**This post contains disturbing images and comments from Diagolon adherents
Diagolon, the Canadian extremist movement founded in the midst of the anti-vaxx furor that ended up a government-designated national security threat for its activities in the “Freedom Convoy” in 2022, which brought the country’s Capital Ottawa to a standstill with far-right protests, has long provided their followers a space to push white supremacist rhetoric. But now the group has added a new enemy and, like far-right groups in the US, is organizing against the LGBTQ+ community, particularly the trans community.
What has long been a primarily online community centered around the racist and homophobic musings of leader Jeremy Mackenzie is also increasingly engaging in real world activities. The movement, which wants to “accelerate” society’s collapse, has recently expanded its real-life activities and is growing its online community, drawing thousands of followers into its increasingly radical and dangerous beliefs. This change is incredibly worrying given Mackenzie’s previous gun-related arrests and Diagolon’s connection to a plot to murder members of law enforcement.
Following a June 2022 exposé by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAHN) documenting Diagolon’s promotion of white supremacy, the Global Project on Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) began monitoring their new community group on Telegram titled “Empire of Diagolon,” a reference to the fictitious country the movement’s name is based on, created by Mackenzie in March 2023. Previously, Mackenzie would post on his personal channel and only then could his followers reply to his comments. With this new community-focused group, his followers are able in many of its channels to openly post about Nazism, the Great Replacement conspiracy theory, launch disinformation campaigns, push anti-LGBTQ+ speech, and encourage others to attend far-right protests.
While the movement’s leaders have previously been the primary purveyors of hate through their public comments, the new channel provides insight into the wide array of hatred spread by the movement’s followers.
Chat members in “Empire of Diagolon” discuss Nazis in a positive light and berate the LGBTQ+ community. Posts from neo-Nazi and violently homophobic Telegram pages like “ZoomerWaffen” and Thomas Sewell are shared in the group. In the Literature channel there is a horrifying amount of Nazi propaganda which is openly shared and discussed. In fact, neo-Nazi and National Director of the Canadian Nationalist Front Kevin Goudreau is an active member of the group and posts regularly. In one message, he forwarded information which doxxed the address of ARCCollective founder and CAHN board member Kurt Phillips. He also posts hate speech, speaks about anyone not identifying either as male or female as belonging in a mental institution, and openly sieg heils in the chat.
Anti-LGBTQ+ memes, posts, video and audio messages run rampant in the Empire of Diagolon. Memes celebrating suicide by transgender people, conspiratorial rhetoric, and the use of weaponized irony are constantly posted in the group’s channels. Rob Primo posted a voice note berating transgender people (he used less appropriate language) for taking testosterone and alluded to the government being afraid of “jacked men… evolving into their next form” by allocating more testosterone to those undergoing masculinizing hormone therapy. This weaponized irony plays into Diagolon’s hatred of the LGBTQ+ community and helps to explain their recent organizing against transgender people.
Diagalon’s promotion of white supremacy to its more than 2,000 members is increasingly manifesting in the organization of real-world protests and rallies. Over the past month, prominent Diagolon supporter Rob Primo has promoted two anti-LGBTQ+ protests in Ottawa and Toronto meant to target the transgender community. The protests were organized by the youth Christian Nationalist group Save Canada and were supported further by Diagolon ally Joshua Alexander, who has previously been arrested for illegally hosting an anti-trans protest at his former high school.
At the most recent protest at York Mills Collegiate Institute, white nationalist and former Canadian Nationalist Party leader Gus Stefanis was in attendance. Given Diagolon’s history of violent rhetoric, their tagline is “gun and rope”, the targeting of LGBTQ+ communities is deeply concerning. Primo has already livestreamed footage from the protests on his Twitter account and is using it to incite hate. Chat members have also encouraged others to attend protests at schools promoting gender-inclusive programming, including one run by the conspiratorial organization Action4Canada. As is true for their ideological white supremaist allies south of the border, Diagolon’s move to target the LGBTQ+ community is a dangerous situation when that community is facing rising levels of hate around the world, including mass shooting attacks in Colorado and Slovakia.
Diagolon has been involved in other real world events as well. Diagolon recently held a fundraiser for Mackenzie on April 21st in Stoney Creek, Ontario, which was attended by the movement’s main influencers along with some media personalities and political figures. Known by the public for his death threats against Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Chris Saccocia (better known as Chris Sky) gave a speech promoting his Toronto mayoral campaign, conspiracy theories about the World Economic Forum (WEF) taking over Canada, and pushing a common far-right narrative based on educational institutions indoctrinating students. Anti-LGBTQ+ extremist Joshua Alexander, Diagolon influencers Alex Vriend, Derek Harrison, Rob Primo, and Mackenzie’s partner Morgan May were all in attendance. Anti-vaxxer and former People’s Party of Canada (PPC) candidate Mark Friesen was supposed to attend but he was unable to board his flight. Plans to continue with large-scale meetings may be forthcoming, as “Comedian” Greg Wycliffe issued a rallying cry following his opening remarks: “This is far from over, and in fact, this is really where we need to get going”.
Like Wycliffe said, this only the beginning of Diagolon’s attempts to organize in the real world. Mackenzie has openly discussed planning “anti-communist” rallies in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in July 2023, with an emphasis on ensuring a “physical presence” at the rally. So far, Mackenzie has targeted Nova Scotia’s “corrupt” system and told his followers that they’d see this manifest once the protests occur. Violent language from Primo (“the weak will be [run] over”) and Vriend (“No more quarter for spineless politicians”) raises alarms as to the nature of the protests.
This recent activity builds on Diagolon members’ previous public appearances. During the “Freedom Convoy,” attended by a host of extremist groups and far-right influencers, Vriend (at the time associated with Plaid Army) was documented harassing Ottawa residents. Mackenzie also attended the protests, and even testified at the Emergencies Act inquiry in the months following the convoy’s departure from Ottawa. These were not large-scale coordinated efforts led by Diagolon at the time, but rather a collection of small extremist groups and individuals loosely participating in a far-right populist movement. Diagolon’s potential threat was recognized at the time by Canada’s Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC), albeit only for their existence as an online violent extremist community. Now, Mackenzie is using the platform he’s built over the years to move offline and organize his own followers.
The movement isn’t confined to Canada, and is morphing into a transnational movement. Some “Dags,” an endearing term used to describe followers of the movement, are either based in the United States or have moved there from Canada. In the ‘United States’ channel, users share racist memes, transphobic speech, and posts from other white supremacist and nationalist Telegram groups. The exporting of American extremism is evident when user “Miss Cleo” celebrated Idaho’s bill criminalizing doctors for providing children with gender-affirming care, and called for these doctors to also be placed on sex offender registries. The same user also shared a tweet by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) calling transgender people terrorists and advocating for their arrests.
The move into more real world activities by this increasingly radicalized movement is a serious cause for concern, both in Canada and abroad. As long as Diagolon continues to recruit new followers, the threat to the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, and others will grow.