MONTREAL — Ken Pereira, one of the first people to blow the whistle on corruption in Quebec’s construction industry, is running as a Quebec City-area candidate in the fall election for Maxime Bernier’s nascent People’s Party of Canada.
But instead of being noticed for his public service, the former president of an industrial mechanics union is getting attention for an online presence where he often promotes conspiracy theories.
Pereira has compared the fight against climate change to “the radical Islamic State” and suggested the measles vaccine will give people autism.
“The climate agenda is as harmful for Western youth as the radical Islamic State is for their youth,” according to a tweet last March from Pereira.
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He has also promoted and defended the U.S. sites The Gateway Pundit and Infowars, known for spreading conspiracy theories.
Calls to Bernier’s spokesperson were not immediately returned on Wednesday. Pereira is listed on the People’s Party of Canada website as a candidate for the Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier riding.
Pereira’s name became known across the province following a 2009 report on Radio-Canada that looked into corruption in Quebec’s construction industry. He was one of the main sources for the story.
Pereira leaked the expense accounts of Jocelyn Dupuis, who was the head of Quebec’s FTQ-Construction, a union representing the majority of Quebec’s construction workers.
That Radio-Canada episode helped spark additional investigative reporting that led to the Charbonneau commission, a multi-year inquiry into corruption in the construction industry and the illegal financing of political parties. Pereira testified before the commission in 2013.
He went on to develop an online persona — mostly on Twitter. In an April 2016 Twitter post he promoted the debunked theory that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine causes autism. Last month, he linked to a story about Pope Francis with the comment, “Traitor or mentally ill, the pope wants to radicalize the Catholic Church movement, the new crusade!”
In an interview with The Canadian Press Tuesday, Pereira said he remains uncertain about the safety of the MMR vaccine, saying he has “asked a lot of doctors” and has not received a satisfactory response.
Bernier, 56, who represents the federal riding of Beauce, south of Quebec City, slammed the door on the Conservative party on the eve of its convention last August.
The Tories, he said, were “too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed,” and on Sept. 14 he launched his new party