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

(LifeSiteNews) — A top constitutional lawyer warned that the federal government’s Online Harms Act to further regulate the internet will allow a new digital safety commission to conduct “secret commission hearings” against those found to have violated the new law, raising “serious concerns for the freedom of expression” of Canadians online.

Marty Moore, who serves as the litigation director for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms-funded Charter Advocates Canada, told LifeSiteNews on Tuesday that Bill C-63 will allow for the “creation of a new government agency with a broad mandate to promote ‘online safety’ and target ‘harmful content.’”

“The use of the term ‘safety’ is misleading, when the government through Bill C-63 is clearly seeking to censor expression simply based on its content, and not on its actual effect,” he told LifeSiteNews.

Moore noted that the bill will also “open doors for government regulation to target undefined psychological harm.”

The new government bill was introduced Monday by Justice Minister Arif Virani in the House of Commons and passed its first reading.

Bill C-63 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 under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claim will target certain cases of internet content removal, notably those involving child sexual abuse and pornography.

Details of the new legislation to regulate the internet show the bill could lead to more people jailed for life for “hate crimes” or fined $50,000 and jailed for posts that the government defines as “hate speech” based on gender, race, or other categories.

The bill calls for the creation of a digital safety commission, a digital safety ombudsperson, and the digital safety office.

The ombudsperson and other offices will be charged with dealing with public complaints regarding online content as well as put forth a regulatory function in a five-person panel “appointed by the government.” This panel will monitor internet platform behaviors to hold people “accountable.”

Moore told LifeSiteNews that provincial governments have already “grossly abuse Canadians’ rights and freedoms in the name of preventing harm and ensuring safety (COVID mandates).” He noted that this bill could give the Commission the “potential reach” into “Canadian’s lives” in a “concerning” manner.

He said that while the Commission’s reach is “only vaguely undefined,” it would have the power to regulate anyone who operates a “social media service” that “has a yet-to-be-designated number of users or is “deemed a regulated service by the government without regard to the number of users.”

According to the Trudeau government, Bill C-63 aims to protect kids from online harms and crack down on non-consensual deep-fake pornography involving children and will target seven types of online harms, such as hate speech, terrorist content, incitement to violence, the sharing of non-consensual intimate images, child exploitation, cyberbullying and inciting self-harm.

Virani had many times last year hinted a new Online Harms Act bill would be forthcoming.

Law opens door to secret or ‘ex parte’ warrants, lawyer warns

Moore observed that Bill C-63 also gives the commission the ability to seek secret or “ex parte warrants to enter people’s homes and to impose massive fines.” He told LifeSiteNews this will “likely coerce those operating social media services to exceed the Commission’s requirements of censorship on Canadians’ expression.”

Moore also confirmed that the Trudeau government’s new bill will “allow for” the creation of “secret commission hearings” simply on the basis that the “commission considers secrecy to be ‘in the public interest.’”

Moore told LifeSiteNews that the bill will also allow for the digital safety commission to be made an “order of the Federal Court.” He said this brings about a “serious concern that the commission’s orders, reissued by the Federal Court, could result in people being fined and imprisoned for contempt, pursuant to Federal Courts Rules 98 and 472.”

“While people cannot be imprisoned under section 124 of Bill C-63 for refusing to pay a Commission-imposed fine, it is possible that having a Commission order reissued by the Federal Court could result in imprisonment of a person for refusing to impose government censorship on their social media service,” he said.

 Lawyer: Trudeau’s bill will allow for ‘confidential complaints’

As part of Bill C-63, the Trudeau Liberals are looking to increase punishments for existing hate propaganda offenses substantially.

The Online Harms Act will also amend Canada’s Human Rights Act to put back in place a hate speech provision, specifically, Section 13 of the Act, that the previous Conservative government under Stephen Harper had repealed in 2013 after it was found to have violated one’s freedom of expression.

The text of the bill, released Monday afternoon, reads that the Canadian Human Rights Act will be amended to add a section “13” to it.

Moore warned that the return of section 13, will allow for “confidential complaints.”

As fines top $50,000 with a $20,000 payment to victims, the new section 13, Moore observed, “will undoubtedly cast a chill on Canadians expression, limiting democratic discourse, the search for truth and normal human expression, including attempts at humour.”

Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) leader Pierre Poilievre said the federal government is looking for clever ways to enact internet censorship laws.

On Tuesday in the House of Commons, Poilievre came out in opposition to the Online Harms Act, saying enforcing criminal laws rather than censoring opinions is the key to protecting children online.

During a February 21 press conference, Poilievre said, “What does Justin Trudeau mean when he says the word ‘hate speech?’ He means speech he hates.”

Thus far, Poilievre has not commented on the full text of Bill C-63. Many aspects of it come from a lapsed bill from 2021.

In June 2021, then-Justice Minister David Lametti introduced Bill 36, “An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act and to make related amendments to another Act (hate propaganda, hate crimes and hate speech).” It was blasted as a controversial “hate speech” law that would give police the power to “do something” about online “hate.”

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