Since March 2013, the main Kersplebedeb website has been migrated to a primarily wordpress format.
What this means in practical terms is that everything you are used to seeing on Sketchy Thoughts is now being posted straight to Kersplebedeb and simply being automatically mirrored here. So in general, you will probably have a better reading/viewing experience if you head over to Kersplebedeb.
For those who prefer the Sketchy Thoughts blogger layout for whatever reason, this page will continue to be automatically updated whenever something is posted to Kersplebedeb, for at least the short-term future. However, as additional functionality is added to the Kersplebedeb site via wordpress, the Sketchy Thoughts page will probably begin to show its age more and more.
Saturday, April 08, 2023
Since March 2013, the main Kersplebedeb website has been migrated to a primarily wordpress format.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/2kIEizD
Sunday, February 05, 2017
An earlier version of this story appeared in Das Magazin in December. On November 9 at around 8.30 AM., Michal Kosinski woke up in the Hotel Sunnehus in Zurich.
Read the rest of this post on the original site at The Data That Turned the World Upside Down
An earlier version of this story appeared in Das Magazin in December. On November 9 at around 8.30 AM., Michal Kosinski woke up in the Hotel Sunnehus in Zurich.
Read the rest of this post on the original site at The Data That Turned the World Upside Down
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/2jRcZa8
Friday, February 03, 2017
Police said that between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. an employee at the Khadijah Masjid Islamic Centre in Montreal’s Pointe-Sainte-Charles neighbourhood discovered a window had been smashed with a heavy object. The building had also been egged.
Read the rest of this post on the original site at Mosque vandalized in Montreal’s Pointe-Saint-Charles neighbourhood
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/2k2m2RE
Police said that between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. an employee at the Khadijah Masjid Islamic Centre in Montreal's Pointe-Sainte-Charles neighbourhood discovered a window had been smashed with a heavy object. The building had also been egged.
Read the rest of this post on the original site at Mosque vandalized in Montreal's Pointe-Saint-Charles neighbourhood
Thursday, February 02, 2017
This article was written twenty years ago for the magazine Antifa Forum; the details are not going to be of any real significance today. Nonetheless, it is being uploaded simply because the issue of state-recuperation of antifascism, and its perils, is sadly likely to become very germane in the future. Plus, it provides a little bit of interesting history of antifascism in Quebec.
Across North America people of varying political persuasions are taking a stand against racism. As revolutionary anti-fascists we of course believe that racism must always be opposed, but this doesn’t mean that every opponent of the extreme right can be trusted. Our battle is with all oppressors and all oppression, and those who through some fluke of political expediency join us in opposing boneheads and Klansmen may very well end up being on the other side of the barricades when our methods become too radical, or our targets too mainstream.
This was brought home to many activists in the summer of 1996, when the biggest riot to hit the province in thirty years broke out in Quebec City. Early on the morning of June 2th, following the official St-Jean Baptiste celebrations, more than two thousand people thoroughly trashed the provincial capitol, repeatedly routing the police and managing to enter and set fire to the National Assembly (where the provincial government meets). While by no means the first event of its kind – 1996 was the third year in a row that there had been riots on St-Jean Baptiste in Quebec City, and in 1997 there were riots in the capitol and the city of Montreal – it was by far the most severe. There was over a half a million dollars in damages; over $200,000 to the National Assembly alone, and eighty-one people were arrested and charged with assault, obstructing police and participating in a riot – some receiving jail sentences of over one year.
There is little mystery as to the causes of this violence. The Federal Liberal government’s austerity measures have trickled down to the provinces, adding frustration and anger to an already far from tranquil social situation. The police in Quebec City, like cops everywhere, seem to take pleasure in getting into people’s faces and exercising their power however they see fit. The past few years have seen an increasing tendency on the part of many people to stand up to this bullying, and police harassment has led to more than one evening of violence, of which June 24th 1996 was simply the most noteworthy because the most successful.
Rather than concentrate on the St–Jean riot, though, this article will focus on the repression in engendred. Of particular interest to radical anti-fascists in this story was the role played by “one of our own” (sic), the World Anti-Fascist League, in bringing down the heavy hand of the State on a section of the radical left.
Who’s to blame?
St-Jean Baptiste Day is a popular Québecois holiday associated in many people’s minds with wild partying and saying “up yours” to the police. In 1994, two police cars were set alight in Quebec City in a night of skirmishes in which 24 people were arrested. The next year 40 people were arrested in similar confrontations. When 1996 rolled around everyone expected a repeat performance. All of the signs were there: mounting tensions between police and young people, ever-increasing frustration amongst the ordinary people suffering the government’s neo-liberal restructuring… police harassment had already sparked two nights of rioting in the province, in Quebec City on May 3rd followed by Montreal exactly two weeks later. After the former, where 16 out of over 1,000 rioters were violently arrested, the Deputy Mayor of Quebec City explained his surprise by saying that “normally these events occur on St-Jean Baptiste.”
Despite the fact that many people thought they knew what would happen, the extent of the 1996 St-Jean riot caught everyone by surprise. Thousands of people looted stores and smashed up the city, repeatedly driving off the police. Perhaps anticipating accusations of “mindless violence”, some brave souls made their way to the National Assembly where so many decisions affecting, and harming, their lives are made and proceeded to trash it, too. Windows were broken, statues knocked over, and fires were set. The five-person security detail assigned to guard the buildings was helpless, and calls to the Quebec Provincial Police for backup went unanswered for hours.
Needless to say, the morning after this carnival everyone who might be held accountable was looking for someone else to hold the bag. The media spotlight was on the Quebec Municipal Police Department, which had clearly failed to maintain control. Comparisons were made with Montreal, where police managed to control a crowd several times as large without incident. Martin Forgues, a pretender to the Quebec Mayor’s office, laid the blame squarely at the cops’ feet, insisting that if better planning wouldn’t have prevented the riot it would have at least lessened its toll.
In the hopes of shifting the blame and saving some face, Quebec City Police Chief Normand Bergeron publicly declared that the riot was the result of a political conspiracy. An “extreme right wing group with international ramifications” had instigated it, he said.
No one has ever offered any evidence to back up these allegations, and a year and a half after the fact it is clear that the police chief was either lying or repeating lies others had told him. Yet the accusation established the framework for scapegoating: political conspiracy. Never mind that vast the majority of those arrested had no known connection to any political organisation or movement. The first attempt to save face had been made, and now the fun could really begin!
Perhaps because of the nature of Bergeron’s accusation the media rushed off to the World Anti-Fascist League, the standard source reporters in Quebec consult for information about the far right. Yet the WAL’s researchers were not satisfied with refuting this hairbrained theory. Instead they offered a competing story of their own. While agreeing that the riot was the work of professional agitators, they accused Bergeron of being “out in left field” for blaming the extreme right.
According to the League, which at the time was still viewed by many as a progressive organisation, the agitators who had managed to get 2,000 people to trash the provincial capitol came from the extreme left. According to WAL spokesperson Peter Vorias, an anarchist organisation called Demanarchie was to blame for all the trouble. Alain Dufour provided the scintillating details: Demanarchie was a “widely read” and “highly influential” radical left-wing newspaper whose “call to riot” had been obeyed on the 24th!
These accusations, while initially dismissed by the police, were quickly seized upon as the ideal alibi for those who feared being rebuked for neither preventing nor containing the St-Jean carnival. Not only that, but the spectre of left-wing insurrection, no matter how ridiculous, provided an excellent excuse to go “fishing”, to gather information on these would-be revolutionaries.
The day after the WAL broadcast its conspiracy theories a comrade was arrested for selling Demanarchie at the Place Youville, the popular youth hangout where the Quebec City riot had started. This activist’s house was then searched by police who seized his computer and several hundred copies of the newspaper. Next, police raided the home of Food Not Bombs members who had signed for the post office box FNB shared with Demanarchie. (Food Not Bombs is a radical anti–poverty organisation.)
Three people were arrested when police found a few pot plants at the FNB activists’ home. Their subsequent trial was rife with political commentary. At their bail hearing the prosecutor described them as dangerous agitators and noted that even though they had not been in Quebec City the night of the riot they had distributed subversive propaganda in order to get “others to do the actual work” for them. The judge subsequently refused requests for bail, saying “It would make me feel ill to free anarchist philosophers” and, alluding to the marijuana plants claimed that they were conspiring to “make the people fall asleep to better be able to indoctrinate them”!
Although possession of such a small quantity of pot would normally bring only a small fine, the activists received sentences ranging from one to three months in jail, as well as two years probation and a one-year ban from the areas around Place Youville and the National Assembly.
Following these arrests, Quebec City and Quebec Provincial Police searched the apartment of a Demanarchie member in Montreal, seizing his computer and several boxes of documents. Although he was never charged with any crime, his computer was only returned three months later in a damaged condition.
Other activists known to work with Demanarchie noticed officers from various police forces keeping them under surveillance. QPP officers interviewed one Demanarchie member, presenting him with a list of names of militants from anti-poverty and anti-racist organisations, wanting to know which ones were members of the anarchist collective.
This wave of repression galvanised alliances between anarchist and other left-wing activists in Montreal and Quebec city. Soon anti-fascist militants and researchers from across North America were publicly denouncing the Quebec police and WAL for this clampdown on the radical left. An anti–racist youth group in Alberta, known as the “Edmonton Anti-Fascist League”, even went so far as to change its name to “Edmonton Anti-Racist Action”!
All of which brings us to the question this essay will examine: why did the WAL decide to finger a revolutionary left-wing group to the cops and media?
As will be detailed, such unprincipled behaviour is not at all out of character for this organisation. Most likely, these professional “anti-fascists” knew they were bullshitting, but decided to take advantage of police chief Bergeron’s penchant for conspiracy theories and the media’s post-riot hysteria to smear a group they certainly viewed as competition on the street. Demanarchie filled a need the WAL might have filled when it was first founded, and was trusted and respected by many of the young people who Dufour and Company have always treated as their target audience.
The World Anti-Fascist League
The WAL first appeared on the Montreal scene in early 1989. At the time, it was basically a bunch of friends in the skinhead and punk milieux who hoped to offer some protection from boneheads at shows. Although a small group, they managed to paint some graffiti, make some patches, and provide security at a number of gigs throughout the summer. Nevertheless, if not for an ill–fated bonehead attack they would probably have remained largely unknown outside of the hardcore music scene.
On the night of October 13th a group of boneheads associated with the GB Skins gang attacked a crowd outside a downtown Montreal nightclub where the French anti-fascist band Berurier Noir was playing. The band had invited the WAL to take care of security, and the club had its own bouncers working that evening as well. When the neo–nazis showed up and started smashing people’s heads in the club’s security responded by locking the doors, so that neither the boneheads nor their victims could get into the gig. Refusing to abandon their friends outside, however, people inside the club spontaneously rushed the doors, took to the street and chased the boneheads away.
This was one of the first times that people managed to repel such an attack at a Montreal gig since boneheads first became a problem in the city in the mid-eighties. The police showed up after the nazis had been chased off and waited outside, billy clubs in hand, to disperse the crowd as it left the show. Even so, the evening had been a political victory, one that was claimed by the WAL. Suddenly there were weekly meetings, membership soared to over one hundred, and an anti-fascist youth group was formed.
At first the WAL’s energies were concentrated on providing security at shows and patrolling the downtown strip around the Foufounes Electriques (a popular youth hangout at the time). As in many other cities, the prime victims of bonehead beatings at the time were youth in the punk and anti-racist skinhead milieux, and this area was their hangout, and thus the spot where boneheads were most likely to make trouble for them. WAL members played an important part in establishing a safe anti-racist scene. They opposed the neo-nazi United Skinheads of Montreal and helped drive its leader Alaric Jackson out of town.
For the most part the people who came to meetings did so out of a personal opposition to racism or, just as often, because the League offered a sensible response to the neo-nazi boneheads who had crashed their shows for years. There was some good gut-level politics but little real political experienc, so a kind of clubhouse atmosphere prevailed. While this is fine for a small group of friends, and may pass within an affinity group, in larger organisations such a situation is far from conducive to democratic decision-making or power sharing.
And so it was perhaps inevitable that within a short period of time power was centralised in an informal hierarchy. Alain Dufour quickly established himself as the uncontested leader, a turn of events that represented the beginning of a long and as-of-yet uninterrupted conservative trend within the organisation. Under pressure from police Dufour had the WAL repudiate street-level confrontation of fascists. By 1991 the group had reoriented itself once and for all towards simple research and public intervention in the form of occasionally co-sponsoring rallies, holding press conferences and releasing information in the form of bulletins and, more rarely, annual reports on developments within the far right. In the process it had disbanded a street gang of over 100 anti-fascist youth, many of whom went on oppose racism in other organisations.
In and of themselves, these developments would not indicate a slip into reactionary politics. Research is necessary in order to develop an analysis of the far right within society. Without such an analysis, the impact of anti-fascist activism remains severely limited, and instead of thinking strategically we are left stumbling around in the dark. But when a group lacks any coherent thoughts about the social relations that spawn racist and fascist politics one’s perception of the far right is likely to be skewed. Such an absence of sound analysis led the WAL to adopt, more or less consciously, a liberal point of view whereby the extreme left is just a tad better that the extreme right, if even that.
While such “left equals right” nonsense does lead to regressive or at best confused politics, it is unfortunately common currency among mainstream anti-racist organisations. One can be forgiven for wondering whether they adopt this position as the result of debate and analysis, or simply because it is a convenient excuse to freeze out radical anti-fascists, something many would do anyway in order to ensure funding and eliminate competition. (The fact of the matter is that for such groups’ anti-racism is often little more than a specialized section of the service industry, in other words a business with a bottom line.)
A certain kind of revolutionary anti-Stalinism can also play into this liberal confusion, as hostility towards moribund left-wing organisations leads some to confuse Left and Right variants of authoritarianism. While there are no hard and fast rules and there may or may not be much essential difference between the two, strategically it is generally best for radicals to attack the latter by all means necessary and to resist the former through reasoned argument and debate.
In the WAL’s case, this liberal predilection was coupled with an utter lack of ethics and integrity on the part of core members. They repeatedly provided false information regarding their membership, finances and relations with other groups. They also lied about the activities of the far right, all the better to hype themselves as the anti-racist experts with the goods on what’s going down.
To return to our business analogy, if some anti-racists are professional swastika counters, this had become a swastika counting racket.
According to documents released by the Research Group on the Far-Right and Its Allies, the WAL went so far as to knowingly spread disinformation about a neo-nazi gathering in 1992, repeatedly telling journalists that it was to be held in the city of Sorel after having already communicated to other anti-racist organisations that this information was false. A letter from the WAL to the English anti–fascist magazine Searchlight seems be bear this out.
WAL members have also misrepresented themselves as belonging to other organisations, and the group has repeatedly exaggerated its own influence, pretending to be a true world organisation with chapters in Europe and the United States. Around the time of the Gulf Massacre the WAL set up a front group called the Gathering for World Friendship which falsely claimed to have helped to organise a demonstration of over 150,000 people in Paris. The RAM, as the Gathering is known by its French acronym, claimed to have chapters around the world, while in fact only having a single address, in Montreal.
At other times the League has claimed to have been involved in organising conferences and gatherings, while in fact all this involvement amounted to was having one of their members take the microphone near the end of an event…
Perhaps not surprisingly, given the organisations hostility towards any radical social perspective, the personal lives of key members in the World Anti–Fascist League have also been fraught with unacceptable and reactionary conduct. As revealed on the French–language television programme Le Point, Antonio Lorte, the vice–president of the League, was found guilty of selling a half kilo of cocaine and sentenced to two years probation and banned for two years from carrying any weapons. As troubling as the sale of hard drugs like cocaine is, far worst is the testimony one of his live–in girlfriends gave at his trial. She testified that she had been physically and sexually abused by him between 1987 and 1994, describing being burnt with a blow torch and cut with knives after an “interrogation” by this misogynist.
While radical anti–fascists acknowledge the need to fight against capitalism, the State and the patriarchy, one would hope that even liberal anti-fascists, even people with whom we share nothing politically, would have enough human decency to condemn and repudiate such a man. Unfortunately, in the case at hand this seems to be too much to ask for.
Guarding Their Territory
Ever since 1991, when it rejected the role of radical street gang, the WAL’s relations with other organisations have been far from ideal. One group that was repeatedly smeared by Dufour and his pals was the Canadian Centre on Racism and Prejudice. Probably because it was based in Montreal, and thus threatened the WAL with competition on its home turf, the CCRP was repeatedly attacked as a “Marxist-Leninist” and “violent” organisation.
It should be noted that the CCRP, far from being a Marxist–Leninist or revolutionary organisation, included religious ministers, community activists and mainstream anti-racists on its board. Whatever made it verboten in the WAL’s eyes, it is hard to believe that it was its non-existent revolutionary politics. At one point in time the Centre even received State funding, and according to its “Time for Action” brochure it “conducted workshops and seminars for journalists, government, and law enforcement agents.” Hardly a radical attitude, to say the least!
The battle lines between the CCRP and WAL seem to have been drawn in 1990, when they both participated in the same coalition, Montreal Debout. This was a broad-based alliance of community groups that wanted to respond to the apparent increase in racism in the Montreal area. The coalition’s main public activity was to hold a rally against the far right on a rainy September Sunday afternoon. As many nazi boneheads as anti-racists showed up, and while the latter were largely unprepared for combat the former were brimming the aggression and clearly would have enjoyed a good fight. If not for the timely appearance of the Montreal police (who couldn’t really let a bunch of kids with doc martens attack a coalition that included the likes of the YMCA) it might have got ugly.
As it was, the rally left many organisers severely pissed off with WAL members who, according to Martin Theriault, had agreed to provide security at the event. According to several witnesses the only act of “security” anyone from the WAL carried out was the identification of local KKK leader Michel Larocque, who was spotted taking pictures of anti-racists, and the removal of his camera by Alain Dufour. Yet despite the fact that this is what several people claim to have seen, Dufour subsequently denied this chain of events and the Klan leader ended up accusing Martin Theriault and community activist André Querry of stealing his camera. All of which led to a year of court appearances for Querry and Theriault, with Larocque testifying on the stand that Dufour had saved his life from the dangerous anti-racists! (This bizarre twist seems more ominous when one notes that two years later Dufour would claim that Larocque was his informer in the Klan.)
Although Querry and Theriault were both found not guilty, their legal bills amounted to over $5,000. A Support Committee for the Montreal Debout Accused sent out an appeal for funds and planned a benefit evening at a local progressive bar. Far from collaborating with this effort, WAL research director Nic Pouliot contacted Daniel Levitas of the US-based Centre for Democratic Renewal and requested that the CDR not provide any assistance to the Committee! Then, just three days before the Support Committee’s planned benefit party, the WAL called for a public assembly against racism to be held the same evening at a different venue!
As we will see, this episode was just the beginning of the WAL’s work to undermine the Montreal left.
Down the dirty road to snitchdom…
The first indication that the WAL might actually choose to examine and investigate organisations other that the white racist right came in 1992. Just as Spike Lee’s movie Malcolm X was released, WAL published a document entitled “The Malcolm X Movement amongst young Blacks”, which attempted to paint a rough picture of the history of Black people and the Black liberation movement in North America. While certainly pretentious, this work did distinguish between the conservatism of the Nation of Islam and the anti-racist Afrocentrism of local Black community groups like A.K.A.X., and unambiguously declared that Black Liberation was a goal worthy of support.
Yet if at the time this interest in the Black Liberation movement may have seemed to some to be well intentioned or even positive, in retrospect it seems quite sinister. The report’s introduction explained that the reason the WAL was releasing a study on the Black Liberation movement was not out of any desire for an alliance with revolutionary Black organisations, but rather to meet its law and order responsibilities as a law and order anti-racist organisation. The authors claimed that the League had received many calls from white people claiming to have been stabbed or beaten up by Blacks wearing Malcolm X regalia (baseball caps, T-shirts, etc.), and that it was the WAL’s job to examine this as another version of racism.
Nowhere in the document was anything mentioned about contemporary State repression of Blacks in the USA or Canada, this despite the fact that plenty of information on the subject was made available to the WAL’s researchers. In an appendix to the document, Alain Dufour condemned “Black Supremacists” while remaining silent about the white supremacist State with the crazy line that “if we don’t denounce them, its the police who are going to denounce them, and we know that when the police gets mixed in its alot more dangerous than when its community groups doing the condemning.”
In other words, Dufour was offering his services as a soft cop seeing as the cops in uniform can be so unpleasant to deal with. Further evidence of the WAL’s perspective on relations between the “cultural communities” and the cultural majority can be gleaned from several public statements. In a promotional brochure for the WAL-front group “RAM” (see below), a list of “social problems” that provide fertile ground for racism is provided; along with unemployment the RAM lists “the creation of ethnic ghettos in certain neighbourhoods”.
Also in 1992, in an interview with a pacifist magazine, Dufour spelled out his perspective on the Montreal police. When asked his opinion of the force he answered that while there were problems and some cops were homophobic and racist, there were also good cops – he even cited the example of one “good cop” who wanted to join the WAL. When pressed on this point and asked is he felt there was systematic discrimination on the part of the police Dufour responded in the negative, adding that “there are progressive police officers who give an opportunity for us to sensitise people in that milieu. The WAL is there to sensitise them and even to help train them if they want.”
