The Trudeau government is to introduce new “online harms” legislation, paving the way for an authoritarian crack-down on Canadians' freedom of speech, and leaving political dissenters in the unenviable position of facing prosecution on tenuous allegations of 'hate'.
SIGN: Our MPs and Senators must STOP the imposition of more online laws attacking our freedom of speech
Justice Minister Arif Virani has promised to introduce so-called “online harms” legislation “as soon as possible”, instilling fears that this will mean the revival of a lapsed Bill C-36 from 2021 which aimed to target online free speech by banning certain legal internet content.
Discussions around Bill C-36 came to a standstill after multiple civil society groups expressed reservations about the proposed online harm legislation.
The autocratic Trudeau government is now justifying the proposed “online harms” bill, however, by claiming that Canada needs 'a safe and secure digital environment as much as we need safe streets in our communities.'
According to the proposals, the legislation led by the Liberals would target five categories of harmful content:
- terrorist content;
- content that incites violence;
- hate speech;
- non-consensual sharing of intimate images; and
- child sexual exploitation content
While it is laudable to root out all sexually abusive images, the inclusion of 'hate speech' is a political ploy to shut down reasonable opinions that are gaining traction online.
It will no doubt be considered hateful to remind people online that it is impossible to change genders, or that the purpose of sexual attraction is to ensure men and women make babies.
SIGN: We don't want a new version of Bill C-36 - tell legislators to defend our freedom of speech NOW
According to Dr. Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, the online harms bill will be the most controversial bill in the ‘Liberals’ three-part digital regulation plan.
“Given the fierce debate and opposition to [Bills C-11 and C-18], it may be hard to believe that online harms will be even more contentious, yet that is likely, both because the bill will have enormous implications for freedom of expression.”
Peggy Hicks, Director of Thematic Engagement for the UN Human Rights Office, believes nearly every country that has adopted online laws relating to harmful content has jeopardized human rights in doing so.
“This happens because governments respond to public pressure by rushing in with simple solutions for complex problems. Additionally, some governments see this legislation as a way to limit speech they dislike and even silence civil society or other critics,” said Hicks.
We encourage you to hold the Trudeau government to account for trying to strip our human rights and freedom of speech in Canada.
SIGN & SHARE: Tell your politicians to vote against the impending ‘online harms’ bill