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We can now answer the question, “Was Russia involved in the 2022 truck convoy?” The answer is yes, even if it is unclear how influential it was in its attempt to amplify social divisions in Canada.

Russian state-funded propaganda outlet RT (formerly Russia Today), which has been called an “information weapon” by its own editor-in-chief, tried to exploit the three-week-long occupation of downtown Ottawa last year.

A propaganda outlet like RT is the most forward-facing component of Russian influence campaigns, which typically involve an assembly line of actors and organizations through which information and narratives are transmitted, shaped, manipulated and laundered. Propaganda starts with outlets like RT and moves to proxy websites, blogs and social media accounts.

But Russian propaganda sites weren’t the only outside influence in last year’s “Freedom Convoy.”

RT produced a higher volume of convoy-related coverage than any other international media outlet, but Fox News stepped up to produce the second-highest amount of coverage just as Russian propaganda decreased.

Fox News and other right-wing American media outlets also produced extensive coverage of the convoy that was often inflammatory, misleading, harshly critical of the Trudeau government and sympathetic to protesters. In terms of volume, from Feb. 7, 2022 through Feb. 17, 2022, Fox News devoted more than 16 hours of airtime to the convoy, according to watchdog Media Matters.

A few examples of Fox News’ extensive coverage of the 2022 truck convoy in Canada. Image by Caroline Orr Bueno

Another interesting trend was found when examining the timeline of convoy-related coverage across different international networks: specifically, when RT's coverage dropped off, Fox News’ coverage sharply increased. Previous reporting has documented a similar symbiotic relationship between the two networks, and this pattern in convoy-related coverage may be further evidence of that.

Fox News produced extensive 'Freedom Convoy' coverage that was often inflammatory, misleading and harshly critical of the Trudeau government, @rvawonk writes for @NatObserver #FreedomConvoy #Disinformation
Timeline of convoy coverage, as measured by mentions of the keywords “Freedom Convoy” or “Truck Convoy” per 15-second interval of airtime, across seven international media outlets from Jan 1. through April 8, 2022. Russian-state media outlet RT is represented in orange. Data source: GDELT

One of the most widely shared pieces of misinformation during the protests in February 2022 came from a Fox News contributor. On Feb. 19, Sara Carter posted a tweet claiming Canadian police on horseback had trampled and killed a woman in downtown Ottawa. (A 49-year-old woman was hurt, sustaining a "strained shoulder" after contact with an RCMP horse.) Although the claim of a death was false, it was retweeted more than 11,000 times within the first three hours of being posted online by Carter.

Fox News’ obsessive coverage of Canadian politics continues to this day. Recently, Fox News host Tucker Carlson bizarrely suggested the U.S. should send troops to “liberate Canada from Trudeau.” This outlandish statement is notably quite similar to the tone of RT’s coverage, which portrayed the convoy protesters as victims of Trudeau’s government.

This is the second in a three-part series from Caroline Orr covering Russia's involvement in the truck convoy. Stay tuned for the final part. If you want to get notified when part three comes out, sign up for updates on this page

The difference between Fox News and RT, however, is that RT is a state-funded media outlet that exists to advance narratives aligned with the Russian government’s foreign policy interests and goals. While Fox News’ coverage appeared to be aimed at bringing a similar truck convoy to the U.S., Russian media’s coverage was focused on exacerbating and amplifying domestic grievances that fuelled the truck convoy in the first place.

Taken together, though, the extensive coverage of Canada’s truck convoy produced by Russian state media and right-wing American media suggests Canada is squarely in the crosshairs of a growing transnational far-right movement that has seized on pandemic-related grievances to recruit new members and expand its global presence. From this perspective, the convoy became a vehicle for various far-right and undemocratic ideologies and an example to follow for other fringe movements looking to bring extremist ideas and rhetoric into the mainstream by hiding behind causes such as anti-vaccine activism. While those using the convoy to advance their own agendas relied on veiled messaging and plausible deniability to achieve their goals, the message being sent to Canadians is quite clear: The world is watching, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

This is Part 2 of a three-part series on Russian disinformation and the so-called “Freedom Convoy.” Read Part 1 here. Sign up to get notified when Part 3 comes out.

