The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Heritage Front Affair
Report to the Solicitor General of Canada
Security Intelligence Review Committee
December 9, 1994


5.9 Harasmment of ARA Members

The information on the harassment of the anti-racists is somewhat sparse due to the nature of the events themselves and because of the refusal of Members of the ARA to cooperate with the Review Committee. The events described below indicate what was alleged to have happened to three present or former members of the Anti-Racist Action group.

The anti-racist activist is a former ARA member who, in her own words, was one of the most active ARA members for a two or three month period. She told SIRC that she was subject to intense harassment from January to April 1993. During this period, she received 25 to 30 calls every day, at all hours of the day and night. This diminished to 25-30 calls a week between May and July 1993.

The Source said that the activist appeared to be both stable and aggressive. Bristow's calls involved "you're IT" at normal hours. Many other people probably also called her. The "IT" campaign was to collect information and was not designed to harass anyone day and night. The Investigator acknowledged the possibility however, that some of the younger Front members may have spent some nights making such calls.

Though most of the harassment took the form of telephone calls, the activist said there was also some "stalking". She would be told that "we know that you were here and here and here during the day" and "we're watching your every move". During the January-April period, she said the calls involved increasing threats of violence. In early March, she was told that her house would be fire-bombed. The activist said that she never reported the incident to the police. The telephone harassment calls at her home involved many "hang-ups" and disguised voices. She said that she did not report the harassment campaign to the police.

The Source told the Review Committee that no "stalking" took place because Heritage Front members never had the patience to engage in that type of activity. The Source said he has no knowledge of anyone ever being placed under surveillance. If it had happened, the Source said he would have known about it in due course. [40]

The activist said that some of the calls did not appear, initially, to be harassment. For example, she would be told that the caller's child had been injured at an ARA rally and that the caller wanted to speak to someone about the issue. When she asked "how did you get my home number", the caller would hang up. The Toronto Region Investigator said this type of call may have been part of the harassment campaign. However, it was an unusual type of call for the Heritage Front, and he had not previously heard about it.

The activist spoke of a number of additional specific incidents. Her descriptions and the Source's responses are provided below.

In January 1993, while sick at home from her job, the activist's boss was called, and told that she was videotaped at an ARA demonstration. Bristow said that Droege wanted a few people to call her boss to say that she was out demonstrating and they hoped that she did not call in sick. [41]

The Toronto Region Investigator said that Droege authorized the telephone harassment campaign, and the Source controlled it. One call to the activist's employer was made by Bristow, as a conference call with Mitrevski also on the line. The Investigator told the Source to try to avoid getting into that sort of situation.[42]

A mock Heritage Front flyer was distributed which listed the activist's home address, thus giving the impression that she was a Heritage Front member. The perpetrator was actually an anti-racist who was tricked into preparing the flyers.

The handler indicated that the Source did not distribute the hate flyer involving the activist. Nor did the Source threaten to fire-bomb her house. He was not surprised at the frequency of the harassment calls; he thought it was something the younger or violent members could do. [43]

The Source created a series of imaginary events which he told Heritage Front members had happened; e.g., he had called the anti-racists to tell them that a Heritage Front event was going to be at a certain place and to knock hard; then he would call others to say they were from the Neo-Nazi Welcome Wagon and the Nazis could be found at a such an such address. [44]

On one occasion, a Heritage Front member actually did this type of thing. A racist, posing as an anti-racist, called an ARA member and said that there was going to be a Heritage Front action at the activist's house; the ARA sent over a large contingent to ward off a possible Front attack. [45] In this case, the Heritage Front used the name of an individual taken from Bobiwash's answering machine. Droege had said that they were to use that fellow's name to get the left working against the left. The Source said that Droege himself probably made the call. [46]

The activist said that skinheads would often sit on a bench across the street from her office; they would just wait there and stare at her while she was at her desk.

The activist was informed by others in the movement that Grant Bristow was responsible for making the telephone calls. She was told by ARA members that their "ears had pricked up" when they had heard Bristow speak at a meeting - they had allegedly heard the voice in harassment calls. [47]

We asked the Source about the harassment of the activist. He said that she was singled out after someone made a harassment call to Droege's machine. Her telephone number was compared to a master list of names and numbers on Bobiwash's list.

When the Review Committee checked a short Heritage Front List of callers which was provided to CSIS by the Source, we did not see the number that the activist told us she had at home during 1993. Other lists may exist however.

