Freedom Under Siege: Bill C-10

Throne, Altar, Liberty

The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Friday, May 7, 2021

Freedom Under Siege: Bill C-10

I have never thought very highly of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms which was added to our constitution in 1982.   Note the wording there.   The Charter is not itself our constitution but merely a part of it and a late addition at that.   Those who make the mistake of calling the Charter itself our constitution have bought in to the American superstition that a constitution is a piece of paper that keeps a government from going bad through its magical powers.    A constitution is a country’s system of law and government, the institutions that comprise it, and the traditions that inform their motions.   The largest part of it is unwritten and this is true even in the American republic.  Documents like our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the one the Americans call their Constitution are merely parts of the Canadian and American constitutions respectively.   They are the laws that define and set limits to the power of government institutions.   They have no power to keep government within those limits apart from the loyalty of those who hold public office in obeying them, the willingness of the courts to uphold them, and the faithful vigilance of the public.

My low estimation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not because I don’t like the rights and freedoms that are listed in that document.   With a few exceptions, such as the “equality rights” written in Animal Farm style doublespeak in Section 15, these are rights and freedoms that I consider to be among the most valuable elements of our Common Law tradition.   It is rather because the Charter has made these rights and freedoms less secure rather than more.   In part this is due to flaws in the Charter itself such as the “notwithstanding clause” in Section 33 and the broad loophole in Section 1 which effectually nullify the Charter as far as the whole point of constitutionally protected rights and freedoms, that is to say that they are supposed to limit what the government can do so as to protect us from the abusive exercise of its powers, goes.   The Charter’s loopholes and exceptions protect the government instead of us and for this reason former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was right to say that it is not worth the paper it is written on.   It is also, however, because the Charter has encouraged a way of thinking about our rights and freedoms in a way that is the fundamental opposite of that which has historically belonged to our Common Law and traditional institutions of constitutional monarchy and parliament.   It encourages us to think of our rights and freedoms as privileges bestowed upon us by government to be limited or taken away by government freely as it sees fit, rather than our own property.

The consequences of this way of thinking having become pervasive have been most evident over the course of the last year.   Section 2 of the Charter identifies four freedoms as being fundamental.   The first of these is freedom of conscience and religion.   The third is the freedom of peaceful assembly.  The fourth is the freedom of association.    The whole point, remember, of having the Charter designate these freedoms as essential is to place limits on government power, to tell the government that it must keep its hands off of these things.   Yet ever since the World Health Organization declared the spread of the Wuhan bat flu to be a pandemic last March, our provincial governments have treated these freedoms as if they were completely non-existent, much less fundamental and protected by constitutional law and the Dominion government has constantly been urging the provincial governments to clamp down on us in violation of these freedoms in even more severe ways.

In 1986 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the case of R v Oakes.  David Oakes had been arrested with drugs in his possession and under what was then Section 8 of the Narcotics Control Act was presumed to be guilty of trafficking.   He challenged the constitutionality of Section 8 on the grounds that it violated the presumption of innocence, a civil right spelled out in Section 11 (d) of the Charter and which had been long established as part of the Common Law tradition.     That the provision of the NCA being challenged did indeed violate the civil right in question was easily demonstrated, but the Court then had to decide whether the violation was justifiable under the “reasonable limits” loophole in Section 1 of the Charter.   The Court’s ruling established what has ever since been the litmus test for this question.    The Court ruled that for a law which violates a Charter right or freedom to be justifiable under the “reasonable limits” clause, it first had to have a “pressing and substantial” goal.   Second, it had to meet the three qualifications of a) being “rationally connected” to the goal of the law, b) only impairing the rights and freedoms in question minimally, and c) not overwhelming the benefit hoped to be achieved with its negative effects.

