Archive/File: orgs/canadian/canadian-jewish-congress/marches-to-modems/mtm-002-05 Last-Modified: 1997/03/30 2.5 Marc Lemire by Bill Dunphy If you'd like a glimpse of the future of organized hate in this country, look no further than this 21-year-old army reservist. Armed with little more than rudimentary computer- literacy and a few thousand dollars worth of electronics, Toronto's Marc Lemire has already secured himself a lead spot on Canada's roster of racist propagandists. Through his computerized Digital Freedom bulletin board service (begun in April 1995), and his Freedom Site homepage complex on the World Wide Web, (up and running since February 96) Lemire has provided a virtual library and town hall meeting place for Canadian white racists. Although his claims for their reach and efficacy may be somewhat overblown, there is no denying that anyone making a serious study of organized hatred in Canada need take a close look at this young racist's career. Lemire points a finger at employment equity's effects on fire fighter hiring decisions as the reason he first joined the white racist movement in general and the Heritage Front in particular. "I always wanted to be a fireman, ever since I was a little kid," he said in a 1996 interview. "And then your dreams are shattered - that was one of the compelling reasons I joined."
Never mind that Lemire hooked up with Wolfgang Droege and the Heritage Front before he was even old enough to apply for a fire fighter's job. Like a couple of dozen angry young white men this decade, Lemire formed a bond with Droege, and eagerly embarked on flyer distribution campaigns and teen recruitment drives for the Front back in the early 90's as that group was really hitting its stride. But by the summer of 1993 Lemire had fallen in with a sub- group for Front members and associates, a small circle of young men who chafed under the Front's leadership (and CSIS Grant Bristow's acid tongue). These men, Ken Barker, Phil Grech, Les Jasmski and Lemire formed their own bonds of kinship and began drifting away from the Front and spending increasing amounts of time in their own company. By the fall of 93, Grech, Jasinski and Lemire were sharing an east Toronto flat while Barker had moved back to his home turf of Oshawa. Of the four Lemire, while not an obvious leader, was certainly the most stable. Two of the men, Barker and Grech had recurring health and emotional problems. Jasinski was an unstable extremist and Christian Identity zealot who'd already been booted out of a local Ku Klux Klan cell because of his dangerously violent rhetoric. Still, the group looked with some disdain on the tattooed and beer-drinking skinheads who seemed to be holding a certain sway in the Front and they began developing their own ways of getting things done. Some were time-honored and traditional - leafleting, letter-writing and setting up a telephone hotline. Others were more dangerous. One Wednesday morning that fall, Grech donned a clown's mask and yelling at the terrified tellers, vaulted the counter of a TD bank in Oshawa. After fumbling momentarily with the cash drawer, he tore it open, grabbed a fistful of bills and ran out. An alert bank employee noted his car and later that night it was found a few blocks away in the parking lot of Barker's apartment building. Hold-up squad officers raided the Oshawa apartment where Barker lived with his young daughter and found disguises, a wad of cash, ammunition, a realistic-looking, but fake bomb, and two shotguns, one of them with its barrel sawed-down. The next morning police raided the east end flat where Lemire, Jasinski and Grech lived and arrested Grech. He was charged with the bank robbery and Barker was charged with weapons offences and a late-night donut store stick-up from the month before. In that robbery, two masked men - one armed with a shotgun - terrorized the overnight help before making off with a grand total of $257. Jasinski later confessed under oath in court that he had bought both shotguns, sawed the one down and used it in the donut store hold up. But he was never convicted of any criminal offence. Grech pled guilty and was sentenced to 18 months in prison, Barker was convicted of weapons storage offences. Lemire was never charged with any criminal offence arising from that group's activities. While his buddies fought their legal battles, Lemire turned to the ideological battlefield - opening the Euro-Canadian Action Line, a taped telephone message service promoting white racist causes and views. Like his friend Barker's Equal Rights for Whites hotline, Lemire strove to avoid breaking Canada's hate laws, targeting government policies on employment equity, multi- culturalism and immigration, and avoiding name-calling. Although he offered time on the hotline to others - notably Jasinski who taped some Christian Identity rants - the hotline proved to be pretty much a one man show. And something of a flop at that. In his third month of operation he was only attracting 30 calls a week. But he move away from the Heritage Front 's skinheads and into the smaller, independent end of the racist movement was not a total loss, even if most of his close associates had made a series of very stupid mistakes. The Front had fared no better. In 1993 at the very height of its powers, the Heritage Front was falling apart, convulsed by street fights with anti- racist extremists and courtroom battles with the establishment. The Front collapsed as a "mass" movement and has yet to recover. But Lemire, like his mentors Ernst Zundel and Paul Fromm, emerged