GENERAL ARTICLES

Fascism in Canada

Blue shirts, swastikas, drills, fanaticism—they’re all with us

FREDERICK EDWARDS April 15 1938
GENERAL ARTICLES

Fascism in Canada

Blue shirts, swastikas, drills, fanaticism—they’re all with us

FREDERICK EDWARDS April 15 1938

Fascism in Canada

GENERAL ARTICLES

Blue shirts, swastikas, drills, fanaticism—they’re all with us

FREDERICK EDWARDS

THERE IS a Fascist movement in Canada and it is growing. Whether it is a mighty force destined to turn this Dominion from a democratic into a totalitarian state, as its impassioned leaders assert; or whether it is nothing more than an ephemeral outbreak of anti-Semitic fanaticism, blown into unmerited prominence by the mouthings of a few crackpots, as some of its critics declare, it exists. It is here. It is a Fact.

According to Adrien Arcand, the young, lean and hotly fervent French-Canadian editor who is Canadian Fascism’s number one prophet, there has been a Fascist movement in Canada for five years.__ Joseph Farr, the soft-spoken, alert and personable Ontario secretary, on the other hand, traces the beginnings of Ontario Fascism back to 1929, when a group of indignant Toronto residents of the Kew Beach district organized a Swastika Club to ixilice their bathing beach. An organization has existed in the Prairie Provinces for about the same time under William Whittaker, of Winnipeg. Of the three chiefs, Whittaker, in his sixties, is the oldest, and in recent months he has not been as active as formerly because of ill health. The Western Fascists are looking around now for a successor to Whittaker, a younger man.

Canadian Fascism at the moment is divided into two groups. In Ontario and the West the official title of the organization is The Canadian Nationalist Party, and its membership for the most part is made up of Englishs|*;aking Protestants. Joseph Farr is a North of Ireland man, and a member of the Orange Order. In Quebec the movement is headed by Adrien Arcand and is called the National Social Christian Party. Its membership is ninety-nine per cent French-Canadian and Roman Catholic.

With the object of uniting the two branches and establishing a national organization, a joint convention is being planned as this is written. This will probably be held at Kingston, Ont., early in June, and its major business will be to select a Dominion leader, and to draft a platform upon which it is proposed that candidates will in future campaigns appeal to the electorate in Dominion constituencies. Except as a means toward achieving power in the federal field, the movement is not especially concerned with provincial politics.

The movement is frankly anti-Jew, anti-Communism, and is opposed to the Masonic Order, which its leaders claim is controlled by Jews. Almost all its literature—and it has an abundant supply, in French and English, some of it imported from Sir Oswald Mosley’s headquarters in Ix>ndon—consists of violent attacks on Communism, Judaism, and Freemasonry. To its leaders, the hated Communism is a Jewish movement entirely, and the famous “Protocolsof the Elders of Zion,” the “Discourse of Rabbi Reichom,” and Samuel Roth’s book, “Jews Must Live,” are extensively quoted in Nationalist Party propaganda to establish this as a fact. The official “Program and Regulations” of the Party states:

“Only members of the great races which have formed since its beginning as a country the population of Canada; and the other Aryan members of the population who will agree to identify themselves with the mother races, can be Canadian citizens.” That is, Jews, negroes, and Asiatics would be denied the franchise.

Although negotiations toward uniting the Nationalist Party of Ontario and the West with the National Social Christian Party in Quebec have been under way for some months, they were not completed until March last, and it was not until March 4 that Joseph Farr came out into the open as the avowed leader of the movement in Ontario.

With Winnipeg’s William Whittaker almost completely incapacitated and no successor yet appointed, the work of organizing the national convention is being done chiefly by Adrien Arcand and his aides, Major H. J. Scott, and Dr. Gabriel Lambert, in Quebec, and Joseph Farr, working from a room in a small hotel in uptown Toronto. There is also, Farr states, the nucleus of an organization in the Maritime Provinces, but so far nothing more than the bare beginning has been achieved there.

