A guide to the far-right

La Meute, a far-right, anti-immigration group, held a rally in Quebec City, Canada, on August 20, 2017. ALICE CHICHE / AFP/Getty Images

The rise of the far-right has left a mark on Quebec politics in recent years. From demonstrations by groups like La Meute or Storm Alliance, to the participation of Quebecers in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., last summer, the far-right is more active than it has been in a generation. 

It’s important to clarify some nuances between strains of far-right theory and strategy in order to understand this phenomenon. According to Maxime Fiset, who works at the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence, it can be divided into three main categories.

The first, and most common, is far-right populism. Members of these groups tend to be older, and their public messaging tends to minimize or deny their racism. Instead, these groups usually focus on appealing to the dominant values like secularism. In Quebec, groups such as La Meute and Storm Alliance would fall into this category.

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The second type is traditional neo-fascist groups. Groups in this category often look like punks and skinheads — although it’s important to remember that not all skinheads are neo-Nazis, many are anti-fascist. Locally, groups such as Atalante Québec and the Soldiers of Odin fall into this category. 

The newest category is the alt-right. These groups tend to congregate online, and are generally not organized into formal groups in Quebec. They tend to use humour, memes, and internet culture to attack Jewish people, immigrants, Muslims, people of colour, leftists, and so on, in order to normalize values of white supremacy. Several of these online groups are beginning to organize parties, lectures, and real-world events in and around Montreal. For Fiset, the alt-right represents the “most worrying” threat of terrorism in the province — worse than other categories such as radical Islamism. 

Alexander Reid Ross, author of Against the Fascist Creep, clarifies that while these differences are important to remember in theory, the divisions are less clear in the real world. In other words, some people will be active both in La Meute, for example, and in the alt-right, and work to bring the most extreme ideas to the larger groups. 

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