The rise of the far right

Why Canada’s white supremacists want Doug Ford to win

And why they don’t want you to know about it
Photo: Eunice Kim / Flickr

“Hey, I hope you guys are ready for Ford Nation!” That’s the co-host of the most popular white supremacist podcast in Canada introducing an episode recorded in early March, just days after a tightly contested convention gave Doug Ford the leadership of the Ontario PC party.

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That giddy white supremacist, who used the alias League of the North, was unmasked earlier this month in a Vice investigation as Thomas White of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The Liberals put out a press release noting that Ford had been endorsed by the podcast Nazis. The PC party quickly disavowed their support, and the media largely ignored the story.

But it’s part of a troubling trend. Far-right figures and groups, from the explicitly white supremacist to the more crypto-fascist, have not been shy in proclaiming their support for “Ford Nation” and their belief that Doug Ford could create an opening for white supremacist activity similar to the effect of Donald Trump in the United States.

Canada’s culture war

The Proud Boys love Ford too. They’re a group of alt-right fellow travelers whose founder Gavin McInnes was in the news this week for calling women he disagreed with “colostomy bag[s] for various strangers' semen.” On Facebook and Twitter they’ve been stumping for Ford, posting memes dubbing him a “PROUDBOY” and urging their supporters to go to Ford campaign rallies and “show your support for Doug Ford as premiere [sic] of Ontario.”

White supremacist and former Rebel Media host Faith Goldy is a fan, as is her ex-boss Ezra Levant. Meanwhile, in the darker corners of Reddit and other internet forums, the alt-right and their fellow travellers are busily churning out memes to help Ford win the culture war.

“I think that we should all get busy trying to sort of take some of the magic that was running during the Trump campaign and apply it to Doug Ford.”

To better understand why Ford’s candidacy gets Canadian white supremacists so excited, three of Ricochet’s editors spent the last week reviewing episodes of the now-deleted podcast This Hour Has 88 Minutes, provided by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, a new non-partisan non-profit organization that tracks and counters hate groups in our country.

The podcasts make for horrific listening. We aren’t going to publish the slurs used to describe women, Jews, Indigenous people, immigrants and people of colour, but they were as vile as you can imagine.

Amid the casual racism and hateful, even genocidal, discussion of minorities was a political message: Support Doug Ford, because his election will advance our cause.

‘All it takes is someone like a Doug Ford’

The name This Hour Has 88 Minutes refers to a CBC comedy show and includes the white supremacist numerical reference for the phrase “Heil Hitler.” Launched in September 2016, the podcast cranked out 90 episodes before it was abruptly taken offline on May 9, shortly after Vice reached out for comment for the story about the identity of co-host Thomas White. The show’s hosts often talked about current events, with discussion veering into racist and misogynistic rantings and pseudoscience.

But one of their favourite topics of late, returned to in episode after episode, is the Ontario election and what they see as the fortuitous nature of Ford’s candidacy.

“All it takes is someone like a Doug Ford or a Trump to activate those impulses in people. This candidate race has taken a win from the jaws of defeat actually, in that the whole Patrick Brown thing and the scandal, it’s given an opportunity to someone like Doug Ford to take the stage and activate the Ontario voter base in a way that wouldn't have been possible otherwise.”

The podcast’s 82nd episode, titled “F O R D N A T I O N,” featured a discussion of Ford’s apparent victory in the PC leadership contest. White, his co-hosts and special guest Zeiger — a prominent neo-Nazi revealed by a recent Montreal Gazette investigation to be the alter ego of IT consultant Gabriel Sohier Chaput — could barely contain their glee.

Permission to be racist “[Ford] will electrify the working class and I think that having—because we’ve talked so much about how the working class believes what we believe and I think that . . . they just don’t have the permission to say it . . . Ford winning the provincial election will give them that permission so that next time some Black Lives Matter protester jumps up and stops a parade these people are going to be like ‘Fuck off. Get off the stage.’ They need permission. They need to know that the people who are in power are not going to go after them if they speak their mind. Much the same way that Trump in the States gave people in the States permission to speak up, I think Ford’s going to give the people of Ontario that permission.” — Episode 85, as transcribed by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network

“He’s really taken a page from the Trumpian book, even though he’s claiming when media puts his feet to the fire that he’s not a Trumpist, but he’s really following that playbook, and he’s saying the same sorts of things that invigorate the white working class. I think it’s only something to be excited about, even with reservations.”

But their zeal for Ford didn’t stop at excitement. Over multiple episodes they urged their listeners to not only vote for Ford but also get involved in the campaign. “What we need to do is just mobilize that social media game. You know, with the whole ‘Make Ontario great again’ memes with Ford. I’ve seen a few of those kicking around.” In one episode the hosts discussed buying memberships in the PC party so they could vote in the leadership election, according to Evan Balgord with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, and later discussed getting emails from the party, seemingly corroborating that they did indeed join.

A recurrent theme of their analysis is that Ford, like Trump, will “electrify” the white working class and give blue-collar people permission to be racist. They lament that Ford likely won’t bring in their desired white ethnostate right away but argue that his election will hasten its arrival. Yet when it comes to supporting Ford, they warn their listeners to “be smart about it.”

