A group of political activists have raised eyebrows with a controversial new campaign attacking U.S. President Barack Obama’s health reforms. The group, the LaRouche Youth Movement of Canada, has been handing out literature with bold titles like, Act Now to Stop Obama’s Nazi Health Plan!, and brandishing photo-shopped images of Obama posing with a smiling Adolf Hitler and of the president sporting a Hitler-esque moustache.
LYMCanada is the Montreal branch of the larger, American-based LaRouchePAC. The group bases itself on the ideas and writings of Lyndon LaRouche, a long-time economist who has run for president of the United States eight times. They believe the British are destroying the world through free-trade capitalism, that Obama is planning to cull the American population, and that environmentalism is a fraud perpetuated by the British.
Members of the group frequent corners all around the city, handing out pamphlets and talking to anyone who will listen. Often, they are found at Concordia’s downtown campus.
“Concordia is a little more political than other places,” explained Jean-Philippe Lebleu, an organizer. “We want to challenge people.” Lebleu was initially drawn to the movement because he felt it challenged his preconceived ideas 8212; something he felt his university education (he graduated from UniversitÃ© de MontrÃ©al) did not.
At 32-years-old, Lebleu is one of the oldest members of the youth movement, which employs 15 full-time staff in Montreal.
Recently, the group made headlines after interrupting a speech of federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff at U de M. Over the past year, Canada’s media have labelled the group “conspiracy theorists,” “nutters” and “deeply strange.”
A Wikipedia search on Lyndon LaRouche turns up charges of anti-semitism, and reveals he spent several years in jail for fraud (Lebleu contends this was part of a U.S. government plot).
But all the negative press surrounding the group and its leader doesn’t act as a deterrent for many.
Matt Ehret, 27, got involved over three years ago while studying at Concordia. “I was seeing how fucked up the world was, and that there weren’t any solutions,” he said.
“Increasingly I started looking into these “crazy people’ on the side of street, and reading their literature. I realized this a blueprint that was addressing a solution.” He said the Obama-Nazi comparisons appear startling at first, but are fully justified “once you do the research.”
Despite Ehret’s confirmation, LaRouche has made some less-than-accurate predictions, such as swearing that former Vice-President Dick Cheney would cause a “thermonuclear Third World War” before leaving office.
LaRouche did, however, get one very important prediction right, suggested 25-year-old Pascal Chevrier, another full-time staff member.
“In 2004 I saw a table, with posters talking about a financial crisis. And they said it was going to be massive,” he said. “Now remember this is 2004, when nobody else knew about the housing bubble yet. And this movement really challenged me on that question of what I wanted to do with my life.”
Challenging people is a main goal of the LaRouche Youth Movement. “We do the work everyone should be doing,” Lebleu affirmed proudly, before issuing a warning: if things continue as they are now, global civilization will collapse and a new dark age will begin. But not if the LaRouche Youth Movement can help it.
“People want the truth,” said Lebleu. “So they come to us.”