Trudeau Government Lurches Toward Authoritarianism

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
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Trudeau Government Lurches Toward Authoritarianism

Canada’s new speech bills are cudgels of intolerance.

If Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gets his way, you might not be able to read this. In partnership with three other parties (one dedicated to the breakup of Canada no less), his minority government has rammed through legislation that critics have dubbed an Internet censorship bill.

Bill C-10 aims to amend the Broadcast Act and place the power to decide what is “acceptable” for everyday Canadians to post and see on the Internet, including what independent media put online, into the hands of a few unelected bureaucrats. The draft legislation gives those same bureaucrats the authority to levy hefty fines.

Conservative Sen. Michael Macdonald called the bill “Orwellian” in its scope and “disturbing.” “I have a lot of problems with a handful of elites deciding what you can see and what you can read,” he said. “We already have laws on objectionable content.”

What, then, is the point of this bill?

Critics say the bill is not only aimed at chilling free speech; its ultimate aim is to cancel opposition to the Liberal government. The Liberal government already subsidizes legacy media outlets, in addition to the hundreds of millions it annually gives the state broadcaster. Independent media companies—especially those critical of the government, the prime minister and his cabinet—feel the legislation is squarely aimed at them.

If made into law, the bill would effectively give the sponsoring Liberal government enormous power to cancel, persecute and obstruct opponents of the government and its policies. This would greatly amplify the government’s power to dominate and shape online content and messaging to its own ends.

Journalist Lorne Gunter noted, “According to a story on the Ottawa Insider news site Blacklock’s Reporter, Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault [who sponsored the bill] told a podcast affiliated with the Liberal Party that the government believes federal regulators should have the authority to temporarily block or even shut down websites that say hurtful things about politicians and public servants.”

Despite the widespread concerns, as Emily Laidlaw of the Canada research chair in cybersecurity law at the University of Calgary explained, Canadians are being asked to “take a leap of faith” and trust that the government will not abuse the new powers—powers that critics say look more like they belong in Communist-controlled China.

The concern is bipartisan. Sen. David Richards, nominated by Prime Minister Trudeau to the Senate in 2017, said, “I don’t think this bill needs amendments. I think, however, it needs a stake through the heart.”

Observers noted that the timing of the legislation was conspicuous in light of Trudeau potentially calling a fall election. If C-10 had passed scrutiny in the Senate before their summer break, it would have received royal ascent just in time to regulate what Canadians could see online in the lead-up to the election.

However, with the Senate now in recess for the summer, C-10 has been left in limbo. Should Trudeau call an election, which many expect he will do soon, it would dissolve Parliament and the bill would die. If Trudeau won the election, the bill could be resurrected. In the off-chance the prime minister does not call an election, the Senate would once again take up the bill later this fall. Regardless, critics have rightly observed the powers in C-10 are extraordinary and alarming. It provides a glimpse into the mindset at work in the prime minister’s office and his cabinet, and the prime minister himself.

It is ironic that, under the guise of promoting and regulating freedom of speech, this bill would empower the ruling government to put its online critics into the silent digital abyss forever. Even more ironic, it was rammed through by the government in the middle of the night with very little debate and with much procedural subterfuge.

Maybe democracy really does die in darkness.

And Bill C-10 is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Speaking at the Banff World Media Festival last week, Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault hinted that the Liberals had something far worse coming,” reported Toronto Sun columnist Candice Malcom.

Guilbeault reportedly said: “Now this is going to be controversial. People think that Bill C-10 was controversial. Wait until we table this legislation.”

He is referring to Bill C-36.

Malcom continued, “Lo and behold, less than 24 hours after the Liberals rammed through C-10, Justice Minister David Lametti tabled C-36, a bill to crack down on so-called ‘hate propaganda, hate crimes and hate speech’ online.”

Bill C-36, if passed and made into law, would take Canada’s ongoing leap into authoritarianism that much further. Bill C-36 would give Canadians the ability to take their fellow Canadians to court over content they deem hurtful.

But remain anonymous.

Where Bill C-10 intends to suppress speech, Bill C-36 seeks to criminalize it. Any speech a neighbor might not like. As it stands, the language in the draft bill allows for secret complaints, hefty fines for convicted thought criminals, and other provisions that allow anyone to take another Canadian to court even if they think you may—that is, in the future—possibly offend them.

On the surface, this bill would be pure insanity and lead to all kinds of harmful persecution of innocent people, bestowing the power on any Canadian to try another Canadian in court for something said online—offensive or not. Offensive, here, means in the eye of the beholder.

If Bill C-36 were to pass, it would revise the Canadian criminal code and Canadian Human Rights Act, trampling all over the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This bill, similar to C-10, would greatly chill free speech, but also centralize the power of the ruling elite by making the government, unelected bureaucrats and criminal justice system the arbiters of what “hate” is, as very loosely explained in the bill and open to interpretation.

Under the guise of promoting tolerance, regulating bias and curtailing hate against the typical bevy of virtue-signaling topics, the Liberal government is introducing a bill that will, for all intents and purposes, be used as an instrument of suppression of subjective wrong speak and wrong thought and be used as a cudgel of intolerance.

More importantly, it turns on its head the principle of innocent until proven guilty. Under Bill C-36, secret complainants would be given the benefit of the doubt, and any persons or organizations accused of wrong speak or wrong thought could be forced to defend themselves against a complainant they might never see.

To say these bills stand to weaponize cancel culture in Canada is a gross understatement. These bills would empower the government in profoundly undemocratic ways. Government critics and opposition could effectively be deemed heretics. These bills would push Canada much further down the road of authoritarianism.

Under the current language of Bill C-36, how hard would it be to trump up charges against someone or some organization you don’t like and swamp them with legal fees or an expensive and protracted bureaucratic process of redress?

Since assuming power, Prime Minister Trudeau has been sidelining the procedures of parliamentary democracy. Lately, the Liberal lurch toward authoritarianism has accelerated. If Trudeau calls an election and wins a majority government before the end of the year, Canadians can expect to see more of this behavior.

Bills C-10 and C-36 are symptoms of something far graver and spiritual going on in the country.

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has written on these broader trends in Canada. In America Under Attack, he explains the hidden cause for the decline of Canada, explaining that there is a lying spirit at work in society today. This spirit prevails in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Jewish state in the Middle East. Something is desperately wrong in these nations: They are being torn in two, divided by factions with escalating rivalries that tend toward hate and the spirit of murder.

As Mr. Flurry has explained, the levers of democratic power have been hijacked from the inside and are being used to reconstruct these nations into an altogether different vision than their founders intended. Law is being cast to the ground; history, statues and truths once absolutely sacred to the nation are being toppled and canceled.

To understand where this is leading, please read America Under Attack.