How Alex Jones And White Nationalist Podcasts Exploded Into Canadian Politics

The far right group “Diagolon,” which has American allies and the attention of authorities on both sides of the border, is at the center of a fiery political debate.
Diagolon leader Jeremy MacKenzie and Alex Jones. (Photoi: TPM Illustration/Getty Images/Twitter/Wikipedia)
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his chief rival, Pierre Poilievre, the leader of the Conservative Party opposition, have spent the last week and change arguing about Alex Jones. The American conspiracy theorist and broadcaster’s path from his Texas studio to the center of the political debate up North cut straight through “Diagolon,” a fictional country created by a group of white nationalist podcasters in Canada.

The Diagolon empire stretches from Alaska to Florida through Canada’s Yukon territory and three westernmost provinces. While the men behind Diagolon insist it is just a stoner meme, authorities on both sides of the border have described the online movement as a violent terror threat. The recent debate over Jones was a vivid illustration of how the movement has gained prominence in Canadian politics and forged connections with the American far right. 

Trudeau, who is struggling in the polls ahead of next year’s election, spent multiple days late last month accusing Poilievre of “engaging with members of Diagolon” and refusing to “condemn and reject the endorsement of Alex Jones.”

“This is what he should say,” Trudeau, who leads the country’s Liberal Party, said of Poilievre at an event in Quebec on April 26. “I reject categorically the endorsement and the support of Diagolon and of Alex Jones because Diagolon is a violent white nationalist organization and Alex Jones is a garbage conspiracy theorist. That’s all Pierre Poilievre would have to say, but he won’t say it and that tells you about the kinds of choices he’s making as a leader.”

Jones, who is best known for airing wild, dangerous conspiracy theories about mass shootings and COVID along with playing a major role in the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, inserted himself into Canada’s nascent campaign politics on April 4 when he posted a message on the site formerly known as Twitter praising Poilievre as “the real deal.” 

“Canada desperately needs a lot more leaders like him and so does the rest of the world,” Jones wrote.

Poilievre did not take Trudeau up on the call to reject Jones’ endorsement. During a question period in the House of Commons on April 30 when the Conservative leader pressed Trudeau about a push to recriminalize certain hard drugs in the province of British Columbia, the prime minister once again accused Poilievre of refusing “to denounce these extremists” and of “actively courting the support of groups with white nationalist views.” Poilievre shot back. Without naming Jones or Diagolon, he declared, “I always condemn extremism and racism.” Poilievre described the idea he was pandering to the group as a “distraction” and “falsehood” from Trudeau before attempting to return to the prime minister’s past support for drug decriminalization.

“When will we put an end to this wacko policy by this wacko prime minister?” Poilievre asked. 

That insult was a bridge too far for Speaker of the House of Commons, Greg Fergus, a member of Trudeau’s Liberal Party, who ejected Poilievre from the parliamentary body after the opposition leader refused to withdraw the remark. The incident sparked days of headlines and debates over decorum in Canada where some of the same rising extremism and civil unrest that has emerged in America is taking place, but the rhetoric apparently hasn’t quite reached U.S. levels of nastiness

A spokesperson for Trudeau told TPM they had nothing to add to the prime minister’s public remarks. Poilievre and his office did not respond to requests for comment. While the Conservative leader dismissed Trudeau’s attacks as “false,” there have indeed been multiple incidents that associated Poilievre with Diagolon — and the group has its own ties to Jones. 

Before his social media endorsement of Poilievre, Jones had forged a connection with Diagolon. Jones featured the group’s “de facto leader” Jeremy MacKenzie on his “InfoWars” broadcast during the “Freedom Convoy” trucker protests against COVID health mandates that gripped Canada’s capital, Ottawa, in early 2022. More recently, in March of this year, MacKenzie appeared on the weekend edition of Jones’ show with another host.  

And Poilievre himself has also had dalliances with Diagolon. In these prior instances he has similarly refrained from offering a clearcut disavowal of the group. 

In July 2022, Poilievre led a march against COVID measures in Ottawa alongside James Topp. Independent reporter Rachel Gilmore, who was writing for Global News at the time, subsequently revealed that Topp had appeared on MacKenzie’s podcast. When Gilmore asked Poilievre if he would denounce those sentiments, his campaign responded with an extensive comment-slash-press release attacking her reporting as “guilt by multiple degrees of separation” and stressing he was only supportive of Topp on the “singular cause of ending vaccine mandates.” 

