Letter: Bill C-10 a threat to free speech

The controversy and back stepping continues

Bill C-10 a threat to free speech

As many people know, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals recently proposed Bill C-10, an internet regulation bill. It has become an exploding national controversy. Although presented as a way to boost Canadian content and regulate inappropriate content (altogether laudable intentions), the flaws in C-10 and its potential dangers have become obvious to many.

As former CRTC commissioner Peter Menzies has said Bill C-10 “doesn’t just infringe on free expression, it constitutes a full blown assault upon it and, through it, the foundations of democracy.” This may indeed be a good description of the bill and the dangers it represents. Canadians ought to think about it very seriously, and obviously they have. C-10 presents a very strong danger to free speech.

Although the Liberals appear to have stepped back from their original stance in the last day or two, the bill, as it was originally described, could have reached into virtually every aspect of communication on the internet including personal expression. In a recent committee meeting the powers of C-10 were expanded to potentially allow the federal government to delete any Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or Twitter upload that Canadians see fit to make. They have since (in the last 24 hours or so) repeated their original claim that social media would not be included in the bill.

In a Heritage committee meeting on April 23, the original “social media” exception clause was removed. This could have meant that an average Canadian who posts to Facebook, YouTube or similar platforms could have been treated as a broadcaster subject to CRTC rules. They would then, as National Post reporter Tristin Hopper has described it, “have to answer to every post on their platforms as if it were a TV show or radio program.” (National Post, April 29, 2021)

The controversy and back stepping continues. The NDP, who originally supported the bill, have now said they would join the Conservatives in calling for a postponement. Many Canadians are now confused and deeply concerned about Bill C-10 and the intentions of the Liberal Party of Canada. We are presumably living in a democracy. If so, then the Liberal government has no right to regulate the sincere opinions and commentary of the Canadian people, and should not be in the business of dictating their Charter right to “free expression.”

Regulating dangerous and grossly inappropriate material? Yes. Limiting the free speech and opinions of Canadians through legislative manipulation? No. The Canadian people have stood up against this dangerous trend. That is something to be truly proud of.

Perry Foster