The Madness Contagion is Spreading Among Us
It took hold in the United States as the "Sovereign Citizen" or "Freeman on the Land" cult and now it's spreading in Canada, making common cause with our anti-vaxx/anti-mask movement.The anti-vaccine movement in Canada is becoming increasingly radicalized thanks to a bizarre legal theory spreading through its ranks, according to multiple experts.
Last week, protesters entered a school in Salmon Arm, B.C., to "serve" school officials with what lawyers say are bogus legal documents.
The documents are based on the ideology of the Freemen-on-the-land, an anti-government movement with links to white nationalism.
"This is very worrying," said Edwin Hodge, an expert on right-wing extremism at the Centre for Global Studies at the University of Victoria.
The pseudo-legal ideas of the Freemen have ebbed and flowed over the years, but the philosophy has typically been relegated to the fringes of society, according to experts.
Not anymore. The pandemic and its associated opposition to public health measures have vaulted these ideas into the public eye.
It was just a few days ago that Guardian columnist, George Monbiot, warned that many from the far left were joining their counterparts on the far right to leap down the rabbit hole into conspiracy theory lunacy.
David Lindsay, a prominent anti-vaccine mandate protester in Kelowna, B.C., is also a well-known follower of the Freemen-on-the-land ideology, according to legal scholars, and has used rallies in the Okanagan to spread it. CBC News reached out to Lindsay for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.
The convoluted legal principles being spread by Lindsay and others arose in the white supremacist Posse Comitatus movement in the United States in the early 1970s, according to Helmut-Harry Loewen, a retired sociologist in Winnipeg and an expert on the Freemen.
Loewen says they espouse a radical interpretation of the relationship between citizens and government, claiming that explicit individual consent is required for every bureaucratic interaction — from speeding tickets, to taxes, to criminal charges, to public health measures.
Whether they're illegally entering public schools to intimidate staff and administration or blockading hospitals preventing medical staff, even ambulances from access, this social disease has to stop. Canada needs laws, criminal laws carrying hefty fines and jail terms to bring these reprobates to heel.