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Filibusters Waste Time by Marni Soukup https://flic.kr/p/8RJW4C CC BY 2.0

Bill S-210 Study Without Witnesses?: Why a Conservative Filibuster May Lead to New Internet Age Verification Requirements and Website Blocking Legislation

When I first wrote about the arrival of Bill S-210 in the House of Commons back in December, I dubbed it the most dangerous Canadian bill you’ve never heard of and warned that “Senate private members bills rarely become law, but this bill is suddenly on the radar screen in a big way.” Nearly six months later, the bill is closer than ever to becoming law as the Conservatives improbably appear to be doubling down on support and seeking to limit witness testimony through filibuster tactics that could result in a full House vote without any amendments. For those new to the bill, the government has called it “fundamentally flawed” since it contemplates measures that raise privacy concerns through mandated age verification technologies, website blocking, and extends far beyond pornography sites to include search and social media. While the government has opposed it (save for a small number of Liberal MPs), the bill received full backing from Conservative, NDP, and Bloc MPs to send to the Standing Committee on Public Safety for further review. Now that it is there, the Conservative MPs have used filibuster tactics to block all witness testimony on the bill.

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May 16, 2024 13 comments News
2024.05.02 Pro-Jewish at GWU, Washington, DC USA 123 119198 by Ted Eytan CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/2pNH256

A Post I Never Thought I Would Need to Write: Jewish Students Have the Right to Feel Safe on Campus

This is a post I never thought I would need to write in 2024. I have been a law professor at the University of Ottawa for nearly 26 years and the principle that all students, regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation have the right to be safe and feel safe on campus and in classrooms has been inviolable and accepted as central to our academic mission. Indeed, over the years I have seen and supported colleagues’ efforts to ensure that we practice what we preach on inclusivity and ensuring a community free from harassment and discrimination. I believe the same to be true at academic institutions across the country. Yet since October 7th, something has changed.

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May 13, 2024 27 comments News
Bill C-63 screenshot, https://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/44-1/bill/C-63/first-reading

Debating the Online Harms Act: Insights from Two Recent Panels on Bill C-63

The Online Harms Act has sparked widespread debate over the past six weeks. I’ve covered the bill in a trio of Law Bytes podcast (Online Harms, Canada Human Rights Act, Criminal Code) and participated in several panels focused on the issue. Those panels are posted below. First, a panel titled the Online Harms Act: What’s Fact and What’s Fiction, sponsored by CIJA that included Emily Laidlaw, Richard Marceau and me. It paid particular attention to the intersection between the bill and online hate.

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April 18, 2024 3 comments News
Data Center by Bob Mical https://flic.kr/p/i3NECz CC BY-NC 2.0

AI Spending is Not an AI Strategy: Why the Government’s Artificial Intelligence Plan Avoids the Hard Governance Questions

The government announced plans over the weekend to spend billions of dollars to support artificial intelligence. Billed as “securing Canada’s AI Advantage”, the plan includes promises to spend $2 billion on an AI Compute Access Fund and a Canadian AI Sovereign Compute Strategy that is focused on developing domestic computing infrastructure. In addition, there is $200 million for AI startups, $100 million for AI adoption, $50 million for skills training (particularly those in the creative sector), $50 million for an AI Safety Institute, and $5.1 million to support the Office of the AI and Data Commissioner, which would be created by Bill C-27.  While the plan received unsurprising applause from AI institutes that have been lobbying for the money, I have my doubts. There is unquestionably a need to address AI policy, but this approach appears to paper over hard questions about AI governance and regulation. The money may be useful – though given the massive private sector investment in the space right now a better case for public money is needed – but tossing millions at each issue is not the equivalent of grappling with AI safety, copyright or regulatory challenges.

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April 9, 2024 18 comments News
IMG_7927 by Steve Eason https://flic.kr/p/2pi3HEy CC BY-NC 2.0

Tweets Are Not Enough: Why Combatting Relentless Antisemitism in Canada Requires Real Leadership and Action

The Jewish holiday of Purim over the weekend sparked the usually array of political tweets featuring some odd interpretations of the meaning of the holiday and expressing varying degrees of support for the Jewish community.  But coming off one of the worst weeks in memory  – cancelled Jewish events due to security concerns, antisemitism in the mainstream media, deeply troubling comments on the floor of the House of Commons, and the marginalization of some Jewish MPs in government – the time for generic statements of support does not cut it. The Globe and Mail has noted the “dangerous slide into antisemitism” and called for a House motion unequivocally condemning antisemitism. This post provides further context to that piece, arguing that such a motion is necessary but insufficient since it is leadership and real action from our politicians, university presidents, and community groups that is desperately needed. 

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March 26, 2024 21 comments News