A senior official with the World Economic Forum says Canada should be talking about more important things than conspiracy theories targeting his organization.
Adrian Monck, managing director of the WEF, also argues that politicians espousing those theories should ask themselves whether they’re spreading disinformation coming from bad actors.
“Canada should be talking about a lot of things right now. It shouldn’t really be talking about the World Economic Forum based here in Geneva,” Monck told CBC Radio’s The House in an interview airing Saturday. “You know, there are bigger issues, really, for it to be thinking about.”
In the course of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the WEF has become a popular target for conspiracy theorists.
These opinion pieces represent two of a number of diverse viewpoints the WEF commissions and publishes, Monck said.
The “great reset” has since morphed into a conspiracy theory claiming that a cabal of global elites is planning to remake society to eliminate private property and impose an authoritarian global government.
Monck said the “great reset” is really just an idea that grew out of the pandemic, when world governments were pouring billions of dollars into keeping the economy afloat.
“The idea was that we should also try and suggest to people that they think about spending it on the kind of long-term things that would aid climate change combating, that would help jobs re-skilling and all the kinds of bigger, long-term challenges,” he told Catherine Cullen, host of CBC Radio’s The House.
“One of the things our organization tries to do is say to people, ‘Look beyond the one week, three months and think about maybe some of the longer term things you could be doing.’ That was what the great reset was aimed to do back in the summer of 2020.”
Some Conservative MPs have been accused of spreading anti-WEF conspiracy theories. After Conservative MP Colin Carrie told the House of Commons in February that the WEF had “penetrated more than half of Canada’s cabinet,” he was accused of spreading disinformation by the NDP’s Charlie Angus.
“Concerns about ‘the great reset,’ the World Economic Forum and the apparent plan to turn Canada into a communist state is one of the underlying conspiracy theories that motivated some of the protesters who have participated in the truckers protest recently disbanded in Ottawa,” she wrote. “It is an increasingly mainstream assumption in Conservative circles.”
Monck said that, during the pandemic, the WEF became aware that it was being targeted by state-sponsored disinformation campaigns. He said the false conspiracy theory about the WEF pursuing a ‘new world order’ borrows its structure from old antisemitic claims about a Jewish plan for global domination.
“It really was something that was picked up by some state-sponsored disinformation actors and it took on a life of its own in some geographies,” Monck said.
“Sadly, Canada was one of those places where … there’s a vulnerability to disinformation. It’s an open society. And … that particular strand of disinformation went into the mainstream.”
Monck said conspiracy theories about the “great reset” and the WEF are being driven by disinformation agents and politicians should consider where these theories are coming from before espousing them.
“I admire anyone who makes the decision to devote their lives to public life,” he said. “It’s not an easy road, but I do think politicians of every single stamp need to look very hard at the language that they use and where some of this stuff comes from, and if it’s coming from a space of … disinformation and in particular antisemitism.
“I think they need to have a very hard look at themselves and a very hard look in the mirror.”
We do not prescribe policy: Monck
Monck said the WEF does not prescribe policy but rather acts as a forum for exchanging ideas.
Still, the forum has drawn some strong political criticism.
Last week, Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre told a crowd of applauding supporters that, as prime minister, he would ban cabinet ministers from attending “that big fancy conference of billionaires with the World Economic Forum” and vowed to remove them from cabinet should they attend.
Listen: World Economic Forum’s Adrian Monck speaks to The House:
CBC News: The House15:27World Economic Forum denounces conspiracy theories “poisoning” public debate
Adrian Monck, a managing director at the World Economic Forum, discusses the origins of how his organization has become the target of widespread conspiracy theories.
The WEF hosts a conference in Davos, Switzerland, every January where business leaders and politicians from around the world gather to exchange ideas. Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former prime minister Stephen Harper — who endorsed Poilievre for the Conservative leadership — have attended the conference twice.
When Harper attended the conference in 2012, he gave a speech describing the WEF as “an indispensable part of the global conversation among leaders in politics, business and civil society” and said that “in the face of continuing global economic instability, the opportunity this gathering provides is now more valuable than ever.”
Monck said Poilievre’s decision to paint the WEF as he has is confusing.
“I don’t know where he differs in his analysis from, say, Stephen Harper,” he said. “We’re not an advocate on behalf of any particular political viewpoint. We try and remain impartial and neutral.
“We don’t stand for big, small, middle-sized governments. We deal with governments of every single stripe … so I don’t really understand where that particular analysis is coming from.”
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In a statement issued to CBC News, Poilievre said the annual WEF meeting in Davos “is a hypocritical gathering of billionaires, multinationals and powerful politicians” who “lecture working class people to stop buying gasoline.”
