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

7.5 Final Act

7.5.1 Pickering Rally

In November 1991, Flint spoke to Overfield again and asked him to provide security for the next big rally in Pickering. Overfield said that he would not at all mind doing it.[126]

For the Pickering rally on January 22, 1992, there are conflicting stories as to what the Overfield security group actually did. According to Andrew Flint who organized the rally, the Metro East Trade Centre provided their own security people for Preston Manning. Overfield's group were only to collect tickets at the front door and provide crowd control.[127]

Al Overfield, on the other hand, stated that the Saturday before the rally, he and Grant Bristow surveyed the site and discussed various security options. Overfield said he was the Head of Security and he appointed Bristow as his assistant and the "takedown" man to protect Preston Manning. Overfield said that Bristow wanted the job, "looked like he had good background training, he was dynamic and liked to stay in the forefront. Bristow "was right on top of Manning" while Overfield ran back and forth "fighting fires.".[128] Bristow has no memory of a pre-rally survey.[129] Overfield may have confused the two large rallies.

Flint has no recollection that Bristow was there and would not have recognized him if, for example, he had shaved off his beard.[130] The security people were present when Manning came into the building and the security group "may have floated around" in the back to prevent the public from going into unauthorized areas. Manning arrived just before the rally was to begin and waited from approximately 7:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.; the security group was likely hanging around at this time.[131] Once again, Ron Wood, Press Secretary to Preston Manning, stated that no conversations that were remotely sensitive took place.

Ron Wood said that, for him, only one person stood out in the security group, a guy with long black leather or polyester coat who "looked like a Nazi"[132]

At the Pickering Rally, said Andrew Flint, a man spotted Peter Mirevski as one of the security people and this was reported to the National Council and to the Canadian Jewish Congress.[133]

After the event, there was a media scrum following which Flint drove a car in which Manning was being interviewed by the Wall Street Journal.[134] Overfield's team escorted Manning out of the building and provided shadow cars for Flint's car until it reached highway 401 and was out in the open.[135]

Droege told a colleague that he did not get to talk to Manning because one of the Ontario organizers did want him to get too close to the cameras. He said they [Reform Party] had already been called by CSIS to try and have him (Droege) kicked out.

At CSIS, an Administrative Interview took place in early February 1992 and the Human Source officers apparently assured themselves that the Source understood the directions he had been given. The Human Sources interviewer discussed with the Source the August 1991 Headquarters message that the Source was to withdraw from this responsibility of security and not be involved with the Reform Party.

The Human Sources manager reiterated that the Source was not a member of the Reform Party and was not involved in any Reform Party activity in 1991. The Source stated that this withdrawal from security responsibilities caused some friction with Droege and a loss of credibility However, he has managed to survive using various alibis and excuses and everything is OK now.

The Source continued to find his role challenging and exciting but at times it became difficult to operate in this milieu with such requests as withdrawing from security for the Reform Party, but he manages to survive. The Human Source officer explained the reasons for such directions. CSIS instructed and queried the Source about criminal activities and he responded that he had not been involved in criminal activities.

7.5.2 The Story Breaks

The Reform Party did not use the security group after the Pickering event. On February 28, 1992, the story appeared in the "Toronto Sun" that the Heritage Front had infiltrated the Reform Party.

In the Heritage Front's work with the Reform Party, they had behaved "impeccably", according to Flint. Unlike other groups who took advantage of the fledgling Party in Ontario, the Front did not make statements to the press or use the occasions to distribute their material. Flint said they gave no indication of their racist philosophy.

But once the story broke in February 1992, the Front made up for lost time. The revelations put a shadow on the Pickering rally, the third largest in the Reform Party's history. Droege was on television every day. After this, every time Preston Manning showed up in Toronto, Droege would try to be outside the meeting.

In the fall of 1992 for example, at the opening of the Oshawa office, Manning was present and Droege showed up. The RF also made it a point to be present at nomination meetings, such as the one in Don Valley West where John Gamble was running - they seemed to be everywhere.[137]

As the infiltration of the Reform Party became public knowledge at the end of February 1992, Droege commented that there were hundreds of Heritage Front people in the Party. The Source has stated that this type of statement "was a standard line for Droege." The Source was only aware of Overfield, Dawson, Mitrevski, Nicola (Polinuk) Andrews, and possibly Max French.[138] Droege told the Review Committee, "I don't think I stated hundreds. At that time, in February 1992, that is when we started really to grow." He estimated that later on, "maybe 150 to 200 people ....would have been possible members of the Reform Party." [139] He offered no evidence for the estimate.

