In Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Valley a slate of three is running for positions on the North Cowichan council.  Unlike Peoples Council Surrey and VIVA Victoria, their focus is on local bread and butter issues.  At least, that’s their public focus.

Their unspoken interests don’t show up in the campaign literature, and to say they’re a bit further out there would be a significant understatement.

In antivaxx circles, Adrienne Richards makes it clear her group is a bunch of “freedom folks”.

She doesn’t think carbon dioxide is a problem.

She opposes the “nanny state” and apparently doesn’t think the “climate emergency” is anything to get too agitated about.

She has publicly supported violating Covid restrictions.

And she opposes the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People as a tool to enable local governments to seize your land.

Her running mate Chris Shaw has spoken at several large antivaxx rallies over the last year.  On October 2, 2021 he had a statement read out on his behalf to an antivaxx rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery.  It implicitly threatened politicians and health authorities for enforcing Covid health orders.  In it, he stated (at 34:36)  “in summary, on the anniversary of the Nuremberg Code, we have here in British Columbia clearly violations of at least four of the articles in the Code, papered over by what seems to be an agenda-driven justification by the health authorities and the media.  Make no mistake.  However long it takes, those people will be held to account.”  To make sure his point was understood, he repeated: “Make no mistake.  However long it takes, those responsible will be held to account.”    [Those found guilty for Nazi medical; experiments were sentenced to prison for terms of 10 years or more.  Some were executed.]   

Five months later Shaw was a featured speaker at the March 19, 2022 antivaxx rally on the steps of the B.C. legislature in Victoria, where he told the crowd that  

 “The [Covid] restrictions are not about health, they’ve never been about health, they’ve always been about control.”

He went on to add  “half the cabinet, including Justin Trudeau, are graduates of the World Economic Forum program, and of course magically is Jagmeet Singh, the guy who backstops Justin Trudeau in Parliament.  This government is so compromised, it is so utterly compromised, and bought and sold.  There used to be a word for that, you don’t say that in polite society, but you all know what that word is.  When you sell out your country to foreign interests, you know what you’re doing.  That’s what we have in Ottawa”  [a crowd member shouts “treason!” and Shaw responds  “absolutely, absolutely.”]

Shaw finished his speech calling for more defiance:  “This is not the time to let down our guard.  This is the time to stand strong.  This is the time for us to become more dedicated, more committed to overturning all mandates and all restrictions and freeing this country for all Canadians, every last one of them….

We are challenging the power of the state.”

And the truckers convoy?  The weeks-long occupation of Ottawa led by a group of conspiracists, Yellow Vesters, anti-semites, Islamophobes and Soldiers of Odin members?  “A real working class uprising.”  

Shaw will be reappearing on the B.C. legislature steps on Saturday, September 17 speaking alongside Marcella Desjarlais, who has called for journalists to be executed, and James Davison, who predicts civil war in Canada if Covid restrictions are not scrapped..

Campbell River – An Antivaxxer For Mayor

Yet further north, the antivaxxers are running Saron Gebresellassi to be mayor of Campbell River.  The town has been the hotbed of antivaxx activity on Vancouver Island since the pandemic first emerged, and has been the starting point for the frequent Campbell River to Victoria convoys since January.

Gebresellassi came to Canada as an Eritrean refugee.  She is a former progressive who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Toronto four years ago.

In 2018 she ran on a platform of affordable housing, free transit, diversity and employment equity.  Now she’s the lawyer for an antivaxx group in Ottawa and running in a campaign inspired by sovereign citizen and convoy supporter Colin Bigbear Ross.

Her mentor’s Facebook posts show quite bluntly how far Gebresellassi has evolved since her Toronto mayoralty run.

There is also Jeremy MacKenzie, who appears to be the sole far rightist running for Vancouver city council.  (He’s not to be mistaken for the other Jeremy MacKenzie, the neo-Nazi Afghan vet and Diagolon leader who lives in Pictou, Nova Scotia).

MacKenzie is a Christian fundamentalist.  He ran for the PPC in Vancouver Kingsway in 2021.

He believes the government of Canada is a “criminal organization.”

And that Justin Trudeau is a “traitor.”

He’s antichoice.

And has some words for the women of B.C.

He has repeatedly violated mask mandates and harassed frontline workers in stores, at the food coop, at the U.S. border, at Value Village, and here on BC Ferries

He’s also a member of Action4Canada.

A Tale Of Two Cities

All of these city council campaigns listed above have very little chance of success in the short term.  However, there are two municipalities that may prove an exception to this generality.

The first is Maple Ridge (pop.82,000), a Lower Mainland town dominated by the developer party Maple Ridge First and its mayor, Mike Morden.  The town council already includes at least one councillor, Chelsa Meadus, who opposes Covid restrictions, supported the convoy and consider themselves an antivaxxer.

