According to La Meute founder Éric “Corvus” Venne, the organization was formed to “protect our country” and defend “our land, our values, our tenets, our freedom, our security, and our children’s future from Islamic invasion.” In spite of an eventual shift in La Meute’s public discourse in an attempt to downplay its fundamental racism, the documents circulating on its website and Facebook page and the daily statements of its members remain rooted in a far-right identitarian Islamophobia, most bluntly summarized in a document entitled Où va l’argent? (Where Does the Money Go?), written Patrick Beaudry, when he was chief of the council, explaining why it’s important to donate to La Meute:
“We are face to face with an enemy that has existed for 1,400 years and is determined to supplant everything outside itself. An enemy who is also a zillionnaire!
We are working to educate ourselves, and we are trying learn a bit more every day to better understand our enemy—yes enemy!
Because we’re at war! Not because we want war; not because we asked for it! But because radical Islam has declared war on us, and if we don’t do anything, we’ve already lost!
—From the moment someone pronounces you the enemy, you are at war! Whetheror not you want it changes nothing.”
While unified in its Islamophobia, La Meute has been rife with internal power conflicts and purges. Venne, the first to go, was expelled in January 2017 for alleged financial malfeasance. Before falling more or less silent, he popped up a couple times. First, he appeared in August 2017 at a barbecue hosted by La Meute’s only real contender on the field of Québécois identitarian Islamophobia, the Storm Alliance, crowing on his Facebook page about having been made an honorary SA member, posting a picture of himself in an SA t-shirt and anotherwhere he and then SA founder and leader Dave Tregget are punching the air together. Then, less than two months later, in October, Venne was interviewed by Vice and waxed poetic about forming a far-right electoral party. He told Vice that he had registered the name “Action,” which apparently stands for “Alliance citoyenne contre la corruption, le totalitarisme, l’impérialisme et l’obscurantisme de la nation,” with the Québec Directeur général des élections. It is of interest that his pal Dave Tregget, who has since quit the Storm Alliance and dropped out of sight, has also mused about forming an electoral party.
The dust had barely settled from the Venne purge, when, in September 2017, co-founder Patrick Beaudry was the next to find himself pushed out the door, once again for alleged financial improprieties. For his part, Beaudry went on to found a new far-right Islamophobic organization, which he humbly named Révolution PTRK, using his four-letter Facebook handle. The organization maintains a website on which heinous Islamophobic shit is posted, but thus far Beaudry had been unable to get his “revolution” off the internet and into the real world, essentially having been reduced to an online troll.
This left Sylvain “Maikan” Brouillette as the only original council member, and he quickly moved to consolidate his power, naming to the council two close associates, Éric Proulx and Stéphane Roch. These three, along with former police officer turned La Meute head of security and council member Jacques Gagné, issued a communiqué on September 18, 2017 that read:
For the moment we are all sad. But the pain is less intense when we know that things will be better than before once our sadness passed. We hope that the fractures will heal and that all will succeed again in the same direction and that we will all be brought together to serve the same cause. The names of people change, but the cause does not die and the pack continues to advance.
The Pack Group Council
Before the new leadership could even really settle in, the organization was again rocked by an internal schism, this time in the form of its very own #MeToo moment, when in late November La Meute member Natacha Pelchat accused two men in the organization, René Blaireau and Patrick Bilodeau, of sexual assault, a pattern of behaviour that other women in the group quickly confirmed. It wasn’t long before the main focus of the sexual assault claims shifted to council member Éric Proulx, who was accused of serial sexual assaultagainst numerous women in La Meute. So notorious was Mr. Proulx’s abuse that he was known within the organization as “Ti-loupFourre-tout” (Little Wolf Who Fucks Anything).
Initially the La Meute leadership closed ranks around Proulx, but it seems Proulx crossed a line when in late December 2017 he dismissed Marie-Josée Dufour, the head of the Saguenay clan, from her position, in what was described as his usual abusive manner. La Meute members, including Mme Dufour’s husband went public with their dissatisfactions. They called Proulx a tyrant who drove many of the group’s best members to leave and join the Storm Alliance, referred to his routine sexual abuse of female members, and complained about his endless embarrassing public indiscretions. This opened the floodgates, members started filling up the group’s Facebook pages with an endless flow stories about Proulx’s predatory sexual practices, witheven his fellow council member Stéphane Roch stepping forward to denounce Proulx as undisciplined, abusive, and self-serving, before himself quitting not only the council but La Meute altogether.
