Majority of Canadians oppose government censorship of speech online

A majority of Canadians are against the federal government censoring speech on the internet, a Privy Council research study shows. 

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, the study, which gauged Canadians’ reactions to combating misinformation and hate speech, revealed that over half of respondents opposed government regulation. 

“Please give your opinion on the following statement: The government should restrict access to the internet and social media to combat the spread of misinformation about COVID-19,” the study asked. 

In response, 58% of people disagreed with the statement, while 46% strongly disagreed. Meanwhile, only 4% of Canadians strongly agreed with government measures to censor speech.

The study was conducted by Léger, who were paid $248,343 by the Privy Council Office for their services. 

Liberal Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault has indicated that the federal government hopes to introduce new sweeping legislation which would regulate online hate speech and misinformation.

In his mandate letter to Guilbeault, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau directed the minister to make regulating online hate speech a “top priority” for his ministry. 

“Create new regulations for social media platforms, starting with a requirement that all platforms remove illegal content, including hate speech, within 24 hours or face significant penalties. This should include other online harms such as radicalization, incitement to violence, exploitation of children, or creation or distribution of terrorist propaganda,” Trudeau wrote.

Guilbeault has also claimed in the past that “a very high proportion of Canadians” support his government’s push for regulation, despite the contradictory internal polling. 

During a testimony before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Guilbeault tried to dismiss rumors that his government sought to censor Canadians online. 

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