, Balgord says the movement’s ideas are entrenched in the mainstream.

Balgord, whose organization tracked right-wing groups and monitored their activities and influence, claims that six years ago there were around 20,000 white supremacists in Canada. That’s not the case anymore, Balgord says.

Balgord estimates that there are now 10 to 15 per cent of Canadians who hold far right views, which encompass a wide range of extremist opinions including anti-government and anti-science perspectives along with racist and homophobic beliefs. Some of them may not consider themselves racist, but they are giving cover to extremists, he says.

A recent Abacus Data survey indicated that 44 per cent of the Canadian population, or 13 million Canadian adults, believe in at least one conspiracy theory. These theories include racist beliefs that political elites are trying to replace native-born Canadians with immigrants who support them, or that the World Economic Forum has a secret strategy to impose its economic plans across the globe.

GAINING POLITICAL POWER

Meanwhile polling data released earlier this month by EKOS Research showed that 25 per cent of Canadians support the anti-vaccine mandate views espoused by Convoy organizers.

In addition to this, Frank Graves, president of EKOS Research, says at least 10 per cent, or more than three million Canadians, view the current government as illegitimate. The supporters are predominately male and under 50 years old, with a high school education. Graves says this group has become a political force in Canada and gravitates toward parties on the right of the spectrum.

Conservative Party leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre marches with Canadian veteran James Topp as the Canada Marches “March to Freedom” arrives in Ottawa. (Jeremie Charron/CTV News Ottawa)

The Conservative Party of Canada’s new leader, Pierre Poilievre, has embraced convoy supporters and marched with a Canadian soldier who refused to be vaccinated.

Graves says committed convoy supporters could be a new source of finding success politically.

“But what you need then is to find simply another 10 per cent of voters who are sick to death of the current government…And I think that would provide a successful path to power. I’m not saying it’s a sure thing, but it’s certainly not implausible.”

The far right elements in that 10 per cent of voters who view the government as illegitimate can, in extreme cases, be dangerous or delusional, anti-hate experts say.

That was evident in Coutts, Alta., where RCMP arrested seized weapons and tactical gear from a group that took part in the border blockade. Some members may have had ties to the neo-fascist group Diagolon.

Court documents showed RCMP feared the extremists would shoot to kill officers.

A truck convoy of anti-COVID-19 vaccine mandate demonstrators continue to block the highway at the busy U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alta., Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

In August, followers of Q-Anon Queen Romana Didulo, who don’t recognize the rule of law, attempted to place police officers in Peterborough, Ont. under citizen’s arrests.

Then two weeks later, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland was ambushed by a Freedom Convoy supporter who verbally assaulted her.

Stephanie Carvin, a former national security analyst for the Canadian government, says before the pandemic, police were concerned about terrorist attacks from foreign players such as Al Qaida. But as the U.S. learned on Jan. 6 last year during the attack on the Capitol, the risk picture has changed – the dominant threats here are homegrown.

Stephanie Carvin, from Carleton University, says national security risks in Canada have shifted from large scale threats to buildings to targeted personal attacks on politicians.

“Jan. 6 changed things in Canada. We’re now not so much worried about bombs. We’re worried about a mob armed with hockey sticks and fire extinguishers charging at the historical parliament buildings,” Carvin said.

In June, the parliamentary protective service issued panic buttons to MPs, some of whom received death threats. Since the pandemic, the threats have become more pervasive, personal and tougher to guard against, says Carvin, who now teaches at Carleton University in Ottawa.

“It’s a much more dangerous situation when people see politicians as legitimate targets for violence.”

POLITICAL AND PUBLIC SOLUTIONS

To counter this growing threat to democracy, Heidi Beirich of U.S.-based Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, says the extremists are exploring real grievances like job losses and rising costs of living that policy makers need to address. She says Canada should pass a digital accountability law that forces social media companies to clamp down on disinformation shared on their platforms.

