‘Terrifying’: US watchdog denounces Trudeau govt’s push to control Canada’s free press
CALGARY, February 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The Liberal government’s recommended “media registry” for news outlets in Canada is “Orwellian”, according to the leading voice representing constitutional freedoms, in direct reference to George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.”
Lisa D.S. Bildy, a lawyer for the Canada-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, told LifeSiteNews that “any time a government gets involved in the regulation of the press, even if it's billed as protecting citizens from harm, there should be cause for concern.”
“A free and independent press is a cornerstone of democracy and liberty,” she added.
The Media Research Center (MRC), a media watchdog in the United States, told LifeSiteNews that the report behind the Trudeau government’s call for requiring news websites and social media to obtain a government license to operate in Canada was “terrifying.”
“Canada was one of the Allies that defeated fascism. Canadian soldiers fought for freedom and now the Canadian government seems eager to take that away,” said Media Research Center (MRC) Culture Vice President Dan Gainor.
“Watching an ally, a neighbor and a friend talk about regulating the free press shows where the far left wants to take, not just Canada, but any nation they control,” he added.
The Media Research Center’s (MRC) mission is to expose and neutralize propaganda from the liberal news media. Gainor added he finds the thought of free and independent Canadian media maybe one day having to potentially relocate to the U.S., as Radio Free Europe did to people behind the Iron Curtain, a terrible thought.
“There's a terrifying lesson in this for Americans,” added Gainor.
Bildy told LifeSiteNews that “while the report suggests that, for now, only news content (i.e. information about current events) should be included in the expanded scope of the legislation, the Commission said it should ‘continue to have the flexibility to define what constitutes news content over time, as lines blur between what is thought of as news and information.’ In other words, this is a stepping-stone to the licensing and thereby control, of virtually all internet content. It’s Orwellian, quite frankly.”
Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer told Trudeau in the Canadian House of Commons during Question Period on Monday that Canadians are “suspicious” of the licensing proposal.
“It’s no wonder that Canadian’s are suspicious about this, this is the same Prime Minister who has admiration for China’s basic dictatorship, the same Prime Minister who he praised on Fidel Castro, a man who is responsible for the death of millions,” he said.
Trudeau responded saying: “I want to be unequivocal; we will not impose licensing requirements on news organizations, nor will we regulate news content.” He later added, “We are currently studying the recommendations of this report.”
Scheer was not convinced, responding: “Well, Mr. Speaker it’s understandable why they would want to control the news because the news is getting increasingly bleak for this government’s economic performances.”
Scheer announced in the fall that he will be stepping aside as party leader.
Rebel News Editor Ezra Levant also voiced his opposition to the idea of a media registry, saying in a Tweet sent out Monday: “There are only two kinds of journalists in Canada now: those who are paid by Trudeau and those who are banned by Trudeau.”
Levant was recently questioned by Canadian government agents for writing a book critical of Trudeau during the 2019 Canadian Federal election. His tweet referenced a recent $600 million media bailout package from the Trudeau government to mainstream Canadian media outlets. The bailout package was heavily criticized for being biased towards established media only.
Canadian free-speech journalist Andrew Lawton, who hosts “The Andrew Lawton Show” for the online news website True North, had this to say on Twitter: “When the Liberals banned me from covering their campaign it was apparent they have no respect for press freedom. Licensing would let them get away with only letting government-approved journalists do their jobs.”
The report the Liberal government is drawing from for its proposal is titled “Canada's communications future: Time to act.” It has a host of recommendations such as: “We recommend the Broadcasting Act be amended to ensure the CRTC can by regulation, condition of license or condition of registration impose codes of conduct.”
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is the authority in charge of regulating as well as supervising all Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications.
Heritage Minister of Canada Steven Guilbeault sparked a firestorm of controversy surrounding the report in an interview he gave on Sunday on CTV News, where he suggested that all media in Canada would indeed require licenses.
Despite Guilbeault backtracking from his words slightly on Monday, Lawton did not buy it, tweeting: “Don't give Minister Guilbeault credit for walking back his comments about licensing media. All he said today is that he won't require licenses from ‘news organizations.’ He didn't rule out imposing a licensing regime for other media platforms.”
A part of the report called for increasing funding by a total of $1.2 billion to the state-owned and leftist Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), going as far to say the CBC has a “critical role to play” in shutting down supposed fake news websites.
The pro-abortion Trudeau government has tried to censor independent media in Canada before. In late 2019 they went against social media companies to combat “misinformation”.
During the 2019 Canadian Federal Election campaign season, both Rebel News and True North reporters were denied media accreditation to cover an October 7 leaders debate. The reasoning given was because The Leaders’ Debates Commission felt that the news sites were engaged in a type of “advocacy” and were not real media outlets.
Rebel News and True North fought that decision and won the right to cover the event. A Federal Court Justice agreed that the decision to deny them media passes was unfair, saying: “I find that the decisions are lacking in discernible rationality and logic, and thus are neither justified nor intelligible.” That decision cost the Canadian Federal government, and Canadian taxpayers, a total of $131,281 in legal fees.
Bildy commented to LifeSiteNews that while the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms does not have an official position on the media licensing proposal at this time, they will be monitoring the situation closely.
“Part of our mandate is protecting the fundamental freedoms of Canadians, which are guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when the state oversteps. This includes freedom of expression and freedom of the press, so we are certainly concerned about what the Liberal government will do with these recommendations,” said Bildy.
When asked about the potential implications a media registry could be, Bildy said that it could lead to the “shut down” of opposing viewpoints.
“Already in society, we are seeing an increasing tendency to want to enforce ‘consensus’ and shut down opposing viewpoints. It’s very easy for a government to exercise that sort of control under the guise of wanting to protect us all from ‘harmful content,’” she said.
“It is this lack of trust in mainstream media that leads Canadians to search out other sources of information. Those in the legacy media should appreciate their own complicity in driving Canadians to other sources, by allowing faith in their objectivity to be eroded.”
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault - Minister of Canadian Heritage
15 Eddy Street, 12th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0M5
Email: [email protected]
MP Michelle Rempel Garner
Conservative shadow minister for industry and economic development
Suite 115, 70 Country Hills Landing NW
Calgary, AB T3K 2L2
Email: [email protected]