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Trudeau’s all-out war on free speech


‘CANADA, just like the USA, only nice’. What was once accurate is true no longer. Nice Canada is becoming increasingly intolerant, and it starts with the government. Justin Trudeau’s administration is trying to take cancel culture and turn it into federal law, empowering any social justice warrior with a grievance to take conservatives to court.

Last month the Liberal Trudeau government rammed Bill C-10 through the House of Commons. To achieve this it limited debate, overruled its own committee chair and used every procedural motion it could to get the Bill passed. The government is determined to push it through the Senate, the upper house in Canada’s parliament, after the summer recess and enact it as federal law.

Bill C-10 will effectively censor the internet, handing government bureaucrats and the politicians who direct them the power to regulate what everyday Canadians see online. The algorithms used by companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Netflix and Disney could be replaced by government-approved versions. This would allow the government to push content it liked and hide content it found uncomfortable or threatening.

The Bill affects more than giant tech, it touches on private individuals. The Liberals removed an amendment which would have protected user-generated content. This means the government is grabbing the power to regulate what individuals post on their private Facebook pages or Twitter accounts.

Should any political party have the power to control what its citizens consume on the internet? That this aligns Canada with totalitarian states such as communist China indicates the direction in which ‘nice’ Canada is moving.

At the virtual Banff World Media Festival, Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault confidently told his audience that although the opposition might derail C-10 in the Senate before a potential autumn general election, the Liberals intend to get the legislation passed ‘one way or another’. He also warned, ‘This is just the beginning of our agenda.’ 

Just before the House of Commons rose for the summer break, the Liberals introduced Bill C-36, which takes governmental control to an even higher level. If passed it would allow someone to seek legal protection merely because they were afraid that another person might say or do something nasty to or about them.

Bill C-36 would allow a person to appear before a provincial court, with the Attorney General’s consent, if the person fears that another will commit an offence ‘motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other similar factor’.

The Bill defines hate as ‘the emotion that involves detestation or vilification and that is stronger than dislike or disdain’. What is the difference between speech which expresses hatred and speech which expresses disdain, and which government bureaucrat decides?

If A says something disdainful about B, which would be allowed, but it incites C to detest B, would A then be guilty of a ‘hate crime’? Vagueness is dangerous in any legislation, but especially so when it is giving powers to governments to control what people say.

C-36 would pave the way for complaints to be submitted to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and potentially handed over to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for adjudication.

The CHRT has a nearly 100 per cent conviction rate. In three decades of federal human rights commission cases, only one defendant in a Section 13 (Hate Crime) complaint that went beyond the discovery phase has been acquitted.

Canadians should rightly fear this proposed legislation. It means that someone ‘fearing’ that another person will commit a ‘hate propaganda offence’ or ‘hate crime’ can initiate a legal process resulting in someone facing severe financial damages of up to $C20,000 (£12,000) for a first offence and $C50,000 for a second. The giant social media companies and the complainants meanwhile face no risk of penalty, financial or otherwise.

Bill C-36 opens wide the door to the harassment of those with unpopular views. If passed it would mean that any snowflake could bring a social conservative before the courts merely because the snowflake was afraid that the conservative might say something hateful. That this legislation is incredibly dangerous and open to political manipulation is obvious. Perhaps that is why the Trudeau government is pushing it.

The vaguer the definition of hate in Bill C-36, the more the government can abuse its power and apply it in a politically biased way to silence opponents, while giving itself and its ideological allies a free pass.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti said the government is ‘very much committed’ to Bill C-36 and it will be reintroduced if the Liberals remain in power.

With these two bills, Bill C-10 and Bill C-36, there can be no doubt that Trudeau’s Liberal government is engaged in an all-out attack on the freedom of expression of ordinary Canadians. Canada is not so ‘nice’ any more.

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Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack
Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack
Campbell is a retired Presbyterian minister who lives in Stirlingshire. He blogs at A Grain of Sand.

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