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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Putting the Chrystia Freeland photo in its broader context

Canada's Deputy PM and her defenders claim "Russian disinformation" after she is photographed holding a far right scarf. This is not the first time they have done that.

As many people have heard, Canada's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland was photographed holding a scarf with overtly fascist overtones at a rally in support of Ukraine on February 27.

She then tweeted out the photo on her official Twitter account. When people noticed that she was holding a far right banner Freeland deleted the photo and posted another one in which she was not holding the banner. No apology or explanation was given.

Toronto Mayor John Tory was also photographed with the banner, also tweeted it and also later deleted it, but it is entirely possible he had no idea what it represented. That is definitely not the case with Freeland who is not only Ukrainian, an overt Ukrainian nationalist, can read Ukrainian but also is quite familiar with the political iconography of Ukraine.

Despite the photo Freeland's press secretary tried to claim it was all "Russian disinformation" and pointed to the "KGB", which has not existed for 30 years.

When The Canadian Press contacted Freeland's office about the picture astoundingly it was the Ukrainian Canadian Congress that responded, parroting the "disinformation" claim:

It is pretty hard to see how this is "disinformation" given that she was in the photo, surely knew what she was holding and tweeted the photo out.

Despite some rather obvious and even very recent incidents in Ukraine, when people point out the actions of far right military groups or monuments to Nazi collaborators this is often labelled as "disinformation" by the Ukrainian right and its apologists.

But there is little doubt that there is some truth to them even if this may be exaggerated by Russia as part of its justification for invasion.

And notably, this is not the first time that Freeland has tweeted out far right Ukrainian slogans nor is it the first time that she has claimed "Russian disinformation" about something that turned out to be true.

On The Left Chapter I reported on how Chrystia Freeland tweeted a slogan with a far right history in 2019.

And most infamously back in 2017 -- in what would have surely been a bigger issue for Freeland were it not for the new emerging "cold war" even then against Russia -- The Left Chapter was one of only a few publications that looked into Freeland's disturbing praise for her grandfather who was a Nazi collaborator during WWII.

- Freeland KNEW her grandfather was a Nazi collaborator
- Freeland appears to have lied about this and claimed it was all a Russian fabrication
- Freeland, knowing that her grandfather was a Nazi collaborator, tweeted about how proud she was of her grandfather's commitment to "freedom and democracy" in the Ukraine!
It should be noted that she also made that tweet on Black Ribbon Day, which is supposed to actually, in part, honour victims of Nazism! It would be hard to make this up.

We also published a number of previously undiscovered facts about her grandfather, Mykhail Chomiak and the publication he edited during the war. For those who are unfamiliar with the story, he was the editor of a virulently anti-Semitic publication that supported the Nazi invasion of the USSR, the mass killings in Ukraine, and the war effort against the Allies and that was printed on a press stolen from a Jewish family that was killed in the Holocaust.

She claimed it was "disinformation" then too. It was not, as even some in the mainstream media were forced to admit.

Freeland should never be held responsible for her grandfather's actions, but for her own actions she must be.

In 2016 The Left Chapter also reported on far right organizations openly marching in Ukrainian parades in Toronto in What is far-right organization Right Sector doing marching in Toronto's Ukrainian Festival Parade? and in 2020 we reported on a Nazi monument at the St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery in Oakville in There is no place, ever, for monuments to Nazi collaborators.

So when you hear the cries of "Russian disinformation", keep this all in mind.

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