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Politics

Man linked to neo-Nazi group in U.S. no longer with People’s Party of Canada

Shaun Walker is seen on the left and Maxime Bernier is seen on the right. .
Shaun Walker is seen on the left and Maxime Bernier is seen on the right. . Southern Poverty Law Center/Canadian Press

A member removed from the People’s Party of Canada this week was convicted in Utah in 2007 for his role in attacks by the National Alliance racist group that were meant to intimidate minorities.

According to prosecutors, Shaun Walker and two others had “agreed that in order to raise awareness for the National Alliance and the white power movement, non-whites were to be targeted.”

On Thursday, the PPC said that Walker, who had helped organize the St. Catharines, Ont., electoral district association, was no longer with the party.

A PPC spokesperson said Walker had not disclosed his past in the United States, and a background check had not turned anything up.

“As of today, Shaun Walker is no longer part of our organization,” Johanne Mennie, the executive director of the party led by former Conservative MP Maxime Bernier, said Thursday.

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Walker could not be reached for comment. But in a message obtained by Global News, he said he was “innocent” of the U.S. charges.

“I and two other innocent people were framed for a conspiracy to commit two bar fights. I never seen either fight. They even said I was home sleeping at the 2nd bar fight. That was an unbelievable occurrence,” Walker said in a Twitter message obtained by Global News. “But, it all did happen. We fought the charges, lost to a jury. I can’t change that. I never was violent or rude to anyone. All my friends know I’m innocent.”

But a former party member, who spoke on condition of not being identified, said Walker had acknowledged his conviction and downplayed the incident.

“When I found out I was just blown away,” said the former party member based in Ontario.

“I know that Shaun actually was also a delegate for the Conservative party before he moved to the PPC,” the former member said. “I was shocked because he seemed like a really decent person.”

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The PPC responded after Atlanta Antifascists wrote on Twitter that a former National Alliance leader had resurfaced in Canada as a PPC activist.

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The group posted a Facebook photo taken at the founding of the PPC’s electoral district association in St. Catharines. “Thank you to Shaun Walker for all the help,” read the caption.

A man resembling Walker appeared in the photo.

The Facebook page of the PPC St. Catharines riding association went offline after Global News sent a message asking about Walker. A message to the local PPC candidate went answered.

Walker’s Twitter account also went private, although Global News captured posts in which he expressed support for the PPC and described immigration as “out of control in Canada.”

READ MORE: 5 People’s Party of Canada members resign in Winnipeg, accusing supporters of racism, anti-Semitism

Canadian Anti-Hate Network chair Bernie Farber wondered how someone with Walker’s past was allowed to play a role in the fledgling party.

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“What kind of vetting process do they have?” Farber said.

A spokesperson for the PPC said “a background check only yielded Canadian results.”

“Mr. Walker did not disclose any information in our ‘non-embarrassment’ pledge about his past in the United States,” Mennie said.

A self-described vineyard manager and St. Catharines blogger, Walker has referred in online posts to having great-great grandparents from Prince Albert, Sask., but it is unclear if he is a Canadian citizen.

On Twitter, he wrote that he was born in California in 1968. “I fled California in 2012. We used to call it White Flight,” he wrote.

Documents submitted at Walker’s sentencing say he served in the U.S. Marines between 1986 and 1990, and later graduated from the University of California, San Diego, with a degree in molecular biology before working at Myriad Genetics.

“This background shows that Mr. Walker has sought to serve his country and has educated himself in order to become a responsible citizen and member of society,” his lawyer wrote in a sentencing submission.

He had no prior convictions and “always preached to others to ‘stay legal,’ and he does not condone a policy of violence,” the lawyer wrote.

READ MORE: Maxime Bernier mingles with Yellow Vest protesters at Toronto event

But in 2003, the lawyer wrote, he took a paying job with the National Alliance, which the Southern Poverty Law Centre described as a “major neo-Nazi organization.” He later became its leader.

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U.S. prosecutors called it a “U.S.-based white supremacist group.”

“Although it purports to be non-violent, the National Alliance is generally recognized as a group that condones and promotes the use of violence to achieve racial separatism.”

His involvement ended in 2006 when he was arrested in Utah and charged, along with two others, with interfering with civil rights. The indictment accused the trio of being part of a National Alliance sub-group that conspired to intimidate minorities.

“On an opportunistic basis, members of this group would provoke arguments and fights in public settings in an effort to raise awareness of their presence and to make non-whites afraid to appear in public and live in Salt Late City,” according to the prosecution’s trial brief.

Shaun Walker. Photo courtesy South Poverty Law Center.
Shaun Walker. Photo courtesy South Poverty Law Center.

A former associate, Keith Cotter, testified that the National Alliance’s ideology was “that whites should be separated both nationally and personally from non-whites.”

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“At various times, the men talked of a racial holy war,” according to a sentencing document. “Cotter described this as the ultimate goal — to one day throw non-whites out of the country and instill a government run by white people.”

The sentencing documents allege that Walker participated in National Alliance discussions about attacking minorities to “instill fear in the non-white community.”

In 2002, a Mexican-American bartender was attacked at a Salt Lake City club where the National Alliance had been handing out anti-immigration stickers.

Ten weeks later, a Native American was attacked in a similar incident. Walker was not present but when told about it the next day he said, “good job.”

The prosecution argued both incidents were part of a conspiracy to attack non-whites, while Walker’s lawyer argued the key witness, Cotter, fabricated the allegations.

A jury convicted Walker on two counts in 2007. Although initially sentenced to 87 months, an appeals court later found Walker was not a leader of the conspiracy and his sentence was reduced.

He was released in 2009.

The National Alliance was addressed by the Canadian courts five years ago when a New Brunswick man died and left his estate to the hate group. The court disallowed the inheritance on the grounds the National Alliance promoted purposes that were illegal and contrary to public policy.

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