The proposed "hate speech" law, Bill C-36, allows Canadians to take another person to court if they feel like they might post something hateful online.
According to the proposed legislation, Canadians will be encouraged to report anybody to the authorities. Those who have had reports filed against them will then be taken to court and potentially penalized before they even post any so-called "hate speech" online if there is sufficient evidence to suggest that they have hateful motives.
"A person may, with the Attorney General's consent, lay an information before a provincial court judge if the person fears on reasonable grounds that another person will commit (a) an offense under section 318 [pushing or advocating for genocide] or subsection 318 [inciting or promoting hate]," reads the proposed bill. (Related: Is Canada becoming North America's Cuba?)
"That's right. A person can get in trouble for something they are suspected of intending to post … online," wrote David Fiorazo for Harbingers Daily.
The bill makes amendments to Canada's Criminal Code to create a recognizance for people accused of hate propaganda or hate crimes. It also amends the code to define "hatred" for the purposes of the two aforementioned potential accusations against people.
Furthermore, the bill amends the Canadian Human Rights Act, passed in 1977 and last amended in 2017, to codify into law that communicating hate speech online is a "discriminatory practice." In this instance, hate speech is defined as any speech that is supposedly "likely to foment detestation or vilification of an individual or group of individuals on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination."
The bill tasks the Canadian Human Rights Commission to handle complaints of hate speech or intent to communicate hate speech online and it authorizes the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to adjudicate these complaints.
The introduction of Bill C-36 is just the first salvo in a series of new proposed legislation intended to curtail the expression of dissent online and in public.
Bill C-36, which was first read in late June 2021, died in parliament when the September election was called. It was reintroduced this year in response to the anti-Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) mandate Freedom Convoys. If passed, penalties for breaching Bill C-36 include up to four years in prison.
Another bill designed to curtail dissent, Bill C-229, was recently tabled by left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP) member of parliament Peter Julian. Like C-36, C-229 amends the Criminal Code to explicitly ban "symbols of hate."
Julian and the entirety of the NDP claim Bill C-229 would only be used to target symbols like the insignia of the Ku Klux Klan and the swastika. But they have also expressed their intention to ban the use of the Confederate flag. This signals the desire of the NDP to ban any symbol of dissent that it wants to get rid of.
If passed, the penalty for flying the Confederate flag or any other symbol the government designates to be hateful includes a prison sentence of up to two years.
Fortunately, the future of these bills remains uncertain. Political analysts have noted that C-36 was heavily criticized when it was first presented to parliament last year due to its difficulty to enforce and its attacks on freedom of speech.
Lulu Cheng Meservy, vice president of communications for the online blogging platform Substack, also pointed out that there were several "alarming aspects" to C-36.
These include the bill's fuzzy and circular definition of what speech is considered "hateful," and the fact that it encourages citizens to basically act as snitches for the government.
Finally, the fact that it wants to create a precedent in law for punishing people for something they have not actually done yet is a grave cause for concern.
Watch this video as Brian Young of "High Impact Flix" talks about how the Canadian government is continuing its campaign against dissenters.
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