Right-wing activist says he meant no harm with ‘joke’ about rape of Pierre Poilievre’s wife
OTTAWA — RCMP are examining a statement from a prominent far-right figure who says he was drunk when he joked on a live broadcast about the sexual assault of Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre’s wife.
The comment prompted Poilievre’s strongest condemnation yet of a group called Diagolon and its controversial leader Jeremy MacKenzie, a 36-year-old Nova Scotia man whose online community has been linked to misinformation, anti-Semitism and racism.
MacKenzie, who has been charged with weapons and assault offenses, dismisses evidence of links between his supporters and an alleged plot to kill police officers during last winter’s so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’ blockade in southern Alberta.
Poilievre had previously avoided calls to expose MacKenzie, including management rival Jean Charest, after the men were pictured together at an event during the Conservative leadership race this summer.
Poilievre’s campaign too sentenced what he called an ‘attack’ by a Global News reporter, who asked about MacKenzie’s views after Poilievre briefly joined an Army reservist marching across Canada to protest the warrants vaccination against COVID-19. The marching reservist had appeared on MacKenzie’s ‘Raging Dissident’ podcast and expressed his admiration for it.
On Monday, however, Poilievre blasted MacKenzie after the Diagolon chief discussed Anaida Poilievre’s sexual assault on a live show over the weekend.
“These men are bastards. Frankly, like most Canadians, until about a month ago I had never heard of Diagolon and these losers. They are all heinous,” Poilievre said in a statement posted on Twitter.
The Conservative leader also said his office forwarded the comments to the RCMP.
“This kind of waste has no place in Canada. No one should face this abuse,” Poilievre’s statement continued.
“People can attack my politics, they can insult me, they can protest against my ideas and what I stand for. But threatening my wife and my family is terrible and I will not tolerate it. Leave my family alone.
RCMP confirmed Monday that they are reviewing information provided by Poilievre’s office.
« Only in the event that criminal charges are laid would the RCMP be able to confirm the nature of the complaint or anyone allegedly involved, » she said in a statement emailed to the Star.
A video circulating on social media shows MacKenzie discussing Poilievre’s wife with other men in an online forum. After MacKenzie commented on her looks and where she’s from, he said, « Let’s rape her… It’s not really about sex, we just want to show people that we can do things to you if we want to. » . It is a coup de force. »
In a phone interview on Monday, MacKenzie told The Star he only vaguely remembers making the comment – which he described as a ‘joke’ – because he was drinking alcohol during the discussion. . MacKenzie said he thought it was « under » Poilievre as Tory leader to formally condemn a comment from such a place, and accused him of « political posturing ».
He also said he didn’t mean to be threatening or offensive, and that he’s sorry if his comments were taken that way.
“I feel bad if he or his wife or anyone is offended or upset. That was not the intention,” MacKenzie said.
« I hope he would be a bigger man than that and thicker skinned than that if he was going to be prime minister, but obviously I would never tolerate something like that, » he said. added.
The incident comes amid growing concern over death threats and violent rhetoric aimed at public figures. Politicians talked about wearing panic buttons and tightening security in their family homes. Journalists have also been subject to threats and attempts to intimidate especially racialized female reporters, including at The Star.
MacKenzie himself has directed the rage at the media, telling more than 13,000 subscribers on his ‘Raging Dissident’ Telegram channel this summer that journalists have caused « irreparable » damage to society. « I hope the torment they receive as a reward for their service to evil is so overwhelming that it will inevitably bring them to an end, » the statement read.
It’s also not the first time Poilievre has expressed his disgust at the threats against his wife. In late August, after Deputy Premier Chrystia Freeland was accosted by an aggressive man during a visit to Alberta, Poilievre told reporters he had hired private security to protect his family.
Asked about MacKenzie’s comments, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a Parliament Hill press conference that « no one should ever be subjected to threats of violence or the kind of hate that we’re seeing more moreover… It is important that we all stand up and condemn this. ”
MacKenzie, a founding member of the People’s Party of Canada, was a prominent far-right media figure online during the so-called « freedom ferry » protests that blocked Ottawa streets and sparked border blockades l last winter.
Researchers from the Canadian Anti-Hate Network have described him as the de facto leader of Diagolon, an online community they say provided a platform to propagate opinions about the desire to hasten the collapse of society – an idea described as « militant acceleration ».
The researchers also said Diagolon community discourse includes promoting Holocaust denial, conspiracy theories about COVID-19, and sharing neo-Nazi and white supremacist propaganda. MacKenzie dismisses this as unfair and says he is primarily concerned with divisions in Canadian society, an apparent intolerance for opposing viewpoints, and economic issues.
Diagolon came to the public’s attention in February when patches bearing the Diagolon symbol were discovered along with a cache of firearms and body armor seized near a ‘freedom’ blockade at a border crossing in southern Alberta. Fourteen people were arrested after RCMP alleged some protesters were prepared to use force if police resisted the blockade. Four of them have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
The father of Chris Lysak, one of the men charged in the alleged plot, told the Star after the arrests that his son had become radicalized online, including through an engagement with Diagolon.
MacKenzie was charged last month with assault, pointing a firearm, mischief and use of a restricted weapon following an incident last year in Saskatchewan. He was also charged earlier this year after RCMP allegedly found restricted firearms, a prohibited ammunition magazine, body armor and bullets at his home in Nova Scotia, The Canadian Press reported. .
Speaking to The Star on Monday, MacKenzie dismissed the accusations as baseless and « fabricated ». Although he admitted to having met Lysak at least once, MacKenzie also denied any responsibility or connection with the alleged conspiracy during the blockade in Alberta and rejected the idea that he bears responsibility for the opinions, statements or actions of his supporters.
« I can’t control how someone else interprets my feelings, » he said.
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