Ford’s alleged dog whistles and connections to the far-right will further embolden white supremacists and normalize hatred.
The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario won a majority government on June 7, taking power for the first time in 15 years. The election was a resounding victory for leader Doug Ford. Accordingly, it was also a victory for white supremacists.
This is because Ford was the preferred candidate for the far-right. Don't believe me? Just listen to them.
A recent investigation from Ricochet found that, "Far-right figures and groups, from the explicitly white supremacist to the more crypto-fascist, have not been shy in proclaiming their support for 'Ford Nation' and their belief that Doug Ford could create an opening for white supremacist activity similar to the effect of Donald Trump in the United States."
Ricochet's investigation involved listening to episodes of This Hour Has 88 Minutes, the most popular white supremacist podcast in Canada until it was deleted on May 9, after Vice Canada sent a comment request to one of the co-hosts, Thomas White, for an investigation that would be released a week later.
The far-right figures on the podcast did not give their support to Ford begrudgingly, in the way some people do when voting for the candidate they believe will cause the least harm.
Instead, over the course of several episodes, the co-hosts encouraged listeners to buy PC memberships to vote for Ford in the leadership race, vote for Ford to be premier, and actively support his campaign on the ground and through social media.
According to Ricochet's analysis of the podcast, the white supremacists supported Ford because they believed he will "'electrify' the white working class and give blue-collar people permission to be racist," as well as hastening an arrival of the white ethnostate they desire.
Alt-right group, the Proud Boys, are calling Ford the 'Proud Boy of the month'
Ford also received support from several other far-right figures.
Ezra Levant, the co-founder of the news and commentary outlet, Rebel Media, which has hosted white nationalists, anti-Semites, Islamophobes, alt-rightfigures and other hate-mongers, says Ford will smash the "false liberal consensus."
Faith Goldy, the former Rebel Media host who was fired after appearing on a podcast affiliated with a neo-Nazi publication, The Daily Stormer, describes Ford as a "right wing populist," that will "clean house."
This is not to say that Ford is a white supremacist. Ford denounced This Hour Has 88 Minutes' endorsement. He also appears to have received significant support from racialized voters, especially in the Greater Toronto Area.
Yet the far-right's affection for Ford isn't entirely unrequited, either. Ford was a speaker at a Rebel Media event in June 2017. He also appointed Andrew Lawton, one of Rebel Media's former hosts, who once claimed that women in Germany deserved to be raped because of the country's supposedly lax refugee policies.
One of Ford's former candidates, Tanya Granic Allen, who has espoused an Islamophobic and homophobic ideology that led to her being dismissed as a candidate, was endorsed by prominent neo-Nazi, Paul Fromm.
Another one of Ford's candidates, Donna Skelly, promoted a far-right news organization during an event for young conservatives in December 2017.
Ontario already has a hate problem
In May, when speaking on immigration, Ford claimed that Ontario needs to "take care of our own." The comment was widely condemned, but according to far-right organizer Cameron, who celebrated the remark, "Every nationalist out there are [sic] like 'we know what you're sayin' Dougie.'"
One of the co-hosts of This Hour Has 88 Minutes also claimed Ford has sent covert signals of approval to the far-right, stating, "All it takes is someone like a Doug Ford or a Trump to activate those impulses in people."
These racist impulses aren't entirely dormant, of course.
Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper proposed or supported a great deal of anti-Muslim legislation, ostensibly in the name of national security, especially in his final few years. This included: banning niqabs in citizenship ceremonies, introducing Bill C-51, planning to combat "barbaric cultural practices," and citing mosques as sites of radicalization in Canada. In that same time span, from 2012 to 2015, hate crimes against Muslims in Canada increased by 253 per cent.
Ontario already has a hate problem. There were 612 hate crimes reported to police in 2016, 43 per cent of the total reported in Canada as a whole. Also in 2016, the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants and advocacy group Mass Minority released a study which found there was an "epidemic of Islamophobia" in the province.
The threat now facing marginalized people in Ontario is that Ford's alleged dog whistles and connections to the far-right will further embolden white supremacists and normalize hatred.
Better organization will mean more recruits, and violence, all the way to mass casualty attacks, as several experts studying the far-right told The Walrus.
White supremacists are confident in their ability to expand their ranks in this political climate. One of the This Hour Has 88 Minutes co-hosts claimed that, "Those people [blue-collar workers] are not far from our thinking. It's a very small push to our thinking."
A Ford victory is the push they've been hoping to get. It's up to Ontarians to prove them wrong.