KITCHENER -- A free newspaper is causing a stir in Waterloo Region and beyond.

In early January, The Epoch Times began showing up in mailboxes unsolicited.

The polarizing paper has been the subject of controversy before due to its sharp criticism of China and other right-wing issues.

In the paper's free spring edition, it ran a story with the headline “How the Chinese Communist Party Endangered the World” that accused China of covering up the COVID-19 pandemic.

On its website, The Epoch Times describes itself as a paper founded "in response to communist repression and censorship in China." It said it uses "truth and tradition" as its "guiding light."

In a statement emailed to CTV News, Cindy Gu, the publisher of the paper, said the sample edition was distributed to select areas by Canada Post to grow the paper’s readership and subscription base.

According to the Epoch Times, the 28-page sample edition included a 10-page special report on persistent efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to infiltrate and interfere in Canada and the west.

“Sampling is a common and established practice in the publishing industry. We have received overwhelming positive responses from those who received and read our sample,” said Gu in the statement.

Some people who received the paper say it’s stoking the fires of discrimination.

“We had a sign on our street in March that basically said, 'Chinese people, I blame you for all this,' and they just posted it on their front lawn…. And then to have this delivered to every house, we should not be adding fuel to the fire of anti-Chinese sentiment, and I don’t think the federal government should feel any compulsion to deliver, so it really got my hackles up,” said Alanna King, who started a petition against the delivery of the publication in April of 2020.

“I am all about free speech and voices, but the nature of this paper is so inflammatory and so filled with extremely bias information that I had to question whether this wasn’t impinging on human rights in general,” said King.

In the petition, King states “As Canada Post customers, and members of the public, we should not have hate speech delivered to our mailboxes." It continues “only the Canadian Federal Government has the power to make this change by declaring The Epoch Times persecuting of Chinese people.” So far nearly 8,000 people have signed the petition.

"What I mind is that it's widespread on a national level on what's supposed to be a public service," King said. "I worry that people will say that, because it's in that old-school newspaper print, that it will seem more legitimate."

Gu says she is a Chinese Canadian herself and wants to ensure readers are aware of the differences between anti-Chinese sentiment and opposing the ideology of the Chinese Communist Regime.

According to her statement, “The Epoch Times was founded in 2000 by Chinese immigrants in North America who fled communist persecution in their home country.”

“We started the English edition in 2004,” the statement reads. “We love China and the Chinese people. We understand the dangers of communism more than most because we lived through it.”

“The Chinese people are the biggest victims of the Chinese Communist Party, and our media reports on the Chinese Communist Party’s atrocities against its own citizens, as well as alerts the rest of the world of the regime’s threats, out of care for Canada and humanity.”

In response to the controversy, a statement from Canada Post said in part “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 statement goes on to say “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. Any further questions about the publication should be directed to the publisher,” said Valerie Chartrand, who worked in media relations with Canada Post.

They say if a customer wants to stop receiving unaddressed mail, they should contact Canada Post customer service at 1-800-267-1177.

“We support Canada Post’s position,” said Gu in her statement. “Censorship is a violation of the Charter of Rights and freedom of the press.”



EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to include comments from the publisher of The Epoch Times. The paper was previously unavailable for comment.