On Saturday, Paul Fromm, an avowed white supremacist, attended and spoke at a public rally in Toronto in support of the so-called “Halifax Five.” The Halifax Five are the Canadian soldiers who disrupted an Indigenous ceremony in Halifax’s Cornwallis Park on Canada Day.
Organized by Students in Support of Free Speech, a University of Toronto campus group, the rally drew approximately 60 supporters, including members of the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters.
The presence of Fromm was surprising, as previous speakers claimed that they did not support organized racist groups. While Fromm did not appear to be on the official speakers list, he used the SDSS’s megaphone to address the crowd after the main speakers had finished.
Event organizers later claimed on the SSFS Facebook page that they were unaware of Fromm’s identity and that he had lied to them about who he was. After a response from Fromm on Facebook, the SSFS post appeared to have been removed.
Fromm is arguably Canada’s most-prolific white supremacist. He has been linked to former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke and for a time hosted a radio show on the Stormfront website. He is the founder of the Canadian Association for Free Expression.
Outside of Fromm’s presence, the rally’s speakers mostly stuck to railing against the left and mainstream media, which they claimed spread lies about the Canada Day incident in Halifax.
“All of the media outlets, almost without exception, started lying about them,” said Simon Capobianco, an SSFS member and co-organizer of the rally. “They’re deliberately deceiving the Canadian public.”
A contingent of roughly 25 counter-protesters showed up midway through the event and were separated from the rallygoers by a phalanx of police.
Rebecca Rose, a former Haligonian now living in Toronto organized one of the counter-protests.
“As a Haligonian living in Toronto, I felt a responsibility not to let them get away with their ridiculous rally without some sort of visible opposition,” said Rose. “The issues that Mi’kmaq and Indigenous activists back home were bringing to the fore have also, in some ways, been overshadowed by the Proud Boys and we wanted to re-centre the discussion on the impacts of colonization and cultural genocide. It was also on the same day as the removing Cornwallis event, so we wanted to demonstrate solidarity.”
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