Membership and Organization

IT IS difficult to arrive at any authentic estimate of the number of the movement’s supporters. Farr claims to have 10,000 dues-paying members in Ontario, as of April first, 8,000 of them in Toronto. Arcand says he has between 80,000 and 85,000 followers in Montreal alone, but admits that the actual membership is considerably less. “In some families of eight, ten twelve, or fifteen members which I know,” Arcand puts it, “all are Fascists, but only one or two can afford to pay dues, or have the price of a shirt.” Arcand further claims, though, that by the time of the next Dominion election his party can win thirteen seats in Quebec, and adds that there should be fifteen Nationalist Party members returned from the prairies. These, remember, are just claims. There is no way to substantiate them.

Until his illness, William Whittaker called himself Leader of the Canadian Nationalist Party, and Adrien Arcand is designated as The Leader (Le Chef) in Quebec. Joseph Farr, in Ontario, says he is not a Leader, but merely a secretary and organizer. “There can be only one Leader,” Farr says, “and he will be chosen by the National Convention this summer.”

A definite scheme of organization has been established. Once the leader is chosen, he will select his own Grand Council, the inner circle of his trusted advisers. The identities of members of the Grand Council are not made public. Even the party members do not know who the grand councillors are. A Corporative Council, composed of “professional men, industrialists and technicians,” whose duty will be to advise the Grand Council and the Leader on matters in which they are expert, will come next in rank, then a series of committees, charged with various activities.

The rank and file of the membership is intensively organized in six groups—provincial, county, municipal, zone, and ward groups, and sections. The section is the smallest unit in the setup, having a maximum of eight members, with a secretary and an assistant secretary. Each group is directed by a secretary and one or more assistants. All secretaries report to the secretary general, who is a member of the Grand Council, and through him to the Leader. “The Leader of the Party,” says the official rule book, “is the Supreme Authority.”

Members pay dues of twenty-five cents a month, or more if they feel they can afford it. They buy their own shirts and badges, according to their individual tastes and the size of their bank rolls, the various secretaries acting as selling agents for a standard line of garments, made, as Adrien Arcand phrases it, “by our own Fascist tailors in their own shops. The ready-made ones are bought from a Gentile manufacturer, employing only Gentiles.”

The official uniform consists of a navy blue shirt, worn without a necktie, and matching slacks. The regulation swastika emblem is of scarlet red felt, mounted on a white felt disc two inches in diameter. The emblem is worn on both shirt sleeves, three and a half inches below the shoulder. The mies state that uniforms are to be worn at party

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meetings and rallies only. Various grades of office holders, secretaries, and so on. are identifier! by arm bands and circles, which come in twelve different colors and styles. Writers and orators sport a red felt capital P for “Propagandist” - two inches high, worn below the swast ika disc on each sleeve.

Procedure at all meetings is rigidly regulated. The meetings open with the I-ord s Prayer, either in French or English. Next the secretary in charge, making the Fascist salute, and while members keep their right arms raised, recites this pledge:

“Moved by an unshakable faith in God, a profound love for Canada, ardent sentiments of patriotism and nationalism, a complete loyalty and devotion toward our Gracious Sovereign who forms the recognized principle of active authority, a complete respect for the British North America Act. for the maintenance of order, for national prosperity, for national unity, for national honor, for the progress and the happiness of a greater Canada. I pledge solemnly and explicitly to serve my Party. I pledge myself to propagate the principles of its Program, 1 pledge myself to follow its Regulations, I pledge myself to obey my leaders. Hail the Party! Hail our Leader! (name).”

There is some confusion about this “Hail our leader" business at the moment. In Quebec the pledge concludes. “Hail Arcand !” in Pinglish, or “Vive Arcand !” in French. In the West it has been “Hail Whittaker!” To date, in Ontario nobody is being hailed, since Joseph Farr declines to be hailed as leader; but then, the Ontario organization did not get around to holding public meetings until late March.

Meetings clase in similar fashion. Making the Fascist salute, members are required to repeat after the secretary in charge: “Hail the King! Hail Canada! Hail the Party! Hail our Leader!”

Or. in French: “Vive le Roi! Vive le Canada ! Vive le Parti! Vive Arcand !”

The I.eaders

BEYOND any question, the chief motivating power behind the Fascist movement in Canada at the present time is Adrien Arcand and the organization he has built in Quebec. The elderly Whittaker. in poor health, must soon pass his office as Western leader to other hands. Joseph Farr, a quiet, unassuming individual. who sells beverages for a living and has already lost one job because of his activities with the Nationalist Party, is admittedly a follower of Arcand with no personal ambitions toward leadership.

