Justice Minister defends pre-emptive house arrest for those accused of plotting 'hate crime'

While the new power could be a 'very, very important' tool according to Justice Minister Arif Virani, Rebel News boss Ezra Levant says it's more like a restraining order for 'hate speech'.

Justice Minister defends pre-emptive house arrest for those accused of plotting 'hate crime'
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Canadians shouldn't be worried about individuals being placed under pre-emptive house arrest over fears they may commit a hate crime, says Justice Minister Arif Virani.

Under the Liberals new 'online harms' bill, the government can take a number of punitive measures against people merely suspected of planning to carry out a vaguely-defined 'hate crime'.

“Essentially, it's a restraining order — but for 'hate speech',” described Rebel News boss Ezra Levant on Thursday.

The new power could be a “very, very important” tool, Virani said, as reported by the Globe and Mail. “A genuine of an escalation” in 'hate', he said, would allow “an individual or group could come forward and seek a peace bond” to prevent others from “doing certain things.”

Restrictions could then include house arrest, internet or social media limitations, an ankle monitor, demands for blood samples, a no contact list, or being told to stay away from specific places, like churches, synagogues or mosques.

“That would help to deradicalize people who are learning things online and acting out in the real world violently – sometimes fatally,” the justice minister said.

The 'online harms' bill, formally B-63, creates a new standalone 'hate crime' offence, which could carry a maximum punishment of life in prison. Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms president John Carpay called the standalone offence “Orwellian.”

“The judges already have the authority that if a crime — property damage, assault, whatever — is motivated by hate, the judge can impose a more severe sentence. That's already on the books,” he said on The Ezra Levant Show earlier this week. “But a standalone 'hate crime' is just Orwellian.”

Bill C-63 also features the possibility of civil complaints, requiring a much lower burden of proof than law courts. This, warned some experts like internet law professor Michael Geist, could stifle free speech.

Ezra Levant warned how activists could use this clause to enrich not only themselves, but also the government by targeting critics like Jordan Peterson. “The certainty of this happening is 100% — it already has been happening on a small scale,” he said.

“Of course, I’m concerned about any chilling [of] freedom of expression. I heard those concerns, to a great extent,” defended Virani, who said as Justice Minister and Attorney General he has sworn to uphold Canada's Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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