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Sask., N. S. charges dropped against army vet who created 'Diagolon'

Sask. charges came from an incident near Viscount in July 2022.
All Sask. charges against Jeremy MacKenzie were dropped in Saskatoon Provincial Court Aug. 24. His charges in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, were dropped in July.

SASKATOON – All Saskatchewan charges have been dropped against a Canadian Forces veteran labelled as the "leader of Diagolon,” which is an alleged far-right extremist group.

Jeremy MacKenzie, now 37, appeared in Saskatoon Provincial Court by telephone on Aug. 24, and the charges of assault, pointing a firearm, using a restricted weapon in a careless manner, and mischief, were stayed by the Crown.

“I can confirm that he did enter into a peace bond and the four charges were then stayed,” Saskatoon Prosecutor Andrew Clements told in an email Thursday morning. “There are no future dates or pending matters in either provincial court or the court of King’s Bench.”

In June, the four charges had gone from Saskatoon Provincial Court to Saskatoon Court of King’s Bench. A jury trial had been scheduled at Saskatoon King’s Bench for Jan. 8, 2024. That trial date has since been vacated, said Clements.

In place of the four charges, a 12-month common law peace bond was issued Aug. 24 in Saskatoon Provincial Court between MacKenzie and the complainants. There is a court-ordered ban on identifying the two Saskatchewan complainants against MacKenzie.

The four charges had been from a previous incident near Viscount, Sask.

Nova Scotia charges also dropped

Toronto lawyer Sherif M. Foda confirmed with that charges in a Nova Scotia court against his client Jeremy MacKenzie were also dismissed.

“The matter in Port Hawkesbury resolved by way of a common law peace bond,” said Foda in an email Thursday morning. “The Crown initially told me it would withdraw the charge, but upon entering into the peace bond the Crown invited the Court to dismiss the charge. In the circumstances, there is no practical difference between a withdrawal and the dismissal.”

Foda said that MacKenzie still has outstanding matters in Pictou and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and in Gatineau, Quebec.

“They are pending and Mr. MacKenzie is eager to proceed,” said Foda.

Diagolon isn’t real, it’s a joke: Tom Marazzo

Podcaster Jeremy MacKenzie founded an online social media group he called Diagolon.

Last year, a House of Commons report labelled Diagolon as an ideologically motivated extremist group. The report said that the group consists of former Canadian Forces members who have real combat training and capabilities, and have "grown increasingly radicalized.”

But, in November 2022, when Tom Marazzo, a 25-year veteran of the Canadian Forces testified during the Public Order Emergency Commission (POEC) inquiry into the federal Liberal government’s use of the Emergenies Act in February 2022, he said, “Diagolon is a joke. It’s not even a real thing.”

He said MacKenzie created a fictitious meme on the Internet known as Diagolon and that the "Vice President" of Diagolon was a time-travelling, cocaine addicted goat.

Marazzo testified that the government were "citing this fictitious goat that time travels, as justification for invoking the Emergencies Act," and that MacKenzie and his friends were “laughing hysterically showing clips of the government actually talking about Diagolon as being a real thing,” when “everybody knew it was a joke.”

Marazzo told the inquiry that he asked MacKenzie to tell him everything there was to know about Diagolon.

“He said, ‘if you draw a diagonal line from Alaska, through Alberta, to Texas, it makes a diagonal line,’ and that’s why it’s called Diagolon. They’re the only states and provinces that don’t have mask mandates. He used it as a joke. He made the symbol for Diagolon in a second on his cell phone because it’s a joke and it’s meaningless.

“He [MacKenzie] did it to attract attention for people to come to a barbecue and to have a lot of fun, where you know people wanted to have a barbecue without masks on,” added Marazzo. “And yet here he was watching Members of Parliament and the Liberal Party actually seriously stating that the reason for invoking the Emergencies Act was because of Diagolon. Like it was the most outrageous, ridiculous thing I had ever seen.”

Video: Watch Tom Marazzo explain Diagolon to the Public Order Emergency Commission inquiry

Jeremy MacKenzie testifies at inquiry

Jeremy MacKenzie – a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces from 2003 to 2017 who retired as a master corporal – was summoned to testify at the POEC into the use of the Emergencies Act and his testimony was compelled. On Nov. 17, 2022, he appeared by video conference from the Saskatoon Correctional Centre.

MacKenzie has described himself as a podcaster, a comedian, unacceptable, extreme alt-right, and anti-government. He podcasts under the name Raging Dissident.

Under examination by Commission Counsel John Mather, MacKenzie acknowledged that he was a founding member of Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada, he was opposed to Covid-19 public health mandates imposed by the federal government, and he believed he was targeted because of his political beliefs. 

MacKenzie said that he came up with the idea of Diagolon as an analytical commentary on current events and politics. He said he noticed that the Mid-Western states of Texas, Florida, South Dakota, along with Alberta, Saskatchewan and Alaska, formed a geographical oblique line of states and provinces that were resistant to government-imposed mandates and were traditionally Conservative areas in the two countries.

“I kind of found it amusing that there was this kind of geographical divide,” he testified, adding that it became a joke that it was a pretend kind of parallel universe. He said he created the “Diagolon” flag on his cell phone and it became synonymous with his name and podcast.

“It was kind of a branding mechanism that people could display,” said MacKenzie. “To basically denote that they’re a fan of mine.”

