Diana Davison is an internet personality who has described herself as an anti-feminist, a journalist, and a men’s “civil rights activist.” She is a popular YouTuber, currently with over 83,000 subscribers, who previously vlogged under the handle “Feminism LOL.” Each of those old videos began with her making fun of a stat about the frequency of rape in the United States — “Hey everyone, it’s been over two minutes, and I haven’t been raped yet.” Two years ago, she rebranded her channel eponymously and created a non-profit, The Lighthouse Project, raising funds from her supporters through Patreon and PayPal. Many of her videos are “investigations” into women who have accused men of sexual misconduct. Between the end of January and April, she produced a series of seven videos about the allegations against former Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario (PCPO) leader Patrick Brown. In those videos, the Vancouver-based Davison called the allegations a “hit job,” a “political coup,” and the mainstream media “fucking” with the public.
CANADALAND has learned that in March, Davison received a $10,000 cheque, of which she would keep just under half, from lawyer Joseph Villeneuve, a longtime friend of Brown and member of his inner circle. Both Davison and Villeneuve say the payment was supposed to be in exchange for reading over and analyzing voluminous documents — that never materialized — related to an alleged political coup against Brown. Davison was subcontracted by a political operative named David Wallace, who arranged for her to pick up the $10,000 cheque from Villeneuve that would then be split between the two of them.
Villeneuve is adamant that Brown — who is now running for mayor of Brampton — had no involvement in the payment to Davison and Wallace and that the transaction was strictly for the purpose of retrieving and analyzing documents Wallace claimed to have in his possession that would prove an alleged conspiracy.
“I have never paid Diana Davison (and/or any organization including Lighthouse) any amount whatsoever for videos or anything at all,” he says in an email to CANADALAND. “Likewise, I have never made any kind of payment whatsoever to Diana (and/or Lighthouse or anyone else) on behalf of Patrick Brown or anyone else. I am also aware that Patrick Brown has never done so.” (Emphasis in original.)
In addition to being a Canadian political operative, David Wallace is a private investigator who claims to have ties to Russian government officials and businessmen. Villeneuve hired Wallace to analyze what Wallace claimed were thousands of documents that proved there was a conspiracy to oust Brown as leader of the PCPO mere months before an election he was projected to win, suggesting special interests were behind women coming forward with sexual misconduct allegations at the beginning of this year. No proof of this conspiracy theory — other than conjecture and flimsy circumstantial evidence — has so far been produced.
Actor/filmmaker Nick Campbell, David Wallace recently met with KHL President D.Chernishenko. Discussed creation of documentary about hockey. pic.twitter.com/G4AXNA4M6h
— Russia in Canada (@RussianEmbassyC) October 31, 2017
Both Villeneuve and Davison previously discussed the $5,000 payment in private messages to Doug Quantz, a long-time provincial and federal Conservative volunteer, landlord, and grant technical writer from Brockville, Ontario. Quantz says he became disillusioned with Brown after going to a private event held for the politician back in May, at which some in Brown’s camp feared Quantz recorded private political conversations.
“Your a useless twat [sic]. Everyone knows you betrayed [Patrick Brown],” Davison wrote to Quantz via Twitter direct message after the event. “So did you record PB at his Saturday event?”
In other messages CANADALAND has seen (and verified in person), Davison complained about her share of the funds received from Villeneuve.
“I got $5K David got $5K and I had to pay $3K for travel while he did not. And I also gave him $350…” wrote Davison in a message. “You don’t care that it cost me $3K to travel to Toronto and it cost him nothing? How do you think I was going to get to Toronto if they didn’t pay my expenses?”
In a phone interview, Davison says, “I travelled to Toronto in early March, and I was going there because a friend of mine working for Patrick, her name’s Frances [Bradshaw], wanted me there with her because I was giving her emotional support. And then David Wallace said if I went to Toronto he would meet with me.”
As more and more internet personalities compete with journalists for an audience online, and attempt to discredit what they describe as the dishonest mainstream media, it’s important to examine whether they rise to the standards of ethics and accountability they expect of others. Recently, BuzzFeed reporter Craig Silverman revealed the mysterious individual behind right-wing conspiracy website True Pundit, which creates and propagates viral lies. There are countless examples of citizen journalists and activists telling the world about events, but limited exploration of who may be paying them and how they might be connected to a story.
