Vancouver, B.C. (CNSNews.com) - Only weeks before the scheduled execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, officials in the Western Canadian province of Alberta are concerned about the activities of a West Virginia-based white supremacist group associated with McVeigh.
Police believe that members of the National Alliance, and those who profess and promote the group's views, are few in number, but pamphlets and posters advocating the supremacy of the white race recently appeared on utility poles and business doorsteps in the southern cities of Calgary and Red Deer. A National Alliance sign was hung on a highway overpass and pamphlets were inserted in copies of a Calgary student newspaper as well as public library books.
While Alberta has a modest history of hate-related activity, it has significantly declined in recent years. "It's fertile ground, but it's small-f fertile ground," said University of Calgary political historian Patrick Brennan. "We have reason to be concerned, but that has to be put into perspective."
Brennan attributed what racist activity exists to "angry males, young and old, and the extreme anti-abortion movement.
"Most people have no use for these guys, but these groups are dangerous because they have a tradition of using violence," Brennan added. A book by National Alliance founder William Pierce, The Turner Diaries, is believed to have inspired McVeigh, who is scheduled to be executed May 16th for the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal Building in Oklahoma City, in which 168 people were killed.
In the 1920s and '30s, the Ku Klux Klan targeted Ukrainian immigrants in Alberta. In 1985, in one of the most publicized jury trials in Canadian history, Jim Keegstra, a high school social studies teacher in Eckville, just west of Red Deer, was convicted of willfully promoting hatred by advocating a world Jewish conspiracy theory and teaching that the Holocaust was a myth. The Aryan Nations Church was represented at the trial.
Alberta is the most socially conservative Canadian province. It is also viewed, explains Brennan, as the most American -- with a strong gun culture, sizeable religious fundamentalist community, and a powerful oil industry. The conservative Canadian Alliance party, which forms the opposition in the federal parliament, has its base in the province.
Calgary police believe there are about 100 hate-group members in the city of about half a million, while the National Alliance claims a "healthy" membership there. Constable Doug Jones said Canadians are ordering the racist material from the group's website.
However, Red Deer police officer Dave Henderson pointed out that because the material doesn't target a specific group, it doesn't contravene Canada's relatively stringent laws against hate mongering, and would not result in any criminal charges.