Bierich says community groups can organize to fight back against the hateful movement. An example is Ottawa’s “Battle of Billings Bridge” in February this year, where concerned residents blocked a roadway for hours, preventing a convoy of vehicles from joining the trucker protest that occupied Parliament Hill.

Heidi Beirich works with the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. She researches White Supremacist terrorism.

“This is a situation where we have a growing far right movement that’s a threat to a lot of things: climate change, racial injustice and sound immigration policies. The list could go on,” Bierich said.

Beirich added that it’s important for media to continue reporting on the far right and its views.

“It’s not a question of giving them oxygen. They’ve got the oxygen. The question now is are they being appropriately examined and interrogated by the press about their beliefs and ideas so other people can be inoculated from their views.”

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Indian government warns of rise in hate crimes, 'anti-India activities' in Canada – CBC News

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The Indian government says there’s been a rise in “hate crimes, sectarian violence and anti-India activities” in Canada and is warning Indian nationals in the country, including students, to be on the alert.

The news release issued by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs on Friday did not say what prompted the warning. It said the ministry and Indian diplomats have brought several incidents to the attention of Canadian authorities. It also said the alleged perpetrators have not been brought to justice.

“In view of the increasing incidences of crimes as described above, Indian nationals and students from India in Canada and those proceeding to Canada for travel/education are advised to exercise due caution and remain vigilant,” the release said.

The release also did not point to any data or evidence of an increase in hate crimes.

CBC News has reached out to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs for more details but has not received a response. A number of Canadian federal government departments also have not responded to CBC’s queries.

Earlier this week, Sikh organizers held what they called a referendum in Brampton, Ont. on whether there should be an independent Sikh state in northern India called Khalistan.

Proponents of Khalistan seek to establish a Sikh homeland in India’s Punjab region. The movement’s activities in Canada have caused tension between the Canadian and Indian governments, and also internally within the Liberal caucus

Capt. Amarinder Singh, the former chief minister of Punjab, has even accused senior ministers in the Trudeau government of sympathizing with the movement — accusations they’ve denied.

The advisory was issued a day after an Indian government official condemned the Brampton vote in a news conference.

Arindam Bagchi, a spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, called it a “farcical exercise” and said it was held by “extremists and radical elements.”

Bagchi added that the matter has been brought up with the Canadian government through diplomatic channels.

“The government of Canada has reiterated that they respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India, and that they will not recognize the so-called referendum,” Bagchi said.

Statistics Canada said in a report earlier this year that there were 119 police-reported hate crimes in Canada targeting the South Asian population in 2020 — an increase of 38 incidents over 2019.

Police investigating vandalism incidents

Earlier this week, a Hindu temple in Toronto was defaced with the word “Khalistan” as well as “Death to India” in Urdu.

A spokesperson for Toronto Police told CBC News on Friday that the investigation is ongoing and they have not identified a suspect.

“The Hate Crime Unit has not seen a notable trend in hate crimes against people of Indian/South Asian descent,” the spokesperson said.

“We do understand that underreporting of hate crimes is a challenge and that the numbers reported may not accurately reflect what is occurring in our city.”

In July, vandals defaced a statue of Indian civil rights activist Mahatma Gandhi in Richmond Hill — again, with the word “Khalistan.” York Regional Police said they’re investigating the vandalism as a hate crime.

A spokesperson for York police told CBC News Friday that they have not identified any suspects yet.

Statement is intimidation, expert says

Chinnaiah Jangam, an associate professor of history at Carleton University who specializes in South Asia, said the threat to Indian nationals alleged in the advisory is exaggerated. 

“Though there is a right-wing extremism asserting [itself in Canada], I don’t think there is any threat to any minorities here,” Jangam told CBC News.

He said the target audience for the advisory may not be Indian nationals in Canada but rather supporters of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — as well as BJP and Modi critics abroad.

“Most importantly, the issue of the statement has domestic implications in Indian politics,” Jangam said. 

“It is for consumption of [Modi’s] own vote base in India, and also to basically suppress any sort of dissent toward India in North America.”

