This piece was first published on November 13, 2018 and has been updated.
Maybe you’ve been thinking white nationalism — the modern white supremacist movement that marries racism and nationalism and turns it into, well, Donald Trump’s presidency — is an American problem.
Here’s what you need to know about Faith Goldy, and what her popularity means for race and politics in Canada.
A rising white nationalist star? What does that even mean?
In two words: Faith Goldy. And since “star” has a lot of positive connotations, allow me to correct those for you right off the bat. Goldy exists on the extreme right of the political spectrum, alongside misogynists, racists, homophobes, and xenophobes. Goldy, who has called for a crusade against Muslims, campaigned in the recent Toronto mayoral election as a “Canada First” candidate, promising to protect the city from “illegals and terrorists” and “Trudeau’s migrants,” and to fight political correctness.
She is the kind of figure whose brand, such as it is, flourishes in fringe online communities. Without the Internet, it’s hard to imagine her campaign for mayor gaining any momentum — a move that appears to be just the first step in her political ambitions.
Um, did you say Faith Goldy ran for mayor of Toronto?
Yes. Goldy — who’s candidacy this fall was treated as a side show by many media outlets — came a distant third in the race, behind re-elected mayor John Tory and his top challenger, Jennifer Keesmaat. Goldy earned 3.4 per cent of the vote (the support of 25,667 people), but she still beat out nearly three-dozen other candidates.
The loss that might have only expanded her political ambitions. The day after the Toronto mayoral election, Goldy changed her Twitter profile to read: Next Prime Minister of Canada.
Well, that’ll never happen.
Most likely, no. But she doesn’t need to run the country to help shape it. Goldy’s rise should be taken in the context of the growing extremism in right-wing Canadian politics, including the federal Conservative party’s ties to increasingly far-right ideology. The Conservative’s campaign chair is the former director of The Rebel (the far-right media website where Goldy once worked), and Goldy has supported Maxime Bernier, a politician known for anti-immigrant views who recently launched a new party to challenge the Conservatives from the right. She appears to have big plans to exploit that popularity.
Just how popular are we talking about?
Running for mayor pushed Goldy’s already-growing profile in the white nationalist corners of the web out into the open, increasing her name recognition in Canada and earning her endorsements from key right-wing media and political figures in the U.S. She appeared on Infowars, the infamous show of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and earned endorsements from conservative media figures including Fox News’s Michelle Malkin.
Why does it matter if Goldy is popular in America?
A few reasons. First, Goldy solicits money from her fans via her YouTube channel, so the more she’s known in the U.S., the more money she stands to make.
Second, the white nationalist movements in various countries are interlinked, meaning that being known in the U.S. can help build her profile in Canada.
And third, being embraced by more mainstream right-wing figures in particular could be a popularity game-changer far beyond our two countries. Far-right academic Jordan Peterson exploded onto the international scene in part thanks to Fox News shows.
So what’s Goldy’s deal: How did she end up with these views?
Goldy started as a right-wing commentator on Sun News Network (Canada’s failed attempt at a Fox News) and migrated to the far right-wing news site The Rebel, where she hosted segments such as “More Muslims = More Violence” and equated immigration with white genocide. (She was eventually fired for being too extreme, even for The Rebel.) She appeared on the web-based show of a toxic misogynistic named Roosh V and a podcast for the Neo Nazi website the Daily Stormer, and she recited the “14 words” — a white supremacist slogan — in a separate interview.
According to recent reporting from New York magazine, Goldy has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years from a left-wing feminist and one of the most popular girls at her elite private high school in Toronto into “a poster-girl for white nationalists” — a change that speaks volumes about the power of online bigotry to shape not only a single life, but the wider community. The story of white nationalism, exemplified by Goldy, is the power of extreme ideology to advance out of the shadows, and into mainstream politics.