CHARBONNEAU – Russian propaganda links anti-vaccination with Ukraine

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

STRANGELY ENOUGH, Canadians opposed to COVID vaccines typically support the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

What is the connection? None that I can see. One is a medical issue, the other a military one.

Big Tent political parties embrace diverse positions but they don’t compare with the widely disparate views of Russia’s misadventures in Ukraine and the dangers of COVID vaccines.

Political leaders are not immune. Alberta’s new Premier Danielle Smith supports both antivaxxers and Russia.

Her parroting of Russian propaganda came to a wider public audience after she became premier.

Smith is coming under fire for comments she made online about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a few months before getting the province’s top job.

In a livestream on April 29, Smith was asked about her thoughts on the “peace plan for Ukraine, Russia.”

She answered by giving a hypothetical case where Canada has nuclear weapons and is aligned with Russia, and how that would upset the U.S.

“So, why would we be surprised if Russia is upset because Ukraine has nuclear weapons and is aligned with the United States?” she said in the livestream. “I think the only answer for Ukraine is neutrality.”

Her ignorance is astonishing. Ukraine doesn’t have nuclear weapons. Ukraine is neutral, not a member of NATO.

On Feb. 24, Smith was asked if areas of Ukraine should be allowed to break away and govern themselves independently.

“It seems to me the great powers of the world did a terrible job defining the new borders of countries after WWII,” Smith replied. “So much of the conflict we have had since is due to different people being crammed under one national government that don’t like each other,” the post said.

She added that nations should be allowed to break away and govern themselves independently if they want.

Of course that’s true. Quebec almost broke away from Canada in a narrow vote conducted in 1995. However, Quebec wasn’t invaded by a foreign government and forced to vote for separation while staring down the barrel of a gun.

Smith’s source of propaganda is, a website known for promoting disinformation from Russia.

A board member with the Canada-Ukraine Foundation calls the comments deeply disturbing and misinformed.

“To be honest, I was taken aback,” board member Bohdan Romaniuk told CTV News.

“With all due respect to our new premier, they demonstrate a profound ignorance of history,” he said.

Smith is not the only Canadian who has fallen under the sway of Russian propaganda.

In survey conducted in March by EKOS, unvaccinated Canadians are much more likely than those who received three doses to believe Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was justified.

The poll found 26 per cent of those who identified as unvaccinated agreed the Russian invasion is justified compared to only two per cent of surveyed Canadians who said they had three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and who supported the invasion.

What connects the two issues? EKOS president Frank Graves says it’s clear:

“This is definitely a new and bluntly insidious force that’s contributing to polarization and disinformation and poor decision-making. And it doesn’t seem to be going away. Things are getting worse,” said Graves.

“I don’t think this is because those people had an ingrained sympathy to the Russians. They’re reading this online, they’re consuming this from the same sources that were giving them the anti-vax stuff.”

David Charbonneau is a retired TRU electronics instructor who hosts a blog at

About Mel Rothenburger (9510 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on CHARBONNEAU – Russian propaganda links anti-vaccination with Ukraine

  1. Robert George // October 29, 2022 at 11:32 PM // Reply

    My comment is a Western Canada or whatever we decide to call it,with the present day Manitoba/Ontario line our eastern border. I,m nuts you say. Well maybe. I must have some nutty friends.

  2. Although its easy to see why the same people that are antivax are found to support Russia, and that this is likely due to their reading this rhetoric online and consuming their nonsense from the same sources that were giving them the anti-vax stuff. We already know that this demographic is easily swayed by adrenaline charged negativity … its how their heads work … and are both trump type and trucker convoy mindless bases and yes … this crowd is getting larger. What I find more interesting is that Poilievre is courting this crowd as much as he is.

    On the other hand, it is not factually incorrect that the powers of the world during post war divvying up times … DID actually do a terrible job with the borders of countries after WWI … plus financial reparations against Germany, which created the situation that became WW2, then once again subsequent dividing of countries again, with Stalins Russian/Soviets taking a large chunk … all which played a role in the issues being faced today. This is well known and accepted history.

    Premier Smith wasnt entirely wrong historically, but definitely out of touch with understanding how the western world can accept such musings, as well as shows her willingness to hyper focus on facts that support her ‘anti-whatever’ ideology.

    The thing is … being a leader in Alberta means that she will suffer no consequences from these comments.

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