It is quite obvious that the public health measures fail to meet the second of the three qualifications of the second part of the Supreme Court’s Oakes’ test.   When the public health officer tells you that you cannot have any visitors to your home, even if you meet outside, as is currently the case in Manitoba, he is clearly not trying to only “minimally impair” your freedom of association.   What he is doing is disregarding freedom of association entirely.   The provincial legislature is not allowed to do this constitutionally, nor can it delegate to the public health officer the authority to do so.   The legislature cannot delegate what it does not legitimately possess itself.   When the public health officer orders churches, synagogues, and mosques not to meet for the largest part of a year, cancels the most important festivals of these religions, and only permits re-opening at a severely reduced capacity that requires churches to betray the tenets of their own faith and turn worshippers away, he is similarly disregarding freedom of conscience and religion rather than making sure that his orders only “minimally impair” this freedom.    There is also plenty of evidence that the public health orders fail to meet the third qualification of the Oakes’ test as well.   The costs of lockdowns, measured in the destruction of lives due to the breakdown of mental health and the rise in substance abuse and suicides, the erosion of community and social capital, and the devastation of businesses and livelihoods, has been tremendous and far exceeds any questionable benefits of these insane, unjust, evil and oppressive restrictions.   Indeed, I believe the case could be made that the public health measures fail every single element of the Oakes’ test.

The provincial governments have gotten away with all this stercus tauri because they have until fairly recently met with only minimal resistance on the part of the Canadian public.   This can be attributed to a number of causes.   One of these, of course, is the hysterical and irrational fear generated by the mainstream corporate media that have been deceitfully and despicably portraying a virus that produces no to mild symptoms in most people who contract it, from which the vast majority of people who actually do get sick recover, and which in many if not most jurisdictions has an average age of fatality that is higher than the average expected lifespan of the general public, as if it were the second coming of the bubonic plague.   Another cause is the new attitude which has been encouraged among Canadians, especially by the Liberals, since 1982, of regarding our rights and freedoms as privileges bestowed upon us by the government in the Charter rather than what they are, our lawful property as free subjects of the Crown which it is the government’s duty to respect.  

The assault on our freedoms of religion, peaceful assembly, and association have come from the provincial governments.    At the same time the second of the four freedoms designated as fundamental in the Charter has come under attack from the Liberals who are in power in the Dominion government.    This is the freedom of “thought, belief, opinion and expression”.   Whereas our freedoms of religion, peaceful assembly, and association have never been this besieged before in Canadian history, our freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression has taken hits every time the Liberal Party led by a Trudeau has come to power in Ottawa.   It has been less than ten years since we finally got rid of one of the vilest elements of Pierre Trudeau’s legacy, the notorious Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.   While the entire Canadian Human Rights Act of 1977 is, in fact, an affront to freedom of thought because, despite its title, it has nothing to do with protecting our rights either as Canadians or human beings from government abuses, but is instead all about prohibiting the crimethink of discrimination on the part of individual Canadians, Section 13 was the Act’s worst provision by far.   By defining any electronic communication of information “likely to” expose someone protected against discrimination “to hatred or contempt” as an act of discrimination it in effect forbade all negative criticism of groups protected against discrimination or individuals belonging to such groups, regardless of the truthfulness or justice of the criticism in question.  

Section 13 was finally abolished during the premiership of Stephen Harper thanks to a private member’s bill repealing the foul section that received enough support from Conservative MPs and Liberal MPs of the pre-Trudeau variety – these had not yet been purged from the party – to pass Parliament.    Neither Stephen Harper nor his Minister of Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, who is currently overseeing the throwing of pastors in gaol and the barricading of churches in Alberta, had much to do with this for although they had spoken out against Human Rights Tribunals and their unjust infringement upon freedom of thought and speech on their road to power, in office they betrayed most of what they had once stood for, apparently having sold their souls to get there.  The demise of Section 13 has long been lamented by Pierre Trudeau’s son, Captain Airhead, and when he became Prime Minister in 2015 he dropped a number of hints that he would be seeking to revive it.   The appeal of Section 13 to Captain Airhead was based on more than just the fact that it had been originally introduced when his father was in power.   More than any previous Liberal leader, Captain Airhead has been of the mindset that once a progressive goal has been attained, all debate about it ought to cease.   This was evident even before he became Prime Minister when he purged the party of its pro-life members.   More than any previous Liberal leader, he has enthusiastically endorsed fringe progressive causes that could not possibly achieve widespread popular support on their own merits without measures that intimidate and suppress dissenters.   More than any previous Liberal leader he has been prone to tell Canadians who disagree with him that they are not welcome in their own country.   He has used the expression “there is no place for X in Canada” far more liberally than any previous leader and with a much wider range of Xs. (1)   In all of this he has demonstrated the sort of sick, censorious, mindset to which something like Section 13 appeals.    In December of 2019, after he won re-election in the sense that he managed to squeak out a plurality despite falling majorly in the polls from where he had been four years previously, he instructed his Cabinet that fighting online “hate speech” would be one of their priorities in the new session of Parliament.   Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault was specifically charged with finding a way to force social media platforms to remove what the Liberals consider to be “hate speech” within twenty-four hours of being told by the government to do so.   This would be Section 13 magnified to the nth degree.

