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Support for anti-government, pro-gun Boogaloo movement growing in Canada – CBC.ca

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An anti-government, pro-gun movement linked to recent violence in the U.S. is gaining supporters in Canada — prompting warnings from experts over their often hateful, violent remarks against protesters, police and Ottawa’s new firearms restrictions.

In the U.S, Boogaloos have recently been in the spotlight, after some showed up heavily armed at anti-lockdown and Black Lives Matter demonstrations. 

There are no reports of Boogaloos at Canadian protests. But online, the nascent movement has inspired at least two Facebook pages where followers have recently talked about killing protesters and RCMP officers alike. 

The Facebook pages identified by CBC News were created in the past six months and in that time grew to around 800 followers each. 

That kind of support is cause for concern, say experts like Alexander Reid Ross, a postdoctoral fellow with the Centre for the Analysis of the Radical Right in Portland, Ore.

“People need very little to do a whole lot of damage,” Ross said.

A screenshot of a Canadian Boogaloo page on Facebook which has since been taken down. (Facebook)

Ross said he started to see more activity by Canadians on sites frequented by Boogaloo supporters in the wake of the mass shooting in Nova Scotia, and the resulting tighter restrictions on firearms.

While it is impossible to know where all of them come from, many of the people interacting with the Facebook pages list locations in Canada in their profiles. Others list locations in the U.S. or other countries.

The administrator of one page, who refused to be identified, told CBC News that nearly half of its followers were located in Canada. The page, which CBC News has decided not to name, has 854 followers and is managed by accounts in Canada, according to Facebook’s transparency data.

Another page, the K/razy Kanucks Big Kanadian Igloo, had attracted nearly 800 followers before Facebook removed it last week, following an inquiry from CBC News, saying it contravened its community standards against violence and incitement.

The unnamed page, however, is still up and includes posts that threaten police and talk about harming protesters.

On June 13, one of page’s moderators posted that “pink misting” protesters would “really slap,” above a meme critical of protestors in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. Pink misting is slang for either killing someone with an explosive or a sniper’s bullet.

Another post links to a story about a 26-year-old woman killed in a police shooting in Edmundston, N.B., and the line, “This is why we need guns” — a reference to Canadians defending themselves against police.

While many of the posts on the pages viewed by CBC News were reshared from American groups, others discuss events in Canada.

Several were critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, objecting to the government’s tougher gun rules or mocking his criticism of unconscious bias and anti-Black racism.

Others are critical of police or the government in general, including one post that jokingly referred to using “claymore Roombas” to blow up an RCMP armoured vehicle.

One post opposed the federal government’s plan to accept more immigrants after the pandemic is over. Another criticized Chinese investors buying Canadian farmland.

Banned by Facebook

While some American Boogaloo supporters openly advocate for a second civil war in the U.S., the administrator who spoke to CBC said he thinks political change should follow the proper democratic process. He said his page is meant to be about memes and humour.

But Facebook says it is taking anything referring to the Boogaloo movement seriously.

“We continue to remove content using Boogaloo and related terms when accompanied by statements and images depicting armed violence,” Facebook Canada spokeswoman Meg Sinclair said in a statement.

“We are also preventing these Pages and groups from being recommended on Facebook.”

On Tuesday Facebook said it was banning all Boogaloo content. 

Facebook recently lost $56 billion in market value as advertisers like Mountain Equipment Co-op, Coca-Cola and Lulemon leave over concerns it isn’t doing enough to police hate speech and disinformation.

On Reddit and Instragram, Canadian references to the Boogaloo movement are generally found on subreddits or accounts frequented by firearms enthusiasts. Some show photos of users posing with their firearms, and mentioning boogaloo.

Boogaloo supporters span a wide range of political ideologies according to Barbara Perry, a criminologist specializing in hate crime at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. (CBC)

Reddit spokesperson Sierra Gamelgaard said the platform has been banning Boogaloo-associated communities since spring.

“Our site-wide policies explicitly prohibit users and communities from posting content that encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence against groups of people or individuals,” Gamelgaard said.

The RCMP won’t say whether it is monitoring or investigating Boogaloo supporters in Canada.

“The RCMP does not investigate movements or ideologies, but will investigate the criminal activity of any individuals who threaten the safety and security of Canadians,” said RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Caroline Duval in an email to CBC.

‘Waiting for the boogaloo’

While memes and phrases referring to a “boogaloo,” or second U.S. civil war, have been online for many years, the movement has gained prominence in the past few months.

In April, the Tech Transparency Project, a Washington-based group that studies the influence of technology on society, identified more than 125 Facebook groups tied to the movement, and found that more than 60 per cent of them had been created in the previous three months.

The group provided CBC News with examples of Canadian Boogaloo content it had identified, including a Facebook post in April from a Calgary gun store, The Shooting Edge, advertising a shotgun as “your favourite 12ga [gauge] BOOGALOO gun.”

The store made the same post to Instagram in April, along with another about AK-47-themed T-shirts to wear while “waiting for the boogaloo.”

