Conspiracy theories have been around since long before the internet provided an omnipresent forum for them. Who killed JFK? Aliens in Roswell! Paul is dead! Elvis Lives!
The list is long and generally pretty tawdry.
Whether spread on social media, via tabloid publications or through old-school gossip, such theories range in societal impact from harmless diversions like the Roswell chatter to dangerous misinformation about the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
One place we shouldn’t expect to see them spread is through our own channels of government.
Unfortunately, two examples of elected officials bringing conspiratorial drivel to the legislature have occurred in recent weeks.
On Oct. 7 independent MPP Randy Hillier asked in the provincial legislature “if people should prepare for internment camps.”
Hillier was referencing a federal government RFP asking for proposals for new quarantine sites similar to those already operated by the government to offer self-isolation locations to those who need it.
Such facilities are used, on a voluntary basis it should be noted, by people arriving in Canada from outside the country who need to isolate or residents who test positive but find self-isolating at home a challenge.
With Facebook pages and Twitter feeds all over cyberspace already fear-mongering about internment camps, the public push from Hillier was hardly helpful and was soon being cited on websites known to propagate viewpoints on the wilder side.
It reached the point Health Minister Patty Hajdu actually had to issue a statement indicating Canadians will not be forced into COVID-19 internment or containment camps.
More recently, federal Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre launched a “Stop the Great Reset” effort, which corresponds with an ongoing effort by social media practitioners to stretch a grain of truth into a global conspiracy.
Yes, a think-tank known as the World Economic Forum has been promoting discussion of the idea that, with the pandemic exposing social issues and inequities previously largely ignored, the recovery period would be a good time to address some of these matters. You can learn about it on their website.
Or you could listen to Poilievre rant about “global financial elites” seizing power through a nefarious means.
It’s fair enough to debate whether such a reset is a good idea at this particular time, or ever, but to whip up panic in the populace to play to a particular base is unbecoming of an MP. In fact, it sounds kind of Trumpian.
Which brings us to the fact, according to a recent Angus-Reid poll, one in five Canadians apparently agree with U.S. President Donald Trump’s assertion that the election he lost was unfair.
If 20 per cent of Canadians are falling for the obvious chicanery being pedalled down south by Trump, Rudy Giuliani and their ilk, it’s disconcerting to think that elected officials here are looking to take advantage of our most gullible citizens for political purposes.