An anti-hate group says it plans to expose the identities of more than 250 Canadians who signed an Elections Canada application allowing a far-right group to move one step closer to getting on the ballot this fall.
The Canadian Nationalist Party (CNP) became eligible today to register as an official political party. Elections Canada is now compelled by law to release a document containing party members’ names and addresses to anyone who asks.
A former police chief with 30 years experience told CBC News that if that document is used to name and shame members online, it could lead to violence.
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network said that while it condemns violence, it remains firm in its decision to publish CNP party members’ names and hopes releasing the information online can address hateful attitudes through peaceful discussion.
“We feel people shouldn’t be able to hide in the shadows,” said Amira Elghawaby, a human rights advocate and board member with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, which has been threatening to publish the identities of all the members of the CNP since earlier this summer.
“We should really know who in our neighbourhoods are supporting this in a bid to shame them, because hate has no place in our communities, it has no place in our society and we need to call it out wherever it is … We should be trying to engage with these folks and ensuring that those types of hateful attitudes are addressed, of course, peacefully through dialogue …”
The party has come under fire by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network over its alleged racist views, which led to an ongoing RCMP investigation into allegations of possible hate speech.
RCMP in Saskatchewan launched an investigation into an online video posted on the website of the CNP and on its Facebook and YouTube pages. It shows party leader Travis Patron denouncing what he describes as “the parasitic tribe” or “black sheep” he claims control the media and the central bank in Canada.
“What we need to do, perhaps more than anything, is remove these people once and for all from our country,” Patron says, speaking directly to the camera.
The CNP says its policies are based on Christian values and that it discourages homosexuality. The group also wants Canadians of European descent to maintain a demographic majority and calls for capping the rate of immigration at under 100,000 people a year, said Patron.
Party worried about harassment
In response to the vow to disclose the party membership list, some members of the CNP have pulled their names from the paperwork submitted to Elections Canada, said Patron.
“Some of our members are simply concerned that physical harm may come to them, physical or social harm,” said Patron, adding he worries his supporters might be fired from their jobs for backing his party.
“I’m a bit put off that the privacy laws in our country allow such a thing to take place, especially when the organization in particular who has made these threats against us has built a reputation on nothing but hypocrisy. They call themselves the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, yet they themselves are the ones resorting to tactics of harassment and slander.”
Patron filed a complaint with Elections Canada dated July 16, asking that party members’ information not be released.
Elections Canada does not bar parties from taking part in federal elections on the basis of ideology. Under Canada’s Elections Act, a party needs 250 supporters willing to put their names and addresses on a list in order to register to compete in an election. The party also has to prove that it plans on running one or more candidate.
Once the chief electoral officer decides that a party is eligible to take part in an election, that decision — and the party’s supporters’ list — becomes part of the public record that anyone can ask to inspect.
“This information is publicly available under the Canada Elections Act, so that members of the public can understand the CEO’s decisions,” said a statement from Elections Canada.
“Elections Canada encourages anyone who inspects this information to use it responsibly.”
‘Could incite violence’
Devon Clunis, Winnipeg’s former police chief, said he worries public shaming could lead to violence — and not just against the people named on the list.
“I think it’s far too dangerous for us to be taking this action of publicly trying to shame people,” said Clunis. “It most definitely could incite violence because we really don’t know what actions a person will take when they’re confronted with something like this.”
A video capturing a violent clash inside the Toronto’s Eaton Centre surfaced online earlier this summer. It showed a brawl involving individuals wearing Canadian Nationalist Party shirts during Pride celebrations in June.
Patron said his party has a code of conduct that forbids incitements to violence.
“But if there is a situation where our members need to defend themselves, such as there was in the Eaton Centre some time ago, then absolutely, you defend yourself as much as you need to.”