The main local antivaxx group, Canadian Freedom Coalition, has an activist core of over 100 and has maintained pickets and public meetings on a weekly basis for months, even in the face of loosening Covid restrictions. The movement’s political weight in Maple Ridge can be clearly seen from the fact that when Action4Canada held a downtown rally and march last spring, local Conservative MP and leadership hopeful Marc Dalton agreed to address it.  

The second indicator came in June, when the mayor and a majority of city council had a formal meeting with the Canadian Freedom Coalition.  The topic on the agenda, according to the CFC poster, was the October municipal election.

Local Action4Canada chapter head Andrew Dodge had already tweeted his support for the majority of city council and expressed the opinion that things would go much better if the liberal minority were to be defeated:   

And when other city councillors asked the mayor what had gone on in the meeting, he refused to answer.  https://www.mapleridgenews.com/news/maple-ridge-mayor-councillors-questioned-about-meeting-with-vaccine-protesters/

Hardly surprising that the antivaxxers in Maple Ridge are not running against the incumbent council so much as they are hoping to defeat current progressive (or at least non-Maple Ridge First) councillors and enter into a de facto coalition with the current majority.  To this end they have so far nominated only one council candidate, Leah Pillet.  

Pillet fits a by now well-established mold.  She supports Action4Canada.

She thinks the Liberal ban on importing handguns is “Hitlerian”:.

She called for a general strike in support of the Ottawa convoy:

And she’s made it clear that she hates and fears the NWO –

There would appear to be a substantial possibility that this woman could be elected to Maple Ridge city council.  Were that to happen, expect an already right-wing city administration to be pushed even further to the right.  Much further

Osoyoos: A Target Within Range

The central and southern Okanagan valley has been a hotbed of antivax organizing for two and a half years, and the little town of Osoyoos (pop. 5,000) has seen its share of it, in the form of repeated convoys heading for the U.S. border.  Now it has a slate of five running, headed by one of the biggest convoy supporters in Canada.

The Osoyoos First organization is fielding four candidates for council and one for mayor, which would give them voting control on a seven-member council if elected.  They have a slick, professionally packaged campaign web site.  Their platform promises more doctors, freezing property taxes, upgrading drinking water and resolving labour and housing shortages. 

The slate is headed by one of the biggest financial contributors to the Ottawa convoy.  Dustin Sikora chipped in $23,000 to the convoy (the third largest Canadian donation), but if the Givesendgo web site hadn’t been hacked and all the convoy donors identities revealed you’d never know he was an antivaxxer.  His Facebook page gives no indication whatever of his politics.

Go to his business, though, and you’d start to get a pretty good idea.  Sikora owns The Range in Langley, Canada’s largest indoor gun range.  It caters to police forces across the Lower Mainland, and judging by the number of pro-Trump and anti-Muslim stickers up on wall when you enter, it pitches itself  to quite a broader right wing clientele as well.

When the convoy donation was brought to light, Sikora had no comment, but his company released a statement saying “we patriotically defend the rights of the individual. We peacefully promote freedom over fear. We proudly support our truckers.”

The manager of The Range is somewhat more forthcoming.  He posted this on the day Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd:

He also believes the 2020 election was stolen by the Democrats.

An Antivaxx Mayor In Osoyoos?

Osoyoos First has a lot of factors to appeal to voters.  Its slate is made up of young entrepreneurs – a chiropractor, a craft brewery owner, a former deputy fire chief – running on uncontroversial issues (who in B.C. could possibly object to more doctors?)  And the slate has some pretty major backers.  It has received endorsements from former Osoyoos mayor Stu Wells, and from Peter Fassbender, the former mayor of Langley City and education minister under Gordon Campbell, who calls Sikora “a visionary leader.”  (B.C. teachers remember Fassbender less fondly, dubbing him “Peter Factbender” for his role in their 2014 strike.)

Add to this a very small municipal electorate, traditionally low voter turnouts in local votes, an intensely networked activist movement, and a mayoral candidate whose ties to the antivaxx movement have been almost completely obscured – almost – and you have the very real possibility that a convoy supporter could wake up to find himself the mayor of Osoyoos on October 16.

October 15th will witness the biggest push ever by far right candidates to get elected to British Columbia city councils and school boards.  While is most cases these campaigns will be unsuccessful, there is the very real possibility that several races might see antivaxxers elected to office.  And it is absolutely certain that this movement has no intention of going away.  Whether Covid comes or goes, these people are here to stay, and they need to be taken seriously.  A fascist movement in Canada is brewing. The time is long past where we can afford to ignore them.

Futher Reading:

Part 1: https://unmasktheright.org/articles?p=not-exactly-as-advertised-how-an-antivaxxconservative-alliance-is-organizing-to-take-over-bc-school-boards

Part 2: https://unmasktheright.org/articles?p=not-exactly-as-advertised-how-an-antivaxxconservative-alliance-is-organizing-to-take-over-bc-school-boards-part-2

Part 3: https://unmasktheright.org/articles?p=not-exactly-as-advertised-how-an-antivaxxconservative-alliance-is-organizing-to-take-over-bc-school-boards-part-3