Mr. Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Minister of Heritage, tabled Bill C-10, “An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act" last November. Although seemingly harmless at first glance, this proposal will include sweeping changes that put “unapproved” speech under threat.
Firstly, it will place Canada's Internet services under the administration of the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission), giving it a regulatory capacity to enforce diversity, emphasizing “Canadians from racialized communities and Canadians of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, abilities and disabilities, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and ages.”
This will also include plans to target “online hate speech”. Earlier this year, Guilbeault said “there will be a new regulator (to oversee the framework, which) will implement the new rules and monitor hate speech,” with the potential for financial penalties if one is non-compliant.
Jay Cameron of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms had this to say about this piece of legislation: “It is clear from recent statements by the PM and the Heritage Minister that the federal government wants to increase control and penalties for speech and content that is not approved of by the ideologues in the Liberal Party. Unsurprisingly, the purpose of Bill C-10 is not to increase freedom of ‘thought, belief, opinion, and expression’ (section 2(b) of the Charter) but to further restrict it.”
The Campaign Life Coalition is even more fearful: this "'online hate speech' legislation will be a 21st century witch hunt – and pro-life, pro-family, pro-freedom, pro-faith Canadians are the new devils," they wrote in a memorandum.
Even the Globe and Mail has been skeptical. The bill may go beyond the "hate speech, incitement to violence, terrorist propaganda, child pornography and what is delicately referred to as “non-consensual sharing of intimate content” currently mentioned by the Minister, as the a panel commissioned by the PPF has equally called for a sweeping set of regulations to apply "to the broader penumbra of material that is “lawful but awful” – not only the usual list of -isms (racism, sexism, etc.) but the heady brew of disinformation, conspiracy theories and other dementia that has so conspicuously addled the brains of our neighbours to the south." Of course, what is deemed disinformation is often subjective. A worrisome path awaits freedom of speech over the internet in Canada.