Rise of hate groups a concern for peace supporters
Read the findings of our recent Peace Poll, and readers' comments
The rise of extreme right-wing groups like the Proud Boys are a significant concern for members of the PeaceQuest community. That’s the finding of our recent Peace Poll taken from January 28 to February 2, 2021.
“The ultranationalist, white supremacist right is much bigger and more organized than mainstream society understands,” wrote one participant in the poll. They are not alone; 91% of respondents answered that they were felt some degree of concern when asked, “How concerned are you about hate groups in Canada?” Even more, two-thirds of those people said that they were “very concerned.”
Digging deeper into peoples’ thinking reveals that there is a diversity of opinion over how to deal with these hate groups. Many support tough legal measures against hate groups, while others worried about unintentional consequences from such an approach.
Read the comments left by participants below to see the arguments for and against banning hate groups like the Proud Boys (Note: the poll was taken before the federal government announced that the Proud Boys and other group had been added to Canada’s terrorist list).
Our second question, which we ask each month, showed a shift in opinion of Canada’s overall direction from previous months. When asked, “Overall, do you think Canada is on the right track, or the wrong track?” the Peace Poll recorded the highest level of uncertainty since October, 2020, at 39% of respondents answering they were “unsure.”
The percentage of those who felt Canada is on the wrong track dropped precipitously from 75% in December to 33% in January, with many people moving into the “unsure” row. Those feeling Canada is on the right track nearly tripled from 10% to 28%.
The informal poll was answered by 131 people, the highest number of participants to date.
Comments written by participants
Very Concerned - It is clearly evident that hate groups operate in Canada as we have seen with an active member of the Canadian Forces attempting to kill the Prime Minister based on this ideology. Furthermore, as we have seen in the United States active members of the US, Canadian military, and many members of the law enforcement community in both countries are found on these hate groups sites and on social media promoting these ideas. Thus, hate has gone mainstream and its insidiousness found in institutions that supposedly protect the populace is particularly frightening. Thus, while not in anyway inhibiting free speech those who express hate must be named and disbarred particularly from institutions which are already heavily armed and trained into tactics that as we saw in the US recently pose a threat to civil society. The military and law enforcement in my continue to need to be under clear civilian oversight and supervision and those expressing such views immediately removed. The whole culture too of these institutions likely needs to be reviewed in the light of current events including the Black Lives Matters movement which has been proven to be a peaceful group demanding genuine societal reform on many levels.
Very Concerned - Spreading hate is not freedom of speech. We cannot allow hate to be spread. We need to promote equality, tolerance, social responsibility, compassion. Our society promotes competition, greed, and suppression of the poor and marginal populations. Everything needs to change.
Somewhat Concerned - Our government supported economic system divides our population into the haves and the poor. The system is set up so the poor cannot address their basic needs let alone get out of poverty. Only a very small number with great luck are able to climb out of poverty, and even then must become quite ruthless to do so.
Such divisions of the population foster fear, and fear fosters hate. We must address economic disparities to eliminate any need of hate groups.
Very Concerned - So little publicity about these groups - very concerning that they growing - an indication that something is very wrong, so what is missing - why are they rising up, why are they blaming “the unlike me” Just lots of worrisome questions!
Very Concerned - More than merely denouncing and banning hate groups we need to counter the tsunami of lies and misinformation that comes from the U.S. with strong support of our own media and of our public education system.
Very Concerned - No country around the Planet should tolerate hate groups of any kind. These groups are bad worms in our societies, there must be laws to make them illegal and cut all social network accounts and jail them.
Very Concerned - Declaring Proud Boys to be a terrorist organization is a bit over the top. It's one thing to make it a crime to commit racist or bigoted violence against others, and that can rightly be called terrorism. However, as odious as their beliefs are, the Proud Boys do have a right to express their opinions. It's a question of balancing community safety with constitutional rights to freedom of expression. I think it's possible to prosecute groups like the Proud Boys when they threaten others whether through hate speech or outright violence, without declaring them a terrorist organization. I'm hesitant to agree with that because the same view can be taken towards the Antifa movement if they commit violence too. Going down this path of declaring groups to be terrorists could result in all kinds of criminalization of freedom of speech.
Very Concerned - I’m not sure we approach this by attempting to silence these groups, because that’s a slippery slope, and I’d like to believe that education can achieve generational change, but I think that parents (not to mention bigoted teachers) will counteract that. So...
