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It was the height of the rush hour on Monday morning when a group of protesters gathered across the street from the US Consulate to protest Donald Trump’s immigration policy. Like many Torontonians being inconvenienced to pay for an American president’s behaviour, I was on my way to work that morning- but I checked out the bedlam on the way and came back to scope it out during lunch.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there were a lot of familiar faces. A troika of hard-left politicians came to bask in the glory of the TV cameras. They were joined by organisers from one of Canada’s most violent hard-left activist group, some old friends from the Occupy movement- and a crowd of ordinary people who’d probably be freaked out if they knew about the relationship between the politicians and the riot organisers.
If you’ve already guessed that the violent group’s name is No One Is Illegal then you’re probably waiting for the punchline- how about a racist Trump protester who has an absolute hate-on for immigrants who likes telling jokes about Mexican illegals?
So hang onto your sombrero and follow me for a tour of the who’s who in the anti-Trump fiesta. Then, more importantly, the American-backed political campaigners standing behind the curtain:
Meet The Protest:
The event started at 8 am on University Ave, directly beside the same courthouse where some of the protester’s colleagues were convicted for organising G20 riots. The US Consulate stands across the street from the protest site, but due to the high security, it’s one of the few spots in Toronto where cops consistently refuse to allow protests.
The event page claimed that it would be a “peaceful non-disruptive gathering”, but it didn’t stay that way for long. As with any protest organised by this group, the inevitable happened and someone yelled out to the crowd, “why don’t we take to the streets!”.
Trump must have been so angry Toronto commuters ended up being late for work!
Meet The Facebook Organizer:
The protest’s Facebook event page was created by Dave Meslin, a professional political organiser who’s the Creative Director at Unlock Democracy Canada, and has worked with several other initiatives to change Canadian voting systems.
He’s also the co-founder of Spacing Magazine, a foundation funded publication that focusses on urban issues like city planning and bike lanes. Spacing is based at the Center for Social innovation, a foundation-funded social venture incubator that’s backed by and partnered with TIDES Canada- the northern branch of an American foundation with deep roots in the Democratic Party (and disturbingly close ties with violent extremists).
Meslin was also one of the founding organisers behind Occupy Toronto. He taught future occupiers media skills on October 8th- a full week before the first tent was pitched.
As might be expected of an Occupier, Meslin has a bizarre understanding of economics. Take this quote from one of his articles in the Socialist Project’s newsletter where he argues that Toronto should remove advertising from public transit because it’s a “privately run sales tax system”:
“The public still ends up paying for these services, because every time you buy something, a proportion of the money… goes toward its advertising budget. It’s essentially a privately run sales tax system. We’re paying taxes to corporations instead of elected governments.”
Hasn’t this guy ever thought of buying generic and locally produced products? But besides the goofy Occupy economics, doesn’t he realise that increased transit costs will disproportionately affect the poor?
Meet The Politicians!
Joe Mihevc is the Toronto city councillor for Ward 21. The last time we spoke I was at a City Hall event in December when I asked why he and three other councillors were handing a race relations award being passed to one of the city’s to one of the Toronto’s most notorious racists. He responded by running away.
Mihevc is no stranger to Dave Meslin. If you believe in coincidences, the two once met perfectly randomly while a blogger was doing a puff piece on Joe:
“On our way to visit The Barns, we spotted a cyclist – Dave Meslin – long-time advocate of public space, bikes, and a bunch of other progressive initiatives. After a brief recap of our conversation with Mihevc, he exclaimed “This used to be a wasteland! Matthew [Blackett] and I used to do guerrilla gardening here!””
But their relationship is much older than that. Mihevc praised Meslin’s activism in the Globe and Mail in 2006. The councillor’s (stupidly expensive) city-funded website promoted Meslin’s events as far back as 2012. And Mihevc was an ally of Meslin’s Ranked Ballot Initiative of Toronto in 2013.
