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The Dark Side of Bill C-11: How it Could Silence Canadian Voices

Will self-censorship replace free speech in Canada?

By guest author Francis Crescia
January 6, 2023

In Russia, the current best seller is George Orwell’s 1984 dystopian novel. Canada’s best-selling books run the gamut from Five Little Indians to Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix. Journalist Andrew Lawton’s book, Freedom Convoy has become a best seller through Amazon as the country’s largest book retailer Indigo refused to stock the book because it did not approve of its subject matter. 

I spoke with Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms lawyer Samuel Bachand about Canadian freedoms. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, he explains, and Bill C-11 is crawling its way through the Senate and soon will become law. The CRTC will be given unprecedented powers to regulate any content posted by individuals and companies on social media.

Bachand believes that YouTube will go from a free market of ideas approach to how its algorithm works to one where the Canadian government forces—through the CRTC—individuals to consume more made-in-Canada content. C-11 is written so vaguely that behind the scenes, government bureaucrats will control the processes, and Canadians will not even realize that their freedom to choose has been taken away.

The bill’s sponsor, Liberal Minister Pablo Rodriguez, insists that C-11 does not target Canadians who make content like podcasts or videos but under examination, the opposite is the case. John Carpay, President of the Justice Center, explains, “… users are not targeted as broadcasters, and the CRTC will not regulate videos and podcasts that do not generate revenue for the person who uploads and owns the rights.” However, in the body of the law, there are loopholes for the CRTC to use to regulate. “What the OSA (online streaming act) gives with the right hand, it takes back with the left,” he concludes.

Bill C-11 is filled with Orwellian doublespeak, for example: “ the Act does not apply in respect of programs uploaded to an online undertaking that provides a social media service by a user of the service unless the programs are prescribed by regulation…” Bureaucrats love to use this type of language to deceive and manipulate and get society to accept propaganda as reality. C-11 creates the most authoritarian regulatory framework of the internet in the Western world. 

The bill was rammed through the House of Commons with zero debate on proposed amendments. Liberal MP Tim Kitchener spoke in the House of Commons and accused critics of spreading “misinformation,” and Minister Rodriguez accused Meta of trying to “intimidate Canadians.” Bachand thinks that the Liberal government is attempting to use the judicial system for its ideological agenda and warns that whether the government is right or left-wing, it is dangerous to attempt to use the law for political purposes.

Conservative MP Leslyn Lewis is more prescient in her assessment of the Liberal’s political agenda stating that C-11 will give the government the ability to use technology to try and control society. She states: “Bill C-11 is dangerous in its own right, but it is also a precedent for a government that wishes to extend this form of technocratic control to other areas beyond online content.”

Legacy media considers itself the protector of democracy, but it has turned a blind eye and become an implicit advocate for censorship. It is not far-fetched to believe that C-11 is crafted with the interests of traditional television and print publications to promote their content, helping them survive as the media business continues to lose audiences and money.

Whereas alternative media sources are gaining audiences and profitability as YouTube creates 35,000 jobs for Canadian creative entrepreneurs generating over $1 billion in revenue. Internet advertising revenue has reached $12 billion and growing by double digits each year. C-11 will take money away from young entrepreneurs, funnel it back to traditional media and fund content from the established and well-connected culturati. 

There is hope that a new government in Ottawa can modify and or repeal C-11. Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has said that as Prime Minister, he will introduce a Free Speech Act, reverse liberal censorship and defend one’s charter rights to freedom of expression.

When Justin Trudeau’s political career ends, his legacy will go down as the most polarizing PM in history, favoring one region of the country over another and preferring some groups over others. Our journalists and our artists have an important function in our society and we need to leave them free to do their work, Trudeau has stated. In reality, Canadian journalists and artists will now practice more self-censorship and become public relations scribes for the expanding power of the state…