Saturday June 17, several right-wing and far-right nationalist groups and individuals were supposed to meet at the College de Maisonneuve, for a day-long conference organized by the Mouvement républicain du Québec, in collaboration with La Meute. Following media reports and the announcement that the Mouvement étudiant révolutionnaire would be organizing a demonstration to “block the far right”, the college canceled its contract with Editions Dédicaces (publishing house of Guy Boulianne, leader of the MRQ).
The conference is now to be held in the suburb of Vaudreuil-Dorion, with the same lineup of speakers and still in direct collaboration with La Meute.
The Speakers on June 17
The June 17 “Rassemblement pour le bien commun et l’intérêt supérieur du Québec” will feature a number of speakers from the far right fringe of the nationalist movement, including Alexandre Cormier-Denis, the Parti Indépendentiste candidate who recently received less than 100 votes in Gouin, but who attracted massive media attention due to his racist electoral placards.i While most of the media stories about Cormier-Denis were the result of this stunt, his more important ties are to Horizon Quebec Actuel, which is affiliated with Marine Le Pen’s Front National.ii Despite being promoted by open racists such as the Fédération des Québecois de Souche,iii and his links to the FN, Cormier-Denis remains a member in good-standing of the Parti Québécois, and works with a variety of “politically incorrect” nationalists, for instance on the Vigile.net and “Radio Infocite” internet sites.iv
Other speakers include the vlogger André Pitre (aka “Stu Pitt”); on “gauchedroitistan” and his own youtube channel, Pitre has spent years indulging in conspiratorial rabble rousing, with a penchant for complaining about “social justice warriors”, “globalists”, and feminists. Overjoyed by the election of Donald Trump in the United States, in 2017 Pitre has used his internet media presence to promote Islamophobic groups such as La Meute, and conspiratorial right-wing populists such as the MRQ.
Gilles Noel, of the Parti d’Unité National, will also be speaking at the June 17 conference, where his presence gives a lie to Islamophobes’ insistence that what they really want is simply a “secular” society. Noel is a longtime organizer with the Catholic far right. He was the founding leader of the Parti démocratie chrétienne du Québec in 2002, a group which emerged out of the Centre d’Information National Robert Rumillyv (known in the 1980s and 90s for its ties to anti-immigrant and openly fascist groups, such as the Cercle Jeune Nation). In 2012 the PDCQ changed its name to Parti d’Unité National, a move that also signaled a shift from a theocratic programme to one based more on conservative nationalism. The new PUN remains staunchly opposed to abortion and the breakdown of the traditional family, but has now reoriented more firmly against “unreasonable accommodation” for non-Christian minorities, insisting on the French and Christian identity of the Quebecois nation.vi
Other speakers at the June 17 conference include Richard Le Hir, Daniel St-Hilaire, and Jean-Jacques Nantel, all of whom have long been involved in the more mainstream nationalist movement (PQ, BQ, Cap sur l’Indépendance, Vigile.net). These “respectable” luminaries will be accompanied by lesser known oddballs, such as Hans Mercier (whose Parti 51 wants Quebec to separate from Canada in order to join the United States), Jean-Louis Pérez-Martel (another anti-Muslim and anti-« globalist » conspiracy theorist associated with Vigile.net) and Jérôme Blanchet-Gravel (a University of Ottawa doctoral student and author of the book Le nouveau triangle amoureux: gauche, islam et multiculturalisme).
Together, the June 17 conference represents an attempt to consolidate a far right political current in Quebec, bringing together as it does, ambitious younger activists, older more mainstream political figures, and representatives of minor fringe groupings. Indeed, such is the stated goal of the Mouvement républicain du Québec, a group that was only founded this year by Guy Boulianne, in the hope of giving organizational form to this milieu on the fringes and the right end of the nationalist project. While hiding behind talk of “freedom of speech”, Boulianne is in fact a right-wing conspiracy theorist and xenophobic nationalist. (This “free speech champion” has, for instance, called for the imprisonment of American comedian Kathy Griffin for her recent “behead Trump” artistic statement; on the show of “free speech champion” André Pitre, no less!)vii
Beyond speeches in an empty suburban field, there is an additional aspect to the June 17 conference. Arguably, this reveals the true goal of the entire exercise.
