Friday August 26, 2022
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday August 26, 2022
Diagolon: What to know about the group whose founder shook Pierre Poilievre’s hand
Conservative leadership front-runner Pierre Poilievre came under fire this past weekend after an image of him shaking hands with Jeremy Mackenzie, the founder of a group known as “Diagolon,” emerged.
Shortly after the image surfaced on Mackenzie’s public Telegram channel, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called on Poilievre to “denounce Jeremy Mackenzie and Diagolon,” who he said are “designated as violent extremists by Canada’s Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre.”
Singh was referring to a report from Press Progress, which last week published a document it obtained through access-to-information from the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre, a federal organization that assesses threats of terrorism to Canada.
The document, dated Feb. 17, 2022, classifies Mackenzie as one of the “key anti-government IMVE (ideologically motivated violent extremism) adherents” that attended the so-called “freedom convoy” protests in Ottawa earlier this year.
The Canadian government has not expressed formal concern about Diagolon nor does it list the group as a terrorist entity.
“Over the course of my campaign I have shaken hands with literally tens of thousands of people at public rallies. It is impossible to do a background check on every single person who attends my events,” Poilievre’s campaign team said in response to Global News’ request for comment on Aug. 20.
“As I always have, I denounce racism and anyone who spreads it. I didn’t and don’t know or recognize this particular individual.”
So who is Mackenzie — and what is Diagolon?
A drug-addled demonic goat named Phillip. A fictional diagonal country running from Alaska to Florida. An alleged plot to kill RCMP officers in Coutts, Alta.
There’s a common thread uniting these topics: they’re all, in some way, tied to Diagolon.
Founders of the group say it’s all one big joke, a meme, and they’re just a group of anti-establishment comedians. The demonic goat and fictional country were the product of “several edibles,” to hear Diagolon founder Jeremy Mackenzie tell it.
His telegram channel has more than 13,000 members, and he has at least 10,000 subscribers on YouTube.
But after a patch bearing the group’s insignia was found alongside weapons seized by the RCMP near the border in Coutts in February, some extremism experts say they are concerned about what the multi-hour livestreams could inspire their viewers to do.
“It’s not just an innocent podcast. It’s not just irony,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, an assistant professor at Queen’s University and expert on extremism.
These podcasters are giving their viewers a new “lens” through which to interpret their struggles, he said – one that paints government as the villain and societal collapse as inevitable. (Global)