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North Shore News, Vancouver BC
Vancouver, BC, August 3, 1994
Collins with CBC reporters
Rot about the far right

by Doug Collins


A BOOK is out that makes one wonder why reputable publishers are suckers for fibs and fiction posing as non-fiction.

It's Web of Hate, Inside Canada's Far Right by a liberal lackey in Ottawa called Warren Kinsella.

You might think the author had penetrated sinister groups and was now telling all. Not so. The stuff is a mishmash of stale news and nonsense designed to persuade people that the Nazis are about to take over. Reds under the beds in reverse.

The book's cover displays the obligatory swastika, and Kinsella likes conspiracy theories. There's this big network that goes goose-stepping across farmland in Alberta, you see. Or threatening the peace in Ontario and B.C.

That the loony right exists is true. But it has about as much influence as a bunch of Russian royalists in a Toronto basement plotting the return of the Tsars.

When Kinsella gets down to numbers one sees only a puff of smoke. He puts the number of skinheads in Canada at 2,000, for instance. Even if he's right, and I wouldn't bet on it, that hardly makes an army. Besides, most skinheads are simply mixed-up kids whose daddies let them stay out to late.

As for the daft "Aryan Nations", they have fewer than 200 members. Again, not exactly enough for a march on Ottawa.

The book is thick with errors. A Toronto Sun reporter who specializes in "racist" news wrote that he counted 19 errors of fact in a single chapter.

Kinsella teaches journalism when he's not writing speeches for the Liberals. Lucky students!

I gave up counting its mistakes. Kinsella makes several references to "Adolf van Thadden", leader of the "pro-Nazi National Party in Germany". That should read Adolf von Thadden, not "van".

I knew von Thadden and many other politicians when I worked in Germany after the war, and he was no Nazi. He was a right-wing aristocrat whose family opposed the Nazis. His uncle was in the July 20 plot against Hitler and was executed.

I get a one-line mention in the book but he couldn't even get that right. He refers to "Doug Collins, a weekly newspaper columnist". We come out thrice weekly, old boy.

Joe McCarthy could have taken lessons from this guy. Anyone who ever spoke to a right-winger is guilty by association. Even John Diefenbaker is mentioned as having joined "powerful Klan barrister J.G. Bryant onstage" in the 1920s.

If the book is so bad, why do I bother with it? Because the uninformed might believe it and because it is a superb example of the ridiculous.

Roger Rocan of Vancouver Island has initiated a libel suit already.[1] In Ottawa, Mrs. Anne Hartmann of the Northern Foundation is considering similar action. (Kinsella got her name wrong, too.)

He says Mrs. Hartmann has close connections with neo-Nazis and claims she is involved with R.E.A.L. Women, the group that stands for family values. She provided them with legal advice, he says.

The idea, of course, was to smear them, too. But R.E.A.L. Women, spokeswoman Gwen Landolt says that although the lady was once a member she never gave any legal advice and "never opened her mouth on racial and immigration issues".

Tom Flanagan, political scientist at the University of Alberta, has called Web of Hate a piece of shady, dishonest writing. It is also a piece of repetitious, boring writing and gives the false impression that Kinsella has been everywhere and interviewed everyone.

He claims to have interviewed Doug Christie. Christie says he was not interviewed. He says he interviewed Mrs. Eileen Pressler of Salmon Arm. Mrs. Pressler says she refused to be interviewed.

He states that Mr. Christie had a bodyguard called Edgar Foth, member of a neo-Nazi terrorist group in the U.S. Christie says he never had anything to do with Foth.

There are some laughs in the book, though. Leonard Saunders "of Penticton" is said to head his own "neo-Nazi group, the Canadian Resistance Movement." In fact, the 89-year-old Saunders lives in Salmon Arm and his "Resistance Movement" is nothing more than a letterhead he uses when writing angry letters to the papers, which he does frequently.

Another joke is that the far right is described as a "formidable force" and that "every single Fascist, Klansman, Jew-hater and Hitler freak in B.C. was hell-bent on stopping the Charlottetown Accord.[2]

Now we know why it went down the drain.

Parts of the book read like handouts from the Canadian Jewish Congress, which statement probably makes me a neo-Nazi, too. Nazis are everywhere, you know. Ask Kinsella.

  1. The Rocan libel suit was settled out of court July 20, 1998, with a substantial payment on behalf of publishers HarperCollins and an apology.
  2. The Charlottetwon Accord was voted down by British Columbians by a margin of 70% in the 1992 referendum.
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