Keep in mind that the Montreal police had been involved in the shooting deaths of four Black and two Hispanic men in the preceding five years, and not a single officer has ever been found guilty of any crime in connection with these murders. Montreal cops harassed and arrested (and continue to harass and arrest) Blacks more than whites on the street, while leaving clubs, every day of the week… and the one time that a police chief publicly admitted that his cops might have acted improperly it sparked a demonstration of several thousand police officers in uniform. (I am referring to police chief St-Germain’s admission in 1992 that his officers may have made some errors in the case of Marcellus Francois, who was murdered while sitting peacefully in his car. His assailants were plainclothes cops who had failed to identify themselves, and mistook him for another man who, apart from the colour of his skin, looked nothing like Francois.)
The WAL had certainly strayed from its origins. Such is, of course, to be expected: all groups develop politically, meaning that they change. Organisations formed to deal with specific concrete situations like boneheads at shows can develop in different ways: good things or bad things can happen. In the case of the WAL, the latter unfortunately outweighed the former by far.
The first public evidence of the WAL’s interest in the left came in 1993. Klan members and neo-nazis were holding a weekend gathering in the small community of La Plaine just north of Montreal. Reporters, cops and anti-racists were swarming over the town, looking for stories, troublemakers and information.
Members of the CCRP had met with members of the community, who with few exceptions were not too pleased with all the hubbub and commotion. On the Saturday evening there was a community meeting, and it was decided to have a public gathering against racism the next day. The idea was to give residents a chance to express their outrage at the presence of neo-nazis in their town, and nothing more.
As CCRP members were scouting out the site of the meeting the next morning Quebec Provincial Police officers approached Martin Theriault and requested that he accompany them to meet with their captain at city hall. According to Theriault, the police captain informed him at this meeting that he “knew” that the organizers planned to have the rally attack the nazis. The CCRP member denied that this was the case, and reassured the top cop that the rally would remain peaceful – and demanded to know where these allegations of violent plans had come from. At which point he was told that the Minister’s office had received a tip from Nic Pouliot of the World Anti-Fascist League.
While this story does raise some questions – like how often do police reveal their sources? the QPP was way pissed off at the WAL that weekend for renting a helicopter and doing low swoops over the Aryan Fest, and one might be tempted to think that this was all just an attempt to make trouble for Pouliot and company – subsequent events do lend credibility to the theory that Pouliot would engage in such behaviour.
When Alex Roslin, a journalist with a local weekly entertainment tabloid, reported Theriault’s allegations against Pouliot, the WAL research director denied snitching to the cops but explained that “I would do it if I knew of a case of direct confrontation. We don’t exactly have time to track left-wing groups but if I had the manpower and resources I would.” To justify his interest in the Left, Pouliot referred to the issue of “political correctness” on university campuses, claiming that “It’s frightening and I consider it to be the same as fascism.”
Shortly following this Pouliot allegedly left the WAL, but this did not end his relationship with the League. While apparently freelancing as an anti-fascist researcher he was repeatedly spotted with WAL activists, and more recently took responsibility for designing the League’s web site.
Nor did Pouliot’s distancing himself from the WAL do anything to temper the group’s leftphobia. In a letter to Voir, another weekly entertainment tabloid, the League explained that when “communists choose to support organisations such as the Shining Path (Peru) and use the same methods such as terrorism, we will take a stand”.
Such redbaiting most likely represents only the tip of the iceberg. After all, if WAL officials are willing to make such statements in a public forum, imagine what they must say in private. There is some evidence that the group has smeared its anti-racist rivals in this way: according to Martin Theriault, Alain Dufour has told Steven Scheinberg of B’nai B’rith Canada that the former president of the CCRP was a former “secret leader” of the Communist Party of Canada. More recently, after the Research Group on the Far-Right and Its Allies published a report denouncing the WAL’s role in destabilizing the Left, Dufour charged the group with being “a front which its members use to promote their Maoist ideology… those people practice entrism.” Dufour defined entrism as “a method taught by Mao. It consists of infiltrating different organisations in order to use them to spread propaganda.”
Shortly following the WAL’s declaration regarding Shining Path Maoists, Radio Canada reported that the group had shared information with both CSIS and the Quebec Provincial Police’s intelligence unit. The WAL claimed at the time to have only shared information about neo-nazis, but in a letter he wrote in 1996 Pouliot claimed that his “work at LAM included working with police to stop a number of criminal activities. Although most of it was dealing with radical right wing groups, once in a while we dealt with those peace loving rock throwing anarchist (hahahaha).”
Trying to avoid real activism
The summer of 1993 saw a successful mobilisation of the Montreal left against a series of offensives by the far right. In August the neo-Nazi Heritage Front organised a concert in the suburb of Vaudreuil that attracted boneheads from throughout Quebec, Ontario and the Eastern United States. The concert was meant to kick off a recruitment drive of the Front’s Montreal section, a plan that happily fizzled.
In an unexpected and unprecedented success hundreds of people showed up at an anti-racist event in downtown Montreal that night, and subsequently took to the streets looking for boneheads. Unfortunately, the protesters were nowhere near the racists, and the site of the concert remained unknown to all but a few activists until the following morning.
This rally against the Heritage Front kicked off a better organised and more intensive campaign against the anticipated presence of members of the French National Front at a conference of municipal politicians held Montreal later that year. Yves Le Gallou and Jacques Dore, the FN delegates to conference, hoped to use this visit to Quebec to set up some kind of active FN chapter on this side of the Atlantic. Their plans came to naught as their own contacts’ ineptitude was exploited by the ad hoc anti-fascist coalition to not only ruin their plans of setting up some kind of Quebec National Front, but to also publicly humiliate the racist right – not a minor setback for a movement which depends on being seen as tough and triumphant in order to attract recruits.
The World Anti-Fascist League had nothing to do with either of these mobilisations. Instead, it tried to jealously guard “its” anti-racist terrain by denouncing the ad hoc Coalition against the National Front to the media as being “on the leftist side of thing”, adding that “we don’t side with the Left or the Right”, and doing everything it could to sabotage its efforts. At a demonstration organised by the Coalition where over 1,000 people took to the streets Pouliot (who had allegedly left the WAL) was spotted hanging out with League members and taking photos of the anti-racist protesters.
If this demo against the National Front was to mark an exceptional success for anti-fascists in Montreal, local radicals were to outdo themselves two years later. That’s when a coalition of many of the same groups united with local feminist organisations and organised a spectacular 4,000-strong demonstration against the right-wing Catholic organisation Human Life International.
As with the mobilisation against the National Front in 1993, the WAL was completely absent from the campaign against HLI.
An Anti-Racist Business
From very early on, a conservative pole of attraction within the WAL seems to have been the hunger for respectability, grants and recognition as the local anti-racist watchdog group. This has led to the development of what I call the business model, a perspective that is not conducive to movement building.
As has already been mentioned, the WAL mutated into a research-and-press-conference style group in 1991, largely as a result of police pressure. That was also the year it first received government money, in the form of $2,048 from the Ministere de la Securite de la Revenu (Minister of Income Security). This was the first of several grants from this MSR earmarked to pay people on welfare to work for the WAL. Such use of welfare job subsidies by community groups is quite common in Quebec, the rationale being that it allows organisations to pay something to people who might otherwise volunteer their services for free. It has however been criticized as exploitative, as the recipients of these welfare jobs end up doing shitwork and being treated like shitworkers by the organisation. It can be as alienating as any other dead-end job.
In 1992 the WAL began to receive funds from other government ministers, such as the Federal Secretary of State (over $36,000 over two years to operate a 1-800 line across Canada and translate some documents), the Ministere des Communautes Culturelles et de l’Immigration (almost $30,000 over the past five years, as well as over $60,000 between 1992 and 1996 in conjunction with the MSR in the form of EXTRA programmes, a better paying kind of welfare job), the Federal Minister for Human Resources (almost $57,000 in 1992-93 for a job creation program).
Most grassroots activists who read the preceding figures will be impressed: the WAL had plenty of money to play with. Keeping this in mind, the group’s research and other activities don’t seem quite so impressive. Indeed, over five years the WAL received more than a quarter million dollars – enough money to do quite a bit with, one would hope. Unfortunately, the record of what was accomplished with this money speaks for itself. As detailed in the preceding section, in its quest for respectability the group cut its ties to the Left, and along with its new conservative outlook acquired an inability to be of any use to those of us who espouse activism over careerism.
All of this begs another question: what should be the attitude of militant anti-fascists towards government or foundation monies? As is so often the case, there is no clear answer. Occasionally activists find ways to get cash for their work through welfare jobs, school subsidies, working for organisations with an interest in opposing the radical right, etc. Seeing as we all have to eat, a good argument can be made that it is better to be paid for one’s political activities than for flipping burgers.
Problems arise when we start tailoring our activities to what we hope will get us money. At this point the bottom line replaces politics, radical organisations risk becoming inactive community groups, and revolutionaries start becoming comfortable in their armchairs. If people could be honest and admit they were now working for grants, not politics, this wouldn’t pose such a problem. Unfortunately for everyone involved, though, to do as much would mean forfeiting one’s credibility, which in turn would most likely lead to the termination of subsidies, all of which would defeat the purpose, no?
One thing should be clear to us all. Whether or not we admit it, the quest for funding represents a step down the road towards inactivism. It need not be more than just one step, but it’s a slippery slope. Groups that accept grants may do great work and it may be worth it to take the money and get that work done. It’s a judgement call. People should just be clear about why they’re doing it; and for those of us dealing with such subsidised groups, we must be very clear of their limitations.
In the case of the WAL the amount of money received was completely out of proportion with what was achieved. There was no gain for the movement. The World Anti-Fascist League had become a business, and as such it behoved it to discourage competitors (by accusing them of being Marxists or violent or whatnot?) and at times diversify (by keeping tabs on “Black supremacists” and “Shining Path Marxists”?).
All of which skirts the obvious issue of what happens when money arrives with strings attached. When an organisation depends on grants to get its work done, and members do feel that they’re carrying out important work, what is to be done when one’s benefactor explicitly requests that one smear or inform on some revolutionary organisation?
There is no “smoking gun” indicating that the WAL ever received such a precondition for continued State subsidies, although it is worth noting that the League received $7,250 from the Minister of Public Security (the office in charge of the police) in 1996, the first such grant ever received by the organisation. It is also worth noting that by their own admission, WAL researchers have been asked by police to provide information on the left – the only point of disagreement is whether or not they acquiesced prior to 1996.
While it is certainly possible that the $7,250 received from the Minister for Public Security does represent payment for aid given to the police, there is another viable hypothesis, namely that this money was a sign of appreciation for Dufour’s political work on behalf of the Minister Robert Perreault himself.
Besides being president of the WAL, Alain Dufour is also a card carrying member of the Parti Québecois, since 1994 the party constituting the provincial government of Quebec. Dufour is doubtless one of the many progressive nationalists who feel that the PQ is a social-democratic party worthy of support. This is not the place to refute this tendency, suffice to say that as with any support for a political party holding the reigns of power one must go through occasional ethical contortions in order to maintain one’s support while maintaining one’s principles (providing you have any, that is).
Dufour is also a long-time acquaintance of Robert Perreault, the current Minister of Public Security. He was Perreault’s press officer from the time of the latter’s campaign to become PQ candidate for the Mercier riding up until the 1994 provincial election. It should be noted that Perreault waged a fierce battle against Giussepe Sciortino, a veteran of many progressive organisations, to become the PQ’s candidate in the Mercier riding. Sciortino was born in Italy and as such is an immigrant to Quebec, and members of Perreault’s team did all they could to exploit racist stereotypes and xenophobia to win. In his boss’s defence Dufour claimed that any accusations of racism could not be true because he, a Perreault supporter, was president of the World Anti-Fascist League!
Militants can be forgiven for wondering if the $7,250 cheque was the Minister’s way of saying thank you.
Dufour’s association with Perreault is not the only tie that binds the WAL to the PQ/BQ national project. According to Commission magazine, both André Boulerice (a PQ deputy) and Gilles Duceppe (who recently led the Bloc Québecois in the 1997 Federal Elections) have allowed the WAL to use their offices’ photocopy and fax machines. It was from Mr Boulerice’s office that the WAL faxed its denunciation of the 1993 ad hoc coalition against the Heritage Front.
While the actual cost of these services is certainly negligible compared to the $287,000 the WAL has received from the government since 1992, the fact of these politicians’ aid remains highly significant. It shows that the WAL is not only in bed with the State, but with a particular political party, and as such cannot be expected to represent anything better than the so-called left-wing of the PQ/BQ national project. The limitations of tying one’s political project to a political party should be obvious. It is no longer sufficient for one to do mental callisthenics to justify one’s support for a group of opportunists who want to wield State power, but now an entire political organisation must compromise itself in this way.
“Anti–fascist” Dufour’s work on behalf of the racist campaign of Robert Perreault in the Mercier riding is good evidence of the unsettling affects of such politicking. Above and beyond Perreault’s exploitation of xenophobia in the battle against Sciortino, it is worth mentioning that Raymond Villeneuve sits on the board of the PQ Mericer riding association where this contest took place. Villeneuve is the head of the Movement for the National Liberation of Quebec, an anti-immigrant nationalist organisation that has made headlines for advocating violence against federalists and warning of possible reprisals against anglophone Jews who oppose Quebec sovereignty.
Politics, as the saying go, makes for strange bedfellows. It is an unfriendly terrain for moral individuals. It must indeed have been fortuitous for Dufour’s gang that they had little ethical baggage to jettison in order to hop onto the PQ/BQ bandwagon.
From street gang to stool pigeons, this sums up what most Quebec activists feel happened to the WAL. Taken in isolation, some elements of this story are all too familiar. The inertia that grips in-your-face anti-fascist organisations once they have driven boneheads off the streets, the attraction of liberal politics as an “inclusive” point of unity for anti-racist activities, the quick evolution from clubhouse atmosphere to Old Boys’ Club: these are pitfalls most anti-fascist groups, no matter how radical, must try hard to avoid.
Furthermore, when successes translate into funding and respectability, this must then be maintained by new successes, or at least by being more in the know than other anti-racists. This competitive reality leads to a “business model” whereby group activities are based less on building a movement than on looking after the company’s good name. None of this is specific to the anti-fascist/anti-racist movement, it has all happened before in other social movements (queer, feminist, environmental, etc.). The question is how to avoid this cycle.
Of course, “The WAL Affair” is a great example of how wrong things can go, mainly because the organisation combined the “business model” with unheard of scumminess, not to mention sloppiness. As has already been mentioned, WAL activists fed disinformation to the media after having already admitted to other anti-fascist organisations that their facts were wrong. The group adopted a dangerous “left=right” line and then trumpeted it in the local trendy media. It cozied up to politicians and accepted money from a variety of government Ministers. It tolerated spousal abuse and misogyny. And it went about this in such a transparent manner that many people were left unfazed by the fingering of Demanarchie after the 1996 riots. Because of this sloppiness, as well as the depths of unethical behaviour to which the group sank, the WAL is a good example of how far an anti-racist organisation can go towards becoming genuine anti-racists’ own worst enemy!
It would be tempting to offer up a checklist of “how not to be a sellout”. For better or for worse, though, it seems that the only way for militant anti-fascists to avoid having their organisations travel down this road is to think hard and think critically, two activities that checklists tend to short circuit. Radical politics requires a certain analysis – acting radically is a fine point of unity for an action, but is a lousy basis for long-term work. Even if the work people carry out is great, without some political perspective going beyond simple anti-fascism/anti-racism, activists will be at a disadvantage when challenged by people or groups espousing a liberal worldview. And when we fail to meet the challenge of such “respectable” folk, our organizations end up defanged and the days of radical action come to an early end.
Although sectarianism can be a poisonous weed, it should be clear that there are lines it is best not to cross. Anyone who informs on progressive organisations, spies on oppressed communities, or engages in abusive behaviour has no place in any movement for human liberation. We have enough to worry about without associating with scum like that.
Finally, it should be remembered that businesses and political projects are two very different things, and can become highly toxic when combined. It especially behoves us to remember this, we who decry the effects of corporate involvement around the world. Tying one’s fortunes to a political party may make sense for a lobbyist or kingmaker, but the dirty business of establishment politics is something militant anti-fascists should want no part of.
These are some of the reasons why, for ourselves and for our politics, it is important to learn the lessons offered by the World Anti–Fascist League.
 “Bonehead” refers to people with very short hair, or no hair at all, who hold racist, sexist, homophobic and similar beliefs, and are normally beholden to the ideas of the far–right. Some people call these fellows “skinheads”, but that term more properly describes anti–racist youth with short hair, or none at all.
 More commonly known in Quebec as the Ligue Anti-fasciste Mondiale, or LAM.
 “Un groupe d’extreme droite aurait fomenté l’émeute, estime la police,” La Presse 26-6-96.
 “The Nature of the ‘World Anti–Fascist League’”, Research Group on the Far–Right and Its Allies, 1996.
 “La ‘LAM’, une entreprise hasardeuse?”, Commission #2, fevrier–mars 1997.
 Le Point, May 28 1997.
 La Presse May 23 1992 p. A3
 “The Nature of the ‘World Anti–Fascist League’”
 “Pas de tolérance pour l’intolérance,” Option Paix, Été 1992.
 Letter, Voir 20 May 1993.
 “Guerre chez les antifascistes,” by Eric Grenier, Voir 25 July 1996.
 “La LAM en eaux troubles,” by François Doucet, Socialisme Maintenant! Juin–juillet 1993.
 Montreal Mirror September 9, 1993 p. 7
 “La ‘LAM’, une entreprise hasardeuse?”
 “The Nature of the ‘World Anti–Fascist League’” op cit.
 PQ de sac, Michel Brulé, les éditions des Intouchables 1997, pp. 71–111.
 “La ‘LAM’, une entreprise hasardeuse?”
 “The Nature of the ‘World Anti–Fascist League’” op cit.
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Wednesday, February 01, 2017
The following sidebar to The Past Is Our Master!?! was written in 1998; it is being uploaded here in the hoped of being of some interest
In the late eighties a number of committed nationalists worked with Indépendance, a magazine published by Marc Severson, François Robichaud and Mario Gagné (formerly of the Groupe d’Études et d’Action and a subsequent contributor to the Cahiers de Jeune Nation). Indépendance distinguished between French Canadians and Québecois, and, building on the arguments already elaborated by Raoul Roy, defined the nationalist struggle as being primarily cultural. While retaining anti-imperialist and progressive trappings, these positions led the magazine’s contributors to oppose both multiculturalism and immigration.
One of the harshest critics of ethnic diversity to write in Indépendance was Luc Potvin. Like many other contributors, Potvin was an associate of Raoul Roy, writing in the latter’s Revue indépendantiste and eventually becoming vice-president of the CRI’s SOS Genocide. His articles had a certain insipid logic to them: noting that political systems have a cultural dimension, he argued that it is as ridiculous for a State to tolerate different cultures as would be for it to be governed by multiple legal or political rules. “Who would dare to suggest that an absolute monarchy and liberal democracy could coexist within the same State? Or Islamic law with Western law?”
Both Indépendance and Revue Indépendantiste ceased publication in 1989. The next year Potvin began publishing his own journal, Espoir. Here Potvin was explicit and unambiguous: “The nation being the highest form of society [… and i]n the spirit of the anti-colonial socialism that Raoul Roy has promoted for over thirty years, we reject class struggle, preferring class unity.”
Explaining why this “anti-colonial socialism” could not apply to Canada’s First Nations, Potvin quoted Ces indigènes susdits sauvages, accusing Indigenous people of cannibalism and concluding from this diet that they had no authentic culture or civilization at the time of Conquest, instead existing in a state of “prehistory”. Colonialism, it was explained, was a relationship that could only exist between cultural and civilized collectivities.
This was not the first time that Potvin alluded to people living “without culture”, a ridiculous affirmation as he defines culture as that which separates humankind from other animals. Yet all language, all art, all social relations take place within and in turn generate human culture – a fact clearly ignored by Potvin. Take, for instance, this quote from an article he penned back in 1987: “Naturally an animal, the individual only becomes a man by acquiring the culture of his own people. It is in defending his homeland that he can aspire to greatness, for in this way he is defending exactly that which makes he and his compatriots men, that which raises them above the level of domesticated animals that are mass produced by rootless cosmopolitan liberalism.”
Despite these views, Potvin enjoys pretending to be on the Left. When an anti-racist activist exposed his affiliations with racist groups like SOS Genocide and the MIREF, Potvin answered that “SOS Genocide has no ties to the extreme right in Quebec,” and implied that neither he nor Roy had ever had any connection to the MIREF.
Yet the MIREF’s leader Yves Ménard was also the leader of the Rassemblement pour un Pays Canadien-Français, a group officially affiliated with the CRI in which both Roy and Potvin were very active! Furthermore, Pierre Saint-Ours, a spokesperson for the MIREF and member of the Cercle Jeune Nation, contributed to both Indépendance and to Espoir. Indeed, both Saint-Ours and Ménard were often introduced as “supporters” of Espoir, and were invited to take part in roundtable discussions that were subsequently published in the journal.
Potvin may maintain that he is a “leftist”, but as in the case of his mentor Raoul Roy, this term must be properly understood. Like Roy, Potvin’s “leftism” resembles nothing more than the “left-fascism” of the European neo-socialists sixty years ago. The reasons for this charade are in fact spelled out in an exchange published in Espoir. Potvin, who excels at the game of redefining the Left to mean nothing more than national self-assertion, explained to Pierre Trépanier that “no matter how you define it, we feel that claiming to be on the Right would ruin any chance we had of ‘putting our ideas into effect’.”
 “Le multiculturalisme, une imposture!” by Luc Potvin, Indépendance hiver 1988, #4-5.
 Espoir hiver 1993 #5 p. 3.
 Roy, Raoul – Ces indigènes susdits sauvages; Ed. Franc Canada 1991
 Espoir #2 automne 1991.