Chinnaiah Jangam, a professor in Carleton University’s department of history, said the Indian government’s advisory may be an attempt to dissuade parts of the Indian diaspora from criticizing Hindu nationalism. (लैरी कैरी / सीबीसी)

Jangam has reported being the target of harassment and threats over his criticism of the Modi government and the BJP.

Tensions between local Indian Hindus and Muslims in Leicester, U.K., boiled over into unrest last week. The BBC reports that authorities arrested 47 people in relation to the incident.

Jangam said Indian government officials may be reacting to the events in Leicester by looking to suppress criticism of the Indian government’s treatment of minorities.

“They are preparing some sort of ground,” he said. “It’s very concerning.”

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Online news bill could revive local papers in Canada, MPs told – The Globe and Mail

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The Google Canada office in Toronto.Chris Donovan/The Globe and Mail

Ottawa’s online news bill – which would force tech giants Google GOOGL-Q and Facebook META-Q to pay for reusing articles produced by Canadian news organizations – would help revive the flagging local news industry, spokesmen for papers across the country told a committee of MPs on Friday.

They said local papers, which have been closing across Canada, hemorrhaging staff and losing advertising revenue, could see a huge cash injection from tech giants and begin hiring again, if the bill becomes law.

“A weakened press, threatened with abandoning its mission and disappearing after decades of existence, is seriously endangering our democracy,” said Benoit Chartier, chair of the board of Hebdos Quebec, which represents the province’s independent local press. Mr. Chartier publishes a number of local papers, including Le Courrier de Saint-Hyacinthe, one of the oldest French language newspapers in North America.

Paul Deegan, president and CEO of News Media Canada, which represents big and small news organizations, said there is now a “significant imbalance of power between tech giants and Canadian news outlets.”

He said the bill would enable small papers to join together to negotiate deals with Google and Facebook, which has been renamed Meta, for using their content.

Facebook, Google and Apple have already signed some partnerships with news organizations in Canada, including The Globe and Mail.

The architect of a similar law in Australia, which Canada’s Bill C-18 is based on, told MPs that there has been a $200-million (Australian) annual injection into Australia’s news industry, since the law was introduced.

Rod Sims, who was chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission when it implemented its news media bargaining code, said the law had prompted Google and Facebook to do deals with almost all news outlets in Australia, including small newspaper groups.

The law has also led the Guardian, a British news outlet, to expand its Australian operations and hire many more journalists, he said.

Mr. Sims, a professor at the Australian National University, said the code’s aim had been to address a massive imbalance in bargaining power between tech giants and media outlets that meant fair commercial deals could not be struck.

Like its Australian model, Canada’s bill would force the tech giants to do deals with news outlets and pay for posting news or links to articles, if they have not already done so voluntarily.

David Skok, founder & CEO of The Logic, an independent news outlet focusing on business and technology, said the bill is “a backstop forcing publishers and platforms to come to the table for fair, equitable, and transparent agreements that don’t privilege only those with negotiating power.”

But Prof. Michael Geist, an expert in internet law at the University of Ottawa’s law school, warned that the wording of Bill C-18 is flawed and likely to prompt legal challenges.

He said the bill contravenes several treaties, such as the Berne Convention, which aims to protect the rights of authors but allows the use of quotations, including those of newspaper articles.

“There is no question that this will be challenged on a number of different levels,” he told the Commons heritage committee.

Jen Gerson, an independent journalist and co-founder of the Line, an online newsletter, expressed fear that the bill would “backfire spectacularly.”

She said news publishers, rather than the platforms, benefit if Google or Facebook posts links to news articles. Ms. Gerson warned that Facebook and Google could respond to the law by “restricting access to mainstream news articles.”

Australia’s law led to a fierce backlash from the tech giants. Facebook protested by temporarily blocking news on its platform across Australia.

Google has written to each MP and senator saying there are multiple flaws in Bill C-18 as well as “misconceptions” about how an online-news law would work in practice.

