Stop by astarothcy (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Stop by astarothcy (CC BY-SA 2.0)


This Must Stop: Government and Liberal Party Go All-In On Speech Regulation With Political Truth Oversight Bodies, Mandated Press Source Tracing, and Disclosure of Critics’ Communications

Earlier today, the Liberal party convention approved (subject to a final vote) two stunning policy resolutions with enormous implications for freedom of expression. First, as discussed yesterday, it approved a resolution that seeks to “hold on-line information services accountable for the veracity of material published on their platforms and to limit publication only to material whose sources can be traced.” If enacted, the policy would undermine freedom of the press and could even spark widespread censorship on Internet platforms. In addition, it passed a resolution to develop “truth in political advertising” legislation to be administered by an oversight body. There are legitimate concerns about the “truthiness” of all political parties communications, but political truth oversight bodies carries great risk and is unlikely to foster enhanced public trust.

Indeed, these resolutions are only the latest in a series of legislative and policy measures in which the government and the governing party have become increasingly comfortable with speech regulation that raises serious constitutional concerns. When the government first ventured into support for the media sector, it did so lightly, recognizing the risks of government intervention with the media. For example, the creation of the Local Journalism Initiative directly supported journalism with a program administered by arms-length organizations and required open access to the resulting work. The days of being careful are long gone: from the Labour Journalism tax credit to Bill C-18’s mandatory payments for links and CRTC media codes of conduct, the government no longer hesitates to intervene in the media sector. 

It does not end there. Bill C-11’s regulation of user content raises troubling possibilities with Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez consistently failing to provide a credible explanation for rejecting safeguards for user content, leaving many to believe that regulatory power (including the possibility of mandating warning labels on some content) is the goal. Online safety legislation is on the way, backed by a policy development process in which the government only disclosed public submissions to its consultation when compelled to do so by law and soft-pedalled widespread criticism. Meanwhile, the unsurprising response to Bill C-18 from Google and Facebook – both now considering stopping news sharing or linking in Canada – sparked a Canadian Heritage committee motion that amounted to a fishing expedition into internal and third party communication and bizarre hearings in which MPs theatrically take turns ratcheting up the anger against the tech companies.

There are real issues with disinformation, online hate, privacy, competition, and a host of other online concerns that require various forms of regulation. But the government’s current approach suggests that it believes the ends justify even potentially unconstitutional means. It sounds extreme, but the slippery slope that starts with media intervention expands to investigations into critics, truth oversight bodies, and restrictions on press freedoms. Yet we must be honest with ourselves and see that this is where we are today with current and future policies that risk turning Canada into a dangerous model that more repressive regimes may cite with approval to justify their own anti-democratic measures. I don’t know what else to say other than this feels like uncharted territory. It must stop.


  1. I am scared. Never thought I would, but I’m thinking of leaving Canada.

    • Boborino says:

      This country is unquestionably going to become a banana republic without bananas.

      Have an exit plan.

    • I was scared 2 years ago and left in a hurry. Canada is no longer home to me because the Canada I once knew and loved no longer exists.

  2. Hmm. Truth in political advertising from the party that just the day before had the “I will scrap the GST” and “he will have the army marching in the streets” former leader speak.

  3. Boborino says:

    Personally, I’ve always felt it was the proper role of government to tell me what I can say and think, so I trust the government to determine what’s true and what isn’t.

    Government bureaucrats are all highly competent, and they’ve all had to pass comprehensive exams on epistemology and the philosophy of science.

    I mean they did such a bang-up job determining truth from falsity during the pandemic, what could go wrong?

    • Exactly. I mean, I’m a busy lady, so having someone tell me what I can and cannot think, believe or say is such a time saver. And it’s eco-friendly!

    • Your a fool!

      • Those posts were sarcasm –bahahahaha! A true example of the ignorance of, and what is lacking in society today… And its YOU’RE!

      • Joe Zucchiatti says:

        Sarcasm is often wasted in a public forum. Personally i love it.

  4. “But the government’s current approach suggests that it believes the ends justify even potentially unconstitutional means.” Isn’t this the effective definition of a Charter Section 1 exemption?

