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Tucker Carlson wants to invade Canada

Cutouts of Tucker Carlson and Justin Trudeau on the sides of a sci-fi urban dystopia
Annie Gugliotta

When Pierre Trudeau (Justin’s father) was prime minister, he famously said living next to the United States was like sleeping with an elephant: “No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

So Canadians should expect a restless night on May 1, because that’s when Fox News superstar Tucker Carlson releases his latest project: a special film called “O, Canada.” The program argues that the US should “liberate” Canada … with military force.

Carlson, known for sharing white nationalist conspiracy theories with 2.5 million Americans five nights a week, just dropped two trailers that portray Canada as an authoritarian hellhole where citizens are jailed for protesting against the government. They highlight interviews with a constellation of figures featured on Rebel News, a far-right Canadian outlet that depicted anti-lockdown protesters as victims of Liberal stormtroopers.

The scenes include two pastors who were locked up for violating COVID public health laws. Populist leader Maxime Bernier, who was arrested for attending a rally that violated pandemic gathering restrictions, and Rebel News broadcasters Alexandra Lavoie and David Menzies all claim to have been roughly treated by police.

But the star of the film appears to be Lauren Southern, a telegenic 27-year-old documentary filmmaker from Surrey, B.C., with a long track record as a white-nationalist provocateur. Southern is shown shooting in the wilderness, lamenting Canadian gun laws (we have bears in trees, she points out). In a sit-down interview at Fox’s California studio, she tells Carlson that the situation is “absolutely maddening.”

“We’ve just found out our elections were almost entirely rigged by the Chinese government,” she says, referring to the recent scandal over Beijing’s alleged election meddling. “Canadians are living in a state of absolute fear of our government, and we’re not even sure if our government is controlled in Canada or overseas.”

“Whether your democracy is real or not, of course, that’s a familiar feeling to Americans,” says Carlson.

The trailers feature unflattering images of Trudeau – including a Hitler-esque rendering of his face – and clips of American leaders announcing military strikes in Iraq and Libya. The implication? That the US should consider a shock and awe campaign in Ottawa.

The premise, of course, is laughable, and about as absurd as Fox’s attacks on Dominion Voting Systems, or Carlson’s 2022 special, which promoted testicle tanning. Canada’s lifesaving COVID restrictions were imposed by democratically elected governments and backed by a majority of voters.

The Trudeau government invoked the Emergencies Act to clear an anti-lockdown protest in Ottawa, but a public inquiry found that the government acted properly. The manager of the 2021 Conservative campaign has written that while the Chinese did interfere, the election outcome “was not influenced by any external meddling.”

Carlson is going to foist a farrago of lies and nonsense on his viewers, giving them a fundamentally wrong impression of their neighbor. But few Canadians think that gun ownership is necessary as a hedge against tyranny. And polling from Maru Public Opinion for GZERO Media shows that only a small minority of Canadians consider themselves to be oppressed by an authoritarian government.

“It's not representative of Canada,” says John Wright, executive vice president of Maru. “It's propaganda. It's falsehoods. To suggest that this is a country on the verge of revolution ... You're gonna get somewhere between 9 and 17% of the public, depending upon what avenue you want to go down, that feels that way.”

The special may be premised on falsehoods, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have an impact on the relationship between Canada and the US. Greg Elmer, director of the Infoscape Research Lab at Toronto Metropolitan University, points out that Fox viewers know little about Canadian politics and will believe what Carlson tells them, which could lead to political friction over trade.

“I do think, unfortunately, that we do need to take it seriously just because of the size of the platform,” Elmer says.

If Carlson convinces voters that Canada is an authoritarian dystopia, politicians may act on that impression. Wright points out that a small number of MAGA Republicans in the House of Representatives can exercise disproportionate influence because GOP leadership needs every vote, as we saw in the many rounds to select a Speaker.

“It doesn't take much when you have a split House like this to have consequences if they decide that this is part of the rhetoric,” Wright adds.

Carlson’s inane special will also give an enormous boost to Rebel News personalities who are typically on the margins of Canadian public life. Research shows that American outlets, especially Fox, supercharged “Freedom convoy” content in 2022, helping turn a niche protest into a mass movement that paralyzed Ottawa and blocked border crossings.

Pandemic restrictions are gone, and the leadership of the movement is divided and dispirited, but Carlson is about to give them a huge jolt of energy.

And the rest of Canada? It will need to sleep with one eye open until this elephant leaves the room.


But if the US did invade and take over Canada – which we think is preposterous – what would the new names be for the Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks? Send us your greatest names here.


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