My colleague Barbara Perry, who, like me, studies right-wing extremism, has done research focusing mainly on the emergence of right-wing extremism online. The research centre where I work, Centre d’expertise et de formation sur les intégrismes religieux, les idéologies politiques et la radicalisation, or CEFIR, in Longueuil, near Montreal, recently published a study on right-wing extremism in Quebec.
The study did not focus on right-wing extremism online. A lot of research is actually conducted on the subject, but seldom do studies address right-wing extremist events that take place in the real world, in other words, in the street. When I started doing this research, I was surprised to see that, before our centre came along, the scientific literature on Quebec included hardly any research on the number of events held in Quebec in connection with right-wing extremist groups. That's what we undertook to do in our research. We put together a timeline of events associated with far-right activity in Quebec over the last decade, so from 2010 to 2020.
As I said, most of the research in this area deals with the emergence of activity online. That makes understanding the situation more difficult. Mr. Gurski made the point earlier,
talk the talk and walk the walk.
Making hateful comments online is one thing, but acting on them in real life is another. That's what we wanted to investigate. Many were surprised when our findings revealed that 521 events related to far-right groups had taken place in Quebec in the last 10 years. Given how extensive the study was and how long it took, I would be happy to provide more details on the study should you have any questions afterwards. We provided some documentation on the most active groups. The numbers showed a spike in activity in 2017, following the attack on the Quebec City mosque and the events related to Quebec's charter of values. A rise in far-right activity was observed during that period.
Our graph revealed a slight decline in 2019, with a significant increase noted in 2020, during the pandemic. The nebulous far right in Quebec somewhat benefited from the pandemic.
In conjunction with our work on right-wing extremism, we conduct studies on movements that object to the public health measures and believe in conspiracy theories. We noted that, in 2020, most of the far-right groups reorganized themselves around the movement against public health measures. Former members of far-right groups that have almost disappeared make up a large proportion of the groups against public health measures. That's true for Storm Alliance and La Meute. Many of those who belonged to the two groups in 2018 and 2019 are now leaders of the groups against public health measures.
Overall, our research shows a rise in far-right activity, not necessarily online, but in real life. The activity varies, ranging from protests and hate graffiti to online harassment. Those are real actions people have taken, not comments they have posted online. The activity even includes terrorism. In many cases, it involves harassing or bullying people they consider enemies. In 2018, I myself, was on the receiving end when I was giving a talk at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit. During a seminar on right-wing extremism, members of La Meute and the Soldiers of Odin showed up to cause a ruckus and scare us. They were there the whole day. That is a bullying tactic; it is one of the 521 events documented in our list.
Lastly, in Quebec, we noted an increase in real-life protests involving far-right groups, as well as an increase in violence, with 2020 being the most violent year.
I was surprised to hear Barbara Perry say earlier that those in the far-right movement follow the public health measures. I'm not sure whether Quebec is a distinct society on that front as well, but I would say that members of the far right in Quebec are very much against the public health measures. They have even led the movement against the public health rules. They systematically disobey the public health rules.
Are my seven minutes up, Mr. Chair?