Canada perceived as a totalitarian country in the international complosphere

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Canada perceived as a totalitarian country in the international complosphere

One ​​year after the occupation of Ottawa by Canadians in anger, the idea of ​​a tyrant ruling Canada is more popular than ever internationally in conspiratorial and ultra-conservative circles. A phenomenon that experts explain by the online mobilization of far-right groups and by disinformation.

According to the researcher at the International Center for Counter-Terrorism, Justin Trudeau has become a symbol of totalitarianism “worse than Nazi Germany” in the eyes of the Canadian far right.< /p>

Last week, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who runs one of the most-watched current affairs shows in the United States, raised the idea of ​​sending the U.S. military to Canada to free the country from the grip of the “authoritarian” government of Justin Trudeau.

Why should we let Canada become Cuba? he asked. Why don't we release him? We are spending all this money to liberate Ukraine from the Russians, why don't we send the armed forces north to liberate Canada from Trudeau? I'm serious.

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It was not the first time that Tucker Carlson had described Canada in this way. In fact, the host has repeatedly stated that Canada has become a “dictatorship” in the past year, mostly due to the Trudeau government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the invocation of the Emergency Measures Act to put an end to the “Freedom Convoy” demonstrations, which notably paralyzed the federal capital.

The idea that Canada is a totalitarian state has gained a lot of traction among Canadian opponents of health measures as the pandemic progresses. The rage over these policies was particularly felt throughout the 2021 federal election campaign, during which events involving Justin Trudeau were regularly the scene of anti-health protests.

< p class="e-p">It was, however, the “Freedom Convoy” that allowed this perception to spread overseas, to the point where vaccine-skeptic MEP Mislav Kolakusic argued that Canada was a ” dictatorship of the worst kind” during Justin Trudeau's visit to the European Parliament last year.

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Ahmed Al-Rawi, director of the Disinformation Project at Simon Fraser University, observed that this type of discourse increased after the convoy. This is an idea that is spreading especially in very conservative or far-right groups, so there seems to be an ideological side to it all, he analyzes. On the other hand, Canada is a major exporter of misinformation and disinformation. We have very important actors here, and that also contributes to that.

The professor cites as an example the Canadian conservative media Rebel News, which has more than 1.6 million subscribers on its YouTube channel and attracts a significant international audience. Its founder, Ezra Levant, compared Justin Trudeau's behavior to that of a dictator and called the head of state a tyrant numerous times in the past year, both in columns and in publicationson social networks.

Mr Al-Rawi also identifies Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson as an influential figure on the online right who may have contributed to this perception.

Dr. Peterson was a major supporter of the convoy last year, in addition to being highly critical of the Prime Minister, whom he called an “authoritarian traitor”. “. A true international star, Jordan Peterson has more than 6 million subscribers on YouTube and recently hosted an online show for conservative American outlet The Daily Wire.

Bàrbara Molas is a researcher at the International Counterterrorism Center. She monitors the online activities of numerous extremist groups, and reports that the Canadian Prime Minister has become a symbol of totalitarianism worse than Nazi Germany in the eyes of the Canadian far right.

According to Ms. Molas, it is therefore hardly surprising that he is also so in the eyes of the international far right. The researcher explains that anti-health measures movements and social networks have favored a certain transnationalization of the far right and the discourses conveyed there.

What defines the far right, especially after COVID-19, is an anti-state sentiment and the spread of conspiracy theories that enter into a meta-narrative, a narrative common to all. These conspiracy theories attempt to explain very complex things and global issues in very simplified terms, Molas explains.

This means that different groups in different countries will identify a common cause and a common enemy – for example, the idea that our democratic institutions are controlled by a secret elite. Suddenly, the Netherlands is talking to Great Britain and talking to Canada about whether or not their problems are explained by the same factors, analyzes the researcher.

However, if the Canadian far right demonizes the Prime Minister, his counterparts will do the same.

The far right elsewhere will support Canadians, believe what they say, and say she has the same problem. Among extremist groups, the idea is that the enemy is the same, but the puppets are different, summarizes Bàrbara Molas.

The researcher also specifies that the convoy was not in itself a far-right demonstration, but that it joined the movement just as it did with other anti-sanitary measures demonstrations elsewhere in the country. world.

The “Freedom Convoy” was taken over by the far right, according to Bàrbara Molas.

Tucker Carlson is not alone: ​​in the United States, many influential figures have called Justin Trudeau a dictator for his management of the “Freedom Convoy”.

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The most listened to podcaster in the world, Joe Rogan, for example, claimed that Justin Trudeau is a dictator and a communist. The richest man on the planet, Elon Musk, for his part uploaded a photomontage that compared Trudeau to Adolf Hitler.

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Americans don't talk much about Canada, but the country raises some eyebrows when it deviates too far from American norms, says the director of the Canadian Studies Program at Bridgewater University, Andrew Holman. Trudeau became the target of anger and demonization from right-wing and far-right Americans. He has come to symbolize the kind of leader of a democracy gone wrong. And the fear is that it could happen here.

Mr. Holman also adds that the stricter health measures put in place by some Canadian authorities – the curfew in Quebec, for example – have caused consternation from Americans of all political stripes.

The director general of the University of Ottawa's Information Integrity Laboratory, Serge Blais, also observed that Canada's image has been damaged by the convoy of truckers and the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the professor, some false information that circulated played a certain role in it.

When the police intervened in the convoy, a journalist from Fox News had relayed information that a woman had been trampled by a police horse and that she was dead, but it was false, recalls Mr. Blais.

There is an element of truth in this: the police did indeed arrive with horses, but there was two or three feet of snow on the street and the lady tripped, but she did not die. The false information was picked up in several media, and within hours, the whole world believed that the heavy-handed police intervention had cost the life of a woman, reports t -il.

Police on horseback were deployed in Ottawa during the “Freedom Convoy” protests.

Mr. Blais also mentions the false news that has spread over the course of the pandemic, according to which Canada was building internment camps or concentration camps that would be used to forcibly isolate people infected with COVID-19 who entered the country. However, the camps in question were usually hotels. Other voluntary isolation sites have also been built in Canada so that citizens who so wish can isolate themselves in order to protect vulnerable loved ones.

It was presented as places where people were detained by force, or gulags. That's the kind of little thing, drop by drop, that can undermine a country's reputation or image, he believes.