thumb-2022-01-020 This article is more than 2 years old

Anti-Vax Convoy Leader Says He Welcomes Protesters Displaying ‘Confederate Flags’ in Ottawa

“Let’s assume there were people who do have a Confederate flag ... I don’t care … I want to hear unacceptable opinions”

The lead spokesperson for the anti-vaccine convoy protests that have shut down Canada’s national capital says he is okay with protesters flying Confederate flags in Ottawa because he wants to hear “unacceptable opinions.”

Benjamin Dichter, a failed candidate for both the Conservative Party and People’s Party, participated in a Twitter Space discussion with a pair of highly controversial former Rebel Media personalities – Keean Bexte and Lauren Southern.

During a Twitter Space chat hosted by Bexte, Dichter was asked about photos circulating of hate symbols at the convoy, including multiple Confederate flags and flags displaying Nazi swastikas.

While Dichter claimed the swastika was a false flag operation carried out by the federal government, he did not condemn the confederate flag.

Photos: A. Troster; M. Gray (Twitter)

“I was laughing at the ridiculousness. It’s hysterical,” the convoy organizer said. “They’re trying to scare people because fear is the strongest emotion of persuasion.”

“Let’s assume there were guys there who did have a confederate flag. They believe in the confederacy of states rights in a foreign nation? I don’t care. I’m not here to police people’s ideas.”

Referencing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s claims that the convoy includes far-right extremists with “unacceptable opinions,” Dichter suggested displaying the Confederate Flag, a symbol associated with support for slavery, could be a good thing: “I want to hear unacceptable opinions because I want to challenge them.”

At no point during the half-hour conversation with Bexte and Southern did Dichter challenge the legitimacy of the Confederate flag — a symbol of support for slavery.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, who has faced criticism over the City’s response after drunken protesters desecrated the War Memorial and were allowed to camp out on city streets, criticized organizers for failing to control their own supporters.

“The organizers have not once (condemned) anti-Semitism with the Nazi symbol or Confederate flags,” Watson said. “They should be ashamed of themselves and, at the end of the day, they’re not getting any public support — it’s dwindling frankly.”

Multiple flags bearing Nazi swastikas were spotted over the weekend.

Conservative MP Michael Cooper is facing calls to resign after appearing in a TV interview in support of the rally as a swastika appeared over his shoulder.

Dichter told Bexte and Southern it was unfortunate MPs no longer want to be seen with the convoy.

“The weasels got to work and they’re all cowards,” the convoy organizer said. “A big scary truck? They can’t be around that.”

Dichter also indicated that the convoy’s anti-vaccine protesters are preparing plans to occupy downtown Ottawa for many days.

“I imagine they’re going to do something to try and get us to disperse,” Dichter continued. “And if they do? That’s ok because we have plan A, plan B, Plan C, plan D – this will go on for a while.”

“The good thing about trucks is they have this wonderful thing – they’re very self sufficient and they have a house attached to them,” the convoy organizer explained, “It can sit there and idle for a week easily. So we have staying power. Things are in flux and they’re fluid, we have a bunch of different strategies that we don’t really want out in public because we want to see how the government is going to respond.”

Local officials, as well, have faced criticism for being too accommodating to convoy protesters, a number of whom were spotted flying Nazi Swastikas flags, confederate flags, a flag associated with the Three Percenter terrorist group and other hate symbols. On Monday, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, for example, warned against ticketing the convoy protesters as it could incite them to violence.

The Canadian Anti-hate network note that Dichter, during a failed run as candidate for the People’s Party of Canada, claimed at a press conference that “Islamist entryism” is “rotting away at our society like syphilis.”

On Facebook, Dichter has been linked to several posts from the anti-Muslim conspiracy page “Crusade Against Islamisation of The World.”

On Twitter he has shared conspiratorial posts, some from and others regarding Jewish billionaire George Soros – a common trope on the far-right. In one tweet, Dichter, who says he is Jewish, wrote that billionaire George Soros “is the enemy not only of Jews around the world but of all western democracies.”

Several Conservative MPs, including leader Erin O’Toole, have taken part in demonstrations linked to the anti-vaccine “Freedom Convoy” despite warnings that far-right and extremist groups were helping organize the demonstrations.

Conservative MP Jeremy Patzer was photographed with one convoy organizer, Pat King – previously linked to a violent attack on anti-racist demonstrators and calls for further violence against COVID-19 health precautions.


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Mitchell Thompson
Mitchell Thompson is PressProgress’ Ontario reporter. His reporting has a special focus on workers and communities, and public services and privatization, and public accountability.

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