The following month, MacKenzie, the leader of Diagolon, posted a photo showing him shaking hands with Poilievre at an event. That picture led to calls for Poilievre to denounce the group from the leader of the left wing New Democrat Party, which pointed to a report from Canada’s Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre, a federal government organization. The assessment described Diagolon and QAnon, which should be far more familiar to the American audience, as being among the “ideologically motivated extremism (IMVE) movements” that were participating in the anti-COVID mandate convoy protests and could grow as a result. It further identified MacKenzie by name and dubbed him an “accelerationist influencer.”  Poilievre’s supposed denunciation  did not address MacKenzie or the group specifically.

“As I always have, I denounce racism and anyone who spreads it,” Poilievre said. “I didn’t and don’t know or recognize this particular individual.” 

Poilievre did criticize MacKenzie and a fellow podcaster in September 2022 after they allegedly broadcast comments about sexually assaulting the Conservative leader’s wife. MacKenzie said he had made the statements while drinking and denied meaning any harm by them.

Diagolon was born during what MacKenzie has described as a similar mix of partying and joking online as he and his fellow podcasters gained steam and connected with each other during the COVID pandemic. MacKenzie, a military veteran in his late thirties, has said he was “pretty ripped on edibles” one night when he first realized many jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada that did not have COVID mandates essentially formed a diagonal line across North America. The idea became an increasingly persistent, elaborate theme on an interlinked network of far right podcasts.  

Online, MacKenzie uses the moniker “Raging Dissident.” His “Ragecast” is one of the core Diagolon shows along with Alex Vriend’s “The Ferryman’s Toll” and Derek Harrison’s “Plaid Army.” They grew their audience during the convoy protests and through their own in-person events. While MacKenzie said he has been banned from multiple social media platforms, Vriend has five figure followings on the site formerly known as Twitter and on Telegram. Their broadcasts routinely attract thousands of viewers. 

Alex Vriend streaming with Patriot Front founder and leader Thomas Rousseau. (Photo:

Despite this growing fanbase and the past headlines, Gilmore, who has relentlessly covered Diagolon on multiple platforms, said she was stunned to see the group invoked by the prime minister late last month.

“When it comes to Trudeau actually mentioning Diagolon … by name, it’s kind of mind blowing, because I have been reporting on them for two years and it was always kind of — they were kind of seen as fringey and they still are,” Gilmore explained in a phone call with TPM. “I think that, for Trudeau, he feels like he’s got a political win in using this against Poilievre. … To a certain extent he kind of does, because the thing that’s really mind blowing to me and feels like a real shift in our politics is that Poilievre won’t overtly disavow or condemn these groups.”

The latest incident that precipitated the spat between Trudeau and Poilievre in the House of Commons took place at an anti-carbon tax protest encampment near the border between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Poilievre, who said he pulled off the highway and stopped when he saw the protest, toured the camp, posed for photos, and told the group to “keep it up.” Multiple key members of the camp were subsequently revealed to have ties to the Freedom Convoy, Diagolon, and other far right groups. At one point during his visit, Polievre was filmed stepping out of a trailer adorned with a drawing of the Diagolon flag, a black banner with a white stripe on its side.

Gilmore said it was plausible that Poilievre did not know who MacKenzie was when they shook hands in 2022. However, she suggested his continued association with far right figures who can be linked to the “Diagolon” movement, coupled with the refusal to more directly distance himself from them, is disturbing.

“He keeps finding himself in these circles and pandering to these people who seem to be sort of one step removed from these guys who really have some of the most frightening politics and concerning kind of ideology, like the worst kind of racism and far-right extremism that should have no place in our politics,” Gilmore said of Poilievre.

MacKenzie responded to Trudeau’s efforts to tie Poilievre to Diagolon with a taped statement where he described the movement as a “makeshift looseknit community” that has no links to the border protest or the Conservative Party. While he claimed to have “no relationship” with one of the encampment’s leaders, MacKenzie admitted it was his romantic “partner” who had “doodled” the image of the Diagolon flag on the trailer door during the convoy protests. As he attempted to distance himself from both Poilievre and the anti-carbon tax protesters, MacKenzie described Trudeau’s attack as part of a “fantasy narrative” from the prime minister that was aimed at stopping “Conservative Party momentum that appears overwhelmingly likely to crush the Liberals.” MacKenzie sent the video to TPM when we reached out to him for comment on this story. He also sent a lengthy series of text messages wherein he rejected the term “far right” as “derogatory” and said the media’s descriptions of his group as “extremist” or linked to potential violence were a “preposterous characterization.”

