Canadian military leaders used pandemic as an ‘opportunity’ to test propaganda techniques on Canadians, Canadian Forces report says

Ottawa Citizen reported that the plan was devised by the Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) and used propaganda techniques similar to those employed during the Afghanistan war in order to “head off civil disobedience by Canadians during the coronavirus pandemic and to bolster government messages about the pandemic.”

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Ottawa Citizen reports that the federal government also never asked for the information operations campaign, and that the cabinet did not authorize the initiative developed during the COVID-19 pandemic by the Canadian Joint Operations Command.

During that period of time, Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau headed the Canadian Joint Operations Command.

Retired Maj.-Gen. Daniel Gosselin investigating the domestic information campaign said in the report that military commanders believed they had the ability to conduct such an operation without getting approval from higher authorities within the government. 

Retired Maj.-Gen. Daniel Gosselin was brought in to investigate how CJOC developed and launched the information propaganda operation without approval.

One of the troubling aspects of the domestic military campaign that began in April 2020 was that it was used against Canadian citizens, in order to “head off civil disobedience by Canadians during the coronavirus pandemic”. 

The Ottawa Citizen, which received the investigation report and other related documents through an Access to Information request, says the domestic campaign called for “shaping” and “exploiting” information to bolster government messages about the pandemic and head off civil disobedience. 

Ottawa Citizen also reported about another domestic campaign conducted by Canadian Forces intelligence officers, which is distinct from the April 2020 CJOC plan. 

The campaign conducted by Canadian Forces intelligence officers “culled information from public social media accounts in Ontario.”

Senior military officers allegedly claimed that “information was needed to ensure the success of Operation Laser, the Canadian Forces mission to help out in long-term care homes hit by COVID-19 and to aid in the distribution of vaccines in some northern communities.

Operation LASER “is the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) response to a worldwide pandemic situation.”, a Canadian government website states.

“Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) leads this operation, and is the command authority for the six standing regional Joint Task Forces, through which CAF support is delivered. They are situated in key locations across the country and provide operational command and control for task forces in and/or deployed to their respective regions.”


Ottawa Citizen also reported that data was obtained on Black Lives Matter gatherings and leaders within the organization of BLM. 

What Retired Maj.-Gen. Daniel Gosselin’s investigation found was troubling and shed light into the “mindset that permeated the thinking at many levels of CJOC.” 

Gosselin’s investigation found that those in command saw the COVID-19 pandemic as a “unique opportunity” to deploy and test out propaganda techniques on the Canadian populace.

Gosselin also found that this wasn’t an isolated belief, but a mindset “permeated the thinking at many levels of CJOC.” 

Gosselin’s report also shed light on the attitude CJOC staff had towards the advice and concerns raised by other military leaders, characterizing the staff as having a “palpable dismissive attitude”.

The report by Gosselin that uncovered the information operations by the CJOC being deployed against Canadians called for a “comprehensive review of Canadian Forces information operations policies and directives, particularly those that may impact any activities for domestic missions.”, Ottawa Citizen reported. 

The CJOC operation that was issued on April 8, 2020, was halted on May 2, 2020, by the former chief of the defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance.

Read the full report from Ottawa Citizen here.

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