Records show the Canada Revenue Agency paid close to $250,000 to distribute fake “news” articles written by employees in 2023, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

“The purpose of these articles was to inform Canadians,” the agency wrote in an inquiry of ministry tabled in the Senate.

The articles were to “help amplify its messaging in order to reach Canadians that it would not normally have access to through its own channels,” the agency said.

No examples of agency-written stories were provided, but two dailies — the Lethbridge Herald and Hamilton Spectator — were among the newsrooms that published the handout stories as legitimate news items.

The fake stories were distributed through News Canada Inc., a Toronto broker that was paid $233,457 by the agency in the past year.

The inquiry was tabled at the request of Manitoba Sen. Donald Plett, the Opposition leader in the Senate, who asked: “How much did the government of Canada pay to publish news written by government employees?”

Records showed the CRA paid as much as $1,000 apiece to distribute the ghostwritten stories.

The articles meet the federal government’s definition of fake news as the Department of Canadian Heritage in a 2017 memorandum to the minister described it as “state-sponsored” content.

“Creators of fake news are non-traditional sources, i.e. not journalists, individuals on social media, individuals not preoccupied with facts,” said the access-to-information memo.

“Characteristics of fake news” include content that authors are “quick to create and share and are not constrained by research or fact-checking,” the memo said.