Joe Cressy is a relatively new city councillor who represents Ward 20. He’s a close associate of failed mayoral candidate Olivia Chow and councillor Mike Layton who worked on their campaigns (there’s a great video of them canoeing on YouTube). Before he joined City Council, Cressy worked as a social justice activist and an NDP strategist.
When I asked Cressy about the City of Toronto giving the race relations reward to a racist he, like Mihevc quickly darted away from the camera- saying, “it’s a constituency issue” (whatever that means).
Cressy did a speech when the protesters marched to City Hall. Curiously, he yelled out to the crowd the name of a notorious violent activist group. “No one is illegal!”.
Cheri DiNovo is an Ontario NDP MPP, she was spotted by my friend Undercoverkity. DiNovo was shy that day, It doesn’t appear that she spoke, and she quickly crossed the street when she saw him with his camera. But thanks to the magic of his super-sized telephoto lens- he got the picture regardless.
DiNovo was one of the featured speakers at the Toronto Women’s March on Washington. She’s also memorable for her her brave action chastising an eco-terrorist group for being mean to trans people, and telling a stack of lies intended to smear University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson. Stay classy NDP!
Meet The Usual Suspects!
Dave Vasey was the leader of the “leaderless” Occupy Toronto and taught the same pre-occupation activist classes with Dave Meslin. Not uncoincidentally, Vasey was the first person who was arrested during the 2010 G20- he’s close friends with most of the people who were sentenced to prison for organising the violence back then.
Vasey worked for the American billionaire funded Rainforest Action Network in 2009 when he launched what would become a major ruckus in the House of Commons. His fellow professional protesters included Occupy Edmonton leader Chelsea Flook (who recently led an anti-Trump event in Regina), and Alberta anti-oil campaigner Eriel Deranger (who’s leading the fight against Trump’s pipelines)- all share the same tattoo with a handful other professional activists- “Love Is The Movement“.
Coincidentally, or not, Joe Cressy spoke to the media as one of their supporters at the 2009 protest- small world!
The last time I saw Vasey was at a November protest that featured Cheri DiNovo (quelle coïncidence!). While many of the participants were peaceful, Vasey participated in a violent mob that attacked Trump supporters- two of his fellow protesters were arrested.
Brian Batty was another core Occupy Toronto organiser who worked on the media committee. Batty was one of the five Occupiers who was named in the city’s court filing when they tried to shut down the encampment (the Occupiers were backed by Joe Mihevc and other far-left city councillors). He also seems to have had a curious relationship with the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Antonin Mongeau is probably best known as the Occupier of the 1%. His father David Charles Mongeau is an investment banker with CIBC who spends his time between Monaco and the UK. Antonin helped feed occupiers, using a shiny food truck provided by the unions.
Mongeau has a fetish for setting up squats, and tried very hard to get Occupiers to steal occupancy in a building- fortunately for the owner, the attempt was stopped by Toronto cops.
Davyn Calfchild (a.k.a. Reverend Davin Ouilet) and his wife Cathy Walker were two of the most notable racists that came out of Occupy Toronto. Both are regulars on the protest scene and were the official First Nations speakers at Toronto’s first big anti-Trump protest (the anarchists have a hard time recruiting other FN activists).
Walker is a notable anti-Semite who believes that Islamic groups “need to start taking Hollywood away from the Jews”. Walker showed her love of racial segregation at a 2015 protest against Bill C51, telling non-native people that they should walk behind her and Davyn because “it’s our land”.
As far as Toronto activism goes, Calfchild’s racist intensity is second only to Black Supremacist Yursa Khogali’s. He’s been caught hating on people of colour, Mexicans, Jews, Italians, whites and Chinese. He’s also, funnily enough, got a history of acting awfully towards immigrants.
