People’s Party makes campus appearance
Not with a bang, but with a van
On the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 3, a post on Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG)’s Facebook page caught student followers’ attention: “Someone connected to a local PPC (People’s Party of Canada) candidate has their camper van covered in posters on campus today,” it read. RPIRG warned that the PPC is famous for “racist and queer-phobic policies (and public statements)” more than any other party in Canada besides the New Nationalists.
The PPC, led by Maxime Bernier, indeed aligns itself with the far right by word and action. According to Andrew Russell and Stewart Bell at Global News, the original signatories of the party included a former US neo-Nazi, a former Soldier of Odin and a member of PEGIDA, a group against the “Islamization of the West.” The PPC’s official platform is no better; it aims to further close Canada’s doors to immigrants, and to repeal the Multiculturalism Act. Bernier has claimed that this anti-immigrant policy is the only thing the public has to be upset about, despite testimony from anti-hate groups that they have “lost track” of the PPC’s frequent ties to white supremacy.
One PPC billboard circulating on twitter famously reads, “Say no to ANTIFA,” referring to the popular antifascist movement which advocates active resistance to fascist acts and speech across the world. There has been a trend of the political right mislabeling Antifa as a unified organization rather than a political response to hatred, stoking fears that Antifa is some kind of terrorist group. This talk of “anti-anti-fascism” (what would we call that again? [Editor’s Note: We call it “fascism” -ed.]) puts Bernier and Donald Trump in very cozy quarters.
In response to the van on campus, RPIRG encouraged the campus community to confront the party about its hateful rhetoric and affiliations if they felt safe to do so. When I read the post, photographer Jeremy Davis and I speed-walked to the education building hoping to catch some of these confrontations. It seemed, though, that the van had already left by the time we got there. The day ended on an anticlimactic note.
There wasn’t much information on the van’s activity apart from RPIRG’s sighting, either. RPIRG itself had heard the news from Dr. Marc Spooner, who passed on pictures of the van he took, but according to Dr. Spooner there wasn’t anybody around it. Pat Patton at Campus Security reported, when e-mailed about whether they stepped in or engaged, that she and the rest of security had no information about the PPC or its presence on campus. The van and its owner have previously been written about by the Leader Post.
“One of Wowk’s most visible supporters, Kenneth A. Gran, said he will be there. He drives a motorhome plastered with photos of PPC candidates and bizarre stickers, including one featuring Justin Trudeau in a turban surrounded by a crucifix, a Star of David and the words “Muslim Attack.'”
The PPC did not seem to make its mark here. Allowing them here would be a great disservice a significant number of U of R students. There is still reason to worry, though: CBC will be platforming Bernier in a debate for a televised audience, which Shree Paradkar at the Star says is more than just an ideological debate and has “real world consequences” for racialized people in Canada. “By platforming Bernier, [media] further bridge[s] the gap between the far-right and the mainstream.” The hatred directed towards Sikh and Muslim Canadians and the hate crimes against Black Canadians, Paradkar says, are already evident.