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If you aren’t already familiar with something called the “Diagolon” movement, well, you will be. That’s because Pierre Poilievre, the prohibitive favourite in the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership race, was photographed at a recent event with its founder, Jeremy MacKenzie. A far-right activist and former member of the Canadian military who was arrested earlier this year on numerous weapons charges, MacKenzie is at the forefront of an increasingly dangerous community of anti-government agitators. And for some reason, he wanted to have his picture taken with Poilievre.

The name Diagolon refers to the imaginary nation MacKenzie and his followers have created, one that runs from Alaska to Florida. As the Canadian Anti-Hate Network’s Peter Smith and Mathew Kriner noted in a piece on the movement, this imaginary nation is “unencumbered by the sinister burdens of communism, moral degeneracy, and the World Economic Forum.” But that’s more than just a bad joke. As they write, the online community of pro-Diagolon livestreamers and their audience “have grown into an anti-government movement with militant accelerationist overtones.”

“Militant accelerationism” is, according to Kriner, “a set of tactics and strategies designed to put pressure on and exacerbate latent social divisions, often through violence, thus hastening societal collapse.” Other similar militant accelerationists include the “Boogaloo Movement,” a group of American anti-government and anti-police agitators who believe in the inevitability (and necessity) of a future civil war, and the Atomwaffen Division, which the Southern Poverty Law Centre describes as “a series of terror cells that work toward civilizational collapse.”

When MacKenzie’s presence at a Poilievre event was brought to his campaign’s attention, he eventually released a predictably petulant statement about the encounter. “As I always have, I denounce racism and anyone who spreads it. I didn’t and don’t know or recognize this particular individual. Likewise, I can’t be responsible for Justin Trudeau’s many racist outbursts just because I’ve met him or shaken his hand.”

But the photo with MacKenzie wasn’t Poilievre’s first exposure to the Diagolon movement. On Canada Day, the Conservative leadership hopeful marched with James Topp, another Canadian Forces veteran who has appeared numerous times on MacKenzie’s podcast. That wasn’t an accident, and Poilievre and his staff must have done their due diligence on Topp before deciding to march with him. That they chose to do so in spite of his affiliation with someone like MacKenzie speaks volumes — and raises some uncomfortable questions about the Conservative movement’s persistent proximity to far-right groups.

So far, those questions have been answered in one of two ways: feigned ignorance or whataboutism. The first was perhaps best exemplified by Brock Harrison, the executive director of communications and planning for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who insisted he’d never heard of MacKenzie. “Who?” he said in response to journalist Stephen Maher’s tweet asking if Poilievre wanted Diagolon’s support. But Harrison surely knows who MacKenzie is, given the four men arrested in Coutts, Alta., earlier this year and charged with conspiring to murder RCMP officers had direct and documented ties to MacKenzie’s movement.

The other popular response was modelled by Dimitri Pantazopoulos, a pollster and strategist for numerous conservative leaders, including Doug Ford, Kenney, Christy Clark and Stephen Harper. In his own series of tweets with me, he repeatedly tried to redirect the conversation back to Laith Marouf, an anti-racism consultant who has received $133,000 from the federal government — and who has a documented history of using racist and hateful language himself towards Jews and Israelis. When I pressed him about this whataboutism, he said: “The federal gov is literally paying this assclown. Please link me to the story or tweet you did about that.”

For what it’s worth, the news about Marouf only broke over the last couple of days. But let me be perfectly clear: his views are intolerable, especially in light of the role he serves and the funding he receives from our federal government. I’m a Liberal-leaning columnist who has supported the Palestinian people and their push for independence for more than 20 years, so I suppose I have some things in common with Marouf. But it’s not difficult for me to say that his comments and conduct are immediately disqualifying, and that the government must answer for how and why he was hired in the first place.

So why do Conservatives fall back on equivocation and deflection when it comes to people like MacKenzie and his fellow travellers? Maybe it’s because they think they need their votes. The Conservative movement in Canada right now seems consumed with winning back voters who defected to Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada in the 2021 election. We see that in Alberta, where the candidates to replace Kenney seem to be engaged in a contest to see who can flirt most aggressively with the province’s separatist movement. We see that in Ottawa, where Poilievre seems determined to transform the Conservative Party of Canada into the Convoy Party of Canada.

