In a recent letter to Canadian MPs, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his commitment to appointing internet “censors” equipped with “strong enforcement mechanisms” to monitor the internet for what is now being referred to as “destabilizing” speech. This move is another indication of Trudeau’s authoritarian tendencies, as he has already implemented a gun ban and frozen the bank accounts of protesters.
Trudeau’s government is now considering the creation of a new Digital Safety Commission that would monitor internet content deemed “hurtful” by the government’s legal department. This censorship effort is part of a risk-based approach to platform regulation in which online services would be forced to identify, assess, and mitigate risks on their platforms. Legislation to implement these measures is still pending, with no specific introduction date yet determined.
Despite Trudeau’s efforts to pass internet censorship bills, such as Bill C-11 and Bill C-18, into law, Canada’s Criminal Code and all provincial libel laws already prohibit hate speech in all forms. Conservative Party of Canada leader Pierre Poilievre has criticized Trudeau’s efforts, emphasizing that freedom of speech and the freedom to live as one chooses are endowed by God and should be protected for all Canadians.
It is worth noting that last year’s lapsed web regulation bill, Bill C-36, could be resurrected, which would have allowed a tribunal to judge anyone against whom an online “hate” complaint had been leveled, even if they had not committed a crime. If found guilty, individuals could have faced fines of up to $70,000 and even house arrest.