Canadian government sees Yes Men’s Copenhagen hoax dismantled

Two Web sites that aimed to shame the Canadian delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (December 7 to 18) have been shut down. According to a media release issued by the Yes Men—who launched the elaborate ruse on December 14—the government of Canada used “strong-arm tactics” to have the sites deactivated.

In a telephone interview, Yes Men member Mike Bonanno described the federal government’s behavior as a “paranoid response to criticism”.

He supplied the Straight with e-mails allegedly sent from government officials to the relevant Web site hosting company and Internet service provider.

Those messages indicate that Environment Canada initially contacted PiWeb, the company hosting the Yes Men’s Web sites related to the hoax. Then, when no action was taken, the Department of Public Safety’s Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre contacted Serverloft, the Internet service provider used by PiWeb.

Here are those e-mails, presented by the CCIRC in reverse chronological order. (Some contact information has been removed.)

Date: Mon, 21 Dec 2009 09:34:37 -0500
Subject: CCIRC CE09-2616 [Deactivation Request]


The Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre (CCIRC) is requesting your assistance in a matter concerning the Government of Canada.

Below is a request, from The Office of Intellectual Property, Environment Canada, requesting the deactivation of two websites that are impersonating Environment Canada/Government of Canada.

There are 2 domains of concern, specifically:

Both of these sites are hosted on IP - AS8972 using Serverloft hosting services.

The hosting provider has not removed the pages, as requested.

Therefore, CCIRC is requesting your assistance in having these sites deactivated.

Please advise if you can assist.

Thanks very much,

Note: Original request from Environment Canada Intellectual Property Office below.

Bruce Moore
Cyber Duty Officer
Public Safety Canada
Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre (CCIRC)


Subject: Infringement of Environment Canada trademarks, copyright and phishing of the official website

To whom it may concern:

I am writing on behalf of the Minister of Environment to demand that you promptly delete and remove the website "" and "" which have been confirmed to be currently hosted on your servers. We make this demand because this website infringes Environment Canada's Intellectual Property and acts as a phishing site to the official Departmental website.

By way of background, this website is directly connected to a hoax which misleads people into believing that the Government of Canada will take certain actions in relation to environmental matters. In addition to containing false statements, the websites contain links to other false statements, all as part of the hoax. While it is evident to the Department of the Environment that this website was created as part of the hoax, the same will not be evident to most users of this infringing and false website.

We trust you appreciate the importance of avoiding confusion among the public concerning Canadian governmental affairs and that you will assist us in preventing this hoax from spreading further. In addition, we ask that you make every effort to prevent any further attempts concerning other environment-related domains (enviro, ec-gc, etc.) originating from your servers.

Please confirm at your earliest convenience your deletion and removal of these websites.

Should you have any questions regarding this issue, please feel free to contact me anytime.

We thank you for your attention to this matter.

Mike Landreville
Manager, Intellectual Property Office Environnement Canada

A media release announcing a plan to significantly cut carbon emissions was posted on a Web site made to look very similar to that of Environment Canada's.

According to the Yes Men’s media release, Serverloft responded to the CCIRC’s message by blocking a large number of IP addresses used by PiWeb, which resulted in the deactivation of 4,500 Web sites unrelated to the hoax.

The authenticity of the e-mails in question could not immediately be confirmed as neither the CCIRC’s Bruce Moore nor Environment Canada’s Mike Landreville could be reached for comment.

You can follow Travis Lupick on Twitter at




Dec 30, 2009 at 10:42am

It certainly looks like they were attempting to fake a government site, so they deserve it


Dec 30, 2009 at 11:49am

I also believe that the government should be able to shut down any sites that the government deems to be annoying - for instance, we obviously shouldn't be able to use satire to point out the governments failings - that might hurt someone's feelings!

Also, the freedom of speech that we canadians abuse every time we complain about how little our government actually does for us should be regulated by people in government. After all, if you didn't vote for them, you can't complain. If you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't be offended by random searches and warrentless detention. Lets just all love our government and never ever dispute what they present as the 'plan' (or lack thereof) for Canada.

Best if they can just shut off all sources of criticism before it troubles anyone to actually think about the problem. Yay for the nanny state, I don't have to even know how to buy groceries for myself anymore!

Michale Castanaveras

Dec 30, 2009 at 2:03pm

Note to self: Do not use Serverloft ISP hosting. They knee-jerk react to cease & desist letters (as opposed to judicial orders).


Dec 30, 2009 at 2:49pm

Sheeple: Perhaps you ought to learn a little bit about Canadian history & Law. We as Canadians are not entitled to Freedom of Speech, nor are we guaranteed this right by the constitution. We never have, this isn't the evil harperites that are taking your freedom.

Perhaps instead of sitting on your parents couch and collecting welfare you should take a few courses at your local community school?


Dec 30, 2009 at 10:08pm

LearnTheLaw: Ever hear of freedom of expression? It's guaranteed as a fundamental freedom (including "freedom of the press and other media of communication") in Part 1, Section 2(b) of the Charter. I didn't even have to leave my couch to check that, since the full text is on the web. Dumbass.

(Of course, you'd already lost any shred of credibility you might have had by using the word "sheeple", but that's a different matter entirely.)


Dec 31, 2009 at 3:30am

I reccommend they be tried and sent to jail for fraud and extortion! What they are doing is blatanyly against the law and our Canadian constitution!

what a shame!

Dec 31, 2009 at 2:20pm

@ LearnTheLaw:

"Perhaps instead of sitting on your parents couch and collecting welfare you should take a few courses at your local community school?"


Dec 31, 2009 at 3:17pm

How is this a cyber-threat? Talk about disproportional justice!

Give these Yes Men a little credit! The websites themselves were immediately highlighted as a hoax by another hoax press release... Who were they fooling?

I'd like to see the government use such informal channels to protect all of their property... Getting Conservatives to stop putting their party logo on federal cheques might be a nice start.

good on them

Dec 31, 2009 at 6:20pm

accuse the government of strong arm tactics all you want, they are correct in protecting their interests, as for the yes men, you have done the opposite, you used COWARDLY tactics to impersonate the government of Canada, in attempt to push your own agenda, but since you obviously have no credibility, you had to try and cash in on the credibility of the Canadian government. Cowards, you got what you deserved.


Jan 2, 2010 at 9:21am

To all those who think the YesMen are cowardly, don't 4get that it is the Harper government that prorogued Parliament because it is too cowardly to face the Canadian public.