Far-right German politician Christine Anderson given Calgary ‘white hat’ welcome by supporters

The donning of a longstanding symbol of Calgary hospitality by a far-right member of the European Parliament is under fire.

On Feb. 18, Christine Anderson, a member of a far-right extremist German political party, was given a white hat by Artur Pawlowski at the Calgary Petroleum Club.

“I have never ever in my life travelled anywhere and have been made so welcome,” Anderson said to the club. “I will always, always have this connection to your country.”

That white-hatting appears to have taken place in the club’s Devonian room, which has a maximum capacity of 500 people.

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Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek took to social media to clarify that neither Tourism Calgary nor the Calgary Stampede — the local organizations who have in the past gifted the symbol of hospitality to honoured guests — gave the hat to Anderson.

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“And I think it’s pretty clear that I don’t endorse her views in any manner,” Gondek wrote. “It’ll be interesting to see what (the Calgary Petroleum Club) has to say about hosting the event.”

Tourism Calgary confirmed it was not involved in Anderson’s white hatting, calling it a “symbol of welcome to our city” that can be given by organizations or individuals.

The Calgary Petroleum Club did not return requests for comment.

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Pawlowski, a preacher previously convicted of breaking pandemic-related health restrictions and now leader of the Alberta Independence Party, said Anderson’s message of “stand up, rise up and fight for your God- and state-given rights” resonated with him.

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But the idea to present a white hat to the visiting politician wasn’t his.

“It was the ranchers, it was the beef producers, it was the farmers that came to me and they asked me if I would be willing to make this presentation,” Pawlowski told Global News.

Anderson spent two days in the southern Alberta city as part of a national tour, and also visited a local church.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau criticizes Conservatives after 3 MPs met with far-right German politician'

Trudeau criticizes Conservatives after 3 MPs met with far-right German politician

Prior to her 2019 election to the European Parliament, German online magazine Der Spiegel described Anderson as an activist for the right-wing Pegida alliance, known for its anti-Islam and anti-immigration stance.

She is also a member of the right-wing populist political party Alternative für Deutschland or Alternative for Germany (AfD).

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Anderson often spouts conspiracy theories about things like COVID-19 vaccines and the World Economic Forum, in addition to the xenophobic messaging.

She was also a vocal supporter of the so-called ‘freedom convoy’ that shut down international border crossings and Canada’s capital. Videos of Anderson rebuking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his March 2022 visit to the European Parliament were widely shared in Canadian right wing social media spheres.

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A focus on German nationalism became central to AfD’s ideology and populist appeal, with elected members going so far as to downplay the significance of Nazis in Germany’s history.

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency BfV placed the party under surveillance on suspicion of trying to undermine Germany’s democratic constitution — the first time a political party had similar actions taken against them since the Nazis. And in late 2022, AfD members were part of arrests of people planning a coup, which the party condemned.

After her visit in Calgary, Anderson met with a trio of Conservative Party MPs in Ontario: Dean Allison, Colin Carrie and Leslyn Lewis, and with accelerationist group Diagolon.

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In a written statement, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre decried the meeting, calling Anderson’s views “vile” and that her “racist, hateful views are not welcome here.”

In their own statements, the MPs said they were unaware of Anderson’s views or the associations of her political party. They also “strongly condemned” any racist or hateful views.

— with files from Reuters and The Canadian Press

&© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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