An independent candidate running in the Montreal riding of LaSalle-Émard-Verdun is standing by comments he made when he was associated with a known xenophobic white nationalist group.
Julien Côté, whose bright yellow posters encourage constituents to call him, acted as the spokesperson for ID Canada, a group which put up posters in Edmonton last year claiming there was an "ethnocide of old stock Canadians."
On its website, ID Canada describes itself as "Canada's leading identitarian movement" and as a group created in 2014 "as a response to Canada's decaying identity, increased third-world immigration and the prevalence of anti-European sentiments in this country."
The posters erected in Edmonton included a banner intended as a stark warning that read, "You're being replaced."
In an interview with CityNews Edmonton in January 2018, Côté said the group was "standing up for our European identity" and that he "didn't want to become a minority."
Edmonton police confirmed to CBC that they investigated the posters at the time.
Candidate stands by statements
Speaking to CBC News, Côté said he cut ties with ID Canada a year and a half ago over problems with its leadership. However, he said he stands by the statements he made when he was still with the group.
"I think there's a European character to Canada, and there's lots of evidence of that," he said, citing language and a "respect of the law and of democracy."
"I like the society we live in now," said Côté. "I see this as being imperilled."
On his campaign website, there is little hint of Côté's white nationalist politics. He does say he would push for "realistic immigration levels," but he does not go into detail about what that would entail.
Côté told CBC he is not a violent person, and he doesn't "know why people are so upset when we talk about issues like this."
"They just have zero empathy, and they have zero desire to hear anybody out who's talking about these issues," he said.
Dangerous rhetoric, says expert
Côté's rhetoric is familiar to Maxime Fiset, a former neo-Nazi and now an alt-right expert.
At 18, Fiset was a founding member of a far-right group in Quebec City called the Fédération des Québécois de souche, or old-stock Quebecers. He said that group employed similar language.
"We were trying to make a point that seemed valid for most of the population, but it was actually some kind of dog-whistling, some kind of way to legitimize our discourse," Fiset said.
Fiset said that far-right activists will often refer to "old-stock Canadians" or "European Canadians" to try to distance themselves from the concept of white supremacy.
"What these people want to is to open the debate on what kind of immigration is 'good' for the country, and obviously in their book, everything that is Muslim or non-white or South Asian is non-desirable," Fiset said.
"And that's pretty much textbook far right."