Somewhat Concerned - Having grown up in London, UK, with its Speakers' Corner where there is an absolute right to speak. I must have been taken there as a child to hear cranks of all kinds. It is also the only place apart from inside Parliament where speech is completely unfettered. It has been used to hold public readings of banned books, etc.
I don't know of an equivalent in Canada - but such a place might be a necessary safety valve where the cranks in our society can speak their mind.
Very Concerned - I am concerned that the 'mob mentality' of fear and hate that I have always associated with the U.S. seems to be proliferating in Canada and I believe that the more the federal and provincial governments do to shut these groups down is a step in the right direction. We need more education and openness to diversity so if the people themselves don't do it, the government needs to.
Very Concerned - Hate only drives people against people, cost more on lives, causes more mental health and bankrupts the financial well-being of everyone and our country. If we treat others the way we want to be treated then we need to act in a caring loving way. If we do not care and think we are superior how does that improve society and life. Hitler thought that way! Heaven forbid, we do not go down the same path! We are equal in God’s eye.
Somewhat Concerned - I don't know what changes when a specific hate group is labelled as a terrorist group.
I don't know enough about the manifesto of these groups but could there not be a dialogue with them to understand their fears, their concerns or do we mean to declare war when we label them as terrorists.
I want to stand up for black, brown and indigenous people. I want to be an active ally. I don't want hate groups to increase in strength. Yet, I am not sure that labelling them terrorists is a solution. Could it be that this label would embolden them?
Very Concerned - Canada needs to be more proactive in condemning these hate groups. We can follow Germany's lead when they declare Nazi and neo-Nazi organizations as being illegal. Canada also needs to put groups such as QAnon, Sovereign Citizens, and New Freeman on a terrorist watch, if not declaring them as terrorist groups.
Very Concerned - I am afraid that the genie is out of the bottle on this one . . . . I want to hope that a change in the American administration will turn off the fodder for these terrifying entities but that may just be wishful thinking. Very sad . . . .!!
Somewhat Concerned - First, I hope I don't need to answer the "right track", "wrong track" question. I think it's a mixture of both, so none of the answers fits for me.
It's great that we have things like the TRC, APTN, and media covering cases of unfairness and groups like AnimaLeadership hosting discussions and conferences on this topic. But we are failing to create an economy that is free of colonial exploitation. We participate in wars and use diplomacy in ways that further extractivism, racism and sow the seeds of fear and hate.
Thinking about "popular education", besides Anima Leadership, I'd like to highlight the discussions happening through the CFSC (Can. Friends Service Cttee), based on learning to foster understanding and peace through the book, Are We Done Fighting Now? There are also great things being done through restorative justice programs. In other words, there is lots to build on, but without the focused, systemic support offered through governments, these programs likely won't have the capacity to transform the colonial nature of policing & other institutions in Canada.
Very Concerned - It appears the government has made some moves with respect to the Proud Boys but need to take a stand against hate groups and step up their game.
Somewhat Concerned - TO counter the neoliberal assault on blue-collar and, increasingly, white-collar workers, when liberal-social democratic rescue measures are less and less effective, and which then gives rise to the authoritarian/fascist response (Proud Boys), it is critical to democratize the economy (and expropriate the wealth of the plutocracy) to restore the dignity of work and a sense of collective and mutual worth and responsibility. Confronting the problem with repression (terrorist lists, etc) guarantees further social division.
Very Concerned - I wonder how easily a Government can define a hate group. Would it be easy to include those who legitimately question government action.
I do think groups like Proud Boys, racists and gangs need to be monitored closely and action taken.
Very Concerned - Canada needs to develop a new foreign policy. The current one is too closely aligned to the US foreign policy.
Very Concerned - The rise of the alt-right, racist and hate groups was predictable. For over 40 years we have ignored the impact of popular culture with rising levels of violence, racism, and mysogny, as popular themes in the narratives of story telling. This is especially evident in first person shooter video games. The early warnings from media scholars about the inevitable spill over effects into real life has been trivialized as harmless entertainment. Gerbner pointed to growing evidence of a mean world syndrome as early as the 1980s. Lte. Col Dave Grossman to AVIDS (Acquired Violence Immune Deficiency Syndrome). The 30 and 40 year olds that populate these groups like the Proud Boys have been brought up on violence, intolerance and an "us vers them" mentality as a way of life.
