Hamilton woman was 'appalled' to find anti-vaccine, anti-lockdown newsletter in mailbox

The newsletter that calls the pandemic a fraud, advocates for the end of lockdown and promotes anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, have been distributed across Canada according to the publisher.

The city of Hamilton says the public should get information from credible sources based on science

A screenshot from a video of what the newsletter claims to be people handing out copies during an anti-lockdown protest in Brantford on March 7, 2021. (Druthers/YouTube)

A Hamilton woman says she was "appalled" to find a newsletter rife with COVID-19 myths and anti-vaccine misinformation in her mailbox.

Tara Taylor, a 45-year-old from Dundas, said everyone in her townhouse complex received the mail on Tuesday.

"It was pretty shocking ... it blows my mind," she said.

The publisher says that roughly 200,000 copies of the newsletter were distributed in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The content in the newsletter calls the pandemic a fraud, advocates for the end of lockdowns and promotes anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. The newsletter also came with inserts accusing teachers of committing "crimes against humanity" and describing masking as "child abuse."

The misinformation efforts come almost exactly a year after the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. It also comes as the country rolls out COVID-19 vaccines.

Health officials in Hamilton previously said misinformation efforts have contributed to shaming and judgment against those who legitimately can't follow precautions, which has affected their contact tracing efforts.

Public should get info from credible sources, city says

Matthew Grant, the city's director of communications said people should look for information from credible medical sources like Health Canada, the ministry of health or local public health data.

"There is a lot of information and misinformation going around at this particular time, around COVID-19, around vaccines ... the city of Hamilton would recommend people who are interested in getting the best information, the most credible information to make informed decisions, should seek that information out from credible, medical organizations ... based on science," he said.

The newsletter also featured a column which appeared to be written by Ontario MPP Roman Baber, and included quotes from a Facebook post made by Baber supporting the end of lockdowns.

Baber's comments previously had him booted out of Ontario's Progressive Conservative caucus.

But after questions from CBC News, Baber's office said he didn't know about the column in the newsletter and never authorized it.

The office of Roman Baber, MPP for York Centre, said he did not authorize the newsletter to use his comments and sent a cease and desist order to Druthers. (Ontario Legislative Assembly)

The office sent the newsletter a cease and desist letter.

"Your suggestion that the article was written by Roman Baber is false. We immediately ask that a correction be issued to acknowledge same and that you cease and desist from using Mr. Baber's byline or likeness in any print editions," read part of the letter.

"Furthermore, I would like to make it clear that you are not authorized to use Mr. Baber's byline on your website and that any intention to upload an online article containing the March 2021 column must be cancelled."

In an email back to the MPP's office, publisher Shawn Jason said he would comply, by removing that section of the page.

WATCH | How social media companies are countering misinformation about COVID-19

How social media companies are countering misinformation about COVID-19

2 years ago
Duration 7:44
A look at how the big platforms balance legitimate questions with misleading information.

"I was under the impression this was to be of benefit to Roman Baber and his cause. We certainly meant no harm or disrespect. Our intention was quite opposite of that."

But he also told CBC News Baber had asked him to help spread his anti-lockdown message three days earlier on a Zoom call.

Baber's office says the MPP has been on dozens of Zoom calls with prospective supporters over past weeks, and while he has invited attendees to support his efforts, he did not ask the newsletter for help.

'It's such false news'

Jason said his newsletter will raise awareness of "censored" content and give people a different viewpoint to make decisions.

But Taylor says it's not that simple.

"They're sowing a lot of confusion into the safety of vaccines and the safety of lockdowns," she said.

"I don't disagree there's a lot of things that have happened because of the lockdown that are negative ... but I think we need to keep it in a greater perspective as to why we're doing them and I think things like this throw people into a panic. It's such false news and false reporting."


Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?