 “Pour une coalition populaire antilibérale,” by Luc Potvin, Indépendance hiver 1987 #1-2.
 “Xenophobie à pleines pages”, letter to the editor by André Querry, La Presse 18/1/94.
 “Mensonges à Plein Lettre,” letter to the editor by Luc Potvin, La Presse 3/2/94.
 “Une petite mise au point,” exchange between Pierre Trépanier and Luc Potvin, Espoir #4 aut. 1992, p. 61.
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On July 6th 1991 several undercover police officers were assigned to arrest Kirt Haywood, a short Black man with dreadlocks. They mistook Marcellus François, a tall Black man with short hair, for Haywood and followed him around Montreal. Finally, they pulled over his car and approached him, guns drawn, without identifying themselves. As he went to unfasten his seatbelt, police officer Michel Tremblay shot him through the head. Francois went into a coma and died a few days later.
This is the background to Police Chief Alain Saint-Germain’s unprecedented statement, in late January 1992, that this had been a botched operation from beginning to end. This statement, while undeniably true, was severely condemned by the president of the police union, Yves Prudhomme, and on February 13th over two thousand cops marched in uniform through the streets of Montreal, demanding in effect that they be given absolute freedom to kill with impunity.
The following article written in 1992 and translated by an antifascist researcher, sums up the impressions of one racist, Raoul Roy (for a long time considered on the Quebec “left”) following this show of force by the police:
Our People Has Remained Healthy
Despite what many think, winter in Montreal is no less cold than elsewhere in our province. There are days when we feel so frozen it is as if we were being embraced by the great damp arms of the Saint-Lawrence.
It was on one of these cold days, last February 13th, that our police officers chose to hold a demonstration. They wanted to let the public know that they refused to face genocidal immigration as bullet-catchers, the role that had been reserved for them by certain suicidal individuals.
Given the prevalent atmosphere of intellectual terrorism, we at SOS Genocide were almost certain that we would be the only ones brave enough to let the police know that our people does not blame them for resisting the foreign criminals and the immigrationist accomplices.
We were right. We didn’t see any other group show up to let our defenders know that the public does not blame them for resisting the attacks of our enemies.
It is difficult to put into words the emotions we felt on that extraordinary day. The image of thousands of police officers hurrying down Saint-Denis Street, their shouts of protest against their chief, those of loyalty towards their union president Mr Prudhomme; the power that this mass of protesters gave off was striking. There was nothing we could say, other than that was the place to be for anyone who opposes our self-genocide. Our people are not very politicized and certainly not used to spotting and resisting treasonous social classes. Having always lived among the people, we know that French Canadians share the anger of the police about the hypocrisy, the softness and the cowardice of our politicians, whose treason has been encouraged by the media. Yet even if the new class that rules us has decided to drown what is left of the nation that opened North America to civilization, the invasion of Montreal by the unassmiliable has not gone so far as to provoke a mass revolt. Unfortunately, when this time comes it will be too late!
The demonstration started at Laurier metro and went to Old Montreal. As they descended Saint-Denis, this impressive march could only make us wish that this force would line up with the national liberation movement. And why shouldn’t these men demand a truly modern military training, such as an efficient national guard requires?
Nothing should stop us, even under the British regime with the provincial government that we have, from transforming the Quebec Provincial Police into an unofficial army. In fact, what are we waiting for to create an auxiliary police force to this end?
So that the police could see our signs we stood at the corner of Saint-Denis and Sainte-Catherine, with our backs towards that horrible bomb shelter called the University of Montreal. As they marched the police chanted « We want a new chief, Long live Prudhomme! ». As they came upon Sainte-Catherine Street they were suddenly quiet, trying to figure out what was written on those signs blowing in the wind ahead of them. Whatever it was, it seemed to please the marchers ahead of them, who clapped their hands in applause.
This is what they could read : SOS Genocide – Immigrants : respecty our laws and our police – Immigration equals Unemployment – The immigrants will vote against independence – Immigration is getting bigger, the people is shriveling up – Stop letting foreigners immigate, it’s out of control! – Yes to a Natalist policy, No to Immigration – We need a moratorium on immigration – Genocidal Invasion of Quebec.
It is worth mentioning that before they reached us the police officers had to pass by the corners of de Maisonneuve and Saint-Denis streets, where twenty counter-demonstrators were yelling « The police are racist, down with repression! » Amongst these spoiled children it was easy to pick out some of University of Quebec’s students-for-life as well as a garrulous « spokesperson » for prisoners, a certain Bernheim. Not to mention the cromagnon faces of Stalinism, those that have been planted in this university since its inception, and whose harsh cries were louder than all the others.
I have to admit that we were not expecting the triumphal reception that we received. The fervent cheers that we received will remain engraved in our memory for a long while to come. We would like to have been able to thank each and every one of these brave protesters; as it is, we had to satisfy ourselves with waving at them, especially at those who seemed particularly glad to see us.
This was one of the nicest days of my life. Why? Because this demonstration, by those whom our genocidal immigrationists would use as mere sandbags in the guerilla war that is beginning to kill us as a nation, prove that our people has remained fundamentally healthy. And yet the thousand and one cults that are active here do indicate a troubling disorder.
At heart, our people do not accept the rot that is called liberalism. They are hungry for decency, order and common sense. This is why there is still hope.
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The following was initially written in 1998, and somewhat updated in 2000. It should be considered a historical document, not an up-to-date history. The years since 2000 have surely witnessed major changes in the milieu. Nonetheless, it will hopefully be of some use.
As Quebec was going through its Quiet Revolution, Roman Catholicism was experiencing changes of its own. Conflicts that had been simmering for centuries were reaching the boiling point. In order to bring things up to date and resolve certain issues, the world’s bishops held a series of meetings known as the Second Vatican Council, lasting from 1962 to 1965. It was at Vatican II that the Church toned down its war of attrition against the modern world. It was here that Catholicism ceased to attack democracy as heretical, acknowledged the rights of non-believers and allowed the use of languages other than Latin in Mass.
For the first time in centuries, the Catholic Right seemed – if only ever so briefly – to be alienated from official Church doctrine.
Contre-Reforme Catholique and Old Nazis
Adrien Arcand, while a staunch Catholic, was first and foremost a Jew-hating anti-communist whose polemics were rarely religious in nature. After his death, however, religion began to be more and more important in the PUNC, even as the latter became more and more insignificant.
In 1970 some Party members were involved in establishing a Quebec branch of the Contre-Reforme Catholique, a far-right Catholic sect led by the Canon Georges de Nantes in France. The CRC is anti-communist, anti-Semitic and anti-Masonic, de Nantes’ ideal political system being an absolute monarchy, and his heroes being Salazar, Franco and Pétain. He has stated that “Instead of the Masonic trilogy Freedom-Equality-Brotherhood, the national revolution will be based on real values: Work-Family-Fatherland…”; note that the “Masonic” trilogy is the credo of the French Revolution, the “authentic” one being that of the Vichy.
Not long after the creation of a CRC centre in the town of Shawinigan, a war of words broke out between the followers of de Nantes and the PUNC’s new leader Lanctôt. Although the former had voiced his approval of fascism (“[a] salutory response to parliamentary democracy and the bolshevik threat”), the loyal PUNCists felt he was insufficiently respectful towards the memory of Arcand, Hitler and other patriots. De Nantes often offended the PUNCists by saying that Nazism and Communism were the same thing. The PUNCists continued to honour Hitler as a great leader of the Christian West, and accused the CRC chief of “germanophobia”.
Since this split, the CRC in Quebec seems to have remained small but stable. It publishes a regular bulletin, often examining the historic role of Freemasonry and other conspiracy theories. Its position on independence remains the same as the PUNC’s, namely that “It is Democracy, not Federalism, that has made French Canada Sick”. CRC leaders, including de Nantes, have visited Canada to speak on subjects ranging from the Shroud of Turin to the defence of Paul Touvier (a Vichy war criminal). While aware of other Catholic-fascist currents, as a group it does not involve itself in politics. Indeed, when the Cercle Jeune Nation folded in 1995 the CRC sneered that it had received its just deserts for being too democratic, remarking that the religious absolutists had won out over the political pragmatists thanks to a simple majority vote!
Lefebvre in Quebec
While the CRC and the PUNC were both very critical of the post-Conciliar Church – so much so that de Nantes was officially suspended from his duties as a priest in 1966 – neither disavowed the Vatican. Indeed, under the present Pope’s reign the PUNC has returned to its prior ultramontantism, seeing in John Paul II an anti-communist to rival Duplessis’ memory!
Not all right-wing Catholics have always been so obedient. In 1975 a Montreal priest, Father Yves Normandin, was booted out of his parish at Saint Yvette’s because he insisted on saying Mass the pre-Vatican II way, in Latin. Normandin was joined by Father J-Real Bleau, whose anti-abortion book L’avortement was distributed by the PUNC.
Bleau and Normandin were welcomed with open arms by a community of traditionalists hell-bent on resisting the new changes in the faith: Monsignor Marcel Lefebvre’s Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). The leading critic of Vatician II in France, in the seventies Lefebvre became a hero to traditionalists around the world. In his words, “The Council consummated the marriage between Church and Revolution… only bastards will be born of the adulterous union … We cannot dialogue with freemasons and communists, because you don’t dialogue with the Devil!”
Lefebvre was supported by fascists around the world, including Blas Pinar’s New Forces Party in Spain, Italy’s MSI and France’s Front National. He repeatedly made racist comments about Jews and Muslims, and was particularly incensed with the Pope’s ecumenical dialogue with these non-believers. In Quebec, Lefebvrists accused the government of being controlled by Communists.
The SSPX attracted Catholics who opposed multiculturalism, democracy and freedom, and were horrified that the Church was giving up its historic battle with these scourges. It eventually managed to set up twenty six Churches in Canada, eight of which are in Quebec. According to Father Jacques Emily, the Society’s Canadian leader since 1983, roughly one thousand people regularly attend mass at these churches, and the group receives donations from three or four times as many people across the country.
Between 1993 and 1995 the Lefebvrists maintained a study group at Laval University in Ste-Foy, a favourite recruiting ground for Catholic traditionalists. The Cercle d’etudes des jeunes catholiques traditionalistes (CEJCT) organized lectures by far-right luminaries from Canada, the United States and Europe, including several leading members of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Front National. The Cercle enjoyed the generosity of the university’s chaplaincy services, i.e. free meeting space, photocopies, typing plus the prestige of being able to use the university logo on its propaganda. Many of its lectures were held on campus. These tours were often orchestrated in concert with other Catholic-fascist groups, most notably the Cercle Jeune Nation, the Centre d’information nationale Robert Rumilly and the RPPQ.
White Hats, Blue Hats
If some Catholic reactionaries were tempted by the SSPX, the CRC and other even more esoteric anti-conciliar groups, most stayed with the Church hoping to combat the Catholic moderates from within. This was the position taken by the White Berets, aka the Pilgrims of St-Michael, best known for their newspapers Michael Journal and Vers Demain, which have a combined press run of almost 100,000.
The White Berets are the last Catholic remnant of the Social Credit craze of the 1930s. Social Credit is a political-economic philosophy developed by Major C.H. Douglas. It aims to harmonise class society and curb the power of bankers, the only capitalists the Major actually considered to be exploitative.
Douglas believed that the bankers worked for a cabal of Jews and Freemasons who intended to impose world Communism. Unlike fascists, who are also prone to believe such nonsense, the Creditists never attained state power anywhere in the world. In those countries where they did maintain an electoral presence the loyal Douglasites were marginalized or simply expelled. Canada was a pioneer in mainstreaming Social Credit, probably due to the fact that Alberta elected a Socred government in 1935, one where pragmatists and professional politicians had no intention of letting a bunch of “kooks” discredit them.
Louis Even and Gilberte Côté-Mercier were Quebec’s Social Credit pioneers. In the first issues of Vers Demain they exposed the judeo-masonic-communist conspiracy and called for the institution of Douglasite reforms. Although initially supported by a section of the clergy, eventually the Church would attack the upstarts for being too violently hostile towards the rich. Not only that, but in the words of the Archbishop of Rimouski, the Socred plan for a universal monthly dividend to be paid to all consumers would reward sloth and encourage vice. For his part, Adrien Arcand rejected Social Credit out of hand because he believed that Major Douglas’ mother was Jewish.
Nevertheless, Mercier and Even continued to publish their newspaper and spread the good word. Vers Demain took part in Robert Rumilly’s campaign to vilify the CBC, and cheered for Pétain and de Bernonville. All opponents, including those who had left Even and Côté-Mercier’s group to start a Social Credit political party, were accused of being in league with international Freemasonry. The group kept in touch with other hardcore Douglasites, including Pat Walsh and Ron Gostick.
In the 1960s the White Berets underwent a transformation from being a political group to being a primarily religious one. Major Douglas’ doctrines were not tied to any one Christian denomination, but Even and Côté-Mercier now infused them with a string dose of hysterical Catholicism. The Judeo-Masonic boogey was now replaced by a Satanic elite called the Illuminati, and faithful Catholics were called upon to save the world under the leadership of Jesus and his mother Mary.
In 1973 the Pilgrims allied themselves with the Bayside Ministry, an equally imaginative religious group led by Veronica Lueken in New York. The Baysiders believed that the Virgin Mary spoke to Lueken, who in turn would relay supernatural revelations about what was really going on in the world. Lueken (or the Virgin Mary, depending on your belief-system) revealed that Pope Paul VI had not really abolished the old Latin Mass and was not really tolerating liberal Catholicism. According to Lueken/“Mary”, Satanic conspirators in the Church had kidnapped Paul VI and arranged for an actor to take his place. It goes without saying that this was all part of a scheme to destroy Christianity. Anything her conservative followers disapproved of could be blamed on this actor and his Satanic paymasters.
The Pilgrims devoted all of their resources to promoting Bayside, reprinting the “conversations” with the Virgin in their newspapers and making repeated trips to the Queens’ World Fair grounds where these celestial meetings allegedly took place. The alliance lasted for only three years, though, for in 1978 Lueken claimed that Mary wanted all female Baysiders to wear blue berets. For years the Pilgrims had been wearing white berets, and they found this new dress code to be highly unreasonable towards their female members, even if it did come from the Mother of God herself. When Lueken refused to give the Pilgrims a special exemption they turned their backs on her.
Nothing over the past twenty years has been nearly as amusing as this White Beret rebellion. About one hundred Pilgrims continue to live in a religious community in Rougemont just south of Montreal, and the movement has about 2,000 supporters elsewhere in Quebec. Their main activity consists of protesting against taxes and spreading their newspapers far and wide. Louis Even died in 1974, leaving Gilberte Côté-Mercier the group’s sole svengali. Consistently opposed to Quebec independence, the pages of Vers Demain and Michael Journal occasionally include articles by Ron Gostick, the late Pat Walsh and their colleague Murray Gauvreau.
Family Values and Catholic Schools
In the years following Vatican II most reactionary Catholics did not reject the Church or the authenticity of the Pope. The most comfortable place for Catholic rightists was in those movements that had received papal benediction. Seeing as the Vatican maintained that Catholic children had a right to a Catholic education, in Quebec it was to this cause that most right-wingers flocked.
Vatican II had coincided with the 1963-4 Parent Commission’s suggestion that the Church give up control of Quebec’s school system to the provincial government. Right-wingers would fight a thirty-year battle to retain control over how children are taught.
One part of this campaign has been to defend Quebec’s religious school boards. This battle has finally been lost, the government instituting a linguistic system in the year 2000. Another part of the Catholic Right’s gambit has been to elect reactionaries to the Catholic school commissions. At least in Montreal this strategy proved remarkably successful. In fact, the Association of Catholic Parents of Quebec has kept control of the Montreal Catholic School Commission (MCSC) for the past three decades. Despite the conversion to a linguistic system this year, all signs indicate that these reactionaries will continue to control the new commission as they did the old.
The Association of Catholic Parents has exercised its political power through a front group, the Regroupement Scholaire Confessionel (trans: Confessional School Assembly; RSC). The RSC’s president is Michel Pallascio, son of the ACPQ’s vice-president Isabelle Pallascio. Controlled by the RSC, the MCSC has been a constant obstacle to AIDS education and condom distribution in Montreal high schools, and has repeatedly been accused of racism. In 1988 it fired an employee because of his Spanish accent. The year after that it sent parents a questionnaire asking whether they thought immigrant children should be forced to go to separate schools. In 1990 it considered punishing students who spoke languages other than French on school grounds. That same year Michel Pallascio suggested to the provincial government that it favour immigrants with “Judeo-Christian values”, a statement that won him the public support of SOS Genocide, the MIREF and the Mouvement pour la Survie de la Nation. Pallascio reiterated these remarks in 1996, stating that the Judeo-Christian tradition should take precedence over all others because it is “a fundamental component of the heritage and collective identity of the welcoming culture.”
Hard nationalists associated with Raoul Roy’s CRI and the Cercle Jeune Nation have repeatedly expressed their support for Pallascio and the RSC. Pierre Messier, an important member of the racist MIREF, was an RSC candidate in the 1994 school board elections. And, of course, the RSC is very popular with the Catholic reactionary Right. School commissioner Maurice Prévost, for instance, is also the treasurer of the Centre d’information nationale Robert Rumilly.
For a Franco-Pétainist School System!
If the RSC is a model of far-right realpolitik, with reactionary school commissioners staying in office by toning down their rhetoric, not everyone has opted for such a pragmatic approach. Father Achille Larouche, the same priest who worked with the Cahiers de Nouvelle France, the Cercle Jeune Nation and both the original and copycat Centre d’information nationales, has opted for another, complementary, strategy: that of maintaining a no-nonsense Catholic-fascist presence on the religious right.
In 1979 Larouche set up the Ralliement Provincial des Parents de Quebec (RPPQ; trans.: Quebec Provincial Parents’ Rally) to resist secularism, particularly in the school system. Since 1987 the RPPQ has published a newspaper, Nation Nouvelle, on whose masthead one can read the Petainist slogan “Work, Family, Fatherland” alongside the theocratic “God comes first”. Nation Nouvelle has published several articles by members of the Cercle Jeune Nation and the Centre d’information nationale Robert Rumilly. It has also benefited from steady support from Father Edmond Robillard and Lionel Eymard of Carrefour Chretien magazine.
One gets an idea of the common ground that exists between the RPPQ and so-called “hard nationalists” from the December 1995 Nation Nouvelle headline: “We Don’t Want an Atheistic Immoral State Favouring a Suicidal Immigration.” A more standard text, though, would deal with Freemasonry, secularism and the rights of Catholics. For instance this hyperbolic and longwinded headline: “It is true that we practiced NAZISM in Quebec, that we are guilty of a NAZISM worst than Communism (if this is possible), not regarding ‘anglophones’, but regarding our Catholic Faith.”  Other articles praise Petain, Franco and Salazar (none of whom are guilty of anything resembling Nazism…) Every issue includes reprinted texts from Catholic-fascist magazines in France. Like Father Larouche himself, the RPPQ opposes abortion, democracy, sex education and the “invasion” of Quebec by “non-assimilable” immigrants.
Although most religious reactionaries have concentrated on the school question, some have chosen to intervene in the fight against abortion rights. There is no space here to provide a history of the anti-abortion movement in Quebec, but a few points are worth mentioning.
The nationalist movement in the sixties and seventies included a number of strong feminists. Regardless of their subsequent political journeys, this did help establish the same kind of basic opposition to sexism and support for feminism within the nationalist camp. As in so many other progressive movements, though, this anti-sexism was often mere tokenism. Another dimension of nationalist discourse, the concern with the French Canadian birthrate, was intrinsically at odds with the individualistic right of a woman to control her own body.
Predictably, natalist concerns led some nationalists to accuse pro-choice women of betraying the interests of the nation. In the mid-eighties Reggie Chartrand, a famous streetfighter from the RIN/FLQ era, epitomised this misogyny in a booklet entitled “God is a Man because He is Good and Strong! The revolt of a man against feminism”. With the help of lawyers from the far-right Association des juristes catholiques du Québec (trans: Quebec Association of Catholic Jurists), Chartrand initiated a lawsuit against Doctor Henry Morgentaler, Canada’ most famous abortion provider. Although his legal action would fail, along with his scandalous booklet it guaranteed that him a place as the most infamous example of contemporary nationalist-Catholic co-operation.
Today, the chief opponent of abortion in Quebec is Gilles Grondin, a former associate of the World Anti-Communist League and founding member of the Centre d’information nationale Robert Rumilly. Grondin’s group is called Campagne Québec-Vie (CQV); it is a member of the pan-Canadian Campaign Life Coalition (CLC). Apart from lobbying the government, the CQV’s main activity is organizing annual anti-abortion vigils in conjunction with other CLC-affiliates. Members of the Saint-Paul Latin Community, the MLNQ and similar groups have attended these vigils in Montreal.
The CQV’s newspaper, Vitality, has advertised conferences organized by the Jeune Nation/RPPQ network. Articles have purported to “expose” conspiracies of Freemasons, one-worlders and others bent on destroying Christian civilization. The CQV’s brief to the PQ’s Commission on Independence argued that there was an international conspiracy to destroy traditional Quebec society by encouraging high immigration and reducing the French Canadian birthrate.
Le Lys Blanc
Unique among Quebec’s Catholic-fascist publications for its fanzine-like quality, Louis-Michel Guilbault’s Lys Blanc combined monarchism, Lefebvrism, anti-Semitism and in-your-face fascism. Published regularly between 1994 and 1996, almost all of the articles were written by Guilbault. He exposed what he saw as the Jewish, pagan and homosexual nature of Nazism, and attacked Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Front National for being insufficiently Catholic and authoritarian. Another text vacillated between the absurd and the fantastic, comparing Adrien Arcand to Jesus Christ! Supplementing these original thoughts were reprints from Catholic anti-Semitic classics, exposés of B’nai B’rith and Freemasonry, and even a translated article by the neo-Confederate Southern League.