Take this video from an anti-police protest that featured Cheri DiNovo (small world!). Davyn tells an Italian cop (who he earlier insulted with “WOP” jokes) that he’s not welcome in Canada as an immigrant and needs to “go back home” (Davyn’s Mexican immigrant joke is at the end).
Speaking of the Khogali clan, Yursa wasn’t at the protest but her brother Walied Khogali joined the protest and gave a short speech. Walied started his activism as a student union leader where his sister used to work at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus. He later became the President of the AstroTurf Toronto Environmental Alliance, and he’s supported the AstroTurf transit “advocacy” (for unions, not passengers) group TTCRiders.
Like Joe Cressy, Khogali has worked closely with former NDP MP Olivia Chow (small world!).
Lesley Wood and Macdonald Scott are militant anarchists who never really grew up. Wood is a sociology professor at York University, where she concentrates a lot on glorifying militant & violent protests. Mac is a creepy immigration specialist who’s worked with violent groups like OCAP and No One Is Illegal.
Both helped organise and lead last year’s big march against Toronto’s Pan Am Games. They were joined by some of the most violent activists in the city- including three of their friends who were convicted for organising violence during the 2010 G20.
NoII: A Violence Problem
One of the most visible organisations at Monday’s protest was No One Is Illegal, a hard-left activist group that holds the distinction of being one of Canada’s most violent.
As their name implies, NoII believes that there should be zero border controls and anyone who wishes to should be allowed to move to Canada. Paradoxically, they’ve also attacked the government for not having enough resources to support immigrants and refugees.
NoII is officially a “smash the state” anarchist group. But peek behind the curtain and you’ll see a host of politicians and foreign-funded NGOs funding and influencing their protests- it’s kind of creepy.
Vancouver leader Harsha Walia is an internationally known cheerleader for Black Bloc tactics; the violent protests we’ve seen at the Toronto G20, Vancouver Olympics, Trump’s inauguration- and on Wednesday at Milo Yiannopoulos’s aborted show at Berkely University.
NoII’s Toronto leader Syed Hussan was arrested as part of the G20 Main Conspiracy group in 2010. He ended up getting let off the hook after City Councillor Shelley Carroll’s assistant Leah Henderson her then boyfriend Alex Hundert went to prison as part of a plea bargain (Alex led an anti-Trump rally in front of Liberal MP Patty Hajdu’s office on Wednesday).
Their Montreal leader Jaggi Singh has had his share of riots and run-ins with the police over the years. Last week he led an anti-Trump protest in Montreal that turned into a mini riot. Windows were smashed and buildings were vandalised with spray paint- Singh was filmed helping a group of masked thugs assault a Trump protester.
In the spring of 2012, I helped organise what became known as the Robocall Rallies- a series of nationwide protests over allegations the Conservative party used automatic dialers to misdirect masses of Canadians to the wrong polling places. I came with the idea of using the momentum of the “scandal” to get people to register to vote- and ended up marshalling the crowds during the first Toronto protest (including, only by coincidence, Olivia Chow).
It seemed grassroots at first, the CBC must have thought so seeing us sitting on children’s school chairs in the basement of Trinity-St. Pauls United Church (which turns out to be home to some of Toronto’s most hard-left organisations).
But as the days passed by I began to realise the whole operation was AstroTurf. It started when I was contacted by US NGO Avaaz (a LeadNow ally) who offered me “an MP or 2 from the NDP/Liberals” for the protest. Then LeadNow.org showed up and started to steal the show.
The rallies were packed with politicians, and almost all of the usual suspects who were at Monday’s Trump protest. LeadNow leader Jamie Biggar called on people to overthrow the government. A LeadNow Ontario organiser said the same calling for a “Canadian Spring”- he was followed by one of the organisers of the Egyptian colour revolution who also called to overthrow the government.
I wrote about the protest after. A couple hours later I got a damage control call from Biggar. He ended up apologising for and retracting his call to overthrow Canada- claiming that even one of his US donors said it looked like he was “out for blood”.
