Well for starters, he’s not anymore! Here’s the full story.
We would like to begin this piece with an apology to Marshal Darbyshire, on behalf of The Scaffold. We apologize for the imprecise tone of our previous reporting on this matter. We are aware that some discomfort has been experienced by Mr. Darbyshire in relation to this publication and recognize that as a contribution to the public record, our analysis was incomplete and did not produce all of the relevant pieces of information necessary to synthesize intelligence of any demonstrable value or to discern a cogent political argument on our part.
Our publication was not incorrect, or irresponsible– merely incomplete, owing largely to our total lack of budget, paid editorial staff or advisory board. We have thus updated this piece to reflect and reiterate its core intent so that our ideas may be considered on their merits. It is our belief that white, Christian men of status should be held to the same standard of accountability that our state has prescribed for others, particularly Muslims. It is only consistent and furthermore it is our editorial opinion that large swaths of the Canadian public tried to warn you. We are deeply sorry to Mr. Darbyshire for sending him ‘off to Guantanamo’ on the merits of a first draft alone.
[Toronto] The Ontario Minister for Infrastructure, Laurie Scott, has now for two weeks, refused to comment on or acknowledge the fact that she is apparently employing a Proud Boy supporter as her communications advisor.
The supporter, one, Marshall (Jonathan) Darbyshire, helped organize and participated in a July 2017 Proud Boy “Halifax 5” support rally at Queen’s Park. The demonstration was held on behalf of 5 men who were placed on leave and then disciplined by the Canadian Forces over their membership in the Proud Boys.
The Halifax 5 were placed on leave from the Canadian Forces and subjected to disciplinary action after they were filmed harassing Indigenous elders who were demonstrating peacefully for the removal of a statue of Edward Cornwallis in Halifax. The 2017 incident lead to widespread national outcry against the Proud Boys and entities that support them.
In late January 2021, Canada’s parliament unanimously approved a motion to designate the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity, effectively criminalizing most of the group’s support activities. In early February 2021 they were added by ministerial order to the list of entities designated by the Government of Canada as terrorist groups.
The 2017 Proud Boys rally was officially hosted by Students in Support of Free Speech (SSFS) a far right campus group affiliated from its early days with controversial figures like Jordan Peterson, Ezra Levant of Rebel Media and conclusively, with early and vocal Proud Boys support.
The group is also linked to violent protests in Ottawa and engages in a practice that critics describe as ‘strategic litigation against public participation‘ along with other speech-chilling behaviors. The behavior of SSFS, easily accessible on the public record, echoes the concerns presented in Canada’s Senate about the use of law and legal processes to intimidate, silence and harass the public critics of extremism.
The 2015 senate document entitled ‘Countering the Terrorist Threat in Canada: An Interim Report‘ states explicitly: “On a number of occasions, primarily in the context of public debate about terrorism, extremism and radicalization, plaintiffs have claimed to be defamed, and have launched lawsuits against those whom they alleged to have inflicted reputational damage upon them by stating or implying they had an association or affinity with radicalism.” (Canadian Senate, 2015 p.18)
This certainly sounds apt based on the wealth of critical publications who have discussed the tactics of SSFS. The Senate report goes on to say, “It is a growing worry, including in the province of Ontario, that some interests may be abusing their access to courts by commencing lawsuits aimed at chilling the speech of defendants, and sending a deterrent signal to the broader population.” (Canadian Senate, 2015 p.18)
In 2017 Mr. Darbyshire was a self-professed campus executive of the SSFS group’s Ryerson chapter and actually announced his election to this position at the 2017 Halifax 5 Proud Boys Support rally in Toronto while he was acting as an informal emcee.
Further, Mr. Darbyshire has had demonstrable and clear past dealings with other, Proud Boy affiliated extremist groups, who also attended the 2017 support rally.
Thus, we feel it appropriate and responsible to list him among the committee of organizers for the event.
During the support rally, Mr. Darbyshire, handed a megaphone to notorious Neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier, Paul Fromm. Fromm then spoke out about how “shameful” it was for individuals to lose their jobs for “speaking out.” In 2002, Fromm lost his teaching position for off-duty racism. Fromm’s participation and inclusion rankled several participants in the Proud Boys support rally and ultimately caused a controversy which lead SSFS to disavow the Neo-Nazi presence at their rally while they continued to openly advocate for, and on behalf of, the Proud Boys group.