Opinion: The photo with Jeremy MacKenzie wasn’t Pierre Poilievre’s first exposure to the Diagolon movement, writes columnist @maxfawcett for @NatObserver.

And while there are some conservative voices speaking out against this rightward drift, they aren’t exactly the successful ones. Jean Charest tweeted over the weekend: “Hate and intolerance have no place in Canada or in the Conservative Party … it’s long past time for @PierrePoilievre to loudly and clearly tell MacKenzie, Diagolon and their supporters they are not welcome. Some votes should not be courted.”

Meanwhile, Leela Aheer, who’s running well behind people like Danielle Smith and Brian Jean in Alberta’s UCP leadership race, denounced a debate co-hosted by Rebel News and a separatist group called the Prosperity Project. “If I become leader of our party & Premier of Alberta, there will be no room for those who support this agenda — Alberta has a set of core values, and they are in direct opposition to what’s on display here,” she tweeted.

These are good and important words, but they’re directed to versions of their parties that no longer really exist — or perhaps never did in the first place.

Either way, Canadians need to pay close attention to how their leaders react to these sorts of situations. It’s true that, as Poilievre’s campaign said, he meets thousands of people and can’t do background checks on each one. But it’s also true that he’s entirely in control of how he responds after the fact and the message that sends to the Jeremy MacKenzies of the world. That it’s anything other than an unqualified disavowal speaks volumes — and rest assured, Diagolon is listening.

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The increasing number of rebel anti government groups is not surprising: almost all governments pursue the objective of growing the economy whereas the people who elect them want better services. The economy, measured by the value of the stock exchange, is of interest for the upper class, the privileged people. Only a minority of citizens actively participate in the economy.
Privileged people do not care much about the health system, schools, housing, public transport or even the environment: they use private clinics, send children to private schools, live in expensive houses, never use public transport and own large properties with trees, lawns, water fountains etc, away from municipal dumps, smoke stacks, street people or downtown traffic congestion.
Unfortunately, leaders of rebel movements do not possess the leadership qualities necessary to run a government: they point to what is wrong but they do not propose solutions or project enthusiasm for a better society.

I believe as well that the most fundamental cause of the convoy and its ancillaries is the abandonment of the good of the average citizen, by all governments in Canada.

The hideously expanded financial gap between corporation top officers, and their front-line staff, is just one indication of this. It's led to pain and anger that I never saw in my younger years.

I don't feel that we are actually governed by governments any more: we are governed by corporate interests, with governments as their sock puppets.

I generally agree with your post but you might ask yourself why this particular demographic (convoy) decided now was the time to act? It also wasn't just a protest...far from it. The convoy was a years long attempt, with a few trial runs, to overturn a democratic government. It woefully failed but much like Jan

* Dang...hit post button by mistake.

But much like Jan 6th in the US, the attempt was significant and highly worrying all the same.

This is male "gaming culture" gone wild, and gone mainstream courtesy of the "accelerationist" effect of the internet. Bad boys extraordinaire gleefully invoking the historical worst like Nazism and the KKK but making it their own with new, cartoonish memes, flags, and other such "clubby" paraphernalia. Adding an Egyptian "god of chaos" or two lends both historical and religious legitimacy of a sort for the "deep thinkers" among them.
Ex-military guys keep coming up with these extremist far right "burn it all down" groups, guys who must have felt most fully alive in the context of war with its faux righteousness, but particularly as a sanctioned outlet for their stupid rebel-without-a- pause aggression.
Fortunately, all that's actually going to be burned down is the conservative party's last shreds of credibility.

One can hope.

Why would you apologetically link supporting justice for Palestinians with what Marouf said? Doesn't this further the notion that supporting justice for Palestinians is somehow anti-Semitic, a trope Stephen Harper and very right wing organizations tried to champion? Israel is not somehow above legitimate criticism or international law, and Palestinians are clearly living in an unjust and illegal situation. That "neighbour" in the Golden Rule, surely applies to everyone and beyond, but it is taken seriously enough in Judaism to result in endless arguments regarding who one's "neighbour" is. So close to the bone in Israel's relationship with Palestinian, it is often conveniently explained away by narrowing the meaning to only other Jews, though it has repeatedly been declared by Jewish philosophers to apply far beyond and to be a central tenet of Judaism.
Hillel said "That which is hateful to you, do not do unto your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary; now go and learn." This rule is also known to be considered as Leviticus 19:18: "Love your fellow as you love yourself."

