163 Comments

"We must fight back against these scams of disinformation."

Granted, you have described the problem: "deepening divisions and compounding of rage..." but I would like to hear more suggestions about what should be done differently, what the actual cure for the disease would be.

It has to be more than "stop slinging mud". I'm not impressed by the conservative party as being "not this" or "not that". You are correct in observing that this partisanship is causing blindness.

How about acknowledging good policy, or good results, or valid points wherever they exist and begin to show leadership in discussing items of consensus and open discussion? How about publishing results and stages and processes of parliamentary committee work? This would turn the spotlight on key issues that we see consensus building, and also help build a sense that the elected representatives are serious about finding ways forward that will help all Canadians.

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Media and government spread fake claims that the truckers were Nazis, fake claims that cloth masks work, fake claims that lockdowns worked, fake claims that healthy children were at risk from Covid, and fake claims that natural immunity didn't work.

There always were and always will be cranks making wacky claims. If the media made an effort not to lie, the cranks wouldn't be believed.

Worry about the beam in your own eye before complaining about the mote in your neighbour's.

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As a retired reference librarian with an ongoing professional concern for the quality and reliability of information sources, I have to ask how The Line even saw fit to publish this fact-free insult to its readers' intelligence. We don't need "foreign bad actors" to deepen "trust deficits" in Canada; our institutions do a thoroughly competent job of that themselves. If only "half of Canadians believe journalists are purposefully trying to mislead people," and that "media is [are] not objective," you have to wonder what happened to the natural skepticism of the other half. If "three-quarters of Canadians don’t trust the government," that's a testament to their good judgment, not evidence that they've fallen victim to 'disinformation' and conspiracy theories.

Canadians have an impressive degree of literacy, and they put it to use reading books (go to just about any of Toronto's one hundred library branches prior to opening hours and you'll find a line-up of people waiting to get in). They know how to outflank institutional propaganda and don't require a nudge from plotters in Russia or Iran to discern ideological bias in the pages of The Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star. They'd have to have the credulousness of medieval peasants to possess a higher level of trust than they do in would-be social engineers masquerading themselves as journalists, or in a Prime Minister who's so clearly revealed himself as the king of disinformation. The trust deficit Ms. Paradis finds so "staggering" has been well-earned: it's a consequence of institutional incompetence and duplicity, not a consequence of Canadians having been bamboozled by "thought scams" misrepresenting the misbehaviour.

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We all need to be part of the solution regardless of our beliefs. Thank you for this article. The poison that is spreading needs to be stopped and only by lifting our heads out of the muck that is social media and use our rationale thought can this happen.

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I appreciate the perspective. I agree there have been many examples by the right to pass along misinformation - in particular the parked UN planes with reinforcements and the lady that was trampled had died. Egregious.

But other examples cannot be called misinformation (vaccine performance/safety) as a way to make the right seem more sinister. "Conspiracy" theories often start out as "misinformation" and some are eventually revealed as the truth. Let's take a few examples that were called conspiracies by the media and much of the populace:

1) The vaccines are safe with limited side effects. Evidence is emerging that side effect reporting has been suppressed, doctors have been muzzled. Pfizer and CDOA have been suppressing information and the truth is starting to drip the vaccines are not as safe as we are told. Until there is transparency you cannot call these claims conspiracies.

2) 2 years ago some were indicating governments will institute vaxx passports. HMMM.

3) The vaccines are gene therapy. I saw a video from a world health summit last Nov. that is now starting to circulate where the President of Bayer said the "vaccines" are gene therapy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2D5KeniMzjg&ab_channel=derma.

I'd love to see a liberal/NDP columnist write a similar article about all the conspiracies from the left. Actually let's just call them bold faced lies such as:

1) Trudeau: the protestors are racists, white supremacists, misogynists, etc. and the protests were full of nazi and confederate flags. There is evidence a few such flags were flown but if you watched enough video you would see there were hardly any such flags.

2) The Ottawa police chief during the press Saturday press conference said protestors threw bikes at the horses. No video evidence. He went on to say he didn't know the health status of the lady who was trampled ~ 24 hours after the fact. How can he say with a straight face he had no idea what happened to her 24 hours later. This was the most serious injury during the protests. He would have known.

3) Fauci: The vaccines was 100% "efficacious" against spread of COVID. Untrue.

4) CNN: The BLM protests (in Kenosha I believe) are mostly peaceful protests. Meanwhile a building is burning behind the reporter and BLM protestors destroyed the city. Video and reporting was suppressed of significant rioting and violence in other cities as well to support the narrative.

5) Every liberal news channel, President of the United State, sports commentators, etc.: Kyle Rittenhouse is a racist and killed shot/killed the protestors in cold blood. Lie.

6) Joe Rogan used a horse de-wormer to treat COVID. Whether you believe in the effectiveness of Ivermectin or not is one thing. But for the media to call it a horse de-wormer and not tell the full story of its use in humans is total bunk.

I'm not trying to suggest Conservative get a free pass. But it's funny how all the conspiracies/lies are always associated with Conservatives.

The article should be rewritten by the same author providing a balanced POV on the misinformation issue illustrating it's a problem on both sides of the political spectrum. Or they could write the same article and do a find and replace with conservative --> liberal; and then replace every example of misinformation promoted by the right with examples from the left.

Until such time, the writer gets should receive a grade of incomplete with an opportunity for a re-write.

