Arguing over semantics

Canada's condemnation of white supremacy at home and abroad has Canadian conservatives grumbling. Conservative punditry decries talk about white supremacists as unfairly targeting all whites and insists white nationalism is not white supremacy. This debate over semantics would seem silly if it were not for the fact that the conservative voting demographic is mostly older, white and brimming with anti-immigrant sentiment.

It should not surprise that tough-talking conservative Alberta is a stronghold of anti-social, anti-government, anti-immigrant far-right hate and terrorist activity, according to a study called Extremism and Hate Motivated Violence in Alberta. The 100-page report from the Organization for the Prevention of Violence in Alberta, which received a federal grant last year to study and help counter the upswing of hate-violence in Alberta after the increase of death threats against politicians following the 2015 election of Rachel Notley and Justin Trudeau.

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Apparently, Alberta has a disproportionate number of far-right and hateful-ideological threats residing within its borders, including Al-Qaida affiliates and splinter groups. Twenty people are believed to have travelled to Syria and Iraq from Calgary and also carried out a 2017 homegrown attack, still before the courts in Edmonton. Anti-authority extremists like the Freemen of the Land, who broadly assert that government is illegitimate, are mainly non-violent but police report a small number have demonstrated violent behaviour against authority.

Left-wing extremists, like anarchists and the Antifa group are not involved in terrorist acts, but mainly react with confrontation towards rightwing extremist groups. Patriot and militia groups, however, motivated by xenophobia and anti-government view, engage in survivalist and military-style training camps in rural Alberta and partake in street patrols in urban areas targeting visible minorities.

And white supremacy associated ideologies, though they have never carried out a terrorist attack in Alberta, are a constant threat to visible minorities in smaller communities.

In the 1930s, the Ku Klux Klan had 50 chapters in Alberta with 7,000 members. Today, KKK number about 100 active members, though white power groups are now sanitizing their identities to become white nationalists to attract new members. White nationalism is still white supremacy, just with lipstick and heels.

Jon Peter Christoff

West Kelowna

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