    • Boborino says:

      I thought we decided this in R. v. Zundel in 1992, where they struck down Section 181 of the Criminal Code on “spreading false news”:

      Majority decision:
      “Section 181 of the Code infringes the guarantee of freedom of expression. Section 2(b) of the Charter protects the right of a minority to express its view, however unpopular it may be. All communications which convey or attempt to convey meaning are protected by s. 2(b), unless the physical form by which the communication is made (for example, a violent act) excludes protection. The content of the communication is irrelevant. The purpose of the guarantee is to permit free expression to the end of promoting truth, political or social participation, and self‑fulfilment. That purpose extends to the protection of minority beliefs which the majority regards as wrong or false.”

      • I agree, but at the end of the day it comes down to how effective an argument the crown can make. As I understand it the SCOC decided that our hate speech legislation could stand, even though they recognized it violated the freedom of speech clause, because the end justified the means.

  5. I figured that I would be reporting on the news right up to the very end. Didn’t think the end might be happening this soon, though. Guess I’ll soon have to contemplate my next career choice in a post free speech world – this as I learn how to access the dark web since other countries are heading into similar directions such as the US trying to repeal Section 230.

  6. Truth in Advertising is apparently much older than any of the people that are posting here. Hate speech, mis & disinformation require oversight. Advertisers and political parties won’t be allowed to lie. And that’s a good thing for everyone.

    • The issue comes down to what constitutes hate speech, as well as mid- and disinformation, and who decides? And who decides on who decides?

    • Further to your comment, I wouldn’t be surprised to see whatever they come up with as being as useful as the Do Not Call registry, and have different standards for political parties and the rest of us, just like the DNCL rules.

    • Boborino says:

      “Misinformation” and “disinformation” are just the left-wing equivalents of “fake news”. Would you have wanted Donald Trump to be in charge of policing the truthfulness of news?

      I assume the answer is “no”, so why would you want to entrust any government official with this power? How on earth did that government official get access to the fabric of reality to determine what’s true and what isn’t?

      Who determines what is or what isn’t hateful? And why do people require protection from photons emitted from a computer screen or vibrations of air?

  7. If the Liberals feel we need Truth in Political Advertising legislation doesn’t that mean they’re admitting that we can’t trust them to tell the truth?

    • It means if we disagree with them or their liberal narrative (anything LGBTQWTFBBQ+), go to jail.

      • Boborino says:

        Yup. The new Lysenkoism is here.

        • I had to Google Lysenkoism. Makes sense. Everything comes full circle. Repeat forever. Learn nothing.

          • The proposed measures outlined in this article are concerning. While it’s important to address misinformation, these steps seem to encroach upon freedom of speech and press independence.

  8. It’s been useful for me in the past to explain to a neophyte as follows:

    IF they believe the current government is enlightened and would never abuse the use of some demanded authoritative power, THEN they have to accept that when the government changes (and it ALWAYS does) to a party they Don’t Like, then that new government WILL have the same power they would happily grant their favored government.

    So, if they let the current government eliminate free speech for reasons of woke, DEI, BDS, 2SLGBTQR+, Scary Truckers, (and so forth), then they HAVE to accept that when someone scary (to them) like Harper, Poilevre, etc. gets in, they will have the SAME power.

    That often makes them rethink their position. It’s nice having a democracy with multiple parties.

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  12. I always assumed that fascism would arise from the right wearing a jackboot. Did not foresee evil in a silk glove worn by liberals.

  13. After a long trip away, it can be great to come back to your blog. I’ve been eager to work on this job for a while now.

  14. To those that say “But what is the alternative? I support liberals and liberal ideals, so I cannot vote them out”, please realize that the current incarnation of the Liberal Party is liberal in name only, and very much authoritarian in its actions.

    It’s like the DPRK, who is neither Democratic, nor a Republic, and doesn’t represent the People.

    And voting them out may be the only way to get them to realize that they have lost their way. If you don’t, you’re a part of the problem.

  15. But only their critics? Those that don’t criticize , but parrot the one prescribed narrative on’t disclose where they got their ‘sources’ from? Gee. There’s a name for that.GOSH. WHERE have we seen that sort of thing before? BUT SOME PEOPLE DON’T LOOK. Pretend it’s not a more horrible version of a replay of the 1930 N az i playbook. JUST like some people did back then too. How’d that work out for them?

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