Wednesday, December 8, 2021
ADVT 
National

Anti-lockdown protests linked to far right: expert

Darpan News Desk The Canadian Press, 10 May, 2021 09:06 PM
  • Anti-lockdown protests linked to far right: expert

Online conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and protests against public health orders are helping to spread dangerous ideas laden with racism and bigotry, says a network monitoring hate groups in Canada.

The executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network said since last year people espousing hateful beliefs have linked themselves to conspiracy and anti-lockdown movements around the novel coronavirus.

"We have two pandemics: We have the actual pandemic and then we have this pandemic of hate," Evan Balgord said.

"Things are kind of getting worse both online and offline ... with maybe one pandemic, we have kind of a solution for, but the hate thing, we don't have a vaccine for that.

Federal New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh was the latest on Monday to note a connection between anti-mask and anti-lockdown protests and far-right extremism.

His comments came as rallies against COVID-19 health orders are being staged across the country while many provincial doctors battle a deadly third wave of the pandemic.

"To brazenly not follow public-health guidelines puts people at risk and that is something that we've seen with extreme right-wing ideology, " he told reporters.

These demonstrations have been met with frustration from some in the public over what they say appears to be a lack of police enforcement, and a few premiers have promised stiffer fines for COVID-19 rule-breakers.

The far right has become adept at integrating populist grievances into its own narratives and exploiting them to enhance membership, said Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University, in a recent interview.

As a result, members of the far right have turned up at virtually all of the recent anti-lockdown gatherings, "trying to lend their support to that movement, and thereby garner support and sympathy, or solidarity, with their more extreme movement," she said.

Balgord said such events make for "fertile hunting" for new recruits because hateful ideas are not being policed, and once someone believes in one conspiracy theory, it's easy to believe in others.

“We now have a greatly increased number of people who are coming into close contact with racists and bigots of all stripes with more conspiracy theories," he said.

And more than a year into the pandemic, Balgord said,organizers behind anti-lockdown protests in Vancouver, Toronto and the Prairies know figures from the country's "racist right" are involved in their movement.

More recently, he said, some protesters have started showing up with Nazi imagery to depict themselves as being persecuted by the government.

“The racist right that we monitor and the COVID conspiracy movement are inseparable from each other at this point. We monitor them as if they are the same thing because they involve all the same people," Balgord.

He said the network's information is based on what it observes and the far-right figures it follows, but there is a lack of data tracking how conspiratorial thinking around COVID-19 has moved across Canada.

After Singh's comments, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet played down the idea of a connection between the protests and far-right extremism, saying arguments suggesting a correlation were politically motivated.

“I am absolutely certain — absolutely certain — that people which have been involved in such discussions in the last hours and days know very well that there could be no link between ... two things that should not be what they are, but are not related," he said.

The NDP leader said he sees a link between those refusing to follow public-health advice and the ideologies of the extreme right because both show a disregard for the well-being of others and put people at risk.

"There is a connection, certainly."

Singh said declining to listen to COVID-19 health orders is dangerous and needs to be called out.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi earlier called such demonstrations "thinly veiled white nationalist, supremacist anti-government protests" on Global's "The West Block."

MORE National ARTICLES

Man shot dead at Vancouver International Airport identified as gang member Karman Singh Grewal

Man shot dead at Vancouver International Airport identified as gang member Karman Singh Grewal

A short time later, fire crews in Surrey were called to attend a vehicle fire in a back alley, about 28 kilometres from the airport. Several targeted shootings have ended with similar vehicle fires.

Man shot dead at Vancouver International Airport identified as gang member Karman Singh Grewal

One man dead in the shooting at Vancouver International Airport: IHIT

One man dead in the shooting at Vancouver International Airport: IHIT

No word on number of suspects. No arrests have been made. A burned out vehicle was found in Surrey. Its too early to say if this shooting is linked to the ongoing gang conflict in the lower mainland. 

 

 

One man dead in the shooting at Vancouver International Airport: IHIT

All major routes in and out of Richmond to get to Vancouver International Airport shut down due to a shooting at the airport

All major routes in and out of Richmond to get to Vancouver International Airport shut down due to a shooting at the airport

 Queensborough bridge and Oak St bridge have just re-opened. The Knight Street Bridge is under lock down. Heavy police presence in the area. 

All major routes in and out of Richmond to get to Vancouver International Airport shut down due to a shooting at the airport

B.C. doctors defend approach to COVID-19 data

B.C. doctors defend approach to COVID-19 data

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and her deputy, Dr. Réka Gustafson, said Friday they wouldn't characterize data first released to the Vancouver Sun by someone at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control as "leaked" because it would have been available in some form later anyway.

B.C. doctors defend approach to COVID-19 data

Provinces cracking down amid COVID-19 surge

Provinces cracking down amid COVID-19 surge

Manitoba was set to tighten restrictions later Friday amid an "alarming" rise in cases, said Dr. Jazz Atwal, the province's deputy chief public health officer.

Provinces cracking down amid COVID-19 surge

7 COVID19 deaths for Friday

7 COVID19 deaths for Friday

There are 6,757 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. A further 125,799 people who tested positive have recovered.

7 COVID19 deaths for Friday