The headline reads: Senators overwhelmed by emails, calls pushing conspiracy theories about basic income legislation
I’d like to take a closer look at this article, written for the government-funded CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) by a skillful journalist named John Paul Tasker.
First of all, to Tasker, why the attack on people who don’t want Universal Basic Income? Can we not all have our individual opinion?
To call thousands of people you have never met conspiracy theorists and then go to the further extreme of labeling them as mentally unstable (a reference in the article that compares letter writers to people who go through manic and schizophrenic episodes) is really not appropriate. An individual assessment is required by a psychiatrist or psychologist before such a life-altering diagnosis. Otherwise it could be considered slander. I might add that groups of people are not mentally unstable just because they disagree with, or do not fully comprehend, the actions the government is taking.
If the government wants to do a “study” it is because the matter is being seriously considered. Studies generally lead in a certain direction. And let’s remember the cost of these studies generally runs in the millions of dollars. So, if the government is not considering a basic income then scrap the study. But, as with the truckers protest, we can now expect the government to become obstinate. Because the protesters have to be wrong.
Some people got wind of this and didn’t like it and found their voice. It’s so much more convenient if nobody makes a fuss about what the government is doing, but unfortunately actions of the government affect us all. And fortunately we have a voice. Or so we have thought was the meaning of democracy—representative rule by the people. The idea of representing the people is falling out of fashion, however, and along with it democracy.
What is really scary for the government and the CBC is finding out that a “fringe minority” might be a bit more than a fringe. So, as a mechanism of defence it become necessary to find a way to discredit those who disagree. Make them look like de-ranged crazies. This is a particular skill of the CBC–character assassination. Read the sub-heading: “Red Chamber grappling with a flood of messages claiming basic income is a plot by a shadowy global elite.” How could anyone possibly think that our government or global elites are “plotting” anything?
Of course basic income is not a plot. It is a plan. Am I right about that?
And then we have a photo, in the article, of COVID-19 protesters, dated back to December 20, 2020 with a caption stating “One protester holds a sign referring to the ‘Great Rest’ conspiracy theory.” This refers to the book written in 2020 by Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, entitled, COVID-19: The Great Reset, in which he talks about COVID-19 presenting an “opportunity” for a global reset. We have heard from Premier Jason Kenney that every premier in Canada received the book. I don’t exactly see how this fact qualifies as a conspiracy theory. However it could validates some of the fears expressed.
The author seems to dig himself deeper and deeper into the mire and anther example is a reference to LifeSite news, a conservative, Catholic news site, which, according to the CBC must not be believed, but none-the-less states exactly what we can find on the World Economic Forum’s website: LifeSite, a social conservative, anti-abortion website, has published a post on the legislation, linking Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland with the WEF. The WEF website states at the end of a lengthy bio that Freeland is “a member of the Forum’s Board of Trustees.” Let’s just add that there are more sources for information besides the CBC.
I recently did an article on my discovery of the WEF as a result of hearing Prime Minister Trudeau’s half-brother Kyle Kemper tell that Klaus Schwab is proud to call Trudeau his protege. There is video footage to support this. It’s not a big leap from there to imagine that this group of global elites—for that is what they are—might want to influence governments world-wide. Especially when you hear Klaus Schwab brag about infiltrating governments with young leaders.
And as to the assurance of Kim Pate, Ontario MP who introduced the bill, that there would “absolutely not” be any clawing back of existing EI or Pensions, well, it is difficult to be reassured when in BC we were told we would absolutely not have vaccine mandates.
OK, I know that some are taking this a step towards basic income further than might be warranted, but they are afraid. They are afraid because we have had some pretty scary things happen in Canada. Our freedoms have been trampled on. You might have your bank account frozen if you support those who disagree with the government. You might be given a court order that disallows you to speak against the government or its mandates. And if we were to become dependent on a basic income then the government might one day decide to withhold funds because of such a thing as not getting a vaccine. See: National Post: Unvaccinated workers who lose jobs ineligible for EI benefits, minister says.
Klaus Schwab is famously known for saying, “You will own nothing and be happy.” Who is he talking about? What is he implying? A socialist form of government, maybe? You may want to check out his father Eugen Wilhelm Schwab, and also Freeland’s maternal grandfather, Michael Chomiak both of whom have Nazi ties. The WEF is an essential part of the UN and it cannot be denied that the UN has already influenced our public education, our climate change policy and our aboriginal treaty rights for better or for worse. The latter is being tested in courts.
I want to add that we may indeed be near the point of requiring a “guaranteed livable basic income” due to astronomical rising inflation. But CERB has shown us that an income supplement can be a disincentive to work. It also puts more money into the hands of drug dealers and increases overdose fatalities.
We know that home ownership in parts of Canada is already out of reach for a dual income family. Meanwhile large corporations like Blackstone, with huge buying power, are snapping up homes at an unprecedented rate and turning them into rentals in North America. See here and here.
