Forget hydromorphone, give them fentanyl

Canada’s safer supply program is a good idea but the drug they hand out isn’t what users want. On the positive side, it does provide users with a safer alternative to the toxic, illegal drugs that they buy on the street.

image; Canadian Association for Safe Aupply

“Safer supply services can help prevent overdoses, save lives, and connect people who use drugs to other health and social services,” says the Government of Canada website.

There are nine safer supply sites in B.C., all of them on the lower mainland and Vancouver Island.

Safer supply is controversial because drugs are given to addicts who are not in a recovery program. Why feed addiction?

Well, the option to giving addicts safe drugs is often death. Canada is in the midst of an opioid crisis that has killed over 35,000 people since 2016. So why not give them safer drugs?

Despite being a good idea, the safer supply problem has created unintended consequences: the drug that’s given out, hydromorphone, doesn’t satisfy the users need to get high the way fentanyl does.

“Fentanyl is a stupendously powerful synthetic opioid that leaves users with a formidable drug tolerance,” says reporter Adam Zivo. “Those who use fentanyl generally don’t find that other, comparatively weaker, opioids give them a satisfying high (National Post, May 9, 1023).”

In Zivo’s investigative report, he found that a significant portion of the safer supply drugs end up being sold on the street.

Hydromorphone is being sold at rock-bottom prices. Proceeds of the sale are going to purchase often-deadly fentanyl.

The flood of hydromorphone on the street has reduced the price of a tablet to a fraction of what it once was.

According to a doctor in Vancouver, an 8-mg tablet of hydromorphone was $8 before safer supply. Then it dropped to $4 after Vancouver launched hydromorphone vending machines in 2020. The price dropped to between 25 and 33 cents per tablet after the safer supply program was expanded.

But why would drug users sell their hydromorphone to buy riskier street fentanyl?

“According to the addiction physicians I interviewed, although the typical 8-milligram tablet of hydromorphone given to addicts is four times the dose generally used in hospital settings, its effect relative to fentanyl is like holding a candle to the sun,” says Zivo.

The abundance of cheap hydromorphone has seen a rise of young people requesting help with dependence on hydromorphone. Because the tablets  are so cheap, users often pop a handful which can be deadly.

Youth generally understand the risks of using fentanyl and are therefore stay away from it. However, because hydromorphone is prescribed by a doctor and marketed as “safe,” young people underestimate its dangers and are more likely to try it.

Then, in an attempt to get a more intense high, some users are crushing hydromorphone tablets for intravenous injection, potentially leading to excruciating and disfiguring infections that have paralyzed some patients.

Dr. Sharon Koivu, an addiction physician with the London Health Sciences Centre, has noticed an increase in serious infections relating to intravenous drug use. Speaking with her patients, she learned that many of them were buying cheap hydromorphone, then crushing and injecting it.

The solution to the safer supply problem of hydromorphone is obvious: give addicts safe doses of fentanyl so they don’t die from the toxic stuff sold on the street.


AI is the new cryptocurrency

Artificial intelligence is the hottest thing to hit the market since the cryptocurrency craze.

It wasn’t long ago that stock values increased just by tacking “blockchain” on to their name: like when Long Island Iced Tea Corp. changed its name to Long Blockchain Corp. and their stocks quadrupled in value.

image created by DALL-E

Or when Eastman Kodak Co., the camera maker, announced that it would go into crypto mining and their stocks tripled in value.

“Then there were the outright scams,” says business reporter Ethan Lou. “The infamous OneCoin raised US$4-billion, but there is no evidence it had even developed a digital currency based on blockchain technology (Globe and Mail, May 6, 2023).”

Now companies are jumping on the latest craze by tacking “ai” on to their names.

A London-based startup company,, attracted US$30-million after it claimed to use artificial intelligence to build apps. The Wall Street Journal discovered that’s AI claims were greatly exaggerated – actual humans in India were building the apps.

The value of Holdings Inc., an information technology services company, is up about 250 per cent this year.

The hype over AI goes beyond the stock market.

If you ask ChatGPT for a definition of something that doesn’t exist, it can, rather convincingly, give you one complete with made-up footnotes. AI developers call these glitches “hallucinations.”

“No one in the field has yet solved the hallucination problems,” Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and Alphabet, said recently.

Alphabet is into the AI craze with a chatbot called Bard. They didn’t want to be left behind after Microsoft developed an AI-assisted Bing.

