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Margaret AtwoodMarkus Wissmann /

Send an urgent message to Canadian legislators urging them to stop Trudeau’s ‘Online Harms Act’

OTTAWA, Ontario (LifeSiteNews) — Liberal Attorney General and Justice Minister Arif Virani defended the Online Harms bill after Canadian author Margaret Atwood compared it to George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

On March 12, Virani claimed Atwood, famous for writing The Handmaid’s Tale, misunderstood the Online Harms Act, after the left-leaning author warned it would punish Canadians for “thoughtcrime,” comparing the legislation to laws introduced by totalitarian regimes such as the corrupt French aristocracy and the Soviet Union.

“If this account of the bill is true, it’s Lettres de Cachet all over again,” Atwood wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, referring to secret letters sent by the King of France authorizing citizens to be imprisoned without a trial.

“The possibilities for revenge false accusations + thoughtcrime stuff are sooo inviting!” she added sarcastically. “Trudeau’s Orwellian online harms bill.”

Atwood’s comment came in response to an article by The Spectator which warned the bill could lead to “thought police” regulating Canadians similar to those in George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The often-referenced book is a cautionary novel about a totalitarian socialist society which punished its citizens if they disagreed their government’s agenda even in their thoughts.

While Atwood is known to be left-leaning, this is not the first time she called out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for restricting freedom of speech. In April 2023, Atwood cautioned against Trudeau’s internet censorship legislation Bill C-11, comparing it to censorship in the Soviet Union.

Following Atwood’s comments online, Virani quickly attempted to reassure Canadians that she had just misunderstood the legislation, explaining that the bill’s definition of “hate speech” does not include what is “awful but lawful.”

“It includes expressions of detestation and vilification. It does not include insults, offensive comments, or jokes that are not very polite,” said Virani at a press conference in Toronto.

“The idea that someone on their smartphone on an afternoon while they’re watching a football game, if they insult anyone … could be condemned in a court or caught by a peace bond is ridiculous, in my opinion,” he added.

However, Virani conveniently neglected to say what would be considered “hate speech,” especially considering the bill regulates “posting hate speech online” that is deemed “discriminatory” against a wide range of “protected” categories including “gender expression” and “sexual orientation.” 

Bill C-63, introduced last week, will create the Online Harms Act and modify existing laws, amending the Criminal Code as well as the Canadian Human Rights Act, in what the Liberals claim will target certain cases of internet content removal, notably those involving child sexual abuse and pornography.

However, the bill also seeks to punish “hate speech” and increase punishments for existing hate propaganda offenses in a substantial manner.

Penalties for violations of the proposed law include $20,000 fines and jail time, including life in prison for what it deems the most serious offenses.

According to the proposed legislation, the bill would not only punish those who committed a “hate crime” but also those suspected of committing one in the future. 

“A person may, with the Attorney General’s consent, lay an information before a provincial court judge if the person fears on reasonable grounds that another person will commit; (a)an offence under section 318 or any of subsections 319(1) to (2.‍1); or (b) an offence under section 320.‍1001,” the text of the bill reads. 

Atwood is not alone in her concerns over the legislation. Increasingly, prominent Canadians and even Americans have begun commenting on Trudeau’s authoritarian rule over Canada, particularly his restricting of internet speech.

Earlier this week, tech mogul Elon Musk called the proposed legislation “insane” as the new law would “allow judges to hand down life sentences for ‘speech crimes.’”

In late February, prominent Canadian anti-woke psychologist Jordan Peterson warned the new bill would undoubtedly lead to his criminalization.

Similarly, a top constitutional lawyer warned LifeSiteNews that the legislation will allow a yet-to-be-formed digital safety commission to conduct “secret commission hearings” against those found to have violated the law, raising “serious concerns for the freedom of expression” of Canadians online.

Additionally, Campaign Life Coalition recently warned that Bill C-63 will stifle free speech and crush pro-life activism.

Send an urgent message to Canadian legislators urging them to stop Trudeau’s ‘Online Harms Act’