Note: This article is based on Caroline Orr Bueno’s research published as “Russia's Role in the Far-Right Truck Convoy: An analysis of Russian state media activity related to the 2022 Freedom Convoy” in The Journal of Intelligence, Conflict, and Warfare.

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I'm so disappointed in this publication and constant neoliberal propaganda YOU put out. Non-violent canadians going into the streets and protesting their government is somehow a "Russian plot?" WTF.
Did Russia also:
- Rape, plunder and murder our indigenous people for land and oil?
- Support a war in Afghanistan...FOR OIL?
- Leave thousands of indigenous children for dead in residential schools?
- Wear blackface

No wonder the Canadian conservative movement is dying.

Maybe not dying, but there is certainly a zombie movement out there of mass-hypnotized minions captured by Russia and right wing conspirators with one goal: cause internal discord in a liberal G7 democracy. The message is downright crazy, the results, though diluted by objective criticism and analysis, is measurably effective.

So you're offering your comment as an example from the article then?
Except "this publication" is created and supported by people who don't actually need ANY more examples of that contrived ignorance thank you very much.
If not, if you're serious, then you're obviously not reading this publication EITHER, preferring to bluster in faux individualist outrage while lining up obediently with the algorithms. Pffffftttttt......

Please Jordan, try to stay focused: 1. I rather doubt National Observer is neoliberal. 2. Russian media likely did report on the convoy, and use a Russian perspective when they did. 3. The trucker convoy was tinged with violence, as the testimony of Ottawa citizens in the inquiry demonstrated....for those living in Ottawa, or trying to transport goods across the border, the blockade was a blockade. Something a bit different from non-violent Canadians engaged in a lawful street protest. Most of those don't last a weekend, never mind 3 weeks.

As to your anger at the vaccine passports, you have a right to have opposed them. The fact is, a majority of Canadians were in favour of same, because it made them feel safe enough to go out and about.......knowing the unvaccinated weren't in the vicinity. Sure, it was hard on the hard line unvaccinated..........but that group wasn't a majority.

As to your claim that the vaccines didn't work......that is simply false. You are free to believe it, but the majority of us, who've had our shots and boosters, understand that while perfection isn't possible with flu like virus', being vaccinated means that far fewer citizens are dying now, than before we had the vaccines.

As to your last questions about Russia....that's a new topic you're introducing. No Russians didn't depopulate the plains, or violate the treaties: That was Us...Canadian/American people and a succession of their governments.
As to Afghanistan...yes, Russia was fighting there before the Americans...which is why the Americans funded the Taliban that is back in control there now. We in the west are responsible for that last war....and for the return of the Taliban. But surely, this is another topic???
As to Residential Schools....The Trudeau government is doing something to acknowledge that crime, but it can't be held responsible for over a century of Christian led, government sponsored abuse.

The blackface throwaway??? Was overblown at the beginning...demonstrates white privilege no doubt...but I suspect both you and I also suffer from that.

The only one who gets off in your rant Jordan, is Fox News. Why not take a wack at them now????

Haha, yeah, and your patience is admirable Mary.

Great comment, Mary. Kudos!

Yes, excellent post, Mary. Jordan may actually want to look into Russia's treatment of their own indigenous peoples. Chechens, Tatars and countless others have been, shall we say, mistreated by the Russian Empire over the centuries.

Note that 90% of all truckers across the land stayed out of the convoy, and 2/3 did not support it, likely more when the guns at the Coutts, AB., border crossing were discovered.

That is roughly equivalent to the number if Canadians who willingly got vaccinated and who agreed with the mask mandates even just before they were lifted.

There is nothing special about the convoy protest as a protest. In fact, they are decades behind left wing peace marches and environmental and social justice protests. All they did was mimmic history with extra special bad behaviour. The only thing unique about the convoy was the use of trucks as visual intimidation devices or potential weapons, disguised by the presence of a few innocent kids.

In my view, the Parliamentary Precinct should be expanded to Sparks Street and all vehicles should be banned, with the exception of security, service and emergency vehicles. With a significant design treatment, Wellington Street could become a pedestrian paradise and serve as Canada's town square open to the vast majority of celebrations and protests, with defined limits.