Conservative supporters more susceptible to Russian false narratives: report – National | Globalnews.ca

Conservative supporters more susceptible to Russian false narratives: report – National | Globalnews.ca


A large majority of Canadians have been exposed to Russian false narratives about the war in Ukraine — and people who support the Conservative Party are more susceptible to believing Kremlin disinformation, according to a new report.

A survey from DisinfoWatch, part of the MacDonald-Laurier Institute think tank, found that 71 per cent of Canadians polled have heard at least one Russian false narrative and that a substantial portion “believe them to be true or are unsure of their falsehood.”

It also found “Conservative supporters, who report the highest exposure levels to Kremlin narratives, are also more likely to believe in them compared to their Liberal and NDP counterparts.”

The high percentage of Canadians being exposed to the narratives means “Russian disinformation is, in fact, reaching into Canadian homes,” DisinfoWatch director and co-author of the report Marcus Kolga told Global News.

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He said the primary purpose “is to erode Canadian support and trust in the government of Ukraine, to slow down the aid we’re sending to Ukraine and to stop the supply of weapons, whether it’s Canada or any of our NATO allies.”


Click to play video: 'NATO working to prepare Ukraine for future membership in the alliance: Stoltenberg'


NATO working to prepare Ukraine for future membership in the alliance: Stoltenberg


CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, warned the country’s support of Ukraine made it a target for Russian disinformation in its most recent annual public report.


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The survey of 2,127 Canadians shows that 25 per cent of Conservative supporters believe Russia is at war because it is trying to defend itself from Ukrainian Nazis. Twenty per cent of Conservative supporters aren’t sure if that’s true, according to the report.

Those are the highest percentages respective to political parties. Only 18 per cent of Liberal supporters believe it’s true and 12 per cent aren’t sure. Just four per cent of NDP supporters believe Russia is defending itself against Ukrainian Nazis, with nine per cent not being sure.

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Ukraine is not run by Nazis. Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy is Jewish and some members of his family were killed in the Holocaust.

The survey also reports that 36 per cent of Conservative supporters believe Ukraine and NATO started the war with Russia, compared to 20 per cent of Liberal supporters and 15 per cent of NDP supporters. (The war began when Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. It also invaded Crimea, part of Ukraine, in 2014.)

Among some of the other findings, DisinfoWatch’s survey also shows 37 per cent of Tory supporters believe Ukraine should give up their eastern territory for people “since the people living there are Russian anyways,” compared to 21 per cent compared to Liberals and seven per cent for NDP.

And 49 per cent of Conservative supporters believe “Russia is going to win eventually, so sending aid to Ukraine is only delaying the inevitable.”

Only 29 per cent and 18 per cent of Liberal and NDP supporters believe that, respectively.

“Conservatives support Ukraine and have supported Ukraine since the beginning,” Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong told Global News in a statement.

“In opposition, Conservatives continue to support Ukraine. Conservatives have continuously criticized the Liberal government for failing to uphold our NATO commitments and for failing to transfer sufficient military equipment to Ukraine,” the statement also said.

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He also attacked the Trudeau government for, he alleges, not supporting Ukraine enough.

Sam Andrey, a Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) professor and misinformation researcher at The Dias, a TMU think tank, said the political right typically has less trust in the media than those on the centre or left, allowing the false narratives to spread unchallenged.

“This conspiratorial disinformation narrative about Ukraine is much more pronounced on right-leaning sites and outlets,” he said.

Both Andrey and Kolga said the narratives, at least in part, flow from figures on the political right in the United States and into Canada.

Andrey told Global News “disinformation in many different forms is corrosive to our democracy.”

“It complicates our politics and, you know, it can become dangerous. And that’s exactly what Putin wants.”

He and Kolga said people who get their news from YouTube and Facebook/Meta should always look for confirmation from a credible news source.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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