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Civil Liberties Association sounds alarm on proposed digital safety commissioner

“We have a problem where we’re precluding people from expressing themselves in ways that are completely lawful,” Zwibel said.

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The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is expressing serious concerns over a Liberal proposal for a Digital Safety Commission.

The commission would be a regulatory complement for Bill C-36, according to a recently-released discussion paper. It calls for a Digital Safety Commissioner to police Online Communications Services (OCS) such as Facebook, TikTok, and Pornhub to eliminate hate speech, terrorist content, content that incites violence, intimate images shared without consent, and child sexual exploitation.

The Commissioner could levy large fines for platforms that don’t comply and send investigators to homes and businesses. The Commissioner would also mandate the social media companies to proactively report a wide range of information. Some information obtained could be shared with other government bodies, including CSIS.

In an interview with Western Standard, Canadian Civil Liberties Association general council Cara Zwibel said social media companies could over-censor to be on the safe side.

“We have a problem where we’re precluding people from expressing themselves in ways that are completely lawful,” Zwibel said.

“There isn’t an absence of law to deal with this stuff. And it may be that law enforcement needs updated tools. I don’t know if that’s the case. But this does something different. It shoots the responsibility over to the social media companies to deal with it.”

In 1990, Canada’s existing hate speech laws barely passed a court challenge in a 4-3 decision. Zwibel said if interpreted properly, a wide latitude of speech is permissible. 

“Many people would be surprised that you can say a lot of pretty terrible things and not violate the law. And, in many cases, those terrible things are the things that people were complaining about, that people want taken down. But they’re not illegal. So, if the law is applied properly, they shouldn’t be removed,” Zwibel said.

“A lot of terrorist propaganda is people who engage in these acts of violence explaining their motivation. And I think that’s something that many people will find to be in the public interest to hear and to know.”

Canadian elected officials haven’t always esteemed the importance of such speech. In 2019, Faisal Khan Suri, president of the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council, told a Justice Committee hearing that Christchurch, New Zealand shooter Brenton Tarrant was influenced by hate speech coming from “alt-right online networks.”

In response, Conservative MP Michael Cooper read part of Tarrant’s manifesto where he said he was not a conservative. At the urging of Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault, the words from the manifesto were struck from the Parliamentary record. Later, the Conservatives removed Cooper from the Justice Committee.

Under the Liberal proposal, a Digital Recourse Council consisting of three to five members would exist to hear appeals to the Commissioner’s rulings. However, the legislative proposal encourages the hiring of sexual, religious, and racial minorities, such as Boissonnault, who was the first openly gay MP elected in Alberta.

“[I]n appointing members, the Governor in Council shall take into consideration the importance of diverse subject-matter experts reflective of the Canadian population, particularly inclusive of women, Indigenous Peoples, members of racialized communities and religious minorities, of LGBTQ2 and gender-diverse communities, and persons with disabilities,” reads the proposal’s technical paper.

Whether the council leans against politically incorrect speech or not, Zwibel says a bureaucratic monster could be in the making.

“As far as creating this bureaucratic structure, I would imagine that it could become unwieldy very quickly. The amount of the volume of content that is out there, that people may complain about, even if those complaints if examined have no merit – it’s going to take some time to look into all of that. And so I can’t imagine this five-person board managing what could be a very large volume of complaints,” Zwibel said.

“It seems like the wrong tool for some of these things that are very serious. And…we’re talking about any content that is accessible in Canada, regardless of where it originated. So that’s potentially a lot of content.” 

Lisa Bildy of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms said Bill C-36, for which this proposal is a complement, is terrible legislation.

“Frighteningly, it expands the notion of a ‘pre-crime’, wherein someone can obtain a peace bond against another person who they fear might commit a hate crime. This is veering into punishing people for thoughtcrimes, with associated restrictions on that person’s liberty for something they have not yet done,” Bildy told Western Standard.

“It seems likely that Bill C-36 will be used as a tool of political oppression against those who do not subscribe to the authoritarian progressive orthodoxy. Although Canadians are already well protected from hate speech and propaganda by sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code, this bill removes evidentiary limitations and expands the reach of existing hate law.”

Lee Harding is a Saskatchewan-based correspondent for Western Standard.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Left Coast

    August 4, 2021 at 2:24 pm

    They are still mad at Trump for that $2 a gallon gasoline . . .
    the Best in 50 years Economy and record Employment Levels for minorities.

    How is this different from the 1930s in Germany?

  2. Shepherdess

    August 4, 2021 at 11:11 am

    “taking comments” that they will ignore. Everyone needs to contact their MP and fight this Minority Report Bill. Dig deeper…it’s scary.

  3. Seven-Zero-One

    August 4, 2021 at 10:37 am

    Digital Fascism is here. As usual most Canadians r sleep.

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Kenney leadership review to be held April 9 in Red Deer, in convention-style vote

The UCP board decided not to listen to demands from 22 constituency associations that wanted a review by March at the latest, said a Western Standard source close to the board.

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Editor’s note. Due to a typo, the initial version of the story said the review would be April 6. Sources say the vote will take place April 9.

A pay-to-vote leadership review of United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney will be held April 9 in Red Deer, the Western Standard has learned.

The UCP board decided not to listen to demands from 22 constituency associations that wanted a review by March at the latest, said a Western Standard source close to the board.

The source said the board felt it was “being generous” to the 22 rebel ridings by holding a review in April.

Details on how much it will cost to go to the conference are still being worked out, but it will be a system where you have to pay to vote, the source said.

Those details are expected to be announced in January.

While the board meeting was “friendly,” pro-Kenney factions later held long discussions to plan strategy, said the source.

