Freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression is a fundamental right, guaranteed by our Charter.
In recent years we have seen an increase in activity by those who want to smother that freedom.
The “woke” movement, with its obsession with political correctness and corresponding “cancel culture”, has reared its ugly head on our university campuses, in the media, and the business world. Now they have their sights set on the last bastion of free, unregulated speech, the internet.
Back in November, the Liberal Government introduced Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act, and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
The Liberals describe the bill as an act to set out broadcasting policy for Canada, the role of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in regulating and supervising broadcast systems and standards (including for streaming services) and ensuring an equal playing field for Canadian content.
What they won’t admit is that this legislation gives sweeping new powers to the CRTC to regulate the internet, including individual users like you or me, with no clear guidelines for how that power will be used.
As one former CRTC Commissioner stated earlier this week:
“Granting a government agency authority over legal user generated content—particularly backed up by the government’s musings about taking down websites—doesn’t just infringe on free expression, it constitutes a full-blown assault upon it and, through it, the foundations of democracy. It’s difficult to contemplate the levels of moral hubris, incompetence or both that would lead people to believe such and infringement of rights is justifiable.”
Canada’s Conservatives support creating a level playing field between large foreign streaming services and Canadian broadcasters while protecting the individual rights and freedoms of Canadians.
To that end, Conservatives proposed to protect individual users and smaller players in the market by exempting streaming services and social media users with lower revenues. The Liberals rejected this common-sense compromise.
The Liberals rejected an exemption for individual users who upload videos to social media sites and went further by promising to introduce a new amendment to regulate apps. There could be no clearer proof the Liberals are targeting what ordinary Canadians say online. This is unacceptable in a diverse society that values its freedom.
Dr. Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet Law with the University of Ottawa writes: “In a free and democratic society, we don’t subject basic speech to regulation in this way. Of course there are limits on what people can say, but the idea that a broadcast regulator has any role to play in basic speech is, I think, anathema to free and democratic society where freedom of expression is viewed as one of the foundational freedoms.”
While I think we can all agree that some regulation of the internet is needed (child pornography, terrorism etc.) this bill goes too far in limiting the free expression of Canadians.
Canada’s Conservatives will continue to stand up for the freedoms of Canadians who post their content online and oppose Bill C-10 at every stage of the legislative process.