The echo of Bill C-51
The Anti-Terrorism act, 2015 (formerly, Bill C-51) was tabled by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, purportedly to protect ‘critical infrastructure’ from terror groups. It behooves those of us possessed of critical faculties to ask: “How in the hell is an on-record supporter of a terror group, who platformed a neo-nazi at a rally for them, advising the Infrastructure Minister of Ontario on anything?”
Why should we be upset that the Ontario PCs are employing a supporter of a designated terror group?
Do the Ontario PCs still employ other members or supporters of the Proud Boys in senior roles? With absolute certainty.
We’ll invoke our own authority on the subject in making the claim that the Proud Boys were effectively a militant youth wing of the Ontario PC Party in 2017. There are multiple obvious and factual overlaps involving people who appeared in ‘behind the scenes’ photos with the Premier and then also turned up to Proud Boy events.
Many other senior members of the party and in its broader conservative media ecosystem, happily posed for photos with Proud Boys in their uniforms, a fact which has been clearly preserved on the public record. The party has an undeniable historic linkage to fawning support for terror, and for SSFS’s antics, which frankly, go far beyond Mr. Darbyshire’s appearance at the Halifax 5 rally.
Mr. Darbyshire poses with Ezra Levant at a 2017 Ryerson event hosted by Students Supporting Israel (SSI). Levant employed the founder of the Proud Boys, Gavin McInnes, at ‘Rebel Media’ when this photograph was taken.
Infrastructure Minister Laurie Scott was alerted, and advised quite pointedly, that a federal designation of the Proud Boys was incoming and would thus impact her office. Why is Laurie Scott retaining a public record supporter of a terror group as her advisor and steadfastly refusing to respond to emailed inquires or voicemails on the subject? Maybe her messages have been screened?
This is a political party whose Coronavirus pandemic policy took away your JOBS, took away your BUSINESSES and had you EVICTED by and on behalf of the landlords and bankers. Inexplicably, and despite their deep unpopularity, they appear to be willing to ‘die on this hill’, defending an on-record terror group supporter.
In fact, they are paying him from public funds to access and advise the senior levels of the Provincial government. It is also accurate and responsible to say that such a position of public trust also entails some level of physical access to the exact same provincial legislature grounds where SSFS held their hateful 2017 Proud Boy support rally in the shadow of the statue of King Edward VII. An interesting, if poignant choice of symbols to rally around, for sure.
The JDL and the Proud Boys
And it’s not like they needed to look very far for evidence of a discernable leaning towards fascism. One of the first Google search results for Mr. Darbyshire’s name shows that he was accused by a free speech nonprofit in 2017 of barring student journalists from a far-right event hosted by the group Students Supporting Israel (SSI). Is opposition to the free press really the acumen of a communications advisor in a purportedly democratic government? Is it then any surprise that the same government which employed Mr. Darbyshire has itself been criticized for transparently anti-democratic policies and for policies which seek to impair and limit political expression about the state of Israel?
The Ryerson SSI event did have its own security. When Mr. Darbyshire barred the student journalists from the event, he did so shoulder-to-shoulder with members of the Jewish Defence League (JDL) which has been classified as “a right wing terrorist group” by the FBI since 2001. A contributor to The Scaffold (who also broke the original story about Mr. Darbyshire’s actions toward a student journalist) was assaulted a few weeks later by the JDL and other members of far right groups, including the Proud Boys, at a Toronto demonstration. Two charges were laid against members of the group as a result.
At least one of the participants in that assault was working security at the exact same Ryerson event where Mr. Darbyshire was managing access control. It is within the scope of responsible journalism to state that he, at least once, personally directed members of an extremist group to bar journalists from an event. There are clear photographs of Mr. Darbyshire barring the student journalists from the 2017 event ‘because he did not like them’ while Meir (Marvin) Weinstein, the leader of the Jewish Defence League keeps a watchful eye.
This begins to reveal a pattern of public flirtations with extremism and unfortunately for Mr. Darbyshire this exchange made him memorable in the extreme. And perhaps, if he’d pursued any business other than political communications and public sector governmental administration, he’d have remained forgotten, and gone unchallenged over the matter for the rest of his life. When you go on the record supporting extremist groups in public at a tender age, this kind of ignominy really is the best that you can hope for.
