Canadian Liberals Propose Bill Outlining LIFE IN PRISON For “Online Hate Speech” Convictions

Amy Hamm

A new bill introduced by Canada’s Liberal government yesterday will make it possible to receive life in prison for posting “online hate.” While the legislation purports to strengthen protection of minors from sexual abuse, critics are slamming the bill as an attack on free speech.

The Online Harm Act would amend Canada’s Criminal Code by increasing the maximum punishment for “advocating genocide” from five years to life in prison. It also adds an “offence motivated by hatred” with potential for life imprisonment. The proposed act defines hatred broadly as the emotion that involves detestation or vilification and that is stronger than disdain or dislike.”

The Act would additionally amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) so that posting “online hate speech” can be considered “discriminatory.” Previously, the CHRA defined discrimination as a “refusal to provide a service to someone—or declaring intent to do so—on the basis of a protected characteristic, such as religion or sex.” Complainants, under the proposed legislation, could be forced to pay up to $70,000 CAD in fines.

The proposed legislation has ramifications for “online services,” which would include social media websites, live streaming services, and adult-content sites; these services will be responsible for creating reporting tools and complaints processes, adding parental controls, monitoring content, mitigating risk, and outlining what measures they’ve taken to reduce exposure to “online harms.”

To ensure compliance, the Online Harm Act outlines the creation of a Digital Safety Commission, as well as an Ombudsperson. The proposed legislation alleges that the commission would filter frivolous complaints — another point of contention for critics, who believe the complaints process could easily be weaponized by activists who want to silence and punish their political opponents.

A previous version of the bill was repealed by Canada’s last Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, in 2013. This was done to address concerns that the bill was intended to censor controversial opinions and that it would — because of its broad language — infringe on Canadians’ right to free expression. Years later, another version of the bill was quashed in 2021 when Prime Minister Trudeau called a snap election under the mistaken belief that his party could win a majority government, but failed.

Conservative leader and opposition Pierre Poilievre has announced that he will not support the bill, which he referred to as an “attack on freedom of expression.”

He has called out Trudeau’s dubious history of wearing “blackface” on numerous occasions, and stated that Trudeau has no right to be the arbiter of appropriate speech in Canada. 

Canadians have taken to social media to express their outrage over the proposed legislation, which is currently at first reading. On X (formerly Twitter), Canadian journalist Cosmin Dzsurdzsa suggested that the bill makes the country’s human rights tribunal “a kangaroo court system.”

“If there’s a single person reading this who trusts the current Canadian government to decide what online content should be banned on the basis that it causes “harm,” I’d love to know. (I’m guessing the Libs’ first targets will be anyone who “deadnames” genderwang celebs),” remarked journalist Jon Kay.

“This is the stuff of totalitarians,” said X user @AMCKunneke.

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Amy Hamm

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