Internet Canadian style: pushed under government’s boot

The Germans have a saying that describes current Canadian government’s strenuous efforts to muzzle the country’s citizens to a T: Maul halten und weiter dienen. Meaning: keeping your mouth shut tight and serving on.

As Ian Cooper, a Toronto-based media lawyer, wrote in the Wall Street Journal recently, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to regulate speech on the internet.

Simple: he would have it placed under the control of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Even the former vice-chairman of the commission was shocked. As Ian Cooper quotes Peter Menzies, the new Trudeau initiative “doesn’t just infringe on free expression, it constitutes a full-blown assault upon it and, through it, the foundations of democracy.”

Of course, Trudeau has an excuse at the ready: his government want nothing more than to level the playing field between traditional broadcasters and online players (read Netflix and Spotify).

Oh yes?

Trudeau’s own Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault was a bit more forthcoming, making the idea even more ominous.

Guilbeault will introduce the first-ever internet control bill to be tabled in Parliament within the “next couple of weeks.”

Scaremongering of the dirtiest sort was the foundation of his explanations in a recent news conference.

Knight on a white stallion

Since the so-called pandemic experience showed that people respond to fear by panicking, Guilbeault went straight into it: “My job is to ensure the safety and security of the Canadian population.”

Canada’s Criminal Code, wide-ranging as it is, and with a constantly increasing number of punishable misdeeds, isn’t enough, obviously.

As Guilbeault put it, new legislation is but the start to create what he called a “safer environment for all people online and not just for a handful.”

The plan is to regulate what he termed was hurtful content.

Who defines what’s hurtful?

Why, the government, of course.

Besides, the plan is to punish Canadians for sharing foreign content, and to twist foreign companies’ arms, too: “With the legislation we will be tabling, it won’t matter whether or not the company is Canadian. It won’t matter where the company is registered or where their servers are located.”

To make sure everyone understood, Guilbeault announced that “Once a publication is flagged it will have to be taken down within 24 hours of having it being flagged. There are not a lot of countries that are doing that right now.”

The minister is so proud of his achievement: “I think it’s going to be a really good remedy to a number of problems.”

But, he knows he could do better, just give him time: “But it won’t solve everything. One of the issues I’ve learned, looking at different models, is you shouldn’t try to tackle everything from the get-go.”

Hate speech will “definitely” be a part of the legislation being tabled, as well as other “online harms.”

Realising that his own Prime Minister is of the view that anyone who dares disagree with him hates him, this is a scary proposition.

Couching it all in seemingly soothing words, Guilbeault said that the basic idea behind the bill was to aid in maintaining the “social fabric of our society.”

Strange numbers

According to surveys commissioned by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, some 93 per cent of Canadians (meaning: of those questioned) “believe that online hate speech and racism are a problem,” while some 80 per cent “want social media companies to be required to remove racist or hateful content within 24 hours.”

Who are those guys? Canadian Race Relations Foundation is a charitable organisation and a Crown corporation at the same time, a strange incest if there ever was one. Their official goal under law is to foster racial harmony and cross-cultural understanding in Canada. How? By eliminating racism.

Here’s something to ponder: the taxpayer-paid foundation opened in November 1997 as part of the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement. Considering what Canadian authorities have been doing these days to Russians living in Canada, the Foundation will have its hands full in the not so distant future. And, to remind you, Canada was at war against Japan when she interned those Japanese people unlucky enough to live here, while she is not in any war against Russia other than words and sanctions that will hurt Canada more than they will Russia.

Guilbeault took the Canadian Race Relations Foundation survey results for granted, not really bothering to check them. To him, “the conclusions of this survey are clear. Hate speech has no place in our society. It’s time to step up against online hate. The numbers are disturbing, but they come as no surprise.”

How will they do it?

Anyone who makes programs available over the internet (social media or just so, for the fun of it, friend to friend, would be treated as a broadcaster. That would put these people all under CRTC’s control.

Websites won’t have to apply for a formal licence to operate in Canada. Not yet, that is. Still, the CRTC’s extended powers will include imposing conditions and forcing them to “make expenditures to support the Canadian broadcasting system.”

Remember the Canadian content idiocy demanded of Canada’s radio and television stations and networks?

Individual Joes and Marys will be liable, as well: the bill used to include specific exemptions for user-generated content. But, within a short period of time, this provision went up in smoke. This made social media such as YouTube responsible to CRTC, as well.

The government claimed the exemption was already addressed elsewhere. Upon further checking it emerges that it wasn’t.

To make the original bill easier to swallow, the government suggested that their newest regulations would involve “professional” content only.

Users themselves would be exempt, but, and that’s an important but, users who enjoy a large following would still be viewed as broadcasters.

Ian Cooper, the Toronto-based media lawyer, quoted minister Guilbeault as saying that the person responsible would not be “an individual — a person — who uses social media.”

Ian Cooper admitted he was mystified. And he’s a lawyer who knows a thing or two about laws and legalese.

Ian Cooper offers an interesting insight: minister Guilbeault spent his entire career as an environmental activist, until he entered politics in 2019.

As Ian Cooper put it in his Wall Street Journal article, “like many members of the Trudeau cabinet, he (Guilbeault) has no prior experience in the area of government he oversees.”

That is why minister Guilbeault, dancing to his Prime Minister’s tune, has no issues with, for example, letting Canadian government’s bureaucrats require that YouTube muzzle Jordan Peterson, fine Spotify for Joe Rogan’s words in his podcast, or order that independent podcasters such as Sam Harris contribute to the production of Canadian content.

Independent voices have a weapon. It’s called geoblocking. Their content won’t reach Canada. Why deal with those morons in Ottawa? They all seem to have better things to do, places to go, people to see. So long as other countries around the world don’t notice and become Canada’s copycats.

That’s precisely what Justin Trudeau wants. A Chinese-style firewall without having to go to the trouble of building it himself.

Here’s the worst part: with NDP’s backing, he has enough seats to make his perfectly foul dictatorial dream come true.

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