Trudeau government ‘gaslighting’ critics of Online Harms Act, legal expert warns – LifeSite

(LifeSiteNews) – One of Canada’s top legal pundits warned that the federal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “ready” to “gaslight” opponents of a new bill that could lead to jail time for vaguely defined online “hate speech” infractions.

In recent an opinion piece critical of Bill C-63, which is the Online Harms Act that was introduced in the House of Commons on February 26, law professor Dr. Michael Geist said that the text of the bill is “unmistakable” in how it will affect Canadians’ online freedoms.

Geist noted that the new bill will allow a new digital safety commission to conduct “secret commission hearings” against those found to have violated the new law.

“The poorly conceived Digital Safety Commission lacks even basic rules of evidence, can conduct secret hearings, and has been granted an astonishing array of powers with limited oversight. This isn’t a fabrication,” Geist wrote.

He observed specifically how Section 87 of the bill “literally” says “the Commission is not bound by any legal or technical rules of evidence.”

The Liberals under Trudeau claim Bill C-63 will target certain cases of internet content removal, notably those involving child sexual abuse and pornography.

The reality is that the federal government under Trudeau has gone all in on radical transgender ideology, including the so-called “transitioning” of minors, while at the same time introducing laws that on the surface appear to be about helping children.

As for Geist, he noted that when it comes to Bill C-63, the “most obvious solution” to amend the bill “is to cut out the Criminal Code and Human Rights Act provisions, which have nothing to do with establishing Internet platform liability for online harms.”

“Instead, the government seems ready yet again to gaslight its critics and claim that they have it all wrong,” Geist said. “But the text of the law is unmistakable and the initial refusal to address the concerns is a mistake that, if it persists, risks sinking the entire bill.”

Bill C-63 was introduced by Justice Minister Arif Virani and then immediately blasted by constitutional experts as troublesome.

Bill C-63 will modify existing laws, amending the Criminal Code as well as the Canadian Human Rights Act, in what the Liberals claim will target certain cases of internet content removal, notably those involving child sexual abuse and pornography.

One of Canada’s foremost constitutional rights groups, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), warned that the proposed “Online Harms Act” is a serious threat to freedom of “expression” and could lead to “preemptive punishment for crimes not committed.”

Geist observed that the Trudeau government with Bill C-63 “is ready to run back the same playbook of gaslighting and denials that plagued” as it did with its other internet censorship Bills C-11 and C-18.

“Those bills, which addressed Internet streaming and news, faced widespread criticism over potential regulation of user content and the prospect of blocked news links on major Internet platforms. Rather than engage in a policy process that took the criticism seriously, the government ignored digital creators (including disrespecting indigenous creators) and dismissed the risks of Bill C-18 as a bluff,” Geist wrote.

“The results of that strategy are well-known: Bill C-11 required a policy direction fix and is mired in a years-long regulatory process at the CRTC and news links have been blocked for months on Meta as the list of Canadian media bankruptcies and closures mount.”

Geist observed that Bill C-63 had “offered the chance for a fresh start,” but instead there “were red flags,” particularly with respect to the “Digital Safety Commission charged with enforcing the law and with the inclusion of Criminal Code and Human Rights Act provisions with overbroad penalties and the potential to weaponize speech complaints.”

“The hope – based on the more collaborative approach used to develop the law – was that there would be a ‘genuine welcoming of constructive criticism rather than the discouraging, hostile processes of recent years,’” Geist wrote.

“Two weeks in that hope is rapidly disappearing,” he added.

Geist observed that Bill C-63’s changes to the Human Rights Act “absolutely open the door to the weaponization of complaints for communication of hate speech online that ‘is likely to foment detestation or vilification of an individual or group of individuals on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.’”

Indeed, the bill, as per Section 13.1, would allow for those found in violation to face penalties up to $20,000 for the complainant as well as up to $50,000 to the government (Section 53.1).

LifeSiteNews has previously reported that many, including prominent Canadians who are not known to be conservative such as author Margaret Atwood, oppose Bill C-63. Additionally, billionaire Elon Musk and Jordan Peterson have been critical of Bill C-63.

Marty Moore, litigation director for the JCCF-funded Charter Advocates Canada, previously told LifeSiteNews that Bill C-63 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.

The JCCF launched a petition, which can be signed here, calling on Trudeau to “stop” the Online Harms Act.

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