Store owner J.R. Cox says the posts are satirical.

The thing that we tend to do with our posts is we try not to take ourselves too seriously. We are not preparing for the end of the world and we’re not preparing to get people ready to go to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban,” he said.

The Shooting Edge, along with another Calgary gun shop, has taken the federal government to court over a proposed ban on assault rifles.

How the memes evolved

There’s a mix of ideologies among people drawn to Boogaloo content, including some anarchists and left-wingers, but most are far-right or libertarian, according to Barbara Perry, director of Ontario Tech University’s Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism

“The thing that binds them, regardless of what their orientation may be, is an anti-statist position. So we see in particular a real concern, a real reaction to gun legislation that restricts firearms,” Perry said.

Perry said some supporters of existing far-right groups in Canada could be attracted to the Boogaloo movement.

“Some of them might be drifting towards the Boogaloo as they see an alignment there with their narratives.”

Boogaloo supporters often use phrases that sound similar — like “big igloos” or “big luaus” — to evade social media monitoring. Some supporters have appeared at U.S. protests heavily armed and wearing Hawaiian shirts, a reference to “big luaus.”

The colourful shirts are in line with the satirical or seemingly innocuous elements sometimes used by extremist groups, according to Kathleen Belew, an associate history professor at the University of Chicago and the author of Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America.

“It follows a much longer thread of organizing, also used by groups like the white power movement, the militia movement, which have used kind of public facing, sometimes funny and acceptable forms to mask what is an inherently violent ideology,” said Belew.

Recent violence in the U.S. included the killing of two law enforcement officers in California, allegedly by a man who scrawled phrases related to the Boogaloo movement on a car, according to NBC.  

In May, three veterans were arrested in Las Vegas on terrorism and explosives charges. The FBI alleges they intended to disrupt protests over the death of George Floyd, and were all members of a Nevada Boogaloo Facebook group.

While Canadian supporters haven’t gone that far, Perry says the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, job losses, businesses failing and racial tensions risk increasing Boogaloo support in Canada.

“You put all those layers together, it’s sort of ripe for an acceleration of the movement, an exacerbation of the movement,” she said.

“The fear is that they now take a page from the book of their American counterparts.” 

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China sentences third Canadian to death on drug charges – CTV News

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BEIJING —
China has sentenced a third Canadian citizen to death on drug charges amid a steep decline in relations between the two countries.

The Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate Court announced Xu Weihong’s penalty on Thursday and said an alleged accomplice, Wen Guanxiong, had been given a life sentence.

Death sentences are automatically referred to China’s highest court for review.

The brief court statement gave no details but local media in the southern Chinese city at the heart of the country’s manufacturing industry said Xu and Wen had gathered ingredients and tools and began making the drug ketamine in October 2016, then stored the final product in Xu’s home in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district.

Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms (266 pounds) of the drug from Xu’s home and another address, the reports said. Ketamine is a powerful pain killer that has become popular among club goers in China and elsewhere.

Relations between China and Canada soured over the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, an executive and the daughter of the founder of Chinese tech giant Huawei, at Vancouver’s airport in late 2018. The U.S. wants her extradited to face fraud charges over the company’s dealings with Iran. Her arrest infuriated Beijing, which sees her case as a political move designed to prevent China’s rise as a global technology power.

In apparent retaliation, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor, accusing them of vague national security crimes.

Soon after, China handed a death sentence to convicted Canadian drug smuggler Robert Schellenberg in a sudden retrial, and in April 2019, gave the death penalty to a Canadian citizen identified as Fan Wei in a multinational drug smuggling case.

China has also placed restrictions on various Canadian exports to China, including canola seed oil, in an apparent attempt to pressure Ottawa into releasing Meng.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said there was no connection between Xu’s sentencing and current China-Canada relations.

“I would like to stress that China’s judicial authorities handle the relevant case independently in strict accordance with Chinese law and legal procedures,” Wang said at a daily briefing Thursday. “This case should not inflict any impact on China-Canada relations.”

Like many Asian nations, China deals out stiff penalties for manufacturing and selling illegal drugs, including the death penalty. In December 2009, Pakistani-British businessman Akmal Shaikh was executed after being convicted of smuggling heroin, despite allegations he was mentally disturbed.

“Death sentences for drug-related crimes that are extremely dangerous will help deter and prevent such crimes,” Wang said. “China’s judicial authorities handle cases involving criminals of different nationalities in accordance with law.”

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U.S. Thousand Islands businesses feel the loss of Canadian customers – CTV Edmonton

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KINGSTON, ONT. —
As the Canada-U.S. border remains closed to non-essential travel, business owners on the American side say they feeling the loss of their Canadian customers.

Kassi Pharoah is a server at Buster’s Restaurant in Ogdensburg, New York, located right near the Ogdensburg International Airport.

She says it’s common for people from places like Ottawa and eastern Ontario to treat the American city as their own.

