Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has proposed “concrete action” to police the news and censor “misinformation” on the internet, moving ahead with his previously introduced plan to do so through Bill C-36, An Act To Amend The Criminal Code.
Blacklock’s reports that a pollster’s report titled Diversity Of Content Online: Public Perceptions And Awareness In Canada And Abroad, found that 80 per cent of Canadians believe the online content they consume is “factual and truthful.”
"Two-thirds of Canadians, 66 percent, feel confident in their ability to tell if online content is fair and balanced,” the poll reported.
The report adds that most of the participants were confident in their abilities to “consider various sources and consider they are being presented with ‘the full picture.’”
Canadians, by and large, believe in the right to access different sources of information with different points of view as a vital tenet of participation in a democracy.
Last July, Guilbeault issued a set of guidelines titled “Guiding principles on diversity of online content” to instruct the media on how to report on news and information. He emphasized the necessity of acting to “ensure a healthy ecosystem online for all citizens.”
Under the guide, misinformation is defined as "false or misleading content shared without harmful intent though the effects can still be harmful, e.g. when people share false information with friends and family in good faith."
Per Guilbeault’s guidelines, those working in the news media, as well as political commentators, must “foster greater exposure to diverse cultural content, information and news" and "contribute to a healthier public discourse, greater social inclusion within society, bolster resilience to disinformation and misinformation and increase our citizens' ability to participate in democratic processes."
Bill C-36 threatens $70,000 in fines or house arrest for any internet publisher, blogger, or social media influencer suspected of posting content that promotes “detestation of vilification.” The bill is expected to see more changes as it makes its way through Parliament.
Guilbeault insists that the bill will create a safer space for all users on the internet.
Bill C-36 failed to pass following the adjournment of the last parliament, but Trudeau’s cabinet intends to reintroduce the legislation later this year.