The proposed law would prevent tech giants penalizing or giving preference to news organizations it has done deals with.

Google has said this could affect the way it ranks news on its search engine and moderates content. Currently the search engine elevates information from “trusted sources.”

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Fiona smashes into Atlantic Canada, washing away homes and knocking out power – CBC.ca

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​​​​​​Hundreds of thousands of customers in Eastern Canada are without power as post-tropical storm Fiona brings intense, hurricane-strength winds and torrential rains to swaths of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Quebec’s Magdalen Islands.

Part of the town of Port aux Basques, N.L., has been placed under an evacuation order after storm surge swept away multiple homes and structures to sea. It’s unclear if there are any casualties. The town has also declared a state of emergency. 

Fiona made landfall in Nova Scotia shortly after 4 a.m. AT between Canso and Guysborough.

The Canso Causeway, which links Cape Breton to mainland Nova Scotia, is closed to high-sided vehicles.

As of 10:45 a.m. AT, more than 405,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were without electricity. The company says it has more than 525,000 customers. It said people can go the utility’s outage map for estimated restoration times.

  • CBC Radio is providing live updates on Hurricane Fiona around the clock. Listeners are invited to call in to share their storm experiences and any emergency updates from their communities at 1-800-565-5550. Listen online via CBC Lite, which uses less data, or over the air (90.5 FM in Halifax, 92.1 FM in Sydney, 96.1 FM in Charlottetown or check your local frequency here).

P.E.I.’s Maritime Electric said more than 82,000 out of a possible 86,000 customers were without power.

N.B. Power was reporting more than 55,000 outages, concentrated in the province’s southeast. The outages are mostly in areas the company groups as “Shediac Cap Pelé,” “Moncton Riverview Dieppe” and “Sackville Port Elgin.”

Newfoundland Power was reporting 1,133 customers without power, and Hydro Quebec reported 4,232 without power in the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine region and1,684 in the Magdalen Islands.

Hurricane or tropical storm warnings are in place throughout most of Atlantic Canada and southern Quebec.

State of emergency declared in Cape Breton

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality and neighbouring Victoria County have declared a local state of emergency and are asking residents to stay at home.

The Canadian Red Cross has opened a shelter at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S., however it was without power on Saturday morning. The municipality is planning to open additional comfort centres when local travel is safe.

North Sydney fire Chief Lloyd MacIntosh spoke with CBC News as he was transporting a woman from her home to a safe location after the roof blew off her house.

“We pulled up, well, literally half of the roof was gone,” MacIntosh said. “It’s been an adventurous night to say the least.”

A wide shot of the home in the process of falling into an angry ocean.
Multiple homes in Port aux Basques, N.L., have been destroyed due to storm surge. (Rene Roy/Wreckhouse Press)

MacIntosh said there’s been a lot of damage in North Sydney.

“Every intersection, every block of North Sydney is filled with trees. Trees have come down on homes, trees have come down on cars, there’s buildings that have collapsed and there’s quite a bit of damages,” he said.

“The daylight will bring quite a few surprises for a few people.”

Part of a steeple came down from St. Joseph Church in Cape Breton Regional Municipality, a building that’s more than 100 years old.

Cellular networks spotty

Cellular networks were spotty across Nova Scotia and P.E.I. Saturday. Many were unable to get a cell signal to make calls or access internet. 

Bell Aliant acknowledged the outages in a tweet posted Saturday morning. The telecom company they were working with utility companies to restore full power to their cellular sites as soon as possible. 

“Numerous wireline and cell sites in Atlantic are impacted by power outages across the provinces. As battery back up power will begin to deplete, our teams will be activating generators to keep sites up and running,” the company tweeted.

Rogers also tweeted they are aware of the outages and their local crews will work to get services up and running. 

CBC News has contacted Bell Aliant and Rogers for an update on restoration times. 

Tree fell on fire truck with crew inside

Erica Fleck, the assistant chief of Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, said a tree fell on a fire truck that had a crew inside. There were live wires.

