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Jan 31, 22

Canadian Tire Fire #27: The Far-Right Politics Driving the ‘Freedom’ Convoy, Land Defense Legal Updates

photo: @MarkGerretsen

This week, we report on the anti-mandate, far-Right truck convoy that been heading toward Ottawa, and the key far-Right members behind its fundraising and organization. We also share a small roundup of updates on land defenders facing charges across so-called Canada, and some actions taken over the past two weeks in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been keeping an eye on the Save Old Growth campaign mentioned in CTF #26, as protesters have maintained their regular blockading of Trans Canada highway access ramps and other main streets in Vancouver and Victoria. They maintain that they will continue blocking traffic multiple times per week until the BC government stops all old growth logging.

Finally, this week brought the devastating news that 93 potential burial sites have been identified at a former residential school near T’exelcemc (Williams Lake First Nation). The residential school, St. Joseph’s Mission School, opened in 1891 and operated until 1981. As in many preceding cases, the indenification of these burial sites only serves to confirm what community members have long known, living with the daily realities and reminders of the genocidal Canadian settler state.

Land Defense Legal News

A few legal cases involving land defenders across so-called Canada saw updates in the past two weeks.

Two Tiny House Warriors were acquitted on January 19th of mischief charges. Kanahaus Manuel and Isha Jules were facing charges following their arrest at Moonbeam bridge, the site of a Tiny House Warriors camp on Secwepemc territory, in 2019. The charges were dropped because their identities could not be proven.

In Gitxsan territory, participants in a rail blockade established in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en struggles got some mixed news earlier this month. CN announced they would not be pursuing contempt charges against twelve people who were arrested for participating in a rail blockade in February 2020, at the height of the Shut Down Canada movement.

According to the CBC, last year, the BC Prosecution Service declined to approve criminal charges for the violation of an injunction covering the stretch of CN rail through Gitxsan territory. This left the decision with CN rail as to whether to pursue civil or criminal contempt of court charges. This week, a laywer representing CN stated that they would not be doing so.

However, in a video published January 20th, Gitxsan Hereditary Chief Spookw clarifies that this narrative is inaccurate. He said that CN’s lawyer indicated, in an email, that CN would not be pursuing the charges “at this time,” but may still do so in the future. He was also informed by email that the 12 land defenders would be added to an existing charge of breach of civil injunction, and the main lawsuit launched by CN, which currently only lists “John and Jane Doe.” This suit claims $135 million of revenue lost for each day of the blockade. Clearly, it is convenient for CN to have the current narrative carried by mainstream media. However, it will be important to pay attention to the voices coming from Gitxsan territory as they continue to fight against their criminalization.

Finally, Indigenous land defender Vanessa Gray had her first virtual court appearance on January 26th for charges stemming from a Wet’suwet’en solidarity rail blockade in Toronto in November 2021. Following the demonstration, she was arrested at her home and charged with mischief, interference with property, causing disturbance, loitering, unlawful assembly, trespassing, and failure to give way. The targeted arrest of Vanessa, an Anishinaabe person known for her advocacy around environmental justice, falls into a clear pattern of the escalated criminalization of Indigenous land defenders.

According to the National Observer, court support efforts during the virtual hearing were stifled, with supporters being told they would need to confirm their identities to the judge (many had appeared under the name “Drop the Charges”). The hearing resulted in a removal of certain bail conditions, including one barring her from CP Rail property. Her next court date is set for February 9th.

Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Actions

In Toronto, a group of people dressed as construction workers redecorated the homes of TC Energy Chair Siim Vanaselja, and RBC Executive Doug Guzman. Setting up the front of the homes like construction sites, they sent a personal message to those profiting off the destruction of Wet’suwet’en land. They also postered both mens’ streets.

A press release read in part:

Today supporters took action to bring the message home to Siim Vanaselja and Doug Guzman, two men leading companies that are orchestrating, funding, and profiting off of the violent colonial invasion of unceded Wet’suwet’en territory. The decisions they make are directly linked to the militarized violence that the RCMP has carried out on Wet’suwet’en people over the past several months to shove through the Coastal Gaslink pipeline at gunpoint.

Also in Toronto, a group, organized by XR Toronto, blocked rush hour traffic onto the Gardiner Expressway on January 18. They held banners and distributed information to drivers on the unfolding situation on Wet’suwet’en territory. They plan to repeat the action on February 4.

Inside the Far-Right Politics Driving the Ottawa Truck Convoy

This weekend, thousands shut down the streets of Ottawa, as part of a far-Right backed convoy, in protest of COVID-19 vaccine mandates. According to Yahoo News!:

The demonstration has grown beyond a call to end the cross-border mandate to a push to an end to all vaccine mandates nationwide, and some demonstrators have pledged to continue their protests until they are removed.