According to the Source, the harassment telephone calls to anti-racists were not organized; everyone did it once they knew how to access answering machines, and it developed on its own. Droege harnessed it into a program.[48] The activist was said to be one of the last persons harassed.

In one of the affidavits filed by Elisse Hategan on September 23, 1993, she recounted her perception of what had taken place:

"[Grant] said Sister [Activist] had been under a lot of stress lately, and she was on temporary leave from work. He said the fact that [the Activist] had been IT caused her a lot of stress, and he seemed to take credit for it. He said that [the Activist] was not getting a moment in peace people were calling her in the middle of the night, at all times of day and night, they'd also been doing it at work, and the pressure was too much for her to handle, that she had to take a leave of absence. He said he thought she'd had a breakdown - in fact, he was sure of it. By this time, Grant was laughing really hard and was almost in tears he said she had tried very hard to hold unto sanity and not given any names as of yet, but he was confident she'd break soon. He said she even had people move in with her, because she was so scared."

After the Toronto Region Investigator expressed concern about the campaign against the activist, the Source tried to diminish the Front's interest by telling members that she had lost her job and that they should take the heat off her.[49]

The Toronto handler discussed, in general, the telephone harassment campaign. He noted that the telephone harassment blitz started with quite a few people being harassed and then the procedure was narrowed down. At the start, everyone was phoning people on the lists they had collected. After about a month, the calls started to become very threatening and the possibility of violence occurring had become very real. According to the Source, by the Summer of 1993, as a result of the "IT" campaign, the calls had became more of an information collection exercise under the Source's direction.[50]

The handler noted that the Source tampered with the numbers on the lists of names designated for phoning. When a list of people was given to the Heritage Front members, some of the names and the telephone numbers were changed by the Source. Not all of them were changed, particularly those of prominent individuals such as Kevin Thomas, because suspicions would have been raised.[51]

The harassment calls started abating in June 1993, and finally stopped in November 1993. According to the Source, the harassment program was viewed as a major victory by the Heritage Front. His understanding was that most of the harassment calls ended in the Summer, and that no physical harm resulted from the Program. [52]

5.9.2 The Thomas Incident

Press accounts stated that "Kevin Thomas was made 'IT' for awhile". One media report stated:

"At first, it was simply probes for information. He was called at work by a man he later realized was Bristow. "He said he was Ron Tafner, and was supposedly from the Ottawa Citizen". Unable to get information from him, Bristow apparently changed tactics, Thomas says. The calls - made to his business - would sometimes be profane and abusive. In June 1993 - after bloody clashes between racists and anti-racists - Bristow led a group of Front members to Thomas' Richmond Street offices and told his landlord Thomas was a violent terrorist and had a record of procuring children for sex.[53]

In a The Fifth Estate interview, Thomas indicated that most of what was said was "just plain abuse - "he [Bristow] would Call me a repulsive little shithead or call me a loser, or coward, Or whatever he could think of". Thomas went on:

"When you are taking on Neo-Nazi's, you go in expecting that it's going to be dirty and its gonna be violent because that's the nature of a Neo-Nazi organization like the Heritage Front, but you don't expect that to come from the government. You don't expect it to be somebody who is actually paid to go and do that and to orchestrate it and to organize other people to do it. You don't expect them to have somebody paid to make phone calls, to make threats, to make your life miserable."

The commentator added, "Police sources say CSIS knew exactly what Bristow was up to.[54]

We learned that Droege told a journalist in September 1994 that Bristow et al would go to Revin Thomas' office building to let Thomas know they were there and when they could not do that, they went to a few of the neighbours on the floor in the building and said 'this blackbird next door, you better watch them, they are anti-racists, they are terrorists, they procure children for sexual favours', all kinds of nasty stuff, right up to telling them that these individuals such as Kevin Thomas, were 'hooping little gerbils.'

We asked the Source to identify who had led the effort to obtain the names of the ARA leaders and their home addresses. He said that Droege wanted him to obtain the addresses of Kevin Thomas and the other ARA leaders. According to the Source, the only addresses which Droege ever possessed were the ones he developed himself.

According to the handler, Thomas was on a list of names subject to telephone harassment. Because he was so well known, the Source could not tamper with his telephone number.[55] The Source said that he did pass along information concerning the location of the ARA hotline and where Kevin Thomas worked. In general, the Source only provided information from newspaper articles which named leftists who appeared in Court.

