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Trudeau’s online harms bill threatens freedom of expression, constitutional lawyer warns

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8 minute read

From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

The legislation could further regulate the internet in Canada by allowing a new digital safety commission to conduct ‘secret commission hearings’ against those found to have violated the new law.

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.”

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.”

Freedom Convoy

Ottawa spent “excessive” $2.2 million fighting Emergencies Act challenge

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News release from the Canadian Constitution Foundation

Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley found in January that the February 2022 invocation of the Emergencies Act to deal with the Freedom Convoy protests was unreasonable because there was no national emergency nor threats to security of Canada as were required to invoke the Act.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation is shocked to learn that Ottawa spent more than $2 million of taxpayer funds unsuccessfully fighting the legal challenge launched by the CCF and others to the Trudeau government’s illegal invocation of the Emergencies Act in 2022.

The $2,231,000 figure was revealed by the Department of Justice in response to an inquiry from Conservative civil liberties critic Marilyn Gladu.

The hefty figure was first reported in the Globe and Mail. Experienced counsel told the Globe that the amount spent was “excessive.”

The number includes the cost that the government spent fighting the judicial review of the invocation decision in Federal Court. It does not include the cost of Ottawa’s appeal, which is proceeding at the Federal Court of Appeal.

Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley found in January that the February 2022 invocation of the Emergencies Act to deal with the Freedom Convoy protests was unreasonable because there was no national emergency nor threats to security of Canada as were required to invoke the Act.

Justice Mosley also found that regulations made as a result of the invocation violated freedom of expression because they captured people who “simply wanted to join in the protest by standing on Parliament Hill carrying a placard” and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures because bank accounts were frozen without any sort of judicial pre-authorization.

CCF Litigation Director Joanna Baron was dismayed to learn how much Ottawa spent.

“Civil liberties groups like the CCF rely on regular Canadians who care about rights and freedoms to fund this type of public interest litigation,” she said.

“The fact that the government seems willing to spend whatever it takes to defend its unlawful decision shows what we’re up against when we fight to protect the constitution and the rule of law.”

The CCF is calling on the federal government to drop the appeal of Justice Mosley’s decision.

Canadians who agree with the decision are encouraged to sign the CCF’s online petition calling on the government to drop the appeal. The CCF is also asking Canadians to consider making a tax-deductible charitable donation to the CCF that will assist with fighting the appeal.

The CCF is represented by Sujit Choudhry of Haki Chambers and Janani Shanmuganathan of Goddard & Shanmuganathan.

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Alberta

Alberta moves to protect Edmonton park from Trudeau government’s ‘diversity’ plan

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From LifeSiteNews

By Clare Marie Merkowsky

If Trudeau’s National Urban Park Initiative is implemented, Alberta could see its parks, including Edmonton’s River Valley, hijacked by the federal government in the name of ‘sustainability, conservation, equity, diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation.’

Edmonton is working to protect its River Valley from the Trudeau government’s “diversity” park plan. 

On April 15, Alberta Legislature passed MLA Brandon Lunty’s private members’ Bill 204 to protect the Edmonton River Valley from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s National Urban Park Initiative which would give the federal government power over provincial parks to enforce a variety of quotas related to the “climate” and “diversity.”  

“Albertans elected our United Conservative government with a majority mandate to, among other things, protect families and communities from federal overreach and intrusion. That’s exactly what this bill accomplishes,” Lunty said in a press release  

Bill 204, titled the Municipal Government (National Urban Parks) Amendment Act, is a response to the National Urban Park Initiative which would give the Trudeau government jurisdiction over Alberta’s provincial parks.  

The Trudeau government’s plan promises to “provide long-lasting benefits to the urban area” by using “sustainability, conservation, equity, diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation.” 

If the program is approved, the Edmonton River Valley could be “fully owned by the Federal Government,” which will use the space to advance their values, including addressing the impacts of “climate change” and creating spaces where “diversity is welcomed.”  

The plan also promises that equity will be “intentionally advanced” while “respecting indigenous rights” through “reconciliation.”   

However, many Edmonton citizens were concerned with the Urban Park Initiative and met with their MLAs to discuss the issue.  

Edmonton citizen Sheila Phimester worked with MLA Jackie Lovely to create a petition to prevent the River Valley from becoming federally owned. The petition has received over 5,000 signatures.  

“Oh, and because it’s the federal government, their ‘priorities’ for these parks are ‘healthier communities’, ‘climate resilience’, ‘reconciliation’, ‘equity’, ‘diversity’, and ‘inclusion,’” it continued.   

Already, Trudeau has attempted to assert power over Alberta’s industry by placing “climate” restrictions on their oil and gas production in an attempt to force net-zero regulations on all Canadian provinces, including on electricity generation, by as early as 2035.   

However, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has repeatedly vowed to protect the province from Trudeau’s radical “net zero” push. 

In December, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith blasted Trudeau’s Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault’s plan to slash oil and gas emissions by 35 percent to 38 percent below 2019 levels as “unrealistic” and “unconstitutional.”  

Trudeau’s current environmental goals are in lockstep with the United Nations’ “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and include phasing out coal-fired power plants, reducing fertilizer usage, and curbing natural gas use over the coming decades.  

The reduction and eventual elimination of the use of so-called “fossil fuels” and a transition to unreliable “green” energy has also been pushed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) – the globalist group behind the socialist “Great Reset” agenda – an organization in which Trudeau and some of his cabinet are involved. 

In November, after announcing she had “enough” of Trudeau’s extreme environmental rules, Smith said her province had no choice but to assert control over its electricity grid to combat federal overreach by enacting its Sovereignty Act. The Sovereignty Act serves to shield Albertans from future power blackouts due to federal government overreach.  

Unlike most provinces in Canada, Alberta’s electricity industry is nearly fully deregulated. However, the government still has the ability to take control of it at a moment’s notice. 

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