It seems inevitable that Adrien Arcand will emerge from the National Convention if it is held as acknowledged head of Canadian Fascism. On the delegation plan projectedtwo delegates from each zone - he will have by far the strongest personal following; and with Whittaker out of the picture, there is no one in sight to challenge his bid for the office.

Arcand is the type of which zealots are made. One recalls an incident during the Dominion election campaign of 1935. A group of men. Frenchand English-speaking. were talking over the political situation in a Montreal hotel. An English-speaking member of the group made a casual remark about "this game of politics.”

As though released from tension by powerful springs, a lean black-haired French-Canadian leaped to his feet. He shook a clenched fist in the air and cried hotly:

“Bah ! There you have it. This game of politics. This game, mark you. Politics is not a game. It is a battle. There is the difference between us. You English, you play politics. But, we French, we fight politics.”

That is Adrien Arcand’s political philosophy; and in it. to some extent at least.

may be found the key to Adrien Arcand, to his “National Social Christian Party,” and to his persistent and often vicious anti-Semitism. He is a passionate fighter, a truculent carrier of chips on shoulders, ripe material to foment and to lead such F'ascistor Nazi movements as tolerant and usually good-natured Canadian citizens will stand for. His sense of humor is a negligible quantity. He does not. for example, see anything funny about being “hailed !”

Arcand has courage, even a certain recklessness. He is utterly and completely sincere, which makes him the more potentially dangerous. His fervid nationalism, and especially his bitter contempt for all Jewry, is not a recent development; nor is it. in his case, a mere matter of climbing on a band wagon or running with a pack. Long before there was a Fascist movement in this country, long before there was even a Maurice Duplessis leading a Nationalist movement in the Province of Quebec, Adrien Arcand was publishing pamphlets, small weekly newspapers, tracts, brochures, in Montreal, every one of them inspired by the same motivation—the urge to be battling with somebody, plus a savage scorn of Judaism and everything connected with it. The National Social Christian Party is Arcand’s own creation. He has been planning it for years.

Adrien Arcand may be fanatic, but he is no fool. Some Montrealers of high standing call him a crackpot, say that his movement is a mythical extravaganza,composed entirely of sound and fury. An objective and entirely unbiased investigation makes it appear something more than that. During March the National Social Christian Party held ten public meetings in the Province of Quebec, seven in Montreal, one in Sorel, one in Saint Hyacinthe, and one in Valleyfield. The meetings were advertised as “Assemblées Publiques Fascistes,” and they were wrell attended. A crowd of 2,000 people with an overflow listening to Arcand’s pyrotechnic oratory through loud speakers, is a commonplace today in Quebec. It is true that the French people greatly enjoy political meetings; true. too. that not everyone attending these gatherings is necessarily an Arcand supporter; or even a notable percentage of them. But they go and they listen.

Arcand’s Record

MERELY to call Arcand a windbag and his movement a chimera is not quite good enough, in view of these facts. History, recent history, warns of the unwisdom of so casual a rejection of these things that are happening, in Quebec, on the prairies, and now in Ontario. William Aberhart of Alberta was called a blatherskite. but that didn’t stop him becoming Premier of his province. Benito Mussolini, Adolph Hitler, Huey Long, were, in their beginnings, called crackpots and featherbrains, yet they rose to great power in their respective nations, and two of them have gone on to be international figures, rightly or wrongly. It appears ridiculous at this time even to think of Adrien Arcand as Premier of Quebec or Prime Minister of Canada; but to deny that he has a following, and that the numbers of that following are increasing weekly, is plainly unintelligent.

He is an educated man. Originally he aimed to be a chemical engineer, but quickly found chemistry too tame for his yeasty temperament and turned to journalism. for which he has an undeniable flair. F'rom newspaper work to politics is always an easy transition for the brightminded young French-Canadian. Arcand worked at first on the staff of the powerful French-language daily. La Presse. He was fired from IM Presse after he attempted to establish a newspapermen’s union, and.

with local backing, began publication of LeGoglu, a small satirical and nationalistic weekly, which ran for some years. It was in Le Goglu that he first let himself go on anti-Semitism.

