Saskatoon

Human rights group files hate-speech complaint against Canadian Nationalist Party leader

An organization that tracks hate speech has filed a police complaint with the RCMP against Travis Patron, of Redvers, Sask., who is the leader of the Canadian Nationalist Party.

Party posted Facebook flyer calling Jewish people 'liars' and 'deceivers,' group says

The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center is asking the RCMP to investigate Travis Patron, leader of the Canadian Nationalist Party. (Nationalist.ca)

An organization that tracks hate speech has filed a police complaint with the RCMP against Canadian Nationalist Party leader Travis Patron, of Redvers, Sask.

Over the weekend, the party's Facebook page posted a flyer titled "Beware the parasitic tribe," which raised flags for the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, a group dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism and racism. 

The flyer talks about removing from the country "inside manipulators" who infiltrate media and the central bank.

"The people we speak of are not truly 'Jews,'" the flyer reads.

"They are liars and deceivers attempting to shield themselves from criticism using a false identity."

Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, director of the organization's Campaign Against Antisemitism, said such language is dangerous.

"People do not just passively accept and absorb these hateful words," she said.

"We know that these words translate into action."

Party founded in 2017

In 2019, the RCMP launched another hate-crimes probe into Patron and the Canadian Nationalist Party after the party posted a Facebook video using language similar to that in the flyer.

The difference, Kirzner-Roberts said, is that the video did not directly refer to Jewish people, while the recently posted flyer does.

"According to hate-speech laws, for something to be illegal hate speech, it needs to invoke hate against identifiable groups," she said.

In a text message, Patron said his accusers are "deliberately misinterpreting our message."

"The people who have filed the complaint are avoiding the 'elephant in the room,'" read the text.

"The people we speak of are not TRULY 'Jews.'"

Kirzner-Roberts said similar language about modern-day Jewish people not being related to Jews of the biblical era has come up often in anti-Semitic speech.

"When these hateful people are trying to construct this narrative that Jews are evil and they're satanic, they have this problem to confront in their religion because the Old Testament is accepted as a part of the canon of their religion," she said.

"This is all very cryptic and confusing and — make no mistake — absolutely none of this is based in any type of fact or historical fact whatsoever. This is a story that they have made up."

Kirzner-Roberts said Patron and the Canadian Nationalist Party have been on her group's radar since soon after the party's founding in 2017.

Despite protests from anti-hate groups, the party achieved official status in 2019 and ran candidates in Saskatchewan, Quebec and Ontario.

The RCMP confirmed they received the complaint and are looking into the matter.

Asked whether it was aware of the complaint and whether the Canadian Nationalist Party's status as a registered party was being reviewed, Elections Canada said in a statement that it is "agnostic when it comes to ideology or platform."

"Just as there is no mechanism under the act allowing the Chief Electoral Officer to reject a new party's application solely based on their ideology, there's no legal mechanism that allows him to deregister a party for any reason not explicitly listed in the act," it said.

"There are other pieces of legislation and frameworks that regulate the behaviour and discourse of individuals and groups in Canada, including the Criminal Code, but these are outside Elections Canada's mandate."

The statement said Elections Canada was only aware of the complaint due to media reports about it.

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