These people sending letters are not all “crazies.” Some are actually very well informed. It turns out that much of what is being expressed is based on facts that are significant, especially in light of recent events. They consider the government and some news organizations as not completely forthcoming with the truth, I might add.
I think there is a better way of addressing the issue than continuing to aggravate people. It is true that some have been “broken” by covid. A few are believing clear fallacies. The first step towards helping people is validating their fear. Do we want to help these people or further alienate them?
For the CBC to print an article like this is only going to fan the flames. I’m surprised they don’t see that, unless it is their intent. Their descriptive of the people who wrote the letters is not too far from the truth about the CBC as well, “They’re trapped in their own echo chamber and they start to believe that everything outside of it is corrupted.”
See the article below.
Senators overwhelmed by emails, calls pushing conspiracy theories about basic income legislation
Red Chamber grappling with a flood of messages claiming basic income is a plot by a shadowy global elite
John Paul Tasker · CBC News · Posted: Mar 31, 2022 1:19 PM ET | Last Updated: 7 hours ago
People participate in a demonstration in Montreal protesting measures implemented by the Quebec government to help stop the spread of COVID-19 on Dec. 20, 2020. One protester holds a sign referring to the ‘Great Reset’ conspiracy theory. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)
Members of the Red Chamber have been hit by a wave of questionable correspondence from Canadians convinced that a pending Senate bill would take away their pensions and lead to some sort of totalitarian world government.
Tens of thousands of calls, emails and handwritten letters urging senators to oppose Bill S-233 have flooded into the Red Chamber. The emails — many of them based on outlandish conspiracy theories — have at times overloaded the Senate’s servers, bringing the normal workflow to a grinding halt.
Bill S-233 calls for the creation of a national “framework” to allow the federal government to begin studying a “guaranteed livable basic income” program in Canada.
If passed, the one-page bill, which was introduced by Ontario Sen. Kim Pate, would not establish a basic income program in Canada. It would simply compel the Department of Finance to study the concept and report its findings.
Under parliamentary rules, a senator cannot propose any new spending or tax increases through a Senate public bill like S-233. Moreover, bills of this sort — and non-government legislation more generally — rarely pass through both houses of Parliament into law. The federal Liberal government has also been cool to the idea of a basic income program.
Despite those facts, senators are grappling with a well-organized letter-writing campaign driven by people worried that the bill’s passage will somehow result in real harms, like an end to Old Age Security and Employment Insurance or the contributory Canada Pension Plan.
Some of the thousands of letter-writers also falsely claim that, if passed, the bill would limit future social welfare programs to people vaccinated against COVID-19, or that cigarette smokers will be barred from government assistance.
The bill would not make any changes to existing government programs and does not stipulate who would qualify if the government were to implement a basic income scheme.
Some of the concern about pensions and income support seems to stem from a tweet by Peter Taras, a former Ontario candidate for the People’s Party of Canada. He told his followers that, if Bill S-233 passes, “if you are not vaccinated you will not receive EI, CPP, OHS, Social Services or Pension that YOU PAID INTO.”
‘Fantastical and untrue’
That message has been retweeted more than 700 times.
Pate told CBC News that the tweet is “absolutely fantastical and untrue” and people like Taras are “spreading misinformation … that unnecessarily terrifies people by telling them their access to financial support and services upon which they rely would be terminated.”
She said it is “absolutely not” her intention to wind up any existing program.
Ontario Sen. Kim Pate in 2013. Pate said people have been spreading misinformation about her bill, S-233, which would prompt the government to study implementing a universal basic income program in Canada. (Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press)
“Bill S-233 would not claw back or reduce services or benefits meant to assist individuals with needs relating to their health, disability, retirement, etc.” she said.
“The bill proposes developing a framework for implementing guaranteed livable basic income, an income support program available to anyone living in poverty in Canada. In my humble opinion, it could form one component of a robust, responsive, and comprehensive economic, health and social safety net that includes housing, child care, education, pharma, dental and mental health care, as well as programs like pensions, disability supports and EI.”
Other letter-writers took an even darker view of Pate’s push to have the government study a basic income.
Alberta Sen. Paula Simons told CBC News she has personally received “thousands and thousands” of emails, letters and phone calls from people who say the bill is some sort of plot by nefarious actors to establish a “new world order” or a system of state surveillance.
Simons said she and other senators have had trouble navigating through their clogged inboxes. They’ve had to resort to other messaging platforms because their email accounts have become “functionally useless,” she said. The Alberta senator said her voicemail is always full because of the sheer volume of calls.
Fascists, Soros and cyborgs
Those contacting senators’ offices to oppose S-233 blame the purported conspiracy to destroy the Canadian way of life on a range of bad actors: fascists, socialists, the Masons, billionaires like Microsoft founder Bill Gates or investor George Soros, or World Economic Forum (WEF) head Klaus Schwab.
Others bizarrely maintain the legislation will lead to “transhumanism” — an alleged plot to turn people into cyborgs.