Bristow did not remember calling Thomas at his place of work, describing himself as a reporter from the Ottawa Citizen; though he said this could have been the case.[56] According to Bristow, he once called Thomas a "repulsive little shithead", adding that it was said in Rodney Bobiwash's "jocular fashion"; Thomas and Bristow were always exchanging slurs.[57]

The Source provided the context to the Front members' visit to Thomas' workplace. Droege was before the Courts, and Thomas had sent people down to the Court, and to a radio station show, to make derogatory statements about the racists. In the end, Droege was denied bail, and his people were angry and wanted action. The Source told them to calm down, and Bristow took them in a car to go on a mission to check out Kevin Thomas' workplace.[58] He said that they did not enter the workplace.

According to the Source, he was not involved in identifying residences to be n trashed" . Dawson, Paul Graham and another couple had "spun by" Thomas' place in Bristow's car. The SIRC interview of Source. Source conveyed the message that things were under control, and at they should take the moral high ground and let the others get arrested (in relation to houses being trashed). The Source defused the situation. [59]

Regarding the alleged call to Thomas by someone posing as an Ottawa Citizen reporter, the Toronto Investigator said that the Source does not believe that Bristow made the call; there was no evidence found to confirm that such a call was made. The investigator had no knowledge of the Source going to Thomas' neighbours and complaining about him.

5.9.3 The Harassment of Merle Terlesky

An affidavit signed by Elisse Hategan on September 23, 1993 attested that activist Merle Terlesky was harassed day and night. The Review Committee asked the Source who organized and carried it out. He said that Terlesky was "talked to" by Droege and Bristow, but he was not aware of Terlesky ever being harassed.

Apparently, when Barker saw information in the newspapers about a charge against Terlesky, he ordered gerbils to be sent to Terlesky's house. According to the Source, Terlesky was probably the activist on the left who commanded the most respect from Droege.

5.9.4 Involvement with the Hategan Hate Posters

In March 1993, according to one media account, Bristow had a part in the production of the "Animal Series #2" flyer. Specifically, he had added the names and home addresses of anti-racists used on the poster, and had photocopied the document at Overfield's house. [60] The "Animal Series #2" flyer, was a poster combining the body of an ape with the head of a gorilla. The Heritage Front flyer is actually a doctored reproduction of a much earlier American racist poster.

In October 1993, Elisse Hategan was charged with publishing defamatory libel, and wilful promotion of hatred. In her sworn affidavit dated September 23, 1993, Hategan affirmed that she was informed that Al Overfield produced the flyers that she was arrested for distributing.

We have learned that Al Overfield mentioned to Droege that Bristow was supposed to come over (to Overfield's residence) because they were going to do 'Animal Series Number 2' and something about the homo child molester. [61]

According to Al Overfield, Bristow actually produced the flyer on a copier at Overfield's house. Our investigation further revealed that Bristow and Droege discussed Hategan and her confusion. Bristow told him that Hategan wanted to figure out if it was allright to say that she thought Bristow was the one making up the stickers. Bristow said everybody in town was to be told to keep their mouth shut this time around.

Droege told the Review Committee that it was Bristow's idea to put the names of anti-racists on the "Animal Series" posters. One of the names, said Droege was provided by Bristow as he "had information as to where the main ARA organizers were."[62]

On February 17, 1993, we learned that Droege told Bristow that Hategan had been arrested for those posters that Overfield had made up. Bristow said they should find out how many posters had been made up and Droege replied that only Overfield would know that. Droege then contacted Overfield and told him to dispose of the Animal Life Series posters. Overfield said he would do that right away.

We asked Bristow about the production and distribution of the posters. He indicated that he had passed some names from Droege to Overfield, names such as "Celeste", that were eventually used on the posters. These were names of anti-racists to whom the poster was attributed. Other than that, he had no role in the poster affair. In the case of the flyers, Overfield developed them, and gave them to Droege. Droege then gave them to Elise Hategan, who gave them to others.

The Toronto Region Investigator said that the Source does not think that Bristow had any role other than to provide the ARA names to Overfield.