Paul Fromm, an associate of Droege, has characterized the "hundreds" figure from the latter as "a little white lie."[140] Al Overfield thought the estimates were "very valid", and that the two groups had become quite intertwined.[141]

Droege stated to the Committee that in February 1992, the Heritage Front had about 40-50 members in the Reform Party, spread across a number of ridings in the East End (mostly). Some members were on the executives of Reform constituency associations. Ultimately, however, he believed that some 150 to 200 Heritage Front people could possibly be Reform Party members.[142]

The Source said that his last contact with anyone associated with the Reform Party took place after the meeting in Pickering Ontario; he saw Hugh Pendergast by chance at Overfield's place.[143]

7.5.3 The Reform Party Informed

Thomas Flanagan, the Reform Party's Chief of Strategy in 1992, first learned of the infiltration problem when Bill Dunphy From the "Toronto Sun" telephoned him on February 27, 1992. Dunphy wanted a comment for the story he was to run the next morning about the Heritage Front infiltration of the Reform Party.[144] The Party's Chairman described the call as "an incredible story.".[145]

Once told, the Reform Party launched an investigation. A Special Committee of the Executive Council was struck to look into the allegations.[146] The Special Committee was chaired by Myles Novak who was the President of the Reform Fund Canada and who was on the Management Planning Committee. The Secretary of the Special Committee was Thomas Flanagan, a Professor at the University of Calgary.

The Committee could make recommendations and terminate memberships.[l47] The Party had deliberately put a strong termination clause (2(d)(iii)) in the Reform Party of Canada Constitution because, as Ernest Manning used to say, "a bright light attracts a lot of bugs". After a member is expelled, the Chairman mentioned, there is an arbitration clause which can be used by the former member.[148]

Flanagan then learned that someone in the Party had some knowledge of similar events and an internal investigation was already underway.[149]

Michael Lublin, a Reform Party member, had brought to the attention of Reform Executive Council member Dick Harris a press article which raised the question of racists and the Reform Party.[150] Lublin and Harris met with Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress. The latter expressed concern about possible other racists in the Party, not just the HF, and gave Harris a list of nine names to check against the Reform Party membership lists.[151] Lublin says these events took place in 1991 and Reform members state the actions occurred in January-February 1992.

After his travels, Harris said he returned to Calgary and asked the Membership Chairman to check the nine names; only one was a member - Wolfgang Droege.[152] Harris then asked that the names be checked against Info Globe. At that point, journalist Bill Dunphy called Flanagan about the story which subsequently appeared on February 28, 1992.

7.5.4 Reform Party Findings

The Reform Party investigation revealed that Al Overfield was a bailiff who employed Droege and others in his business. The Special Committee learned that Overfield had sold/sponsored 22 memberships (at $10.00 a membership) to which he signed his name after giving out the forms. Al Overfield was considered not to be a member of the Heritage Front but he consorted with them while he was a member of the Reform Party. [153]

The Special Committee concluded that of the 22 names, four were Heritage Front members: Wolfgang Droege, Jim Dawson, Nicola Polinuk and Peter Mitrevski. They were expelled from the Party. Others may have also been members, but the Special Committee had difficulty confirming that they belonged to the Heritage Front. Flanagan asked his Toronto officials to telephone each of the names to find out whether they were affiliated with the Heritage Front - most denied it.[154]

Andrew Flint remembered the wording of Overfield's expulsion letter that "he showed poor judgement in the hiring of down neo-Nazis."[155]

When Droege received the Reform Party letter which terminated his membership in March 1992:

"So I thought well, if they want to play these games, fine. What we will do is we will endorse the Reform Party openly."[156]

Despite his expulsion by the leadership of the Reform Party, Droege stated that he "felt much of the membership in the Reform Party seemed to have very similar opinions as I did on most issues."[157]

Two or three other members were expelled from the Party, among them Anne Hartmann of the Northern Foundation. Flanagan became suspicious of her after learning that a racist article was written by one of her children. When Hartmann was evasive with Flanagan, a written warning was sent to Party members. When she attacked the Party publicly, she was expelled in September 1992.[158]

Neither Tom Flanagan nor other members of the national Executive Council we spoke to ever heard Grant Bristow's name during or after the Reform Party investigation, until August 1994.

According to A1 Overfield, there was no conspiracy, and they did not resist when they were kicked out. He said that everything was done to avoid any embarrassment. Overfield said the conspiracy story came from an article in the "Toronto Sun" and Tom Flannagan.



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