“This is CANADA . . . not North Korea, not Russia, you are employees of the people! NOT EMPLOYEES OF THE WEF OR THE WHO,” one correspondent told Simons in a recent email.
“Bill S-233 is just the beginning. We are losing our freedoms to a group of elites that want to depopulate and control mankind, enslave us to experimental transhumanism, and the removal of any Christian and Godly devotions,” said another.
“Nobody voted for Nazi Klaus Schwab. Nobody even knew he existed 2 years ago. He has NOTHING to do with Canada or any other country. Schwab holds a statue of Lenin in his office! This is NOT CANADA. We are NOT going BACK to NAZI GERMANY. Please see NUREMBERG CODE & TRIALS,” said one letter-writer, referring to the WEF founder who has been the subject of many conspiracy theories since the onset of COVID-19.
Alberta Independent Sen. Paula Simons gives an interview in a park in Victoria, B.C. on Nov. 30, 2021. (Mike McArthur/CBC)
On Tuesday, all senators got an email that claimed the adoption of a basic income program would lead to the forced sterilization of people of child-bearing age and the extermination of the elderly and the disabled.
Simons said an untold number of Canadians have been “manipulated and terrified” into believing “outrageous” conspiracy theories that are patently false.
“Since the trucker convoy ended we’ve been bombarded. There’s been just a really sudden, dramatic spike in letters and many of them are from people who are deep into a conspiracy theory spiral,” Simons said.
Politicians are used to getting messages and calls from people who are “unwell,” Simons said, but there’s something different about this campaign.
‘COVID has broken a lot of people’
She said the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting public health restrictions have wreaked havoc on mental health, priming people to believe claims circulating online.
“I really do think COVID has broken a lot of people. There is a real delusional paranoia that runs through some of this mail. They’re writing to me about how this is a eugenics plot, a Masonic plot and at some point you go, ‘OK, this is really upsetting that people are preying on people who are already vulnerable.’ This is a thing that happens when people go through manic or schizophrenic episodes.”
Beyond Taras, the failed People’s Party candidate, Simons said it’s not clear who’s behind the effort to convince people that S-233’s passage would have such sweeping consequences.
LifeSite, a social conservative, anti-abortion website, has published a post on the legislation, linking Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland with the WEF. That website also quoted former U.S. presidential candidate Ron Paul who has claimed that the WEF wants to introduce global socialism through a universal basic income.
Since the LifeSite post was published, Simons has heard from church and community groups that have sent in large batches of form letters.
The WEF, a non-governmental organization that hosts discussions between world and business leaders at an annual summit in Davos, Switzerland, does not dictate what will or will not become law in any country.
The ‘great reset’ lives on
But Amarnath Amarasingam, a professor at Queen’s University, and one of Canada’s leading researchers on conspiracy theories, said the WEF is at the centre of so many COVID-related conspiracies because, in 2020, some its leaders talked about a “great reset” after the health crisis — a chance to evaluate how the global economy is structured after grappling with such a devastating pandemic.
Amarasingam said some theorists see Davos as a place where evil elites “basically do their plotting and their criming.”
Protestors hold a banner reading “COVID-19 The Great Reset, Klaus Schwab” — referring to World Economic Forum chairman Schwab — during a demonstration against coronavirus-related restrictions in Amsterdam on May 2, 2021. (Peter Dejong/AP Photo)
“A lot of people think sinister elites manufactured the pandemic to bring about a ‘great reset,’ and make humans financially dependent on the government,” he said.
“There is a concern that the vaccines and a basic income are all woven into a grand plan to basically make us robots, cyborgs that will listen to anything these billionaire elites tell us to do. They think programs like a basic income will take away financial independence and that that’s part of a broader plot by evil-doers so that they can eventually have their way with us.”
Amarasingam said there’s nothing new about conspiracy theories but the pandemic has “pushed them into hyperdrive,” fuelling a movement of people willing to believe there’s a global movement to “enslave” humanity.
‘Closed ecosystems of thought’
A noted decline in people’s trust in government, the press, academics and experts and public health authorities has made the situation worse, he said, while the advent of alternative social media platforms like Telegram has made conspiratorial material readily available.
“These alternative platforms have seen insane growth. It’s created closed ecosystems of thought where people only trust what they hear from other people online. They’re trapped in their own echo chamber and they start to believe that everything outside of it is corrupted. There’s a growing proportion of people who just live in an alternative universe.”
Amarasingam said people in these online forums are largely unaware of how the government operates — or how a bill is passed through Parliament — and those knowledge gaps “are easily filled with fantasy.”
“It’s easy to see a sinister plot when you don’t actually understand how the government works. These people aren’t civics majors,” he said.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Paul Tasker
J.P. Tasker is a senior writer in the CBC’s parliamentary bureau in Ottawa. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow J.P. on Twitter
CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices|About CBC News
Report Typo or Error|Corrections and Clarifications
Your weekly guide to what you need to know about federal politics and the minority Liberal government. Get the latest news and sharp analysis delivered to your inbox every Sunday morning.