Canada Revenue Agency paid over a quarter million dollars to distribute fake 'news' articles written by employees

The made-up stories didn't reveal government involvement, meeting the government's own definition of 'fake news' as content backed by the state.

Canada Revenue Agency paid over a quarter million dollars to distribute fake 'news' articles written by employees
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The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) paid more than a quarter million dollars last year to distribute fake news articles written by their own employees, documents show. The CRA admitted that two dailies were among the newsrooms that published the Agency's handouts.

“The purpose of these articles was to inform Canadians,” the Agency wrote in an Inquiry Of Ministry tabled in the Senate, reports Blacklock's.

The articles were to “help amplify its messaging in order to reach Canadians that it would not normally have access to through its own channels,” the Agency said. No examples of Agency-written stories were provided.

The Lethbridge Herald and Hamilton Spectator were pinpointed as the two dailies publishing ghostwritten “news.” These fabricated stories were disseminated through News Canada Inc., a Toronto-based broker that received $233,457 from the Agency over the past year.

News Canada Inc. provides ready-to-use content for editors. A prior investigation by Blacklock’s revealed that these stories were credited to News Canada without disclosing the government's involvement in their creation.

In a 2017 Memorandum to the Minister, the Department of Canadian Heritage defined fake news as "state-sponsored" content.

The articles would fit the federal definition of fake news.

"Creators of fake news are non-traditional sources, i.e. not journalists, individuals on social media, individuals not preoccupied with facts,” the memo read. “Characteristics of fake news” included content that authors are “quick to create and share, and are not constrained by research or fact-checking,” it said.

“The issue is complex and there is not likely one single, easy solution,” it continued. “There are limitations to actions that governments can take, e.g. cannot decide what is fake news.”

“Access to accurate information from diverse perspectives underpins our democratic institutions,” the memo read.

The memos were published in the Alberta Business Review, the Essex Free Press, Ethnic Food & Drink, Lac Ste. Anne Bulletin, Lambton Standard and Leamington Southpoint Sun, says the Inquiry of Ministry. Agency handouts were also published by The Mountaineer, Niagara Falls Review, North Grenville Times, Okanagan Weekend, Penticton Herald, Temiskaming Speaker, Weekly Bean, Welland Tribune, Whitecourt Press and Winkler-Morden Voice.

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