The Investigator said that the Source discussed Bristow's relationship with Hategan. He noted that Bristow used to pick on Hategan and they disliked each other intensely. Bristow intended to get under Hategan's skin. He hoped that he could force Hategan into leaving the Heritage Front.[63]

5.9.5 Bristow and the Hategan Affidavits

On September 23, 1993, Elisse Hategan signed a number of affidavits. Hategan told reporters that she had "given sworn statements that involved Grant Bristow in harassment campaigns, but nothing had been done". [64] According to Hategan, "Bristow orchestrated a vicious harassment campaign targeting individual anti-racists".[65]

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation stated that not only did CSIS not act on these allegations, but the Toronto Region Investigator made statements that he would discredit her. [66]

The Toronto Region Investigator denied that he made those statements, and was dismayed because he knows they originate with someone who was once a colleague. The Investigator instructed the Source to stay away from her, saying she was nothing but trouble. He added that he probably told other agencies that Hategan was not credible; at one point she had a very active role in the Extreme Right Movement, and she had had a sudden change of heart after being charged.[67]

We looked at the affidavits, and, whereas they provided background for our study, in one expert opinion:

"The assessment of the information provided was that it was hearsay and in the absence of direct evidence, not sufficient to support a criminal investigation."[68]

The Source was asked about the accuracy of the September 23, 1993 affidavits, but he said that he had not seen them.[69] Wolfgang Droege, for his part said that Elisse "didn't lie out-right" but had a tendency to misread situations, and "things got twisted".'

The Source said that Droege used to delight in telling stories to Hategan. For example, when he showed her sand in a jar, he said "that once she kills someone and they're cremated, she gets one too". Max French actually brought the jar of regular sand back from Libya.[71]

5.9.6 Sneaky Dees and the Trashing

On June 11, 1993, an estimated two hundred and fifty ARA members headed from downtown into the East End of Toronto by streetcar. "Rather than wait for a far right gathering, ARA organizers decided to take a proactive approach."[72]

The demonstrators poured into a neighbourhood near Gary Schipper's house. Gary Schipper was believed to be the voice on the Heritage Front hate line. According to one ARA member, "ARA intended to 'out' Schipper, to expose his previously secret address to his blue collar, ethnically diverse neighbours."[73]

According to one article, the police were out in force, but they mistakenly believed that the ARA target was Ernst Zundel's house. A small number of ARA members "launched into their most aggressive action yet".

"A dozen masked protesters hurled rocks at Schipper's house, smashing his windows and battering his door. One protester threw a neighbour's tricycle through Schipper's front window, and police even found human excrement among the debris splattering the building."[74]

Droege told the Committee that after the attack on Schipper's house, Bristow was "over at Alan Gardens agitating our people to go over to Sneaky Dees", the "hangout for so-called antiracists."[75] Droege said that he agreed, but suggested that the ARA be the aggressors and told Bristow to "keep them (the HF members) in line."[76]

Bristow, Droege said, was across the street from Sneaky Dees with two girls and he started calling the anti-racists names which started the two groups fighting. Droege noted that police arrived immediately, almost as though they had been tipped off. [77] Droege was among those arrested and charged by the police for several offenses.

According to the Source, the Heritage Front thought Zundel's house was going to be hit. They were using police radio scanners, and when it was clear that Zundel's house was not going to be hit, they headed to the East End. Initially, Bristow told Droege that it might be Mitrevski's place; then he concluded that it would be Schipper's place and he notified the police.

After the house was vandalized, the Source said that he went to Schipper's home to get the telephone lists, the contact logs, etc. He persuaded Schipper to remove them from the house, and give them to him. The Source said that he later gave all of this in formation to the Toronto Region Investigator.

The Source said that after leaving Schipper's house, Droege and Bristow first met in an underground garage, and then moved downtown near Gerrard Square and discussed their options. Droege was upset and wanted the strongest worded protest to go out because the Metro Police had not intervened.

Later, said the Source, they all went to Zundel's house. Droege wanted a beer, but Zundel did not approve and said that everyone should go home. Droege was upset, but Zundel was not; it was not his house that had been trashed.[78] George Burdi ( Church of the Creator) was present and said that they should take a group and lose the police.