Soon Sylvain “Maikan” Brouillette, effectively La Meute’s senior figure, was also warring with Proulx, the two exchanging Facebook threats that hinted at physical violence. On the night of December 25–26 Proulx seized control of La Meute’s public Facebook page, offering to sell it to former council chief Patrick Beaudry and his wife Manon Lacerte. It seems he was intent on recouping $883.23 that he felt La Meute still owed him.(La Meute would eventually pay him that amount to get the page back.) On December 28, Brouillette announced that rather than continue the power struggle, he was leaving La Meute and that the two remaining members of the council he had thrown together after Proulx was pushed out and Roch quit, Jacques Gagné, the former cop, and Myriam Voyer, a former PEGIDA-Québec member, would be taking over the leadership and forming a new council. It was only a few days, however, before Brouillette was back by popular demand as La Meute’s supreme pontiff. The year ended with a battered, splintered, and much weakened La Meute, but not one that could yet be counted out of the game.
Structure and organization
La Meute’s organizational structure includes a council of “chiefs” and seventeen clans representing Québec’s seventeen administrative districts. Every clan includes a chief and deputies. The clans have almost no autonomy within the organization. The council of chiefs administers all of the clans and chooses the local chiefs. Thiseffectively military hierarchy, reflecting the organization’s origins, is extremely strict and must be followed to the letter.
First, the council has authority over everyone. It is the council that decides who holds positions of responsibility, and it is also the council that makes decisions at its discretion when the need arises. Which means in cases of conflict, the council has the last word and its decisions are promptly enforced.
The council (silver paws) sits atop a series committees. The guardians (red paws) maintain internal discipline and apply sanctions across the organization, at the council’s discretion.As well as the chief and deputies appointed by the council, each clan has a gatekeeping committee, a security committee, and a medical committee. There are also separate cells responsible for logistics, media, intelligence and counter-intelligence, security, legal and political issues, propaganda, and medical services at demonstrations. And, of course, there are the thousands of regular members (the white paws).
While La Meute leaders have made various claims of membership ranging from 29,000 to 60,000, the real numbers are much lower. In reality, La Meute has three to four thousand members in its seventeen clans. While that may make their claims of membership in the tens of thousands laughable, this is still a sizable movement that can’t be ignored.
Although replete with internal conflicts, La Meute has managed to remain fairly active. Its first public events took place in Québec City and the Saguenay in 2016. In August 2016, its leaflets started to appear in public places, and a few weeks later Venne and other members disrupted an information meeting organized by a group of volunteers, who were planning to sponsor a Syrian refugee family. In spite of this, and as is typical of groups of this kind, La Meute denies being far-right or racist, claiming it simply opposes “Sharia law” and “radical Islam,” often going as far as to denounce Islam as a particularly sexist and homophobic religion. Venne eventurned up at the vigil held in Montréal’s Gay Village after the massacre at the Pulse Club in Orlando in June 2016.
It was on March 4, 2017, however, that La Meute entered broader political consciousness by effectively taking the lead at the anti–Bill M103 demonstration held in Montréal in response to a callout from George Hallak’s one-man group, the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens. La Meute, with heavy police support, led a demonstration of approximately 400 from City Hall in Old Montréal to the Place Émile-Gamelin, a downtown square, the first time the far right had successfully marched in Montréal in more than twenty years. It was a setback that brought the depth of the problem into sharp focus.
Riding on their March 4 success, La Meute quickly positioned itself as the strongman of the far right. They announced that they would provide security to any group whose free speech was threatened, making clear that what they meant was that they would be the muscle for any far-right event threatened by antifascist protesters. It wasn’t long before La Meute made true on their offer, announcing that they would provide security for a June 17, 2017 colloquium at Cegep Maisonneuve organized by the MouvementRépublicain du Québec to bring together the various strands of Québec’s far right for a discussion of strategy. The conference was moved to a ranch in the Laurentians when the cegep bowed to pressure and cancelled the contract, only one of two occasions when pressure from antifascists would scuttle aMRQ colloquium that year.
