Gregory Tobin is the National Content Manager for the Canada Strong & Proud network of pages.
Imagine you woke up one morning to find out your Facebook account had been locked out.
At first you think maybe you got hacked, but when you check your email, you see something from Facebook informing you that, unfortunately, according to the new censorship laws, the status update you posted that contained a criticism of the government was labelled as “hate speech” and “disinformation,” so they were forced to shut your account down.
That may seem like a bit of a wild example, but that possible future is closer than you think.
Right now the federal government has three bills they want to pass through Parliament – two of which are being voted on right now – which would allow the government to take direct regulatory control of what you see, say and read online.
These bills would mean you will be censored, news will be hidden from you and the government will pay off the news for favourable coverage.
So what are those bills? And how will they do this?
The first is Bill C-11. It’s called the Online Streaming Act, and its job is to control what Canadians see online. The government will do this by forcing the CRTC – which regulates TV and radio – to regulate the entire online world in Canada as well.
Do you want Prime Minister Trudeau, or any prime minister for that matter, along with a bunch of unelected bureaucrats to have the final say on what counts as appropriate content for Canadians?
Think of all the scandals and critical stories that could have been hidden from Canadians in the last 7 years had this legislation been passed – the WE scandal, the Aga Khan scandal, SNC Lavalin, blackface and so on.
The second is Bill C-18. It’s called the Online News Act. This bill’s job is to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars from tech companies to a select list of government-approved media outlets. It will disincentivize news outlets from being critical of the federal government, and puts outlets who don’t make the “nice list” at a serious disadvantage.
So how will it do this?
First we need some background.
Back in 2020, when the Trudeau government started handing out its $600+ million per year in subsidies to news outlets, it also created the Qualified Canadian Journalism Organization board, made up of 5 unelected, unaccountable members who are all former journalists and academics.
They have the power to decide who qualifies to be a news organization and who doesn’t in Canada.
The Rebel recently applied for status and was denied.
Fast forward to today, and Bill C-18 will force tech companies like Facebook and Google to pay news outlets any time news content gets shared online. Legacy news outlets feel it’s unfair that 80% of online ad revenue is going to tech companies, but rather than try to change up their strategy or business model to compete, they lobbied the government for a sweetheart deal.
A paycheque builds loyalty and obedience. How good are you at criticizing your boss, or keeping them accountable? And how could the media possibly cover and criticize the government that it’s getting millions of dollars from?
The end result is a further loss of a truly free press – one of the very pillars of democracy. This bill would further reduce the separation between news and state that’s already been harmed by this same Trudeau government.
The third is the Online Harms Act, which hasn’t been tabled yet, but the Liberals made it a big election promise all the way back in 2015. So what do they plan to use it for? Simple. They will use it to silence dissenting Canadian voices online. It does this by cynically labelling anything they don’t like “disinformation” or “hate speech”.
Things like criticisms against the government, sharing news that has a critical angle, or exposes a scandal. Anything posted online can be flagged as “hate speech” or “disinformation” by the authorities, and then the government will impose massive fines on social media and other online outlets if they don’t take down the “hate speech.”
The same government that was caught and flagged on Twitter last election for sharing manipulated media, wants the power to label what’s “disinformation.”
All these bills together mean that Canada’s online world will become intolerant, oppressive, unfriendly, and neutered.
During one hearing, Twitter’s head of public safety, Michele Austin held nothing back.
“People around the world have been blocked from accessing Twitter and other services in a similar manner as the one proposed by Canada by multiple authoritarian governments (China, North Korea and Iran for example) under the false guise of ‘online safety,’ impeding peoples’ rights to access to information online,” she said.
The prime minister knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s smart enough to craft these bills, and he’s smart enough to know exactly what they will do to Canadian society. The problem is, he doesn’t care. He wants to silence criticism, and he wants to shut down opposition.
Will Canadians one day wake up to find their social media accounts frozen for posting content critical of the government?
Trudeau mercilessly booted Jody Wilson Raybould and Jane Philpott out of his government because they stood up to him over the SNC lavalin scandal. Imagine what he’d do to you if he was given the chance.
This suite of censorship legislation is the greatest attack on free speech in modern Canadian history. It should not be ignored or underestimated.
Canadians of all stripes should rightly fight back and get these bills tossed out of Parliament and into the dustbin of history.