The Nov. 5, 2020, edition of the Vernon Morning Star was targeted by an individual or individuals looking to spread anti-mask, COVID-19 denying propaganda in a Coldstream newspaper box. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)

The Nov. 5, 2020, edition of the Vernon Morning Star was targeted by an individual or individuals looking to spread anti-mask, COVID-19 denying propaganda in a Coldstream newspaper box. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)

COVID-19 denial propaganda littered around the North Okanagan

Vernon Morning Star publisher learned readers found unusual flyer in Thursday edition

A community newspaper box in Coldstream was targeted and filled with flyers promoting COVID-19 denial propaganda Thursday.

Vernon Morning Star publisher Chris Mackie learned at least one box was affected.

A tri-folded printed document promoting anti-mask rhetoric and containing long links to PDF documents and unverified websites was inserted into an unknown number of newspapers after they were delivered to the box by a Morning Star delivery driver.

Mackie reported the incident to Vernon North Okanagan RCMP and issued a statement on the Morning Star’s social media pages on Nov. 5.

Police said they worried the incident may be linked to an ongoing investigation into scattered leaflets around Vernon area schools promoting racist propaganda.

“Once the newspapers are put in the boxes, they are at the mercy of the public to pick one up, pass by or, unfortunately, fill it with this kind of rhetoric,” Mackie said.

Area residents turned to social media to report similar documents have been distributed in Walmart and were littered around Winners. Both stores have implemented mask-wearing policies.

“I can not imagine it is cheap to print these,” Kim Logan wrote on a social media post. “Seems odd to push one’s beliefs in such a spammy, wasteful way.”

The flyer discovered in newspapers Thursday concludes with an email which is believed to be linked to a Kelowna-based group known as CLEAR or the Common Law Education and Rights Initiative.

The COVID-19 denial group held a rally in Kelowna in August demanding an end to restrictions ordered by provincial and federal health officials.

The website associated with the group claims it was formed 16 years ago and, after a hiatus, has returned to bring the groups concerns regarding the novel coronavirus directly to MLAs, the Official Health Critic and the Health Minister.

CLEAR and its vice-chairman David Lindsay said on the website the goal is to demand the complete cessation of incorrect information and lockdown activities.

Lindsay has not yet returned the Morning Star’s request for comment.

READ MORE: Vernon and Kelowna protesters call for end to COVID-19 shutdowns

READ MORE: WATCH: Footage offers lead in hate-fuelled flyer probe: Vernon Mounties


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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