At the moment he is earning his living as editor-in-chief of L'Illustration Nouvelle, a tabloid Montreal daily, supporting the Duplessis Government. He finds time, as well, to edit and publish Le Fasciste Canadien, official organ of the Frenchspeaking Fascists, which comes out once a month. The man is a glutton for work. Hours, day or night, mean nothing to him if there is a task to be done on behalf of his chosen cause, whatever that may be; but especially if it has to do with his antiJewish campaigns.

Arcand is an exj^erienced politician, although never notably a successful one. He has run for various public offices, and he was a candidate for a Montreal division on the Conservative side in the last Dominion election. He makes an excellent speech in English or French, and he is clever enough to tone down his more fantastically flamboyant passages when he is addressing an English audience. In a hall crowded with listeners of his own race, he goes all out. shrieking violent damnations of his opponents, with his arms flailing the air, then lowering his voice to a throaty sob as he speaks of his love for his native land, and for his own people especially. To the French, this is the zestful red meat of oratory. They love it.

Besides being a forlorn-hope candidate in the 1935 Dominion campaign, Arcand served the Conservative organization in Quebec as publicity director, for which post he was chosen bv Senator J. H. Rainville, the Quebec organizer. Arcand’s publicity campaign was built around Mackenzie King’s pledge to repeal Section 98 of the Criminal Code, the section which made it a crime to profess or propagate Communism, and the section under which Tim Buck was sentenced to a penitentiary term at Kingston. Mr. King’s promise to wipe Section 98 from the Criminal Code, since fulfilled, infuriated Arcand. He went berserk on the subject.

Some of the pamphlets and cartoons he wrote or inspired were brutal in the extreme. He linked the Liberal leader with Stalin, and had them working as a team to drag the cross from the steeples of Roman Catholic churches, nailing up church doors, burning down churches, driving priests and nuns into exile. That sort of stuff. It didn’t seem to help the Conservative cause any, for the Party lost heavily in Quebec as elsewhere; but that may not have been through any fault of Arcand’s extreme propaganda. The Duplessis padlock law interprets the same sentiment, and there is no widespread feeling throughout Quebec against that high-handed piece of autocratic legislation.

The Fascist Lieutenants

STANDING beside Adrien Arcand, and holding his hands on high, are two chief lieutenants. Major H. J. Scott, ranking as “Director General of the Fascist Legions,” and Dr. J. G. Lambert (pronounced “Lawm-behr”) who does most of the recruiting and organization work as director of the Committee on Contacts. Major Scott is the drillmaster. There is no need of a Dr. Goebbels in the National Social Christian Party. Arcand is his own minister of propaganda, inevitably.

Dr. Lambert is a physician who has achieved only a moderate success in his chosen profession and may have found time hanging heavily on his hands before he joined the Arcand movement. He graduated from the old Laval University in Montreal—now incorporated in the ambitious but long unfinished project of the Université de Montréal— and he studied

at Harvard Medical School. In Is Fasciste Canadien he advertises himself as “J. G. Lambert, M.D., Médecin Naturiste.” Among his fellow physicians in Montreal, Dr. Lambert is famous chiefly because of his unique theories of diagnosis. He developed a conviction that the eye is the mirror of the body, and that through a study of the retina of a patient’s eyes he could arrive at an accurate diagnosis of his ailments and plan a correct and successful course of treatment. For a time it seemed as though the somewhat hypnotic Dr. Lambert might establish a new cult, but his success was transitory’. Perhaps the depression had something to do with that. He is still in practice, but he finds time to go everywhere with Arcand. A stoutish, sweet-talking, suave professional gentleman, affecting pince-nez on a black ribbon, he throws an aura of grave dignity around the more volatile movements of his Leader.

Major Scott, in spite of his name, is French-Canadian too, descendant of an old Quebec family with mingled Scottish and French ancestry dating back several generations. Before he started on his present business career as coal, coke, oil, and wood merchant, with a side line of automobile insurance, he was for many years a chief of the Quebec Liquor Commission’s private police force, ferreting out liquor smugglers and digging up illicit stills for the manufacture of ‘‘whiskey blanc” in the remote backwoods. Among the mountains of the Southern United States he would have been that much-hated individual, a “revenooer.” The major comes quite properly by his military title, for he served as recruiting officer and physical instructor with the Eighty-fifth Battalion, C.E.F. In his youth he was an athlete of note and a member of several Canadian gymnastic squads touring in Europe. He was on the Canadian Olympic teams of 1908 and 1912, and he claims that in the past twenty years he has trained more than 150,000 youngsters in the numerous French cadet corps in Montreal.