Of course we all fail at adhering to The Golden Rule, but surely that does not disqualify it from being a foundational goal, and that considered criticism of Israel, protesting treatment of Palestinians - which all of us can see is unjust and a way none of us would want to be treated - is neither anti-Semitic nor something about which to be ashamed.

oh so true... it is neither anti-semitic or something to be ashamed of when it comes to protesting the treatment of palestinians they happen to be human beings something i truly believe one would have thought at one time of the people of isreal... this is not us & them it is humanity as a whole...

Umm, did you actually read any of Marouf's tweets? One of which said this: "You know all those loud mouthed bags of human feces, a.k.a. the Jewish White Supremacists; when we liberate Palestine and they have to go back to where they come from, they will return to being low voiced bitches of thier (sic) Christian/Secular White Supremacist Masters.'' If that's not anti-Semitic I don't know what is.

Perhaps in the deepest part of the conservative heart and brain, there is a preference for the strong man......and his ability to rule arbitrarily. Being somehow 'above the law' because you're the guy who 'makes the laws for others', is a seductive component of most extreme views. Patriarchy has had a long and successful career operating in this arbitrary manner....using bullying and force to stand in for a lack of good policy.....We do it because 'I said so'....and many parents still respond at times with strong arm language such as that.

So these firebrands and outraged factions of the traditional, business as usual crowd can seem appealing to right wing politicians a bit flummaxed by the Canadian desire for good boring government....and there are lots of issues that are going to be difficult to deal with going forward.

Housing, wage stagnation, the drug crisis, extreme weather, inflation, war, homelessness, poverty, a degrading health care system. Must feel nice to express rage and hatred for whoever is in power and dream of the good old days,

When father knew best and mostly conservative men ran the affairs of state. It's a nostalgic movement PP is tapping into...but its also a bit of a low brow violent one.

He should learn from Jason Kenney: often, you can't control the forces you encouraged to get elected...and Canadian politics will never be radical enough for this fascistic leaning fringe of the conservative party.

"Perhaps in the deepest part of the conservative heart and brain, there is a preference for the strong man"

There's no "perhaps" about it. That is a central trait of the conservative mind. They respect a hierarchy of power. Psychologists tell us that around 1/3 of the population sees the world that way. Since democracy requires questioning our leaders these people have a natural problem with democracy. This is why right-wing voters can't be persuaded by logic. They are prisoners of their emotional worldview. They see compassion and respect for other people's views as weakness. These are psychological facts and we do not discuss them enough. Right wing politicians do understand this, though, and use it to their advantage.

I have to take exception to the stereotype that today’s ‘conservatives’ are psychologically defective. “They” do not, if all self-identifying conservatives were considered, necessarily see compassion and respect as weaknesses—indeed, some of the most compassionate and respectful people I’ve ever met were conservatives of the religious kind who consider them strengths. “Right-wing voters” are a diverse bunch—although, I grant, not as diverse as they used to be (which is probably central to the philosophy’s current dilemma)—so the narratives (note the plural) any faction might subscribe to are diverse enough to be broadly classified as having, in the narratological sense, their own logic of cause, effect, tension, resolution, and meaning. Remember: logic is not necessarily truth, and that myths are only as useful as their approximation of what is perceived as truth or wisdom. Outgrown, they become fairytales for children.

I agree that traditional philosophies of all sorts have glorified the so-called “strong man” (there’s even a school of history philosophy called the “strong [or great] man theory” about which big events are supposed to revolve), and that patriarchy has dominated this hierarchical concept for a long time, but it’s probably worth noting that the hierarchic is the dominant factor, the gender recessive, as history (only a tiny fraction of human chronology) has shown. Indeed, two notable, contemporary politicians of the right are female (the strongly aggressive Christy Clark and Danielle Smith, Kelly Leitch and Kim Campbell—or even Boudicca—having faded from the one-week-eternity of political memory). As we see Smith assume frontrunner status in the UCP leadership race, we should recognize the “strong” over the “man.”