According to the Source, Droege and the others went to Sneaky Dees to have a beer. After an hour, Droege told everyone to go home. When they left a fight erupted with the anti-racists. The Source passed information as to where the attackers went to the police.[79]

The Source did not provide Droege with the names of the demonstrators, but people identified some of them using videos of news accounts. Lincoln took still photos from the videos and they were handed out to Heritage Front members. Ernst Zundel's expensive equipment was used for this purpose.[80]

Prior to the confrontation, the Investigator said that he had learned that Bristow told the HF people to settle down. George Burdi, a charismatic speaker, was the person who addressed the crowd in the park before going to Sneaky Dees.[81]

In September 1994, Droege and Barker alleged to a journalist that Bristow told HF members to go down to Sneaky Dees to confront the anti-racists and he "pumped them up" in the park before the confrontation.

According to Bristow, he absolutely did not tell Heritage Front members to go down to Sneaky Dees to confront the antiracists. George Burdi got out a megaphone in the park before the confrontation and rallied the Heritage Front people. He added that there was no confrontation until after the anti-racists started throwing bottles at them.[82]

5.9.7 The Ottawa Demonstration

In May 1993, an estimated five hundred ARA supporters demonstrated outside a Heritage Front recruitment concert in Ottawa. The racist band, RaHoWa[83], was playing to a crowd of about 60 skinheads. What followed was a series of scuffles and fights involving the police, Heritage Front members, and Anti-Racist Action supporters.

The Source was not present in Ottawa at the time. He had, however, been able to pass along "inside" information about the Anti-Racist Action group forming in Ottawa, and its support from Toronto. He told CSIS that the ARA would be sending two carloads of supporters from Toronto to participate in the Ottawa demonstrations.

After the 1993 Ottawa near-riot, the Heritage Front became more militant. We learned that Droege confided to the source that he had instructed Grant Bristow to again continue a counterintelligence program against the ARA with the purpose of identifying the leaders and their home addresses. He also wanted to identify ARA meeting places for the purpose of attending at meetings in an effort to intimidate and/or provoke the ARA into further violent actions which he was confident the HF would win.

5.9.8 Training the Heritage Front

Bristow made himself out to be a security expert. Certainly, he was viewed by Heritage Front members as the security expert, and at one point even conducted a pretence "sweep" of Zundel's house for hidden microphones. Sometimes he would talk to Front members on security matters. At one meeting, for example, Droege asked him to talk about the capability of listening devices.

In 1993, Peter Mitrevski contacted Bristow to talk about tracing people through marriage certificate records. He agreed to help Mitrevski with the marriage certificate technique, but knew that it was far more complicated than the book which Mitrevski had bought, made it appear. [84] Mitrevski was apparently trying to locate Bill Dunphy as he had recently purchased an instruction manual on how to track people and obtain information from various government records.

Droege asked Bristow to demonstrate the criss-cross directories to the Fisher brothers, but his instructions resulted in their being unable to understand how to use them.

At one point Fischer wanted Bristow to give a lecture on basic security techniques. The information he conveyed came from open sources.

Bristow gave COTC members a lecture on basic security. He told them that they should not get an answering machine with a two digit remote code. He suggested that they get unlisted telephone numbers and voice-mail. He also suggested that they use post office boxes as the addresses for their Drivers Licences.[85]

According to the Source, Bristow never gave Front or Church members significant or sophisticated security information. He told people in the Front to put up aluminum on their windows to deter parabolic microphones and some of them actually did so. And at one point, he had Dawson writing messages using a code book and one time pads. This kept Dawson occupied.[86]

We asked Bristow if he had taught any actual intelligence tradecraft to the Heritage Front or Church of the Creator members. He said that he had not. To avoid surveillance, he had instructed the Heritage Front members to walk for some distance and then to turn around and walk back.[87]

5.9.9 Miscellaneous Issues

A reporter knew of an incident in which a woman's tires were slashed but he was not certain who had done it. According to the Source, he learned that a woman's tires had been slashed from the hotline and from his handler. He had no personal knowledge of the act but he thought it might have been committed by Droege. Droege would go out three or four nights a week for the bailiff company and he needed an assistant after Bristow left, so he took on Mitrevski. In fact, both Dawson and Mitrevski were used as drivers for Droege's repossession business.[88]

A reporter asked Droege if Bristow was involved in the firebombing of Mona Zetner's house and Droege said that he did not believe so. The Source also stated that he did not know who bombed Mona Zetner's house.[89]

Wolfgang Droege alleged that Bristow planned to break into Hategan's house in June or July 1993. We have no evidence that this was the case.

Continued

Footnotes


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