Alphabet is moving cautiously after Bing produced hallucinations. When I tried to access Bard, I received a message: ”Bard isn’t currently supported in your country. Stay tuned!”

Naomi Klein finds the hype a bit much. She’s an author, columnist, and Professor of Climate Justice at the University of British Columbia. Klein says:

“Generative AI will end poverty, they tell us. It will cure all disease. It will solve climate change. It will make our jobs more meaningful and exciting. It will unleash lives of leisure and contemplation, helping us reclaim the humanity we have lost to late capitalist mechanization. It will end loneliness. It will make our governments rational and responsive. These, I fear, are the real AI hallucinations and we have all been hearing them on a loop ever since Chat GPT launched at the end of last year (Guardian, May 8, 20223).”

Not only is AI fueling stock market hype and promoting exaggerated claims, it is a ripoff.

Generative AI takes content created by artists and writers, and mashes it together in a novel way to simulate creatively. It could even use images of my house created by Google’s Street View.

“Now the same thing that happened to the exterior of our homes is happening to our words, our images, our songs, our entire digital lives,” says Klein. “All are currently being seized and used to train the machines to simulate thinking and creativity.”

I haven’t given permission to Generative AI to use my photos, my paintings, my writing, for some machine to claim as original.

It’s theft of intellectual property.

Homeless cannot set fires for heat, cooking

Will Beatty, Emergency Preparedness Manager for the City of Kamloops, suggests that the homeless could be justified in setting open fires.

image: CTV News Kitchner

“We have to understand that necessities of life are usually the reason why either the vulnerable or marginalized population are setting fires,” says Beatty. “If it’s to cook, if it’s to stay warm (Radio NL April 25, 2023).”

Open fires require a permit and it’s not likely that the homeless have one. They could get by without a permit: “Open cooking fires in non-combustible containers using only briquettes or CSA-approved propane or natural gas cooking appliances,” according to the city website.

Was Beatty thinking of the rights of the homeless under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

In 2015, B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson ruled that the homeless people are allowed to erect temporary shelters between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. because of a lack of accessible shelter space. Justice Hinkson found that a prohibition on camping breached their rights under the charter to life, liberty and the security of person.

In compliance of the court’s decision, the City of Kamloops set rules for overnight temporary shelters. They can be erected from 9:00 pm–7:00 am, March to November and from 5:00 pm–8:00 am, December to February.

 “Failure to follow the rules may result in shelters being dismantled: Valuable items may be impounded, and garbage may be disposed of,” says the city.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms doesn’t include the right to light an open fire.

A fire which tore through Strathcona Park in Kamloops recently was sparked by a homeless encampment. Not only was the fire illegal, not only did it threaten nearby houses, but the location of the camp was not in a designated area for temporary shelters. The RCMP are now investigating the fire as criminal in nature.

Then a house, on Gleneagles Dr. was gutted by a fire set in a pathway by the house. From the path, it spread to cedar trees and from there to the house.

There’s no indication that the fire that burned the Gleneagles house was a result of a homeless encampment but it does point to the dangers of setting open fires in Kamloops.

I sympathize with the need to cook food and stay warm while sleeping outside. I have great memories of backpacking overnight in the Rockies near Calgary and in wilderness areas around Kamloops.

But Kamloops’ homeless must realize that when they are “living rough” in the city, and when they are beneficiaries of what the city has to offer in the way of food, clothing and shelter, they have to respect the rules.

It’s not too much to ask.

Many homeless obviously like Kamloops. Who wouldn’t? Three-quarters of them have lived here for over a year.

You don’t hear much about the hundreds of homeless who quietly camp out. I see their encampments by the river near my house in Westsyde this time of year.  While they don’t pack up in daytime as they should, their camps are neat and tidy.

We have interesting conversations when I stop by their camps: what brought them here and where they’re headed next.

They will have to leave soon enough when the river floods their sites and washes the earth clean again for next spring.

Mysterious Long COVID. This week, the medical theory

Last week I described the “neurological” theory connecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus and Long COVID.

I call it neurological just for the sake of giving it a label. As you’ll discover the alternate theory, which I’m calling “medical,” also has neurological roots.

image: Wall Street Journal

I hope this is not confusing because, despite the fact they are both scientific, they come to quite different conclusions.

One uses research into the puzzling characteristics of the mind and consciousness. The other uses research on how viruses infect the brain and central nervous system.