It is however important to point out with sources drawn from the published and uncontested public record, that Mr. Darbyshire used the presence of ultranationalist extremist “security” at the April 2017 SSI event to bar student journalists from an event on a Canadian university campus. In fact, being themselves preoccupied by a nearby student led demonstration over the event, the JDL did so only upon his insistence. We know, because we were there covering the protest.
It also bears mentioning here that there is great evidence of early and close overlap between the JDL and the Proud Boys, an alliance which only began to unravel when Mr. Darbyshire made the fateful decision to hand a megaphone, wittingly or not, to Canada’s most notorious neo-Nazi ideologue at the Halifax 5 Proud Boys support rally, a rally which was also attended and ‘secured’ by the JDL. At least one member of the JDL security detail at the 2017 Halifax 5 support rally even went on to be charged in the United States for a hate crime.
So, we have not one but multiple points of contact and overlaps between Mr. Darbyshire and extremist groups, what does that mean?
As we saw at the US Capitol, sympathizers with terror groups working in public office have a habit of using their influence to leave doors unlocked and hallways unguarded. Some have been accused of giving ‘reconaissance’ tours to members of the Proud Boys and other far right extremist groups. This, along with dead Capitol police officers during their coup attempt was the factual basis for Parliament’s unanimous call to designate the group.
The Scaffold is a public comment media organization which engages in punditry and polemics seeking, among many other things, the systematic disempowerment of hate group supporters, on principle, and as a matter of conscience. It is our firm opinion that in Mr. Darbyshire’s case, privileged access to the halls of power for someone who went on record and out of his way, to support the Proud Boys, is a clear public safety risk. It’s permanent as long as he is in proximity.
Open advocacy for far right extremism is indelible. It has all the regrettable permanence of a tasteless tattoo. Support for a hate group is not a garment which can simply be removed and discarded in response to a changing political climate.
Further, it is our editorial policy to not give hate group supporters opportunity for comment on our platform. This isn’t just because doing so can place our volunteers and contributors in physical danger.
Open advocacy for far right extremism is indelible, with all the regrettable permanence of a tasteless tattoo. Support for a hate group is not a garment that can simply be removed and discarded in response to a changing political climate. We certainly won’t extend the courtesy of being able to squirm out from under the facts. Deradicalization programs for people caught up in extremism exist for a reason.
Past and present supporters of the Proud Boys and sympathizers with their twisted, violent and hateful ideology are a lasting security risk in any democratic society. Mr. Darbyshire needs to be gone from the minister’s office, yesterday. Scott was given two weeks to comment on this matter, prior to the group’s designation by unanimous Parliamentary assent. Laurie Scott must resign for knowingly shielding him. Despite being warned weeks in advance she completely failed to respond to sincere and vigorous inquiries about this deeply concerning matter.
It is 2021, does Mr. Darbyshire continue to share the group’s ideology?
As it might be seen by some stalwart apologists as ‘unfair’ to deprive Mr. Darbyshire entirely of the right to respond, we will now include our analysis of his most recent statement to the press.
In September 2020, a Marshall Darbyshire, president of the ‘Ryerson Campus Conservatives’ (a mainstream youth wing affiliated with the Progressive Conservative party) was interviewed by the National Post in relation to an ongoing controversy over the celebration of Egerton Ryerson, the school’s namesake and the father of Canada’s residential school system. The residential school system has been recognized as a contributing factor to a program of cultural genocide directed towards Indigenous populations. His response to critics who called for the removal of Ryerson’s statue was to say:
“At the end of the day, I think it’s because these are people who know they’ll never do anything great enough to have a statue erected of themselves,” said Darbyshire. “And so they holler and whine and stomp about until statues of people they disagree with politically and who did great things and built this country and our institutions are erased from the face of our country.”
It is highly relevant here that the “Halifax 5” (whose Toronto support rally forms the material evidence for Mr. Darbyshire’s support for a terror group) were themselves outed after physically disrupting a public and peaceful protest by Indigenous activists calling for the removal of the statue of of Lieutenant General Edward Cornwallis from a public park. Cornwallis was a brutal and authoritarian colonial administrator for the British Empire. Cornwallis has repeatedly been accused of war-crimes and, like Ryerson, is held by many as a symbol of the genocide of Indigenous peoples, while continuing to be celebrated by racist personalities and groups in Canada. In his National Post commentary from September 2020, at the same time as he was ascending to the status of ministerial advisor, we can clearly see him continuing to espouse the ideology of the group.