Next La Meute turned up providing “security” for notorious far-right vlogger André “Stu Pitt” Pitreon his summer of 2017 “freedom of speech” tour. Once again, the problem didn’t prove to be the mythical “antifa” turning out to disrupt events, instead quiet pressure on various groups willing to provide Pitre with a space for his events led to cancellations. Pitre even threatened to sue the town of Rimouski when, in August, the city council cancelled the contract for a community hall, forcing Pitre to stand in a public park haranguing the twenty people who turned out. La Meute was there with security, perhaps keeping mosquitos at bay.
In July, 2017, La Meute member Sunny Létourneau spearheaded a campaign to scuttle plans to establish a Muslim cemetery in the town of St. Apollinaire, outside of Québec City. Not only did he gather enough signatures (17) to force the referendum, but he managed to have the right to vote restricted to those whose property immediately bordered the would-be cemetery, a total of forty-nine people. An examination of the information available online indicates that ten members of Létourneau’sComité de l’alternativecitoyenne were, in fact, members of La Meute’s Clan 12 in Chaudière-Appalache. One of the local citizens eligible to vote described the campaign Létourneau led as “bordering on harassment.” At the end of the day, Létourneau’s offensive won the day. A total of thirty-six people voted, nineteen of them voting “no.” Létourneau and La Meute had succeeded in blocking the Muslim cemetery.
In spite of these initiatives and the vast amount of xenophobic commentary on La Meute’s Facebook page, a fair amount of it wandering into the area of hate speech, the organization continued the stridently claim that it was not Islamophobic or racist, and certainly not white supremacist. That whole charade took a pretty serious body blowwhen a leading La Meute member, Shawn Beauvais-MacDonald, who was responsible for the English-language material posted and for the recruitment of anglophones, was photographed multiple times cavorting with neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. La Meute quickly “suspended” Beauvais-MacDonald, but he continued to turn up at La Meute demonstrations, where he openly mingled with other members. Beauvais-MacDonald would go on to become possibly the only member of an Atalante chapter formed in Montréal in the early months of 2018.
Almost as if to hammer the point home, La Meute chose to go forward the following weekend, on August 20, with a demonstration against whatever, essentially a right-wing muscle flex. Coming as it did on the immediate heels of the Charlottesville events, it found the antifascist movement both grieving and enraged—and absolutely committed to ensuring that La Meute and its far-right allies would not march that day. While a large, festive, and completely peaceful demonstration kept the assembled far-right demonstrators trapped in the underground parking garage they had chosen as a meeting place, at a distance skirmishes broke out between both the police and far-right activists and black bloc antifascists. A number of people on the way to the far-right demo were accosted, with the beating of a middle-aged man parading around with the Patriote flag used by the far-right nationalist movement becoming a particular focal point for the media and detractors, even on the left, who treat antifascist violence as equivalent to fascist violence, if not worse.
The ins and outs of any violent incident are always open to debate and criticism, and the argument that the beating in question was excessive is not without a basis, but the fact remains a strong message was delivered to those people casually toying with far-right ideas. They are not innocents and will not be treated as such. They will not pass! isn’t just a slogan.
Along with the other problems it had that day, La Meute created open fissures in the far-right façade of unity by refusing to let Dave Tregget and a group from Storm Alliance orthe one-man show George Hallak, aka the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens, into the garage, although the openly third position fascist Horizon Québec Actuel was allowed access. This basically left allies who had come out in solidarity stranded in a volatile situation. Tregget in particular made his dissatisfaction clear.
After holding La Meute trapped in a sweltering underground parking garage for more than four hours, forced to rely on the police for water and to ferry members through an underground passage to a nearby government building for toilet breaks, the antifascists withdrew and La Meute slunk out of their hole into what remained of the daylight, held a brief silent march of little note, and tried to present what more than a simply a defeat was a public humiliation as a victory—and still it wasn’t clear exactly what the point of their protest had been.
A month later, La Meute joined the Storm Alliance at the latter’s anti-refugee demonstration near the refugee camps in Lacolle. That demonstration was effectively blocked by antifascists, and the Storm Alliance and La Meute never got past their starting point at the Hôtel St-Bernard de Lacolle, withdrawing after a several-hour stand-off, with the two groups separated by the SQ’s riot squad.
