Bureaucrats in Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada were “monitoring” social media posts and Reddit threads for “misconceptions” about immigration last summer.
Internal emails obtained exclusively by True North under Access to Information reveal a team of 12 communications and social media staffers reporting and conducting “detailed analysis” on tweets posted not only by Conservative MP Michelle Rempel and People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier, but also ordinary Canadians.
The documents date to August 2018, when Bernier took aim at “extreme multiculturalism,” sparking a national discussion about manufactured diversity in Canada.
One of the key issues from the emails involved a Reddit thread discussing a Toronto Sun article about refugee housing at a Radisson hotel. The “social care” team lead with IRCC said in an email that the thread “had become bigoted in nature. The vast majority of popular comments were extremely negative in tone.”
“The comments are unfavorable to the Prime Minister and government, and are also very un-sympathetic (sic) to those claiming asylum,” he wrote.
In another email in the chain, a staffer says her department will “continue to monitor” the Reddit thread, which is still online though closed for commenting by moderators in the r/Canada subreddit.
“The conversation provides some indication of public sentiment on housing asylum seekers,” the staffer wrote. “As discussed earlier, this underscores our advice to focus on numbers on the storyline and gives an indication of the types of misconceptions we might need to address going forward.”
She directed one colleague to share the information with the Privy Council Office, which is the bureaucratic wing of the Prime Minister’s Office. She also assigned someone to prepare notes to brief the deputy minister, the highest ranking bureaucrat in Canada’s immigration department.
The document also contains a two-page chart of tweets from Canadians critical of the government on immigration, labeled by whomever compiled them with descriptions such as “Condemnation of the Trudeau government” and “Commends (Maxime Bernier” for standing up for Canada/rails against diversity and irregular migration.”
All of the tweets tagged Bernier and the department’s official Twitter handle, the report noted. It’s not known how the government is storing or using the database of tweets it’s amassing through this “public environment scan.”
These emails prove the public service is monitoring private citizens’ social media comments critical of the government – and sharing them with the Privy Council Office.
They also show that Rempel’s and Bernier’s tweets about immigration last summer triggered enough backlash that the government needed a dozen people to work to address “misconceptions,” suggesting they believe anyone criticizing the government’s ham-fisted approach to running immigration by virtue signalling is wrong, and in need of a dose of the state narrative.