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IMG_2818 by Amine GHRABI https://flic.kr/p/rz4DLC CC BY-NC 2.0

Government’s Choice for Chief of Human Rights Commission Cited Terrorism as a Rational Strategy With High Rates of Success

The government’s choice for chief of the Canadian Human Rights Commission has been mired in controversy this week given his failure to disclose a record of posts and appearances that call into question the ability for Jewish or Zionist Canadians to get a fair, impartial hearing at the Commission. Birju Dattani, who formerly was known as Mujahid Dattani, is now the subject of an independent investigation by the Ministry of Justice as the calls for his resignation or replacement from stakeholder groups continue to mount, former Justice Minister David Lametti questions his suitability for the position, and MPs express non-confidence in him.

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June 29, 2024 5 comments News
lets start over by andrew j. cosgriff CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/6jStC

Virani’s Failed Human Rights Commission Choice: Why the Dattani Appointment Irreparably Harms both the Commission and Bill C-63

Justice Minister Arif Virani and the federal government spent years crafting Bill C-63, the Online Harms Act. After facing widespread criticism on the initial plans in 2021, the government consulted extensively before tabling a revised bill in February 2024 that ditched much of its previous thinking in favour of a more flexible “duty to act responsibly” for Internet platforms. Like many, I’ve argued that the Internet provisions in that bill are much improved and provide a good starting point for dealing with a real issue. However, mounting concerns about the inclusion of Criminal Code and Human Rights Act reforms – alongside doubts about enforcement – have sparked fears that the bill could be used to suppress lawful speech with all three opposition parties expressing concern about the bill’s current structure.

Given the concerns, the government has an uphill battle building public trust in the legislation of which enforcement is a critical component. In short, if Canadians do not trust the two agencies charged with enforcing the law – a future Digital Safety Commission and the current Canadian Human Rights Commission – then no amount of tinkering will save the government’s legislative plans.

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June 27, 2024 4 comments News
Arif Virani Holodomor by Mykola Swarnyk, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Government Appoints New Chief of Canadian Human Rights Commission Who Linked To Articles Comparing Israelis to Nazis, Called for Israel Boycott, and Shared Platform With Banned Organization

The Globe and Mail features a bombshell story today on a recent government appointment of the chief of the Canadian Human Rights Commission that not only calls into question its vetting process, but the fairness of the body charged with addressing online hate in Bill C-63. Less than two weeks ago, Justice Minister Arif Virani announced that Birju Dattani had been appointed as Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission for five years. The position is particularly important at this moment given the proposed changes to the Canada Human Rights Act in the Online Harms bill that would expand the scope of Commission work on online hate, including the prospect of dealing with thousands of complaints. Yet what the release did not say is that Birju Dattani once went by the name Mujahid Dattani. Search under that name and it reveals a deeply troubling record of posts and appearances that call into question the ability for Jewish or Zionist Canadians to get a fair, impartial hearing at the Commission.

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June 25, 2024 29 comments News
Road To Nowhere by Smoky Dan CC BY-NC 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/6rHeYZ

Road to Nowhere: Parliament Breaks For the Summer With Little Accomplished on Digital Policy

The House of Commons adjourned for the summer yesterday with most committees and House debate on hold until mid-September. The government talked up its accomplishments, but on the digital policy front there was little to promote. The government’s most controversial digital-related bills including online harms (Bill C-63) and privacy and AI regulation (Bill C-27) barely moved during the session, a function of badly bloated legislation that create at least as many problems as they solve. With an election a little more than a year away, the clock is ticking and many legislative proposals will be hard pressed to become law.

Where do things stand on the key pieces of legislation?

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June 20, 2024 2 comments News
YouTube Generation by Jonas Bengtsson CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/4Qx6hX

Government Court Filing on Bill C-11: “The Act Does Allow For the Regulation of User-Uploaded Programs on Social Media Services”

The public outcry over the Online Streaming Act is largely in the rear view mirror as the law is now at the CRTC facing years of regulatory and court battles. Last week, the Commission issued its first major ruling on mandated payments by Internet streaming services, a decision that, as I’ve written and discussed, is likely to increase consumer costs with limited benefit to the film and television sector. While Bill C-11 may ultimately become associated with the consumer implications and the CRTC’s failure to consider the market effects, for many Canadians the bill is inextricably linked to fears of user content regulation. For the better part of two years, a steady parade of government ministers and MPs insisted that user content regulation was out of the bill even as a plain reading made it clear that it was in. This week Ministry of Justice lawyers provided their take, arguing on behalf of the government in a court filing that “the Act does allow for regulation of user-uploaded programs on social media services.”

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June 13, 2024 12 comments News