Liberal Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault referenced a federally-funded organization in his defence of Bill C-10 on Monday and claimed the Conservative Party is spreading “fake news” about the incoming internet regulation bill.

“I would like to quote the head of the Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CDCE) who addressed my colleague saying that the CRTC has never regulated content on Canadian TV and radio and that it has never limited freedom of expression on the airwaves and that this legislation will not enable the CRTC to do so and yet the Conservative Party of Canada that continues to spread this fake news,” said Guilbeault in French in response to a question by Conervative MP Alain Reyes. 

This isn’t the first time a Liberal MP has accused critics of spreading “fake news.” True North has compiled a list of ten times the Liberals dismissed facts as “fake news” or “disinformation.”

Last week, Guilbeault cited the CDCE while responding to a question by Conservative MP Rachel Harder. 

“Mr. Speaker, I am puzzled as to who is trying to deceive whom really? I have in front of me a press release from the Canadian Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which says, regarding Bill C-10, that these ‘characterizations [that this bill would somehow attempt to infringe on free speech] are both factually incorrect and dangerously misleading. They represent neither the text nor the purpose of Bill C-10,”, said Guilbeault.

The CDCE is registered to lobby the government and is the recipient of $375,000 in funding from Canadian Heritage – the ministry in charge of drafting Bill C-10.

According to the CDCE, concerns around how the bill targets free speech rights have put the law “in jeopardy.” 

“Let us be clear: these characterizations are both factually incorrect and dangerously misleading. They represent neither the text nor the purpose of Bill C-10,” wrote the CDCE. 

“In sum, the CDCE calls on opponents to Bill C-10, including the Conservative Party of Canada, to cease their fearmongering and work with our sector to modernize Canada’s broadcasting policy.” 

Guilbeault also cited the group when lashing out at concerns about the bill’s impact on freedom of speech by characterizing those worried about the law as being part of an “extremist element” of the Conservative Party.

“What we are seeing now is that these are big, powerful and, in fact some of the wealthiest corporations on the planet; clearly, the member opposite and her party are just afraid to stand up to them,” said Guilbeault in response to question by Conservative MP Rachael Harder. 

“Again it seems that the members of the Conservative Party are listening to the most extremist element of their party, as they have on very important issues such as climate change or women’s right to choose.”

Bill C-10 has recently sparked national controversy after an amendment was passed which would broaden the scope of the bill to include regulating the content ordinary Canadians post on social media. 

Last month, MPs on the Heritage Committee voted to remove an exemption for user-generated content, such as YouTube videos. The removal sparked outcries in the mainstream media and among civil liberty groups who characterized the bill as amounting to censorship and government control of the internet. 

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