The Saskatchewan Party’s campaign will undergo a shakeup following the resignation of one of its candidates.
On Saturday, the Saskatchewan Party announced its candidate for Saskatoon Eastview, Daryl Cooper, has resigned.
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In recent days, Cooper had come under fire for controversial comments he made on social media about COVID-19 that undermined scientific evidence.
“The content and views that Mr. Cooper interacted with on social media are concerning and are not representative of the values of the Saskatchewan Party, our leader, or our members,” said the party in a statement. “As such the Saskatchewan Party accepted his resignation.”
His replacement will be announced before the nomination period ends on Oct. 10.
In May, Cooper promoted COVID-19 conspiracy theories on his campaign’s Facebook page in a post titled “The Origin of COVID-19″.
In total, seven theories were listed, including the falsehood that coronavirus is linked to 5G technology, or that sunspots could cause pandemics. Both assertions are unfounded.
As reported and uncovered by Press Progress, Cooper also liked several tweets from people sharing QAnon conspiracy theories.
Cooper could not be reached for comment, but on Friday he told CBC he deleted the posts because the theories are not supported by science and they don’t come from credible sources.
Saskatchewan Party leader Scott Moe called Cooper’s social media activity “concerning” although he admitted he “knew very little about the nature of the content” that was shared.
“This government continues to get medical health advice from (the province’s chief medical health officer) Dr. Shahab and his team,” Moe said Saturday while on the campaign trail in Prince Albert.
Moe said the government will continue to get its advice from health officials, not from social media.
“When it comes to that scientific evidence, these are not places we go for advice.”
In recent years, there has been a collision of fake news and real news that goes beyond what we see in tabloids on supermarket shelves, says Alex Couros, professor of educational technology and media at the University of Regina.
“Fake news and conspiracy theories have really penetrated our lives, especially in social media,” Couros said. “Sometimes people just don’t know better. Sometimes they have far-off ideas.”
He said there’s always going to be certain people who are going to be drawn into fake news, including those in government, or those seeking to work for governments.
“There’s some push behind it to get to these people, but at the same time they’re regular people who are taken up on these conspiracies in general,” Couros said.
“It might be someone who is vulnerable and doesn’t do fact-checking. Not every single elected candidate or someone who wants to be elected necessarily has the critical thinking skills that we might expect.”
With files from Connor O’Donovan.
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