Strictly speaking, narratologically-driven (or mythologically-driven, in its true sense of narratized wisdom that has some utility) societies (as far as we know, all societies of ‘Homo fabulus’ that have ever existed) tend to cast characters into their national mythoi (qv Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey”), that character having some kind of strength (muscles, wits, guile, &c) which is durable enough to endure success —the “happy ending”—or failure—“tragedy.” There is no narratological necessity to restrict heroism to any gender in particular, but if one were prone to assign gender, it’s not surprising that the conservative bent of preserving the most familiar model to chim (today recklessly termed “them” in nonbinaryese) —that is, in Abrahamic tradition, the assumed male character of “God.” Even this has been a matter of considerable hermeneutic and philosophical debate for a long, long time.

I think the point here is that today’s “conservatives” (IMHO, not all truly traditional Tories) aren’t much up for intelligent conversation. Rather, they are “prisoners of their emotional worldview” in an ironic way: they are too afraid of the world to have any worthy or encompassing view of it (they deny painfully obvious climate change, for example). In the narratological sense, they’ve pinched off both ends of their resultantly-crippled mythos, the past (required to generate a beginning in the religious “creationists’” way: there never was an evolution of many human species; there never was an indigenous culture or politics; &c) and, now, also the frightful future (manifest in denialism or, increasingly, anachronistic retrogression: “take back […]” or “MAGA”. That is, the extremist, far-right mythos has become a fairytale which, usually for infantile humans, soothes anxiety, and become ‘just-so’ stories about the feral human (often a man, but not always—qv “Hunger Games”) against nature.

I think the jury’s still out as to whether far-right politicians (for example, tRumpublicans) will truly find advantage by rocking rubes to sleep. Nevertheless, the world seems destined to experience the convulsion of their trying.

I think there is tension between the pressure of machismo for men who have been raised to be powerful and to win all the time. It sets in the brain a fear of failure every minute of every day. When the feminist movement began in my conscious mind, I was concerned. I remember saying that the problem was the way men tend towards domination and control over others, and what was needed was a movement for men to free themselves from the shackles of denying their emotions.

Later it occurred to me that our minds are trained to serve the empire, both male and female, so the pressure will always be there to make us feel inadequate and afraid of freedom. The answer that came back to me, was yes but men will have to create their own movement.

Politics and Religion set themselves up to be the guardians of collective movements but we require actors to have integrity, to want what is good for humanity. Yet it seems almost impossible for us to nurture that.

We have power in a way that's local and far-reaching. It doesn't look like much in comparison to the millions of crime dramas on the screen or on the playing field. I think many people today, traumatized by "empire" feel we only have two choices - to win or die.

Power will not work for us unless we find a way to express it without the emotional demand to win by control, domination. Fascism is simply filling that need for those who are afraid of uncertainty.

As someone has already observed: Pierre doesn't need to endorse white supremacy because white supremacy has endorsed him. He's their in. He walks with them, he meets with them, he winks at them on far right media and on Twitter.

It's galling that Poilievre would say "I can’t be responsible for Justin Trudeau’s many racist outbursts just because I’ve met him or shaken his hand."

If everyone is a racist by degrees - and by degrees we all are - most of us are trying to overcome our unconscious biases. We're listening, we're trying to change. Pierre, on the other hand, courts the bigots, and when he's caught backpeddles only long enough for the spotlight to dim so he can peddle toward them again.

Equating Trudeau to a neoNazi is peak trolling and reveals just how curdled Poilievre is. Trudeau isn't appearing on Jordan Peterson broadcasts saying "I speak Anglo Saxon." Pollievre did that. Everyone understands that wink wink nudge nudge dogwhistle. Trudeau is despised by the far right. Pierre is embraced by the far right. And his behaviour normalizes them.