In none of her videos did Davison mention receiving funds from, or doing paid work on behalf of, anyone associated with Patrick Brown.
Davison’s coverage of the Brown affair
Davison says that after she made her first video defending Brown against sexual misconduct allegations, Wallace reached out to her, feeding her tips for future videos on the saga, including the suggestion that BC-based casino company Great Canadian Gaming was involved in Brown’s fall.
In February, she produced three videos on Brown, dismissing his accusers’ allegations and claiming the mainstream media was “fucking with us,” “democracy [was] overthrown,” and the allegations were “an obvious hit job” from within the Ontario PC party. (She also impugned my CANADALAND piece on Brown’s response to the allegations and has been highly critical of other coverage of this news outlet.)
In her video from February 18, she first discussed the Twitter account opensourcemedia, run by Wallace, and claimed the supposed political ousting “connects” to then-premier Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Liberal Party. No direct evidence has been provided.
During the time she produced her first videos, she became friends with Brown supporter, friend, and employee Frances Bradshaw, after Davison reached out to the Justice for Patrick Brown Facebook page to introduce herself. Davison says she travels to Toronto two to three times a year, showing CANADALAND three tickets from last year, and changed her flight for an already planned trip so she could provide emotional support to Bradshaw.
“I went [to Toronto] to help Frances out and to meet with David Wallace,” says Davison. “What I was told by Joe [Villeneuve] was that he was paying David $10,000, and David wanted me to have half of it because he wanted me to help him go through documents. Patrick Brown has nothing to do with this. I’ve never met Brown, I spoke to him on the phone just briefly, ‘cause I was actually an emotional-support person for his mom.”
Brown is now polling a close second in the mayoral race in Brampton, behind incumbent Linda Jeffrey. It’s his third time running for public office this year, the last being for Peel Region chair, which PCPO Premier Doug Ford axed as an elected position.
Speaking to CANADALAND on the phone from Brown’s wedding last weekend, Villeneuve said that at the time he hired Wallace, he was planning to “sue certain people in the party” — and that the information Wallace promised to deliver, concerning a “conspiracy to undermine mine and Patrick’s reputations,” was “worth $10,000.”
“And $10,000 is not a lot of money, to be honest with you, that’s basically a routine investigator’s cheque, 7,500 to 10,000 is a retainer.”
“David advised me,” Villeneuve explains in an email, “that he was going to use ½ of that amount to pay Diana Davison to sort thru voluminous documents (largely related to telephone records and claims he was making about Great Canadian Gaming). David requested that the money be given to Diana as she was going to be meeting David to get the documents, and David lacked transportation and had fears about being seen meeting with me (he advised me that he had information that I was being surveilled). I gave no instructions of any kind whatsoever to Diana, other than to make the payment to David.”
After returning from her trip to Toronto in mid-March, Davison produced a couple more videos on the Brown saga but didn’t disclose any personal and pecuniary connections to Brown’s friends and family.
“Now I’ve been travelling for the last couple of weeks and researching a very important sequence of events in Canada that started off for me as a high-profile accusation case, but quickly morphed into something bigger,” she said in a March 18 video. “As much as I tried to disprove [opensourcemedia’s] theory, all of the evidence has shown it to be true. As of this week, I’ve now seen documents and emails that prove it.”
The video goes on for several minutes and doesn’t provide any direct evidence from alleged documents and emails. Instead, Davison makes claims that Brown opposing an Ontario casino deal between the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and Great Canadian Gaming led to individuals orchestrating a coup to oust him from power. She provides no documentation in support of this claim. Instead, she jumps to unsubstantiated conclusions by citing Great Canadian Gaming’s political connections in Ontario as well as reporting by investigative journalist Sam Cooper concerning a money-laundering scandal in which one of the company’s BC casinos is embroiled. (CANADALAND reached out to Great Canadian Gaming, which declined to comment on the claims.)
In another video on Brown from April, she again promoted the conspiracy-theory narrative.
“So all of you who think Patrick Brown must’ve done something wrong and that he’s probably a creep or some kind of dirty politician, well, you’re wrong. He’s the guy who cared too much about stopping money laundering and drug dealers. That’s the guy who just got thrown out of politics.”
What is Davison’s job?
