Senators overwhelmed with emails, calls pushing conspiracy theories over basic income legislation

Members of the Red Chamber have been hit with a flurry of dubious correspondence from Canadians who believe a bill pending in the Senate would take away their pensions and lead to some sort of totalitarian world government.

Tens of thousands of calls, emails and handwritten letters urging senators to oppose Bill S-233 poured into the Red Chamber. The emails – many of which are based on outlandish conspiracy theories – have at times overloaded Senate servers, abruptly interrupting normal workflow.

Bill S-233 calls for the creation of a national “framework” for the federal government to undertake the study of a “guaranteed basic income” program in Canada.

If passed, the one-page bill, introduced by Ontario Senator Kim Pate, would not establish a basic income program in Canada. It would simply require the Department of Finance to study the concept and report its findings.

Under parliamentary rules, a senator cannot propose new spending or tax increases through a Senate public bill like S-233. Moreover, bills of this type – and more generally non-governmental laws – are rarely passed by both houses of Parliament. The federal Liberal government has also been cold to the idea of ​​a basic income program.

Despite these facts, senators are grappling with a well-organized letter-writing campaign by people concerned that passing the bill will somehow lead to real harm, such as the end of Security old age and employment insurance or contributory Canada Pension Plan.

Some of the thousands of letter writers also falsely claim that, if passed, the bill would limit future welfare programs to those vaccinated against COVID-19, or that cigarette smokers would be excluded from the government assistance.

The bill would not make any changes to existing government programs and does not specify who would be eligible if the government implemented a basic income scheme.

Some of the concerns about pensions and income support appear to stem from a tweet by Peter Taras, a former Ontario candidate for the People’s Party of Canada. He told his supporters that, if Bill S-233 passes, “if you are not vaccinated, you will not receive employment insurance, CPP, OHS, social services or pension for which YOU HAVE PAID”.

“Fantastic and False”

This post has been retweeted over 700 times.

Pate told CBC News that the tweet is “absolutely fantastic and untrue” and that people like Taras are “spreading misinformation…that unnecessarily terrifies people that their access to financial support and services they rely on would be terminated”.

She said it was “absolutely not” her intention to end an existing program.

Ontario Senator Kim Pate in 2013. Pate said people had been spreading false information about her bill, S-233, which would prompt the government to study implementing a universal basic income program in Canada. (Colin Perkel/Canadian Press)

“Bill S-233 would not reduce or reduce services or benefits intended to assist individuals with needs related to their health, disability, retirement, etc.” she says.

“The bill proposes to develop a framework for the implementation of a Guaranteed Basic Income, an income support program available to anyone living in poverty in Canada. In my humble opinion, it could be a component of a strong, responsive and comprehensive economic, health and social system. safety net that includes housing, childcare, education, pharmaceuticals, dental and mental health care, as well as programs such as pensions, disability supports and health insurance use. »

Other letter writers took an even darker view of Pate’s push for the government to study a basic income.

Alberta Senator Paula Simons told CBC News she has personally received “thousands and thousands” of emails, letters and phone calls from people who say the bill is some kind of conspiracy by nefarious actors to establish a “new world order” or a system of state surveillance.

Simons said she and other senators struggled to navigate their cluttered inboxes. They had to resort to other email platforms as their email accounts became “functionally useless”, she said. The Alberta senator said her voicemail was always full due to the volume of calls.

Fascists, Soros and cyborgs

Those who contact senators’ offices to oppose S-233 blame the alleged conspiracy to destroy the Canadian way of life on a range of bad actors: fascists, socialists, masons, billionaires like Microsoft founder Bill Gates or l investor George Soros, or World Economic Forum (WEF) chief Klaus Schwab.

Others bizarrely argue that the legislation will lead to “transhumanism” – an alleged plot to turn people into cyborgs.

“This is CANADA…not North Korea, not Russia, you are employees of the people! NOT WEF OR WHO EMPLOYEES,” a correspondent told Simons in a recent email.

“Bill S-233 is just the beginning. We are losing our freedoms to a group of elites who want to depopulate and control humanity, enslave us to experimental transhumanism, and suppress all Christian and pious devotion. “said another.