relatively unscathed from the wreckage of the early- 90's white racist movement's boom and bust. Like Fromm had done 15 years earlier, Lemire cobbled together an innocent sounding front group from which to operate. Initially called the Euro-Canadian Alliance, and later changed to the Canadian Patriot's Network the groups have never really been anything more than Lemire and one or two others. One of them, Chris Saunders, would help Lemire into the area that would ensure his spot in the thin histories of Canada's organized hate groups. Saunders was something of a computer geek. Lemire had earlier signed on with the Canadian Armed Forces reserves, angling for medical training. And in the summer of 94, he had to leave his hotline in Jasinski's hands while he crawled through the bush at Camp Petewawa. But after his return things changed. That September he announced the change to the Canadian Patriots Network. By October Lemire had his first private internet account. By December he helped Saunders set up one of this country's first white racist computer bulletin boards (a BBS, as they are more familiarly known.) The idea of using a BBS - an electronic meeting place where people can post and pick up notes, view files and have real- time conversations - was not altogether new to the white racist movement. Texas Klan leader Louis Beam had set up the Liberty Net as an underground communication and resource center nearly a decade earlier. But that was not a recruiting tool, it was more of a secure line of communications. Saunders and Lernire's Politically Incorrect BBS was meant to attract, recruit, and convert. Even here they were following the lead of American racists - former Klan leader and Droege associate Don Black had had huge success with his Stormfront BBS in Florida. Four months later Lemire and Saunders parted ways and Lemire opened Digital Freedom BBS in April 1995, a service which he described as "Free Speech and Pro-White". There were and are more sophisticated computer jockeys in the white racist movement in Canada, but Lemire displayed an almost obsessive pride in his BBS and drove hard to make it the biggest and the best around. Within the movement he succeeded, building up a massive collection of files and resources (even if they are poorly organized) and attracting a large core of users and an even larger corps of occasional visitors. With Black he dreamed of setting up an international network of "pro-white" BBS's and did put together a kind of network bringing together BBS's of several countries in a loose electronic mail linkage. That was the year of the exponential growth of the Internet's World Wide Web and Lemire - who used the Internet newsgroups and mailing lists to advertise his Digital Freedom BBS - recognized a good thing when he saw it. By February he was truly on-line, throwing an increasingly complex collection of files and photos on his Freedom Site on the WWW. And while he still gets more traffic on his BBS, and gets most of his funds from BBS members, his website has offered him a chance to act as a virtual emcee in a no-risk, ongoing ,town hall meeting of Canada's white racist community. Among the groups who have found a home on his web site are the moribund Heritage Front, Fromm's front groups, Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform and Canadian Association for Free Expressions, The Euro-Christian Defense League (a Christian Identity group from the prairies,) and B.C. lawyer Doug Christie's Friends of Freedom.. The groups sell books and pamphlets, audio and video tapes, and post their newsletters on the site. Last month Lemire announced the start up of Radio Freedom, a once a week live Internet "broadcast" radio show featuring weekly talk and interviews computer users can listen to in real time or download for later listening via a section of his World Wide Web site. Among the "hosts" Lemire has signed up are: Paul Fromm, Kevin Strom, the neo-nazi host of a shortwave radio show American Dissident Voices, Joy Berke, the latest "host" of the Heritage Front's telephone hotline and Lemire's old friend, Saunders. Elsewhere on his website, Lemire advertises his BBS and his own data packages and posts photos he thinks are appropriate. Most are sycophantic portraits of movement leaders, but the odd time his coarser nature wins out, like the time he posted a photograph of a black man being kicked and beaten by a gang of skinheads. He borrowed a hate rock group's song title for the picture, labeling it the "Doc Martens Dental Plan." For his part, Lemire rejects labels like "racist" or "racial separatist" preferring to simply think of himself and the groups he houses on his web site as "controversial Canadians." Although Lemire is now no longer actively pursuing an army career, he is still carried on their books as an "employee". The history of Canada's white racist movements, the largest of our organized hate groups, displays a pattern of booms and busts which reached its height at various times in the 20's and 30's. Over the last 50 years the movement has risen and fallen in mostly smaller waves of activity that appear to have peaked in the early 90's with the Heritage Front and its many associated groups. They're in decline now, but they trained an awful lot of young men, like Lemire, in hatred and how to organize it. And unlike in previous "down cycles" the movement has now found a few safe, if virtual, harbors to ride out the storms of anti-racist protests and organizing. And Lemire is one of their key harbor masters.
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