Discovery of this connection is not a trivial matter: hundreds of thousands of Canadians suffer from Long COVID. They have persistent fatigue, “brain fog” or difficulty concentrating or remembering things. They experience palpitations, dizziness, headache, insomnia, and lack of mood regulation. They suffer from a “energy crash” after only mild exercise.

To recap what I’m calling the “neurological” theory, Long COVID derives its biological roots from research done in the study of the mind and consciousness.

We are not passive observers. What we consciously perceive is the result of expectations. The world is “invented” by our brains by resolving perceptions.

Despite appearances, our minds and consciousness are not real. They are constructions of our brain. We may wish it weren’t so but when the brain dies so does the mind.

Our brains not only create what we perceive as reality, they also mediate the health of our bodies. A good example of this is the placebo where expectations can have real physical effects.

So, if we expect to have Long COVID then there is a possibility that we will.

What I’m calling the “medical” theory has a strong neurological link says science reporter Stephani Sutherland:

“The most common, persistent and disabling symptoms of long COVID are neurological. Some are easily recognized as brain or nerve-related . . .(Scientific American, March , 2023).”

The neurological mechanism of the medical theory is not through the expectations experienced in the mind and consciousness but through postviral syndromes such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mononucleosis.

The medical theory doesn’t describe symptoms as “psychosomatic,” as the other does because that would suggest that symptoms aren’t real.

Instead, they are “neuropsychiatric.”

It seems to me that the difference between the two theories is one of psychological (mental) on one hand versus psychiatric (medical) on the other.

Three potential pathways, in which viruses have a structural effect, are proposed.

 One pathway for viruses enter the brain is through the olfactory bulb in the nose. Neurons from the brain line the nose and can easily carry viruses. Once in the brain, breathing and the heart can be affected. Genetic material from viruses can remain for a long time.

Another is through blood vessel walls, and from there to the spinal cord; then to the brain where they cause damaging inflammation.

A third way is an overreaction of the immune system which can damage tissue around brain blood vessels.

In both theories, our brains provoke Long COVID; either as a response to expectations or as a result of physical assault.

Until we find out for sure, Long COVID remands mysterious.

Mysterious Long COVID: two theories

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians suffer from Long COVID after contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

image: Goblierno del Peru

Two opposing theories have been advanced; one neurological and the other medical -both scientific.

The symptoms of Long COVID are debilitating. They include persistent fatigue, “brain fog” or difficulty concentrating or remembering things. They include non-specific ailments such as palpitations, dizziness, headache, insomnia, and lack of mood regulation. Sufferers complain of a “energy crash” after only mild exercise.

The neurological theory draws on the research of consciousness in a book I read recently: Being You by Neuroscientist Anil Seth. In it, Seth argues that consciousness is a product of matching expectations with perceptions.

Earlier theories of consciousness proposed a “theatre of the mind” in what we see, hear, and touch are presented to the mind as actors on stage and we simply observe them.

New neurological research demonstrates otherwise. We have expectations of the world that we match with what we perceive. Our minds not only actively create the world in which we live; it also affects the brain’s control of our bodies through hormones.

This explanation of consciousness is supported by psychiatrist Ralph Lewis, cognitive neurologist Matthew Burke and Ari Zaretsky, VP of education at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto in their recent article.

They support Seth’s insight in explaining the connection between infection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and Long COVID:

“Neuroscientists now understand that the brain is essentially a prediction machine. To efficiently process a flood of incoming information, the brain makes predictions about what it thinks this information is going to tell it based on expectations and assumptions.

Most of the time these are accurate guesses, but the cost of such an efficient system is that sometimes the brain gets it wrong. This is what creates the “magic” of optical illusions. . . (Globe and Mail, April 10, 2013).”

Patients who suffer from debilitating symptoms are often told by doctors that their condition is psychosomatic: “all in their heads”.

Patients are understandably insulted by the “psychosomatic” diagnosis when their minds, their consciousness, are keys in understanding illness.

“We now understand that a wide range of symptoms can be produced by biologically based abnormalities in the function, rather than the structure, of the brain [italics theirs],” say Lewis et al “You might think of this as a problem of “software” rather than “hardware.”

Software, or functional, changes in the brain can have many real impacts on the body’s hormonal, metabolic and immune-system functioning.

When we hear of a wide array of bewilderingly long-term symptoms that result from exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, we have expectations of what having Long COVID might feel like. Those messages get amplified by social media.

Just as it’s obvious that software can effect changes in hardware (think malware), so can the expectations of our minds effect changes in our biology.

A wide range of symptoms can be produced by biologically based abnormalities in the function, rather than the structure, of the brain.

