Canada in the Second World War

Events

The National Social Christian Party

On February 22, 1934, Adrien Arcand, editor of the weekly Le Patriote, organizes in Montreal the first meeting of the Parti national social chrétien or NSCP (National Social Christian Party).

The stage of the Monument national was decorated with four huge letters, the initials of the Party’s name, PNSC, spelled out in small three-colour flags with the swastika. Order was maintained in a perfect way by four companies of veterans from the Steel Helmets, in their gallant uniforms with their decorations, and proudly wearing armbands with the swastika, symbol of the White Race. They formed a guard of honour on each side of the great central staircase and were truly impressive.
—Le Patriote, March 1st, 1934. (Translated quote from Jacques Lacoursière, Histoire populaire du Québec, 1997)

Wearing the uniform with pride, members of the National Unity Party salute at a meeting held in Montreal in 1939.

Wearing the uniform with pride, members of the National Unity Party salute at a meeting held in Montreal in 1939.
Canadian Jewish Congress Archives.

Arcand’s ideas were based on the theses of Hitler and Mussolini. He advocates a corporatist structure where all public services are ensured by the state, where work is compulsory, as the state is responsible for providing a livelihood to all working citizens. Like Hitler, Arcand proclaims the superiority of the White Race and denies Jews any civil rights.

Similar parties are created elsewhere in Canada. In October 1934, the Prairies-based Canadian Nationalist Party fuses with the NSCP. In July 1938, representatives from several fascist groups in Quebec and Ontario decide to join forces under the banner of the National Unity Party. Adrien Arcand becomes leader of the new party and Joseph C. Farr the key organizer.

What kind of influence did these fascist movements really have in Canada? It seems that fear made them appear much more powerful and dangerous than they actually were. Journalists quoted the figure of 80,000 armed and combat-trained members, a real Fifth Column ready to hand North America over to its masters, Hitler and Mussolini.

Actually, the “Blue Shirts” seem to have always been a small group wielding little influence. In Quebec, the Church warns the faithful against Fascism and Nazism. They are monitored by the government and in 1939, as war becomes imminent, prison sentences await Canadian fascists who would not desist from their activities. On May 30, 1940, Arcand and other members of the National Unity Party are arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and jailed for the duration of the war.