It is being described as a PR victory for La Meute: its silent march in Quebec City on Sunday was orderly, whilst a counter-protest erupted into violence.
Members of the far-right group, literally, “the Wolf Pack”, had gathered to oppose the wave of immigration sweeping into Canada from the US. Before they could set off, about 200 of them were held for five hours in an underground garage as anti-fascist demonstrators were dispersed.
The counter-protest, organised by a group called Action citoyenne contre la discrimination, had begun peacefully enough, but police quickly declared it illegal when projectiles, including a chemical irritant, were thrown. They chanted slogans like “No one likes racists” and many of them covered their faces with bandanas and wore sunglasses.
What is La Meute?
La Meute claims that it is nationalist, not racist, and its leaders say that it is an inclusive group, with members of all races.
It takes a firmly anti-immigration stance, however, calling for much stronger Canadian border controls. Since 1 July, as many as 6,800 people have crossed into Quebec from the US at an unofficial border crossing for asylum claims. By contrast in 2015, just 2,920 claims were filed in the entire year.
The group has also been associated with islamophobic positions, and recently some of its members were instrumental in blocking a Muslim cemetery.
Initially, La Meute only existed online, with members exchanging messages on a Facebook page.
Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, condemned the “intolerant, racist demonstrations”. He said he stood with millions of Canadians “who reject the hateful, harmful, heinous ideologies”.