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News Analysis Mar 30, 2022 8:09 PM EST

Trudeau Liberals' 'expert advisory group on online safety' includes known misinformation spreader Bernie Farber

Farber has been known to spread disinformation on social media, including a viral incident that occurred during the Freedom Convoy in February.

Trudeau Liberals' 'expert advisory group on online safety' includes known misinformation spreader Bernie Farber
Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal, QC

The Trudeau Liberals on Wednesday unveiled the new "expert advisory group on online safety," with one member being a noted spreader of disinformation.

Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez, and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti announced the new expert advisory group on online safety as "the next step in developing legislation to address harmful online content," a statement from the Liberals reads.

Bernie Farber was named as one of the 12 members of the advisory table. Farber has been known to spread disinformation on social media, including a viral incident that occurred during the Freedom Convoy in February.

"The internet has allowed for more mis and disinformation... We're more likely to be exposed and hurt by unacceptable, hateful content," said Rodriguez.

"If it's illegal in person, it's illegal online," Rodriguez continued. "Canadians want the government to play a role, but especially, especially when it comes to standing up for the communities who suffer the most from harmful content online, such as racialized Canadians, LGBTQ+ communities, and religious minorities," he said.

"At the same time," Rodriguez added, "we've also heard concerns around the complexity of the issue, and we were cautioned of the unintended consequences if a thoughtful response was not taken.

"It was clear that we had not a precise solution yet... and that we needed to make sure that we got it right, so we listened. We really took note of that," he said, before announcing "the next step" in introducing the members of the expert advisory group on online safety.

In a tweet during the Freedom Convoy protests in February, Farber posted a picture of an antisemitic flyer and said it was "taken by a friend in Ottawa at the Occupation. Apparently in plain sight."

The image Farber posted was identical to a photo posted on Twitter weeks earlier by someone in Miami, Florida. Journalist Jonathan Kay highlighted this, saying "Wow Bernie, isn't it incredible that the picture your 'friend in Ottawa at the Occupation' sent you is identical to the photo posted on Twitter two weeks ago by someone in Miami, right down to the ceramic design in the background?"

Cleveland Jewish News confirmed that flyer was from weeks earlier and completely unrelated to the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa. Farber's tweet has since been deleted.

The Farber's hoax tricked many politicians and authority figures, with the tweet being shared by numerous politicians and journalists.

"This is sick," said Kyle Harrietha, Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Parliamentary Affairs to Canada's Minister of Natural Resources.

NDP MP Charlie Angus also fell for Farber's hoax. "The #ottawaoccupation gang came to Ottawa with swastikas scrawled on Canadian flags. This sh*t isn't hidden its right there in the open" he said.

Farber would end up defending himself, replying to Kay saying, "Jon, respectfully, antisemitic and racist flyers are produced and too easily accessible online to be copied and distributed. This particular flyer is not new to me either."

He did not address the fact that they were the same exact photograph, right down to the background.

The panel of "experts and specialists from different backgrounds and expertises" includes:

  • Bernie Farber, Chair, Canada Anti-Hate Network
  • Chanae Parsons, Community Activist and Youth Engagement Specialist
  • David Morin, Full Professor, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Université de Sherbrooke
  • Emily Laidlaw, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Calgary
  • Ghayda Hassan, Professor of Clinical Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal
  • Heidi Tworek, Associate Professor, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and History, University of British Columbia
  • Lianna McDonald, Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Child Protection
  • Pierre Trudel, Professor, Faculty of Law, Université de Montréal
  • Signa A. Daum Shanks, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa
  • Taylor Owen, Beaverbrook Chair, Media, Ethics and Communications
  • Vivek Krishnamurthy, Samuelson-Glushko Professor of Law, University of Ottawa
  • Amarnath Amarasingam, Assistant Professor, School of Religion, Queen's University

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