21 November 2011

A Perspective on the Heritage Front and Grant Bristow From Someone Who Was There

First, while we are not a commercial website, we would like to promote a novel written by Elisa Hategan. Her novel, Race Traitor can be found here at amazon.ca and the Kindle ebook can be purchased here. The novel has been independently published but has received very favorable reviews. While it is set in the United States, we think our readers will be able to recognize the links to a movement in Canada that began more than 20 years ago.

In fact, anyone familiar with the history of the Heritage Front should immediately remember the name Hategan; her involvement in the hate group as a teenager, her decision to reject racism and provide evidence which was used to convict a number of people in positions of leadership (including Wolfgang Droege) and her testimony regarding the role of CSIS informant Grant Bristow in the growth of the Heritage Front. Unlike Bristow whom the Canadian government protected, Ms. Hategan was left to fend for herself. And for almost 18 year, Ms. Hategan had to live a nomadic life, changing her name several times, in an effort to escape the death threats of her former compatriots (her name was still being invoked by the last Heritage Front leader Marc Lemire as recently as 2004). Elisa (or as she was known then, Elisse), in her own words, is now "coming out."

Regarding the Bristow affair, it would be instructive to listen to someone who was in the movement at the time. Elisse's take on Bristow is far different than the self-serving story found in, "The Walrus." The part that we took to heart is this:

How is Bristow a hero of the people? Well, let’s go down the list:

  1. Did any criminal charges get laid against any white supremacists as a direct result of his information? No.
  2. Did he testify in any proceedings against any Heritage Front members? Nope.
  3. Did he ever supplant police with any affidavits that were ultimately used to prosecute anybody? I mean, given the hundreds of thousands (likely millions) of taxpayer dollars that went into this operation, did anything concrete come out of Grant Bristow? Or are we only left with a bunch of hate speeches on YouTube and a bad taste in our mouths? Nada. Ugh, I’m starting to see a pattern here.
  4. Were either himself or his handlers charged with criminal harassment over the It Campaign, over possession of illegal weapons, or instigating a riot (as in what happened in June 1993)? No again. No criminal charges were ever laid (though rumour is, the handler was either demoted or fired, though I cannot confirm this).

What makes a hero in the eyes of Canadian media? Somehow I doubt in involves such dubiously-heroic acts as teaching underage girls like myself how to break into answering machines and how to “fuck with people’s heads” until they “shit their pants and have a total breakdown.” Though that is precisely what he did.

However, such heroic acts are deemed to merit exposure in press arenas such as Walrus Magazine, or worth standing ovations from synagogue audiences who blissfully had no clue about the character of the man who they were thanking, and what they were really giving applause for.

In contrast to Bristow, I’m not as full of myself as to claim that I acted heroically. However, I can answer yes to the first 3 of the above questions.

  1. YES, white supremacists were charged as a result of my information. And not just anybody, but Wolfgang Droege himself and a couple of his cronies went to jail.
  2. YES, my testimony resulted in convictions. And if CSIS hadn’t told the OPP and RCMP to back off my affidavits in order to protect their operative, many MORE convictions might have resulted.
  3. YES, my information was used to weed out a KKK-attending, Heritage Front member who just happened to be a police officer and gun-totting member of the Toronto Police Services.
  4. NO, I wasn’t given a three-car garage mansion in the suburbs, or an allowance of $3000 a month for years and years afterwards. Hell, I wasn’t even given a change of ID.

I panhandled on the streets of Ottawa and Halifax to feed myself. I dumpster-dived for food between court appearances and lived in shelters. After I did my part to take down the Heritage Front, I had nothing, couldn’t use my ID, and was on the run for my life. I received absolutely nothing, not even protection, from this government.

But I ain’t a hero, and unlike Bristow, I wouldn’t feel comfortable making such a claim. I’m just a nobody, someone who did what they had to in order to dismantle a vicious organization and take those bastards down.

And no, I’m not only talking about the Heritage Front here.

When we write that we believe that people can change, and when we write that those who have caused harm need to make amends for that harm, one of the people we were thinking of who did just that was Elisse Hategan. She might not accept the label of hero, but she is one of the most courageous people we've had an opportunity to meet.


Stephen Henry said...

To Elisa, thank you for what you have done. You certainly are a Hero. You have far more courage than most of us. BTW I will be buying your book. It sounds fascinating.

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