FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS RELEASE: Community Solidarity Ottawa Rips the Mask Off So-Called ‘Freedom Movement’
OTTAWA - Community Solidarity Ottawa, a coalition of Ottawa residents, labour unions, and community groups, opposes the so-called ‘freedom’ events being planned by the far-right in the coming days, on the Canada Day weekend, and throughout the summer.
“This is a movement of far-right extremists using the vaccine issue as a recruitment pipeline.” said Brian Latour, a spokesperson for Community Solidarity Ottawa (CSO). “Continuing actions by so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’ organizers and allies, even after their stated goals have been achieved, only confirms what we have known about them all along – that this is not about vaccines or mandates.”
These “freedom movement” events are nothing more than a revival of February’s anti-democratic “Freedom Convoy” occupation of Ottawa, says Latour. That included threatening and harassing Ottawa residents, blocking streets, and blanketing the city with dangerous levels of noise and pollution. These actions and the far-right politics they represent are a direct threat to our community and a broader threat to our safety and democracy.
“Once again, the Ottawa Police Service is providing logistical support to the far right,” said Sam Hersh of Horizon Ottawa. “We know there is no room for negotiation with the far-right. The people of Ottawa have no confidence police will protect our neighbourhoods from extremist, white supremacist far-right violence. To the best of our knowledge, none of the officers who supported the original convoy has faced any consequences. ”
“While governments have failed us over the pandemic, causing unnecessary suffering, the far right offers no solutions,” said Chantal Sundaram from CSO. “Pharmaceutical corporations have made massive profits while refusing to share the intellectual property for vaccines, so the global south remains unprotected against COVID while new variants ravage our communities. Canadian billionaires have added billions to their net wealth since the start of the pandemic, while working class people have suffered. The far right offers no solutions to these issues.”
At the end of April, CSO raised the alarm about far-right elements seeking to re-occupy our community under the guise of ‘Rolling Thunder Ottawa’. CSO was proven correct when vehicles once again attempted to take over Rideau Street, only to be displaced by riot police. Once again, far-right elements have mobilized, this time around Canada Day and behind James Topp, a soldier with numerous far-right connections who is currently marching across Canada in protest of vaccine mandates that have since been lifted.
CSO is again warning city, provincial and federal leadership, the media and the public that another occupation is coming.
CSO is also raising the alarm about the increasingly dangerous rhetoric emanating from the so-called ‘freedom movement”. In particular, CSO notes increasing anti-LGBT2QIA+ rhetoric online that parallels the far right internationally. This is especially concerning following the arrest of dozens of Patriot Front members on their way to attack a Pride event in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho on June 11. Across Canada, members of the ‘freedom movement’ continue to call for violence and executions of public officials. Neo-nazi recruiting stickers have also begun to appear in Ottawa this past weekend, posted alongside anti-vaccine stickers.
Also concerning is the fact that according to their communications, at least two dozen Members of Parliament plan on meeting with James Topp and Veterans for Freedom (V4F) in Ottawa on June 22nd. V4F is a far-right group that previously invited Holocaust denier Chris Sky to speak on Parliament Hill as part of their Rolling Thunder Ottawa initiative. James Topp has been associating himself with numerous hate groups as he marches across Canada, in particular the Diagolon movement led by notorious Nova Scotia based neo-Nazi Jeremy MacKenzie. The fact that mainstream politicians are willing to lend their legitimacy to the far right in this manner is extremely concerning.
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Community Solidarity Ottawa
A number of events by so-called “freedom convoy” organizers are planned for June 30 and July 1, coinciding with Canada Day and the arrival in Ottawa of James Topp, a Canadian Forces member and anti-vaccine activist currently facing disciplinary proceedings/charges for making political statements while in uniform.
Topp is marching across Canada in protest against vaccine mandates that have since been lifted. Topp has a number of far-right connections, in particular to the neo-fascist “Diagolon” movement, founded by Jeremy MacKenzie, a Nova Scotia-based neo-Nazi currently facing weapons charges. Topp has become a cause célèbre in Diagolon and other far-right circles, having appeared multiple times on MacKenzie’s podcast, at one point claiming to be a regular viewer who shares MacKenzie’s ideas. In a podcast with MacKenzie and fellow neo-Nazi Alex Vriend, Vriend claimed there are Diagolon members in Topp’s entourage. Four members of Diagolon in Alberta are currently facing charges of conspiracy to murder RCMP officers, among other firearms charges, stemming from their participation in the Coutts, Alberta border blockade in February.
Topp is also a member of Police on Guard for Thee, an organization which lists MacKenzie as an official partner. Recent reports indicate Topp’s entourage also includes Hold Fast, a Peterborough-based anti-vaccine, anti-mask gang best known for accosting Jagmeet Singh during his visit to Peterborough last month. Topp has been associating with a number of far-right and anti-vaccine groups as he makes his way across Canada, including Hold Fast, The Line, and others.
In addition to the Canada Day convoy events, Veterans for Freedom (V4F) has set up a permanent base camp on the outskirts of Ottawa from which they plan to continue their operations throughout the summer. V4F is planning to hold a conference on June 22-24 to spread COVID misinformation and, according to their public statements, hold meetings with at least two dozen Members of Parliament. Earlier this year, V4F was one of the groups that invited Holocaust denier Chris Sky to speak at Parliament Hill as part of their “Rolling Thunder Ottawa” event.
Other groups organizing events for the Canada Day weekend in the Ottawa area include The Line, an anti-semitic COVID conspiracy group; Canada Unity, a group which explicitly came to Ottawa in January to overthrow the government and has since amped up anti-LGBT rhetoric, and the Canadian Democratic Defence Association, a sovereign citizen organization explicitly calling for the military to overthrow the government and jail their political opponents for treason. There are also unconfirmed rumours of convoys from the west and a “pop-up convoy” on July 2nd.
The information below was compiled by various researchers. It is not exhaustive, simply a mere sample of the far-right connections in this so-called “freedom movement”
Re: James Topp
- Currently marching across Canada in opposition to vaccine mandates, which as of June 20 have been lifted.
- Topp is facing discipline by the military for making political statements in support of the convoy and in opposition to vaccine mandates while in uniform.
- While Topp has less of a history of public far-right activism, he has a number of ties to the far right, in particular to the Diagolon movement, an accelerationist movement loosely grouped around a number of far-right content creators such as neo-nazi Jeremy MacKenzie, who is facing weapons charges in Nova Scotia. Four members of this movement are currently also facing charges for conspiring to murder RCMP officers.
- Has made many appearances on far-right podcasts and hate media, including at least two appearances on “Raging Dissident” (Jeremy MacKenzie) among numerous others.
- Claimed he is a regular viewer of Jeremy MacKenzie and shares MacKenzie’s ideas.
- While it is unconfirmed whether he is a member of Diagolon, he does have members of Diagolon in his entourage.
- Topp is a member of Police on Guard for Thee, a far-right organization made up of ex-military and ex-law enforcement which lists Jeremy “Raging Dissdent” MacKenzie as an official partner
- Topp is also a member of Veterans for Freedom (more information below).
- Has been associating with a number of far-right and anti-vaccine groups as he travels across Canada, including Hold Fast (a Peterborough based group best known for harassing Jagmeet Singh) and The Line (an anti-semitic COVID conspiracy group).
- Previously co-sponsored Rolling Thunder Ottawa, where they invited Holocaust denier Chris Sky to speak on Parliament Hill as part of their event allegedly honouring veterans.
- V4F organizers were heavily involved with the original convoy in January and February.
- Officially lists multiple COVID misinformation sites as partners, including Bright Light News, Canadian Frontline Nurses, and Mama Bears Project.
Re: Hold Fast
- Hold Fast is a Peterborough based anti-vaccine/anti-mask/COVID conspiracy group led by Roy Asseltine and Nicole Comber, which has been welcomed into Topp’s entourage.
- Hold Fast is best known for verbally harassing Jagmeet Singh at a campaign stop in Peterborough in May, including calling for his death.
- Hold Fast was also present for and participated in the attempted reoccupation of Rideau Street during Rolling Thunder Ottawa.
- Asseltine and Comber have previously appeared live on video with white nationalists such as Pat King and are supporters of Jeremy MacKenzie and Diagolon
- Have previously compared vaccines to residential schools.
Re: The Line
- The Line is an anti-semitic COVID conspiracy group led by Lamont Daigle, who has spoken out in favour of anti-semitic conspiracy theories.
Re: Canada Unity
- Came to Ottawa as part of the original convoy, promoting a “Memorandum of Understanding” demanding the overthrow of the government
- Has recently been spewing anti-LGBT content on Twitter, including calling for Pride parades to be banned.
Re: Canadian Democratic Defense Association
- In spite of their name, they are demanding the overthrow of our democratically elected government by the military
- Claims to have the right to establish a “new force of peace officers” called the Canadian Common Corps of Peace Officers, to enforce their laws
- Claims that anyone who opposes them is guilty of treason and is subject to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole
- Increasingly disturbing online rhetoric coming from the convoy movement, both generic violent rhetoric and calls for executions, and specifically anti-LGBT rhetoric.
- Jordan Redmond, 25, of Red Deer, Alberta, also known as @republicofalberta, made a tiktok video (since taken down, video is available) shortly after Rolling Thunder threatening to bring his gun and shoot people next time he comes to Ottawa. Has since been charged with various firearms offences. We do not know if he plans to return to Ottawa for Canada Day.
- Neo-nazi stickers spotted over the weekend in Ottawa.