In response to this directive, Guilbeault came up with a bill that pursued the same goal as Section 13 through a different avenue.   Last November he introduced Bill C-10, or “An Act to Amend the Broadcasting Act” into Parliament.   This bill if passed would place internet media under the same regulatory authority of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) as older electronic media such as radio and television broadcasters.   By going this route, Guilbeault could maintain that his goal was not to censor what individual Canadians post on the internet, but to ensure that the companies that make shows and movies available through online streaming follow the same Canadian content guidelines as other broadcasters, a goal consistent with his portfolio as Heritage Minister.   That having been said, the Bill as originally drafted would have given the CRTC regulatory authority over individual Canadians’ user-generated content on social media.   When objections to this were raised the Bill was amended to include an exception for individual user-generated content, but this exception was removed in committee late last month around the same time that the government moved to shut down debate on a motion that the Conservatives had introduced calling for a review of whether or not the bill violated the Charter.   None of this inspires much confidence in the Heritage Minister’s claim that the aim of this bill is cultural protectionism and not censorship of thought.   On Monday, faced with backlash over all of this, Guilbeault promised that they would make it “crystal clear” that the user-generated content will not be subjected to the same sort of regulatory control as television programming.   Needless to say, he ought not to be taken at his word on this.    Indeed, Michael Geist, the law professor at the University of Ottawa who has been one of the foremost critics of Bill C-10, has already said that the amendment the Heritage Committee proposed on Thursday evening fails to follow through on Guilbeault’s promises.

It is worth observing here that with Bill C-10, Captain Airhead and Steven Guilbeault have returned to the very first thing the original Trudeau Liberals did to control the minds of Canadians and limit their freedom of thought.   At the very beginning of the first Trudeau premiership the Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker pointed out how the Liberals were threatening freedom of thought through the powers of the CRTC.   In a speech entitled “The Twilight of Liberty”, the second included in the collection Those Things We Treasure (Macmillan, 1972), Diefenbaker said:

The Trudeau Government seems to be dedicated to controlling the thinking of Canadians.   Through the power being exerted by Pierre Juneau, as Chairman of the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, (2) private radio and T.V. station proprietors in Canada are frightened to speak, fearful of being subject to the cancellation of their licences.   One such station was CKPM in Ottawa, which dared to have an open line program critical of the Government.  Pierre Juneau did come before a Committee of the House and he uttered lachrymose words in reply to the criticism leveled at him that he wishes to determine what Canadians shall hear, and to deny them the right to listen to what they will.   His attitude was different when he spoke to the Association of Private Broadcasting Companies and in effect stated: “When I ope my lips, let no dog bark.” Under him the broadcasting network owned by the people of Canada is allowed to broadcast what he permits.

Diefenbaker’s warning of decades ago has gone largely unheeded, perhaps because the CRTC’s official raison d’être  is cultural protectionism which appeals to a much broader range of Canadians than its more covert purpose of limiting freedom of thought.   Certainly right-of-centre Canadians of the more traditional variety, such as Diefenbaker himself or this writer, would have no objections to the idea that Canadian culture ought to remain Canadian.   It needs to be pointed out, however, that the CRTC has been a total failure in this regards.    Fifty-three years later, the Canada of 2021 is far more Americanized culturally than the Canada of 1968 was.   Indeed, much of what Canadians regard as distinctly “Canadian” culture today, is merely Hollywood culture with a maple leaf stamped on it.   Read the novels of Mazo de la Roche and Robertson Davies if you want a taste of the more authentic pre-CRTC Canadian culture.    Since the CRTC failed in its official appointed task, probably because its real purpose was thought control all along, there is hardly grounds here for extending its reach over the new online media.    Indeed, the scarcely disguised agenda of censorship and thought control behind the move to so extend its reach, is sufficient reason why this bill, amended or otherwise, must never be allowed to pass.  It is also more than sufficient reason for voting the Trudeau Liberals who dreamed it up in the first place out of Parliament and never allowing them to resume power again.   For as Rex Murphy pointed out earlier this week, “What is more galling and more threatening that the bill itself, however, is the set of mind behind it”, and that won’t go away even if the bill itself does.

