By Jeff Shantz
Anti-fascists in Toronto had to mobilize once more to oppose far Right racists PEGIDA (the “Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes”) who organized an anti-Muslim, anti-refugee rally at University Avenue and Armoury Street in the city’s downtown. Fascists were present from a range of groups, including Wolves of Odin, Soldiers of Odin, Canadian Combat Coalition and Northern Guard.
Part of a larger international network, PEGIDA is one of the most publicly active of the new far Right groups mobilizing anti-Muslim hate in the Canadian context. They began organizing demonstrations in Quebec in 2015 and have been a regular presence in several cities in Canada since. They hold monthly rotating rallies in Toronto and London, Ontario. Their rallies have been a magnet for neo-fascist individuals and groups, including the Northern Guard, Proud Boys, and the armed anti-Muslim Three Percenter militia.
An estimated 80 antifascists showed up to confront the 20 or so fascists. Toronto police again operated to provide the fascists a space to spew their hate. And spew they did. Someone from the fascist crowd set off a smoke bomb. This is something that so-called yellow vests protesters have taken to doing at small demonstrations at highway overpasses near Toronto. Andre Ch (Canadian Nationalist Party), Derek Storie/Rick Boswick (Yellow Vests), and members of Wolves of Odin, Proud Boys, and other Nationalist Party members were also involved in burning a Quran.
The fascists also tried to attack antifascists using their flag poles as weapons to do so. Toronto police, unsurprisingly, did nothing to stop that. They did however deploy violence against the antifascists reportedly using their police bikes to strike at antifascists.
The antifascists did manage to keep the fascists from marching. They remained confined to the space provided by and protected by police.
Given the recurrence of PEGIDA rallies in Canada, and Ontario in particular, much organizing remains to keep them from mobilizing.