Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that while he “believes in free speech,” online discourse is “destabilizing our democracy” – and he argued that Freedom Convoy participants and Fox News are leading culprits. Trudeau made the remarks during a closed-door interview conducted in September by the Public Order Commission (POEC).

The PM’s remarks were only recently made available via a newly posted summary of the interview conducted behind closed doors by staff members of POEC – the commission tasked with investigating Trudeau’s controversial invocation of the Emergencies Act.

“The government believes in free speech,” the summary of Trudeau’s remarks reads. “But with social media, there is a new way to foment anger and hate that is different from anything we have seen before, difficult to counter, and it is destabilizing our democracy. He raised the examples of spoof websites that look real.”

Trudeau told POEC staff that the Freedom Convoy reflected a global rise of misinformation and disinformation and insinuated that many of those who disagreed with his government’s Covid-19 policies were built on falsehoods and wrong facts.

“Our democratic system is designed around the sharing of ideas and having an opposition whose job it is to find fault in those ideas, to force governments to think everything through and be able to defend its decision. The problem arises when disagreements are built on falsehoods or wrong facts because then it becomes difficult to have a real debate and genuine exchange of ideas,” the summary continues.

Trudeau drew a parallel between the Freedom Convoy and mass killings that were carried out by perpetrators influenced by online extremism. Trudeau specifically mentioned the 2018 Toronto van attack and the 2017 Quebec City Mosque shooting as examples of violent incidents motivated by participation in extremist social media forums.

The Prime Minister expressed concern about the Canadian public losing confidence in Canada’s institutions and governments. However, Trudeau blamed the Freedom Convoy for this erosion in public trust, saying that the country had to live through three weeks of “chaos” that shook Canadians’ confidence in peace, order, good governance and the rule of law.

The interview summary also contained Trudeau’s account of his call with U.S. President Joe Biden, during the time of the Freedom Convoy where he told the President that much of the Convoy’s funding was coming from the United States and that much of the amplification was coming from Americans on social media and Fox News. This claim about the funding was later proven to be inaccurate at POEC hearings.

The Trudeau government has tabled several pieces of legislation that would regulate Canada’s internet further, including Bill C-11, Bill C-18 and a yet to be tabled bill concerning “online harms.”

On Wednesday, new Twitter owner Elon Musk tweeted to True North’s Andrew Lawton that it looked like Trudeau was attempting to “muzzle” Canadians with this approach.