(1)       Disturbingly, the leaders of the other parties – including the present leader of the Conservatives – have taken to aping his example in this.

(2)       The full name of this agency was changed into the awkward and absurd redundancy that it is now in 1976, but the acronym remains the same. Posted by Gerry T. Neal

Rex Murphy: Liberals’ dangerous arrogance didn’t begin and won’t end with internet-regulation bill

Rex Murphy: Liberals’ dangerous arrogance didn’t begin and won’t end with internet-regulation bill

Only a PM and a bunch that carry the delusion they are all-wise and ever-right could have conceived Bill C-10 Author of the article: Rex Murphy Publishing date: May 03, 2021  •  2 days ago  •  4 minute read  •  714 Comments

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference in Ottawa on April 30, 2021. The attempt by the Liberal government to regulate the internet through Bill C-10 needs to be stopped, writes Rex Murphy.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference in Ottawa on April 30, 2021. The attempt by the Liberal government to regulate the internet through Bill C-10 needs to be stopped, writes Rex Murphy. Photo by Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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The all-knowing Liberals put up a tactical white flag when the national storm of who-the-hell-do-you-think-you-are swept over them concerning their attempt to regulate the internet.

Debate on a Conservative motion related to Bill C-10 was shut down, though the Liberals said Monday the bill will now be amended so social media posts are not regulated. What is more galling and more threatening than the bill itself however, is the set of mind behind it.

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The bill may die or be weakened. The thinking that spawned it will remain.

The thinking that spawned it will remain

C-10, an attempt to put a pillow over the free expression of all Canadians, didn’t pop up gopher-like out of the policy burrow of a second-tier Cabinet minister. Quite the contrary. This nefarious nugget was obviously the product of the top-rank philosophes of the Prime Minister’s Office, that sensorium of the whole Liberal party, from which emerges guidance and wisdom to elevate the lives and labours of ordinary Canadians, all set out with the confidence of a closed-minded pope.

And who are the great thinkers who birth such a creature? Why they are a band of intellects unmatched since the days of ancient Greece when Plato founded his academy, and young Socrates and his buddy Aristotle were offering home tutorials at the bargain rate of a drachma a syllogism. Their business card was terse: You learn; we earn. The wokemeisters in the PMO and the Wokemeister-in-Chief, Justin Trudeau, haven’t reached the business card stage, but post-power, you may be sure they will. There are Oprah shows to come, and star invitations to Davos and the IPCC yet to be forwarded in gilded envelopes with computer-generated handwriting.

Attend to 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.

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Only a PM and a bunch that carry the delusion they are all-wise and ever-right, that they alone and only they, should have rule and command over the thoughts and opinions of a whole nation, could have conceived Bill C-10. Could have put their lawyers to work composing it, then waltzed into Parliament to put it on the Order paper in the first place.

What 21st-century government, aware of speech and thought control in the great and cruel totalitarian governments of the past century, and their cruel brethren of the 21st — Communist China, sinister North Korea, Iran — every tyranny or dictatorship on the globe — would wish to ape and mirror the central characteristic of all such regimes?

All of them ruled and rule today by censorship, monitoring citizens’ thoughts and writing, even private conversation. Speech controls breed a nation of spies.

Bill C-10 may be a kitten-mischief compared with the hideous savageries of full-blown tyrannies. But great oaks out of little acorns grow. Beware the seedlings of thought and speech control. Which is another way of saying do not let governments even toy with the fundamentals of democratic understanding and the absolutes of democratic practice.

Beware the seedlings of thought and speech control

Here’s another observation: a government that yearns to censor, to pry and oversee the speech and thought of its citizens, doesn’t trust its citizens. And believes therefore it has a right to herd them into holding opinions that their wiser, smarter and obviously more progressive government tells them they must have. It’s a marvellous instance of political conceit.