The protest made headlines, after some demonstrators flew flags with “Swastikas and other symbols of hate,” pushing many on the far-Right to predictably blame ‘ANTIFA’ or government organized ‘false-flag’ plants in the crowd.

But where did these protests come from and who is supporting them? On January 22nd, 2022 the Canadian far-Right started up another misinformation and recruitment convoy headed to Ottawa. This time, their justification was the recent federal border rules requiring proof of vaccination to cross the border in either direction for non-citizens. As with the “united we roll” convoy many years back, the new face has fooled several corporate media outlets into giving them news stories with minimal background research.

This convoy has also succeeded in getting people to squander a huge sum of money on misplaced analysis, hope, and trust. A GoFundMe was set up by Tamara Lich, the secretary of the the Maverick Party, a small separatist political party. A second organizer, B.J. Ditcher was added to the page more recently.

From an article in News Hub:

The so-called “Freedom Convoy” was formed in response to a vaccine mandate requiring truckers to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus in order to cross the land border between Canada and the United States.

But during the past week, observers and experts have pointed out that some organisers of the event, as well as some of its most vocal backers, have espoused anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and racist views – and authorities have cautioned that the rally on Parliament Hill could turn violent.

“The ‘Freedom Convoy’ is nothing but a vehicle for the far-right,” according to the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, a non-profit that monitors hate groups. “They say it is about truckers … but if you look at its organizers and promoters, you’ll find Islamophobia, antisemitism, racism, and incitements to violence.”

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network reported that Lich was “an organizer for Yellow Vests Canada, a regional coordinator for the separatist Western Exit or ‘Wexit’ movement in Alberta, and now as the secretary for the Maverick Party – another separatist movement and fringe political party”.

Lich has posted “conspiracies about the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ operating in Canada”, the network said, while it pointed out that Dichter also has made Islamophobic comments. In 2019, at a national convention for the far-right People’s Party of Canada (PPC), Dichter said, “Despite what our corporate media and political leaders want to admit, Islamist entryism and the adaptation of political Islam is rotting away at our society like syphilis.”

Patrick King, listed as a contact for the North Alberta group participating in the convoy, has regularly espoused anti-Semitic views on social media. “He’s publicly distorted established facts about the Holocaust … then invoked the antisemitic conspiracy theory that the Jewish people are secretly in control of world governance, media, and finances”, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network said.

Pat King, a fascist and anti-Semite who has been covered on It’s Going Down before, has been a very vocal proponent of the convoy and has been collecting funds personally. The GoFundMe set up by Lich has brought in an astounding 6 million but was eventually frozen. The funds were not frozen because of a fear of furthering misinformation or further recruitment in the growing fascist movement, however. They were frozen due to skepticism of how the funds would be dispersed – right-wing grifters being well known for – grifting, it would seem. After hearing the funds were frozen, one such grifter started asking American truckers to block the doors at GoFundMe’s head office until the funds were released. While there is no evidence to suggest anyone attempted to carry out these wishes, on January 27th it was reported that GoFundMe has released $1 million of the funds, so far.


As with the Yellow Vest convoy, the organizers are trying to downplay their links to fascist beliefs and conspiracies. This has gone as far as claiming Pat King is not officially involved in the convoy, despite his being listed as the northern Alberta contact for some time.

Both the organizers from the GoFundMe page have been connected to the Yellow Vest and anti-Islam movements for quite some time. A couple pretty open fascists have also backed the convoy and have stated their intention to participate in the protests. Derrick Harrison of the “plaid army” stated he wanted this to be a “Canadian January 6th,” referring to Trump supporters’ attempted fascist takeover of the DC Capitol building during the election ratification.

Tyler Russel, of Canada First, suggested participants dream big and “install” Maxime Bernier or Randy Hillier as “King of Canada.” He briefly caught his fascist language slip and then stated it should be done “democratically.”

Sadly, we have seen little in the way of resistance to this, aside from attempts to shut down the fundraising and exposing the fascist roots of the convoy. The total number of vehicles involved in the convoy from east and west of Ottawa seem to be under 2,000, but the number of anti-maskers in Ottawa seems quite large. On Saturday, they had already started harassing retail workers and entered Rideau Centre, causing it to close. The convoy claims it will be in Ottawa for a few days and participants still have the drive home to make with others stating they will be out until vaccine mandates are rescinded and/or Trudeau resigns. So we shall keep a look out as the story unfolds.

In the meantime, this article by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network digs even further into the far-Right origins of the convoy’s organizing.

Follow Canadian Tire Fire for updates.

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A weekly roundup of anarchist and anti-authoritarian news from so-called Canada. Email us at: [email protected]

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