Source: Wikimedia Commons

An RCMP warning about citizen movements threatening democracy takes note that women in particular are being drawn to the “far-right.”

Citing dubious statistics by anti-hate researchers, the RCMP’s recently published 2023 Environmental Scan highlights the supposed increase in radicalization driven by factors such as socioeconomic instability, polarization and political distrust. 

One of the chief social concerns threatening democracy is the rise of mass citizen movements according to the federal police force. 

“Society is fragmenting into smaller communities based on common interests and backgrounds, increasing social polarization,” reads the report. 

“Democracies around the world are under threat from large-scale movements and citizen protests.”

These push factors, exacerbated by the pandemic, are said to have created an environment conducive to the spread of far-right ideologies, particularly among women.

“Trends suggest that more women are gravitating towards far-right movements in Canada,” wrote the RCMP. 

Author and University of Buckingham politics professor Eric Kaufmann told True North that the “gross exaggeration” of the threat level posed by the far-right was what he termed the “fascist scare” in his latest book.

“I think the threat level is, by any measure (terrorist incidents, hate crime convictions), negligible. More like a freak event such as being killed in a lightning strike than a high threat like dying from a virus or automobile accident,” Kaufmann told True North.

“Certainly less of a concern – when divided by its demographic constituency – than the threat from Islamism or foreign nationalist terrorism on Canadian soil.”

Instead, Kaufmann said the real threat was the “woke capture of institutions, which reduces trust in the system among the anti-woke majority of the public.”

In a statement sent to True North following the report’s publication, RCMP media relations officer Robin Percival explained that the report did not endorse “any official stance on the matters.”

“The scan specifically collected data on external events and situations relevant to the RCMP without endorsing any official stance on the matters,” said Percival in an emailed statement.

“No environmental scan can comprehensively cover all relevant topics. An environmental scan represents a moment in time and can change daily, which means it is always changing even after scans are completed. For example, the Israel Hamas War and related domestic protests started after the completion of the scan.”

The report cites Ontario Tech University researcher Barbara Perry’s controversial claim that 300 far-right groups were operating in Canada.

Since releasing her $366,985 taxpayer-funded study in 2020, Perry has never published the list of the alleged groups and has refused to release the research publicly.

Ontario Tech University has also attempted to block the study from public access in arguments filed to Ontario’s privacy commissioner. The release of the records is currently up for adjudication.

“This kind of exaggeration is typical in government reports about the far right. Instead of shadowy claims and anecdotal evidence, often based on self-reports or self-interested ‘anti-hate’ groups, I would instead rely on hate crime convictions data trends, and divide these by the denominator,” Kaufmann told True North. 

“For instance, Islamist attacks should be divided by the Muslim population, or far-right attacks by the white population, to compare relative threat levels”

True North reached out to the RCMP to allow them to clarify the report and provide evidence to back up their claim. 

In its report, the RCMP goes on to cite the Freedom Convoy as an example of so-called far-right mobilization that taps into rising populist sentiment. 

The RCMP claims that, unlike traditional extremist groups, the far-right lacks a clear hierarchical structure.

Earlier this year, the national policing body also released a hate crimes report that noted an unexpected shift: hate groups in Canada are reportedly becoming more ethnically diverse. 

Traditionally dominated by white males, these groups are now said to be recruiting from racialized communities, according to the report. The RCMP defines a hate group as any organization or collection of individuals that attack or vilify people based on characteristics such as race, religion, or gender identity.

“People who join hate groups come from all socioeconomic backgrounds, professions, and, perhaps surprisingly, they appear to be increasingly racially/ethnically diverse,” the report reads. 

“In recent years, some hate groups in the United States and Canada have actively recruited members from racialized groups in an attempt to soften their public image and bolster recruitment.”