Former NDP, Bloc MP takes leadership role in far right Quebec group La Meute
La Meute has more than 43,000 Facebook followers, seeks to grow political influence
Former MP Claude Patry is leading a local chapter of Quebec's secretive far right group, La Meute, a spokesman for the group says.
Patry won the Jonquière-Alma riding as part of the NDP's "orange wave" in the 2011 election. He left to join the Bloc Québécois in 2013. He only served one term, ending in 2015.
Patry posted a photo of himself with the La Meute wolf paw logo on his Facebook page earlier this week.
He declined an interview with CBC's French-language network, Radio-Canada, about his connections to the controversial group.
La Meute spokesman Sylvain Brouillette, who goes by the pseudonym Sylvain Maikan, confirmed Patry's involvement in a post on the group's "secret" Facebook page Friday, to which a CBC journalist has been granted access.
"Mr. Patry is the new leader of Clan 02 of La Meute," Brouillette wrote, calling him a "man of conviction."
"When we have more people like him, things will change quickly."
La Meute's local chapters are called clans and the group has plans to create 20 across Quebec.
La Meute co-founder Patrick Beaudry told CBC last year that clan leaders are tasked with building "networks of influence" with police and politicians. They also find places to meet and report back to the group's main leaders at weekly intervals.
"Their duty is to create alliances and also to get involved in politics at the local level," Beaudry said.
Group aspires to political influence
Patry's former press attaché, Mario Simard, who spent four years with him in the House of Commons, was stunned when he saw the wolf paw on Patry's Facebook page.
"Personally, when I saw it, I worried about being associated with this," Simard said.
La Meute — or Wolf Pack — was founded in the fall of 2015 as the first wave of 25,000 Syrian refugees were being welcomed into Canada.
Since then, the organization has attracted more than 43,000 people to a secret Facebook group.
In another recent post in that group, Brouillette claimed La Meute now has branches in France and Belgium and will soon have an anglophone branch in Canada.
The expansion means the group is now looking for office space, which it plans to finance by charging a membership fee, he said.
La Meute's leaders told CBC in December that they hope to become a kind of lobby group, warning Quebecers of what they believe is an encroaching Islamic fundamentalism in their society.
Simard doubts the sincerity of La Meute's self-identification as a lobby group.
"I don't think their objective is to contribute to the public debate," he said, adding that he thinks the group is openly racist.
Parti Québécois MNA for Jonquière, Sylvain Gaudrault, said curtly that his reaction to the news was "extreme condemnation."
with files from Radio-Canada and Jonathan Montpetit