Trudeau Demands Life In Prison


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Trudeau Demands Life In Prison For “Speech Crimes”

Published On: April 1, 2024Tags: , ,

By Stephen Moore,

To protect children from sexual exploitation, Canada must pass the Online Harms Act, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

“I am the parent of two young boys,” said Justice Minister Arif Virani. “I will do whatever I can to ensure their digital world is as safe as the neighborhood we live in. Children are vulnerable online. They need to be protected from online sexual exploitation, hate, and cyberbullying.”

But Virani’s Bill is totally unnecessary to protect children. Its real goal is to allow judges to sentence adults to prison for life for things they’ve said and for up to a year for crimes they haven’t committed but that the government fears they might commit in the future.

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As such, Trudeau and Virani’s Online Harms Act (Bill C-63) is the most shocking of all the totalitarian, illiberal, and anti-Enlightenment pieces of legislation that have been introduced in the Western world in decades.

The Liberal government’s censorship legislation, when considered in the context of Trudeau’s sweeping abuse of governmental powers during and after the Covid pandemic and new subsidies for government propaganda, sets a new watermark in rising totalitarianism in Western societies.

In an unusually long statement in response to a series of questions asked by Public, the Trudeau government’s “Canadian Heritage” department, which regulates the media, tried to ease our concerns. “Bill C-63 is meant to bolster the rights of Canadians to express their thoughts and opinions,” said the anonymous official, “by creating a safer and more inclusive online space.”

But the government spokesperson went on to confirm the shocking truth about the legislation, which is that it would put people in prison for life for things they’ve said, specifically, “advocating genocide.”

“Bill C-63 would increase the maximum penalty specifically for advocating genocide from 5 years to life imprisonment,” said an unnamed spokesperson for the Canadian government, “and from 2 years to 5 years, on indictment, for the willful promotion of hatred (section 319 of the Criminal Code).” [emphasis added]

This means someone who writes something that a government official decides is “advocating genocide” will face a longer maximum sentence than someone who rapes a child.

And what might count as “advocating genocide”? Today, there are prominent politicians around the world who say that supporters of Israel are advocating the genocide of the Palestinian people and that supporters of Hamas are advocating genocide against Jewish people. Imagine if they were in power. Under Trudeau’s legislation, would they not be able to send their political enemies to prison for life?

The fact that people disagree about what constitutes hate speech is at the heart of the problem. “Over and over,” notes former ACLU President Nadine Strossen, “different decision-makers in the same country disagree about whether particular expression does or does not fall afoul of the pertinent ‘hate speech’ laws.”

To enforce it all, the proposed law would create a new Digital Safety Commission with incredible powers to police content. “The breadth of powers is remarkable,” noted legal analyst Michael Geist. The Commission’s “rulings on making content inaccessible, investigation powers, hearings that under certain circumstances can be closed to the public, establishing regulations and codes of conduct, and the power to levy penalties up to 6% of global revenues of services caught by the law.”

The Trudeau government spokesperson emphasized that Canadian laws allow the government to issue a “peace bond” to incarcerate people before committing any crime. “Peace bonds are well-established tools in Canadian criminal law that are used to prevent an offense from being committed in the first place,” the spokesperson said. “A peace bond will only be imposed where a court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offense will be committed.”

But it’s not just advocating genocide or the willful promotion of hatred that can now carry life sentences. Under the new bill, if anyone breaks any federal law and the courts find that the law was broken for hateful reasons, that person can also be subject to life in prison.

“People can be jailed for up to 12 months just because other people fear they may commit future hate speech,” noted Joanna Baron, the executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation. “The options are a year of imprisonment or wear an ankle bracelet, submit to DNA tests, submit to ongoing monitoring.”

Let’s not mince words. The Trudeau goverment is attempting to create “pre-crime” no different from the kind depicted in Steven Spielberg’s dystopian 2002 film, Minority Report. The main difference is that in that movie, there appeared to be far more certainty that the police were preventing murders. In the case of the government’s hate speech law, the crime is of using one’s words in ways that offend the government

In reality, what’s happening in Canada is a terrifying assault on two core Enlightenment principles: free speech and equal justice under the law. Those of us in Canada are as outraged as anyone else. And we are, like many others, seeking to understand what exactly is happening. Why did a longtime liberal democracy put in power a person and a party committed to destroying it?