Guilbault himself is a follower of the SSPX, and even lectured to the Lefebvrist CEJCT at Laval University. It would seem that his ‘zine was mainly read in the microscopic Catholic-fascist scene, and even there it was by no means an important player. Nevertheless, it is worth including in this study because its politics show that the combination of reactionary Catholicism and unapologetic fascism is not a thing of the past. The desktop fanzeenish nature of this publication, its brief presence on the internet and Guilbault’s plans to produce fascist and racist CD-ROMs show how the most backwards looking ideologues nevertheless embrace the most up to date technologies. Furthermore, Guilbault’s unconventional and ambitious approach make him a likely headache for tomorrow’s anti-fascists…
Back from Lefebvrism
The participation of Louis-Michel Guilbault, Jean-Claude Dupuis and other fascists in the Society of Saint Pius X has already been noted. Such examples notwithstanding, It should be pointed out that at this point the majority of Catholic fascists have remained loyal to the official Church. Since the ascension of the conservative John Paul II to Peter’s throne, much of the traditionalist foment has been recuperated.
A key part of John Paul’s strategy was the legalisation of the old Latin Mass in 1985. The priests Yves Normandin and J.-Réal Bleau, who had been deprived of their church in 1975 due to their refusal to celebrate the Vatican II Mass, returned to the fold following these developments. In doing so, they broke permanently with the SSPX. They brought with them a number of followers who were eager to return to the official Church. This traditionalist community was given its own parishional status, being known as the St-Paul Latin Community.
The return of Normandin, Bleau and their devotees to the official Church has been part of a global trend throughout John Paul’s papacy. The conservative pontiff isolated the SSPX, and in 1989 Lefebvre himself was excommunicated. Following this official short sharp shock, the Vatican established the Fraternity of Saint Peter, a special international religious devoted to tempting members of the SSPX back to the Church. The St-Paul Latin Community is affiliated with this Fraternity.
In Montreal, some suspect the St-Paul Latin Community of including a number of racists from a variety of far-right organizations. Special religious services have been celebrated for dead Nazis and fascists. When European fascists come to Quebec on speaking tours organized by the Cercle Jeune Nation and the RPPQ, they have been known to speak at the Saint-Cunégonde Church where the Latin Community meets. Predictably, investigations have revealed that a number of the Latin parishioners have attended these lectures even when they are held elsewhere.
 “La C.R.C.” Serviam v5 #2.
 Camun, Jean-Yves & Monzat, René – Les Droites nationales et radicales en France, Presses Universitaires de Lyons1992, p. 169.
 “Idéologie: le fascisme contre le democratie,” by Joseph Algazy, Golias #27-28, automne 1991, p. 147.
 Ibid., p. 148.
 “Adrien Arcand notre maitre,” by Paul Maureau, Serviam v8 #2.
 “Point Final,” by F.D., Serviam v8 #3, mai-juin 197_.
 “Le Canada Français et le référendum,” La Renaissance Catholiqe #31 nov. 1995.
 For more information about Marcel Lefebvre, see “Who the Hell is marcel Lefebvre”, Demanarchie v3#4. _web link_
 Ibid. _web link_
 Cuneo, Michael – The Smoke of Satan: Conservative and Traditionalist dissent in contemporary American Catholicism NY: Oxford University Press 1997, p. 156
 ANQCRR P303, S6, SS19, “Objet: le crédit sociale” 2/4/48.
 Cuneo op cit., pp. 159-162.
 Ibid., pp. 156-8.
 “La droite catholique au Québec: essai de typologie,” by Jean-Guy Vaillancourt & Martin Geoffroy, Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 25/1 (1996) p. 31
 “Pallascio a de nombreux appuis chez les ultra-nationalistes,” by Eric Trottier, La Presse 17/11/90.
 “Pallascio pitches Judeo-Christian values,” by Irwin Block, The Montreal Gazette 18/9/96.
 “C’est vrai que nous avone pratiqué le NAZISME…” by Achille Larouche, Nation Nouvelle v1 #10 juin-juillet 1990, p. 2.
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/2k0DA36
The following text was written in 1998, and published in the magazine Antifa Forum under the title The Past is Our Master ?!?; a French-translation was subsequently independently published as the pamphlet Notre Maître le Passé?!?
This study ends 20 years ago – and so precedes the rise of Islamophobia as the central focus of the far right, most importantly – but even within the span of time that it covers, it should not be taken as complete (boneheads are not examined here, not are various far right New Age groups, groups that came in from the u.s. like the Klan, etc.), nor should its political frameworks be necessarily taken as being nearly sufficient (a result of a very incoherent mishmash of preconceptions and ways of looking at things). At best, it provides a narrative of a few currents that occupied a marginal political space, but that managed to reproduce for a while, flowing into one another and occasionally interacting with more significant political forces. Hopefully, it provides a useful broad-brushstroke history, the outlines of which might provide certain useful insights.
The Past Is Our Master?!?
Within Canada, Quebec stands alone. The only province with a French majority in an officially bilingual country, it is heir not only to the British conquerors of the New World, but also to their rivals from France.
The Roman Catholic Church has wielded incredible power in Quebec ever since the seventeenth century, back when white people called this country New France. The subsequent British invasion and decisive expulsion of France from the continent did nothing to lessen the Church’s authority; once the bishops ordered the peasantry to obey the new British rulers their power was guaranteed. While Revolution struck down the medieval church in France, a kind of feudalism persisted here until the nineteenth century.
The age of dictators
Prior to 1936, the Right was represented in both provincial and federal elections by the Conservative Party. In 1936 Quebec’s provincial Conservatives merged with a corporatist splinter from the ruling Liberals to form the Union Nationale. Ideologically, the Right was represented by a number of nationalist and Catholic organizations, the most important of which being the Ligue d’Action Nationale, the Ecole Sociale Populaire, the Société St-Jean Baptiste and the newspaper Le Devoir.
While not homogenous, certain characteristics were common to the entire French Canadian Right: corporatism, anti-communism, ambivalence towards parliamentary democracy and a belief in the virtues of order, hard work and religious piety. Its outlook could be summed up in the statement “the past is our master,” made by the right-wing priest and historian Lionel Groulx. In the days before Auschwitz, the word “fascism” did not carry with it the same baggage it has today, and while some Rightists had their differences with this doctrine it did not suffer from the same stigma as Socialism, Freemasonry or Communism.
The 1920s and ’30s were a heady time in Quebec. For the first time in its history most people lived in cities, and the industrial working class was taking center-stage. Immigration was at an all-time high. Montreal’s sweatshops were full of immigrants, many of whom became radical labour organizers. An anarchist immigrant set up the the Jewish People’s Kitchen on Rachel Street in 1933. Throughout this period the vast majority of Communist Party members in Quebec were of neither British nor French origin.
These developments terrified traditionalists. As far as the Right was concerned, the immigrant communities in general, and the Jewish community in particular, were hotbeds of subversion. Several newspapers called for anti-Semitic legislation: if not expulsion, at least a moratorium on Jewish immigration and the denial of full citizenship rights. Demagogues denounced Jewish control of the Quebec economy and the corrupt provincial government. The newly founded League for Social Credit used its newspaper Vers Demain to expose the efforts of Jews and Freemasons to destroy Christian civilization. Social Credit pioneer Louis Even bemoaned the fact that even were all the Jews to be exterminated, without extirpating the Jewish mentality Christians would hardly be any better. While Lionel Groulx remained indifferent towards State power, other priests like Pierre Gravel called for a right-wing revolution to set things straight.
The Right’s xenophobia was matched by its anti-communism. In 1930 Father J.-Papin Archambault, head of the corporatist and nationalist Ecole Sociale Populaire, set up a Committee of Catholic Works to co-ordinate the Church’s anti-communist campaign. The CCW produced anti-communist propaganda, pressured the reigning Liberal government to shut down the communist Workers University and arranged for loyal Catholics to spy on left-wing meetings. While Papin’s group carried out its work in public, another, secret, committee was formed in 1935 under the guidance of Cardinal Rodrigue Villeneuve, a man who described Communists as “poisonous, hypocritical serpents”. Both committees worked closely with the government and shared information with the provincial police. In 1937 the Union Nationale enacted the Padlock Law, making it illegal to use one’s home or business to promote Communism – a term that was left conveniently undefined, Premier Maurice Duplessis insisting that “it can be smelt” .
Fascism in Quebec
Anti-communism and anti-Semitism provided the manure in which fascism could grow. A number of intellectuals had been impressed with this ideology ever since Benito Mussolini took power in Italy in 1922. Journalists lauded the Italian dictator in the pages of Action Nationale, le Progrès du Nord, le Province and Le Devoir, to give only a few examples.
In 1935 a young lawyer named Paul Bouchard began meeting with a few friends with the idea of launching a fascist newspaper. The first issue of La Nation was published the next year; it soon became the most important fascist organ in all of Quebec. Bouchard attacked Jews, Freemasons and the English and repeatedly called for the creation of a fascist, French and Catholic State. As well as being anti-communist La Nation opposed capitalism, at times even tracing its own pedigree back to the French anarcho-monarchist Proudhon.
At about the same time as Bouchard was preparing to launch his paper, the brothers Walter and Dostaler O’Leary set up the fascist Jeunesses Patriotes group (JP; trans: Patriotic Youth) . Over the next four years the JPs would enjoy a stormy relationship with La Nation; sharing the same ideology and approach, competing for support in the same circles, yet unable to agree upon who should lead the movement. Early on Bouchard wrote to Lionel Groulx, complaining that the O’Learys were trying to get him to close down his paper. For his part, Walter O’Leary would later claim that Bouchard’s supporters had kidnapped him, holding him at gunpoint and trying to force him to sign an statement agreeing that Bouchard would be French Canada’s fuehrer.
Whatever truth there was in these mutual recriminations, the fact of the matter is that the JPs only published one issue of their newspaper, L’Indépendantiste, before rallying to La Nation. An uneasy peace lasted for a little over a year, until Bouchard purged the O’Learys, or the brothers struck out on their own, depending on who you choose to believe.
In 1936 Bouchard tried his hand at electoral politics, running as leader of the Autonomist Central Committee in the Montreal-Ste Marie riding. Failing to get elected, his Central Committee became the Autonomist Party, modeled on Mussolini’s Fascist Party. Then in 1939 he tried to link up with the short lived National Party, a splinter from the Union Nationale led by Phillipe Hamel, a committed corporatist. By 1940 Bouchard’s menagerie had changed its name again: supported by a broad array of nationalist and right-wing groups, it was as a Nationalist Party candidate that Bouchard garnered 12,700 voted to Louis St-Laurent’s 16,700.
Nazism in Quebec
If Bouchard and the O’Learys were enthusiastic about Mussolini and Franco, they were at best lukewarm towards Hitler. Nazi totalitarianism was viewed with some disdain, the German threat to France with some concern, and the widening breach between the Hitler regime and the Vatican with growing alarm. By the time Pope Pius XI released his encyclical Mit brennender Sorge, condemning both Communism and Nazism, most of the Right had already turned its back on the Third Reich.
The most famous exception to this broad anti-Nazism was Adrien Arcand, an occasional asset of the Conservative Party, editor of the Union Nationale newspaper Illustration nouvelle, and a vicious anti-Semite to boot. In the fifteen years preceding World War II, Arcand published a number of rabble-rousing newspapers, each more racist and demagogic than the last. His book Key to the Mystery accused Jews of waging a timeless war against innocent Christians. He campaigned for their exclusion from Catholic institutions, suggesting that to truly get to the root of the problem they should be shipped off to Madagascar. He helped organize boycotts of Jewish stores, and successfully led resistance to a number of pieces of legislation that were meant to protect the Jewish community. In 1934 he founded the National Social Christian Party to put his ideas into practice. The NSCP was not only unique in its Nazism, but also in its pan-Canadian nationalism that sent it looking for allies outside of Quebec, a strategy that eventually led to the formation of the National Unity Party of Canada in 1938.
Arcand repeatedly came under attack in the pages of La Nation, which described him as a sellout to the British Empire whom the Conservatives supported in order to discredit authentic French Canadian fascists. He even came under fire from within his own ranks, several radicals defecting to Bouchard’s camp in 1936. In an open letter these renegades attacked Arcand for running the PNSC on insufficiently fascist lines and being a Conservative Party pawn. Indeed, there was more than a grain of truth in this last accusation: throughout the 1930s Adrien Arcand repeatedly threw his support behind the federal Conservative Party, which paid him handsomely for his services. Several Tory MPs were sympathetic to the PNSC, which senator Pierre Blondin explained to Prime Minister Bennett was simply “a regenerated Conservative Party in Quebec”.
At the same time as he enjoyed the good graces of the domestic establishment, Arcand was forging lasting bonds with members of the international far-right. Ironically, the most infamous of these ties – the NSCP’s much vaunted ties to the Third Reich – ended up being the most short-lived: what with the onset of war and their subsequent military defeat, the Nazis’ only real contribution to Quebec fascism was ideological, not practical. More enduring were the links Arcand forged with American, British and French racists in this period. The Key to the Mystery was distributed in France by Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, future head of the Nazi collaborationist Commission for Jewish Affairs, and as such personally responsible for the deportation of 9,000 Jews to German concentration camps. In 1937 Arcand shared a New York City podium with numerous fascist luminaries: H.H. Beamish of The Britons, the American anti-Semite R.E. Edmonson, Silver Shirts fuehrer W.D. Pelley, German-American Bundist Fritz Kuhn, and the fascist Rudolph Markham. He was to brag of this evening for decades to come, remaining in touch with some of these men for the rest of his life.
The Patriotic Masses
There was no French Canadian bourgeoisie at this time, the Quebec economy being dominated by British, American and Anglo-Canadian entrepreneurs. Unlike elsewhere in North America, the ideological Right in Quebec was not tied to capitalism by “its own” bosses, and so tended to be loyal to the Church and the Nation more than money or the State. Not only did this allow for a certain anti-capitalist mystique, but it laid the groundwork for consensus between the moderate and extreme right-wings. The same virtues were championed and the same vices condemned. If the latter included Communism, liberalism, feminism and immigration, the former consisted of corporatism, self-sufficiency, Catholic piety and provincial autonomy. Any divergence from this formula led to marginalization within the right-wing political milieu.
The absence of any real discord between fascists, ultramontanists, corporatists and conservatives led to unity against the Left and indulgence towards the hard Right all the way up the power structure. Many businessmen enthusiastically supported the fascists, hoping that they would nip class struggle in the bud. Maurice Duplessis, the Union Nationale’s charismatic leader and personal friend of many foreign investors, repeatedly declared that the only real threat came from the Communists, fascism being a chimera with which the former hoped to scare the masses.
This consensus on the Right allowed people who would today be considered “extremists” to enjoy the blessings of the elite. In 1933, when Montreal Jews organized a demonstration against the German Nazi regime, the pro-fascist Jeunes-Canada (which would later work closely with the Jeunesses Patriotes) counter-demonstrated, supported by Le Devoir and the right-wing nationalists from Action Nationale. One year later, when interns at Hôtel Dieu Hospital went on strike to protest the hiring of a Jewish resident, they were supported by Arcand, Le Devoir, the Société Saint-Jean Baptiste and others on the Right. In 1936, when a delegation from Republican Spain visited Montreal as part of a North American tour, over two thousand students took part in a pro-Franco demonstration that degenerated into an anti-Semitic riot. Bouchard, Arcand, Le Devoir, religious authorities and the University of Montreal student association all praised the rioters. The very next day Duplessis publicly congratulated them, noting that by opposing Communism they were following the Church’s teachings. In 1939 the Société Saint-Jean Baptiste circulated a petition opposing immigration, especially Jewish immigration. That same year Montreal Mayor Camillien Houde announced that in case of war “the support of French Canadians will inevitably go to Mussolini’s Italy.”
Quebec and France at War
The Second World War polarized the international far-right.
On the one hand, many fascists were given real power as the German army occupied their countries. Across Europe they carried out the bloody work of the Holocaust, leading death squads and instigating pogroms the likes of which had never been seen before.
Meanwhile, in countries the Germans failed to invade the ruling classes suddenly got the jitters about their fascist guard dogs. The far-right was quickly divided into two groups: those who could be trusted and those who could not. The latter, despite their ultrapatriotic protestations, came under suspicion of treason, of conspiring with Germany against the interests of their own governments.
Arcand would later claim that he and his followers would have fought against the Axis during the war. Like many fascists around the world, their sympathy for the Nazis would not have taken precedence over their nationalism and sense of patriotic duty. Or so he would maintain – the truth is impossible to tell, for, along with a few dozen other Canadian fascists, he was interned in early 1940.
While it is debatable whether or not Canada’s fascists posed a threat to national security, the internments did send a chill through their ranks. Montreal’s demagogic mayor Camillien Houde continued to speak out against conscription and found that his office could not protect him. Paul Bouchard and the O’Leary brothers took the hint and fled to Latin America.
Anti-militarism was widespread in Quebec during the war. Outrage over conscription – imposed by a federal Liberal government that had been elected after promising only voluntary enlistment – and the feeling that this was just another imperialist conflict should not be confused with sympathy for fascism. Nevertheless, an atmosphere did exist in which anti-democratic sentiments flourished.
Even on the Right there was very little actual support for the Nazis. Between 1937, when Pope Pius XI condemned both Nazism and Communism, and 1940, when Germany invaded France, most had distanced themselves from Nazism. To oppose Hitler did not mean rejecting fascism, though. Spain’s Franco and Portugal’s Salazar still figured prominently in the Right’s pantheon of heroes. They were joined in short order by Field Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain, who, following the invasion of France in 1942, established an authoritarian dictatorship in Vichy and sued for peace with the Germans.
A hero of World War I, to his defenders Petain was a brave and noble patriot, under whose benevolent command a slice of France remained free from German control. In truth, Vichy was a collaborationist regime. While not national-socialist, it was an authoritarian Catholic dictatorship, more than willing to help the Nazis to exterminate “undesirables”. Under Petain’s command over 80,000 “enemies of the Reich”, the overwhelming majority of whom were Jewish, were sent to their deaths in concentration camps.
To many right-wingers, the German invasion represented a unique opportunity to get rid of the legacy of the French Revolution. Le Devoir published articles attacking the Free French (as those who resisted fascism under the command of General de Gaulle were known), many of whom it noted had Jewish sounding names. The Société Saint-Jean Baptiste refused to allow the Gaullists to participate in its annual parade. No fringe phenomenon, Petainist sympathies were widespread: in 1942 an opinion poll revealed that three quarters of Quebeckers approved of what they knew of the Field Marshal’s policies. Among political moderates the widely subscribed to view was that de Gaulle was the sword and Petain the shield, both playing necessary roles in the defence of France. Given that Canada maintained diplomatic relations with both Vichy and the Free French until late 1942, it was possible to love Petain and still claim to support the Allied cause.
In 1941 a particularly virulent Petainist newspaper called La Droite (trans: The Right) was launched. It proclaimed that “the ‘Real France’, the France of St. Louis and Joan of Arc, of corporations and crusades, has cast its filthy republican anti-clerical secular clothing into the dirty laundry bin, in order to rediscover, under the guidance of the glorious Marshal, that traditional and Christian and radiant face that it used to have…” In one editorial La Droite praised the Romanian Iron Guard as a nationalist alternative to both the Nazis and the Communists, one that should be emulated in Canada. Earlier that year, the Iron Guardists had assured their place in history, carrying out a pogrom in Bucharest in which between 600 and 1,000 Jews were killed. Many of their victims’ bodies were mutilated, hung on butcher hooks in the local meat-packing plant, branded with the words “kosher meat”, and then beheaded.
While anti-Semitic and even fascist propaganda was tolerated in wartime Canada, other things were not. Later that year La Droite warned that French Canadians would resist the war effort if Canada ever attacked Vichy France. A few days later the RCMP closed the paper down.
La Droite was not alone. Soon after the RCMP closed it down a new newspaper, l’Unité, appeared. Published by the autonomists Paul Gouin, Philippe Hamel and René Chaloult, all of whom had been close to Paul Bouchard before the war, l’Unité chose as its slogan “Tradition-Family-Fatherland”, which just happened to be the official credo of the Vichy regime.
Another magazine, l’Oeil (trans.: The Eye), was launched in 1942. A “literary, political and cultural magazine”, l’Oeil was also anti-Semitic, Petainist and fiercely anti-Communist. Its subtitle “I see everything” was reminiscent of the pro-Nazi newspaper “I am everywhere” that had been published in France and read on both sides of the Atlantic before the war. As an Allied victory in Europe seemed more and more likely, l’Oeil warned readers that Communists and Jews were going to take advantage of the situation to the lasting detriment of the Christian world.
In 1942 two young fascists (Raymond Chouinard and Lauriot Hardy) were arrested for distributing a pro-Axis broadsheet during a demonstration against conscription. Upon searching the young fascists’ homes police found what appeared to be a membership list of a secret, pro-Axis organisation called the Iron Guard. At the same time, Father Pierre Gravel – a fascist who condemned Jews before, during and after the war – held regular politico-religious services in the crypt of his Saint-Roch church, providing what one Robert Rumilly would later refer to as a necessary counterpoint to Allied propaganda.
