Canada’s new anti-hate appointee says bringing in laws to tackle “online harms” will be a priority for the job.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Amira Elghawaby to be Canada’s first “Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia.”
“Among some of the priorities that we’ve identified is addressing online harms,” Elghawaby told Politico in an interview that appeared on Friday. “Continuing to advance and advocate for strong legislation around that will be very important.”
The Liberal government is currently pushing several pieces of legislation aimed at regulating the online world. One move aims at “online harms,” which critics say is problematic because the broad definition may be used to regulate more than just hate speech.
The federal government also plans to introduce a Digital Safety Commissioner, who could take-down offending content.
“If we don’t get a handle on the hate, the misinformation that’s fueling a lot of the extremist views that are harming us, and also fueling the stereotypes and myths about who Muslims are, then it’s almost two steps forward, three steps back,” Elghawaby said of online harms legislation.
Elghawaby said she will work with communities to inform government anti-hate policies, including the soon-to-launch National Action Plan on Combatting Hate (NAP).
The government does not yet state how the NAP will work, but likened it with past anti-hate commitments, such as a promise to introduce online-harm legislation, and a program to promote a “healthy information ecosystem” online.
Elghawaby previously worked at the Toronto Star and CBC News as a journalist as well as at the National Council of Canadian Muslims and Canadian Anti-Hate Network.