Completely false anti-vaccine 'cease and desist' order prompts complaints to police
Letters being sent to vaccination clinics, pharmacies and health units
When she first read the letter, pharmacist Kristen Watt was inclined to simply laugh it off.
Delivered to Watt's pharmacy in Southhampton, Ont., the letter claims to be written by Romana Didulo, a Victoria, B.C., woman who has falsely proclaimed herself in online videos to be "our newly appointed head of state, commander-in-chief" and the "head of the government of Canada."
The letter includes the false statement that all "former COVID-19 measures" are "null and void." It also makes further outlandish claims and requests, including a demand for an immediate stop to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and other measures aimed at curtailing the pandemic.
"I chuckled at first," said Watt, whose pharmacy serves a community on the shores of Lake Huron about 40 kilometres west of Owen Sound. "Obviously there's no standing for this 'We the people' letter.'"
No standing but there is a following. The same letter, or ones very similar to it, have been delivered to businesses, police stations and health care providers across southwestern Ontario and in other parts of Canada. The letter says anyone who doesn't comply with its demands is committing "crimes against humanity."
While the letter clearly has no authority, Watt consulted anti-hate experts who implored her to file a complaint about it to police.
Most concerning is that Didulo has, in some videos posted online, promised to endorse the carrying out of death penalties under her own baseless self-appointed authority for those who don't comply with her demands to end COVID-19 restrictions and stop vaccine distribution. In one video, Didulo promises to sign off on these executions following some kind of military tribunal.
"There is a possibility for followers to be motived by extremists and that might be detrimental to myself or my business and that's why I filed a police report," said Watt.
Oh man. Cease and desist order came today. Same day as we receive a boatload of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19Vaccines?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#COVID19Vaccines</a>. Whatever will I do. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/QAnon?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#QAnon</a> 🙄 <a href="https://t.co/0nYsGTNKfc">pic.twitter.com/0nYsGTNKfc</a>—@PharmacistMama
Peter Smith is an investigative journalist with the Canadian Anti-Hate network. He's been closely watching Didulo's online activity and how it's being received. He posted about her actions on the group's website. He was also quoted in a Vice story that takes a deep look at Didulo and her online activity.
'Grim underlying element'
Smith said Didulo was virtually unknown until this spring, when her posts railing against COVID-19 vaccinations began to be re-shared with followers of QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory that paints former U.S. president Donald Trump as a warrior against a supposed child-trafficking ring run by celebrities and "deep state" government officials.
"Anybody could really be Didulo and post things like this," said Smith. "But the main concern is that she's mobilizing these people very quickly into handing out these 'cease and desist' orders. The subtext is if you don't listen to them, you're slated to executed at some point. There is a grim underlying element to all of this."
In one online post, Didulo claims to be the queen of Canada, an authority she says was transferred to her by "white hats" in the U.S. military. That post and others have been re-shared on other online platforms, such as the video-sharing website Bitchute, which appears to have almost no content restrictions.
In addition to spouting various conspiracy theories and anti-vaccination views, Didulo also claims to be the leader of something called the Canada1st Party of Canada, which Smith said is not a registered political party.
Smith said after a sharp spike in followers this spring, her growth appears to have plateaued.
However he said the main concern isn't her posts, but how they're inspiring others.
Smith shared with CBC News screen grabs from various online forums where others are vowing to deliver the letter to locations such as the vaccination clinic at Western Fair. The Middlesex-London Health Unit confirmed they've received one of the letters and have since filed a complaint with police.
"Discovering that she is not the Queen of Canada will not end the movement or the network she has built," said Smith.