A demonstration by healthcare workers (« Manif des travailleurs de la santé!!!!! ») has been called for July 18th at the Parc Saint-Laurent in Repentigny. Organized by a collective of patient attendants, « Le journal des PAB », the demonstration has five demands (which are not at all easy to find of the event page…) and is inviting “all healthcare workers in Quebec” to join them. At first glance this struck us as a welcome initiative, but we changed our minds pretty quickly over the past week when we saw that several far-right figures and anti-lockdown conspiracy theorists were inviting themselves or plain out being invited to attend by some of the organizers!
For instance, Steeve « L’Artiss » Charland (the former second-in-command at La Meute, now with Storm Alliance) intends to « show up with his gang » (people who are similarly close to La Meute and Storm Alliance, two notoriously Islamophobic and anti-immigrant organizations). Jonathan « Hex » Héroux, who organized the famous Vagues bleues in Montreal and Trois-Rivières, also announced he would be attending, as did Alexis Cossette-Trudel, the new top conspiracy theorist in Quebec, a fake news pro and expert in post-factual manipulation.
Let’s be clear: these individuals and their groupies are in no way “allies of healthcare workers”. On the contrary, from the very beginning of the pandemic they have been busy claiming the danger posed by the virus is exaggerated (in some cases even denying it exists!), while calling on people to disregard lockdown measures and not respect social distancing. In doing so they have not only been endangering healthcare workers, but also the elderly, people with specific risk factors, and the general public. What’s more, and this is not a minor detail, many of the ideas and theories promoted by these individuals stigmatize and scapegoat a significant number of people working in the healthcare sector, and specifically as PABs: namely, immigrants (whether “regular” or “irregular”) and Muslims.
These individuals, many of whom are right-wingers who have been active for years in Islamophobic and anti-immigrant organizations (not to mention having recently been indulging in panicked conspiracy theories denying the very existence of COVID!), should not be welcome anywhere, as they represent an agenda of division, xenophobia, and crass ignorance.