La Meute is the largest far right racist organization in Quebec. Founded in 2015 by two ex-soldiers, Éric Venne (alias Eric Corvus, who left the group in January of this year) and Patrick Beaudry, the group’s first events were in the Quebec City and Saguenay areas. In August 2016 their fliers started appearing in public places, and a few weeks later Venne and other members disrupted an information event organized by a group of volunteers planning to host a family of Syrian refugees.viii
The January 29 attack on the Islamic Cultural Center in Quebec City by far-rightist Alexandre Bissonette, which left six people dead and nineteen injured, was condemned by La Meute, but nonetheless was taken as the opportune moment to “come out from the shadows” and affirm a more aggressive public presence. La Meute was subsequently present at numerous anti-Muslim demonstrations across Quebec on March 4, along with other far right groups, and since then as well. (The March 4 demonstrations were organized by Georges Hallak’s one-man show, the “Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens”, but supported by Guy Boulianne’s MRQ and others.)ix
While insisting that it is not racist (because “Islam is not a race”) and not “extreme right” (because things are not “extreme” without “blood in the streets”), La Meute promotes a conspiratorial worldview of shadowy globalist elites conspiring with “Islamic extremists” to impose Sharia law on western populations. Besides the MRQ, up until earlier this year La Meute also worked with the Soldiers of Odin, an anti-Muslim group started by neonazis in Finland.x In the words of its founder Patrick Beaudry, “We here in Quebec are the home, the umbilical cord, of European civilization in the Americas”xi; In the words of its media liaison Sylvain Brouillette (aka Sylvain Maikan), “Marine Le Pen is a lot closer to us than Donald Trump.”xii
On May 15, on André Pitre’s youtube show, La Meute announced that it would be making itself available anywhere in Quebec to stand up against “threats to freedom of speech.” Pitre and La Meute made it clear that what was meant by this, was any intervention by antifascists, feminists, or anti-racists to protest or disrupt racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic events. It was also made clear in Pitre’s show, that this announcement was the result of Pitre himself reaching out to La Meute and requesting that they play such a role (the declaration was filmed in his living room).xiii
In this context, the MRQ publically announced that it had arranged for La Meute to provide “security” at the June 17 event;xiv the MRQ links to and promotes La Meute on its website, where it also mirrored La Meute’s declaration.xv As of June 5, almost half of the tickets sold on the June 17 eventbrite page, were sold to individuals openly claiming to be La Meute members. Meanwhile, both Pitre and Boulianne have been raising money to help defray La Meute’s costs at the event.
Meanwhile, on facebook, where the Mouvement Étudiant Révolutionnaire announced a demonstration to shut down the June 17 conference, La Meute members have enthusiastically threatened violence,xvi whereas in their public statement, they declare that they will work with police to contain and neutralize any antifascist protests. (As for Pitre, he has crowed that the “it is game over for antifa in Quebec”, who he characterizes as “drugged out youth from single-parent households.”)xvii
As such, besides consolidating the far right, June 17 represents an attempt to establish a new balance of forces between the far right and the antifascist left. The initial choice of the Cegep de Maisonneuve, in Hochelaga, a base for the left in Montreal, appears in this light as a deliberate provocation.With the help of the MRQ, La Meute was looking for a fight so that it could lay down the law, guaranteeing that Islamophobic, sexist, racist, or transphobic organizing and propaganda can be carried out in the future, without resistance.
Currently being held in the suburb of Vaudreuil, this conference still represents a moment of consolidation for the far right within the nationalist movement, which is going on the offensive against Muslims, the left, feminists, as well as « globalists » and the « New World Order ».
The meeting on June 17 has nothing to do with the “greater good of Quebec”, any more than La Meute’s presence has anything to do with “protecting freedom of expression”. A meeting where all of the speakers are white men, whose opinions range from ethnonationalism to ultraconservative Catholicism, in alliance with La Meute and other far right forces looking for a fight, is a threat.
We call on everyone to denounce this racist and sexist circus, and to take serious steps to prepare to resist the rise of anti-Muslim, conpiracist, and xenophobic political movements!
Stay informed about developments in the weeks and months to come: montreal-antifasciste.info
This is only the beginning…
xvi For instance, threatening to beat up and kill antifa “faggits” (sic):
And then these boneheads explain that they are members of La Meute:
This declaration has made some waves on social media, and not only because of its spelling mistakes, as several women who were planning on attending the June 17 conference have complained that Pitre is stigmatizing single-mothers. Pitre followed up with an “apology” typical of his crude antifeminism: “ Hier j’ai blessé des gens en utilisant le mot “monoparental” de façon trop péjorative. Je suis conscient qu’il y a beaucoup de nouveaux sur mon Facebook et ils ne sont pas habitués à la façon dont je m’exprime. Alors à eux, je tiens à m’excuser et je promets de faire très attention à l’avenir aux mots que j’utilise pour être sûr de ne pas blesser personne. C’était absolument pas mon intention de vous comparer aux crisses de folles qui ont des relations sexuelles avant le mariage. (sssshht, c’est un test de QI déguisé)”
UPDATE : The MRQ conference has been moved to the Centre équestre l’Intégrité, located at 3987 chemin Sainte-Angélique, in Saint-Lazare.
You can call directly the owner, Sophie Robichaud, at 450-510-5354 or 514-992-2141
UPDATE: The owner of the Centre équestre l’Intégrité denies having rented her installations to the MRQ event. But here is evidence that the conference was moved there: a ticket purchased online directly through the organizers.
Furthermore, Sophie Robichaud has herself promoted the event on her Facebook page in the last few days: