Not Exactly As Advertised – How An Antivaxx/Conservative Alliance Is Organizing To Take Over B.C. School Boards Part 3
Building A Base To Seize Local Power
The honking from the Ottawa convoy had barely subsided when Marcus Anthony Ray began crisscrossing British Columbia, drumming up support for a project we now see unfolding across the province. Ray (a professional public speaker, ex-Mountie, ex-male stripper and now sovereign citizen activist) was pitching a simple message: the antivaxx movement needed to build on the tremendous dynamism the January convoy had brought to the movement by entering this fall’s municipal elections with the goal of getting as many of its activists as possible elected to city councils and school boards. The movement in the streets needed to be supplemented by a campaign to get into local positions of power. For months he travelled the Okanagan, Vancouver Island, northern B.C. and the Fraser Valley spreading this message to dozens, often hundreds of his supporters.
Ray has since abandoned this campaign to go on to other projects (he was proposing a move to blockade the RCMP training detachment in Regina at last word), but his ideas around municipal elections found a receptive audience. There are now campaigns fielding far right candidates for mayoral and council positions in – at the very least -- Vancouver, Victoria, Surrey, Maple Ridge, North Cowichan, Osoyoos and Campbell River. These are being paralleled by separate and unrelated school board races in at least twelve B.C. school districts, most being carried out autonomously from the council election campaigns.
Several of the council campaigns, notably Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria, involve slates and candidates that are obviously local farm teams for the hard right Peoples’ Party of Canada. Others involve street-level activists from the Covid denial movement. In most of these races there is no material possibility of winning a mayoralty or a council seat, but that is not the immediate goal. What’s at stake is spreading the message of conspiracist politics, growing the audience, broadening the turf, expanding the movement’s reach and pushing the brand. So in this case, the militants running in these council campaigns are often making far less of an effort to conceal their politics than is happening in the B.C. school board races, where there is a parallel campaign taking place that is distinguished by its stealth and furtivity.
This should not blind us to the possibility that – in at least two towns – these campaigns could succeed.
Surrey And Victoria -- The PPC Comes To Town
Amrit Birring is running for mayor in Surrey. The former PPC candidate in the 2021 federal election in Fleetwood-Port Kells, he heads the Peoples’ Council Surrey slate. PCS is fielding a full slate of council candidates, including Joe Kennedy and Sam Kofalt. Birring is an antimasker.
Together with his comrades in the antivaxx movement, he has repeatedly picketed Liberal politicians, including the offices of local MP’s Sukh Dhaliwal and Randeep Sarai, as well as a May 24 fundraiser for Justin Trudeau. Birring filmed the Trudeau picket and managed to capture fellow antivaxxer Justin Gordon walking around in the demo carrying a noose. (at 0:23)
Birring also spoke at the “Eliminate Bill Gates” rally held at Olympic Plaza in March.
His council running mate Joe Kennedy comes from the same mold. He’s no stranger to ultraright politics, having been the PPC candidate in Surrey Central in 2021..
He’s against critical race theory and identity politics.
He picketed the Surrey School Board to protest the requirement that students wear masks..
And he’s against the handgun importation ban.
Peoples’ Council candidate Sam Kofalt addressed an antivaxx rally in at the legislature in Victoria in July 2021 on behalf of the sovereign citizen group Unify The People.
He reportedly believes that Canada is a corporation controlled by the Vatican.
And that germs don’t exist.
Another PPC Farm Team In Victoria
Across the strait in Victoria, VIVA Victoria has a slate of seven candidates running for the eight city council positions. The group’s principal officer registered with Elections BC is Randall Phipps, the former PPC candidate in Victoria in 2021. Phipps describes himself as “a father, entrepreneur and Protestant Christian.”
The VIVA Victoria city council candidates include Muller Kalala, a Donald Trump supporter.
Kalala has posted antisemitic statements on his Facebook page.
Apparently VIVA Victoria doesn’t see this as an impediment to having him run on their ticket. Neither does the fact that he’s also an Islamophobe.
Not to be outdone, there’s Jeremy Maddock. He was Randall Phipps’ campaign manager in 2021.
He too is an antivaxxer.
He did his legal studies at the foot of Nazi lawyer Doug Christie.
Apparently it didn’t take, as the BC Supreme Court has ordered him not to practice law.
He can’t practice law, but he’s hired a lawyer and is suing Bonnie Henry anyway.
He’s also pretty litigious for someone who doesn’t like cancel culture –
Finally there is VIVA council hopeful Emmanuel Parenteau. He doesn’t like houseless people.
He’s a bit of a Bible-thumper.
And he’s a big fan of the Ottawa convoy: "It is sometimes hard to realize what type of warfare we are involved in... I was born free and I am going to die free.... The truck convoy and these [antivaxx] rallies have made me proud to be Canadian for the first time in a very long time.... “
VIVA Victoria is also running a school board slate, which includes:
Leslie-Anne Goodall, a PPC supporter –
Also an antivaxxer – “Leslie-Anne Goodall said she has joined rallies at the legislature a number of times. People should be getting more information about vaccines and mandates, she said. “We’ve not been offered alternative treatment, we’ve not even been offered debate.” She said that instead of debate from people “they just drive by and scream and flip us the bird.” Goodall acknowledged that sometimes the message at the rallies doesn’t come across well “but emotions run high on both sides.” https://www.timescolonist.com/local-news/convoy-to-campbell-river-finds-spot-on-vacant-land-protesters-return-to-legislature-5202006
Another school board candidate, Roberta Solvey, is also pro-Trump –
As well as anti trans –
And a conspiracy theorist –
Finally there is Connie Torrence, also a PPC supporter –
In our next installment, we’ll be looking at other far right campaigns on Vancouver Island and in the Okanagan. Stay tuned.