It is undeniable from a critical reading of his own recent public comment on the national discourse about racism, that Mr. Darbyshire holds a historic white man as supreme over contemporary critics of that legacy, who are demonstrably Indigenous and racialized. In short, this is a transparently white supremacist statement. The Ryerson Campus Conservatives came under fire for white supremacist rhetoric around the statue debate in early 2021. Taken in context with the Halifax 5, disciplined for defending a monument to dead, racist white man, there is a common thread of shared messaging between the Proud Boys and this mainstream Ontario PC party apparatchik who publickly supported the group as early as 2017. He continued to promote the Proud Boys’ western chauvinist ideas, at least, through to September 2020 when he became a Minister’s advisor.
The twitter profile for a Marshall Darbyshire was identified by The Scaffold and confirmed to be the same Jonathan Marshall Darbyshire who is the subject of our investigation. While the account’s tweets have been protected since The Scaffold made its first inquiry with Scott’s office, the account’s bio reads “Ephesians 6:12” Ephesians 6:12 is recognized by scholars as a component of an ethos called ‘charismatic christianity’. While it is difficult to discern the original intentions of the Apostle Paul, the verse is widely recognized as an exhortation to spiritual warfare. This is an important point.
The text of Ephesians 6:12 is as follows. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
The implications of this verse and its interplay with hardline conservative political mythology are discussed in the Foreign Policy article “Millions of Americans Believe Trump Is Fighting Literal Demons.” This article makes an explicit connection between Ephesians 6:12 and a nexus of ideological radicalization for the far right.
In charismatic Christianity, the enemy is very real, and his demonic and mortal agents have supernatural powers as well.
The Financial post states that “[in]charismatic Christianity, the enemy is very real, and his demonic and mortal agents have supernatural powers as well. People who claim to have the gift of discernment frequently use it to air petty grievances or express their bigotry, claiming people they don’t like are being influenced by unclean spirits. When a demon is supposedly revealed, followers rebuke it in the name of Jesus, claiming that their savior has given them authority over evil spirits.”
Speaking generally about the theology, a member of the clergy consulted by The Scaffold helped to confirm portions of this assessment.
“I can see where the far right would claim it, sure. It is capable of such broad interpretation, it might as well be FIGHT THE POWER. THE POWER being whatever the person thinks it is.” they said,
“Poor Paul just gets used by everyone to say whatever it is they want him to say. Me included, probably. So just using the verse doesn’t really mean anything, lacking explicatory context.”
The Wikipedia entry for ‘spiritual warfare’ states that it is analogous to ‘Jihad’, a concept of spiritual struggle in Islam which is recognized by scholars as open to wide and varying interpretations, representing everything from spiritual struggle to improve one’s self through acts of charity or physical fitness. The concept of spiritual warfare has been used by both Muslims and Christians to promote ideas of armed struggle against enemies of the faith.
This is a pretty obvious double standard.
Consider the public perception toward a Muslim person citing excerpts from the Qur’an, which reference Jihad, on social media. If such a person also had a demonstrable history of support for designated terror groups and had recently and publicly espoused Islamist talking points in an on record interview in a national broadsheet, how, reasonable is it to consider them anything but a supporter of that ideology? Do you believe such a person would be retained as a minister’s advisor?
Let us rewrite that argument to better articulate the point behind our equivocation:
Consider the public perception toward a white person citing excerpts from the Bible, which reference spiritual warfare, on social media. If such a person also had a demonstrable history of support for designated terror groups and had recently and publicly espoused White Supremacist talking points in an on record interview in a national broadsheet, how, reasonably would they be taken as anything but a supporter of that ideology? Do you believe such a person would be retained as a minister’s advisor?
This is a pretty obvious double standard. We would suggest that as a rule, young people should not be held criminally accountable for missteps and misjudgements, including extremist affiliations in their formative political years.
