Myself and three political science professors were on a panel the day after the midterms to discuss what had occurred. There were still some positions which were too early to decide, but we attempted to understand the lead up to the election and the vote itself, through a polling, foreign relations, extremist, and gender lens.
The inquiry into the use of the Emergency Act continued today with three leaders of the convoy. Today’s testimony was of interest because the founder of Canada Unity James Bauder and Tamara Lich, the name associated with the GoFundMe accounts for the convoy testified. There has been a consistent theme of victimhood from each of the presenters, a denial of extremism, and claims of vast changes of perspective. Most of the testimony states there was little to no knowledge about the MOU, or the extremist hate speech, and threats.
What is fascinating is the pulpit the Inquiry is providing for the spreading of distrust, fear, conspiracy, and disinformation in the testimony of the leaders. It would appear the opportunity they were seeking to express their beliefs has come to fruition. The responses of supporters of the convoy on Twitter and Telegram are cheering these individuals on and it is reinforcing their stance. The truth is distrust in institutions (media, government) is not going to dissipate instantly, and we, as a society, need to be aware and vigilant as this could impact our democracy.
Leaders and organizers of the freedom convoy will be providing testimony all this week at the Emergency Act Inquiry. Today was the first day of testimony with three of the leaders/organizers. Throughout their time on the stand each of them continued to blame legacy media, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, all while positioning themselves as both victims of the COVID19 mandates and as heroes who were loved by all Canadians. When asked about extremists within their ranks, the word “inclusive” was raised, while claiming they needed the support of those who were there even though their ideologies were violent or hate based. The distrust of institutions, notions of fear, and reliance on conspiracy theories were centre stage.
Pastor Artur Pawlowski went viral with his encounter with police officers in Calgary who were shutting down his church services during the Covid mandates, when he yelled “Get Out Nazis!” Pawlowski soon became a religious leader of the convoys in Canada who occupied the Coutts Alberta border crossing, a popular guest on Alex Jones’ InfoWars, and tours across America with preachers calling for a Christian nationalism to rise up in North America. Dr. Randi Warne and I researched the transnational Christian and conspiracy based movement that calls for a government by the people, for the people, and with God in the middle, that uses fear, apocalyptism, and conspiracy to mobilize.
The Great Replacement is a conspiracy theory that began in Europe, and spread to North America via books written by French authors, Camus and Raspail. The conspiracy believes that through immigration policies white people will be replaced, and has been the inspiration for acts of violence, including the Buffalo shooter and Christchurch.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Polivere, was using the hashtag #MGTOW on his YouTube videos. The hashtag is used by those in the Men Going Their Own Way component of the manosphere, and represents those who wish to separate from women in society. The highly misogynistic group share the “manosphere” online with Incels, and MRA’s. While sharing online communities, MGTOW are a separate group from Incels.
News about podcasts and the spread of disinformation or conspiracy theories has been the topic of conversation for many. Yet, how prevalent are the podcasts that actively engage in this type of programming, and how do we as a global community deal with these issues with free speech? This is not a topic that can easily be addressed but it is something that we need to engage with and find a solution to.
The self-proclaimed Queen of Canada, Romana Didulo and her followers have leapt from the online world of social media, to the streets of Peterborough, Ontario. A small number of her followers initially gathered outside the police station in the small city, on a mission to conduct citizen arrests for espionage, treason, and genocide. They believe that institutions such as health care, police, military, politicians, and academics have created a genocide with vaccines against COVID19. Three of her followers were arrested. Further citizen arrests of police officers have been held in other cities across Canada, but what does this all mean?
Are podcasts a conduit to the spreading of mis or disinformation? Podcasts are not as moderated as social media platforms, and many ideas can be spread under the radar. We saw this with my conference presentation on Seeping Hate, while individuals are deplatformed, their podcasts are often not. This allows the messages and ideologies to be spread, which are far more powerful than the individual’s social media account.