The most disturbing fact that emerges from the leaders’ debate held in French on September 8 is the journalistic accreditation granted in extremis to Rebel News by the Federal Court. The Leaders’ Debates Commission will challenge this decision, but the damage is done.
Indeed, representatives of this propaganda and disinformation organization found themselves asking the leaders questions during the press conference following the debate. By infiltrating a crucial moment in the electoral campaign, they stole precious time from real journalists, and therefore from our democratic life. This is not trivial.
Rebel News, among others, fuels conspiracy theories, advocates for the libertarian far right, and irrationally opposes health measures. The organization does not hide its support for People’s Party of Canada from Maxime Bernier. Thus, it does not respect the criteria of objectivity, rigor and non-partisanship which frame true journalism.
Erin O’Toole politely answered their questions. Justin trudeau sent them a scathing reply. Jagmeet Singh firmly refused to answer them. Yves-Francois Blanchet don’t talk to them anymore. As for Annamie Paul, she answered them while showing her exasperation.
The appearance of this kind of movement on our political scene is extremely worrying. These agitators are better and better organized. They own funds and resources which they acquire largely through the nefarious influence of social media. Their mode of operation is devious. Speaking anti-system and taking the postures of victims of institutions, they nevertheless use every breach of the system and every flaw of institutions to infiltrate their venom, their lies and their death impulses. They are, in fact, in a logic of perversion and destruction of democracy. And we saw recently, among our neighbors to the South, how far all this could go.
These organizations are therefore real cancers for democracy. They rot it from the inside. In the name of freedom of expression, they claim to offer “alternative” points of view and to make the voices of the voiceless heard. The reality is rather that they poison the public debate. They propagate hatred, anger, violence and the worst fabrications there for the sole purpose of enjoying the ideological polarization and the shattering of social ties in order to profit from it. In defiance of any ethics of speech and action, they maneuver in the system and institutions while claiming to challenge them. Shamelessly manipulating and stimulating the darkest affects in the population, these movements are downright fascinating.
This is why it was obscene to see Rebel News emerge in the midst of a leaders’ debate. This morbid phenomenon is a revealing symptom of the troubled times that we are today. The immediate duty of a party leader worthy of the name is to firmly keep these kinds of foul-smelling organizations behind the cordon sanitaire of our democracy. But the most crucial and complex task remains that of seriously attacking the roots of their spread in our society.