Stocky and muscular and bald, with a stem mouth set in firm lines. Scott bears a faint resemblance to Mussolini, just as the slender, black eyebrow-mustached Arcand looks something like Sir Oswald Mosley. The major has a supreme disdain for personal popularity, since, both as a Liquor Commission copper and a C. E. F. recruiting agent among the French-Canadians, he never enjoyed any particular good will. A strict disciplinarian, he drills his legions —without arms, but in military formations —to a major-general’s taste. Powerful and fit, he is well able to take care of himself in a rough and tumble. Under his instruction, Arcand’s followers have developed an exact and highly technical routine for chucking Communistic disturbers out of their meetings. Major Scott acts as bodyguard for his leader, who often moves abroad among hostile mobs.

Members Mostly Young Men

MOST OF the membership of the Party, in Quebec and in other parts of Canada, is made up of young men; and in Quebec it is almost one hundred per cent French-Canadian. There are a few women in the Party, which admits them on equal terms with the men. “Over sixty per cent of our membership is of youth, up to thirty-five years of age,” Arcand says. “The balance is ripe old age. Today a lady aged eighty-four signed up; last week a man of sixty-two joined the ranks of the legionnaires, with his two sons. In Quebec we have mostly French-speaking members. We have opened our doors to other naturalized Aryans, but refuse to accept Asiatics particularly the Knights of the Wailing Wall.” A typical Arcand crack, that last remark.

All the party leaders—Arcand. Whittaker, and Farr—become highly indignant at any suggestion that their cause is receiving financial assistance from any foreign country, a charge frequently made by opponents of the movement, with special stress on Germany and Italy. In Winni-

peg. William Whittaker has issued a challenge offering $1.000 reward to anyone who can prove that his Nationalist Party has ever received money from foreign sources. In Montreal, Adrien Arcand is equally emphatic in his denial.

“Years ago,” Arcand told this reporter, “we did receive outside subscriptions. That was when I was publishing Le Goglu. We had about fifty pounds sterling from members of the British peerage who were interested in our work. The late Lord Sydenham, a personal friend of mine, contributed to the support of our cause, two years before the party was formed. Since the National Social Christian Party has been organized, we have not received one dollar in political subscriptions from abroad.”

By way of backing up this statement, Arcand declares himself ready to dissolve his organization, “and relinquish Fascist leadership, if it can be proved that we receive foreign money for Fascism, or any activity pertaining to it.” He makes this offer, he says, on the understanding that if his adversaries fail to establish their charges, they in turn will agree to dissolve their “Red” organizations, among which Arcand numbers the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Toronto Trades and Labor Council, the Communist Party, and the C. C. F. The challenge is given here for what it is worth. It seems unlikely that anything important will come of it.

The party, Arcand insists, is self-supporting, because it is composed entirely of volunteers disciplined to the idea of selfsacrifice. There is a revenue from shirts and emblems. Party programs and rule booklets are sold—23,000 of them in Quebec alone as of March first, Arcand claims —at fifteen cents each, as well as otherpropaganda, leaders’ photographs, and so on.

“We pay our own way as we go along.” the Quebec leader explained. “When a zone desires to rent a hall of its own, the rental is not paid by headquarters. The members of that zone put up the money among themselves, in addition to their regular dues. Members, besides contributing, work as speakers, legionnaires, list checkers, and canvassers. They supply their own cars and gasoline, pay tollbridge charges when sent out on duty, and meet all other incidental expenses, all for the Cause, and without remuneration. Here is a typical example of where the money comes from. A girl, working as a maid, has pledged twenty-five {Der cent of her twenty dollars a month salary for a year, toward rental costs at headquarters.”

The Quebec organization, by the way, is the only one so far to have an established headquarters out where folks can look at them. They occupy the third floor of a building on the southeastern corner of St. James Street and St. Lawrence Boulevard, across the street from La Presse Building, where Adrien Arcand once toiled as a newshawk. Toronto and Winnipeg have, to date, only Post Office box numbers.

