A fake front page relayed by the Quebec Conservative Party

Quebec’s Conservative Party is contributing to misinformation by posting an altered copy of a news outlet’s front page on Facebook, say pundits, who expect better from a political party craving power.

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“Compulsory Vaccination: 124 Anti-Freedom MPs,” we read on this hoax protocol of Montreal, on which are attached the photographs of all members of the National Assembly except for the sole elected member of the Quebec Conservative Party (PCQ).

“All Quebecers have the right to move freely in public spaces without having to provide medical information,” the publication shared on the social network on Friday also reads.

Note that vaccinations are not mandatory in Quebec.

“There is nothing to suggest that it is wrong, we are misleading people directly, which is very serious and contrary to journalistic ethics,” analyzes Patrick White, professor of journalism at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM).

In its original version The newspaper Rather, last Thursday she published the photos of the 39 anti-abortion federal deputies with the note “also well present in Ottawa”.

“Disinformation has done so much damage to the planet for a number of years, we will not give an inch to those in Quebec who want to do this, especially by using our image,” commented the editor-in-chief of the MontrealJournalDany Doucet.

Misleading

The experts surveyed agree: the publication of the PCQ is confusing. Internet users can easily believe that the information provided is true because the logo of the protocol is clearly visible there.

“We’re not talking about a meme or a copycat. We see in the comments of the publication that the article in question is being searched for. This is evidence that it is confusing and misleading,” explains Jean-Hugues Roy, Professor of Journalism at UQAM.

Passing on false information knowing it will be shared widely is a “lack of responsibility,” especially from a political party that wants to be serious, says Simon Thibault, a professor of political science at the University of Montreal.

This is all the more serious in a context where the media is doing everything it can to combat disinformation, adds Éric-Pierre Champagne, Secretary and Treasurer of the Quebec Journalists Association (FPJQ).

“It is regrettable and unacceptable for a party to misrepresent the facts and use current media headlines to get its political message across,” added Mr Champagne.

The table is set

“It also shows that we have to expect such an attitude from the PCQ and Éric Duhaime, the party leader,” said Patrick White, who believes this sets the tone for the upcoming election campaign.

“I hope it’s just a misstep on the eve of an election campaign, where we will also be ubiquitous to scrutinize all statements made by politicians, particularly the Quebec Conservative Party,” Mr. Doucet said.

Eric Duhaime, traveling through Ottawa for a conference on conservatism, said he had “no idea” whether the montage was a creation of his party or that of an activist.

“There are activists who put a lot of stuff in it, I thought it was a bit humorous. […] Honestly, I don’t know,” he replied.

–With Raphael Pirro

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