Elon Musk calls Trudeau's 'online harms' bill a 'terrible attack on the rights of Canadians to speak freely'

'It's the most Orwellian piece of legislation ever promoted in the West,' wrote Dr. Jordan Peterson in response to Musk's remark.

Elon Musk calls Trudeau's 'online harms' bill a 'terrible attack on the rights of Canadians to speak freely'
AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File
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Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's 'online harms' bill, Bill C-63, "a terrible attack on the rights of Canadians to speak freely" after being made aware of the bill's aims.

Musk called the legislation insane when responding to a post on Wednesday laying out how the bill would make it so that authorities could retroactively search the web for so-called hate speech. 

"This sounds insane if accurate," Musk responded, calling on the platform's Community Notes users to check the veracity of the claims.

Following that interaction, Dr. Jordan Peterson wrote to Musk that the bill is "much much worse than you have been informed."

"Plans to shackle Canadians electronically if accusers fear a 'hate crime' might (might) be committed," Peterson said. "It's the most Orwellian piece of legislation ever promoted in the West."

The bill would cause a flood of supposed hate crimes being filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, experts have warned.

The legislation would attempt to define “hate” in the Criminal Code and could result in convictions of up to life in prison.

Changes to the Human Rights Act would allow for complaints to be filed against individuals accused of posting "hate speech" online and could result in the accused paying the victim up to $20,000.

Allowing human rights complaints to be filed en masse could lead to "weaponized" hate speech complaints, warned Michael Geist, the University of Ottawa’s Canada Research Chair in internet law.

“There is no obvious need or rationale for penalties of life in prison for offences motivated by hatred, nor the need to weaponize human rights complaints by reviving Human Rights Act provisions on communication of hate speech,” Geist wrote in a blog post earlier this year.

Over 15 civil society groups have advocated for the justice minister to separate proposed amendments to the Criminal Code and Canadian Human Rights Act from the bill. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Canadian Muslim Public Affairs Council were among the organizations that signed an open letter issued on Tuesday.

"If this separation is not made, the clear and present risks posed by these problematic portions will continue to overshadow [the bill's] main goal," it says.

That's the establishment of "a regulatory body to mitigate categories identified by the bill as illegal harmful content that negatively affects Canadians, especially Canadian youth," the letter reads.

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