“A lot of Canadian customers, taking their animals to the vet, coming in to catch a flight, getting their cars fixed,” explains Pharoah. “Sometimes the men would go golfing and the wives would go shopping. We don’t see that anymore.”

In fact, Pharoah says Canadians accounted for about 40 per cent of their business. Over the years, some even became friends.

“Our regular customers, when some of the girls have gone on to have kids, they’ve come over with baby shower gifts. We talk about different trips we know they’re going on, we see them on the way out for their vacations, we see them on the way back as well,” she explains. “We absolutely miss them.”

While she says she understands why they’re not visiting, the loss is felt, as hours and staff are cut.

Non-essential travel restrictions have been in place across the Canada-US border since March because of COVID-19.

Corey Fram, Director of Tourism with the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council, says data from Statistics Canada show that in April of 2019, about 18,000 Canadians drove across the border for day trips.

This year, with the border closed, places like Ogdensburg, Watertown, and Syracuse are feeling the effects.

“It’s a little bit difficult to kind of continue to look at this region at this time as a truly bi-national area,” he says. “So many folks are relatives, cousins, teammates, and right now we’re separated.”

Fram says businesses understand why the closures are happening, but are hoping for a way to move forward.

“These two countries rely on each other and, in particular, these two regions rely on each other,” he says. “How are we going to get back there, and when?”

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Made-in-Canada vaccine passes animal testing hurdle, seeks government funding – CTV News

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TORONTO —
A Canadian drugmaker says it has produced “compelling” early results from animal testing of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate, but the government hasn’t responded to its application for funding that would allow it to advance to human clinical trials.

Calgary-based Providence Therapeutics, which designs cancer drugs using a technique called mRNA, announced Wednesday that the “preclinical” data from testing in mice showed more promising results than other notable COVID-19 research conducted with mRNA vaccines.

“I would gladly test our vaccine head-to-head against any out there,” said Chief Scientific Officer Eric Marcusson in a press release. “It is always difficult to compare preclinical results, however, I believe our results compare extremely favorably to preclinical results reported by other companies.”

Researchers at the University of Toronto conducted tests on mice and found that the vaccine candidate PTX-COVID19-B produced “robust” neutralizing antibodies, which are needed to defend cells from invading pathogens such as the novel coronavirus.

“The results coming from our first animal experiment showed that the vaccines are resulting in a strong immune response,” said Dr. Mario Ostrowski, an immunology professor at the University of Toronto, in a press release. “In particular, the vaccine against the S protein produced neutralizing antibodies at higher titers than the results announced by other mRNA vaccine manufacturers.”

Brad Sorenson, president and CEO of Providence Therapeutics, told CTV News that these results show their vaccine has shown to be “equivalent or better” than those from much larger firms in the vaccine race. 

“We expected that it would work, but the results were even greater than we expected, so we were very pleased about that,” he said. “We’re very anxious to repeat this in real-life patients.”

Another notable mRNA vaccine is by U.S. biotechnology company Moderna, which has received hundreds of millions in funding from the U.S. government and entered final-stage testing last month when the first of some 30,000 Americans received the shot.

But Providence, which says it’s one of Canada’s leading mRNA vaccine producers, hasn’t heard from the government since late May and has yet to receive funding for the next stages of its testing after it submitted a $35-million proposal in April. That same month, the federal government committed more than $600 million to vaccine manufacturing and research in Canada, including clinical trials. Among projects already funded as part of that pledge is a partnership between China’s CanSino Biologics and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

Sorenson said his company is expecting to be able to produce 5 million vaccines by next summer, but without help from the federal government, they are hamstrung.

“The challenge that we’re facing is, we’re not a large pharma company,” he said. “We have really good technology, fantastic scientists … but for us to go into human trials, we either need to raise more money — which we can do if we’ve got a government that is indicated that they’re interested in what we’re producing — or we need a government to sponsor those clinical trials.”

Sorenson added that if the Canadian government does not help fund their human trials, they might have to find another government that will.

“We’re at a point in a company that if the Canadian government doesn’t want to do it, we’re going to start looking elsewhere, and that’s just the reality,” he said. “We’ve got a world-class vaccine and if it’s not going to be for Canadians, it’s going to be for somebody else.”

Sorenson said he has already had “preliminary discussions” with other governments about their vaccine, primarily from individual provinces.

Meanwhile, health professionals and politicians alike are urging the government to speed its funding process for homegrown vaccines so that Canadians won’t have to wait in line for another country’s COVID-19 shot. Among those adding their voice was Alberta Sen. Doug Black, who said pressure should be kept on the government to act.

“I see the commitment that’s being made by the European and American governments to this identical technology and I’m saying, ‘Hmm, why in the name of goodness aren’t we pursuing this aggressively in Canada?’” he told The Canadian Press earlier this week. “No stone should be left unturned in pursuit of a made-in-Canada COVID solution.”

Industry Canada, which is charge of administering the $600 million to vaccine manufacturing and research in Canada, has not responded to a CTV News request for comment.

With files from CTVNews.ca Writer Ben Cousins

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