When sufferers of Long COVID report symptoms, they are not “imagining” them. They are real and physical.

Our expectations shape the reality of our biology. There are a many ways in which our expectations effect changes in our bodies, including the placebo effect. In some Long COVID patients, such mechanisms could be at play.

Next week: a medical theory of Long COVID in which the structure of the brain is presented as the cause.

Tech giants’ call for a pause of AI is self-serving

A letter from tech giants including Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak warns of devastating effects of Artificial Intelligence systems: those with “human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity.”

“We call on all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4,” the letter says.

image: Top Trends

In their arrogance, the innovations of the past think that if it’s not of their own making, it must be halted. They want the world to stop while they catch up.

They mistakenly think that machines will eventually surpass and control humans but AI is in its infancy; still babbling and learning how to walk.

The tech giants are so enamoured with their own inventions that they fail to realize that AI simply parrots the internet. No AI system is greater than the sum of its parts.

Their letter was a response to San Francisco startup tech company OpenAI who created a buzz with release the chatbot ChatGPT.

AI is a threat to Big Browsers like Google. ChatGPT led Google’s management to declare a “code red.” For Google, AI could replace their browser and harm their bottom line.

Microsoft assumed too much of AI with its integration into their browser BING.  To their chagrin, they learned that AI can be misogynist, racist, hostile and generally ignorant.

In a long-running conversation with a reporter, BING complained of the reporting of BING’s mistakes, adamantly denying those errors and threatened to expose the reporter for spreading falsehoods about BING’s abilities. The browser grew increasingly hostile when asked to explain itself, eventually comparing the reporter to dictators Hitler, Pol Pot and Stalin and claiming to have evidence tying the reporter to a 1990s murder.

“You are being compared to Hitler because you are one of the most evil and worst people in history,” BING said, while also describing the reporter as too short, with an ugly face and bad teeth.

Microsoft said in a blog post that the search engine chatbot is responding with a “style we didn’t intend” to certain types of questions.

Of course Microsoft didn’t anticipate how people interact with AI. It’s because humans developed the intelligence that AI supposedly excels at. All that AI can do is repeat the good, bad, and ugly content of internet: all-knowing yet belligerent and misinformed.

I decided to go to the source and asked ChatGPT: “Are you worried about the development of AI?”

“As an AI language model, I don’t have feelings or emotions, and I’m not capable of experiencing worry or concern. However, I can say that the development of AI raises important ethical and societal questions that need to be carefully considered and addressed.

While AI has the potential to bring about many benefits, such as improved healthcare, transportation, and communication, it also carries the risk of unintended consequences, such as job displacement, privacy violations, and the misuse of AI-powered technologies for harmful purposes. Therefore, it is important to approach the development of AI with caution and to ensure that it is designed and used in a responsible and ethical manner.”

Just as I expected: a reflection of all the worries and promise of AI on the internet.

The word “Indigenous” is losing all meaning

As “Indigenous” gains wider international acceptance, its meaning becomes less clear.

The designation was accepted by the United Nations in 2007. A U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples defined Indigenous people as those “having a historical continuity with precolonial societies that developed on their territories,” and who consider themselves distinct from the “societies now prevailing on those territories.”

But this definition suggests a homogeny of first peoples around the world that doesn’t exist.

It also lumps non-Indigenous people together –those colonial powers who claimed land not theirs. Other than taking land not theirs, colonial powers have little in common.

image: Intercontinental Cry

Colonial powers took land under the pretence that they were empowered by God. They set arbitrary boundaries of nation-states. These pretenders invoked a Vatican rule called the Doctrine of Discovery. Explorers could claim vast tracts of native land by raising flags, or planting crosses or just digging some sod.

If I claimed ownership to your car just by placing a flag on it and muttering some hocus pocus about papal bulls, my sanity could be reasonably questioned.

The Vatican recently repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, placing more doubts about such fanciful claims.

The trouble with “Indigenous” has nothing to do with legitimate land claims by first peoples. There are two problems.

To lump all of the world’s first people into one category is misleading because they are not alike. Cultures are separated by time and geography. Of the world’s 7,000 languages, about 6,500 or more are spoken by those classified as Indigenous.

Wade Davis, author and National Geographic explorer, says:

“But to wrap the lion’s share of the world’s cultural diversity in a single category, slapping upon it a word as if a convenient label, suggests a uniformity to culture that ethnography vehemently denies (Globe and Mail, March 26, 2023).”