Strossen notes in her book Hate: Why We Should Fight It With Free Speech, Not Censorship that Canadian hate speech laws have in the past been used against French-Canadian nationalists, a Jewish community leader, and a pro-Israeli speaker. The government insists its definitions of hate are specific enough to avoid confusion. But Strossen documents how subjectively courts have enforced hate speech laws around the world.

And the new bill would take everything to a new extreme. Experts agree it will create a chilling effect. As such, despite the government’s claims to the contrary, this chilling effect appears to be the bill’s intended purpose. The Trudeau government wants to instill fear in people in order to control their speech.

As I wrote last September, Trudeau is pioneering a new way for governments to take control over the information environment—spreading disinformation and demanding censorship—that is similar but different to efforts we are seeing in places like California, Australia, and New Zealand.

People across the Western world were rightly alarmed when Trudeau, in February 2022, invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in Canadian history and froze bank accounts of people who had donated to the “Freedom Convoy” protest led by truckers demanding an end to Covid-19 vaccine mandates. Trudeau justified such acts by demonizing ordinary Canadian truckers as “Nazis” and “racists.”

Then, Trudeau passed an Online Streaming Act and Online News Act, which gave the government expansive new powers to regulate what happens and what you see online.

In January, Alex Gutentag and John Morrison reported that the Trudeau government had used disinformation to justify its crackdown on the Freedom Convoy. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada’s national police force, then promoted this false information to other “Five Eyes” English-speaking nations.

This discovery is significant because it contributes to a pattern of intelligence agencies from the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, which have collaborated on surveillance since World War II, being caught abusing their powers to investigate and persecute the political enemies of elected officials.

In addition to this inorganic governmental element, there is also a cultural element at work. Canada has a reputation as a nation of polite and mild-mannered people. With a liberal democratic government in the tradition of Great Britain more than the United States, Canada has, in recent decades, undertaken extraordinary efforts to recognize historical injustices and create belonging among historically marginalized groups, including First Nations, racial minorities, and immigrants.

But over the last few years, Trudeau has turned this cultural goodwill against free speech, liberal democracy, and the rule of law. It is no surprise that the government is seeking sweeping powers to censor people in the name of reducing prejudice. It’s clear that, in Canada and other nations around the world, governments, including their intelligence agencies, are working with NGOs to weaponize a culture of compassion and kindness against the basic freedoms that Western nations have taken for granted for hundreds of years.

Hate speech laws fail on their own terms. During the 15 years before Hitler took control of Germany, there were over 200 prosecutions based on anti-Semitic speech, notes Strossen in her book. The laws thus actually helped the Nazis gain attention and support.

The good news is that many groups are raising serious concerns about the new bill and its impact on free speech and expression.

For example, the country’s national paper of record published a scathing op-ed. The Globe and Mail called the proposed bill “fatally flawed” and concluded, “There may be a balance to be struck between toughening sanctions against hate speech while protecting freedom of expression and due process. The Liberals have not found that balance.”

And some NGOs, like the Canadian Constitution Foundation, are fighting back. Baron told told Public that she is unaware of any other countries that impose life sentences for hate speech.

“The UK and Australia have brought in similar online harms legislation, and they’ve been focused on things like platforms having a duty of care to the user and the child protection legislation,” Baron said. “As far as I know, none of their packages had similar criminal provisions surrounding hate speech, and certainly not the public.”

But that’s where those nations may be headed. Canada appears to be playing a role similar to Ireland: to push the envelope in the war on free speech and democracy. The good news is that, as this pattern becomes visible, we become less vulnerable to it.

It’s up to lovers of free speech in Canada, the U.S., and other Western nations to expose what appears to be a coordinated effort by governments to regulate speech at a minimum and undermine free speech and democracy at a maximum.

Justice Minister Virani is right to want his children to be safe both in the real world and online. The problem is that, while we are not his children, he is attempting to treat us as ones, just as all totalitarian governments do.

Originally published at