Vichy fell in late 1944. Petain was arrested, but many of the worst collaborators disappeared into the woodwork. All over Europe, people suddenly remembered every little thing they had ever done that could be embellished and declared an act of resistance. Collaborators suddenly became anti-Nazi conspirators. If you had turned in some Jews, it didn’t matter so much if you could recall some others you had left alone. The little acts of kindness were more important than the grotesque crimes. The silver lining was more weighty that the actual cloud.
Nevertheless, the more infamous butchers had good reason to be afraid: some were executed by the new Gaullist State, while others were given a taste of people’s justice. For such gentlemen as these the time had come to make oneself scarce.
Quebec was already known to these fascists prior to Vichy. Not only had Arcand’s publications been available in France before the war, but French Canadian intellectuals had travelled to Europe and met with influential French rightists. When reactionaries from France had visited Quebec, they couldn’t have helped noticing that clergymen and politicians were publicly declaring their fascist sympathies. Especially well favoured was the dictatorial monarchism of Charles Maurras’ Action Francaise; in fact, it was none other than Cardinal Villeneuve who had interceded with Pope Pius XI on Maurras’ behalf when the latter was condemned for preferring political to spiritual absolutism.
As the war ended the political complexion of the Quebec Right remained virtually unchanged. To be sure, Nazism was repudiated, but as we have seen the far-right in Quebec had never been pro-Nazi, always preferring Mussolini, Franco and Salazar to Hitler. In 1945 Paul Bouchard returned from Mexico and started planning a comeback. Adrien Arcand and the other PUNC members were released from internment. Corporatist and ultramontane right-wingers continued much as before, careful now to stress the un-Nazi, “Latin” nature of their politics, dwelling less on Jews and more on Communists.
“The Pure must help one another”
Immediately following Petain’s arrest right-wing networks were active across North America. In the United States one Charles Sweeney of Idaho published a booklet simply entitled Petain, while professor Harry Elmer Barnes of New York – a Nazi sympathiser who would become one of America’s first Holocaust deniers – protested on his behalf in Crucifying the Saviour of France: France’s New Dreyfus Case. An American Committee to Free Petain was established under the leadership of George Edward Rutherford, and its plea on behalf of the Field Marshal was published in both the Washington Star and the New York Daily News.
Rutherford’s communiqué was reprinted in Le Devoir, and both Barnes’ and Sweeney’s booklets were made available to the public at the Montreal Municipal Library. They were placed there by one Robert Rumilly, a man whose right-wing views were already well known. A French citizen by birth, and a former member of Charles Maurras’ Action Francaise, Rumilly was to become Vichy’s chief apologist in Canada. In 1946 he contacted the media claiming authorisation to speak “directly on behalf of Marshal Petain”. When the Social Credit newspaper Vers Demain claimed that “The clique that is prosecuting the greatest Frenchman of our time [i.e. Petain] is the spiritual daughter of that clique which delivered Joan of Arc to her executioner,” Rumilly congratulated the Socreds on their insight: “You are not mistaken. From Jewry to Freemasonry by way of the [British] Intelligence Service, the same forces that are attacking Petain and Franco are the mortal enemies of French Canada.”
The local elite encouraged Rumilly’s campaign in defence of “the greatest Frenchman of our time”. Dozens of prominent politicians, intellectuals and professionals signed an open letter addressed to the French ambassador, pleading on behalf of those who were now paying the price for their wartime collaboration. They protested that “trials, denunciations and executions are brutally effecting a section of the French elite”, and noted that “The condemned are accused of collaborating with the victor after a legally signed armistice. Is this a crime? It is exactly what the Hungarians, Romanians, and Italians are doing today, to the benefit of the Allies. It is exactly what the leaders of our people, including the religious authorities, ordered us to do that day after the British conquest” of New France.
Petain, however, was just the beginning. Over the following years several former Vichy officials made their way across the Atlantic, hoping that no one would notice as they began new lives in Canada. The ordeal of fleeing anti-fascists in Europe and relocating to the North American hinterland was eased by the generosity of powerful members of Quebec society. There was no shortage of businessmen willing to provide a job, or simply a handout, to these patriots. As one such benefactor, Jean Bonnel, would say about the protection he offered a former Nazi death squad leader, “the pure must help one another.”
Several of these Vichyists came to the Federal government’s attention in 1948, and for awhile it looked like they might be expelled. This led Rumilly, Camillien Houde (who had once again been elected to the mayor’s office), Philippe Hamel and fellow autonomist politician Paul Massé to set up a Committee for the Defence of French Political Refugees. In September 1948, when the government passed an Order-in-Council allowing most of the collaborators to stay in Canada, the Committee’s energies became concentrated on the one individual who the government seemed most intent on deporting: Count Jacques Dugé de Bernonville.
De Bernonville was a French aristocrat who had been involved in a number of fascist organizations prior to the war, including Charles Maurras’ Action Francaise – where he apparently first met Rumilly who was also active in the group. Whereas Rumilly’s disgust with France’s left-wing Popular Front government led him to immigrate to Quebec in 1928, de Bernonville remained, becoming active in the pro-Nazi terrorist organization La Cagoule. He was one of the first to support Petain’s seizure of power in 1940, and was appointed head of the Commission for Jewish Affairs in North Africa, in charge of implementing the regime’s new anti-Semitic legislation. In 1943 he was brought back to France and put in command of a regiment of the Milice, a death squad answering directly to the Nazis. While with the Milice the Count was personally involved in the torture and assassination of suspected “terrorists” (i.e. members of the French Resistance).
As the Allies swept across Europe de Bernonville found refuge in French monasteries and then in Spain, where the Franco regime remained sympathetic towards fascism until the 1970s. Disguised as a priest he crossed the Atlantic to New York, from whence he contacted friends in Quebec. Arrangements were made and he crossed over into Canada, where he had no shortage of admirers. First among his protectors was Robert Rumilly, the bond between the two men being such that Rumilly became god-father to one of the Count’s daughters.
Things began to sour for de Bernonville in 1948, when he was recognized by a former member of the French Resistance doing business in Canada. Afraid of being found out, the Count approached the Canadian government in the hopes of avoiding prosecution for his misdeeds in Europe and Africa by coming clean about his surreptitious entry into the country. It did not take the Canadian government long to learn that de Bernonville had already been condemned to death in absentia by the French authorities.
On September 2nd 1948 the de Bernonville family was arrested by Immigration authorities that intended to deport them to France. Rumilly’s network immediately sprang into action. Federal members of parliament and prominent lawyers were mobilized to combat the deportation order, which in no time at all was postponed indefinitely. The de Bernonville family was freed on $5000 bail, paid by Rumilly’s friend Bonnel.
The Committee for the Defence of French Political Refugees got in touch with fascists in France, who were themselves still reeling from the Allied victory. There was talk of inviting prominent members of the French far-right to tour Quebec, plans which eventually came to naught as none of the candidates were deemed to be sufficiently anti-Gaullist!
Newspapers like Le Devoir, Montréal-Matin, La Patrie and l’Action Catholique all supported de Bernonville, as did several Union Nationale cabinet ministers and Conservative MPs. As a favour to Rumilly the provincial police assigned an agent from its red squad to investigate the Resistance veteran who had first recognized the Count. Catholic groups across the province were mobilized, the Knights of Columbus urging Ottawa not to send “His Excellency the Count, a great Catholic Patriot, back to the French Communists.”
Real national inequalities made it easy for right-wing nationalists to discredit the Federal government. It was deeply resented that ever since Confederation preference had been given to British immigrants, and that the cultural standards of Quebec had no influence on the Federal State’s WASP-first policy. These feelings were exploited by Rumilly, who fulminated that in the Immigration Department that sought to deport the Count “the French language can only be heard during one hour in each day: that hour is seven in the morning, the hour of the cleaning ladies.”
While Rumilly’s efforts to mobilize French Canada on his friend’s behalf were a smashing success, Quebec was in no position to impose its views on Ottawa. What’s more, news of the Milice’s atrocities and the broader Holocaust made de Bernonville seem less “pure” than he once had. Although many wanted to believe that the Petainists were simple anti-Communists, in this case overwhelming evidence of direct participation in torture and murder was too much to sweep under the carpet, and several erstwhile supporters began to back away from the cause.
The federal Liberal government just wanted the problem to go away. The Prime Ministers Office started dropping hints that it would be best for all concerned if de Bernonville would just find some other safe haven. Given the declining fortunes of Petainism in Quebec, this idea seemed more and more attractive. On August 17th 1951, deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, the Count and his family departed for Buenos Aires.
The Rumilly clique had fought hard, but in the end they were unable to win a decisive victory. Nevertheless, considering the fact that de Bernonville lived in Canada for five years and that the government did everything it could to avoid handing him over to France, it would be an exaggeration to say that the Petainists had failed. Not only was a known war criminal able to leave Canada a free man, but the controversy surrounding his case had distracted everyone’s attention away from the arrival and settlement of other collaborators.
A Nazi after the War
Adrien Arcand was released from captivity on July 3rd,1945 . He had more than a few admirers, and a friendly notary bought him a house in Lanoraie, close to Jolliette. He wasted no time getting back in touch with Nazis around the world, including Sir Barry Domville and Andrew Leese who had been interned in England; H.H. Beamish in Rhodesia; G.L.K. Smith and R.E. Edmonson in the United States; and a host of anti-Semites eager to continue Hitler’s work in Switzerland, South Africa and the Scandinavian countries. The pre-war international fascist network re-emerged much as before, minus a generation of German, Italian and French fellow travellers who were either in custody, dead or busy scrambling to save their own skins.
It 1947 it was reported that over 500 fascists had met on Arcand’s birthday to re-establish the National Unity Party of Canada (PUNC). Many pre-war followers who had escaped internment – and several who hadn’t – would end up joining. The unrepentant Nazi sought to promote his ideas through this resuscitated Party, and also through new books and speaking engagements. Indeed, it may have been at one of his lectures at Loyola College (later Concordia University) that Arcand first met a young German student by the name of Ernst Zundel…
In the first years following his release, Arcand found a sympathetic ally in l’Oeil, the same magazine that had trumpeted the marvels of Petainism during the war. While his name was kept out of print, other Nazi sympathisers signed their articles. Arcand arranged for his British friend Sir Domville to contribute a series of pieces on foreign and domestic affairs from a conspiratorial and anti-Jewish perspective. It is difficult to say exactly what happened to the PUNC’s association with l’Oeil – like so much of the far-right’s history in Quebec, this has never been investigated – but correspondence between Arcand and Domville indicates that the magazine distanced itself from the Nazis around 1950.
Upon wearing out their welcome at l’Oeil, the PUNCists began publishing their own newspaper, l’Unité Nationale. Predictably anti-communist and anti-Semitic, typical articles recounted the crimes of “judeo-communists”, particularly in relation to labour conflicts and the opposition Liberal party. Other pieces lauded the Union Nationale, for Arcand’s followers remained staunch supporters of Premier Maurice Duplessis. In one statement responding to allegations that the government was making use of these fascist allies, the PUNCists explained that “the Union Nationale has never helped our movement. We don’t care what it thinks of us. Whether or not it likes our ideas won’t stop us from supporting it as long as it remains what it is today: the only true Christian and National party in the provincial arena.”
At about this time Arcand began working with the Pan-Canadian Anti-Communist League, an amalgamation of Canadian and East European patriots unwilling to repudiate the legacy of the Third Reich. The League’s leading lights were Pat Walsh and Ron Gostick, fervent anti-Semites and “Douglasite” Socreds, and two of Canada’s first Holocaust Deniers. Walsh and Gostick are responsible for helping to maintain some Canadians sympathy for Nazism since the fall of the Third Reich. The PUNC would remain in contact with this duo, reprinting and disseminating writings from the various racist and conspiratorial groups they would set up over the years.
Arcand remained well liked and respected by sections of the establishment. He was on very friendly terms with his local MP, Remi Paul, who invited him to attend the Conservative Party leadership convention in 1963. Arcand declined, explaining that as leader of an “important political movement” (the PUNC) he could not throw his support behind the Conservatives publicly. In other words the die-hard Nazi who had once been funded by the Tories now felt that he would be compromising himself by accepting the MP’s invitation! Not that he had always been so self-conscious: during the 1957 federal elections he had publicly involved in the successful campaigns of both Remi Paul and Georges Valade. The latter thanked Arcand in a letter, writing that his support “certainly helped us to cleanse the Ste-Marie riding of the rotten liberal party politicians.”
It should be remembered that some of Arcand’s pre-war followers had escaped the stigma of internment and were now recycling themselves as respectable politicians. Arcand made a point of reminding the Honourable Jean Barrette of this in a letter criticizing the evolution of the Union Nationale after Duplessis. One cannot help but assume that this is what the Conservative MP for the Vaudreuil-Solanges riding, J.M. Bourbonnais, was referring to when he wrote Arcand asking that he “understand that it is not always easy for me to express everything you taught us and I am often obliged to keep quiet rather than speak my mind.”
Nor were politicians the only ones to keep in touch with the grand old man of Canadian Nazism. Father Georges Panneton, who had written a series of books against tomboyism and immoral dancing before the war, corresponded with him about Judaism, a field in which he (like many others) still considered Arcand to be an expert. In one letter Panneton stated that “even if you have not entered the priesthood you are nevertheless an apostle of Truth and Goodness. You have been a valiant Soldier of Christ, and you will receive your eternal reward…”
Indeed, to some Arcand’s reputation was enhanced by his wartime martyrdom. His views were sought by fascists around the world. Francis Parker Yockey looked him up and ended up staying at his home for a brief while. Arcand was very impressed by Yockey’s book Imperium, and became a backer of his European Liberation Front in the 1950s. Such support was not inconsequential as Yockey, who has been dubbed “the American Hitler”, failed to charm a number of important English and American fellow travellers, including G.L.K. Smith and Arnold Leese, both of whom suggested he might be Jewish and/or crazy.
Until his death, Arcand remained a player in the international racist Right. Pioneer Holocaust denier Paul Rassinier contacted him from France seeking information regarding the creation of the state of Israel. R.E. Edmonson referred to him as the world’s greatest expert on the Jewish question. Not only did G.L.K. Smith publish a glowing tribute to him in The Cross and the Flag, but he also tried to arrange for him to go on an American speaking tour. American Mercury magazine assured the PUNC fuehrer that anything he sent would be published. A young Colin Jordan wrote on behalf of the Cambridge Nationalist Club requesting reading materials. From around the world, a new generation of racist and fascist “researchers” contacted Arcand to get the scoop on the latest “judeo-communist” machination.
Arcand the political leader was nothing compared to Arcand the racist conspiracy theorist. When he died on August 1st 1967 he left behind a tiny political party, leadership of which he passed on to longtime second-in-command Gerard Lanctôt. Over the next thirty years the PUNC puttered on, issuing a regular bulletin (Serviam) and holding annual congresses, but as a political force it was a non-entity. Within the world of the alienated far-right, though, it retained some of its prestige. Father Gravel, the venerable priest of Saint-Roch, continued to address its meetings, and as late as the 1980s some of Montreal’s first boneheads were said to be in the Party’s thrall.
While today a spent force, the PUNC and Adrien Arcand played an important role in the development of the Quebec far-right. Not only does Arcandism define the Nazi element in the 1930s, in the decades following the war the PUNC continued to serve as a rallying point for hardcore Jew-haters. Thanks to its newspaper Unité Nationale as well as its leader’s reputation, it managed to keep a section of the Quebec far-right in touch with developments in the United States, Europe and English Canada. At a time when many French Canadian fascists seemed more corporatist than jingoist, and more tempted by anti-colonialism than racial purity, the Arcandists were outspoken in their hostility not only towards Jews but also towards Blacks, Asians, liberal democracy and socialism. In a society where many extremists would rally to the mainstream, abandoning autonomism for pro-independence and sometimes even defecting to the Left, the PUNC stood strong as a pro-Nazi, imperialist and anti-communist reference point.
Winds of Change
The failure of Arcand’s cronies to find any political base after the war, the inability of the Petainist Right to maintain the necessary support for de Bernonville, and the growing stigma attached to the word “fascist” were small gusts of wind announcing a coming storm. The broad right-wing consensus – including as it did fascists, ultramontanists, corporatists and conservatives – was crumbling. The rapid decline and liberalization of the Catholic Church and the rise of a French Canadian business class forced the old Right to make peace with democratic capitalism in the 1950s. The emergence of a left-wing nationalism in the 1960s deprived it of its final trump card. The combination of these factors, catalyzed by the death of Maurice Duplussis in 1959 and the subsequent defeat of the Union Nationale in the 1960 elections, is often referred to as the Quiet Revolution, and today the period before this Quiet Revolution is known as the Great Darkness.
Yet this was no Robespierrian purification, no decisive break with or extirpation of the past, but rather a process of modernization that included – indeed, required – the integration of the old Right into the new democratic edifice. While an examination of the political trajectories of many former fascists from this era reveals a lot about which of their youthful opinions had to be rejected and which were soluble in the democratic discourse, such is not the purpose of this essay. As an examination of the far-right in twentieth century Quebec, what interests us in this period is resistance to the Quiet Revolution and reaction against it.
Robert Rumilly was a prolific writer; a founding member of the French Canadian Academy, many of his books on Quebec history are today required reading for university students. Of course he also wielded his pen in the service of his political beliefs. He excelled at political hagiographies and partisan vilification, especially in the pages of the Nouvelles Illustrées, a scandal rag full of Duplessiste cheerleaders.
One of Rumilly’s life-long obsessions was the supposed infiltration of Communist elements into traditional French Canadian society. As the 1950s drew to a close he was one of many rightists to latch onto the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which through the spread of television and radio was considered a dangerously powerful threat to established values. One after another journalists were pilloried for being “Communist agents” or merely corrupt opportunists. Rumilly’s poison pen named names, painting a picture of Communist subversives using the national media to spread Soviet and Chinese propaganda. At times the malady was as much cultural as political, as when one of Rumilly’s associates asked “Who has introduced us to Elvis Presley and his crazy songs and dances? All the radio stations, including Radio Canada, that’s who”!
Not only were his newspaper columns used to sound the alarm, but Rumilly contacted several right-wing members of parliament about his concerns. In 1958 he met with L.J. Pigeon, a sympathetic Conservative MP. Politicians like Hubert Badonai and Remi Paul were enlisted, and exposés about Communist control of the mainstream media were trumpeted in right-wing publications across Canada. Far-right red-hunters worked together to show how Communists had honeycombed government institutions. Pat Walsh contacted Rumilly to share information regarding the “Communist” activities of various journalists. The two men would correspond throughout the 1950s, Rumilly occasionally repeating Walsh’s allegations in his newspaper column.
Although his journalistic endeavours failed to root out the CBC “Communists”, Rumilly was not discouraged. When two priests, Fathers Dion and O’Neill, publicly condemned the Union Nationale for fixing the 1956 provincial election, Rumilly leapt to the defence of the Duplessis regime. Any talk of bribing or intimidating voters, of political repression or wrongdoing on behalf of Canada’s greatest red-hunter, could only be Communist propaganda. Within a few months Rumilly had publicly answered the Jesuit democrats with his own À propos d’une mémoire ‘confidentiel’, Réponse à MM. Les abbés Dion et O’Neill.
This literary riposte was just the beginning. Encouraged by a few of Quebec’s more fascistically inclined clergy, in 1956 Rumilly called together some like-minded intellectuals and founded the Centre d’information nationale (CIN; trans.: National Information Center). This group functioned for six years with the goal of countering “left-wing subversion” by means of right-wing nationalist renewal. It was under the auspices of the CIN that Rumilly wrote his most infamous screed, L’infiltration gauchiste dans le Canada Francais, alleging that the forces working to democratize Quebec were all part of a sinister Communist conspiracy.
In classic “elite reactionary” fashion, the CIN was never very active in the public sphere, nor did it endeavour to gain a mass following. Rather, by bringing together some of the key reactionaries of that time it attempted to coordinate a right-wing response to the budding Quiet Revolution. Its initial membership included Raymond Barbeau, Gerard Gauthier, Father Gustave Lamarche, Anatole Vanier, André Dagenais, Léopold Richer and Albert Roy. It was supported from day one by Fr. Achille Larouche of Sherbrooke, Fr. Pierre Gravel of Boischatel and Fr. Georges Panneton of Trois Rivières. (As we have already seen, Gravel and Panneton were also very close to Adrien Arcand and the PUNC.)
CIN members were involved in a number of anti-communist, conservative, nationalist publications. Albert Roy published Tradition et Progrès (1957-1962), Gustave Lamarche directed the Cahiers de Nouvelle France (1957-1964) and Léopold Richer published Notre Temps. These journals were all notable for their elitist, Catholic and corporatist idealism not to mention their dissatisfaction with liberal democracy. Furthermore, all were nationalist in the sense that they identified with French Canada and sought to champion its national rights. Despite such similarities, each addressed a different audience and retained its own style and point of view.
Despite the participation of so many leading reactionaries, the CIN was unable to counter the forces of change. While it did have internal weaknesses, its lack of success is more likely attributable to the fragility of the power structure to which it was wed, for by this time both the Church and the Union Nationale had become giants with feet of clay. Although theoretically independent, the Centre and its ally publications had all been supporters of the old regime, and had been known to receive financial and moral support from the government. In 1960, one year after Duplessis died, his party was defeated in the provincial elections, signalling the end of an era.
In 1966 the CIN made an abortive attempt to become the “Committee for the National and Christian Unity of Quebec”, and then faded from history. For a brief while Rumilly wrote for La Liberté, an anti-communist and anti-separatist Catholic newspaper started by his friend Jean Bonnel (the one who had bailed out the de Bernonvilles in ’48). This newspaper (whose credo was “Without Truth there can be no Freedom”) did not last, and Rumilly and his reactionary friends were forced to retreat from serious politics.