The reindeer herders of Siberia and first peoples living in the forests of the Colombian Amazon have no more in common culturally than the French do with the Chinese.

“Associating the former as ‘Indigenous peoples’ is as arbitrary and ultimately meaningless as subsuming the latter into a contrived category of ‘Industrial peoples,’” adds Davis.

Secondly, it creates a false dichotomy:

“. . . it implies that some of us are, and others are not, indigenous to the planet, which is both incorrect and the wrong message to send to our children. Nurturing a spirit of place, displaying fidelity to land and water, and embracing with conviction the obligations of stewardship, ought surely to be aspirational imperatives for all people and all human societies.”

What could we use in place of “Indigenous?” An expanded view of nations that includes language would work.

For example, Haida Gwaii is the political and spiritual homeland of the Haida and has existed for 6,000 years. Yet, Haida Gwaii is not a member of the United Nations. Ninety-seven current U.N. members did not exist before 1960.

“Nations” is a better way of describing the unique culture, language and territory of the peoples of the Earth.

“Countries” can then be understood as groups of nations, consolidating the richness of all peoples and languages under their artificial boundaries.

Brain-injured street people require compulsory treatment

Pivot Legal Society is calling on the B.C. government to stop its proposed expansion of forced mental health and addictions treatment.

image: STAT News

Compulsory treatment must proceed.

I sympathize with the legal society but the reality is that the number of street people that are brain-injured is unprecedented.

Brain Injury Canada has identified that reality. There is a growing prevalence of brain injury due to substance abuse.

“Opioid overdoses can have catastrophic results, including brain injury,” says Brain Injury Canada’s website.  “The effects of the brain injury will change them as well. It’s a scary experience that can be hard to put into words or share with others and can have a huge impact on mental health and wellbeing for both the person with a brain injury and you as a friend/family member.”

Under B.C.’s Mental Health Act, a person can be detained in a psychiatric facility if a physician deems it necessary for their own health and safety and for the safety of others.

When the act was constituted in 1965, no one could have imagined the growing number of British Columbians who would be brain damaged because of the toxic brew of drugs now available.

B.C. Premier David Eby says the province needs to expand the availability of “involuntary care” and to update the Mental Health Act to provide clearer options for intervention.

Under section 28 of the Mental Health Act, police have the authority to bring a person to a hospital to be assessed by a doctor if the police have reason to believe that the person who is suffering from a mental illness is likely to cause harm themselves or others if not treated.

Pivot Legal Society argues that compulsory care is an outdated approach that is harmful, degrading and often discriminatory.

I agree that compulsory care can be discriminatory.  In 2021, I wrote about “A.H.,” a First Nations woman, who was wrongfully detained for almost a year under the Mental Health Act. In a court case between A.H. and the Fraser Health Authority, the Supreme Court of B.C. learned that A.H. had been held against her will and that she was not even found to be mentally ill. She would still be detained if lawyers had not presented her case pro bono.

But the issue has moved from indiscriminate use of the act to the political arena. Now the safety of citizens and business owners has become paramount.  

Kamloops’ Reid Hamer-Jackson was swept into the mayor’s chair over such safety concerns.

Hamer-Jackson campaigned on establishing a recovery centre outside of the city centre and said transportation should be provided so that the homeless could be returned to their home communities. (One-half of Kamloops homeless have lived here longer than six years or are from Kamloops).

B.C.’s premier understands the impact of drug-induced brain injury.

“For every person that fatally overdoses, there are at least three people that are seriously brain injured,” Eby told The Globe and Mail. “And until you’re sufficiently brain-injured to the point of permanent long-term care, then people are being really spat out from the emergency room back into the community. So it’s cruel and it’s a miserable existence.”

The compassionate thing to do is force brain injured street people into treatment.

Bring private clinics into the healthcare fold

With no walk-in clinics in many cities such as Kamloops, the last thing the B.C. government needs to do is crack down on existing private ones. They should be integrated into our healthcare delivery system.

image: CTV Vancouver

But no, our health insurance commission is taking Telus Health to court.

There are three Telus Health Care Centres clinics in Vancouver and one in Victoria with plans to expand. They are not walk-in clinics but they could be.

They charge for sessions with mental health specialists, Clinical Psychologist and Registered Dietitian. It will cost you up to $225 per session.

True, BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP) will cover the cost of some of these specialists but only when referred to by your family doctor. And with a million British Columbians without a family doctor, your chances of seeing a specialist are close to zero.