“There is no apparent benefit to Canadians in being involved in it. Canadian taxpayers should not need to pay to send government leaders to attend such a meeting,” Poilievre said in the statement. “Rather, ministers should put their full attention to serving everyday people in Canadian communities.”
Danielle Smith, a leading candidate to replace outgoing Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in the United Conservative Party leadership, has also criticized the WEF. She described it as a group of “anti-democratic elites” who have been attacking Alberta for years and want Canadians to “own nothing and be happy.”
Canada will be imposing new sanctions on Iran as a result of a continuing violent crackdown on protesters, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday.
The sanctions will be levelled on “dozens of individuals and entities, including Iran’s so-called morality police,” the prime minister said.
“We’ve seen Iran disregarding human rights time and time again, and now we see with the death of Mahsa Amini and the crackdown on protests,” Trudeau said, referencing the death of a 22-year-old who was detained for allegedly violating the country’s forced veiling laws. Her death has sparked outrage and has prompted a wave of international demonstrations, seeing some women cut their hair or burn their hijabs in revolt.
“To the women in Iran who are protesting and to those who are supporting you, we stand with you. We join our voices, the voices of all Canadians, to the millions of people around the world demanding that the Iranian government listen to their people, end their repression of freedoms and rights, and let women and all Iranians live their lives and express themselves peacefully,” Trudeau said.
While no official notice of the new sanctions has been published by Global Affairs Canada, the prime minister noted they come in addition to outstanding measures Canada has taken against Iran.
In an email to CTV News, Adrien Blanchard, press secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said that Trudeau “announced Canada’s intention” to issue these sanctions, pledging more details “in due course.”
OTTAWA — Nova Scotia Power says there were no issues delaying American power crews from crossing the border to help repair the electrical grid from the devastation of hurricane Fiona.
On Sunday, the utility company and Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston had both said an issue related to the controversial ArriveCan app was delaying power crews from crossing into Canada.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said this morning that the order making the app mandatory and requiring that foreign citizens be vaccinated to come to Canada will expire on Friday.
Power crews helping to restore electricity are considered essential workers and are exempt from the border measures.
In a new statement Monday afternoon, Nova Scotia Power spokeswoman Jacqueline Foster says there was some confusion about the app but it is now confirmed there were no problems.
Versant Power says 15 line workers and two mechanics left Bangor, Maine, for Canada early Monday morning without issue, and Central Maine Power reports more than a dozen two-person crews and 10 support workers crossed the border without incident at around 7 a.m. Monday.
“We now know there were not any issues with ArriveCan,” said Foster. “Our contractor crews have made their way over the border and we are grateful to have them as part of our restoration efforts here in Nova Scotia.”
The Canada Border Services Agency reported that it cleared 19 power trucks at the Third Bridge border crossing in St. Stephen, N.B., just after 7 a.m. Monday. The CBSA said the average processing time was between 30 and 60 seconds per vehicle.
The ArriveCan app has been fodder for heated political debates for months and Conservatives have repeatedly demanded that the government shut it down.
During question period on Monday, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre cited the allegations that ArriveCan delayed power crews to demand that the app be scrapped ahead of schedule.
He asked, “Will the prime minister suspend the ArriveCan app today, not Saturday, so that no more holdups happen at the border for those who are trying to help those in desperate need?”
Trudeau said he can “confirm that there were no delays at any border because of ArriveCan or otherwise.”
The utility company had said Sunday that crews were physically stuck at the border, but confirmed a few hours after question period on Monday that this had never been the case.
Foster suggested the error was a result of “confusion” after a concern arose Friday — before the storm actually hit — that crews from Maine might not be able to cross the border because of ArriveCan.
No New Brunswick border crossings reported issues over the weekend.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.
OTTAWA — Ian Shugart, a longtime bureaucrat and the country’s top civil servant during the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been tapped for a seat in the Senate.
Dr. Gigi Osler, a Winnipeg surgeon, University of Manitoba professor and president of the Federation of Medical Women in Canada, is also set to become a senator.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the picks today after the two were recommended to him by the independent advisory board for appointments to the upper chamber.
Shugart, who will represent Ontario, stepped down as the clerk of the Privy Council in early 2021 to undergo cancer treatments and formally retired in May after a long public service career.
Trudeau also appointed him to the King’s Privy Council today, adding his name to a list that includes past and present cabinet ministers and people “honoured for their contributions to Canada,” according to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Osler, who will represent Manitoba, became the first female surgeon and the first racialized woman to hold the presidency at the Canadian Medical Association in 2018.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.
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