The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

1994 ARA News Bulletin

On The Prowl - News Bulletin Of Anti-Racist Action (Toronto)

Number Two - January/February/March 1994 [Part IV]

14) The Heritage Of The Front

A February 22, 1994 article in the Toronto Sun reported that Armand Siksna, a member of the Toronto-based neo-Nazi Nationalist Party (NP), and the first person ever charged under Canada's hate- crime laws (back in 1973), had recently joined the right-wing Reform Party.

This revelation, coupled with, for example, the November 1992 awarding of the ' Heritage Front Merit Award' to former Western Guard Party (WPG) leaders John Ross Taylor and Jacob Prins, for years of service, serves as a timely reminder that today's neo-Nazi organizations such as the HF didn't just suddenly appear out of thin air, but rather have grown out of the remmnants of previous hate groups.

A brief look back at the workings of racist groups of the 60s and 70s like the Nationalist Party and the Western Guard can make clear the heritage of the Front.

Many prominent members of the HF were members in good standing of either the Nationalist Party or its earlier incarnation, the Western Guard Party. Wolfgang Droege joined the WGP around 1974, and was arrested in 1975 for writing neo-nazi slogans around town, and for assaulting a Toronto Sun photographer. (He's also done time for possession of cocaine, and for his part in the attempted invasion and takeover of the island of Dominica.) As well, in the late 70s, he organized in Toronto for David Duke's Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Front members Peter Mistrevski, Max French and Nicola Polinuk (ex-wife of Nationalist Party founder Don Andrews) were all active members of the NP.

The neo-Nazi Western Guard Party was born in 1972 out of the ashes of the Edmund Burke Society, an anti-communist "conservative organization" formed in 1967 by none other than Don Andrews and Paul Fromm. Led by Andrews, and later, John Ross Taylor, the WG's Manifesto declared the Party to be "dedicated to preserve and promote the basic social and spiritual values of the White People", and further stated that "we fight for our Christian moral values, our European Racial heritage and the spiritual and cultural rebirth of our people".

The WGP had several fronts; it published a magazine entitled Straight Talk, and established a white-power telephone hotline. Its members maced a meeting of African students at the University of Toronto in 1974, attacked a Black band taping a show at CITY-TV in the same year, and vandalized numerous synagogues.

As well, Taylor, Andrews and Siksna, among others, ran for political office - Andrews ran for Mayor of Toronto several times, and the others generally ran for the position of alderman - generally coming in dead last.

In 1976, Andrews and another WGP members were arrested for plotting to launch a bomb attack on a visiting Israeli soccer Team at Varsity Stadium. With Andrews in prison, John Ross Taylor, a confirmed fascist since the 1930s, took control of the WGP. Taylor renamed the organization the Western Guard Universal, and stated that its aim was to fight "Jewish-Freemasonic-Communist world- destroyers everywhere."

In June of 1979, Taylor was ordered by a Canadian Human Rights Commission Tribunal to stop broadcasting white-power telephone messages. A perusal of type-written copies of some of these messages reveals them to have been along the lines of today's HF hateline drivel - attacking "commies and race-traitors" and blaming multi-culturalism and Jews for the bulk of the world's problems.

The messages didn't stop and Taylor spent 243 days in jail. At this point the WGP basically fell apart, as many of its members left to join Droege's Canadian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which he had begun to organize in 1976, or Don Andrew's newly formed organization - the Nationalist Party - which he had formed upon his release from prison in 1977.

The fact that Taylor is a nutcase probably contributed to the demise of the WGU - among other things, Taylor is convinced that white sugar is the cause of homosexuality, and anybody who has seen the documentary Blood in the Face might remember seeing Taylor rambling on about the importance of certain numbers in the bible.

Taylor made the news again recently when it was discovered that he had contributed to an anti-semitic loony- tune conspiracy-theory type book entitled The New World Order in North America: A Secret American Military Counter Intelligence Report by University of Toronto professor Robert O'Driscoll. Taylor wrote under the pseudonym "His Excellency J.J. Wills".

The NP didn't really differ all that much from the WGP, in ideology or action. A newsletter, The Nationalist Report, was published, and NP members including Max French and Robert Ruminski ran for Mayor in Toronto municipal elections, as recently as 1988. In 1990 Nicola Polinuk ran for a school trustee byelection as a member of the National Party.

Andrews made a real effort to attract skinheads to the NP - a 1988 Toronto Sun article entitled "Young Face of Racism" reported that NP members were regularly holding 'teach-ins' with up to 70 skinheads, but Stanley Barret, in Is God a Racist, aptly describes the bulk of NP members as being misfits, losers, or alcoholics. The NP's presence in Toronto has been all but non-existent as of late.

In 1989 several NP members travelled to Libya in order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Khadafy's revolution - including Droege, French and Mitrevski - and it was at this time that the idea for the HF came up. Apparently, some NPers had grown tired of Don Andrew's "fuhrer-like leadership" and the NP's inability to do anything except contest local elections. The HF was born a few months later in Toronto.

There is an overall continuity throughout white supremacist organizing in the on-going development of strategies throughout its history. Fascist organizations in Canada such as the Heritage Front are held together by the experience and leadership carried over from pre-existing fascist structures, complete with well- established ties to other existing groups worldwide.

Street-level recruitment of skinheads is of on-going importance to them, not only to swell their ranks, but to cultivate and nurture the next generation of organizers who, like their experienced leaders, will continue down the same path.

For anti-racists and anti-fascists it is of utmost importance to become aware of this historical pattern to establish how far they have come, where they intend to go, and to ultimately stop them dead in their tracks.


For Further Reading On The Far-Right In Canada:

"Antisemitism in Canada: History and Interpretation", by Alan Davies, editor (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1992).

"Hate on Trial: The Zundel Affair, the Media and Public Opinion in Canada", by Gabriel Weimann and Conrad Winn (Oakville, Ontario: Mosaic Press, 1986).

"Is God a Racist?: The Right Wing in Canada," by Stanley R. Barrett (Toronto, Ont.: University of Toronto Press, 1987).

"Les skinheads et l'extreme droite", by Daniel Hubert and Yves Claude de la Ligue des droits et libertes (Montreal, Quebec: VLB Editeur, 1991).

"Shades of Right: Nativist and Fascist Politics in Canada, 1920- 1940", by Martin Robin (Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press, 1992).

"The Swastika And The Maple Leaf: Fascist Movements in Canada in the Thirties" by Lita-Rose Betcherman (Toronto, Ontario: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1975).

"White Hoods: Canada's Ku Klux Klan", by Julian Sher (Vancouver, BC: New Star, 1983).

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