By Joan Janzen
I read a quote that said, “It’s easy to believe in freedom of speech for those with whom we agree.”
It’s a relevant quote, since freedom of speech is being jeopardized by Bill C-10 which has been proposed by Canada’s Heritage Minister, Steven Guilbeault. Bill C-10 will ban “hate speech” including “hurtful” language against politicians. It is described as a harmless bill to bring big tech giants under control, and if successful would force social media platforms to remove content which is considered to be harmful. A regulatory body will be formed to decide what is harmful and what is not.
Originally, it was said that posts from everyday citizens like you and I would be excluded by a specific exemption. However this special exemption was quietly removed at a parliamentary committee. According to the Heritage Minister, once a post or content is considered “harmful” it would be taken down within 24 hours of being flagged. Supposedly the purpose of this bill is to create a level playing field, however experts say the bill’s true powers would be to censor and control what Canadians see, read, hear, watch and even post on line.
Since the early 1970’s, Canada has had legislation in place to protect our ability to communicate our thoughts and values without government interference. This bill will not only prevent Canadians from doing so, but will also introduce a huge expansion of governmental powers.
Nevertheless, Guilbeault unveiled the censorship bill saying, “My job is to ensure the safety and security of the Canadian population. That’s what I’m here for. I think it’s going to be a really good remedy to a number of problems, but it won’t solve everything. One of the issues I’ve learned, looking at different models, is you shouldn’t try to tackle everything from the get go.” In other words, this bill would just be the beginning of further government control. What would be introduced next … fines?
He rationalized that the goal of tighter internet control “is to create a safer environment for all people online and not just for a handful.” He also said he had “seen too many examples of public officials retreating from public service due to the hateful online content targeted towards themselves.”
I doubt politicians are even aware of a huge percentage of content that’s targeted towards them online, because they have staff who handle their communications. As for everyday citizens like you and I, we are perfectly capable of deleting or ignoring any online content that we find hurtful or harmful. We do not need the government to do it for us.
Guilbeault also touched on his role as a father, saying “As a dad and a stepdad to six kids, I know more can and should be done to create a safer online environment.” That is a really nice sentiment, but ultimately it is a parent’s responsibility to ensure the online safety of their children, not the government’s responsibility.
He also said the bill will protect the “core values shared by Canadians”. And therein lies the problem, because not all Canadians share the Liberals’ core values.
Guilbeault spoke with confidence saying “Like you, we believe that no Canadian should suffer from online abuse without recourse. That’s why we will be introducing this legislation very soon. Once the bill is tabled there will be further consultations by a parliamentary committee, and once the bill is adopted – and I’m confident it will – there will be further consultations. Keeping you safe online is one of my priorities in this government,” he concluded.
Is this bill about “safety” or about “government control”? Canadians of all political stripes should agree that government should not be regulating what we can say on social media.
Please sign petitions that are on line, phone or email Members of Parliament, because Canadians need to fight this bill.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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