Island video clip promotes U.S. conspiracy theory
A video clip of Chinese participants at a personal-growth retreat on Salt Spring more than two years ago has been used to support a claim by a U.S. radio show host that Canada is permitting Chinese troops to amass and plan an invasion of the U.S.
An Oct. 7 broadcast piece by Hal Turner of New Jersey then posted online states: “Our neighbor and ally, Canada, under the completely fraudulent guise of protecting Chinese investments, has betrayed the United States and is permitting China to mass invasion troops on Canada’s west coast, for use in attacking and conquering the United States.
“Americans are URGED to arm themselves and prepare. Invading foreign army persons are to be shown NO QUARTER and NO MERCY.”
The online piece includes a map of the Pacific Northwest and southern B.C. with an arrow pointing to Salt Spring Island and noting its proximity to the U.S.
The same Turner piece claims that People’s Liberation Army troops “have been flowing in British Columbia all year” and that “Canadians cannot go into Stanley Park because it is taken over by China’s People’s Liberation Army!”
The video footage was taken by longtime islander Banana Joe Clemente on March 21, 2018 and is posted to his personal YouTube channel.
Clemente last week recounted how his neighbour Kathy Weisner phoned him up on March 17, 2018 to tell him she saw what appeared to be members of the Chinese military marching past her house that day. He said he asked her if she was crazy, and promised to keep his eyes open to see if he saw the same thing.
A few days, later, he said, “Sure enough, I just get past Uncle Ken’s farm stand by Epron Road and they are on the right-hand-side of [North End Road]. There are 50 or 60 of them marching in camouflage clothes and there’s this guy in front who’s the leader. And I think ‘This is weird, [Kathy] is not nuts,’ so I got 35 seconds of footage and threw it on the YouTube channel. It’s just YouTube entertainment to me and I forgot about it.”
As reported in the March 21, 2018 Driftwood, Mineral Springs Resort general manager Woody Scott said the highly visible group of mostly women from Shanghai was staying at the resort and wearing team uniforms as part of corporate team-building and personal development exercises. An organization called Create Abundance, also known as Golden Touch, was later identified as the resort owner hosting that and other retreats.
Clemente’s video was used in a story aired by CTV this summer that explored the Golden Touch/Create Abundance organization after a Chinese citizen named Bo Fan, who worked for the company, was murdered in Surrey, B.C.
Following that broadcast, for which Clemente was interviewed, he said, “[TheYouTube video] went from 600-and-something views to 150,000 views. And it keeps getting hits.”
Clemente also pointed out that none of the people in the video are carrying guns.
“It’s no different than me dressing up in military costume and marching down the side of the road. It’s just dress-up.”
Attesting to the reach of Turner’s site is the fact that Salt Spring Islander Susan Gordon has received emails from four different U.S. friends asking her if the island was harbouring Chinese troops.
“I find the situation alarming due to the fact that in recent months I’ve noticed a distinct change of tone in the social media posts of some of my friends and even a Canadian relative,” said Gordon. “Some of them never posted anything about politics, but suddenly they are relaying information through online platforms that is seemingly designed to provoke strong emotions in the direction of hatred towards another, usually a public figure or someone whose views do not agree with their own.”
One of Gordon’s friends said he heard about the Chinese military story after talking with a stranger at a convenience store near his home in Arizona.
“Along with that story, he shared another one from the same podcast, The Hal Turner show, claiming that Canada has turned ‘tyrannical’ in its approach to the pandemic.”
Turner’s website states that he “is so far to the right he makes Rush Limbaugh look like a liberal and Sean Hannity seem like a girly-man! Michael Savage and Mark Levin don’t even come close.”
It also states that on his radio show, “You’ll hear Hal and his callers telling it like it is with a ‘brash, in-your-face style,’ making the sacred cows of political-correctness and government tyrants run for cover!”
Turner earned notoriety after being sentenced to 33 months in prison in 2010 for a conviction on charges of threatening three federal judges.
The Department of National Defence’s media relations department confirmed for the Driftwood on Friday that it was aware of the video and that “the claim of Chinese troops amassing in British Columbia is not true.”