The Trudeau Liberals are facing incredible resistance from Canadians on their push to censor the internet, according to internal government research.
As reported by Blacklock’s Reporter, Canadians don’t need Ottawa’s help to safely use the internet, says in-house Privy Council research. Yet, Attorney General Arif Virani continues to study the "best practices" on regulating legal content.
"We are studying what’s working in foreign jurisdictions and we’re definitely working with different online entities including online companies," he said. "We’ve seen great progress."
According to federal pollsters, participants held reservations with the government mitigating "online misinformation and disinformation" in place of individual responsibility.
Virani provided no examples of legal content they would censor when asked by reporters last November.
Even Canadians worried by ‘hurtful content’ on social media acknowledged Ottawa should not dictate what legal content is suitable for consumption, researchers wrote in the Privy Council reports. Among the categories of harm earlier identified by Parliament included hate speech and terrorist content.
"A number were of the view it was of critical importance for Canadians to be able to leave comments and have their voices heard regarding initiatives and policies important to them," said the June 12 and May 11 reports Continuous Qualitative Data Collection Of Canadians’ Views.
"While most believed harmful content online represented a growing concern few felt it to be a major issue at present," said the report. "Several were of the view that individuals were typically able to avoid harmful content by blocking it or not utilizing platforms on which it was present."
Regardless, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly said legal internet content must be regulated.
He testified at the Emergencies Act inquiry that social media had become a petri dish for 'anger' and 'hate.' "[…] that is different from anything we have seen before, difficult to counter, and it is destabilizing our democracy," said Trudeau at the time.
A July 29, 2021, Technical Paper and Discussion Paper pondered hiring a Digital Safety Commissioner to investigate anonymous complaints, conduct closed-door hearings and block websites, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.
However, Bill C-36, An Act To Amend The Criminal Code, died on the order paper when Trudeau called a snap election that August. He pledged new legislation within 100 days of his new mandate, but delays have stalled progress after two rounds of consultations.
The federal government committed to reintroducing the internet censorship bill by last December 31. However, they failed to meet that deadline, notes Blacklock’s Reporter.
"It is not going to be longer than the fall but of course I can’t give you a specific date," then-heritage minister Pablo Rodriguez testified last May 29 at the Commons heritage committee.
Cabinet in June 2021 introduced the short-lived Bill C-36 that proposed $70,000 fines for legal content deemed "likely to foment detestation or vilification." It lapsed in the last Parliament.
Asked when Canadians could expect online harm legislation, Virani replied, "It is really critical that we get this right."
"You didn’t answer the question," said a reporter. "We are looking at international best practices," he countered.
A total of 9,218 groups and individuals petitioned Heritage Canada on Bill C-36, with the majority opposed, according to Blacklock’s Reporter. Critics, including lawyers and free speech advocates, claim it would quash political dissent.
"The Minister of Justice has done the difficult work of getting legislation ready to improve protections and ensure we have the best level of online safety possible, and he will have a lot to say about that when the legislation is introduced," Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc told reporters November 28.
"Why are we still waiting for it?" asked a reporter. "Because it is complicated," he replied.