She said the fire crew stayed in the truck as Nova Scotia Power technicians worked to get the crew out safely.

“The power lines are down everywhere,” she said. “It’s not safe to be on the roads.”

A contractor uses a chainsaw to clear a downed tree on a residential street in North Sydney, N.S., on Saturday. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Fleck cautioned that response times will be longer because fire crews will have to remove downed trees that are in their way.

In a tweet, Environment and Climate Change Canada said the highest wind gust reported in Nova Scotia has been 179 km/h in Arisaig, north of Antigonish on Nova Scotia’s coast.

CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin said wind gusts of 100 km/h were recorded in Moncton, N.B., shortly after 6 a.m.

Wind gusts of up to 100 km/h are expected in some areas of the province over the next 24 hours, with sustained winds clocking in at 65 km/h.

‘Like nothing we’ve ever seen’: Charlottetown police

In a tweet, Charlottetown police said they are logging reports of downed trees and wires but are only responding to emergency calls.

“Conditions are like nothing we’ve ever seen,” the force said in a post on Twitter.

A street in downtown Charlottetown is flooded on Saturday morning. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

CBC meteorologist Ryan Snoddon said the storm approached Nova Scotia at 64 km/h but slowed significantly as it arrived in the province. This will be a long-duration event for P.E.I. and eastern Nova Scotia, he said.

By 9 a.m., the centre of the storm will be moving to the western side of Cape Breton and it will slowly depart Nova Scotia.

Winds will ease in mid-to-late morning for central Nova Scotia and late afternoon or evening for eastern Nova Scotia, he said.

Nova Scotia Power’s efforts to restore electricity are being hampered by strong winds.

“We’re still seeing significant wind gusts, specifically Cape Breton,” said Peter Gregg, company president and CEO. “Until those wind gusts come down, we won’t be able to get crews out there. But we’re making progress in Halifax.”

There is some flooding in Shediac, N.B., on Saturday. (Margaud Castadère-Ayçoberry/CBC)

Environment Canada said Fiona will reach the Quebec Lower North Shore and southeastern Labrador by late Saturday night.

The agency said severe winds and rainfall, large waves and storm surges were all occurring.

Environment Canada said rainfall will be significant, particularly north and west of Fiona’s track, where it could lead to flooding. Some areas could see as much as 200 millimetres of rain. About 120 millimetres had already been reported in some weather stations in eastern Nova Scotia by 3 a.m.

Vehicles parked at Camping Parasol, an RV and tenting campground in Shediac, N.B., are surrounded by water. (Margaud Castadère-Ayçoberry/CBC)

Some waves along Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore could build to be more than 10 metres, with waves along southern Newfoundland on Saturday morning reaching higher heights.

“Waves over eastern portions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Cabot Strait could be higher than 12 metres,” Environment Canada said.

It said the western Gulf will see waves from the north up to eight metres in some places, “which will probably cause significant erosion for north-facing beaches of Prince Edward Island.”

The forecaster said the Magdalen Islands will also see some coastal erosion from waves.

Most of Atlantic Canada is under a combination of weather warnings due to the size and strength of post-tropical storm Fiona. (Canadian Hurricane Centre)

Coastal flooding is a big concern for Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Magdalen Islands, eastern New Brunswick and southwest Newfoundland.

“The highest risk for coastal flooding will be a combination of storm surge with large waves moving onshore,” Environment Canada said.

Uprooted trees, downed power lines in Halifax

2 hours ago

Duration 1:28

Hurricane Fiona arrived in Nova Scotia as a post-tropical storm Saturday morning. In Halifax, the largest community impacted, as CBC’s Ellen Mauro reports, there were widespread power outages and downed trees throughout the city.

“This is is definitely going to be one of, if not the most powerful tropical cyclones to affect our part of the country,” said Ian Hubbard, meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, N.S. “It’s going to be definitely as severe and as bad as any I’ve seen.”

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