Saturday May 19th, over 150 activists from the greater Montreal area gathered at the US-Canad border to both denounce racist groups organizing an anti-immigrant demonstration, as well as to call into question the legitimacy of a militarized border enforced by the bourgeois settler colonial states in so called “North America.” Mainly organized by the group “Solidarity Across Borders” (Solidarité Sans Frontières), activists embarked on busses from the downtown core of Montreal (only about one hour from the border proper) or took personal vehicles themselves to the action.
The context for the irregular border crossings
The border between the United States and Canada has been an especially important issue for activists in the region. On top of the deeper systemic issues with regards to enforcing borders among settler colonial states, more recent loopholes in haphazard state legislation has given incentive to refugees to cross irregularly into either the United States or Canada. An agreement signed between the two nations called the “safe third country agreement” stipulates that a refugee claimant in either country cannot make a claim in the other, as each genocidal bourgeois police state reckons themselves safe enough to help one another gatekeep the world’s “poor and downtrodden.” The exception to this is for “irregular crossings,” whereby a refugee claimant in either country can cross to the other and be processed if they cross through a non-official means. For example, crossing as a refugee hoping to make a claim from the United States to Canada, an individual that enters at an official border crossing will be turned down, but one coming by one of the many roads, forests, and other “unofficial” points of entry will not be de facto denied into the country. The legislation as it is incentivizes people to cross “irregularly” and it should be no surprise that many families, migrants, workers, and refugees cross this way.
The reaction of the far-right
Rather than call out the systemic issues that caused this situation, from the literal bombing of people’s homes overseas, to the violently enforced capitalist system of exploitation that kills here at home, reactionary groups are attempting to create fissures in society, with the implicit consent of the ruling elite, to divide and conquer workers. Groups in Canada that cosplay early 20th-century fascist paramilitary groups (with a veneer of modernity) have nearly copy-pasted the language and tactics used by other far right groups on the American continent and beyond, with many using dehumanizing language to speak of refugees, children, and families escaping dire situations to embetter themselves. These groups, in particular those such as “Storm Alliance,” “La Meute,” and the “III%ers,” try to gain legitimacy in civil society by presenting themselves as the groups calling for “law and order,” among other things that may be of concern to the average individual. In reality, not only are their feeble attempts at civility and legitimacy based on false pretences, the groups themselves are fronts for a plethora of far right, reactionary, fascist, and neo-nazis to gather in an attempt to rise to power. Similar border demonstrations in 2017 brought out famous Montreal neo-nazis and fascists on the side of these groups, including Shawn Beauvais Macdonald, an individual who was in Charlottesville for their infamous “Unite the Right” neo-fascist gathering (it was unclear if he was present at Lacolle on the 19th), and who was recently exposed as a member of a Montreal neo-nazi Discord chat as user “friendly fash.”
The IWW anti-racist position
In solidarity with all working people, members of the IWW branches in both Montreal and Quebec City were present at Saturday’s border protest. The plight of the migrant is the plight of the worker. Contrary to fake news reports, people who cross into a state through irregular means are not only some of the hardest workers (it takes guts to travel somewhere half way around the world with your family) but their precarious positions put them in extremely vulnerable labour situations. Migrants are taken advantage of by business owners, who can underpay and overwork them as the threat of deportation is often enough to keep absolute control over them. The IWW denounces all forms of wage slavery, especially in the case of society’s most vulnerable. IWW members, whether as individuals or coming through as a contingent, will continue to work in solidarity with groups that actively participate in the radical transformation of society and the abolishment of the capitalist mode of production. Whether the issue is borders, countering anti immigrant groups, or helping workers of all backgrounds to organize a workplace, the IWW stands in solidarity with groups and individuals that want to build a more equitable society out of the ashes of the old. An injury to one is an injury to all!
By the end of the day, neo-fascist paramilitary cosplayers were unable to go to one of their planned destinations, Roxham Road, a road connecting the US and Canada that is popular with people looking to cross irregularly. Those present at Roxham Road held it and kept a relatively calm and festive mood. Over at the official border crossing of LaColle though, reactionaries were able to maintain a short presence. Despite a large presence, activists were attacked hard by agents of state oppression. Highway 15 was taken and blocked by several protesters in an attempt to get the car convoy of racists to turn back or, at least, not have access to the border proper. Unfortunately, state agents in full riot gear attacked the brave anti-racist activists, arresting a fellow worker and IWW Montreal member in the ensuing clash. After activists were cleared off the highway, a disturbing scene followed. The convoy of racist boneheads were given first class treatment by the state with a police escort. Thankfully, Comrade Weather brought showers, and almost within an hour, reactionary boneheads left their police protected protest (which also included noted neo-fascist Canadian fake news commentator “Faith Goldy”) and went back to the sick sad shadows they currently inhabit in society.
Spurred on by bourgeois media and literally protected by the police, far right groups are taking advantage of the crisis of late stage capitalism to recruit new members. It is important as radicals, and the working class, and IWW members, that we mobilize in solidarity with other groups to say: “No Pasaran! Working class solidarity smashes borders and states!” Until next time, the fight continues!