Dean discusses the government's proposed internet legislation Bill C-10 and the Liberal budget with Scot Davidson, MP for York-Simcoe.
As you may have heard, Bill C-10 would amend the Broadcasting Act to allow the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission — CRTC — to regulate internet content. Bill C-10 is legislation by the federal government that aims to regulate social media, websites, blogs, TV, radio, and the press. For short, it’s now become known as a censorship program. Thankfully, after another massive public backlash against this second attempt at sweeping internet censorship in less than two years, the government is planning to amend C-10 so social media posts are not regulated. There have been many articles written and several excellent interviews on this subject in the last week. The common theme amongst most is that there seems to be a troubling pattern when it comes to free speech and this government.
"Only a PM and a bunch that carry the delusion they are all-wise and ever-right could have conceived Bill C-10. [The] Liberals' dangerous arrogance didn't begin and won't end with internet-regulation bill. The thinking that spawned C-10 will remain” Rex Murphy
Let’s not pretend like this was a one-off occurrence. Twice in two years sends a message — this is a pattern. It shows the government is committed to some sort of curtailing of Canadians’ freedom of expression. For those of us that need a reminder, our right to freedom of expression is enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Section 2(b): It says: Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication. What is the purpose of enshrining this right in our Constitution? The Department of Justice gives the answer: The protection of freedom of expression is premised upon fundamental principles and values that promote the search for and attainment of truth, participation in social and political decision-making and the opportunity for individual self-fulfillment through expression.
The Supreme Court of Canada has maintained that the connection between freedom of expression and the political process is “perhaps the linchpin” of section 2(b) protection. Free expression is valued above all as being instrumental to democratic governance. The two other rationales for protecting freedom of expression — encouraging the search for truth through the open exchange of ideas, and fostering individual self-actualization, thus directly engaging individual human dignity — are also key values that animate section 2(b) analysis. So why did the government attempt to once again curtail freedom of expression? Rex Murphy, writing for the National Post, had this to say: “Only a PM and a bunch that carry the delusion they are all-wise and ever-right could have conceived Bill C-10”. He also warns that “[the] Liberals' dangerous arrogance didn't begin and won't end with internet-regulation bill. The thinking that spawned C-10 will remain” In terms of who thought up this ill-conceived legislation, Murphy, in his usual wit says this:
“This retrograde and democracy-denying bill emerged from the heights, out of the thin altitude where the prime minister dwells, and wherein the various wizards and shamans, the praetorian guard of top advisers, hatch their schemes, knit their plots, and advance the Leader’s dearest notions.”
In short, Rex Murphy, believes that C-10 reflects the Prime Minister’s true beliefs. This assumption would be in line with a now infamous statement by the PM where he said that he admires China’s basic dictatorship. Having said that, there are Bills the government has put forward during this pandemic that have been effective. There are others that have been done poorly. We must give credit where it’s due and to point out the mistakes when they happen. There needs to be balance and there needs to be accountability. But there is no balance warranted in the case of Bill C-10.
There should never be an argument in favour of curtailing our fundamental freedoms in the way that Bill C-10 attempted to do. Any attempt at justifying its censorship agenda would not only be inappropriate, but also dangerous. Time will tell if the government will try a 3rd time. For the sake of our democracy, however, I really hope not.
Joining me on the show today is the Member of Parliament for York-Simcoe. Scot Davidson started his business career as a restauranteur in his early 20’s and went on to own and operate several successful businesses.
Scot was elected in a by-election in Feb and then re-elected in Oct of 2019 and is currently the Ontario Caucus chair for the conservative party. We will be talking to Scot on his thoughts on the budget.