The Canadian Forces spent $1.2 million on behaviour modification training used by the parent firm of Cambridge Analytica, the company that was the centre of a scandal in which personal data of Facebook users was provided to U.S. President Donald Trump’s political campaign.
At the time, the Canadian Forces justified the cost in 2019 and 2020 to train 40 military and civilian public-affairs staff by pointing out that the fee also covered the purchase of the rights to the courseware, production of various reports and a test scenario of the behaviour modification techniques.
But National Defence now admits the detailed course curriculum, progress reports and a live case study conducted by Canadian Forces personnel using the behaviour modification techniques can’t be found. “We do not currently have access to these documents,” spokesperson Dan Le Bouthillier confirmed.
Details about the two contracts to a company called Emic Consulting were revealed in October 2020 in a report by Emma Briant, a Fellow at Bard College in the United States and a specialist in researching military propaganda.
Briant noted the training the Canadian military staff received was a direct descendent of SCL Group’s “behavioural dynamics methodology,” which promises to help military clients analyze and profile groups to find the best strategy to effectively influence a target audience’s behaviour.
SCL, a strategic communications firm, had been linked to propaganda campaigns used by various militaries, having drawn on psychological and social science research to distill techniques aimed at manipulating group behaviour. Its subsidiary, Cambridge Analytica, was at the centre of a scandal where personal data of more than 30 million Facebook users was obtained and later provided to Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz for their 2016 political campaigns.
Documents about Canadian Forces propaganda program have disappeared | Ottawa CitizenDocuments about Canadian Forces propaganda program have disappeared | Ottawa Citizen