OTTAWA (LifeSiteNews) – An internet censorship bill, blasted by many as allowing the government more control of free speech through potential new draconian web regulations, passed Canada’s House of Commons yesterday.
Bill C-11, which has been pushed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, passed by a vote of 208 for to 117 against, with the support of the socialist NDP party and separatist Bloc Québécois.
The only party to vote against the bill was the Conservative Party of Canada, which has criticized the bill since it was introduced. Conservative MP’s were joined by one Green Party MP and one independent MP.
Liberal Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez introduced Bill C-11, An Act to Amend the Broadcasting Act and to Make Related and Consequential Amendments to other Acts, in February.
The bill is now before Canada’s Senate, which will have a second reading of the legislation on Thursday. It is anticipated that the Senate will take their time in studying Bill C-11, which could extend into the fall, before voting on it. Some senators have said they will vote against Bill C-11.
It is feared that Bill C-11 might force websites under the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) – including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook – to remove content deemed “harmful” within 24 hours, and would compel services like Netflix to have more Canadian content.
Last week, Trudeau’s Liberal government voted to shut down debate on Bill C-11. The bill was rushed through the House of Commons with over 150 last-minute amendments added, which MPs were unable to question.
Bill C-11 is very similar to Bill C-10, a bill that last year failed to pass Canada’s senate before Trudeau called an election in the fall of 2021.
The popular Canadian commentator and former University of Toronto professor Dr. Jordan Peterson blasted Bill C-11 as turning Canada into “the most censorship-laden country in the developed world.”
Canadians: you better learn damn quick to use a VPN. Look it up. Bill C-11 has made us the most censorship-laden country in the developed world. Congratulations @JustinTrudeau you’ve finally put the country you don’t even believe in a number one spot.
— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) June 22, 2022
Dr. Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada research chair in internet and E-commerce law, commented that Bill C-11 will allow the government’s broadcast regulator, the CRTC, a “virtually limitless reach” in what is deemed acceptable or not for programming.
Yesterday, he wrote on Twitter that “given the multiple efforts to cut off debate and limit discussion of amendments,” it is “not a surprise” that the bill passed.
Government just passed Bill C-11 with support from Bloc and NDP. Conservatives vote against, joined by Green MP @morricemike. Given the multiple efforts to cut off debate and limit discussion of amendments, not a surprise. Senate has signalled a real review in the fall. 1/2
— Michael Geist (@mgeist) June 21, 2022
“Senate has signalled a real review in the fall,” added Geist.
Geist said that “Heritage Minister @pablorodriguez got Bill C-11 through House, but at what cost?”
“(Rodriguez) Ignored concerns of 1/3 of witnesses, didn’t hear from indigenous broadcasters, cut off debate multiple times, and leveraged an embarrassing clause-by-clause review,” added Geist.
A fatally flawed gateway to government censorship
In a new report released about the dangers of Bill C-11, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) noted that the legislation “undermines Canadians [sic] right to express themselves and watch what they want online and that makes it harder to hold the government to account.”
“The government is trying to ram through this dangerous legislation without proper debate or real consideration of the major accountability concerns associated with this bill,” added CTF Ontario Director Jay Goldberg.
Goldberg noted that the government has “consistently claimed that user generated content will not be regulated under Bill C-11, but the text of the bill and the chair of the CRTC both say otherwise.”
“Bill C-11 will hand unelected bureaucrats the power to influence what we say and see online, including on social media,” he added.
The CTF in its report highlighted how “Ultimately, C-11 will have an impact on the way all Canadians express themselves and consume content online.”
No other democratic nation regulates user generated content through broadcasting rules in this manner. Canada would be unique among allies in doing so, and not in a good way.
Conservative Party MP and leadership candidate Dr. Leslyn Lewis has promised that if elected party leader and then Prime Minister she will repeal any internet censorship legislation being pushed by the Liberal Party that becomes law.
“A Lewis-led government will repeal C-11 and any other measure the Liberals put in place to try to control our thought and speech, and let Canadians go back to exercising the freedoms that already exist in our Charter,” Lewis wrote in a platform update posted to her campaign page over the weekend.
“I will restore a culture of respect for our constitution, our charter, and our inalienable gift of freedom,” she added.
In recent weeks and months, the federal government under Trudeau has brought forth legislation that has raised serious concerns for their apparent attack on both freedoms on the internet and in the press.
In addition to Bill C-11, there is Bill C-18 which seeks to regulate the internet and force Big Tech companies to champion selected media outlets based on a special designation given by the federal government.