The short, stout woman bobs through the crowd like a hungry dog, jockeying for position at a dish of meat. She screams and yells, waving a plump finger in the air.
Every so often, she looks back behind her, in the direction of the cameraman recording her every move. The cameraman encourages to get louder and get more aggressive. She does.
The woman is Diane Blain. She previously achieved infamy by refusing to let a Muslim near her. Today, she is with her friends in the Storm Alliance to disrupt an event in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, where Justin Trudeau is speaking. She’s trying to get near Trudeau, who she hates.
For the Storm Alliance, the Trudeau event is a pretty big deal. It is an opportunity to get lots of free publicity, and not just in Quebec, either. They are successful, in this, beyond their wildest dreams. The St-Jean-sur-Richelieu event proves to be a ratings bonanza for the white supremacists.
They’ve existed since 2016, the Storm Alliance has. Before that, they were part of another organization, something called the Soldiers of Odin.
The Soldiers of Odin is neo-Nazi group. They were founded by a proud neo-Nazi, in fact, a guy in Finland, Mika Rinta, in 2015. They deny being a neo-Nazi group, of course, as all neo-Nazis do. But that’s what they are.
The Soldiers of Odin are one of the biggest neo-Nazi groups in the world, now. They’re everywhere, from the U.S. and the U.K. to Estonia and Germany and Canada. They got their start in all of those places by opposing immigrants and refugees who aren’t white like them.
Like lots of neo-Nazis, they’re big on Viking mythology. Fittingly, the Soldiers are named after Odin, the Norse god of death and war. They see themselves as at war with refugees and immigrants with darker skin.
They conduct themselves as a vigilante group, more or less, popping up to “protect” white women from being raped by hook-nosed, dusky-skinned foreigners, or to forcibly eject migrants who have been forced to live under tarps at the side of roads.
In Canada, the Soldiers of Odin are everywhere, pretty much. They have chapters in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick and – especially – in Quebec. In Quebec, they’ve been very active, and have become the dominant neo-Nazi/white supremacist group in the province.
They pretend to do street-level charity work, but their real expertise is knocking heads. A classified Canada Border Services Agency intelligence report, obtained by the unstoppable Global News reporter Stewart Bell in June, states that the group’s raison d’etre is “anti-immigrant vigilantism.” Said the report: “They are not afraid to use violence to achieve [their] objectives.”
It was violence, in part, that prompted the creation of the Storm Alliance a couple years ago. The leaders of the Storm Alliance – and Diane Blain, Justin Trudeau’s heckler, is one of them – felt the Soldiers of Odin were attracting too much negative publicity. So they set up their own group.
The Storm Alliance may disapprove of the Soldiers of Odin’s approaches, but they’re not all that different. Their logo, for example, is a clinched fist, the words “you are not strong enough to withstand the storm,” around it. The fist is framed by a pair of Nazi-style SS lightning bolts.
The Storm Alliance are led by a former Soldiers of Odin leader, Dave Tregget. Like David Duke did for the Ku Klux Klan forty years ago, Tregget’s strategy is to project a kinder, gentler image for anti-migrant, anti-refugee agitation. It’s attracted the same sorts of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and bigots that Soldiers of Odin did and do. But it’s more media-savvy.
Thus their presence at the Trudeau event, video cameras in tow. They were after uncritical media coverage, and they got lots of it.
The Storm Alliance’s previous media event hadn’t gone as well. In July, the Storm Alliance teamed up with another Quebec-based refugee-hating group, La Meute (The Wolf). The two groups gathered on Canada Day at Hemmingford, Quebec, to intimidate migrants and prevent them from crossing the border.
White supremacist Faith Goldy, now a Toronto mayoral candidate, showed up to offer Storm Alliance her support. She whips up hate, and she’s good at it.
Storm Alliance’s Blain was the right choice to whip up hate at the Justin Trudeau event, too. She is a member of another anti-immigrant group, the Front Patriotique du Quebec, and is a separatist. A few months ago, a Front Patriotique admin opined on Facebook the need for a “terrorist attack to wake up people.”
Blain seems to dislike Muslims, a lot. A few months ago, she refused to be touched by a Muslim student at a dental clinic at the University of Montreal.
At the Trudeau rally, she started screaming about illegal immigrants, and she got the attention of both the media and the Prime Minister of Canada. The cameras followed her at the event, and Justin Trudeau even engaged with her – forcefully but not inappropriately.
The Conservative Party of Canada, right up to and including Andrew Scheer, loudly denounced Trudeau for abridging Blain’s “freedom of speech.” On Twitter and elsewhere, Conservatives condemned Trudeau for the sin of opposing Diane Blain. They sounded like they thought Diane Blain was a hero.
She isn’t. She’s a racist.
Five minutes on Google would have shown them who Diane Blain really is. The Soldiers of Odin/Storm Alliance connections, the Muslim-hating, the Front Patriotique “terrorist attack to wake up people.” All of it was there to be found, if the Conservatives wanted to look.
But they didn’t look. Or, if they did, they didn’t care. For instance: Maxime Bernier has been in a spit-flecked fury on Twitter, lately, loudly opposing diversity and tolerance, just like Diane Blain does. And he remained a member of the Conservative caucus.
Here’s some free advice, Conservative friends, from a guy who has been writing about, and researching, the racist Right for decades. No charge.
When you lay down with dogs – foul, stinking, loathsome dogs like Storm Alliance and Soldiers of Odin – you’ll get fleas, Conservatives. You’ll get fleas, big time.
But you won’t get many votes.