Conservative leadership candidates Erin O’Toole and Derek Sloan both promised to protect free speech and fight censorship if they become prime minister.
At the Independent Press Gallery’s Fireside Chat on Thursday, the two candidates both commented on the increasing attacks of freedom of expression in Canada.
“We have to do everything we can to defend [freedom of speech],” Sloan told moderator Andrew Lawton.
Sloan said that if elected he will stop the censorship of conservative content by holding social media platforms to account when they operate as publishers rather than neutral platforms.
O’Toole spoke about the threats to free speech in Canada and the importance of independent media.
“For a few years I’ve been talking about the decline of free speech rights in Canada and cancel culture,” he said.
Earlier this week it was revealed that the CBC edited out a section of an interview with O’Toole where he talked about defunding the CBC.
When asked by a reporter after the Fireside Chat, O’Toole said CBC’s editing clearly showed favouritism.
If elected, O’Toole has promised to end the mainstream media’s monopoly on Parliament Hill by allowing groups like the Independent Press Gallery to be accredited.
Of the four leadership candidates, Peter MacKay is the only one to suggest there must be increased censorship on the internet.
In a previous interview on the topic of freedom of speech, MacKay said Canadians need to be protected from the “dangerous misinformation” surrounding coronavirus.
The Independent Press Gallery’s fireside chats were originally planned as a debate between all four leadership candidates. The format was changed hours before it began after candidates Leslyn Lewis and Peter MacKay withdrew from the event.
According to debate organizers, representatives from the Sloan, O’Toole and Lewis campaigns were communicative and accommodating throughout the day, with Sloan and O’Toole agreeing to the revised fireside format.