The Inquiry into the use of the Emergency Act during the “freedom convoys” addressed some of the issues of disinformation/conspiracy but it also provided an audience for additional disinformation to spread. Conspiracy theories and disinformation spread on social media platforms before, during, and after the convoys, and the level of distrust supporters have towards the institutions of society is not going to simply disappear. This is an issue that we as a global community need to address.
Chris Cotter, Ting Guo, and myself discussed the passing of the Queen of England and mourning in Hong Kong, then the conspiracy theories with the self titled Queen of Canada, Romana Didulo, Iranian protests and the mandatory Hijab, and finally religion and spirituality in mental health surveys. A great conversation with two very intelligent and humourous academics.
I will be a keynote speaker at the Annual Secular Arizona Summit on December 10, 2022. I will be addressing the role of conspiracy theories and Christian Nationalism on American politics. Registration is required.
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.