Raymond Barbeau and the Laurentian Alliance
If the CIN remained unimportant, one of its members, Raymond Barbeau, was to make waves and grab headlines for years to come. In 1957 Barbeau had founded the Laurentian Alliance. The most important group since the Jeunesses Patriotes to embrace independence, the Alliance called for an independent French Catholic corporate State on the shores of the St-Lawrence. Not Quebec or French Canada, this new country would be called Laurentie.
The call for an independent Laurentian State broke with the autonomism of the traditional Right, and was severely criticized by some. Yet others were willing to give Barbeau the benefit of the doubt. Rumilly, although himself a ferocious anti-separatist, put Barbeau in touch with Walter O’Leary, who in turn sent copies of the Alliance’s journal Laurentie to several of his friends.
Laurentie published sixteen issues between 1957 and 1962. One of its regular contributors was Albert Pinel, a former ally in Rumilly’s war against the CBC “Communists”. Another was the historian and CIN-member Séraphin Marion of the Royal Society of Canada. Gerard Gauthier, a member of the CIN and alleged PUNCist, penned a long article in its second issue, calling for a national corporatist revolution. The “Capitalist International” and the “Proletarian Syndicalist International” were both described as enemies of the Laurentian nation which – “united by its French blood” – was to enjoy the benevolent rule of an elite that would protect it from “atheistic liberal democracy”.
Unlike others on the Right, Barbeau felt no need to attack the pro-Nazi current represented by Adrien Arcand. Despite their diametrically opposed views on so many questions, Barbeau had been charmed by The Key to the Mystery in 1950, and was in awe when he met its author six years later. He corresponded with Arcand about Judaism’s “anti-Christian and demonic” nature and kept him informed about the shrinking world of the Quebec far-right. Barbeau was one of the few pro-independence activists to not be attacked in the pages of Unité Nationale. Indeed, according to one source the Laurentian Alliance included a number of former PUNC members. When fellow-CIN member André Dagenais criticized these associations, Barbeau explained that Arcand’s troops were “brave men who denounce the misdeeds of Communists, Jews, Freemasons and socialists, with the goal of strengthening militant Catholics.”
Yet the Laurentian Alliance was different in one important way, not only from Arcand’s PUNC, but also from most other fascists in the so-called white world. As a wave of decolonization was sweeping the earth, with one after another of the old powers losing its overseas assets, the LA took the unprecedented step of identifying with the rebellious masses of the Third World, comparing Quebec to colonized nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The Alliance’s anti-colonialism was an important development. The traditional Right assumed that the former colonies would be drawn towards Communism. In the pages of the ferociously anti-communist Laurentie, decolonization was described as a good thing, and no assumptions were made about newly independent countries being left-wing.
As time passed the Laurentian Alliance opened its doors to non-Catholics, and according to some hardliners it sacrificed its right-wing ideals on the altar of political pragmatism. While remaining to the right of the political mainstream, and representing the conservative extreme within the emerging pro-independence movement, by simple virtue of realpolitik and its openness to decolonization the Alliance managed to be a lot less anachronistic than either the PUNC or the CIN. As the Liberal government of Jean Lesage (1960-1965) undertook a series of measures to modernize Quebec, the Laurentians had the least difficulty finding a place in the new political landscape. Many became members of the new Rassemblement pour l’independence nationale (RIN; trans.: Assembly for National Independence), a rallying point for any and all advocates of Quebec independence. Some retained their right-wing views but others were swept along in the political tumult, forgetting about Barbeau and his corporatist fantasies, and even going over to the Left.
The Quiet Revolution inaugurated an era of modern capitalist democracy in Quebec, and groups like the CIN and the PUNC were hobbled by their close association with the past. New organizations would have to grow in these new conditions.
A Conservative Socialism
If the Laurentian Alliance represented the right-wing of the “new” nationalism, the left-wing seemed to be personified by the organization Action Socialiste pour l’independence du Quebec (ASIQ; trans: Socialist Action for Quebec Independence), its leader Raoul Roy and its journal Revue Socialiste. The first issue of this publication explicitly rejected the Laurentian Alliance’s fascism, stating that “the corporatist State proposed by reactionary nationalists would persecute liberal Catholics as well as Quebec’s non-Catholic minorities [….] it would kill intellectual freedom [….] it would fossilize the (French) Canadian nation in its backwards condition [….] it would freeze Quebec into a retrograde ‘reserve’.”
Predictably, the ASIQ came under fire from Robert Rumilly, who accused its members of being bolshevik subversives. In return, the Revue Socialiste accused Rumilly of “supporting the control of the Quebec economy by Anglo-Saxon monopolies [.…] Rumilly is in favour of our slavery [….] an inveterate Petainist, an admirer of the atheist Charles Maurras, he doesn’t care about slaves or serfs [….] Every Sunday in a colonialist neighbourhood in Montreal, a group of Hitlerite Maurrassians [the CIN?] meets at Rumilly’s. There they preach the gospel of monarchism, anti-Semitism and the hatred of France [.…] All of this is accompanied by military songs of the Nazi SS (recorded by an American company, of course).”
Roy and his allies clearly hated the old-guard nationalists, who in their autonomism and support for the Union Nationale were seen as having sold out the French Canadian nation. The ASIQ distributed Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth as well as books about the Spanish Revolution and numerous works by the French anarchist Daniel Guerin. Many of the Revue Socialiste’s denunciations of British imperialism and the national oppression of French Canada were salutory, to say the least. Its ringing endorsements of Castro’s Cuba and the coming proletarian revolution seemed to place it on the radical Left.
But nothing is perfect. The new Quebec nationalism, seemingly the harbinger of progressive, even revolutionary, change, carried with it the same potentialities as the old nationalism, indeed as does all nationalism. While its xenophobic and totalitarian tendencies may be suppressed or mitigated in some situations – letting its pluralistic and communitarian aspects take hold – at other times national liberation becomes a mere cover for exploitation, and the patriotic framework becomes treacherous ground indeed.
Right from the beginning the ASIQ parroted the anti-immigrant line of the old-guard nationalists. In the same programme that condemned corporatism as oppressive to non-Catholics, it explained that “Socialists should recognize the right of (French) Canadian proletarians to protect their interests as workers and as (French) Canadians against the anti-worker use of immigrants to maintain low salaries and also against the use of immigrants to drown them as people [….]” Socialists should demand a moratorium on immigration until there is full unemployment in Quebec, and then “should demand that immigrants be recruited only from those countries that are a part of the Latin civilization.”
The ASIQ had a front group devoted to anti-immigrant agitation, the Ligue du main-d’oeuvre native de Québec (LMNQ; trans: Quebec League of Native Labourers). Its president Maurice Dufort dismissed his opponents as “maggoty ‘cosmopolitans’, ‘internationalist’ dreamers, ‘globalist’ eggheads and lunatic ‘mullatists’”. Accusing immigrants of being “footsoldiers of colonialism”, Dufort denounced the trade union movement for not getting behind his racist League.
Such racism must be contextualized. Many North American trade unions had a long history of opposing immigration on the same grounds as the LMNQ. White working class organizations were the motor force behind the disenfranchisement of Asian immigrants in British Columbia at the turn of the century. Some trade unions had called for a moratorium on immigration after the war. Appeals to the “white working man” were commonplace in the nineteenth century, as are “progressive” attacks on Mexican or Korean workers who “steal our jobs” today. Depressing though it may be, in many ways there is nothing unusual about the ASIQ’s early racism.
Yet it is important to note that working class organizations, even ones whose membership is predominantly white and native-born, do not automatically opt for such racism. Racist “leftists” cannot in all honesty claim that their xenophobia is “normal” or par for the working-class course (not that it would be any more excusable or benign if they could). The LMNQ was attacked by the Confederation of National Trade Unions – Quebec’s largest union central – for scapegoating immigrants, Gerard Pelletier pointing out that the only solution to widespread unemployment was social programmes and a labour code that would apply to all.
The LMNQ was very short lived, but its racism would prove to be quite enduring, eventually becoming the leitmotif of a certain form of “hard nationalism”.
The Revue Socialiste published eight issues between 1957 and 1963, when a lack of funds resulted in its being replaced by a mimeographed bulletin, l’Indépendantiste. Despite these financial difficulties, the ASIQ had an important impact on the budding nationalist Left. One of its members, Raymond Villeneuve, helped set up the original Front de Liberation de Quebec (FLQ; trans: Quebec Liberation Front), an underground organization whose activities in 1963 quickly escalated from graffiti to symbolic bombings. Raoul Roy knew many of the original members of the FLQ, and has been called the spiritual father of the movement.
Like many socialists, Roy considered French Canada to be a “proletarian nation”, and there was indeed a striking class dimension to English-French relations in Canada: in 1961 the average income of a French-speaking household was 35% lower than its English-speaking counterpart. With 27% of Canada’s population, Quebec accounted for 40% of the country’s unemployed, and less than 20% of the provincial economy was in the hands of francophones.
Yet if there was a colonial dimension to the condition of the Quebec working class, many nationalists rejected the strategy of putting social change on hold until after independence and adopted an internationalist approach. In 1965 several felquistes were arrested for supplying dynamite to the Black Liberation Front, a revolutionary American organization that was targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO. Then in a show of solidarity with the Vietnamese National liberation Front, the FLQ bombed the American consulate in Montreal on May 1st. Later that year Charles Gagnon and Pierre Vallières reoriented the FLQ towards class struggle, carrying out symbolic bombings in support of striking workers. Vallières would later describe his fight as one for a “total revolution” to abolish all forms of oppression, including private property, the market economy, “and even money itself.”
The old-guard fascists watched as a younger generation embraced the revolutionary Left and felt vindicated in their belief that separatism led to Communism. Yet at the same time as the FLQ was reaching its left-wing limits, Roy and company were heading in the opposite direction. L’Indépendantiste attacked “Vallierism” and proposed an alliance of all social classes in French Canada. Roy wrote that socialists should no longer support workers in their conflicts with the French Canadian bourgeoisie. Furthermore, as “French Canada will not be able to become independent without the acquiescence of the Americans [.…] prior to independence and decolonization we must suppress all anti-American propaganda, no matter what its form. This means no more demonstrations against the Vietnam war on the part of indépendentistes.” Those who insisted on speaking out against the slaughter in southeast Asia were “playing into Ottawa’s colonialist hands, either out of ignorance, treachery or stupidity.”
Raoul Roy’s Neo-Socialism
Between 1966 and his death in 1997 Raoul Roy wrote over a dozen books and countless articles defining his “anti-colonial socialism”. His ideas have a lot in common with the writings of Leftists from other oppressed nations. But taken as a whole what they resemble most are the neo-socialist doctrines developed in Europe in the thirties. The neo-socialists started out on the Left but, rejecting class struggle, they ended up opposing not only Communism but also egalitarianism, and advocating what they called “left-wing fascism”. Like Roy, they eventually submerged themselves in the broader, decidedly right-wing fascist movement, supporting the bourgeoisie and collaborating with the Nazis.
Roy’s fascist conversion did not occur overnight. Nor was he alone on this ideological journey. The ASIQ had folded in the sixties, but many of its members continued to meet. In the seventies Roy and these supporters began to publish a sporadic journal, the Revue Indépendantiste. Any insufficiently nationalist French Canadian was now a traitor, and all non-French Canadians who stood in the way of a unilingual, monocultural and “socialist” French Canada were attacked on the basis of their ethnicity. Roy berated so-called “soft nationalists”, rose to the defence of the Catholic Church and got up the courage to attack the United States – just what he had attacked the Left for doing ten years earlier! He castigated Marxists for ignoring the fact that national struggle, not class struggle, was the motor force of history.
In fact, the only area where Roy felt he could maybe agree with Marx was regarding the need to solve the “Jewish question”. Bemoaning the fact that Jews formed “a secret society devoted to self-advancement”, Roy could not help but note that “so many rootless Jews are leading the internationalist movement.” In 1979 he devoted an entire book to this subject. He wrote that there was no one Jewish race, nation, nationality, people, culture, religion, culture or lifestyle, the true nature of Jewishness being one of a secret society bent on advancing and protecting the interests of its members. Once again he built on the “progressive” universalism that had led certain Marxists to claim that the liberation of the Jew implied abolishing any specific Jewish identity – all the while noting that Marx’s gross materialism proved that he had failed to truly emancipate himself from the capitalistic Jewish spirit. As always, Roy juggled this ethnocidal one-worldism with a fierce defence of French Canadian cultural specificity. This was to become a key element of Roy’s “socialist” racism: the division of humanity between “real nations” and “false nations”, with the latter being obliged to assimilate into the former.
In 1981 Roy founded the Carrefour de la résistance indépendantiste (CRI; trans.: Assembly for Indépendentiste Resistance), which was supposed to carry out narrow nationalist and racist agitation. Like the ASIQ before it, the CRI scapegoated immigrants for the situation in Quebec. Over the next ten years the CRI affiliated with a number of very similar groups, most notably SOS Genocide and the Rassemblement pour un Pays Canadien-Français (RPCF; trans: Rally for a French Canadian Country). Through the RPCF it was tied to the Mouvement pour une immigration restreinte et francophone (MIREF; trans.: Movement for a Restricted and Francophone Immigration) and the Mouvement pour la Survie de la Nation (MSN; trans.: Movement for the Survival of the Nation). All of these groups took public positions and even demonstrated against “massive and suicidal” immigration. They have specified that only newcomers from “Latin” (i.e. French, Spanish, Portuguese or Italian) and Christian cultures should be allowed into Quebec.
By the late eighties Roy was openly reinventing his pedigree. In a special issue of Revue Indépendantiste dealing with the 1930s, he interviewed Walter O’Leary and Paul Bouchard, fascists of another era. If he had once denounced corporatism as medieval, intolerant, anti-working class and anti-democratic, he now described in glowing terms as a halfway point between capitalism and socialism. Roy now bragged of how he had identified with Bouchard’s newspaper La Nation, of how much he had admired the O’Leary brothers’ pro-independence stand.
In 1990 Roy summed up his thoughts about the Left he had once been a part of. In a book that took the form of a long open letter to Pierre Bourgault, Roy scolded the former president of the RIN for making positive statements about immigration. Halting the flow of immigrants was now top priority, coming even before independence. Roy also took Bourgault to task for being part of the pot-smoking, foul-mouthed, animalistic and amoral hippy crowd that had ruined the nationalist movement. According to Roy, true French Canadian patriots were at war with feminists, counter-culture types and cultural relativism. He described the Quiet Revolution as “an irreparable devastation inflicted upon our nation”, explaining that the rejection of traditional values constituted a form of genocide. As if to make the nature of his “socialism” perfectly clear, Roy claimed that material poverty had been abolished by capitalism, but that cultural poverty had taken its place.
By this point Roy’s neo-socialism resembled the third-position fascism of the European New Right. Yet he continued to enjoy the respect and support of a number of people who agreed that history was made by national, not social, collectivities. “Respectable” nationalists like Gilles Rheaume and members of the Société Saint-Jean Baptiste associated with Roy, as did fascists who had never pretended to be on the Left.
Fascism’s pro-Independence Conversion
As has already been noted, the most rabid reactionaries and fascists in the immediate post-war era were opposed to Quebec independence. Both Robert Rumilly and Adrien Arcand feared that an independent Quebec would turn into another Cuba. Yet by the 1980s many of their ideological heirs wished to regain some relevancy, and realized that in order to do so they would have to bring things up to date. This meant not only re-evaluating the independence movement, but also drawing upon recent developments in Europe.
This new strategy came out of a series of far-right discussion groups in the early eighties. The first of these, the Groupe d’Etudes et d’Action (GEA; trans.: Study and Action Group), was initiated by Mario Gagné and Rock Tousignant in 1982. They were soon joined by Francois Dumas, formerly associated with the PUNC. The GEA was directly inspired by the GRECE, a pro-Nazi organization active in Europe that both Tousignant and Gagné had been in contact with for some time. Attracting committed rightists of various stripes, the GEA remained tiny and largely unknown, folding in 1984 when Mario Gagné and several members (including Dumas) enlisted in the CRI.
Around the same time as these fascists were flirting with Roy’s “socialists”, Dumas remained in touch with Tousignant and began meeting with French supporters of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Front National who were living in Quebec. Over the next two years they toyed with the idea of setting up a Quebecois version of the Lepenist organization. As a direct result of these discussions a group called the Cercle Jeune Nation (CJN; trans.: Young Nation Circle) was born. The name “Jeune Nation” was chosen as hommage to a fascist organization founded by Alain de Benoist in France almost 30 years earlier (de Benoist is the moving force behind the GRECE).
Dumas and Tousignant were soon joined by Gilbert Gendron, a racist conspiracy theorist and treasurer of a far-right bookstore which closed its doors when its selection of Nazi and fascist literature was exposed in the media.
During its first five years the CJN functioned much like the GEA before it, as a discussion group whose ideological roots were more European than Québecois. Disenchanted with the marginal status of the far-right in Quebec, the CJN considered the Quiet Revolution to be the greatest disaster to ever befall French Canada. Although Dumas and many other CJN members had already converted to favouring independence, a non-sectarian strategy of “no enemies on the right” allowed them to work closely with members of the anti-separatist far-right who remained hostile to Quebec independence.
The CJN made contact with prominent European fascists as well as official representatives of the South African apartheid government, a feat certainly facilitated by the fact that Gendron worked for a time at the South African consulate in Montreal. The CJN also made overtures towards the rump Union Nationale party, the CRI, nationalist groups, East European anti-communists and the “funny money” Alliance for Fiscal Justice. At the same time, again via Gendron, it entered into contact with Paul Fromm’s Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform, a pro-Nazi organization based in the Toronto suburbs.
In 1988 the CJN began organising speaking tours by leading reactionaries from France. Arnaud de Lassus and Michel Berger of the pro-Front National group Action Familiale et Scolaire have repeatedly spoken in Montreal, Sherbrooke, Drummondville and Quebec City under the auspices of these tours. Through organizing such events the Circle came to work closely with other homegrown reactionaries, most notably Canon Achille Larouche in Sherbrooke, Society of Saint Pius X in Quebec City and Father Edmond Robillard of Carrefour Chretien magazine in Montreal.
It was about this time that Pierre Trépanier started working with the CJN. A great admirer of Robert Rumilly, whom he had befriended in the early seventies, as a university professor Trépanier was to prove very useful to the Circle. In 1992 he convinced his student Jean-Claude Dupuis to become the editor of its small and sporadic bulletin; Dupuis transformed it into a 40+ page highbrow journal, the Cahiers de Jeune Nation. The first issue of this journal made headlines across Quebec as Trépanier contributed an article analysing the marginal condition of the Quebec extreme right and proposing a remedy: top on his list of suggestions was the adoption of a flexible pro-independence line by the “national Right” and the creation of a non-sectarian united front, Jean-Marie LePen’s Front National being cited as an example of how this might work.
While this call would be enthusiastically embraced by some, others were more circumspect. When Trépanier contacted the Royist journal Espoir proposing an alliance of sorts, its editor replied that the true struggle was anti-colonial, not anti-liberal, and that any association with “embarrassing” right-wingers would only hurt this cause. For its part, the conservative Ligue d’Action Nationale ended up expelling several CJN members due to their political beliefs.
The pairing of a respectable historian like Trépanier with a fascist organization surprised and shocked people who were used to only talking about the far-right in relation to boneheads. Despite calls by anti-racists for an investigation, the University of Montreal stood by its professor, maintaining that he had never used his academic position to promote his political views. Trépanier did lose his position as editor of the prestigious Revue d’histoire de l’amérique française, though this blow may have been compensated for by the free publicity the Circle received as a result of the controversy (at least one mainstream newspaper published the group’s mailing address).
Over the next few years the Cercle kept busy despite a membership of less than a dozen. It worked with a number of right-wing and racist organizations, from Yves Ménard’s MIREF to Raoul Roy’s SOS Genocide to Achille Larouche’s Ralliement Provincial des Parents du Québec (RPPQ). The Cahiers de Jeune Nation published articles by Dimitri Kitsikis, a history professor at the University of Ottawa, and Francois-Albert Angers, the grand old man of Quebec nationalism. Foreign contributors would include Michael Walker and Thomas Molnar, European supporters of the GRECE, as well as Gunther Deckert, future president of the crypto-Nazi Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschland. Articles ranged from the academic (what would Jean-Jacques Rousseau have thought of fascism?) to the conspiratorial (an exposé of neo-Soviet Communism) to the racist ( “the problems of multicultural schools”).
Tensions between religious-absolutist and politically pragmatic members of the CJN came to a head in 1994, causing Tousignant and Dumas to leave the organization. The two founding members would have preferred it had Dupuis paid more attention to politics and less to appearances of the Virgin Mary. For his part Dupuis, who is a follower of Marcel Lefebvre’s Society of Saint Pius X, refused to bow to the politically correct prejudices of the day. With most other members of the Circle backing him up, he argued that the group should stick by its principles and speak the “Truth” even if this did discredit them among most Québecois, including most Québecois rightists.
As a direct result of this split the Circle basically fell apart, publishing one final issue of its Cahiers in late 1995. While some of its supporters have since been attracted to two newcomers on the scene, Action Indépendantiste and the Mouvement pour la libération nationale du Québec, their true home undoubtedly remains the Catholic Right.
Rumilly Redux: the second time is even better!