We also believe that most residents of Canada will agree that past supporters of banned groups, as well as current ideologues and proponents of those groups ideas, should be precluded from access to the most sensitive government buildings and governmental ministries. Saying so is a fair and responsible public comment consistent with the established laws, customs and norms of the country of Canada. Furthermore, the content of this comment is fully supported in fact, after the recent designation of the Proud Boys group.
As people of conscience who oppose hatred, bigotry and white, Christian extremism, what must we do about it?
We must rally the people of this city, of this province and bring Premier Doug Ford, Minister Laurie Scott and all of the crypto-fascists in their criminally-associated provincial administration to account. And we don’t say this under the guise of partisanship or with deference or bias toward any opposition figure. We say this with the authority of a community united in the single-minded goal of divesting hatred from its association with power in this country through the precise and vocal application of the truth.
As a professional politician, Laurie Scott knows how, and where, this ends. The speech restrictions of a global pandemic make it difficult to gather outside an elected official’s office, but they do not make all forms of effective protest impossible. Let this articulation of our editorial philosophy serve as one such direct and public protest following a clear and demonstrable record of good faith communications preceding this publication, always The Scaffold’s thermonuclear option.
Our message here is very clear: It is a dangerous political business, aligning yourself with terrorism. Inaction in the face of terror is not an option and the Provincial Minister for Infrastructure must be held to account for her hiring decisions.
The Ontario PCs didn’t actually disavow the Proud Boys until the group’s ugly violence was out in the open. For years they kept posing with racists, as well as apparently hiring and paying their supporters, all while people starved and got evicted. Taken as an articulation of the party’s intent, the stalwart refusal to comment on the core details of this report connecting a senior staffer to multiple extemisms means that perpetuating the privilege of one hateful white man is worth far more to Laurie Scott and Doug Ford than your life. They (the PCs) are more willing to kill you than they are to punish their own.
It is doubly galling that the extremist JDL, mentioned here in connection with Mr. Darbyshire’s activities, have since escalated directly to violent physical attacks against outspoken Toronto area businesses. Perhaps this is because they have been emboldened by their perception of support originating from within the halls of power. It is good to have friends in high places after all.
They (the PCs) are more willing to kill you than they are to punish their own.
And that fact, that fact, well, all these facts really: they shouldn’t just piss you off, they should give you an idea of what you, your friends, your community should begin to do about it.
3:00PM 02/11/21 Following the publication and dissemination of this article, The Scaffold made Legislative Protective Services at Queen’s Park aware of the allegations against Darbyshire. LPS agreed to open an investigation using the information that was provided.
6:00PM 02/11/21 Jonathan Darbyshire has updated his LinkedIn profile to show that his employment with the Minister for Infrastructure ended, after six months, in February, 2021.
6:00PM 03/20/21 We have updated this story with text directly addressing Mr. Darbyshire. This update also includes grammatical and formatting corrections, new information, further evidence of details, photographs and source-supporting documentation as well as a coherent articulation of The Scaffold’s editorial policies, ethics and political position.
For the sake of transparency the original text can still be found in the internet archive.
We have also made the decision to allow commenting on this piece so that we can also admit into the public record the messages which we have received, ostensibly on Mr. Darbyshire’s behalf, or at least originating from people upset by our reporting on his affiliations and activities.
Please note the repeated suggestion that the home addresses of various activists are known, and an explicit call for associates of The Scaffold to be killed by “Duterte justice“. This isn’t just indefensible cage rattling by aggrieved right wingers threatening legal action, we can claim with both evidence and authority that we have received serious and credible threats of death in response to the publication of this piece.
Please be advised by way of content warning: these comments contain death threats and extreme language.
It is our belief that the revisitation of our own sources and general tone as well as the inclusion of more, though still not all, information– will only strengthen the core argumentation of this piece: a call for the thorough and immediate divestiture of hatred from political and governmental power in Canada by publicly holding the most powerful to account for their associations.
With respect to Mr. Darbyshire’s employment status and any changes that may have resulted from the 1,055 page views (not unique users) that this has piece has received as of today’s update, we would recommend a change in careers. If he is intent on a political future, The Scaffold has heard a rumour that the illustrious and noteworthy Peoples Party of Canada may be looking for candidates and staff.
We’re also really looking forward to the statue they’re going to build of Marshall. Yep, any day now.
If you or someone you know are involved in or affected by political extremism and radicalization, The Scaffold encourages you to seek out support from a variety of federal deradicalization programs.