During the  inquiry into the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act, it was revealed that Diagolon was created as a joke. Jeremy MacKenzie said that he came up with the idea of Diagolon as an analytical commentary on current events and politics. He said he noticed that the Mid-Western states of Texas, Florida, South Dakota, along with Alberta, Saskatchewan and Alaska, formed a geographical oblique line of states and provinces that were resistant to government-imposed mandates and were traditionally Conservative areas. So he drew a diagonal line.| Jeremy MacKenzie Facebook

He said that he planned community barbecues and went to meet and greets in an effort to get people to have “real face-to-face human interactions and relationships again,” amid the stringent lock downs.

“I thought it would be beneficial to their mental health and I saw that there were good things coming from that.”

MacKenzie admitted that many of his followers or fans were former Canadian Forces members.

“It has attracted a fair amount of other veterans and military personnel because they resonate with the things I’m saying.”

Mather pointed out that the RCMP described Diagolon as a militia-like network with armed members preparing for violence. In addition, Superintendent Patrick Morris, the head of the Ontario Provincial Police’s Intelligence Bureau, described Diagolon as an extremist entity with extremist views.

Mackenzie, however, disagreed with those assessments.

“Much of this narrative is coming from certain actors and members of the media,” he said.

MacKenzie said that through disclosure of documents and various legal proceedings, he learned that the Canadian Anti-Hate Network had laid the foundation of that narrative and paid a lot of attention to him over the past few years. He said that the police had relied on open source intelligence such as articles written by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network and took them at face value.

Videos played at the inquiry showed MacKenzie encouraging peaceful protests while in Ottawa during the Freedom Convoy.

“We were simply there to protest peacefully,” he said.

“I said things like, ‘If there’s a speed limit on walking for some reason, then you will walk slower than that. Don’t even litter. Don’t spit. Don’t even throw a snowball. Don’t give anyone any excuse to point at you say, ‘Look what you’ve done. Look what you’ve incited,' and so on because that would have undermined the entire purpose of everything everyone was trying to achieve.”

MacKenzie testified that he has never described himself as the de facto leader of Diagolon.

“I’ve never described myself in that manner. That’s been put forward into the media again by people at the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. Again, (Diagolon) is a figment of my imagination in a fictional world.”

Jessica Barrow, counsel for the Ottawa Police Service pointed to a document published by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network that described Diagolon, which is also referred to as Plaid Army, as a conspiracy-based network that is increasingly evolving into a militia comprising of neo-fascists who anticipate a violent revolution and the seizure of power.

MacKenzie said that, in his opinion, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network is not a credible news or information research source.

Mather said that Plaid Army had put out a YouTube video saying they hope the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa would be the Canadian version of the January 6th riot in Capitol Hill.

“Obviously, I can’t speak to that person’s intentions or what they meant by that, but I will reinforce that, again, it was not my intention to see any kind of violence, political violence or anything like that because it again, undermines the intentions and objectives of the protestors, which was to peacefully demonstrate their discontent,” said MacKenzie.

MacKenzie’s lawyer, Sherif Foda, asked him if he was aware of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network spreading misinformation during the convoy.

“Yes, as a matter of fact the president or the chief, as I understand it, was on national television advising the Nation of Canada that antisemitic flyers were being distributed throughout Downtown Ottawa as a result of the nature of the people involved, when in fact that was a screen grab from an event in Miami, Florida, that had taken place weeks earlier,” said MacKenzie.

He added that through legal disclosure and documents referenced by law enforcement, he learned that police and senior officials in the Federal Government had relied on Canadian Anti-Hate Network’s views about him.

Foda pointed out that two days after the Emergencies Act was invoked by the federal government, there was an article in the Globe and Mail that had comments by former Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, which were later proven to have referred to Diagolon.

"It could have been deadly for citizens, protesters, and officers. We need to be clear-eyed about the seriousness of these incidents and indeed several of the individuals at Coutts have strong ties to a far-right extreme organization with leaders who are in Ottawa."

MacKenzie testified that of those who were arrested at Couts, he had only met Chris Lysak, and only twice.

“And would you consider that to be strong ties?” asked Foda.

“No,” replied MacKenzie.

“Would you consider this to be an example of misinformation?” asked Foda.

“Yes, I would,” said MacKenzie.

At one point during the time frame of the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, MacKenzie said he became concerned about some individuals who could potentially become violent and he had called the RCMP to notify them.

Foda questioned MacKenzie about the organizational structure of Diagolon.

“Sir, you were asked questions about whether Diagolon had any structure. I think you were asked if you had any formal authority over anyone in the Diagolon community, and I believe you indicated that there was no hierarchy or no formal structure?”

“Correct,” replied MacKenzie.

“To be fair, you have a vice- president,” said Foda.

“Yes,” replied MacKenzie.

“Could you tell the Commissioner who your vice-president is?”

“The vice-president of Diagolon, which is of my imagination, he is my sidekick that has evolved over the years. He's a demonic goat figurine named Phillip with a very, very serious narcotics problem and a time-travelling goat.”

“Do you think any reasonable person who consumes your content, either regularly or semi-regularly would actually consider Diagolon to be an organization?” asked Foda.

“I would think not, no.”

“How do you explain what is included in intelligence reports and what is expressed in national media and expressed by ministers of the highest level in our country?” asked Foda.

 “They'll (Canadian Anti-Hate Network) take a clip here, a sentence there and stitch it together and make it appear as something that it is not,” said MacKenzie. “From there, some media outlets, legacy media outlets, lazily, unfortunately, took it at face value, copy/paste, print the story, then which is consumed by police officers.”  

Video: Watch Jeremy MacKenzie answer his lawyer, Sherif Foda's questions about Diagolon during the Public Order Emergency Commission inquiry

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