Source: Dave Chan/AFP

Leaked documents have revealed that the Canadian Armed Forces plan to set up an organization that will psychologically manipulate the Canadian public using high-level propaganda tools. The organization, which calls itself the Defence Strategic Communication group, describes its aim as influencing the “attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of Canadians” in order to push a pro-Government and pro-Military message. 

The documents were obtained by the Ottawa Citizen, and are dated October 2020— precisely after the Armed Forces recorded having spent over $1 million on behaviour modification techniques and training public affairs officers on their use. These are the same techniques used by the parent firm of Cambridge Analytica, the consulting giant which made its name by illegally influencing hundreds of elections worldwide. 

While this organization is still in its formative stages, the Canadian Forces have already begun to use these sorts of tactics. The most recent incident uncovered was on Oct. 14, when it was found that the Forces had their military personnel launch a propaganda campaign in which they forged a letter on behalf of the Nova Scotia government and placed it in residents’ mailboxes—the letter contained a false warning about wolves loose in the province. The operation itself may sound bizarre, but it is far from a joke. This was a test-run of the new skills obtained by the military as it hones its propaganda tactics; and a collaborative effort involving information warfare specialists with the Canadian Army regiment the Halifax Rifles. It even garnered negative attention from a Cambridge Analytica expert who stated that the letter was “way over the top” and called the level of manipulation employed against Canadians “very dangerous”. 

The Defence Strategic Communication group, operating under the leadership of the state’s Armed Forces, describe themselves as aiming to advance “national interests” and name two target audiences in particular: the Canadian public and foreign populations in countries where Canadian military forces are stationed. Their leaked plans appear to be in draft form, but the work is already underway and several aspects have already been tested on Canadians. 

Efforts to mine data from the social media accounts of Canadians were tested earlier this year under the purview of the military intelligence unit. Information was collected from the Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and Instagram accounts of Ontarians. The military officers involved justified this by claiming it was necessary to combat the presence of COVID-19 in care homes. Subsequently, people in the community questioned how this information is relevant to helping care homes, and major concerns were raised regarding why the military turned over this data to the Ford government. 

The motivations driving the high-level propaganda mission became clear in July 2020, when the military described a campaign they were launching that month as “aimed at heading off civil disobedience” from the Canadian public during the coronavirus pandemic. Part of this plan would involve using the social media accounts of select Armed Forces officers to push out pre-approved government and military messages to the public, as well as improving links to key academics willing to use their platforms to create and spread pro-military narratives. 

The Canadian ruling class’ desperate attempts to “head off” the threat of revolution show that they can feel the class struggle fermenting in their backyard, and they rightfully fear it. 

Liberals run scared

The Liberal government has tried to distance itself from what is happening under their leadership, with a spokeswoman for Defence Minister Sajjan—who is at the head of these operations—stating, “No such plan has been approved, nor will it be.” Yet this contradicts actual events. One week prior to the statement from Sajjan’s office, a series of town halls were held for military personnel to discuss how to implement the operations contained in the draft document. This is aside from the fact that many sections of the Canadian Forces’ plan are already underway, and some have already been carried out as trial runs over the past several months.

The role of the Liberals in this highly invasive and manipulative scheme should not be understated. We should recall the Trudeau government’s 2017 defence strategy policy which outlines the need for the Canadian military to become more involved in propaganda and information warfare. It also would not be possible for the military to launch such a campaign without explicit support from the current government. Furthermore, rather than openly condemn these operations, the Liberals have said nothing at all, choosing only to lean on a half-hearted “We didn’t do it” from the Defence Minister’s office as their alibi. Judging by their recent string of scandals, it seems that silence is the go-to tactic for damage control. At any rate, all signs point to guilt. 

An attempt to head off the threat of revolt

If these events show us anything, it’s that the Canadian ruling class is shaking in its boots at the looming threat of revolution. The effects of the COVID-19 crisis have triggered mass unemployment, rising homelessness, and all sorts of devastation in the lives of working people. There is a deep-seated discontent in society waiting to express itself, and it is clear from this PSYOPS attempt that the Trudeau government is well aware of the risk this poses to  the ruling class.

Even in the United States, which has the most powerful military in the world, it is illegal for military forces to conduct spy operations on Americans—the task is instead outsourced to the NSA. The fact that Trudeau’s government would go so far reeks of desperation and shows that they are no friend of the masses. This also exposes the complete lack of democracy. A society in which you are psychologically manipulated by those in power and monitored at every corner is no democracy. 

The state propaganda which spins the story that the armed forces exist to protect the people is exposed point blank when they are caught conducting PSYOPS against the population. This just demonstrates what Marxists have always said about the capitalist state: it exists to protect the ruling class.