Counter-Protest at Lacolle Border Ends in Standoff
Message of Storm Alliance Unclear
Anti-racist and pro-immigration protesters gathered at the St. Bernard de Lacolle border this afternoon to oppose Storm Alliance, a group who came to stand against Trudeau and Couillard’s Liberal governments.
With over 200 Montreal activists in attendance, the counter-demonstration against Storm Alliance was organized by Solidarity Across Borders, a group that focuses on giving direct aid to new arrivals and protecting them from deportation.
About a hundred were there from Storm Alliance, and the two groups stood along Chemin Guay, the road leading up to the U.S. border where previously new arrivals were staying in tents. The border itself is the most-used border crossing between Quebec and the United States.
The two groups were prevented from approaching each other by the Sûreté du Québec, who stood in line and separated the two.
Solidarity Across Borders has called Storm Alliance a racist, far-right anti-immigration group, and came to let immigrants know they are welcome in Quebec.
“Canada has a lot to benefit and gain from migrants and refugees. This includes both socially, culturally and economically,” said Stacey Gomez, a member of Solidarity Across Borders.
Gomez’s group also hopes to see an end to the Safe Third Country Agreement. The agreement enforces that refugees who pass through the U.S. first are not eligible for refugee claims in Canada, and because of this, many choose to pass through the border irregularly so they can have a better chance at getting status.
“Borders are inherently violent,” she said.
“Borders are inherently violent,” —Stacey Gomez
It’s unclear what exactly Storm Alliance stands for, or what they hoped to achieve through their demonstration at the border today.
When describing their group, David Tregget, president and co-founder of Storm Alliance, said their group stands against “corruption and tyranny.”
In the past, he’s described the group as being ‘ultranationalist’ to the CBC, but was hesitant to describe the group in the same way today. Tregget says their group is not against immigration at all, and that actually he hopes to see conditions improve for new immigrants coming into the country.
“What we denounce about immigration, is the lack of resources that are put in place for them,” Tregget explained.
When asked what could be done to help this situation, Tregget was unable to give a clear suggestion.
Many from Storm Alliance didn’t put out any openly anti-immigrant statements today, but their protest attracted many who were open about their views on immigration.
“Trudeau says we’re all going to help you. Is he going to do this for all of Africa?” said member of Storm Alliance, Sebastien Cormier. “We have a lot of things to work in our system. The health, the school, everything.”
Camil Doherty, who isn’t a member of the group himself, came and was also open about his concerns regarding immigrants.
“If they want to move over here, act like Canadians, don’t try to change our law,” Doherty said, while mentioning that he’s worried about Shariah law.
It’s sentiments like these that convinces many from Montreal to come to the border to demonstrate.
“When you place blame and scapegoat immigrants or refugees, that’s a racist mentality,” said Anas Bouslikhane, another member of Solidarity Across Borders.
Formally, Tregget has been active in other anti-immigration groups. Namely, he’s served as the vice president of the Canada-wide chapter of Soldiers of Odin. Soldiers of Odin itself originally comes from Finland, and was founded by white supremacist Mika Ranta.
He later chose to leave the group and found the Quebec only group called Storm Alliance, because he argued Soldiers of Odin had too many racists in it.
Storm Alliance and La Meute
Other known white supremacists—like Shawn Beauvais-Macdonald—were at the border today as well.
Beauvais-Macdonald used to be in charge of the anglophone Facebook page of the far-right, anti-Islam group La Meute. In the past, he’s been spotted at the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, where on Aug. 11 and 12 there were mass riots with alt-right groups, white supremacists, and members of the KKK, culminating in the death of anti-fascist protester Heather Heyer.
Tregget told The Link that eight members of Storm Alliance came to attend the anti-immigration protests organized by La Meute on Aug. 20 in Quebec City. While it’s clear they weren’t there with the group of anti-racist protesters, Tregget argues they weren’t there to support La Meute, but rather to denounce the corrupt Couillard government.
Alex Seymour, a Montrealer who independently does research into Storm Alliance, argues that Storm Alliance chooses to not be open about their anti-immigration stances because they’re concerned about their public image.
“The problem is that (Storm Alliance) wants people from the far-right, including outright racists, to come to their demonstrations,” he said. “But because they want to improve their image, they then get embarrassed when outright neo-nazis show up.”