“Alt-right” has become a common term lately to describe those who reject mainstream conservatism and go even further to the right politically with views that most consider racist, misogynistic, and homophobic. This is not polite 1950s “Leave it to Beaver” conservatism. Many Canadians don’t think alt-right activities are much of an issue here, but there is disturbing evidence that they exist.
The wild west of the internet is a breeding ground for the alt-right. A website called “Alt Right Canada” provides a big heapin’ helpin’ of bigotry, sexism, and homophobia directed at the Canadian government, immigrants, universities, mainstream news outlets, network television, and Hollywood.
Did you know the 1960s sitcom Bewitched was part of a feminist conspiracy to have a woman with magical powers force a man into submission? And, The Mary Tyler Moore Show encouraged white women to be independent with careers instead of marrying and having children, which has led to declining birth rates among white people. Those are among the items on the site which are more passable for public discussion.
The recent mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec City has heightened concerns about alt-right activity in Canada. Alexandre Bissonette, the suspect in the shooting, allegedly has alt-right sympathies. Bissonette’s rather ordinary, suburban background made him a bit of a surprising suspect.
Many small town Ontario folks also have disturbing ideas about immigration, religion, and race relations and are quick with social media, sharing memes and fake news stories on Facebook. In Quebec, there’s a paramilitary militia group that is raising concerns with law enforcement agencies. The Quebec Patriotic Militia is a militant separatist group and no fan of anyone who isn’t a white, francophone Quebecois.
Alt-right ideas have begun to influence mainstream Canadian conservatism, too. Kellie Leitch, one of the candidates for the leadership of the federal Conservative party, has called for new immigrants to be tested for “Canadian values” before they can settle in Canada. A motion currently before Parliament to condemn Islamaphobia and systemic racism has drawn sharp criticism from some on the right who see it as a threat to free speech. Even mainstream Conservative Members of Parliament are divided on the issue and some plan to vote against it. It was introduced in the House of Commons by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, who is Muslim and was born in Pakistan. It is just a motion though, it does not change any existing human rights laws or explicitly forbid Canadians from disagreeing with Islam.
The relative anonymity of the internet enables intolerant and alt-right ideas to be widely exchanged. And Canada has proven to be vulnerable to these views, too.