With the new presidential regime in the USA this year one of the topics that has taken a place on the political stage is ‘fake news’. As I prepared the newspapers of May 26, 1911 for republication on our website I saw the headline “FOUL METHODS” which had the sub-heading “Attempt made to Convict Hon. Mr. Oliver on Forged Evidence”.

My curiosity piqued, I read further and was struck by the similarity to a news item I had been watching on the CBC in the previous hour. Only 106 years removed . . .

  • The CBC item was about a campaign to discredit a journalist with “tainted leaks”. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/phishing-falsified-documents-citizen-lab-tainted-leaks-russia-1.4130748)
    This journalist has a history of critical reports on Russia. His email account was hacked and then selected emails were taken, altered and released online. Much the same has been alleged with other releases of purloined emails and documents purported to come from targeted people and groups such as Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.
  • The Evening Sun article (a reprint from the Victoria Times) describes a very similar ploy to defame and discredit a government minister of the day, Frank Oliver. Essentially a forged account ledger page was created purporting to be from Mr. Oliver’s bank account. To the real data was added entries that give the impression he received money that he did not. A photograph of this page was take and then distributed to individuals and news outlets. And even after this document was debunked by the bank the ‘rabble political press is hounding Mr. Oliver demanding that he account for the monies which the fake bank account says he received.’

In researching further I discovered another similarity to today: Mr. Oliver was the Minister of the Interior from 1906 to 1911 and one of the things he’s noted for was changing the focus of Canada’s Immigration philosophy. Much as President Trump wants to restrict immigration by Muslims from certain countries Mr. Oliver instituted a Closed Door policy based more on Culture than Economics. That strongly favoured British immigrants and put in place stronger regulations to deny and deport ‘undesirable’ immigrants. Among the peoples he did not think should become part of the Canadian population were Chinese, Japanese, Galicians (Ukranians) and Doukhobors. This wasn’t as controversial back then as President Trump’s immigration policies have been today – the article attributes this particular attempt to political chicanery by the political machinery.

This wasn’t the only thing that got Mr. Oliver into controversy. His dealings with the Railroads and surrenders of Indian Reservation lands have been a stronger and longer taint on his history. When you hear stories of how White men got Indian land for dirt cheap prices and profited from their office they’re talking about Mr. Oliver and friends. You can read about him in various articles online. Wikipedia has a page on him. Biographi.ca has another. There are more: just search for Frank Oliver Immigration Canada.

Yo can read about this and more in our Old Newspapers page.