Harrison, another one of the main figures in Diagolon, similarly tweeted a lengthy statement in response to TPM’s request for comment that pointed to quotes from internal Canadian law enforcement documents that figures in the group view as exonerating. However, Harrison relied on a decidedly selective read of those files, which do indeed indicate official concerns about the group. For example, one of the statements highlighted by Harrison comes from what appears to be a Royal Canadian Mounted Police intelligence assessment that said, “DIAGOLON as a distinct entity does not pose a criminal or national security threat at this time.” Immediately after that line, the report notes, “certain individuals engaging with DIAGOLON have allegedly engaged in serious criminal activity” and “lone actors or small associations could be inspired to violence by the DIAGOLON rhetoric.“ Vriend, the third member of what Gilmore calls Diagolon’s “Big Three” did not respond to a request for comment. While Diagolon’s leaders protest any description of their group as violent or extremist, a notable case in Canada recently highlighted law enforcement’s concerns about the group and its potential ties to armed activists. A weapons cache seized at a 2022 Freedom Convoy protest in the town of Coutts near the border with Montana included guns and body armor that displayed Diagolon patches. Four men who were involved in that protest were subsequently charged with plotting to kill law enforcement officers. Two of those men, including one who has been identified as part of Diagolon, ultimately pleaded guilty to lesser firearms charges.

Caption: A photo of body armor bearing patches with the Diagolon flag that was included in a February 2022 analytical brief from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. (Photo: Public Order Emergency Commission)

MacKenzie, who was reportedly recruiting members at the trucker protests in Ottawa at the time, testified before a commission that reviewed the government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act in conjunction with the weapons case and convoy protests. While MacKenzie argued against the characterization of his group as an extremist threat, the commissioner reportedly rejected that argument and declared, “I am satisfied that law enforcement’s concern about Diagolon is genuine and well founded.” Documents released by the commission included an analytical brief from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that reviewed of the group’s “violent rhetoric,” participation in the convoy protests, and growth. 

Despite MacKenzie’s efforts to dispute the notion that Diagolon poses a risk of violence, his online content has been unquestionably militant. On April 26, he made a post on the social media site Telegram declaring “war is coming” and attacking both Trudeau’s Liberal Party and Polievre’s Conservative Party of Canada as well as a group that has monitored Diagolon and “Jews.” 

“The Liberal party of Canada is a terrorist organization promoting violence on peaceful protestors and funding a violent communist revolution through backchannels such as the Canadian Anti Hate Network, Jews, who routinely lie about receiving government funding and assistance,” MacKenzie wrote. “Conservatives need to wake up to reality that they are in physical danger, that their families will be targeted and there is no way any version of peace can exist with these people freely roaming about. We cannot coexist, so someone has to go. If the CPC will not act to defend Canada from attackers, the people will do it themselves and hold the Conservatives to the fire next for derelection of duty in the face of the enemy. War is coming, act accordingly.”

Gilmore, the journalist who has been covering the group for over two years, said this kind of language poses a clear danger. 

“There’s a joke aspect to the community, but there’s also some very serious rhetoric and some very serious stuff that underlies it, and that’s what really becomes a concern,” she explained, later adding, “With respect to actual violence, I’m hugely worried about that. Not necessarily from the main guys in this, but more so from people who watch their live streams and might internalize the messaging. … All it takes is one person from the thousands who are in this Telegram channel to read that and go, I’m going to do something about it, especially if they want this guy’s attention or approval.”

American agencies have also taken notice of the group. In its 2022 report on terrorism in Canada, the U.S. State Department noted the incident in Coutts and the presence of the Diagolon patch. That report described Diagolon as “a Canadian far-right ‘extremist’ group.”

Along with violent rhetoric, Diagolon also engages in blatant racism and anti-semitism. MacKenzie’s most recent 10 posts on Gab, a social media platform popular among the far right, include an ad for his podcast that features a picture of Orthodox Jews ominously controlling a chessboard with puppet strings. Another one of those ads echoes the Great Replacement mythos with an image of a giant figure festooned with the flags of India, Israel, and the LGBT community wielding an eraser to crush a mass of people waving Canadian flags. 

When TPM asked MacKenzie via text to characterize his view of minority groups and whether he felt they are threatening white Canadians, he accused this reporter of being an American intelligence agent.

