There is often a longing for the good old days when even the conspiracy theories seemed simpler–those never ending cover up theories such as the capture of aliens and Roswell UFO’s, or the Kennedy assassination from the grassy knoll. All throwbacks to a simpler age. Some were tenable, but running counter to them was this belief that somehow the government wouldn’t lie to you or be able to cover up any of the outrageous allegations. Now, in this age of instant communication, plotted and sinister theories relentlessly bounce off our brains, coming at us from both the right and the left in the world wide broadband. Outrage and accusations quickly follow, oozing out of the dark holes of Instagram and Facebook, twitching the nerves of the unsuspecting and unquestioning.
The problem with all conspiracy theories of course is that they almost always have at their foundation in the obvious need for several people, if not hundreds of people, to be willing to share and thus be complicit in the conspiracy. One needed hundreds of people all sworn to never reveal the innermost secrets that are central to any alleged plot. And that, is where virtually all conspiracy theories fall apart. Humans, being human, can not effectively keep secrets.
Covid has proved fertile ground for conspiracy theories mainly emanating from those opposed to the double shot in the arm. The root of opposition is a distrust, an exponentially growing distrust of government in any form or political inclination. Objectively, one should at least be able to understand this wariness in the government being able to govern, let alone dictate where you can go, what you can do, and as they are now doing, to take command of your personal physical health. We may come to regret the Charter of Rights being ignored with abandon, but that is another topic for another time.
The anti-vaxxers are being described as the seeds of satan–selfish, ignorant, unwashed, and endangering the rest of us who are on the righteous end of the argument. The media and government messaging has been constant, but mixed, at times even contradictory. All of which gives further rise to the non-believers. But, for the most part the majority of Canadians simply dismiss this fringe group of the discontented as not worthy of consideration, beneath our contempt. Up to now, there has been whole hearted support for the governments of the day who are with grim faced determination are setting out to conquer those damnable anti-vaccine fiends. The un-questioning media gladly plays to the fears of the vast majority of Canadians, continually searching for the anti-vaxxer now providing dying declarations from a hospital bed.
However, a recent story, uncovered by the Ottawa Citizen newspaper; through Freedom of information sources, and authored by David Pugliese should give everyone pause. It would seem that those who saw the vaccine as some form of government conspiracy aimed at controlling both the message and its use may have just gained an extraordinary admission from the government.
This story should make everyone shudder and view any and all messaging from the government with a heavily jaundiced eye. It turns out that the year 1984, the year enshrined by George Orwell in describing his dystopian universe is now upon us –thanks to an unchecked, unguided, and unglued Canadian Armed Forces.
We have now learned that there was a group in the high levels of the military, our very own Canadian Armed Forces, who thought that the Covid scare would be a “unique opportunity to test out propaganda techniques on an unsuspecting public”. The Canadian public to whom they are sworn to serve were to be targeted by the Canadian military, in particular, their “Information Operations” group. This Orwellian titled group is part of the Canadian Joint Operations Command –headed by Lt. General Mike Rouleau.
These information “techniques” apparently were “similar to those employed during the war in Afghanistan”. In essence the Canadian public would be targeted like they had the Taliban.
The senior military leaders astonishingly did not feel any twinge of guilt once outed, that the targeting of Canadians was out of the norm and furthermore they “didn’t believe they needed to get approval for this operation”. The specific goal was to “head off civil disobedience by Canadians during the coronavirus pandemic” and to “bolster government messages about the pandemic”. The pandemic to these intelligence strategists, was a “unique opportunity to test out such techniques on Canadians”.
Rear Admiral Brian Santarpia, Chief of Staff for the CJOC, echoed the beliefs of this group and felt that this was a good “learning opportunity and a chance to start getting information operations into our routine”.
These tactics were going to be done in support of “Operation Laser”. Operation Laser was where members of the Armed Forces were helping out at “long term care homes” and were directing the “distribution of vaccine” to the northern communities. Not even a military operation in the classic sense.
This Orwellian plan only lasted about a month because thankfully some saner heads inside the Department of Defence began questioning both the ethics and legality of this operation. They managed to catch the ear of Staff General Jon Vance who promptly shut it down, clearly recognizing the political minefield he was being handed.
Vance then directed Major General Daniel Gosselin to look into the matter and it is Gosselin’s eventual report which was the source of this news story.
It doesn’t stop there. The report also uncovered a second separate initiative, which was not linked to the CJOC but was overseen by Canadian Forces “intelligence officers”. As part of this separate initiative they began to gather “culled information from public social media accounts in Ontario and were gathering information on the Black Lives Matter gatherings and on their leaders.” Targeting the BLM group has since made many in that group legitimately wonder what could be the possible connection to the distribution of vaccine.
According to Gosselin’s report “support for the use of such information operations was clearly a mindset that permeated the thinking at many levels of CJOC”. He went further saying that some inside the Department of National Defence “want to expand the scope of such methods in Canada and allow them to better control and shape government information that the public receives.”
There were other DND attempts.
In September 2020 military operations “forged a letter from the Nova Scotia government warning about wolves on the loose in a particular area of the Province”. But, the ineptness of the military shone through. The letter leaked out to the general public, causing alarm in parts of the Province. In apportioning blame the Armed Forces said it was done by some “reservists” who “lacked formal training and policies governing the use of propaganda techniques”.
Also in 2020 a plan was launched to allow “military public affairs officers” to use “propaganda” to “change attitudes and behaviours of Canadians” and to “collect and analyze public social media accounts to move to a more aggressive strategy” of using information “warfare” and “influence tactics on Canadians”.
How were they to do this? One of their techniques was to use “friendly defence analysts and retired generals” to push military public relations and to “criticize on social media those who raised questions about military spending and accountability”.
The DND also has spent $1million to train public relations officers on “behaviour modification techniques” –similar to those used by Cambridge Analytica. This was shut down when the Ottawa Citizen revealed details of this plan in November 2020.
After all these revelations, one would think that there would be some government blowback. The DND Deputy Minister admitted that “various propaganda initiatives had gotten out of control”. Not that they were wrong, but just that they got a little “out of control”. Acting Chief of Defence Staff said that “insular mindsets at various echelons” had gone outside of the lines, not that this was wrong, but that they had done it “without explicit” Deputy Minister “direction or authority”.
This is perplexing and alarming on a couple of levels.
The defence department has been in a flat spin for the last 30 years. (There are remarkable parallels to the current state of the RCMP) They have under-resourced and under manned this group charged with the defence of this country to the point that the navy, air force and army are only shadows of their former selves. They have reached an embarassing level of capability in the eyes of the world, all while our Prime Minister was vying for a seat at the big boys table at the U.N. Security council.
The members of the Armed Forces have been relegated to sand bagging in times of a flood, or caring for the elderly in the nursing homes. The distribution of vaccine was the latest excursion into the domestic world, far from anything considered “military.
To trust this group with a nuanced intelligence initiative seems at best ill thought out and foolhardy.
In the last few months we have been witnessing a string of leaders in the DND being named– and then their candidate choices quickly being withdrawn over another allegation of sexual impropriety. This intelligence group is apparently not capable of basic security checks.
This very fragile group of military executives, military game players, decided that they needed to use Canadians as a training exercise. This level of stupidity is hard to fathom yet no one has lost their job.
On another level, the mainstream media for the most part is staying away and staying silent about this story. A Federal government department charged with safeguarding Canadians is instead targeting Canadians and trying to manipulate and control information to the public.
The media silence is deafening, but that is probably just another unfounded conspiracy theory.
“the further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it” -George Orwell.
Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons and PhotographyMontreal- Some Rights Reserved