Links With World Organization

SOME FOLKS in Quebec hold to the view that the Arcand organization is doing a bit of undercover work for Premier Duplessis and is getting paid for it. T. D. Bouchard, leader of what remains of the Liberal Opposition in the Quebec Legislature, has demanded an investigation into the activities of the National Social Christian Party, claiming it to be a menace to law and order at least equal to the Communism against which the Duplessis administration is so militant. Adrien Arcand says that neither he nor his organization is on the Duplessis payroll, and it would stiem that he may be believed, if only for the reason that Premier Duplessis has no special need of Arcand’s active support, at least not just now. Arcand does, however, back the Duplessis Government.

“We are totaily independent of all political factions in the country,” he says, “although we look with sympathy upon the Duplessis administration, which is the

most honest we have had for forty years, which applies the padlock law on nonCanadian agitators, which gives the best treatment to laborers and farmers that the rotten system of ,‘babbleocracy’ can afford to let it give.”

At the same time, Arcand insists that his organization has no sympathy with the extreme French Nationalist movement, represented by the group which split from Premier Duplessis after he was returned to power because he would not go all the way they wished. “We were the first in Quebec to fight Separatism,” Arcand declares, “and we are carrying on that fight very satisfactorily, swallowing many exmembers of that failing movement.” Frankly, the National Social Christian Party is aiming for Dominion power, Adrien Arcand admits, describing Dominion power as the real key to the vital problems of this country. Outwardly at least, he appears sublimely confident that, sooner or later, his Party will rule on Parliament Hill. Lack of a substantial campaign fund, he insists, will not bother him in the least. He argues:

“Since all members pay dues and work free, it will cost us only $2,000 to win a constituency, where either of the so-called democratic parties have to spend from $30,000 to $60,000 for the same result! Most of the money spent in an election goes for buying either people or their work. That is the secret of Fascism’s success. After having been bought, spoiled, de-

based, dealt with like commercial merchandise in a system of pure Jewish-minded materialism, honest people become disgusted and finally they revolt. They are ready to make sacrifices, dire and harsh ones, to get free of that, to have a really popular government that will not owe its life to money dictatorship. After all those appeals to ’sell yourself,’ the appeal to self-sacrifice, abnegation, hard work, and risks on behalf of a grand and noble cause, is working miracles.” There, of course, sjjeaks Adrien Arcand, the dreaming idealist.

While denying the receipt of any financial assistance from foreign countries, Arcand admits freely, takes it indeed as a matter of course, that the National Social Christian Party is constantly in touch with Fascists everywhere, particularly in Britain and the United States. The Canadian leader himself was a featured speaker at a Fascist rally held in the New York Hippodrome last October, appearing as the representative of the Fascist movement in Canada, orating from the same platform as James Wheeler Hill, leader of American Fascism, Henry Hamilton Beamish,famous in England as an anti-Semite and one of Arcand’s greatest heroes, Rudolph Markman, a leader of German Nazis in the United States, and John Finnizio, who occupies a similar position among ItaloAmerican Fascists. Arcand spoke, in English, for an hour and a half.

He believes that the formula now being

worked out by United States and Canadian Fascists together “will bring our immensely rich countries far ahead of anything done in Germany or Italy, after the parasitism of all kinds that sucks the economic blood of the industrial nations has been extirpated.”

Arcand insists that “we don’t attack Jews, we simply defend our country and civilization against their conspiracy.” Joseph Farr says the same thing in different words. “We are not Jew haters. We do say that Christian people have a right to live decent lives.” Both men support the British Fascist plan for handling the problem of what to do with the Jews after they have been thrown out. The idea is to set up an all-Jewish State on the Island of Madagascar, and leave them to work out their own destiny in their own way.

Perhaps these men—Adrien Arcand, William Whittaker, Joseph Farr—are blatherskites. They are quite definitely Facts. And so are their twin parties, their intensive organizations, their blue shirts and swastikas and drills, their flaming appeals to youth, and their little housemaids willing to hand over a quarter of their meagre monthly earnings to help pay rent for Fascist headquarters.

Note: This is the first of two articles on Canadian Fascism. The second, outlining the Nationalist Party platform and the principles set forth in its official manifesto, will appear in the next issue of Maclean’s Magazine.