La Meute and the Storm Alliance more officially allied to organize a November 25, 2017 demonstration against the hearings into systemic racism in Québec, which they portrayed as an attempt to illegitimately paint the Québécois as racist. When the hearings were cancelled, the two groups chose to plough ahead with another demonstration against whatever. This time, however, it would be different. The head of La Meute’s security, former police officer Jacques Gagné, and other members of the far-right security team held six meeting with Québec City police to “develop a strategy for dealing with the ‘antifa.’” The strategy was pretty straight forward; when the time came for the far right to march, the police, unprovoked, began beating on counter-demonstrators with their shields and liberally dousing them with pepper spray, beating them back in waves over a half hour period and clearing the way for the Storm Alliance and La Meute to march.
It is of some passing interest that when the neo-Nazi organization Atalante and the boneheads from the Soldiers of Odin turned out, La Meute leader Sylvain “Maikan” Brouilette was vocal in welcoming them to join the ranks.
In what was a bit of a surprise move, members of La Meute, including Brouillette showed up, in the company of some Soldiers of Odin, to disrupt a Centre d’expertise et de formation sur les intégrismes religieux et la radicalisation colloquium on the far right held at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit on March 21, 2018. It seems that both organizations were disturbed that the researchers speaking at the conference saw them as far-right and racist.
Less than a month later, La Meute issued the Manifesto it had initially promised for January. Was it worth the wait? Not really. A mere sixteen pages of fairly large print, it served a little more than an unelaborated expression of La Meute’s well established Islamophobia and general aversion to anything outside of a peculiar longing for the halcyon days of a past that never existed.
After a couple of pages waxing poetic about the Chartequébécoise des droits et libertés and the importance of free speech (but not multiculturalism—never multiculturalism), we arrive at the actual point: an assault of Muslims, Islam, and immigrants and refugees in general. For example, La Meute calls for a “revision of the number of immigrants Québec takes in (and “revision” is actually a dog whistle for reduction), who should be chosen on the basis of their ability to assimilate into mainstream (read: white, francophone) culture. These immigrants would also be chosen on their basis of labour market needs to avoid “a waste of human resources.” In particular, the organization wants a reduction of refugees, which they refer to as “illegal immigrants,” which they think can be achieved by further militarizing the border.
Pretty soon, La Meute gets down to brass tacks, turning its attention to its real target: Muslims. Not only does it demand a charter of secularism, it specifically demands that the burqa be illegalized throughout Canada, the banning of Halal and Judaic meat food production methods (in the guise of animal rights), and the abolition of all courses on ethnicity or religion in schools.It also demands the end to programmes that support refugees, claiming that these resources should be directed to the needs of the homeless, veterans, and indigenous peoples. (In a truly bizarre Facebook post in early January, Sylvain “Maikan” Brouillette argued that the fact his settler family had been here for 400 years made him an indigenous person.)
In a brief aside, La Meute takes aim at citizens who oppose them, demanding that “anarchists, students, people of religious faith, and politicians” who support violence against the population (whom they presumably believe they represent) or commit acts of vandalism (say, attacking the computer store owned by former La Meute security chief Robert Proulx, now a member of the III%, speaking of promoting political violence) be declared terrorists.
Most recently, on May 19, 2018, after declining to endorse a Storm Alliance demonstration against refugees on Roxham Road in Hemmingford (subsequently moved to the border crossing at Lacolle, when it became clear that there would be a large antifascist counter-protest on Roxham Road), numerous La Meute members, including the council of chiefs, made the five-hour drive to attend.
La Meute has made clear its intention to become an important political force in the mainstream media, but the fact is that however it chooses to present itself, La Meute remains a far-right group and part of a larger “national-populist” political current in Québec. Until early 2017, La Meute cooperated with the Soldiers of Odin, an Islamophobic group founded by Finnish neo-Nazis, as well as with the SOO spinoff, Storm Alliance. La Meute recruits prospective members in far-right racist milieus, fully aware of the political ideas at play, as well as among people who sincerely think that they are not racists, but who are motivated by a combination of disinformation and anti-Islamic fear.
Membres et sympathisants connus
Sylvain “Maïkan” Brouillette
Éric Corvus Venne (déchu)
Patrick Beaudry (déchu)
D’autres sympathisant-e-s sont répertoriés ici.