OTTAWA, Ontario (LifeSiteNews) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Heritage Department has requested increased funding to monitor internet “disinformation” and those who promote it.
The Department of Canadian Heritage, headed by Minister Pascale St-Onge, proposed a $7.1 million-a year program called the Digital Citizen Initiative, to keep up surveillance on internet users who promote “fake news,” according to a October 16 report by Blacklock’s Reporter.
“The Initiative addresses real and continuing needs of Canadians with respect to online disinformation and related harms,” said the report Evaluation of The Digital Citizen Initiative. “The demand for funding appears to outweigh available resources. The scope and scale of the issue are rapidly expanding along with the potential for harm.”
“Disinformation impacts Canadians’ health and safety, civic discourse and engagement, political beliefs, perceptions of democratic institutions, confidence in political systems and trust in media,” it continued. “It may also amplify mistrust amongst communities, discrimination, stigma and marginalization and social divisions.”
The report failed to provide any examples of so-called disinformation but claimed, “the initiative filled a need by funding research to help understand disinformation.”
The request for increased funding comes at a time Canadians’ trust in federal institutions and mainstream media is at an all-time low.
According to recent study by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), less than a third of Canadians displayed “high trust” in the federal government, with “large media organizations” as well as celebrities getting even lower scores.
Large mainstream media outlets and “journalists” working for them scored a “high trust” rating of only 18 percent. This was followed by only 12 percent of people saying they trusted “ordinary people,” with celebrities garnering only an eight percent “trust” rating.
However, Canadians are at an increased risk of losing access to alternative media sources thanks to Trudeau’s internet censorship law, the Online News Act, passed by the Senate in June.
The Online News Act mandates that Big Tech companies pay to publish Canadians content on their platforms. As a result, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has blocked all access to news content in Canada, while Google has promised to do the same rather than pay the fees laid out in the new legislation.
The Online News Act also gives the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) the authority to regulate what Canadians listen to online.
Former Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) vice chair Peter Menzies recently warned that the CRTC’s new broadcasting regulations will end a “free and open internet.”
The law itself has been a point of major criticism for the prime minister and his Liberal government. In fact, a July 10 survey found that most Canadians are concerned they could lose access to news on social media as a result of the policy.
Last week, free speech advocate and entrepreneur Elon Musk criticized Trudeau for his ongoing censorship campaign, writing, “Trudeau is trying to crush free speech in Canada,” calling it “shameful.”