Holocaust denier leads meeting in Sidney

Last Friday’s event not publicized to avoid protesters

Controversial far-right figures Paul Fromm and Monika Schaefer were in Sidney on Friday, Jan. 25, for a fundraising and speaking engagement, as part of a discrete 11-stop, cross-country tour.

Schaefer is a former Green Party candidate from Alberta, who recently served a 10-month sentence in Germany for Holocaust denial, which is classed as a hate crime there.

Fromm is one of Canada’s most prominent far-right figures and the executive director of the group who organized the tour – the Canadian Association for Free Expression (CAFE).

Fromm describes himself as a conservative, but his ideology has been labelled ‘neo-Nazi’ by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, which monitors extremists in North America.

The main topics of the lecture in Sidney regarded Schaefer’s experiences in prison, freedom of speech and her political beliefs. Wary of disruption by potential protesters and to maintain discretion, the talk was not advertised and attendees were invited through CAFE’s subscription newsletter and email service. It is believed between six and 12 people attended.

Schaefer has visited the Saanich Peninsula before for her political activities and a meeting with supporters was cancelled with short notice on June 18, 2016.

Gordon Watson, a local supporter, said the venue cancelled that talk the day before, once it discovered who would be speaking. When attendees turned up on the day of the talk, they were turned away by officers from the Central Saanich Police Department and RCMP.

Since then, Schaefer has made three trips to Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula to meet with supporters. Schaefer, who has talked openly of her admiration for Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, now styles herself as a free-speech activist who believes no topic should be off-limits in public discourse, no matter if it can be interpreted as hateful.

Germany is not alone in placing restrictions on speech. Canada’s Human Rights Act and Criminal Code designate hate speech as a prosecutable crime and individuals have been convicted, going back as far as the James Keegstra trial in 1990.

Regarding ‘hatred’, former Supreme Court Justice Marshall Rothstein wrote in 2013 that, “In my view, ‘detestation’ and ‘vilification’ aptly describe the harmful effect that the Code seeks to eliminate.”

Fromm and Schaefer dispute that their ideas are hateful and are convinced Canadian society is in an “existential struggle” that is “at war without the bombs.” They claim they are peaceful activists and do not seek physical confrontation. However, Fromm warns that if groups like CAFE are restricted in expressing their views, more extreme elements might take their place.

“When you silence the man with the pen, you make way for the man with the sword,” he said.

Schaefer agreed, “they force you to, in the end, not me personally, but in the end that is what’s going to happen.”

Schaefer said she received 1,250 letters from supporters around the world while in jail and that her anti-Semitic beliefs in hidden global conspiracies have “hardened” since her release, and she now considers her current and future activism as her life’s work.

Central Saanich Police Deputy Chief Derren Lench said if officers received information that a talk that breached the Civil Code was happening they would, “investigate it like any criminal offence and whether it was a potential hate crime.”

He added, they would then work together with different agencies and decide how to proceed.

nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Victoria Police Department taking too long to respond to emergency calls

A new report says VicPD is not meeting its 911 response targets

Victoria looks to suspend taxi obligations as ride hailing services arrive

Ten ride hailing companies are set to come to Greater Victoria in the new year

VicPD seek missing 82-year-old man with long grey beard

Arthur Shaw was last seen Dec. 6, those who see him should call 911

Victoria staff request $110,000 to expand city’s urban forest

Development of an Urban Forest Master Plan a five-step process

VIDEO: Harbour Air makes history with first electric aircraft test flight

Successful flight marks first of its kind in the world

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Dec. 10

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

Tavares scores twice as Maple Leafs earn 4-1 win over Canucks

Vancouver sees two-game win streak snapped

UPDATED: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash: RCMP

The Island is located about five kilometres east of Vancouver Island

The Grinch who Stole a Hedge: Security camera captures Chilliwack tree theft

RCMP arrives as person calmly walks away with tree in downtown area

The Russell Troupe finds a comfort zone in small Island community

Family gathering with two parents and five kids a common scene around Chemainus

Salmonella outbreak in Canada linked to rodents and snakes

92 cases of salmonella across six provinces, including B.C.

Meng Wanzhou wins right to more documents involving arrest at Vancouver airport

Defence lawyers allege the Huawei executive was unlawfully detained, searched and interrogated

Most Read