“No one voted for Nazi Klaus Schwab. No one even knew he existed 2 years ago. He has NOTHING to do with Canada or any other country. Schwab holds a statue of Lenin in his office This is NOT CANADA. NAZI GERMANY. Please see NUREMBERG CODE & TRIALS,” one letter writer said, referring to the WEF founder who has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories since the start of COVID-19. 19.

Independent Alberta Senator Paula Simons gives an interview in a park in Victoria, British Columbia, November 30, 2021. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

On Tuesday, all senators received an email claiming that passing a basic income program would lead to the forced sterilization of people of childbearing age and the extermination of the elderly and disabled.

Simons said countless Canadians have been “manipulated and terrified” into believing “outrageous” conspiracy theories that are patently false.

“Since the end of the trucking convoy, we have been bombarded. There has been a sudden and dramatic increase in letters and many of them are from people who are in a conspiracy theory spiral,” Simons said.

Politicians are used to receiving messages and calls from “sick” people, Simons said, but there is something different about this campaign.

‘COVID has broken a lot of people’

She said the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting public health restrictions have taken their toll on mental health, leading people to believe claims circulating online.

“I really think COVID has broken a lot of people. There’s a real delusional paranoia running through some of these mails. They’re writing to me about it being a eugenics conspiracy, a Masonic conspiracy and at some point you go, ‘OK, it’s really upsetting that people are going after people who are already vulnerable.’ It’s something that happens when people go through manic or schizophrenic episodes.”

Beyond Taras, the failed People’s Party candidate, Simons said it was unclear who was behind efforts to convince people that passing S-233 would have such sweeping consequences.

LifeSite, a social-conservative and anti-abortion website, published an article about the legislation, linking Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to the WEF. This website also quoted former US presidential candidate Ron Paul who claimed that the WEF wanted to introduce global socialism through a universal basic income.

Since posting the LifeSite post, Simons has heard from church and community groups who have sent large batches of form letters.

The WEF, a non-governmental organization that organizes discussions between world leaders and business leaders at an annual summit in Davos, Switzerland, does not dictate what will or will not become law in any country.

The ‘Great Reset’ continues

But Amarnath Amarasingam, a professor at Queen’s University and one of Canada’s leading conspiracy theory researchers, said the WEF is at the center of so many COVID-related conspiracies because in 2020 some of its leaders have talked about a “great reset” after the health crisis – an opportunity to assess the structure of the global economy after grappling with such a devastating pandemic.

Amarasingam said some theorists see Davos as a place where evil elites “plot and basically commit their crimes.”

Protesters hold a banner reading “COVID-19 The Great Reset, Klaus Schwab” – referencing World Economic Forum President Schwab – during a protest against coronavirus restrictions in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on Sunday, May 2 2021. (Peter Dejong/AP Photo)

“Many people believe that sinister elites have fabricated the pandemic to bring about a ‘great reset’ and make humans financially dependent on the government,” he said.

“There are fears that vaccines and a basic income are all part of a grand plan to make us robots, cyborgs who will listen to whatever these billionaire elites tell us to do. will deprive us of financial resources, independence and that this is part of a larger plot hatched by evildoers so that they can eventually have their way with us.”

Amarasingam said there was nothing new about conspiracy theories, but the pandemic had “pushed them into hyperdrive”, fueling a movement of people willing to believe there is a global movement for ” enslave” mankind.

“Closed ecosystems of thought”

A noticeable decline in people’s trust in government, the press, academics and experts and public health authorities has made the situation worse, he said, while the advent of alternative social media platforms like Telegram has made conspiratorial material readily available.

“These alternative platforms have grown insanely. It has created closed thought ecosystems where people only trust what they hear from other people online. They are trapped in their own chamber of echo and they begin to believe that everything on the outside is corrupt. There is a growing proportion of people who simply live in an alternate universe.”

Amarasingam said people in these online forums are largely unaware of how government works — or how a bill is passed through parliament — and these knowledge gaps “are easily filled with fantasy”.

“It’s easy to see a sinister conspiracy when you don’t really understand how government works. These people aren’t civic majors,” he said.