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Canada’s Pravda Proposal to Shield Politicians From Criticism

In Canada, to protect free speech, the government must censor free speech.

Author George Orwell famously wrote in Animal Farm, “If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” Politicians top the list of individuals who do not want to hear from an opposing public, be it in person or on social media. A cabinet minister in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has had a light bulb moment to censor dissent from either constituents or opinion makers: accuse it of being extremist, label it as a hate speech, and put the kibosh on third-party hosts. Indeed, in Trudeau-land, some pigs are more equal than others.

Censoring Political Criticism?

Federal Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault thinks perhaps new regulations could target websites that publish hurtful comments hurled at politicians and bureaucrats. Speaking on a podcast with Canada 2020, an Ottawa-based think tank that has connections to the Liberal Party, Guilbeault proposed that federal regulators should be extended the authority to suspend or shut down websites that hurt the feelings of civil servants and elected officials.

“Federal internet censors should target hurtful words against politicians.

“We have seen too many examples of public officials retreating from public service due to the hateful online content targeted towards themselves or even their families. I have seen firsthand alongside other Canadians the damaging effects harmful content has on our families, our values and our institutions. As a dad and a stepdad to six kids, I know more can and should be done to create a safer online environment.”

In other words, the days of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” are coming to an end. The only speech permitted, should this concept come to fruition, is Pravda-esque.

Could this be part of the heritage minister’s efforts to mandate a new regulator to require online platforms, such as social media networks, to erase “illegal content, including hate speech, within 24 hours or face significant penalties”? The broader proposal has been controversial since it was first discussed a year ago when there were reports that he would force news websites to register with the federal government. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) recommended that internet publications seek licensing from the state. Guilbeault had to clarify that “the press, either online or traditional, do not need permission to operate in Canada and our Government intends to keep it that way,” effectively dismissing the suggestion.

Still, regulating hate speech is a slippery slope because it is a vague term that can target anybody’s analysis, commentary, or reporting that contradicts the 3×5 card of allowable opinion, exposes the corridors of power, and defies the empire. Whatever the case, the Grits believe they are justified given the extremist and conspiratorial content available on the web that could inspire violent individuals. At the same time, the consequences of censoring do the opposite of their intentions, namely emboldening the censored, no matter how benign or vile the content. But statists will always proclaim that protecting free speech means to bowdlerize this fundamental freedom.

Climate Barbie Strikes Back

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is none too pleased when female politicians are the subject of satire. She slammed conservatives for labeling her as “Climate Barbie,” grieving that women in politics face “sexist, misogynistic comments.” Her valley girl voice might be low-hanging fruit, but some of McKenna’s policies (carbon tax) and comments (farmers should embrace automation) have certainly justified the contempt of many Canadians.

But while her pearl-clutching was a great fundraising effort for the Liberals, the feigned outrage was asinine because politicians – men and women – have been satirized and mocked time immemorial. Genitalia should not exempt female officials from criticism and ridicule. Female politicians fall prey to big government’s coquettish nature as much as men, victimizing common folk with leftist nostrums that do more harm than good for the broader society.

Since entering the political realm more than a decade ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been lampooned by the right for everything under the sun. From his hair to his politically correct pandering to his blackface escapades, conservatives have routinely mocked the Liberal leader, and rightfully so. Suffice it to say, Tory supporters have been equal opportunity with their derision of Grits, Greens, and New Democrats.

And what about Conservative politicians? How often was former Member of Parliament Bev Oda lamented on her ridiculous taxpayer-funded $16 orange juice and swanky hotel? Danielle Smith, the right-leaning figure of Alberta politics who was a star for a cup of Tim Hortons coffee, was ribbed for her questionable campaign bus (let’s just say her mammaries were in the wrong place on the vehicle).

South of the border, the level of contempt lobbed at female conservatives and Republicans is immense.

Didn’t Trudeau Already Buy the Media?

If Trudeau and his minority government already purchased the media with a $600 million bailout fund, why would this be necessary? Perhaps not enough praise for the Dear Leader.

In 2019, the Liberals confirmed they were planning to roll out approximately $600 million in subsidies to select news media outlets. This was aimed at supporting the nation’s journalism sector, which included a labor tax credit and a 15% tax credit for consumers who purchase a digital news subscription from a qualified outlet. The money is distributed by a panel of industry experts, known as the Journalism and Written Media Independent Panel of Experts, which includes the anti-Conservative Unifor that represents 12,000 media workers. It is easy to see where the loonies would be allocated.

Last year, the prime minister announced a $30 million ad buy to help the mainstream media handle the COVID-19 fallout.

“Right now, it is more important than ever that Canadians have access to the latest news and information,” Trudeau said. “To ensure that journalists can continue to do this vital, our government is announcing new measures to support them.”

In other words, reporters need to practice left-leaning “Why Are You So Wonderful?” journalism.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms

In the ancient Greek play, The Knights, Aristophanes writes, “You possess all the attributes of a demagogue; a screeching, horrible voice, a perverse, cross-grained nature and the language of the market-place. In you all is united which is needful for governing.”

If Aristophanes were a Canadian today, drinking a Double-Double from Tim Hortons and uttering these words on a website, that platform would be censored. This environment could soon become a reality as Liberals profess that politicians and public servants are either special-class citizens or delicate little rosebuds. Are their fragile egos more important than free speech? This is a trick question since the freedom of speech is already a vague concept buried in the Great White North’s Arctic waters.

The consensus among political junkies is that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is merely a list of suggestions rather than a bill of rights enshrined in the fabric of the Canadian landscape. Perhaps it might be time to update La Charte canadienne des droits et libertés and insert a provision to the section of “fundamental freedoms”: thou shalt not criticize the sensitive civil servant and the omnipotent politician for fear of making these extraordinary men and women shed tears by citizens paying their salaries.


Read more from Andrew Moran.

Read More From Andrew Moran

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