The Conservatives have no choice but to court the far right. The Conservative base in Canada isn't quite big enough to win a federal election, but the anti-vaxers and freedom convoy crew are a vocal and well organized political force. They're a strange brew of white supremists, hippie conspiritualists, science deniers, and self absorbed extroverts who just couldn't handle the lock downs. But most of the freedom crowd are regular conservative people who love their kids and their families and are deeply afraid of the kind of change that is happening in the world right now. These are the ones that are rational enough to draw more people into the movement. The Conservatives need them and they see how the strategy to harness all that angst and denialism worked for the Republicans. I worry that it might be a winning strategy in Canada as well. Centrists and Progressives are going to have to work very hard to defeat this angry mob or they will put us on a very sad, backward looking and insular path as we head into an uncertain future.

Did the Republicans really win? By a quirk of the US Electoral College, tRump “won” the presiduncy by fluke, not majority (he got 3 million less votes than Hillary Clinton), then he set about tearing not only his party in half, but the once-hegemon USofA, too. That hegemony was largely strategic, but backed by near-hegemony of the other two legs of the globalizing-capitalist milking stool: commerce and technology. In any event, tRump drastically diminished all three.

Although tRump probably doesn’t know it, he is effectively making a lateral pass of the tRumpublican ball to Florida governor and reputed presiduncial prospect Rick De Santis—a rarer tactic usually performed without practice and only in circumstance contingency: tRump is incapable of carrying the ball much further without murdering the GOP’s prospects completely. Notably, De Santis (and many other tRumpublican politicians in the US), are ramping up the preposterous rhetoric which cost tRump his desired second term and the GOP the Senate. Meanwhile, tRump-approved primary winners appear to be diminishing GOP prospects at every level in general election terms.

Covid arguably cost tRump and the GOP—a million American citizens have died of the virus, and it probably isn’t over yet. The tRumpublican phenomenon is doubtlessly culpable for neglecting to address many of the challenges facing the nation, not just Covid, but we must recognize the deeper, longer term causes that predate this latest expression of frustration from the partisan right. In that light, challenges are not nearly so partisan as extremists insist and, I think, that fact will begin to erase some of the notion that solutions (or at least ameliorations) are correlatedly partisan. Trumpublicans do die of Covid and need abortions, too, despite their partisan-heavy misconceptions of governance. Indeed, the overturning of Roe v Wade has likely stung many women of, possibly, erstwhile GOP persuasion—and it’s starting, just starting to register in survey polls. The ones who will go down praying on their molehill of dying are typically—and quietly— abandoned in their zeal.

The point is that overriding-partisanship and personality cults do not begin to address challenges fast approaching—like climate change, for one of many examples: never mind whether or not particularism makes things worse; the fact is, things are getting worse in any case. Sure, catastrophes do tend to bring out the worst aspects of the extreme and Christian Right (the Katrina Hurricane, for example, brought out some pretty shameful racism against black citizens), but in the realization, I think people overcome the mob (which is as disrupted and dispersed by disasters as anyone else) and temper partisanship into remarkable altruism. I don’t think American factions will be hurling missiles into and levelling partisan rivals’ cities anytime soon. In a perverse way, floods, wildfires, hurricanes and pestilence redirect otherwise opposed factions for everyone’s sake.

In short, the tRumpublican right will, to whatever extent it garners power in federal nations like Canada and the USA, continue to demonstrate that it isn’t up to the challenges approaching. Ironically, this fact only makes the radicals more so. But that ain’t gonna help them, neither!

EVERYONE is deeply afraid of what is happening in the world right now but extending a hand to conservatives who are reacting SO badly, with SUCH spiteful, dangerous and stupid denialism while cultivating outright lies makes no sense.
You say that "progressives are going to have to work very hard to defeat this angry mob." Yes, and that starts with identifying the enemy and no longer coddling in any way, shape or form the banality of evil manifesting now just so you can feel like your usual liberal self, i.e. appropriately "tolerant."
AND openly pushing back on religion which is, as usual, so deeply intertwined in this "new" religious right, this horrifying "alt-right", and is in fact the smug and superior sanction, the REASON behind much of it. Like the highly consequential, blatantly patriarchal overturning of Roe V. Wade.

"Conservative" leaders all behave like children, and the southern orange toddler is the prime example. All the problem leaders, Putin, Bolsonaro, Orban, Turmp, Norky Kim not to mention Doug (dope dealer) Frod, lil Jay Kenney and every other alleged Canadian conservative all behave like petulant children.

Is queen Dildolo from Diagolon?