A pro-Trump, anti-Trudeau rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Saturday attracted only a small crowd of demonstrators protesting “against Trudope and his tyranny,” but that didn’t stop far-right website Breitbart from claiming that “a group of up to 5,000” had shown up.
The rally, dubbed the “million Canadian march,” was advertised by organizer Mike Waine as a protest against M-103, a motion calling on the Canadian government to condemn Islamophobia; and as a call on the Governor General to remove Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from office.
But, in the end, the Ottawa rally did not quite hit a million.
According to Facebook, just 504 of the over 4,000 invited guests actually attended. Pictures from the event, and a bird’s-eye view of Parliament Hill show that the actual attendance was probably lower. More people, based on a livestream of a webcam that covers Parliament Hill, showed up to do yoga on the front lawn of the Parliament buildings than to support Trudeau’s forced removal from office.
In an email to VICE News, the RCMP crowd estimate puts the demonstration somewhere in the range of 300 to 400 attendees. The RCMP are responsible for monitoring demonstrations on Parliament Hill itself. Ottawa police told iPolitics that their estimate was “less than 100.”
Despite that, right-wing news site The Daily Caller reported that “thousands” had attended the Ottawa rally, quoting Waine as saying “I was hoping for a million but I guess this will do.” The Caller’s crowd estimate was then picked up by Breitbart, which declared: “5,000 Canadians march in support of Trump, against Liberal Trudeau administration.”
Here is what the crowd looked like at 1211h. Max 150 people inside barricades. (I counted heads in pic.) That is as big as I saw it get. pic.twitter.com/r8bf5TUPcX
— Leonard Poole (@leonardpoole) June 5, 2017
There was also a “deplorables” meet-up in Edmonton, Alberta and Vancouver, British Columbia, although it’s unclear how many showed up. A rally in Calgary attracted nearly 200 protesters, according to MSN News, including the far-right anti-immigration club Soldiers of Odin — members of the club were spotted in Ottawa on Saturday, as well.
A fundraiser, set up in February to fund the demonstrations, raised just $5,900 of its $1 million goal.
While the overall turn-out may have been small, it points to an increasingly visible presence of anti-Islam, anti-immigration, and far-right movements in Canada. Most recently, that sentiment launched Kellie Leitch into sixth place during her bid for leadership of the Conservative Party.
It appears that Antifa, left-wing activists that have made it their mission to hold counter-demonstrations against anti-Islam or alt-right protests, also showed up on Saturday.
Soldiers of Odin here in Ottawa heading to Parliament Hill to protest pic.twitter.com/paidbsCelT
— Douglas Joya (@douglasj1894) June 3, 2017
Kevin Johnston, a Mississauga, Ontario local who runs an avowedly Islamophobic Youtube page — one where he calls for all mosques to be closed and a ban on the Quran — posted a video claiming that he had been attacked and robbed by the Antifa demonstrators, and asked for donations from supporters.
Cover: Lynn Redden/Facebook