A convention-style review appears to favour Kenney as opposed to a one-vote-per-party-member system as Kenney is famed for his political organizing power.

His office came under fire last month for allegedly using money from third-party political action committees (PACs) to send people to the UCP AGM which turned into a Kenney love-fest that left the leader smiling.

Kenney denied knowledge of the PAC money.

“I’m not involved in third party organizations, but third party political organizations are free, within the law, to be involved in politics,” said Kenney.

Prior to the AGM Airdrie-Cochrane UCP MLA Peter Guthrie sent Kenney a letter which said the party was on the verge of collapse. 

“Public opinion continues to wane, and we may be at a point where this party cannot be salvaged,” writes Guthrie, in the letter obtained by the Western Standard.

“Membership has fallen from 150,000 to less than 10,000 and fundraising is evaporating along with our credibility.”

Much of the UCP grassroots frustration has come on the heels of controversial COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Kenney also brought in a vaccine passport scheme he vowed never to introduce.

Another scandal that infuriated UCP members was when the infamous pictures were published of Kenney holding an outdoor dinner on the balcony of the “Sky Palace” in contravention of the government’s of laws, regulations, and guidelines.

In April, a UCP MLA told the Western Standard they are “100% certain” Kenney would be the subject of an early party leadership review.

“Caucus is in total chaos,” said the MLA, who spoke with the Western Standard on the condition of anonymity.

But the expected caucus revolt failed to materialize.

At one point the caucus booted MLAs Todd Loewen and Drew Barnes for dissension.

Editor’s note. Due to a typo, the initial version of the story said the review would be April 6. Sources say the vote will take place April 9.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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YouTube cancels Western Standard for reporting news story

“Your channel now has one strike,” said YouTube in the e-mail, adding Western Standard’s account has been suspended for one week.

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YouTube issued one strike against the Western Standard for reporting on a Calgary police officer who was put on leave for refusing the COVID-19 vaccinations.

YouTube sent the notification via e-mail to Derek Fildebrandt, president and CEO of the Western Standard, on Wednesday, and stated the video included in the story violates YouTube’s “medical misinformation policy.”

“YouTube doesn’t allow claims about COVID-19 vaccinations that contradict expert consensus from local health authorities or the World Health Organization (WHO),” said the e-mail.

“YouTube banned our account for sharing content that contradicted the advice of the WHO and local health authorities,” said Fildebrandt.

“But the WHO and local health authorities contradict themselves. One such health authority, Alberta Health Services (AHS), had to contradict itself after the Western Standard caught them lying to Albertans about which they falsely claimed was a COVID-19 death of a child.”

The notice indicated YouTube had removed the video stating, “We know this might be disappointing, but it’s important to us that YouTube is a safe place for all.”

In the video, an emotional Const. Brian Denison, a 24-year veteran with the Calgary Police Service (CPS), explained the turmoil he has faced for refusing to be vaccinated by the December 1 deadline set out by the CPS.

Denison, one year from retirement, called the vaccine policy a “farce” and said the CPS is “bullying” staff. He also described the segregation of society into the “vaccinated and unvaccinated” as similar to Hitler’s Nazi regime.

The Western Standard’s News Editor Dave Naylor covered the story in an unbiased fashion and included the video of Denison.

“Your channel now has one strike,” said YouTube in the e-mail, adding Western Standard’s account has been suspended for one week.

The YouTube team further warned a second strike will result in a two-week suspension and three strikes within a 90-day period would result in the channel being permanently removed.

“YouTube — like other big tech and big social corporations — is so terrified of being regulated by the government that it over-regulates itself,” said Fildebrandt.

“In time, these monopolies will destroy themselves.”

The Western Standard has already submitted an appeal to YouTube and contacted their press department, as well as moved the video in question to Rumble.

“Of all the social media giants, YouTube has the weakest monopoly,” said Fildebrandt.

“They can ban the Western Standard and other media from posting legitimate news content all they like, and we’ll just put it on other platforms. That’s why we’ve been making a concerted effort to utilize platforms with a greater respect for free speech, like Rumble.”

The Western Standard did not receive a response from YouTube’s press department in time for publishing.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Canada joins growing diplomatic boycott of Chinese 2022 Olympics

The countries say the move is to protest the human rights record of the Chinese government, especially when it comes to the minority Uyghur Muslim community.

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First, it was the US. Then Australia. Now Canada has joined the list of countries refusing to send diplomats or high-level officials to the Beijing Winter Olympics next year.

The countries say the move is to protest the human rights record of the Chinese government, especially when it comes to the minority Uyghur Muslim community.

Canadian athletes will still be allowed to compete.

“For months, we have been coordinating and discussing the issue with our allies,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters Wednesday.

“As many partners around the world, we are extremely concerned by the repeated human rights violations by the Chinese government.

“This should not come as a surprise” to the Chinese regime, said Trudeau.

“(The athletes) need to have one thing in mind and that’s representing the country to the best of their ability and winning a gold medal for Canada,” he said.

Earlier this year, the House of Commons passed a motion calling the violence directed at religious minorities in China’s Xinjiang province as “genocide.” Trudeau and his cabinet were absent for the vote.

In a statement, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) said it “understands and respects” the decision and applauds the effort to “draw an important distinction between the participation of athletes and the participation of government officials.”

Canada’s last Olympic boycott was in Russia in 1980, protesting that country’s invasion of Afghanistan.

The US announced its decision on Monday.

“U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the [People’s Republic of China]’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can’t do that,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing.

Chinese officials have already said the US will pay for its boycott.

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Petition: No Media Bailouts

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

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No Media Bailouts

The fourth estate is critical to a functioning democracy in holding the government to account. An objective media can't maintain editorial integrity when it accepts money from a government we expect it to be critical of.

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

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