Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include more information on the origins of the Epoch Times and its connection to the Falun Gong.
A letter carrier for Canada Post says he was suspended from his job earlier this month after he refused to deliver samples of a newspaper criticized for its right-leaning views.
“I consider it a piece of hate mail that can incite rage, especially under the atmosphere right now,” Ramiro Sepulveda said.
The publication in question is The Epoch Times. Officials with the media organization told Global News it was founded by Chinese immigrants in North America who fled communist persecution in their home country. It is closely tied with the Falun Gong, a spiritual Chinese community that is critical of the Chinese communist party.
A quote from Stephen Gregory, publisher for U.S. editions of the Epoch Times, said it “was founded to expose the negative impact on the world of the dangerous ideology of communism.”
Patricia Elliott, a journalism professor at the University of Regina, told Global News the newspaper is riddled with misinformation.
“In the print edition, they do a good job of making it look like a legit paper,” Elliott said.
“It’s the same with their social media posts — there’s a lot of conspiracy theorizing and extreme-right rhetoric.”
In an e-mail to Global News, Canada Post said: “As Canada’s postal administration, Canada Post is obligated to deliver any mail that is properly prepared and paid for, unless it is considered non-mailable matter. The Courts have told Canada Post that its role is not to act as the censor of mail or to determine the extent of freedom of expression in Canada. This is an important distinction between Canada Post and private sector delivery companies.”
“Any views we may have about the content do not change our obligation to deliver.”
But Elliott said Canada Post should bear responsibility because the level of misinformation can be dangerous.
“The danger to the public is especially around COVID, that there is misinformation going about how serious COVID is and the precautions people need to take to maintain public safety. That’s a big concern,” she said.
“Also, as we are seeing in the U.S., the sowing of extreme distrust of political leadership, extreme distrust of the media and the dividing people into such hateful camps is really a big concern.”
She added that whether it’s a platform like Facebook or a Crown corporation like Canada Post, companies need to check what is going out the door and who it’s going to.
The Epoch Times told Global News that it’s an “independent media outlet that reports objectively and has won multiple journalism awards.”
“Canada is a country that believes in freedom of the press,” it added. “People deserve the opportunity to read different media and decide for themselves which ones they want to follow.”
As for Sepulveda, he said two others were also suspended for refusing to deliver the paper.
“I don’t deliver false information that can alienate or disenfranchise an already disenfranchised group of people,” Sepulveda said.
He added that even though he’s back at work, he won’t waver on his decision to take a stand.
“Hate is very hurtful regardless of whether you think it’s physical, emotional or verbal — damage is damage.”