Saskatchewan RCMP have confirmed that Jeremy Mackenzie, the leader of the controversial Diagolon movement, was arrested on a Canada-wide warrant on Wednesday.
According to Mackenzie's partner, Morgan May Guptill, he was detained at their Cole Harbour home by the Halifax Regional Police late Wednesday afternoon.
May said she and Mackenzie had noticed earlier in the day when reviewing their surveillance footage that police had stopped by their home.
"So we had called them and they made us aware that there was a warrant," May told CBC in a phone interview.
She said she and Mackenzie "waited in the driveway for them and co-operated."
Mackenzie was arrested by members of the RCMP and Halifax Regional Police on charges that had been laid months ago.
On July 18, Saskatchewan RCMP charged the 36-year-old with assault, pointing a firearm, use of a restricted weapon in a careless manner and mischief during an incident near Viscount, Sask., in November. There's no word yet on a court date.
Militia or trolling?
Mackenzie is a prolific podcaster and the leader of an online group known as Diagolon. A June 2022 House of Commons report identified the organization as an ideologically motivated violent extremist organization.
"It's made up of former members of the Canadian Forces, individuals with real combat training, with real capabilities and who have grown increasingly radicalized, especially because of COVID," the report says, quoting Mubin Shaikh, a professor of public safety at Seneca College.
The report notes there are connections between Diagolon and extremists who were arrested at the Coutts, Alta., border crossing during the February convoy protest. It said those extremists "were ready to engage police in a firefight."
Members of Diagolon have been tied to the convoy protests and two Diagolon patches were found on body armour seized during the execution of RCMP search warrants at Coutts.
Mackenzie and his followers have scoffed at the suggestion this group is some sort of American-style militia group, arguing they are simply trolling a gullible media.
In reference to a photo of Mackenzie and others posing with guns, Guptill explained it's all a ruse.
"He knows you guys will fall for it and you'll post it and look ridiculous," she said, explaining that the purpose is "to make people understand that reporters have no idea. They don't do the research. They don't actually know what they're talking about. They'll take anything and run with it."
Rape threat or joke?
Jeremy Mackenzie also claimed to be joking earlier this week when it came to light that he had suggested on his podcast that he wanted to rape Anaida Poilievre, the wife of Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre.
One of the other men on the podcast asked him if he would be talking about raping a woman if his partner Morgan was around. He said he would and indicated she would want to join in.
Morgan Guptill said those comments were completely inappropriate.
"I had hoped Jeremy would have time to put out a video to apologize for putting words in my mouth — things that I obviously had never said and would never say as a sexual assault victim myself," she told CBC.
In a statement, Poilievre condemned Mackenzie's statement as "disgusting," referring to Mackenzie and his fellow podcasters as "dirtbags" and "losers." The RCMP confirmed Monday that it is looking into this alleged threat.
In a post on the instant messaging service Telegram, Mackenzie wrote "It's unfortunate as leader of the opposition that he's chosen to focus his attention on such trivial matters like small time podcast comedians making jokes."
Guptill told CBC, "I believe him when he says that he was joking but at the end of the day considering all of the court cases we have on the go it's quite a serious thing to say in my opinion."
Other cases on the horizon
In March, Mackenzie and Guptill were charged with mischief, criminal harassment and intimidation of a health professional during an anti-mask protest at the home of Nova Scotia's Chief Medical Officer of Health Robert Strang.
Then, in June, Mackenzie was charged with 13 firearms-related offences, including three counts of careless use of a firearm and three of unauthorized possession of a firearm. The RCMP said officers discovered five restricted guns, prohibited ammunition magazines, ammunition and body armour.
And last Friday, Guptill was arrested and jailed for allegedly failing to pay $69.10 for fuel at a local gas station.
Guptill told CBC that in all of these cases, she and Mackenzie have been unfairly targeted.
"We feel like this is quite an overreach and that we are being targeted by the police for speaking out against them," she said, referring to their social media channels and podcasts, where they are relentless critics of mainstream political parties, media organizations and government institutions.
She said the goal is to "ruin our reputation because they know that we have such a large audience." Mackenzie has more than 14,000 followers on his Telegram channel.
She said she and Mackenzie are misunderstood.
Fundamentally, she says, they are all about giving hope by "building communities of like-minded people so they don't feel alone throughout potential future lockdowns or food shortages or war or whatever is coming."
She said the focus on Mackenzie as some sort of dangerous leader is also misguided.
"He's a teddy bear," she said. "He talks big though."