Government censorship changes name with ‘disinformation’ campaign


Last week, the Social Media Lab at Metropolitan University of Toronto’s School of Management released a report titled “The Reach of Russian Propaganda and Disinformation in Canada.” According to lead author Anatoliy Gruzd, “the research provides evidence that Kremlin misinformation is reaching more Canadians than expected. If left unchallenged, state-sponsored information operations can stoke social tensions and even undermine democracy itself.

But the report calls the factual statements “pro-Kremlin claims.” A glaring example prominently cited is the idea that “since the end of the Cold War, NATO has surrounded Russia with military bases and broken its promise not to offer NATO membership to former republics of the USSR, such as Ukraine”.

“The Reach of Russian Propaganda and Disinformation in Canada” follows the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy’s release of its own report, “Disinformation and the Russian-Ukrainian War on Canadian Social Media” . The June report lists prominent Twitter accounts engaged in what it calls “misinformation,” which includes “portraying NATO as an aggressive alliance using Ukraine as a proxy against Russia” and “promoting mistrust specific to the Liberal government of Canada, and in particular to Prime Minister Trudeau. .”

Recently, the Canadian Forces tweeted: “we work with international partners to detect, correct and expose Kremlin state-sponsored disinformation about Ukraine. They linked to a webpage titled “Canada’s Efforts to Counter Disinformation – The Russian Invasion of Ukraine”.

Overseen by the Department of National Defence, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), which has 2,700 employees, also claims to fight “disinformation”. Its Twitter account posts regular updates on Russian “disinformation” and the main focus of its recently released annual report is “exposing Russian-backed disinformation campaigns and malicious cyber activity.”

Ten days ago, the Trudeau government announced sanctions against 15 russian entities engaged in “disinformation”. In March Ottawa has invested $3 million to counter Russian “disinformation”.

At the legislative level, Bill C11 should require companies to remove content flagged as “misinformation”. A group of experts appointed by the Heritage Minister to help shape ‘online damage’ legislation have called for it to address ‘harmful online content, which includes misinformation, by conducting risk assessments of content that may cause significant physical or psychological harm to individuals. Legislation should still empower CSIS and implement a “digital security commissioner”.

A member of the panel of experts advising the minister, Bernie Farber, has repeatedly sought to suppress protests against Israeli apartheid. As head of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Farber lobbied the York University administration against holding an academic conference entitled Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace, applauded Stephen Harper’s government’s 2009 decision to block former British MP George Galloway from speaking in Canada prompted Shoppers Drug Mart to pull out Adbuster of its stores, campaign to remove A nation on trial: Goldhagen’s thesis and historical truth and called on Toronto Pride to ban Queers Against Israel Apartheid. Today, Farber is an advocate of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, which has been used repeatedly to suppress Palestine solidarity activism.

After interrupting Justice Minister David Lametti’s press conference to ask him about Israel’s murder of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and illegal recruitment for the Israeli army, Honest Reporting Canada issued an alert to the action entitled Spitting Hatred. The May 27 statement noted: “In place To cut away from this radical interrupting press conference, CBC News gave the anti-Israel activist a nationwide platform to spew anti-Israel misinformation, lies and hatred for over 2 minutes. They called on both TV stations to suppress my “misinformation”.

The daily point, a US-based tech publication, posted a similar response when I interrupted a speech by Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly to challenge Canada’s escalating violence in Ukraine. In “Tech Giants builds digital nets to stop Russian propaganda – here’s how it still seeps” Claire Goforth suggested that Twitter and other social media should have removed my 45-second video challenging Canada’s promotion of NATO and the arms deliveries. Lamenting the way “Russian propaganda and disinformation are intermingled on the web,” Goforth effectively argued that if Russian media were promoting a video of a Canadian challenging his country’s foreign minister about of Canada’s role in an important international issue, it should be deleted.

Proponents of “disinformation” overwhelmingly focus on information that displeases Western power. “Disinformation” activists don’t cry foul when stories suggest Canada is trying to help Haiti or uphold the rules-based international order. Even obviously fake numbers are okay as long as they align with power. When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended a Rwandan genocide memorial during last month’s Commonwealth Summit in Kigali, CBC reported that “more than 800,000 Tutsis lost their lives across the country in the organized campaign that is spread over 100 days. But it is unlikely that there were 800,000 Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994 and no one believes that every Tutsi was killed, as I detailed in the 2017 article “Statistics, fucking lies and the truth about the Rwandan genocide”. (The 1991 census in Rwanda calculated 596,387 Tutsis and a group of Tutsi survivors closely concluded at 400,000 Survived.)

Challenging his misinformation, I tagged CBC story writer Murray Brewster, but he didn’t bother to correct the story. Canadian commentators argue that more Tutsi were killed in the genocide than lived in Rwanda, as this aligns with the interests of Washington, London and Kigali, as well as Canadian liberal nationalist ideology.

As someone who spends hours daily countering “misinformation” about Canadian foreign policy, I find it strange to oppose efforts to combat this scourge. But the current official rhetoric of “misinformation” has largely become a euphemism for protecting the empire and a new image of age-old government-run censorship.


About Author

Comments are closed.