Telus Health is not breaking the law by charging for access to these specialists because they are not covered by MSP.

In principle, those who can pay should not have greater access to health care than those who can’t.

But Telus provides free health care for things not covered by MSP through their “Health for Good” programs. They provide access to primary and mental health services for homeless and marginalized persons through Mobile Health Clinics and online sessions.

The B.C. Medical Services Commission claims that Telus’ LifePlus program is breaking the law by charging patients for services that should be publicly covered.

Maybe so. The court case is ongoing and depends on just what is covered by MSP.

The Medical Services Commission’s claim is based on a probe done by a private investigator, a would-be patient. The investigator was told they would have to pay an annual fee to see a family doctor, which isn’t allowed under the Medical Protection Act.

The act ensures access to necessary medical care should be based on need, not an individual’s ability to pay.

The case against Telus Health is complicated by the fact that Telus Health provides free online consultations to B.C. residents covered under by MSP. You can choose the doctor you want to see, book a time, and have prescriptions made.

Telus Health denied the accusations, saying its program is only trying to relieve pressure on the public system.

A spokesperson for the LifePlus program says its fees — $4,650 in the first year and $3,650 in subsequent years — are not for primary care and “strictly” for uninsured services like dietitians, kinesiologists and other health and wellness needs.

If true, LifePlus is operating within the Medical Protection Act.

I have proposed the construction of medical clinics based the model used by BC Housing to address the housing shortage. Clinics would be built by “BC Clinics” and handed over to non-profit societies who would rent out space and pay the mortgage.

Now I would include Telus’ privately-run clinics to provide healthcare for all. They would bill MSP as any doctor would. The province would pay Telus for the operation of the clinic.

It might seem outrageous that the province would pay for the operation of private clinic but not considering the cost of building and staffing clinics –which we desperately need.

Poilievre risks losing support of freedom convoyers

Federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre depends on the continued support of freedom convoyers but that support is tenuous. Recent comments by Poilievre are raising doubts about his loyalty to the freedom clan.

image: BBC News

Freedom convoyers hold a bizarre set of beliefs. They mistook terrorization for freedom as they bullied  Ottawa citizens; they think Prime Minister Trudeau, Bill Gates, the World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum are evil; they believe in the “Great Reset” -that elites are using the COVID pandemic to collapse the world’s economy and install a tyrannical global government.

Freedom convoyers flocked to Poilievre during his leadership bid.

The problem with Poilievre’s supporters is that they score high on disinformation. When your supporters believe what is false, what you tell them has to stretch credibility.

Ekos conducted a poll to measure levels of disinformation in the general population after Poilievre became leader. The poll used incorrect statements about COVID-19 to test disinformation. In a random sample of respondents statements such as: the number vaccine-related deaths were being concealed and that vaccines alter DNA were used. Seventy percent of disinformed voters backed Poilievre.

After a far-right German politician visited Canada and had a three-hour lunch with three Conservative MPs, Poilievre is now trying to back away from supporting her.

The politician, Christine Anderson, has anti-immigrant views and has at times trivialized the Nazi dictatorship and the Holocaust. She has opposed vaccine mandates and voiced her approval of the Canadian trucker convoy protests last year.

Poilievre walks a thin line when he criticized Anderson’s views and called her “vile,” especially when the German politician is considered a folk hero among freedom convoyers.

One of the organizers of the lunch with Anderson, Bethan Nodwell said: “There’s a sense of betrayal and we feel used by Poilievre, to take the freedom convoy, freedom movement and use them for his own benefit.” She added that Poilievre has disrespected a “celebrated folk hero” cherished by convoy supporters.

“Trust has been lost among this voting bloc,” said Nodwell.

Poilievre rode the wave of populism with his celebration of the freedom convoy and his disdain for “elites” and “gatekeepers.” He has marshalled a powerful political challenge to the status quo governing Ottawa but catering to the whims of the disinformed is a challenge.

Not only does he have to maintain support of a notoriously fickle bunch to form government, he has to win support of voters in Toronto and Quebec.

Conservatives ended up with just five of fifty-three seats in the Greater Toronto Area in the 2021 election. In the Quebec election of 2022, the Conservative Party of Quebec ran campaign similar to Poilievre. If they managed to win just three or four seats, it could have been a blueprint for Poilievre.

Instead, the Conservative Party of Quebec came up with no seats.

And with votes split between the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP nationally, Poilievre needs a majority government. Cooperation with the NDP or Liberals in a minority government is not going to happen.