August 30, 2019 2:29 pm
Updated: August 30, 2019 2:59 pm

Canadian Nationalist Party granted eligibility to become a registered party in the upcoming federal election

Canadian Nationalist Party / Facebook
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A prominent Canadian anti-hate organization is outraged over news that a far-right group accused of advocating white nationalism has become eligible to register as an official political party in the upcoming federal election.

Elections Canada informed the Canadian Nationalist Party on Thursday that it had met the requirements under the Canada Elections Act to qualify as a registered party during the October election. The requirements include garnering a minimum of 250 eligible voters to support the application.

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The party, founded in 2017 by 28-year-old Travis Patron, espouses anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ2 views. The party’s policies on its website include deporting “illegal migrants,” prohibiting public officials from holding dual citizenship and removing “homosexuality/transgenderism from the academic curriculum entirely.”

Bernie Farber, chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, told Global News he believes it’s the first time in North America such a group will be granted federal political party status. Farber’s group has sent a request to Elections Canada to view the party’s application file, which is publicly available for any eligible or registered party, and has vowed to publicize the identities of those who supported the party’s Elections Canada application.

“Far-right, white supremacist, white nationalist, neo-Nazi, whatever label you want to put on it, these individuals and groups are gaining a lot of boldness,” Farber said. They used to be so much on the fringes of rational, decent society. They’ve crossed over into kind of the edges of the mainstream.”

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He said the goal of publicizing the identities of Canadian Nationalist Party supporters is to make people aware of who their neighbours are.

“Canadians should be absolutely astounded at this. Even in the U.S., where white supremacy has taken off like a bat out of hell, there’s no neo-Nazi party,” Farber said. “Thanks to this, the Canadian Nationalist Party — a party that has engaged in the most pernicious Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, white supremacist rhetoric — you can donate to it and you will get a charitable receipt.”

The Canadian Nationalist Party will be eligible to officially register for the upcoming election once the writ drops, likely in early September. Once a party is registered, it has the ability to issue tax receipts for political contributions.

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Party leader Patron told Global News over the phone on Friday that he was “ecstatic to be able to compete in the upcoming election.” So far, he is the only candidate and will run in the Souris-Moose Mountain riding, a rural district in southeast Saskatchewan currently held by the Conservatives.

But Patron said other people from Ontario and Quebec have reached out to him to express interest in running as candidates.

We really want to focus on people who are high-quality candidates, who understand our ideology and are dedicated to the cause,” he said. Patron said that his party has “quite a lot of overlap” with Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada, in particular when it comes to immigration.

“You see a lot of the people going to the People’s Party are those willing to search out new political options. And often, the People’s Party is describing themselves as a populist solution,” Patron said. “Our party can be described in a similar sense, although we’re explicitly nationalist in our approach.”

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In June, Farber’s group complained to the RCMP in Saskatchewan about a video posted by the party. The Mounties launched a hate crime probe regarding that video posted on the Canadian Nationalist Party website and social media in which Patron condemned the “the parasitic tribe” that he claims controls banking and media in Canada, saying that “we need to … remove these people once and for all from our country.”

A spokesperson for the RCMP in Saskatchewan told Global News that investigation is still ongoing, and therefore could not provide further details. Any hate crime charges would need to be approved by the province’s attorney general.

Patron said he has not heard anything from the RCMP on that investigation and denies accusations that his party espouses hate.

“We’re the ones pushing a patriotic platform that’s resonating with a lot of people. We’ve done nothing illegal. In terms of so-called white supremacy, we do advocate for maintaining the European-descendant majority. And if that’s a policy that’s wrong, then I simply don’t want to be right,” he said.

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As for the efforts to publicize the identities of his party’s supporters, he said he feels those individuals are being “singled out for our ideology.”

“We think that there is a significant portion of Canadians who were born here or at least grew up here who are not in approval of this type of demographic change facilitated by our immigration system,” Patron said. “I don’t see how that makes us white supremacists or, quote-unquote, white nationalist. That makes us nativists and Canadian nationalists. That’s what we are.”

Amira Elghawaby, who is also with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, tweeted on Friday that “every Canadian should be deeply alarmed” about the decision to allow the party to officially register for the election.

In 2017, Patron’s group attempted to hold a rally on the University of Toronto campus, but the university denied it permission to do so.

Farber said that it is highly unlikely that Patron will get elected or attract many candidates, but that the registration of his party will set a dangerous precedent. “The point is the principle of the thing,” he said. “Certainly the next Parliament is going to have to grapple with this.”

Farber said once this election is over, the issue of who can register as a federal party will be something his group addresses.

An Elections Canada spokesperson told Global News: “There is no mechanism under the Canada Elections Act to either reject a party’s application to register or to deregister them based on their ideology.”

That’s something Farber says needs to change.

“This will be a major piece of our agenda to whoever is the new governing party,” he said.

“To take a look at Elections Canada’s regulations and to start looking at how it can be changed so that we are sure that political parties which engage in vile hatred and anti-Semitism, Islamophobia do not gain a foothold within the Canadian political structure.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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