As has already been noted, CJN guru Pierre Trépanier was a great admirer of Robert Rumilly. When the fascist historian died in 1983, Trépanier contributed a biographical lead article to the Ligue d’Action Nationale’s prestigious journal. It is perhaps not surprising that the programme for the “National Right” that Trépanier proposed in 1992 would be adopted lock, stock and barrel by a new organization, one that would enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the CJN and would adopt the name Centre d’information nationale Robert Rumilly.
Founded in 1990, this new CINRR did not seek to conserve things as they were, but rather to turn back the clock. Among its founding members were Gilles Grondin (president of the small anti-abortion group Campagne Québec Vie), Rock Tousignant of the CJN, Father Edmond Robillard of Carrefour Chretien and a number of less prominent reactionaries, all of whom came from the Catholic extreme right. The mantle of leadership fell upon Canon Achille Larouche of the RPPQ, who had himself been a member of the original CIN in the fifties.
The CINRR’s main activity has been to organize lectures on topics of interest to the Right. Father Denis Saint-Maurice of Opus Dei spoke about the Church’s position on population control and Jean-Claude Dupuis talked about nationalism and the United States. Jean-Claude Bleau was invited to discuss the Knights of Our Lady with CINRR members. Bleau is the North American representative of the Knights, which is a European religious organization imbued with nostalgia for Vichy. Shortly after his meeting with the CINRR he joined the Circle, acting on occasion as its spokesperson.
Sometime in the early nineties the CINRR released its programme. Point for point, word for word, it was the same programme put forward by Pierre Trépanier in the first issue of the Cahiers de Jeune Nation. This programme is an excellent example of contemporary Catholic-Fascism in the Quebec context. The State has a “spiritual duty” to defend and promote the “Christian, Western and French” qualities of the nation, and to struggle against internationalism which – “under cover of anti-racism, pacifism and tolerance” –destroys nations and attacks the “spiritual mission of the West.”
Throughout the nineties the CINRR has worked very closely with the CJN and the RPPQ. Yet this unity has not been a sign of strength, but rather one of weakness and of overall irrelevance. While the CINRR has not yet folded, it has proven itself incapable of attracting more than a very few true believers to its programme. Its main effort at political mobilisation was to try to prevent the secularisation of the Quebec school system, and it failed miserably. To the small extent that it was even noticed, it was as a laughingstock, and to the degree that the media paid attention to its members they served as comic relief.
New Racists against First Nations
In 1990 events transpired that provided fuel for the fire of several racist organizations in Quebec. These events would play a much more important role in the resurgence of the far-right than the high-falutin’ emissions from the CJN or the archaic ideology of the CINRR ever could.
In June 1990 the Meech Lake Accord died, failing to receive the ratification of several provinces. A constitutional proposal that would have recognized Quebec as a distinct society, Meech would have also defined Canada as a nation having only two founding peoples: the English and the French. Despite the fact that there were lots of good reasons to oppose the Accord, there were also bad ones. Images of small towns throughout Canada declaring themselves “English Only”, of organizations like the racist Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada mobilizing their forces, and the phenomenal growth of other anti-French fringe groups, all combined to make many French Canadians feel like a people under siege.
Nineteen ninety was also the year that Jean Ouellette, the arrogant mayor of a town called Oka, decided to cut down some trees to extend the local golf course. This drew the ire of the Indigenous people in neighbouring Kahnesetake, who pointed out that the trees in question belonged to the Mohawk Nation. As Mayor Ouellette disregarded their protests, the Mohawks set up road blocks to protect their land.
On July 11th over 100 Quebec Provincial Police officers attacked the protesters with tear gas, concussion grenades and live ammunition. In the hail of bullets QPP officer Marcel Lemay was fatally wounded. The wind blew the cops’ tear gas back towards them, forcing them to abandon their cars, which were promptly integrated into the Mohawk barricades. As news of the assault spread, members of the Mohawk Warrior Society took over the Mercier bridge close to the Kahnawake Mohawk community, threatening to dynamite it if the police launched any more attacks.
Provincially, Robert Bourassa’s Liberal Party was in power at the time, allowing the nationalist Parti Québecois to make political hay out of the crisis. There were two obvious strategies to choose from: either attack the Liberals for oppressing Indigenous people or accuse them of being soft on “terrorism”. Under the leadership of Jacques Parizeau the PQ opted for the second choice. Calling the Warriors “terrorists”, Parizeau boasted that if it were up to him the QPP would have attacked the blockade months earlier, and implied that this was all somehow a continuation of the Meech Lake anti-French campaign.
The botched raid and the seizure of the Mercier bridge signalled the rapid escalation of the crisis. The bridge was a major traffic artery linking Montreal with the suburbs of Lasalle and Chateauguay, and many people now had to commute four hours a day to get to work, a situation that brought a fiercely racist reaction to the fore. Daily demonstrations in front of the Mohawk barricades repeatedly degenerated into riots. An ex-QPP officer set up a vigilante group, Solidarité Chateauguay, in order to encourage the anti-Mohawk sentiment. The Teamsters Union local at a brewery in Lasalle offered to pay the legal expenses for a lawsuit Solidarité Chateauguay war preparing against the Mohawks. Right-wing nationalist talk radio host Gilles Proulx repeatedly called for honest citizens to take action against the “Indian terrorists”; whenever Proulx would show up in Chateauguay he and his entire radio team always made sure to be wearing Soldiarité Chateauguay t-shirts. Oil was added to the fire when one protester claimed he had been called a “fucking frog” by an anglophone RCMP officer, who was also accused of making comments about Meech!
Excited racists insulted and attacked anyone who they thought looked Indigenous, which often meant any person of colour. Some shopkeepers refused to serve supposed Mohawks. The worst violence broke out when residents of Kahnawake tried to evacuate their community on August 20th, just as the army was moving in. The QPP detained the caravan for hours while members of Solidarité Lasalle – a copycat of the Chateauguay group – gathered. When the evacuees were finally given permission to leave, they had to drive through a gauntlet of angry settlers who pelted them with stones. Over forty QPP officers at the scene did nothing to stop the attack; apart from cuts from broken glass and the trauma of the whole affair, one evacuee suffered a heart attack and died in hospital.
Any increase in the general level of intolerance and demagogery cannot help but feed the racist Right. In Oka, Quebec’s fascists found a perfect causus belli. Raoul Roy and former Parti Independantiste candidate Michel Larocque, who now headed Montreal’s small Ku Klux Klan chapter, carried out surveillance on demonstrations in solidarity with the Mohawk Nation, occasionally even organizing small counter-protests. Larocque’s group was also spotted distributing literature in Chateauguay, denouncing “ethnic criminality” and government leniency towards the Mohawks and ending with the exhortation: “White Quebeckers and Canadians wake up!”.
The nationalist Left was divided by Oka, which was first and foremost a white racist crisis. While a few groups stood by the Mohawks, criticizing the PQ for not extending its own sovereignist arguments to Canada’s First Nations, far more waffled, claiming that both the Indigenous people and the government were equally to blame. Sadly, many actually rallied to the anti-Mohawk cause, trumpeting “revelations” that the Warrior Society was involved in organized crime, was undemocratic, terroristic, etc. A “progressive” PQ supporter by the name of Robin Philpot wrote a book describing the Warrior Society as a North American version of the Nicaraguan Contras, suggesting possible ties to the CIA and the RCMP. He suggested that they had been put up to engineering the Crisis in order to make the Québecois look bad. While admitting that Indigenous people in Quebec suffered oppression, Philpot claimed that there were better off than in English Canada. His book ends with the prediction – since proven false at Stoney Point and Gustafsen Lake – that Indigenous people would never pick up arms outside of Quebec.
One did not have to be a Quebec nationalist to promote anti-Indigenous racism, though. Hardcore federalist Francois Dallaire wrote two books following the crisis, Oka – la hache de guerre (trans: Oka: the war axe) and Mon sauvage au Canada: Indiens et réserves (trans.: My Savage in Canada: Indians and Reservations). Pre-conquest Native America having allegedly failed to take advantage of the continent’s resources, Dallaire asked who should own the land, “The occupant, or the one who makes something of it? The hunter or the labourer?” The tricky Indians, Dallaire wrote in a subsequent opinion piece in Le Devoir, “profit from everything European colonization brought to America while pretending to be victims of this very same colonization.” Using specious arguments about the percentage of “white blood” in the Mohawk community, he warned that Indigenous people were becoming a new Canadian aristocracy.
The Crisis ended almost two months after it had begun. On September 1st the army and SQ stormed the barricades at Kahnawake and Kanehsetake; the Warriors at Kanehsetake took refuge in a building which was promptly surrounded by the military. These last resisters held out for almost four weeks; when they left the building many were beaten as they were taken into custody.
While the crisis may have ended, its scars would last for many years. Children’s hockey teams from Chateauguay boycotted the Kahnawake Sports Complex, and years later Mohawk players in the Pee Wee League were still facing racial abuse, being spat upon and called “savages” when they competed with the Lasalle team. Nor was racism limited to children: while investigating a doomsday cult prone to collective suicides, the QPP uncovered unrealized plans to set up a terrorist organization to attack Mohawks. In 1993 some talk radio hosts were still referring to Indigenous people as “savages”, one going so far as to suggest a few French Canadians go and shoot a Mohawk because, “I know the Indians… the very minute one falls (dead) the others run.”
In 1991 Roy shared his thoughts about the conquest of America. In a book whose title read “These Indigenous people we have called savages”, Indigenous people were described as cannibals, barbarians, “savages in name and fact” who had not even managed to invent the wheel. Quoting Philpot’s conspiracy theory about the Warriors being agents of the federal State, Roy indignantly insisted that Indigenous people should be grateful that the French delivered them from their squalid pre-European existence. While Roy had previously referred to the dispersion of the francophone Acadians as a Holocaust, he now argued that assimilation and forced francicisation were “the only real solution” to the Indigenous question.
Politically Incorrect Independence
An important pole of attraction for nationalists unafraid to speak their mind about immigrants, Indigenous people and multiculturalism is the newspaper Action Indépendantiste du Québec, published since 1992 by Luc Potvin, former vice-president of SOS-Genocide, contributor to Indépendance and editor of Espoir.
Clearly aimed at a wide audience, Action Indépendantiste has concentrated on shorter, less theoretical articles than Espoir, yet has eschewed none of the latter’s racism. Nevertheless, this newspaper has managed to garner support from mainstream, even “progressive”, nationalists, including Denis Monière, formerly of l’Aut’journal; Andree Ferretti, a former left-wing leader of the RIN; and, Louise Harel, a “feminist” PQ cabinet minister. Contributors have included a number of nationalists who, like Potvin, had been close to the Royist camp since the early eighties: Aurelien Boisvert, Alice Derome and Jean Simoneau, for instance. These people may even consider themselves to be “progressives”. Others contributors, like Francois Albert-Angers and Yvon Groulx, are well known for their right-wing sympathies: to give just one example, in 1993 both men tried to block the expulsion of Jeune Nation members from the Ligue d’Action Nationale. Still other allies, like Rosaire Blouin and Leandre Fradet, are associated with the reactionaries from the CINRR and RPPQ.
It is shocking to see so-called “progressives” supporting a publication peddling the kind of ethnocentrism and xenophobia as one can find in the pages of Action Indépendantiste. Multiculturalism, “political correctness” and anti-racism are repeatedly condemned, for it is maintained that an independent Quebec must be both unilingual and monocultural. Jacques Parizeau’s statements about “the ethnic vote” are defended, as is the complete work of Canon Lionel Groulx. In one article, regular contributor Michel Viau echoes a line Potvin had already advanced in Espoir, describing Indigenous cultures – “if that is what one wishes to call it” – as irredeemably prehistoric, and questioning whether or not such “small tribes” constitute veritable nations. Similar garbage was expressed by Jean Simoneau, who had contributed several articles to the Revue Indépendantiste in the late seventies. In Action Indépendantiste’s first issue Simoneau wrote that Indigenous people were trying to re-conquer Northern Quebec: “Supported by the English, the Natives could attack our hydroelectric installations. This would be used to justify the intervention of the Canadian army. A pessimistic scenario, but a plausible one nevertheless.”
For his part, former very Quiet Revolutionary Jean-Marc Leger signed the editorial in the August 1993 issue, entitled “Immigration: a suicidal behaviour”. Leger called for a drastic reduction in the number of newcomers to be accepted into Quebec, and a policy favouring those with “easily assimilable” Latin and francophone origins. The RPPQ’s Nation Nouvelle liked Leger’s text so much they reprinted it in its entirety. Many other articles in Action Indépendantiste repeat this line, which was developed by Raoul Roy way back in the days of the ASIQ, and championed in the eighties by groups associated with his CRI, such as SOS Genocide and the MIREF.
Despite, or perhaps because of, what can only be described as this Québecois nativism, Action Indépendantiste has benefited from the generous support of the nationalist establishment. Almost all of the Société Saint-Jean Baptiste chapters in Montreal, the Mouvement Souverainiste du Quebec and the Val d’Or chapter of the Société National des Quebecois have contributed financially to the project. Two Bloc Québecois MPs, Yvan Loubier and Michel Daviault, have taken out paid advertisements in thanking the paper for its work promoting independence. Among other places, it has been distributed for free in the headquarters of the Confederation of National Trade Unions, the province’s most important union central.
The Big Tent
If Luc Potvin is a little-known racist whose newspaper has received the shameless support of a number of nationalists, his mediagenic bad-boy counterpart may be found in the person of Raymond Villeneuve, who in December 1995 founded a self-consciously “hard nationalist” organization: the Mouvement de libération nationale du Québec (MLNQ; trans: Movement for the National Liberation of Quebec).
It was two months after a provincial referendum on sovereignty, one that the pro-independence camp had come within a few thousand votes of winning. If not for immigrants and English Canadians, the sovereignist option would have have received over 60% of the vote. Speaking at the “Yes” headquarters the night of the defeat Premier Jacques Parizeau reassured supporters that this was only a temporary setback, adding that the federalist camp had only won “thanks to money and the ethnic vote,” a statement that sent political shockwaves out in all directions.
The “confiscated” 1995 referendum has surpassed the Oka Crisis in significance for the Quebec Right.
The MLNQ held its first public meeting on December 10th in a church basement. Addressing a crowd of almost one hundred people, Villeneuve explained that his group would fight against the English and their allies, “the neo-Canadians”, i.e. immigrants. A petition was circulated calling for a moratorium on all immigration to Quebec, and fears were expressed about the “yellow menace” (i.e. Asians) descending on Montreal.
Raymond Villeneuve is no newcomer to the struggle for independence. One of the FLQ’s three founding members, he was a political prisoner for five years in the sixties following an armed action in which a security guard was killed. Following his release, he spent sixteen years in Algeria and France. For a long time he was in charge of the FLQ’s foreign mission in Algiers, where he worked closely with anti-imperialists from around the world. Upon his return to Quebec in the early eighties he hooked up with other former felquistes, and got involved in a number of grassroots nationalist and left-wing organizations. At about this time he became a member of the Parti Québecois. In the late eighties he was in touch with Raoul Roy’s gang, which as we have seen maintains itself in good standing with a section of the nationalist Left.
Villeneuve seems to take great pleasure in shocking public opinion. He revels in outrageous statements, for instance his claim that he regrets not killing more anglophones while he was in the FLQ! He has warned that Jews would pay the price for their community’s loyalty to Canada. Groups and individuals that stand in the way of a “free Quebec” are either enemies or traitors of “the nation”, and should, it seems, be treated as such.
In the first issue of its bulletin La Tempête, MLNQ co-founder Jacques Binette wrote that nationalists must “stop being indulgent, polite or tolerant towards the Canadian minority living in Quebec, but must rather cause them the most harm possible in the months to come”, to teach them a lesson for opposing independence. In subsequent issues La Tempête would publish lists of “Canadian” businesses to be targeted in this way. Nor was the MLNQ’s anger limited to small businesses: the cartoonist at a local alternative newspaper began receiving threating phone calls after La Tempête published his home phone number. He had committed the sin of drawing Parizeau in a klansman’s hood following the infamous comment about “the ethnic vote”.
Another founding member of the MLNQ was Paul Biron. His brother is Rodrigue Biron, the former head of the Union Nationale, and a contender for the leadership of the Bloc Quebecois in 1997. Paul has been active in the anti-abortion movement for several years, making a spectacle of himself at the anti-abortion vigil held by Campagne Québec-Vie in October 1997: he came with an enormous Quebec flag and explained to all who would listen that he was there on behalf of French Canadian embryos only, not being concerned with “unborn” foreigners. He has repeatedly linked the notion of a French Quebec to that of a Catholic society. These reactionary positions didn’t stop him from taking a leading role in the League, which supposedly demanded legal, economic, political, social and cultural equality for all women in Quebec. Window dressing is, after all, but window dressing.
Biron and other right-wing Catholics notwithstanding, the MLNQ drew most of its support on the simple basis of national romanticism. Many of its backers were young nationalists, often students if not student activists, who felt a visceral attraction to “radical action”. These “radicals” were disenchanted with the official independence movement, not because the latter was xenophobic or insufficiently left-wing, but rather because it had become stuffy and respectable and had lost the wild charm of the RIN and the FLQ. To such individuals the MLNQ offered a radical mystique that could easily be dressed in progressive clothing.
Indeed, over the next two years the MLNQ was repeatedly in the news. Villeneuve’s public statements in favour of vandalizing “Canadian” targets led many to suspect his cadres of being behind the wave of nationalist graffiti and broken windows in Montreal’s more culturally diverse neighbourhoods. His frequent innuendoes about political violence made him a media star – not only is such talk an anachronism in a province with an officially pro-independence government, but Villeneuve seemed to take noticeable pleasure in making these statements in the public arena where they were guaranteed to grab attention.
Quite clearly, the MLNQ’s strategy was to intimidate federalists into keeping quiet, or even to scare them enough so that they would leave Quebec. Members referred to themselves as “the pro-independence Plan B”, in direct reference to the federal government’s “get tough” anti-independence approach, and liked to repeat the tried but true “101 or 401.” (Bill 101 mandates French-only signs for most businesses; one takes Highway 401 to leave Quebec.)
In December 1997 the MLNQ paid the price for its self-styled radicalism. A politician with the hardcore federalist Equality Party initiated legal proceedings against the League. Claiming that his life had been threatened in La Tempête, Keith Henderson is presently seeking $200,000 in damages and calling on the State to suppress the organization. A few days after Henderson set things in motion, Villeneuve made a public statement officially disbanding the MLNQ and launching a “new” group, the Mouvement pour le droit à l’autodétermination du peuple québécois (MDAPQ; trans.: Movement for the Right to Self-Determination of the Quebecois People) . Even a very cursory examination of this “new” organization and its “new” publication, La Replique, shows that Villeneuve is merely playing a shell game, changing the name of his outfit in order to protect it from Henderson’s action. The MDAPQ is the MLNQ, nothing more nothing less.
A big tent in which all kinds of political animals are welcome, the MLNQ/MDAPQ has always attracted a diverse bunch of hotheads whose point of unity is found in putting the nation first. Inveterate reactionaries like Biron hold their noses and work with a group that puts a picture of Che Guevara on the cover of its bulletin and publishes communiqués from the EZLN. Luc Potvin signed an article calling for nationalists to base their struggle on French Canadian culture and history rather than simple residence in the province of Quebec. Former FLQ political prisoners Rheal Mathieu and Jacques Larue-Langlois have associated themselves with this movement, as has the movie director Pierre Falardeau. Jean-Marc Leger contributed to the pages of La Tempête, attacking the “intellectual terrorism” with which B’nai B’rith has abused the memory of Canon Groulx.
By way of a conclusion
While an overview of one small political current in twentieth century Quebec, this article has necessarily touched upon important historical developments in Quebec. That this is so is only normal, as political movements do not exist in a vacuum and can thus only by understood in their proper context. Despite profound changes in Quebec society, the far-right has never completely vanished from the political landscape. Rather, it has displayed remarkable continuity even in those areas where it has evolved.
As we have seen, throughout Maurice Duplessis long stay in power most of the Right was system-supportive. The Union Nationale, while never fascist, was authoritarian, anti-communist and populist, and as such was appreciated by the Right as the best government that could be hoped for. Those who like to believe that Quebec society is a reactionary lodestone within Canada would do well to remember that this government was kept in power by wealthy benefactors and large corporations, the vast majority of which were based outside of French Canada. These foreign investors loved Quebec, a land of cheap labour where cabinet ministers insisted that class “peace” reigned supreme.
The political modernisation of Quebec, on the other hand, was the result of developments within the province. To call these changes a revolution is an exaggeration, but it is true that society was altered drastically. The working class struck the first blows against the Union Nationale, in desperate strikes in the towns of Asbestos and Murdochville. Yet it was a mish-mash of intellectuals, technocrats and French Canada’s small bourgeosie that inaugurated the Quiet Revolution along with Jean Lesage’s Liberal government in 1960. Despite the ravings of Robert Rumilly, these developments were not the work of Communists or outside agitators, but were a result of the French Canadian experience.
If the old far-right became fragmented and demoralized when Duplessis died, it was not because the Premier was a fascist, but simply because these fascists had supported him so vigorously. The Centre d’information nationale campaigned against modernity, but to no avail: the social, economic and cultural changes were such that a small group of elitist reactionaries could not turn the tide. Adrien Arcand’s PUNC blamed the Jews, and retreated even further into isolation. The right-wing indépendentistes in the Laurentian Alliance were routed, recuperated and made temporarily redundant by the more popular and militant left-wing independence movement..
