Anti-mask leaflets found in Vernon newspapers | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Anti-mask leaflets found in Vernon newspapers

The unauthorized leaflet found in the Morning Star.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Jeff Hunkin
November 06, 2020 - 1:19 PM

The Vernon Morning Star has sent a cease and desist order after anti-mask propaganda flyers were found inserted into some of its newspapers at a roadside collection box.

Coldstream resident Jeff Hunkin said his wife discovered a neatly folded leaflet that declared 'Masks do not stop the virus' among the flyers in a copy of the Vernon Morning Star, Nov. 5.

Hunkin said after he discovered the flyer he went to the Morning Star collection box at the Lakeway Mobile Home Park where he lives and found more leaflets.

He checked a few copies of the paper at the top of the pile of around 100 papers, and a few copies at the bottom of the pile, and each paper contained a neatly folded copy of the anti-mask flyer. Hunkin surmises the flyers could likely have been in every paper in the box.

"Somebody at that newspaper box (inserting leaflets into papers) would have looked pretty weird," Hunkin said. "It just seems very professional."

Vernon Morning Star publisher Chris Mackie confirmed the leaflets were not authorized in any way by the paper.

"When I discovered it, my immediate stance was... that I want it out of my newspaper," Mackie said. "Quite frankly they didn't pay to be there... and we didn't want to be aligned with this message."

Mackie said as far as he knew the leaflets were only put into papers in the one box, but he wasn't sure how many papers the leaflet had been inserted into. He said staff quickly removed any leaflets from the collection box.

The leaflets title claims 'the science is settled, masks do not stop viruses,' and goes on to list absurdly long URL links to various conspiracy theory websites.

The leaflets have been produced by an Okanagan organization called the Common Law Education and Rights Initiative, known as CLEAR. The group has organized several protests in Kelowna over the summer against COVID-19 restrictions.

According to a 2016 Alberta Law Review paper on Freemen-on-the-Land groups and pseudo-legal arguments, the organization had claimed people don't need a licence to drive a car. The group's founder, David Lindsay, also argues that all taxes should be voluntary.

The leaflets appear to have been part of a larger, albeit very poorly organized distribution campaign. received no response from an email address listed on the flyer.

Several posts to social media report individuals handed out the leaflets in Vernon Walmart early in the week. Another person reports finding at least a dozen of the same leaflets scattered on eye-level shelves in Winners roughly 10 days ago.

Management at both stores refused to comment on the incidents.

While paper flyers may be considered a thing of the past, the incidents are reminiscent of another leaflet randomly scattered about Vernon schools in September.

Notes with links to racist websites were discovered outside several Vernon schools on Orange Shirt Day, Sept. 30, a day to recognize the harm done by Canada's residential schools.

RCMP are currently investigating and released a video of a vehicle thought to be involved in scattering the racist notes.

Vernon RCMP spokesperson Chris Terleski told police received several tips from the public and are following up on that information but no suspect has been identified at this time.

— This story was updated at 1:55 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, 2020 to add comments from Jeff Hunkin.

--- This story was corrected 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, 2020 to clarify Jeff Hunkin did not call the Morning Star.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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