Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Canada goose-stepping: When the ‘Canadian Führer’ brought his blueshirts to Toronto


Adrien Arcand Ernst Zundel Canada fascism Nazi white supremacy books

In 1938, Adrien Arcand spearheaded efforts to unite fascist groups. While he was delivering a Hitler-style rant at Massey Hall, anti-fascists rallied at Maple Leaf Gardens

The economic and social upheavals in Canada between the World Wars provided an ideal environment for radical political ideas to take shape. While fears were primarily stoked against the far left, especially those with anything vaguely resembling Communist sympathies, far-right movements emerged at the fringes. Fascism, as practiced in Italy and Germany, gained a tiny foothold during the 1930s, primarily in Quebec, under Adrien Arcand, a man who saw himself as a potential “Canadian Führer.” Over the first half of 1938, Arcand spearheaded efforts to unite fascist groups across the country but met resistance when he tried to use two Ontario cities as the National Unity Party’s launchpad.

A journalist by trade, Arcand was a loyal monarchist, devoutly Catholic, extremely antisemitic, and generally delusional. Though he began his career in the mainstream Montreal press, by the 1930s, he was editing a string of short-lived papers that grew increasingly racist. Inspired by the rise of fascism in Europe, he formed the Parti National Social Chrétien (PNSC, translated as the National Social Christian Party) in Montreal in 1934. It adopted a swastika logo, and members dressed in blue shirts that it guaranteed had been produced by gentiles. He ran the party while, from 1936 onwards, maintaining a day job as the editor of the Montreal daily tabloid L’Illustration Nouvelle, which was the voice of the right-wing Union Nationale provincial government.

“He was an effortless speaker who enjoyed the spotlight and was in love with the sound of his own voice,” Arcand biographer Jean-François Nadeau observed. “When he was sounding off, his eyes rolled in their sockets, becoming as round as marbles, with a fury bordering on distraction, almost hypnotic. His words rumbled on. At every moment, he insulted Jews. He was after their skins. He fulminated in a rising tone. His hatred quickly took on an all-embracing character. He spoke in this way until he ran out of breath, often furious almost to the point of madness, before leaving the stage with the blast his own words trailing behind him.”  (more...)

Canada goose-stepping: When the ‘Canadian Führer’ brought his blueshirts to Toronto

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