The Robocall Rallies were just one example of LeadNow’s American-backed AstroTurfing. Another great example was the nationwide rallies against the conservative’s Bill C-51. Like Monday’s protest (and Robocalls) there were a lot of ordinary people in the crowd- but it was run by LeadNow, and featured the same cast of characters.
One of LeadNow’s biggest ever campaigns was their “strategic voting” initiative during the last Canadian election. The American founded NGO organised groups across the country to promote “preferred candidates”. I’m not sure about Canadian election rules, but there many countries where this is absolutely illegal.
AstroTurf: What’s Really Going On Here?
LeadNow has worked very closely with NoII over recent years. Harsha Walia was featured on one of their First Nations forums. NoII uses LeadNow for their online petitions, and they’ve promoted each other’s initiatives to their followers.
It’s unknown if LeadNow has provided NoII with financial support in the past. But, this week, new information demonstrates they’ve been paying for facebook ads to push NoII’s anti-Trump initiative- call for cities to back “solidarity cities”, and for the federal government to cancel the “Safe Third Country Agreement” all refugees- regardless of if they’re coming from the US.
The Trump protests are another great example of how LeadNow and their political allies operate together. The first step is to organise a “grassroots” protest. Then, as if by magic, politicians will appear and explain to the media how the initiatives/policy changes they’re calling for have vast amounts of public support (look at all the people on the streets!).
Two things happened on Tuesday after the protests:
First, Joe Mihevc and Joe Cressy held a press conference with Mayor John Tory “re-affirming” Toronto’s 2013 decision to become a sanctuary city. This wasn’t Mihevc’s first rodeo- when Syed Hussan brought NoII’s sanctuary city campaign to City Hall- he and Clr. Shelley Carroll were both there to greet him.
Next, Vancouver NDP MP Jenny Kwan called for an “emergency debate” on Trump’s travel ban. She used the opportunity to call on the government to ban the Safe Third Country agreement (“coincidentally”, Kwan is a regular at NoII led protests in Vancouver).
Who Benefits And Who Loses?
So, we’ve looked into who’s behind the protests, who the politicians are, and where the material support comes from. But there’s one more really important question to ask when looking for AstroTurf- who benefits and who loses?
It looks obvious on the surface, a group of politicians got their faces on TV and in the newspapers- free publicity!
But there’s a deeper level than that. The RoboCall and C-51 rallies were about more than the issues they were campaigning for- they were part of a well-orchestrated plan to wear-down the Conservative government and damage their approval ratings.
The Trump protests do this on two levels.
The first is to wear down the current Liberal government, Jenny Kwan knows that Trudeau can’t simply drop the Safe Third country agreement. The government isn’t prepared for this- it would cause immigration chaos. The Liberals got a black eye when they had to say no.
The second level explains why a Democrat funded Canadian NGO would be so eager to spend money promoting NoII’s campaign- to cause the same sort of political pain for the Trump administration. Canadians have a reputation for being “good people”, it doesn’t look good for Trump when our governments are having emergency meetings and reaffirming programs (sanctuary city) that he’s trying to end in American cities.
Why Should You Care?
Now, you might be reading this and be perfectly okay with political operatives opposing Trump’s immigration directive. I hear you, I’m not a fan either- it was poorly implemented, and the Green Card debacle activated my PTSD from living through similar uncertainty in Russia.
But there’s a bigger issue at play here.
If you were in any way upset with the allegations that Russians influenced the election you should be equally unhappy watching a US-backed NGO partner with a violent Canadian activist group to influence Canadian politics.
They’re pretty much two of the same- criminal element and all.
Canada is a big country, filled with riches, but with a very small population- a prize that’s not that hard to pry out of Canadian voter’s hands. The fastest path to allowing that to happen is to allow foreign influencers to pour money and influence into our political system- LeadNow is but one example.
This needs to be stopped- our sovereignty is at risk.