“I believe that the CIA has no place in ‘managing’ what the public believes by authoring slanted hit pieces to vilify private citizens,” MacKenzie wrote, adding, “Don’t you think you should be more concerned with the fact your country is being invaded … facilitated by an international consortium of NGOs? Or is that really the point of all this, to distract people from real problems with imaginary ones? Give the agency my regards.”

Peter Smith, an investigative reporter with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, a nonprofit that monitors hate groups in Canada, told TPM in an interview that Diagolon’s racism and anti-semitism has grown of late.

“They’re extremely conspiratorial and increasingly white nationalists,” Smith said. “Before they would kind of buck the term and overt neo-Nazis were kind of mocked out of the community to some degree.”

Smith, who tracks the group, said Diagolon has ratcheted up their criticism of minorities as they also have placed a growing emphasis on “in-person organizing.” They are also building connections with fellow travelers on this side of the border. 

U.S.-based white nationalists were a key part of Diagolon’s roots, according to Smith. Diagolon gained ground and a base for their podcasts “very early on” by appearing on the more established American white nationalist broadcast “Red Ice,” Smith said.  Smith theorized the U.S. is attractive to the Diagolon podcasters because of the larger population, which means a bigger pool for their efforts to solicit donations and sell merch. He also pointed to Donald Trump’s GOP, and the fact that laws up north are less permissive when it comes to hate speech. 

“They’re certainly starting to make these connections with the U.S. … It’s just a much bigger market for them than it is here,” Smith said. “They’re very interested — both monetarily, I think, in the U.S., which is a very large market — but there is also this, it seems a more ideal condition there. The Republican Party is much more to the right than our Conservative Party. Hate groups are able to organize much more openly in a lot of cases due to the First Amendment. … It’s a little different of an environment here.” 

MacKenzie told TPM he has no American connections other than appearances on various podcasts and streams, which he framed as a chance to get around Canada’s “rampant and malicious censorship.” 

“I don’t have ties to anyone in the United States beyond brief appearances on various talk show programs over the years,” MacKenzie wrote. 

The exchange goes both ways. Diagolon podcasters have also helped promote American white nationalists. On Telegram, Vriend has shared multiple posts from the “active club” movement, the neo-Nazi Goyim Defense League, and Patriot Front, the organization known for its masked marches that is arguably the most active hate group in the U.S. In late January, Vriend featured Patriot Front leader and founder Thomas Rousseau on a marathon three hour-plus episode of his Ferryman’s Toll streaming broadcast. Their conversation showed that the partnership between Canadian white nationalists and their American counterparts is not entirely without awkwardness.

“I think the border should be closed to all immigration frankly,” Rousseau said. “If we have any immigration, it should be from Europe. …Europeans that are ready willing and able to assimilate into American culture.”

“Whoah, whoah,” said Vriend in a rare moment of disagreement. “No, Canadians? What is this?”

Rousseau clarified himself to indicate his openness to embracing his brethren from the north.

“Canadians are Europeans. We’re of the European race right? So, the European race would include Canadians, Australians … the Boers, you know things of that nature,” he explained, adding, “But I think all these people, all these Mexicans should be deported.”

With their geographical differences put aside, Rousseau and Vriend were able to end on a better note. Rousseau even gamely performed the stiff-armed “slashy salute” of Diagolon for the camera. The moment illustrated how MacKenzie and his cohort are poised to join a long tradition of Canadian ties to the U.S. far right that includes Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes and white nationalist leader Richard Spencer’s Toronto period. Vriend ended the broadcast on a note that shows the concrete impact of the far right’s global connections as he implored his audience to participate in fundraising for “the Coutts Four defense” and to support imprisoned “active club” leader Robert Rundo, who is currently jailed in this country after spending time abroad. 

The Diagolon audience is also doing their part to help the group forge ties here in the U.S. On April 19, after Alex Jones shared another admiring tweet about Pierre Polievre, a reader implored him to look beyond the Conservative Party leader.

“Alex just a heads up, Poilievre is a globalist,” wrote the reader, whose profile on the site formerly known as Twitter was decorated with the diagonal slashes Diagolon fans use to identify themselves on social media. “You have been duped. If you want the truth about Canadian politics look into Diagolon.” 

Jones responded the following day.

“I will,” he said.

This article was updated to remove a reference to material that was misattributed in another publication.

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