This is Canada, which has more tolerance for authoritarian nonsense than Americans, but even so this attitude reflects a culture in the leadership that sees their own people as the enemy. Canadian leftist civilian leaders appointed these people. To their credit they also shut it down, but the fact that they thought they didn’t even need to ask permission to do this is troubling.
Combine what you read below with the fact that Canada uses tax dollars to subsidize and to a great deal control much of their national media and it becomes a threat to informed democratic institutions, the rule of law and the sovereignty of the people.
[Editor’s Note – This piece from the National Post was not well written. It went off into tangents and reads like the copy editor skipped it. We edited it down and the bold emphasis in the story is ours. Feel free to click the link to read the entire story.]
Canadian National Post:
A plan devised by the Canadian Joint Operations Command relied on propaganda techniques similar to those employed during the Afghan war.
Canadian military leaders saw the pandemic as a unique opportunity to test out propaganda techniques on an unsuspecting public, a newly released Canadian Forces report concludes.
The federal government never asked for the so-called information operations campaign, nor did cabinet authorize the initiative developed during the COVID-19 pandemic by the Canadian Joint Operations Command, then headed by Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau.
But military commanders believed they didn’t need to get approval from higher authorities to develop and proceed with their plan, retired Maj.-Gen. Daniel Gosselin, who was brought in to investigate the scheme, concluded in his report.
The plan devised by the Canadian Joint Operations Command, also known as CJOC, relied on propaganda techniques similar to those employed during the Afghanistan war. The campaign called for “shaping” and “exploiting” information. CJOC claimed the information operations scheme was needed to head off civil disobedience by Canadians during the coronavirus pandemic and to bolster government messages about the pandemic.
Gosselin’s investigation discovered the plan wasn’t simply the idea of “passionate” military propaganda specialists, but support for the use of such information operations was “clearly a mindset that permeated the thinking at many levels of CJOC.” Those in the command saw the pandemic as a “unique opportunity” to test out such techniques on Canadians.
The views put forth by Rear Adm. Brian Santarpia, then CJOC’s chief of staff, summed up the command’s attitude, Gosselin noted in his report. “This is really a learning opportunity for all of us and a chance to start getting information operations into our (CAF-DND) routine,” the rear admiral stated.
The command saw the military’s pandemic response “as an opportunity to monitor and collect public information in order to enhance awareness for better command decision making,” Gosselin determined.
Gosselin also pointed out CJOC staff had a “palpable dismissive attitude” toward the advice and concerns raised by other military leaders.
The directive for the propaganda plan was issued by CJOC on April 8, 2020, but it took until May 2 of that year before Vance’s order to shut it down took effect.
Gosselin recommended a comprehensive review of Canadian Forces information operations policies and directives, particularly those that may impact any activities for domestic missions.
There is an ongoing debate inside national defense headquarters in Ottawa about the use of information operations techniques. Some public affairs officers, intelligence specialists and senior planners want to expand the scope of such methods in Canada to allow them to better control and shape government information that the public receives. Others inside headquarters worry that such operations could lead to abuses, including having military staff intentionally mislead the Canadian public or taking measures to target opposition MPs or those who criticize government or military policy.
Last year, the branch launched a controversial plan that would have allowed military public affairs officers to use propaganda to change attitudes and behaviors of Canadians as well as to collect and analyze information from public social media accounts.
The plan would have seen staff move from traditional government methods of communicating with the public to a more aggressive strategy of using information warfare and influence tactics on Canadians. Included among those tactics was the use of friendly defense analysts and retired generals to push military PR messages and to criticize on social media those who raised questions about military spending and accountability.