QAnon in the U.S. has taken on the militaristic quality of a religious crusade with Q as the prophet and Trump as the Messiah. In Canada, the response has been more muted.
QAnon has been wildly successful and expanded beyond what the apocalyptic prophet Q intended. The identity of Q is speculative s/he could be the online avatar of the American pig farmer Jim Watkins or someone connected to Watkins. Supporters are called “Anons.”
The success of QAnon has been its skill in connecting unrelated ideologies into a tangled narrative.
QAnon has brought together incoherent groups into a big-tent scheme, complete with flowcharts of the “theoretical functional relationships” of the supposed cabal of pedophiles that is operating an international child sex-trafficking ring, and a Sephirot Map of the Pharaonic Death Cult. British writer Hari Kunzru explains the appeal of QAnon:
“Yet despite its incoherence, there is, in a strictly aesthetic sense, something sublime about it, or at least about the experience it is trying to represent, the experience of scale and complexity, of a world that is beyond the capacity of the human mind to apprehend (Harper’s magazine, January, 2021)”.
At the gut level of QAnon is a primal fear that children are being murdered and trafficked for sex.
This gnawing primal fear is not new. The groundwork for QAnon was laid in a 1980s book titled Michelle Remembers. The book sparked the “Satanic Panic” —the belief that Satanists were hidden among us, abusing and murdering children. One sensation case took place In Martensville, Saskatchewan, where nine people were charged for being members of a satanic pedophile ring. One man was eventually convicted of sex-related charges, but no such satanic ring was found.
QAnon in Canada still has the sex trafficking of children angle at heart but is subtler. The organizer of the QAnon Canada Facebook group is a mild mannered auto-glass repairman in Elliot Lake, Ontario. Blain McElrea told Walrus magazine that his passion is “an information project” that builds bridges between truth seekers. His inclusive vision of QAnon’s prompted him to start subgroups for religious devotees, New Agers, and UFO-believers.
“Basically, all of the bad things that the New York Times says about us—I am making sure that I’m not plugging into any one of those negative labels that they’re talking about,” said McElrea.
QAnon Canada is quieter, softer. Marc-André Argentino at Concordia University has discovered a new phenomenon he calls “Pastel QAnon.” It evolved from lifestyle influencers, mommy pages, fitness pages, diet pages and alternative healing. The pastel-coloured websites express pro-Trump, racist and anti-Semitic views.
Canada’s Anons are community leaders. In the Maritimes, a yoga teacher interrupted her Instagram feed to post a four-minute lecture to her more than 1,400 followers about a coming mass spiritual awakening—after COVID-19 is revealed as a distraction—and how the satanic cabal is about to be overcome by Trump, who belongs to the “team of light.”
McElrea had 4,000 members in his QAnon Canada group before Facebook shut it down. When I tried to find it, the following message popped up on Facebook:
“This search may be associated with a dangerous conspiracy movement called QAnon. Experts say QAnon and the violence it inspires are a significant risk to public safety.”