Right Wing Propaganda Begins Flooding Canada’s BC Interior

A so-called “newspaper” referred to as the Epoch Times has begun appearing unsolicited to many residents in the rural region.

Residents in rural areas in British Columbia, Canada, are receiving a so-called “newspaper”. They didn’t subscribe to it nor did they ask for it. It simply showed up one day in the mail. On the surface, it appears to be a standard newspaper. Some might even think of this as a sort of preview of what people can get. Open it up, and you’ll see article after article of right wing propaganda.

Among the untrue claims are that the US election is still undecided (US elect Joe Biden has been declared the winner), that Trump is currently ahead in electoral college votes (he is not), and that China is to blame for COVID-19. The paper is even going so far as to defend the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse, the man who traveled to another community and shot and killed two people.

Earlier this year, the propaganda source made waves in other parts of the country when they insinuated that the Chinese government was behind the COVID-19 virus. Canadians rightfully voiced concern that such headlines could fuel xenophobia in an already delicate time for relations between Canadians, Chinese Canadians, and Chinese visitors.

Canada Post employees attempted to refuse to deliver the propaganda, but the federal government chose not to act saying that it doesn’t meet the requirements of spreading hate:

The federal government has declined a request from a postal workers union local in Toronto to issue an order stopping delivery of a special coronavirus edition of the Epoch Times, because it doesn’t meet the criminal threshold for hate speech.

The special eight-page edition is headlined, “How the Chinese Communist Party Endangered the World.” It includes an editorial arguing the coronavirus should be called the “CCP virus,” a reference to the Chinese Communist Party, as well as an opinion piece that raises questions over whether the virus could have been created as a bioweapon by the Chinese military.

Derek Richmond, vice-president of the Scarborough local of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers in northeastern Toronto, said copies started showing up in some mail stations in the city last Friday. Several union members expressed concern the newspaper could fuel hatred toward the Chinese Canadian community, Richmond said.

The next day, Richmond wrote to Public Services Minister Anita Anand, the minister responsible for Canada Post, to ask for an interim order to stop delivery of the newspaper.

“We felt that Canada Post was very irresponsible in accepting this material, and it’s putting not only the Asian community at risk of xenophobia, but our letter carriers as well,” said Richmond.

A spokesperson for CUPW’s national executive committee said the union is aware of the concerns and has brought them to the attention of Canada Post.

“CUPW considers this item to be inflammatory, and we disagree with our members being put in a position to have to distribute this messaging. We will continue to monitor the situation,” said Carl Girouard, the national grievance officer for CUPW, in an email to CBC News.

The propaganda has already been felt in the US. According to one source, the propaganda outlet spent millions in advertising to help get Trump re-elected.

We’ve done our own digging into this recent wave of propaganda. It turns out, the propaganda is being distributed as a “flier”. Essentially, it’s to be treated just like a big box retail advertisement. As a result, every known address is going to get this sooner or later. When depends on distribution in different area’s.

While we don’t know the full scope of how far this propaganda is going, we do know some are making their way to communities who either are down to their last newspaper or don’t have any at all. For those who don’t have reliable access to the Internet, this may be one of the only sources of news they get. In short, some cities and villages may have found themselves in an information vacuum and the propaganda is flooding in to fill that void.

To add fuel to the fire, many of these communities already traditionally support the federal Conservative party or the BC Liberal party. So, many are already susceptible to right wing conspiracy theories as it is. Something like this entering the community could ultimately be the match that got tossed onto the fuel. The concerns here is, what does this do for the COVID-19 health crisis? Already, the propaganda is pushing the conspiracy theory that COVID-19 is a bioweapon. What else is the messaging going to contain.

What we do know is that significant amounts of money is being spent on distributing something like this. In an area as vast as the Northern Interior of British Columbia, sending something to every address is going to cost a lot of money. When local news monopolies struggle to stay afloat as it is, you know substantial cash is fueling such a distribution.

At any rate, this massive push should be a concern to officials in BC. For the time being, it appears efforts to limit this disinformation may be rather limited. At any rate, if anyone says that disinformation is exclusive to the Internet, here is your answer (no).

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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