Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
© Patrick Doyle /REUTERS
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a news conference held to discuss the country's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Nov. 6, 2020.
Appears feds really want to target speech that offends Liberals

Federal Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault plans to introduce legislation and regulations this year to "protect Canadians online" when using social media.

Be very afraid.

"We intend a comprehensive approach with the tabling of a bill in early 2021 that will apply to the various platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)," according to a briefing note from his department on "Regulation of Social Media Platforms" to "promote a safer and more inclusive online environment."

Comment: Orwellian double speak. What "inclusive" really means is censoring voices that disagree with the prevailing ideologically liberal positions.

"Social media platforms," it continues, "can ... be used to threaten, intimidate, bully and harass people, or used to promote racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, misogynistic and homophobic views that target communities, put people's safety at risk and undermine Canada's social cohesion or democracy."

Other government documents cite child pornography.

But as Blacklock's Reporter noted in reporting on the issue, we already have criminal laws against hate speech — and for that matter against child pornography, harassment, uttering threats and civil laws against libel and slander.

As a Liberal MP wisely said in May, 2019, freedom of speech is "so fundamental to our democracies" that, "we recognize the solution doesn't lie in government's heavy hand over our internet, over our public spaces."

He warned while democratic governments might view such legislation as useful to protect citizens and ensure social media platforms behave responsibly, in countries without those traditions, it "might be a tool for oppression of citizens, or control, or really attacking free speech."

Comment: Bingo. At least there's someone in Canada's government that has an ounce of common sense.

The Liberal MP was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said he would only consider such legislation as a last resort.

That begs the question of what changed between May and September of 2019, when his election platform promised: "We will target online hate speech, exploitation and harassment, and do more to protect victims of hate speech."

It said while there are positive aspects to social media it can also "be used to threaten, intimidate, bully and harass people — or used to promote racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, misogynist, and homophobic views ... put people's safety at risk, and undermine Canada's long-standing commitment to diversity."

It also cited terrorism.

Because of that, it said, "we will move forward with new regulations for social media platforms, starting with a requirement that all platforms remove illegal content, including hate speech, within 24 hours or face significant financial penalties."

Comment: But how will "hate speech" be defined one wonders...

Given that we already have criminal and civil laws to deal with these issues, it appears what the Liberals really want to target is speech they think "undermines Canada's long-standing commitment to diversity."

That is, speech that offends Liberals.

Can you imagine a world where social media companies would have 24 hours to take down "illegal" postings that allegedly undermine the Liberals' definition of "diversity" or face "significant financial penalties," if not criminal prosecution, to say nothing of what happens to the person posting the "illegal" tweets or other comments?

In a decision in 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada broadened the legal defence of fair comment to make it consistent with the freedom of expression provisions in the Charter.

In 2013, the federal Conservative government repealed Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which many Liberals agreed contained a dangerously broad definition of hate speech.

In 2015, Ontario's Liberal government passed anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) legislation to protect the public's right to speak out on matters of public interest, without being buried in intimidating lawsuits by powerful opponents.

Now, in 2021, Trudeau wants to turn back the clock on free speech.