Before becoming a full-time activist and advocate for (predominantly) men she sees as falsely accused, Davison worked as a makeup artist in the film industry, a painter, and a post office manager. She took her activism full-time after becoming injured a couple years ago, and now divides her time between her nonprofit, The Lighthouse Project (with a mission statement to give “Help for the falsely accused”), and making videos defending prominent men she believes have been falsely accused by women and/or are being unfairly maligned in the court of public opinion.
In the past, Davison has called herself a “journalist” on Twitter and in some videos, and prides herself on shining light on the truth, even including an illustration depicting herself as Lady Justice in many of her YouTube videos and Patreon page, which has 275 patrons contributing $2,676 monthly.
I'm a journalist?
— Diana Davison (@d2davison) July 20, 2018
I work with lawyers. I'm an independent journalist and civil rights activist.
— Diana Davison (@d2davison) July 31, 2018
But when asked if she saw a conflict of interest in presenting herself as a journalist in her YouTube coverage while also having connections to Brown’s friends and family, she walks back her claim.
“I have been accused of being guilty of ‘acts of journalism,’ but I primarily describe myself as a civil rights activist. André Marin described me as such in the Toronto Sun. I was formerly a Men’s Rights Activist but had an acrimonious parting of ways with them,” she writes in an email.
Davison says she is currently helping over 30 clients who are mostly men, but says she turns down many and doesn’t charge a fee to those she helps.
“I’m funded by the family and friends of people who have been affected by false accusations,” says Davison. But she says she doesn’t directly “take money from people who are facing false accusations, because their burden is so huge, they’re often suicidal, and if they are innocent they deserve my help. When/if they are cleared they can pay it forward so other innocent men get the help they need. But no one can buy my help.”
“Much of what I do is talk to people (usually men) who are in distress and feeling suicidal. I help them focus and think of what they can do to help themselves and their lawyers and make sure they have family and friends keeping them safe. Sometimes I’m talking to family members who are in distress. … The majority of cases I help with are never reported in a video.”
Davison’s videos range from defences of Jian Ghomeshi and Albert Schultz to U.S. President Donald Trump and the disgraced former chairman and CEO of Fox News, the late Roger Ailes. Some of her video titles include: “Jian Ghomeshi is not the liar,” “The Unmaking of Albert Schultz,” “Mandi Gray & Why Women Lie About Rape,” and “Proof That Donald Trump Does Not Assault Women.” In the past, she has also promoted the online subculture community Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), a group steeped in misogyny.
Some of the most violently extreme misogynists I encounter in far-right channels are MGTOW.
— Alheli Picazo (@a_picazo) September 26, 2018
(She’s also defended former federal court judge and prospective Rebel employee Robin Camp, who was removed from the bench over his “knees together” comment to an alleged rape victim in a trial he was presiding over.)
Asked if she thinks that women aren’t being truthful most of the time — since she almost always take the man’s side in her videos — Davison says that would be “a pretty big generalization because there’s a lot of people who get raped.” But when pressed that her videos could leave that impression, she cites two women about whom she believes there’s strong evidence to suggest they’re sexual predators, but adds that they both deserve fair trials.
“I ask for due process at the very least. I showed you my Avital Ronell video where I say she deserves due process. The court documents that the student filed against her are pretty intense and are pretty convincing, but they should wait for the reply. … When I did my video about Asia Argento I said there was some pretty convincing evidence but we shouldn’t assume we know the whole story.”
When I again asked about any men she suspected were guilty, she tells me of how she reported a man to the LA police because he was acting unhinged.
Before writing this story, Davison reached out to me on Twitter to discuss an article I wrote about a defamation lawsuit that comedian and former talk show host Mike Bullard filed against Rogers and a Chatelaine journalist back in August in regards to his pleading guilty to sending harassing telecommunications to his ex-girlfriend. Davison made a video defending Bullard back in July, but says she was not paid by him.
“I’d also have you know that I am a victim of rape in my past and have been stalked. Interestingly, feminists have told me that I should be raped. No men have ever told me that,” Davison told me in a Twitter message.
“Because as someone who was assaulted I am deeply offended by people who lie about it.”
In his lawsuit, Bullard is now being represented by Villeneuve. Bullard was previously represented by another lawyer at the law firm Villeneuve worked under until mid-July. But Villeneuve tells CANADALAND, about Davison, “I can tell you, between you and I, Mike Bullard has never given that woman a dollar and neither have I.”