Full Disclosure: I have just written a book on the subject titled MIND ABUSE Media Violence And Its Threat to Democracy <www.blackrosebooks.com>
Very Concerned - Not sure how concerned we should be - https://www.cbc.ca/passionateeye/features/right-wing-extremist-groups-and-hate-crimes-are-growing-in-canada
Somewhat Concerned - As long as people are kind, accepting of all others and willing to speak up when they hear prejudice and racism being promoted we can overcome these misguided people in our midst who spew hate!!
Very Concerned - For me hate groups are very dangerous and need to be monitored. There are an indicator of imbalance in our society and we need to address the causes of that imbalance, --violence, injustice, inequality, mental issues etc...--. Being a neighbour of the US replete with guns and ammunitions, as well as powerful such groups, raise significant red flags on the issue.
Somewhat Concerned - a provincial breakdown of the vote would be informative - also while hate groups is the subject of this vote there is a difference between having a supremest perspective, hate and violence, all should be outlawed as each negatively impacts on the lives of others in an irrational and harmful manner
Very Concerned - Is there any connection bt Proud Boys & Ontario Proud?
Very Concerned - Inequality is the ultimate driver of hate groups. When people are hopeless they look for someone to blame. When people feel secure (enough to eat, good housing, good schooling, good medical care) they don't join hate groups.
Very Concerned - Hate groups must be outlawed. We don't need them in Canada.
Mostly not concerned - I believe groups who are hate filled identify some identifiable group or groups who are responsible for their grievances. These may be about income security, fear of the "other" dispossessing them and their loved ones, or a vague feeling of impending chaos.
What supports their hate and frightening actions are ideas which are false. The only solution, as I see it, is to allow them to spout whatever they claim and counter it with true explanations. To attack them in any way seems to be taken as proof that their grievances and explanations are valid.
If someone or group is talking nonsense, it seems best to listen, disagree and move on. To make them public enemies is to treat it more seriously than they deserve.
Very Concerned - I have been in Canada since 1987 and I have observed 'racism' (though I find that term misleading, the human race is one race). Let's call it 'dislike of others who do not look like you, or talk like you, or were born where you were' taken to the extreme. Unlike the USA, a large number of Canadians use a more 'passive aggressive style,' mockery, etc. Occasionally, the styles become frontal and aggressive. I find that the 'garrison complex', the intolerance and inability to accept diversity. It stems from a culture of colonial dominance, ignorance, and in sadly too many cases, cruelty.
I have black friends who are concerned about their safety; we have all seen in the news testimonies of Asian Canadians been harassed, even attached, and I have personally had conversations with 'white people' who were not shy about expressing their opinions on indigenous peoples (despite the fact they had never been in a conversation with one). I have personally been harassed and told 'go back to where you came from' - funny thing coming from white people who stole this land from indigenous people, committed outrageous atrocities that are crimes against humanity, and to this day have not taken full responsibility as a society. Time to grow up Canada.
This unkindness to others for just being different is not unique to Canada, but as we are here right now, let's work on doing better, and create a country of true human kindness.
Very Concerned - The Canadians Government need to ban the hate group as terrorist. We need to work together to protect all people in Canada and to protect our democracy. Political parties need to stop bad mouthing each other. They need to sit down together talk, listen and understand until they arrive at a solution both can support.
Very Concerned - We need a complete over haul of the Politicians to act on people's behalf and make changes for the people in need and tax the rich!! I'm barely surviving with my income due to medical reasons, having trouble getting medical care, and can't survive on what ODSP gives on a monthly basis!!! Need a Universal Income for the Disability and Seniors if they have no Pensions!!!!
Very Concerned - Hate and racism are intertwined with our establishment 'centrist' political economics. That is why we talk about systemic prejudice, racism and hate.
We need a new politics that reflects the socially beneficial views where all are people are equal and that the voices proclaiming hate and racism will not be allowed to attain/hold power in politics or the market.
Very Concerned - These groups of violent and dangerous individuals operate above and beyond the law, and are only becoming enabled by a lack of consequences for their actions.
Very Concerned - These groups have to be called out for what they are. Hate is not OK.
Read more comments and see the results here: https://www.peacequest.ca/peace-poll-results/