Not one Canadian has sent Liberal Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault a letter or email in support of further further regulating the internet, the government says.
The lack of support was revealed following an Order paper question filed in the House of Commons by Conservative MP Alex Ruff.
“With regard to correspondence received by the Minister or the Prime Minister related to internet censorship or increased regulation of social media sites since January 1, 2019, how many pieces of correspondence were received? And how many pieces of correspondence asked for more internet censorship or regulation?” Ruff inquired.
According to a response from the Department of Canadian Heritage, Guilbeault’s office “has not received any correspondence asking for more internet censorship or regulation.”
However, the response from the government noted that “a total of 389 pieces of correspondence related to internet censorship or increased regulation of posts on social media sites” were sent to the ministry as of April 30.
The revelation flies in the face of past claims by Guilbeault that a “very high proportion” of Canadians were in support of anti-internet laws like Bill C-10 and Bill C-36.
Critics have claimed that Bill C-10, which seeks to upgrade the Broadcasting Act to meet current online media environments, and Bill C-36 which hopes to regulate online hate speech are a threat to Canadians’ free speech rights.
“This is really an important point. There are some people out there, a minority clearly, who would advocate that we shouldn’t intervene, there should be no laws whatsoever regarding the internet, and anyways what happens on the internet stays on the internet. Well, it’s clearly not the case,” claimed Guilbeault during a Commons heritage committee.
“A very high proportion of Canadians are asking the government to step in. It’s very clear we will act.”
Guilbeault has also accused critics, which include former CRTC officials, of belonging to an “extremist element” of the Conservative Party.
According to a poll by Public Square Research and Maru-Blue a majority of Canadians support free speech rights over Bill C-10. The poll found that 73% of Canadians would choose their rights to freedom of expression over further regulation.