“You have to understand the political space that we exist in, our endorsement is more damaging than helpful…. If you're going to interact with the Ford campaign don't do it on your racist internet alt.” This refers to to anonymous, alternate social media accounts used to avoid real world consequences for racist posts.

Canada’s foremost white supremacists certainly seem to see Ford as a gateway drug to white nationalism.

“I want to see more Doug Ford memeing going on. Like I think that the relationship between Doug Ford’s image and Trump’s image during his campaign is, I think that’s a really valuable mimetic pool to draw from…. Those who are in the Canadian side of things here and on the forum or whatever, I think that we should all get busy trying to sort of take some of the magic that was running during the Trump campaign and apply it to Doug Ford.”

“If we just dress like normal people, and we talk like normal people to normal people, they get our ideas,” argued White in one episode, imploring his fellow white supremacists not to “wrap [their ideas] in dressing like we're from 80 years ago.”

‘We need to meet people where they’re at’

Back in episode 82, excitement over a Ford win gives way to a new topic: complaints of anti-Semitism in Montreal. One of the co-hosts reads out a quote from a Jewish resident asking if people expect Jews to just go away or vanish.

“I think vanishing is even better than going away, because they can't scheme or kvetch when they've vanished, right?”

The distinctive Quebec-accented voice of Zeiger, AKA Sohier Chaput, responds, “Sounds like a pretty good solution.” “Hehe, yeah,” responds the host, “I’m like, ‘hey maybe you [Jews] do finally come up with some good ideas!’”

“People don't really even need the full program [of white nationalism] in order to get a guy like Ford into office.”

As the podcast concludes, discussion returns to the Ontario election and once again, White struggles to contain his enthusiasm.

“That's why I'm like converted to the Ford Nation right now. I'm like, I swear [plays audio clip of a voice saying, "Welcome to Ford Nation!”] That's how I feel. Because we need to meet these people where they actually are. And where they are is blue collar, normie shit. They don't want to see Muslims in their communities, they don't want more taxes, they want manufacturing to return to their country so that they have a job, themselves, personally. We need to meet people where they're at. It's really the key to all of this stuff.”

To be fair to Ford, it bears repeating that he repudiated the support of this podcast when asked. But Canada’s foremost white supremacists certainly seem to see him as a gateway drug to white nationalism, even if he doesn’t want their public support.

The ethnostate The white supremacists behind This Hour Has 88 Minutes talk repeatedly about their desire for Canada to become a white ethnostate. Doug Ford, they believe, may help build a movement towards it but won’t himself usher it in. In episode 78, with guest Kevin Michael Grace of B.C., they discuss the need for Canada to “collapse” or “dissolve” in order to create a void that can be filled by a white supremacist state. In their view, apologies for harmful and discriminatory measures such as the Chinese head tax, and recognition of the centrality of people of colour in Canadian history such as Black people’s contributions to the building of Toronto, mean there is no Canadian identity. A blatant lack of historical knowledge even leads them to claim that people of colour did not live in Canada until a few decades ago and “all of their struggles are fake.” Conjuring up scenarios in which parts of Canada secede, they speculate about deporting people of colour. If other countries would not accept these people, they say, they would have to turn to “death squads.”

“Those people [blue-collar workers] are not far from our thinking. It's a very small push to our thinking. They don't really even need the full program [of white nationalism] in order to get a guy like Ford into office… Doug Ford is posturing himself as friendly to Trump and friendly to American politics, and it's very helpful. Like we've said many times, our country always follows American politics by several years, and if Doug Ford is the beginning of that, then I see that as a really hopeful thing. I think people should get behind him. I know that he's not perfect, he's got problems, big problems, but if he's the one who is able to activate the working-class people, that's what we need.”

Those problems, in their view, include the rumours of drug dealing and enabling of his brother Rob’s crack cocaine use that have long dogged Ford, as well as his insufficient commitment to a white ethnostate.

“[Ford] is definitely our best option. But, like, don’t expect the ethnostate from this guy. It’s going to be like Trump in a way. Expect within a month or two cucking to some obvious Jew ploy, like a Holocaust monument or some shit like that.”

While their support for Ford is critical and tactical, the hosts of the podcast also encouraged their fellow white supremacists and misogynists to run for office at all levels of government.

“We need some fucking male leaders for once,” one of the hosts exclaims in episode 66, after a discussion of why women should not be in positions of power. “And I’m not talking about an 80-year-old white man or whatever. We need actual fucking male leaders.... It’s ten times as important for us, in the desperate place that we are, to find goys [non-Jewish white people] to put into these positions of authority, you know, whether it be your school board or your local town council positions.”

This Hour Has 88 Minutes may now be dead, but the audience it served remains, and they’re starting to flex their political muscles. “Thankfully,” mused White in episode 82, “as normal people we get to meet [people] where they're at anyway, they just don't know who we are.”

This investigation was conducted with the support of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAN), which saved the podcast archive and is making it available to journalists, researchers, and law enforcement upon request. CAN is a non-partisan, non-profit that brings together Canada’s researchers, legal experts and community leaders to track and counter hate groups in Canada. You can support CAN’s work here.

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