If social change devastated the far-right, insufficient radicalism planted the seeds of a new fascist movement. It is a cliché that the left and right extremes of the political spectrum meet, and some may be tempted to draw this conclusion from the sad case of Raoul Roy’s Socialist Action for Quebec Independence. What these pessimists ignore is the fact that Roy always represented a conservative extreme within the Left – it is only in comparison with self-proclaimed fascists like Raymond Barbeau that he looked like a revolutionary. Right from the start, the ASIQ was criticized by other leftists, for instance when it was taken to task for its attacks on immigrants. By the mid-sixties it was calling for a tactical alliance with the French Canadian bourgeoisie against all enemies of the nation, including insufficiently narrow-minded nationalists and immigrant and anglophone workers. Roy’s later attacks on the Left are reminiscent of Lyndon Larouche’s: the drug culture, immorality and even swearing are deplored.
In 1972, while serving time in prison for actions he had carried out for the FLQ, Pierre Vallières condemned “a fanatical nationalism” that only served an elite who coveted greater power for themselves. He warned that “notorious fascists” were active in the independence movement, and worried that an independent Quebec might end up resembling Salazar’s Portugal more than the socialist Vietnam so many still believed in.
While Roy may have had few friends in the halls of power in those days, the new nationalist movement would give rise to a nationalist establishment, and in time Roy’s neo-socialism would be much more influential than the ravings of Adrien Arcand. All the more insidious because of its deliberately “progressive” stance, the ideology of the CRI and SOS Genocide would slowly win over a section of the new establishment. While the Parti Québecois is no Union Nationale, each has enjoyed the support of fascists and racists, and neither ever repudiated these allies. It behooves us to remember that just as in the time of Duplessis, any such broad consensus on the Right can only have a sinister effect on the wellbeing of the oppressed, the marginalized and other “outsiders”.
Quebec in 1998 is not a fascist society, but nor was it one in 1968, 1958 or 1938. Yet there have always been fascist political activists in this province, and in recent years racism has become commonplace in political discourse here. So much so, that for many it is old news, boring, irrelevant and not worth bringing up. Ex-leftists revel in accusing Indigenous and immigrant communities of being bigoted against “old stock” Québecois. That this racism goes virtually unchallenged is shameful. Almost as bad is the fact that the racists continue to be considered on the Left.
To conclude, as I know some will, that the Quebec nationalist movement is inherently fascist, would be a grave error. Progressive nationalists helped break the stranglehold of the old Right on Quebec society. At the same time, the position that many left-wing sovereignists hold, that reactionary nationalism will somehow be defused by independence, seems to be completely unjustified. Worse, it belittles the extent and seriousness of racism in society.
Racism and fascism will remain useful props for the bourgeoisie as long as there are oppressed and oppressors. The antidote to racist and fascist tendencies is not to be found in independence, nor in confederation, but rather in uncompromising anti-racism and anti-fascism, without any exceptions made.
QNARRC: Quebec National Archives, Robert Rumilly Collection
CUWLAASC: Concordia University, Webster Library, Adrien Arcand Special Collection
 It is important to note that this nationalism was not normally opposed to Confederation; it was not separatist. Deeply conservative, what was proposed was not the breakup of Canada but a more equal partnership between British- and French-Canadians. Such non-separatist nationalism is often called autonomism. For a good overview of autonomist and nationalist thought at this time, see: Oliver, Michael – The Passionate Debate; Véhicule Press 1991.
 Rome, David – The Immigration Story I; Canadian Jewish Archives 1986, p. 30.
 Avakumovic, Ivan – The Communist Party in Canada: a history; McClelland & Stewart 1975, pp. 34-5.
 The association of immigrants with revolutionary activism was not limited to Jews or Quebec. Following the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919, crushed by the vigilante Citizen’s Committee of One Thousand in collusion with the RCMP, the Conservative government passed legislation facilitating the deportation of immigrant agitators. Hundreds of labour organizers would be deported under this legislation in the years to come.
“Vers un super-état judéo-maçonnique,” by Louis Even, Vers Demain Première Année 1939-40, ed. Vers Demain.
 Lévesque, Andree – Virage à Gauche Interdit; Boréal Express 1984, p. 128.
 Hamelin, Jean & Gagnon, Nicole – Histoire du catholicisme québecois, Le Xxe siècle, Tome 1, 1898-1940; Boréal Express 1984, p. 378-9.
 Lévesque op cit. p.138
 Hamelin op cit. p.375.
 Lévesque op cit. p. 139.
 Larose, Michèle – Les Jeunesses Patriotes et La Nation: un courant politique d’extrême droite au Québec, 1934-1939; unpublished MA thesis, Université du Québec à Montréal 1986, p. 36.
 Oliver op cit. p.168.
 Larose, op cit. p. 138.
 Ibid., p. 139.
 Revue Indépendantiste #22-24 (L’indépendantisme des années trente), p. 38.
 Oliver op cit. P. 141.
 Robin, Martin – Shades of Right: Nativist and Fascist Politics in Canada 1920-1940; University of Toronto press 1992, p. 184.
 Ibid., p. 183.
 “Adrien Arcand; un Nazi au pays des siffleux”, by Ed. Bourassa on behalf of the renegades, La Nation 18-3-1937.
 Robin op cit p.142.
 Ibid. p. 115.
 Ibid. p. 116.
 Ibid. p. 155.
 Ibid. p. 77
 Betcherman, Lita-Rose – The Swastika and the Maple Leaf: Fascist Movements in Canada in the Thirties; Fitzhenry & Whiteside 1975, p. 35
 Oliver op cit. pp. 189-190
 Lévesque op cit. pp. 132-133.
 “Pas Nazis, juste patriotes et corporatistes”, Commission #1 nov-dec 1996, p. 5.
 CUWLAASC, #538-550, “Memorandum and Request re: Claims of Canadian Nationalists against the Government of Canada for unjust internments” 1957.
 Revue Indépendantiste #22-24 (L’indépendantisme des années trente), p.4
 Ibid., p. 39.
 Lavertu, Yves – The de Bernonville Affair; Robert Davies Publishing 1995, p. 41.
 Ibid., pp. 39-40.
 “La Politique”, La Droite v1 #2.
 Lavertu op cit. p. 40.
 This list, recently unearthed by historian Esther Delisle in the US State Department archives, includes the leading lights of the Quebec nationalist movement of that era. Alongside Paul Bouchard, Lionel Groulx and Pierre Gravel, one finds the names of J.E. Gregoire, the former mayor of Quebec City who had recommended that his constituents read Adrien Arcand’s pro-Nazi paper Le Patriote; Philippe Hamel and Oscar Drouin of the pre-war National Party; and a number of other nationalist leaders. In fact, the common thread of nationalism, rather than fascism, that connects the names on the State Department’s Iron Guard list has led some to question the authenticity of the document. At the very least it is worth noting that no group by the name of the Iron Guard played any public role in the Quebec far-right at any time during the war or after it, until veterans of the Romanian Iron Guard set up shop here during the Cold War (but then that’s another story).
 Soeur Béatrice-du-Saint-Sacrement, F.C.S.C.J. Bibliographie Analytique de l’oeuvre de l’Abbé Pierre Gravel 1917-1941; Ecole Normale Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur, pp. 1-2.
 Oliver op cit. p.89; for a sympathetic fascist account see “Maurras, l’ ‘Action Française’ et le Canada français” by Pierre Guilmette, Cahiers de Nouvelle France, jan.-mars 1957.
 QNARRC, P303, S6, SS11, D1, Petain.
 Lipstadt, Deborah – Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory; Free Press 1993, pp. 67-71.
 QNARRC, P303, S6 ,SS11 ,D1, Crucifying the Saviour of France: France’s New Dreyfus Case.
 “Comité Américain pour la libération de Petain” Le Devoir 29/8/45.
 QNARRC, P303, S6 ,SS11 ,D1
 Lavertu op cit p. 46.
 QNARRC, P303, S6 ,SS11 ,D1. Rumilly was in touch with Petain, by way of his friend Maurice Vincent, who had travelled to France in 1946 and established contact with Petain’s wife and lawyers (Lavertu op cit. p. 44)
 “L’hommage d’un historien,” Robert Rumilly, Vers Demain 15/8/1945.
 QNARRC, P303, S6 ,SS9, D1/13 194?.
 Lavertu, op cit. p 48
 Ibid. p. 46.
 Ibid., p. 21.
 Ibid., p. 97.
 Ibid., p. 28.
 Ibid., p. 60.
 Ibid., pp. 78-79.
 Ibid., p. 62
 Ibid., p. 68.
 Cote, Jean – Adrien Arcand: une grande figure de notre temps; ed. Pan-Am 1994, p. 20. It should be noted that this book is an anti-Semitic hagiography of Arcand.
 “Quebec: Fascist Revival” Newsweek 24/11/47.
 CUWLAASC, #1220, #1279, #1282, #1325; correspondence between B. Domville and A. Arcand 1950.
 “Drapeau nous honore”, Unité Nationale p. 643.
 Arcand collection, item #527-8, letter from R. Paul to A. Arcand with reply 2/5/62 & 5/5/62.
 Arcand collection, item #1154, letter from G. Valade to A. Arcand 9/5/58.
 Arcand collection, item #1142-1146, letter from A. Arcand to J. Barrette 1/8/63.
 Arcand collection, item #1840-1, letter from J.M. Bourbonnais to A. Arcand 17/10/62.
 Arcand collection, item #626-627, letter from G. Panneton to A. Arcand 15/3/63.
 Arcand collection, item #589, letter from A.Arcand to Norfleet 17/11/1961.
 “Yockey: Profile of an American Hitler” by John C. Obert, The Investigator Oct. 1981.
 CUWLAASC, item #623-624, letter from M.Bandi to A.Arcand 21/1/63 & 31/1/63.
 “Arcand – Canadian Nationalist – a Modern Martyr” The Cross and the Flag Oct. 1948.
 CUWLAASC, item #914, letter from G.L.K. Smith to A. Arcand 5/2/49.
 CUWLAASC, item #533, letter from R. Maguire to A. Arcand 5/10/57.
 CUWLAASC, item #1283-1284, letter from C. Jordan to A. Arcand 6/5/50.
 It is, however, a key issue that should not be overlooked by anti-fascists. An excellent overview of the this question in regards to the Quebec nationalist camp can be found in “Pas Nazis, juste patriotes et corporatistes” and “Le nouveau visage du corporatisme québécois: économie sociale ou contrôle social?” in Commission #1 nov-dec 1996.
 QNARRC, P303, S6, SS16/2.
 Ibid.., letter from Chanoine Donat Fréchette to Rémi Paul, 4/6/58.
 Dion, Gérard & O’Neill, Louis – Le chrétien et les élections, Ed. De l’Homme 1956.
 “Robert Rumilly et la fondation du Centre d’information nationale (1956)” by Pierre Trépanier, Cahiers des Dix, 44 (1989), p. 238. It should be noted that the author of this article is himself a fascist.
 Ibid., pp. 244-5.
 “Robert Rumilly, historien engagé,” by Pierre Trépanier, Action Nationale LXXIII (sept. 1983), p. 26. See note 78 about the author of this article.
 “La propagande communiste continue de plus belle à Radio-Canada… à nos frais,” by Robert Rumilly, Nouvelles Illustrées 12/3/60.
 “Du séparatisme québecois,” by Jacques Baugé-Prévost, Science Politique #6 1969. “Alleged” because the author of this citation, himself the guru of Quebec’s tiny pagan Nazi scene, disclosed this fact while “outing” several members of the Laurentian Alliance, whom he obviously considered to be rivals.
 “Revolution Nationale”, by Gerard Gauthier, Laurentie #102 nov. 1957,pp. 128-161.
 CUWLAASC, item #308-9, letter from R. Barbeau to A. Arcand 17/1/56.
 CUWLAASC, Concordia University, Item #439.
 “Du séparatisme québecois” op cit.
 “ ‘Triadisme’ = ‘Chretieneté’ ”, by A. Dagenais, Salaberry de Valleyfield 7/8/58.
 “Lettre ouverte à M. André Dagenais; Des théories irréconciliables,” by R. Barbeau, Salaberry de Valleyfield 21/8/58.
 “Propositions Programmatiques de la Revue Socialiste”, Revue Socialiste v1 #1 printemps 1959, p. 13.
 “Le duplessisme de R. Rumilly et l’indépendance économique,” by Roger Beausoleil, Revue Socialiste #4 été 1960, p. 38.
 “Propositions Programmatiques,” op cit.
 Roy, Raoul – Le Genocide en Vitesse/Lettre à Pierre Bourgault: moi aussi je m’en rappelle! Ed. Du Franc-Canada 1990, pp. 97-101.
 “De Hal Banks à Gerard Pelletier,” Revue Socialiste #4 été 1960, p. 25.
 “Est-ce la haine qui peut guerir?”, Gerard Pelletier, Le Travail 26/6/59.
 Fournier, Louis – FLQ: The anatomy of an underground movement; NC Press Limited Toronto 1984, pp. 28-30.
 Laurendeau, Marc – Les Québecois Violents; Boréal Express 1974, p. 53.
 Fournier op cit. p. 17.
 Fournier op cit. pp. 75-78.
 Ibid., pp. 89-99.
 Vallières, Pierre – White Niggers of America; McClelland & Stewart 1971, p. 219
 L’Indépendantiste #2, June 1966 p.10
 The standard work on neo-socialism is Zeev Sternhell’s Neither right nor left : fascist ideology in France (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986). Unfortunately, Sternhell’s anti-leftist distorts his argument, and he tries to claim that neo-socialism is the fascist norm, as opposed to an exception; a good antidote to this is Robert Soucy’s French Fascism: The Second Wave 1933-1939 (New Haven: Yale University Press 1995).
 Roy, Raoul – Marxisme : mépris des peuples colonisés? Ed. Franc-Canada 1977, p. 61.
 Ibid., pp. 64-5.
 Roy, Raoul – Lettre aux Juifs de Montréal; Ed. Franc-Canada 1979.
 Ibid., p. 211.
 Ibid., p. 201.
 “Gagnon-Tremblay dénonce la xénophobie d’un nouveau mouvement autonomiste,” by Jean-Pierre Bonhomme, La Presse 15/2/90.
 “Un candidat défait du RSC militait dans un groupe d’extrême-droite,” by Michèle Ouimet, La Presse 16/12/94.
 Revue Indépendantiste #22-24 (L’indépendantisme des années trente), p.
 Ibid., p. 82.
 Roy, Raoul – Le Genocide…, op cit. p. 25.
 Ibid., pp. 80-81.
 Indeed, he was influenced by the paganistic reactionary writings of the Cercle Ernest Renan, and corresponded with Louis Rougier of the GRECE – see sidebar on L’Oeil. (source: “Mémoires d’un monde pas encore chaviré”, by Raoul Roy, Espoir #5 hiver 1993, pp. 23, 30)
 “Quelques jalons pour l’histoire d’une organisation nationaliste de droite au Québec,” by François Dumas, Cahiers de Jeune Nation #2, juillet 1992, pp. 7-8.
 Ibid., p. 6.
 Ibid., pp. 8-9.
 “Quelques jalons pour l’histoire d’une organisation nationaliste de droite au Québec,” by François Dumas, Cahiers de Jeune Nation #3, p. 20.
 Ibid., p. 21.
 Ibid., p. 23.
 C-FAR published two booklets by Gendron, The Viet-Cong Front in Quebec, and The Immigration Threat to Quebec.
 “Quelques jalons pour l’histoire d’une organisation nationaliste de droite au Québec,” by François Dumas, Cahiers de Jeune Nation #3, p. 23.
 “Bilan des Cahiers de Jeune Nation,” by Jean-Claude Dupuis, Cahiers de Jeune Nation #12 sept. 1995, p. 42.
 In the Cahiers de Jeune Nation’s second issue the term “National Right” is adopted instead of “extreme right” for tactical reasons. (Cahiers de Jeune Nation #2 p.3).
 “Une doctrine pour la droite?” by Pierre Trépanier, Cahiers de Jeune Nation #1 avril 1992, p. 3.
 “Une petite mise au point,” exchange between Pierre Trépanier and Luc Potvin, Espoir #4 aut. 1992.
 “L’Action Nationale et l’affaire Jeune Nation,” by Jean-Claude Dupuis, Cahiers de Jeune Nation #6 oct 1993, p. 6.
 “J.J. Rousseau, le père du fascisme,” by Dimitri Kitsikis, Cahiers de Jeune Nation #11 juin 1995, p. 14.
 “Le communisme est-il mort?” by Gilbert Gendron, Cahiers de Jeune Nation #10 jan. 1995, p. 12. Gendron repeats the fringe Catholic line that communism will only be vanquished when Russia is consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima.
 “Les problèmes des écoles multiculturelles,” by an anonymous teacher, Cahiers de Jeune Nation #3 nov. 1992, p. 30.
 “Dieu Premier Servi,” by Jean-Claude Dupuis, Cahiers de Jeune Nation #10, jan. 1995.
 “Robert Rumilly, historien engagé,” by Pierre Trépanier, Action Nationale LXXIII (sept. 1983), p. 26.
 “Qu’est le Centre d’Information Nationale,” Nation Nouvelle, date unknown (1991).
 Monzat, René et Camus, Jean-Yves – Les droites nationales et radicales en France, presses universitaires de Lyon, 1992, pp. 372-373.
 “Le Centre d’information nationale; pour une réforme politique, sociale et nationale du Québec,” undated, Centre d’information nationale; for a more accessible copy of this programme see “Une doctrine pour la droite” op cit. pp. 11-12.
 “Les Teamsters financeront le recours collectif contre les Mohawks,” by Pierre Bellemare, La Presse 18/9/90.
 Champagne, Estrelle – Les Évènements de l’été 1990 d’Oka et de Kahnawake au Québec: Autopsie d’une crise à travers La Presse française, suisse, anglosaxonne et les médias canadiens; Université Charles de Gaulle Lille 3 Nov. 1995, pp. 55-61.
 Lamarche, Jacques – L’Été des Mohawks; Stanké 1990 pp.139-141.
 “Le KKK est «monté aux barricades» pour distribuer des tracts” by Marie-France Léger, La Presse 31/8/90.
 Philpot, Robin – Oka: dernier alibi du Canada anglais; VLB éditeur 1991.
 Dallaire, François – Oka – la hâche de guerre; Editions La Liberté 1991, p. 69.
 “Indiens du Canada: les Koweitiens du Nord,” by Francois Dallaire, Le Devoir 22/12/92.
 Dallaire op cit. p. 59.
 “Propose goodwill handshake before Lasalle-Kahnawake games,” by Aaron Derfel, The The Montreal Gazette 9/11/95.
 “Oka aurait pu vivre une autre crise,” by Richard Hétu and Martin Pelchat, La Presse 2/4/93.
 “Radio station apologizes to aboriginals,” by Alexander Norris, The Montreal Gazette 17/5/94.
 Roy, Raoul – Ces indigènes susdits sauvages; Ed. Franc Canada 1991
 “Andrée Ferretti rend hommage à Lionel Groulx,” Action Indépendantiste v2 #2 avril-mai 1994.
 “L’Action Nationale et l’affaire Jeune Nation,” op cit. p. 7.
 “Avant quelles élections, la prochaine crise amerindienne: fédérales ou provinciales?” by Michel Viau, Action Indépendantiste #6 aout-sept. 1993.
 “Bourassa vend le Québec?” by Jean Simoneau, Action Indépendantiste #1 sept. 1992, p. 4.
 “Immigration: un comportement suicidaire,” by Jean-Marc Leger Action Indépendantiste v1 #6 aout 1993.
 Nation Nouvelle v3 #2 sept-oct 1993
 “Les vraies couleurs du nationalisme territorial,” Commission #2 fev-mars 1997 pp. 10-11.
 Prior to the referendum, “left-wing” nationalists like Pierre Bourgault and the cadres at l’Aut’ Journal had joined right-wing nationalists like Michel Viau of Action Indépendantiste in warning of the dire consequences of a separatist defeat that could be blamed on immigrant voters. The troubadour Raymond Lévesque had submitted a brief to the Commission on Sovereignty to the effect that immigrants should be denied the right to vote in the referendum, as “This is between the founding peoples.” After October 15th nationalists like PQ Cabinet Minister Louise Harel and Bloc Québecois MP Roger Pomerleau, to give but two examples, echosed Parizeau’s statements blaming immigrants for the defeat.
 “La ligue du vieux poêle,” by Loïc Vennin, Voir 14-20 déc. 1995.
 “Le leader du MLNQ aurait «aimé tuer plus d’Anglais»”, Marc Thibodeau La Presse 12/7/97.
 “Les Juifs anglophones au service des Canadians,” by Raymond Villeneuve, La Tempête #9 sept. 1996.
 “Pour en arriver à faire du Québec un pays plutôt que de gérer un état provincial,” by Jacques Binette, La Tempête #1.
 “La menace des pantouflards,” by J. Jacques Samson, Le Soleil 18/12/95.
 “Déclaration Solennelle de Raymond Villeneuve Devant Le Peuple Québécois,” by Raymond Villeneuve, La Replique #1 dec. 1997.
 La Tempête #10 oct. 1996 & #22 oct. 1997.
 “Deuxième déclaration de la Realidad pour l’humanité et contre le néoliéralisme,” CCRI-EZLN, La Tempête #17 mai 1997.
 “Le nationalisme québecois est cultural,” by Luc Potvin, La Tempête #22 oct. 1997.
 Vennin op cit.
 “À la défense de Raymond Villeneuve – dénigrement et salissage,” by Jacques Larue-Langlois La Tempête #15 mars 1997
 “La chasse aux sorcières de l’organisation B’nai B’rith,” by Jean-Marc Leger, La Tempête #13 jan. 1997, p. 9.
 Vallières, op cit. p. 227-8.
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/2k0raId