Menu JTA Search

Keegstra Defeated in Bid to Gain Leadership of Extremist Party

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Jim Keegstra, the former high school teacher from Eckville, Alberta, who was convicted last year under Canada’s anti-hate laws, responded with charges of “racist” to his defeat in the contest for leadership of the far rightwing Social Credit Party, at its national convention here last week.

Keegstra was ousted from the Alberta school system in 1984 after parents complained that he used his classroom to preach anti-Semitism, telling his students that Jews are “the root of all evil.” He was subsequently defeated for re-election as Mayor of Eckville, a farm hamlet of about 900 with no Jews.

His latest defeat was at the hands of the Rev. Harvey Lainson, a 50-year-old evangelical minister from Listowel, Ontario. Lainson received 67 votes at the convention to 38 for Keegstra. A third candidate, James Green of Bentley, Alberta, withdrew from the race after asking his supporters to give their votes to Keegstra.

NEW LEADER CALLED A RACIST

Keegstra was also backed by Donald Andrews and Robert Smith, both convicted of hate-mongering, and Ernst Zundel, an anti-Semitic pamphleteer who is presently appealing his conviction under the anti-hate laws for disseminating propaganda that the Holocaust was a Jewish hoax.

Keegstra portrayed himself as the victim of a smear campaign who was convicted under “Satanic hate laws conceived in Hell” and enforced by “enemies of Christ and servants of Satan.” He claimed he was in “complete correspondence with the mind of God” and called Lainson a “racist.”

PARTY HAD FALLEN ON HARD TIMES

The Social Credit Party, which originated before World War II, was originally a populist movement with overtones of anti-Semitism, subsequently disavowed by a later generation of its leadership.

It was a powerful political force in Alberta for many years and had strong pockets of support in Quebec province. But it has since fallen on hard times. It is not represented in any provincial legislatures or in the federal Parliament. In the 1984 elections, the party polled 0.13 percent of the total vote.

Its new leader, Lainson, originally from the Maritime Provinces, calls himself a moderate. His platform includes opposition to abortion, restoration of the death penalty, the right of civilians to bear arms and a six percent ceiling on interest.

NEXT STORY