Or The Line should find a Liberal who writes a similar article showing the guilt of the left when it comes to misinformation. I'm not holding my breath.

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I am, unapologetically, a fan of good journalism. I believe we have solid journalists in Canada. There is such a firehouse of information- no individual could possibly factcheck every story. Unlike Mark - I believe most journalists made every effort to represent what they are seeing and hearing.

Are they perfect? Like most of us - not by a long shot. I think Ms. Paradis is correct in stating - Conservatives need to be part of the solution. Part of the solution would be not to engage in media bashing.

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Part of the problem is the absolute hatred of Justin which appears to be driving much of the drivel that passes for facts amongst those not of his persuasion. I cannot stand him either and he should not be PM. But he is PM and is also kept in power by others such as the NDP. Using “alternative facts” to bring him down or blame him for things that are none of his doing eventually backfires. The narrative has to be much more intelligent which means conservative leaders must call out non-factual criticisms of the Govt (any Govt) when they see it — instead of jumping on the bandwagon and then finding that vehicle really has no wheels. But finding out too late in the game, this embarrassing themselves and others following them.

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One of the best things about my The Line subscription is that I get to discover a few Canadian conservatives who are not idiots.

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There has always been propaganda. There always will be. Our job is to ignore it and expose it.

And, if we are really being on our best behaviour, not create our own.

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Mar 8, 2022·edited Mar 8, 2022

It was disheartening to read comments from several subscribers who seem to be content to refute what she wrote by repeating exactly the same lies that the author described in this article (the claims about alleged mainstream news media lies regarding Covid-19 pandemic suppression measures, including vaccines, or refutations of news reporting about the brutal nature of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, or claims that it was undertaken "in self-defence").

We were even retreated to "whataboutism" ("what about the Liberals and all the things they do"). I would note that Kremlin and pro-Xi Jinping trolls are infamous for resorting to such tactics... whatever they think works, I guess.

In every case, these perspectives seem to be based on a credulous acceptance of misinformation and driven, it would seem, by rage because of changes in society and government that such subscribers do not wish to see.

As sad as it makes me to say this, if self-described Conservatives do not push out such people, the party will be hard-pressed to win enough seats to secure control of the House of Commons during the next federal election.

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And one of the major spreaders of misleading information is the leading candidate to be the next leader of the Conservative party.

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"Justin Trudeau says — a “fringe minority” with “unacceptable views” — and intentionally exploit that for political gain. Should he say those things? No. Are we helping the situation? Also no." So what are you really recommending? Trudeau should behave better and if he doesn't that's ok? We should just trust the government? We don't need to know why Chinese scientists were kicked out of the country? We should trust the press? They have no agenda?

We all know that there is a lack of trust. Trust is something that is earned over time by being as truthful and possible and honestly acknowledging mistakes. Something that is lacking in our institutions. Your article is dreadfully short on action items to fix the situation. But thanks for telling us stuff we already know -- after all, that's why most of us are reading this on substack.

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Mar 8, 2022·edited Mar 8, 2022

A badly-needed article, and they have to come from the conservative side; it's not like somebody who can admit to having voted Liberal/NDP/Green (60% of us) can tell them anything, without it being discarded. As coming from the desk of George Soros, in some cases.

The author is paying attention to surveys, not to behaviour. The surveys measure people's suspicion of those working for institutions; but their behaviour indicates their ongoing trust in the actual institutions themselves.

Example: many may express distrust in the police, concern over their many scandals, and go to a BLM march, show support. But we didn't even really discuss "defund the police".

Example: on the day that the anti-vaxxer protesters hit Ottawa, their numbers were at their highest, "8000 to 10,000". Call it 10,000. ELEVEN thousand Canadians took their first vaccination that day. 29,000 stepped up to another day of discomfort to reach full vaccination. And 50,000 sucked up those aches and fevers a third time to get boosted.

Vastly more Canadians have trust in our medical system than do not.

Which is why we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, and one of the lowest death-rates in the pandemic - more trust and rules-acceptance than Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Israel.

There is a lot out there to work with, at healing those who've been infected. A lot of them have concerned family and friends.

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Mar 8, 2022·edited Mar 8, 2022

I'm impressed with the intelligence, depth of knowledge and communication skills of most people commenting on and those posting commentaries on The Line. I agree with others that Melanie's article missed the mark in providing a high level of analysis. I barely follow legacy media now, as I find far better informed, more detail and superior context from people (professors, journalists, scientists, historians, philosophers, etc. ) posting on YouTube. I look forward to the day Justin Trudeau is no longer our PM, but I don't have any faith our other political leaders will do a better job.

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This article is vauge to the point that I'm not sure I understand what is being argued against and what is being proposed.

I see the point that state-sponsored disinformation is bad and that social media serves to amplify this, but I see no tangible ideas on what can be done or what I could expect others to do. I also don’t have much faith that calls for better conduct to those creating disinformation, social media companies or politicians will have any effect.

There is a fundamental difference between a classic confidence scam like the Nigerian Prince or Tinder Swindler and the “scams of disinformation.” A classic confidence scam takes money from its victims, and we can almost all see that and recognize it as bad. A scam of disinformation takes (or introduces) something intangible, and that thing is much more difficult of for us to identify or to understand its impacts.

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Wow - this comment thread speaks to the need for your article. Well done - great piece.

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