A new political party is hoping to officially register itself and field candidates in the next Canadian federal election, running on a hard-right, white nationalist platform.
Travis Patron, the leader of the Canadian Nationalist Party, is actively looking to recruit candidates for his fledgling party and is planning closed-door meetings across the country this month to roll out his political project.
The far-right party, which claims hundreds of members, is calling for a constitutional recognition of Canada’s European heritage, an effective end to immigration, and to put the prime minister on trial for treason.
What remains unclear, however, is whether Patron’s party is actually attracting support, or whether it is simply a one-man show.
Patron began his cross-country tour in Toronto on Sunday. A video posted to his website shows a handful of people sitting in a conference room to hear Patron speak. Tickets for the event were $10.
Patron is planning a second event in Toronto next month, in addition to events scheduled for March in Regina, Calgary, and Victoria. Some three dozen attendees have RSVP'd on Facebook for those events.
Patron previously made headlines this summer after attempting to organize a far-right rally on the University of Toronto campus. He later canceled it after backlash from the university and students following the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Patron had plans for a second rally, but appears to have abandoned that too, as its Facebook event had just a smattering of attendees.
Supporters who have RSVP'd for his Facebook events include those with Nazi symbolism on their Facebook pictures; the self-described founder of the ultra-nationalist Northern Guard; one user who wore a Soldiers of Odin patch on his leather vest; and those who identified themselves as Proud Boys, a far-right protest group that made waves in Canada for protesting an indigenous ceremony in Nova Scotia.
Because Patron’s party hasn’t registered with Elections Canada (he would need 250 members in order to do so), there’s no way to know how much money he’s raised for his cause. His current fundraising efforts include a “bitcoin derivative fund” and a sponsorship fund for supporters. The party’s website advertises that it currently has three “bronze level” sponsors, who, it says, contributed $400 over the course of the year.
In an email to BuzzFeed News, Patron says he’s signed up 200 members already and that he’ll be “pushing to fill the room” at his future tour dates.
The website claims that anyone who contributes to the party will receive a significant tax break of up to 70%. That tax credit, however, is only applicable to registered political parties; the Canadian Nationalist Party is not eligible for that tax credit.
“We plan on being registered by the start of next year,” Patron said.
At various times on the party website, Patron has promised that his party would call for a 90% cut in immigration, promote “state arranged marriages,” and give increased powers to his hypothetical state to enact its agenda. Earlier versions of his manifesto called for an end of water fluoridation and for a constitutional amendment "characterizing ethnic nationalism and removing its destructive stance on multiculturalism."
That specific campaign plank, to enshrine ethnic nationalism into the constitution, has disappeared from the party platform. Asked whether he still supports that idea, Patron said simply, “Yes.”
An earlier version of his platform also pledged to open a treason investigation into both the Liberal and Conservative parties. His platform continues to state that capital punishment should be reinstated for treason.
“The head of our current Liberal Party will be tried for treason,” Patron wrote in an email. “On this point, you have my word.”
Ousting Justin Trudeau was the topic of Patron’s most popular YouTube video: It has 1,200 views.
Patron is prolific online, writing for an array of websites about bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. He also runs Diginomics, which advertises courses to certify bitcoin researchers and developers.
Despite the fact that Patron has aggressively tried to market his political organization as right-wing, but not white supremacist — “We certainly do represent the rights of European Canadians, but we do not do that exclusively,” he told Vice News in August — the party often comes up as a topic of conversation on Stormfront.
On Stormfront, a white supremacist and neo-Nazi website which boasts a Canadian section with more than 120,000 posts, one account has consistently advertised the Canadian Nationalist Party. The anonymous account, registered this August, promoted the party, fielded questions about its platform, and at one point, even sought input for the party’s logo.
The account also wrote glowingly of Hitler, quoted Joseph Goebbels, and referred to immigrants as “mud.”
Patron, in an email to BuzzFeed News, said he wasn’t running the account. “Although our party is often discussed on Stormfront, we have never used it directly and I do not have an account on the site,” he wrote.
When BuzzFeed News followed up to ask Patron who else could be posting on the infamous neo-Nazi site seeking advice on, among other things, logos for his political party, he did not respond.
Patron’s party isn’t exactly popular on the far-right forum. Many posters mocked his attempts to launch the CNP. Some warned that the broader public would never support an avowedly white supremacist Canadian political party. Others balked at Patron’s support for legalized marijuana.
But some were on board with stepping into the political sphere. One poster made the point that white supremacists need to act now. “Its [sic] clear to me that a race war is not only likely but inevitable,” one wrote.
Patron’s quixotic attempts to launch his political party do shed light on a larger community of Canadian white nationalists looking for a home, even if his organization isn’t it.
There have been repeated attempts to start up a far-right political movement in Canada, never with any real success. There is the long-standing Nationalist Party of Canada (not to be confused with Patron’s party) which was born out of the Western Guard, a neo-Nazi movement in the 1970s. It has fielded candidates at all levels of government, including municipal elections in Toronto, with little success.
More recently, the National Socialist Canadian Labour Revival has used Stormfront to try and gin up support, though even that party actively encourages its members to vote for the Conservative Party.
The Canadian Nationalist Front managed to hold its own rally in Peterborough in September, but only a smattering of supporters showed up, and were outnumbered by anti-racist counterprotesters.
The National Advancement Party of Canada, a nationalist and anti-Islam movement (they produced a video titled “Canada needs Islamophobia,”) appears to have had the most success of its current competition thus far. It successfully registered with Elections Canada.
While Canada has not seen the same level of engagement in its far-right political scene as there has been in the United States and abroad, there is undoubtedly renewed appetite to build up the movement, thanks in part to electoral success of ethno-nationalist parties in Europe and the rise of Donald Trump in the US.
While right-wing extremism has been in Canada for decades, multiple reports from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service signal a growing threat from far-right and anti-Islam organizations and individuals.
A guide to radicalization and extremism prepared by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police last year reports that “a significant number of extreme right groups have been observed in Canada over the years,” but added that they can often be high-profile but short-lived.