The assault on the Capitol a year ago must serve as a warning in Quebec, where conspiratorial groups continue to share their propaganda with the same virulence on social networks as in the streets.
“As long as there are people who oppose sanitary measures, there will be people who will take advantage of it and use it as a platform to share conspiracy theories and lead people to certain hate groups”, affirms Étienne Quintal , online hate researcher at the Neuberger Holocaust Education Center.
Convergence of groups
In the assault on January 6, 2021, QAnon followers, white nationalists and militiamen rubbed shoulders with ordinary citizens, groups that seemingly have nothing in common.
A convergence also observed in Quebec, where several movements come together in a common position against the government.
“People who are for alternative medicine or anti-vaccine are now rallying with citizens against government intervention or even sometimes from the extreme right or from QAnon”, maintains Marie-Ève Carignan, professor in the communication department of the University from Sherbrooke.
Former members of far-right groups like the Meute are particularly active within Quebec conspiracy movements.
Going from screen to street is realistic for these groups. “We saw this summer the number of people who went out for the demonstrations organized everywhere against the sanitary measures”, specifies Mr. Quintal.
Everything is possible during the provincial election campaign to be held this fall, according to the two researchers.
A widespread vision
According to a survey carried out in June by the UNESCO Chair in the prevention of radicalization and violent extremism, approximately 24% of the population of Quebec and Canada believes in conspiratorial theses, on a more or less large scale. Of this number, a hard core of about 8% strongly adheres to these theses.
These statistics are similar to those collected before the insurgency of January 6, 2021.
By analyzing these results, Marie-Ève Carignan, who is also director of the Chair’s media center, was able to establish a link between very strong support for conspiracy and sympathy for violence.
“It really echoes what we saw at the Capitol, that is to say that we think it is legitimate to resort to violent gestures to make our ideals and our point of view heard”, specifies she does.