Their “reasoning” preceding the drawing up Bill C-10, may easily be imagined. It would go something like this:

“Well, they (meaning the citizenry) elected us (meaning the Liberal party). And we, therefore being superior beings, now have the right to bring them up to our standards of respectable thought and acceptable opinion. We will wipe clean the moral blackboard. And lay out for the voters what the voters are allowed to say, and what they must say. Call it Cuba in a cold climate.

“We will also then apologize for their forebears, for those morally-numb pioneers who built the house of iniquity we know as Canada. We will deplore every past prime minister who was sadly neither as tolerant nor as knowing as we, Deo gratias, are. Going ahead as progressives, let us insist on the right to declare the ideas Canadians should have, and put a block on those they cannot be allowed to have. And let us be grateful that this is the one administration, the first since 1867, with the wit and moral savvy to recognize what was deficient in all who went before us. All of course save one.”

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The mindset is more dangerous than the bill

There, in speculative and imagined dialogue, is the voice of the mindset behind C-10. And the mindset is more dangerous than the bill: an assertion that this government knows what’s best and has the right to impose its ideas of what is right on everyone else. This is the new religion of woke.

They may have suspended the charge up the hill to put C-10 into law. But they have not unroped themselves from the attitudes and intentions behind it. The mindset behind C-10 is more consequential than the bill which issued from it. That this band of woke virtuecrats understand themselves as better, more clever and ever how entitled to impose all the imperatives of their virtue commandments on you.

I’ll end with the words of one who was previously vice-chairman of the CRTC, Peter Menzies. C-10 “doesn’t just infringe on free expression, it constitutes a full-blown assault upon it and, through it, the foundations of democracy.” Well said, Mr. Menzies.

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Rex Murphy on COVID-19: The power to censor speech and other great ideas from our Liberal overlords

Rex Murphy on COVID-19: The power to censor speech and other great ideas from our Liberal overlords

Let’s tap this serpent of an idea on its little head before its fangs emerge and it develops a real appetite


Rex Murphy

April 17, 2020
7:35 AM EDT

If there is one positive thing that can be said about this terrible plague we’re enduring, it is that now and then, it gives the Trudeau government some really, really great ideas.

Sure it was only a couple of weeks ago that the Liberals came up with the idea that they — a minority in Parliament, remember — should give themselves the power to tax and spend for the next two years, without having to get parliamentary approval. It was a truly brilliant idea, except that it ignored the fact that approving government spending is one of the most important functions of Parliament. Take away its authority over spending and the House of Commons might just as well be any old bingo hall, or with a little imaginative renovation, a one-of-a-kind Costco store.

Now, compliments of Privy Council President Dominic LeBlanc, we learned that the Liberal government is contemplating legislation to make it an offence to, as a CBC report put it, “knowingly spread misinformation that could harm people.” In plain language, this government is openly thinking of making itself the official censor of what can and cannot be said about COVID-19. Pure brilliance again, don’t you agree?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, embraces Privy Council President Dominic LeBlanc in 2019. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Well, actually, no. Don’t even think of it. Better still, to borrow a phrase from Greta Thunberg: how dare you? There is already a government that has that power, and in some cases brutally exercises it. That is the government of the Communist Party of China.

And what has it done with that power? It barred telling the truth about COVID-19, and instead told lies about it. On the where it happened, when it happened, how it happened and how it spread, the Chinese government confounded, confused and lied about a plague that has now hobbled the whole planet. And China “officially reprimanded” the doctor who initially tried to warn people about the coronavirus, and who, with dread irony, actually died from it. (A postmortem apology followed from the government. That surely helped.) Admire the Chinese government if that’s your thing, but on this subject, it is not an example to be followed.

So, let’s tap this serpent of an idea on its little head before its fangs emerge and it develops a real appetite. The problem with government having control over what is said and written, completely aside from it being the utter contradiction of a liberal democracy, is that governments — especially on a matter such as this pandemic — are simply not competent enough to know what is right and what is wrong.

Legislators in the House of Commons convene to give the government power to inject billions of dollars in emergency cash to help individuals and businesses through the economic crunch caused by the coronavirus disease outbreak, on Parliament Hill, April 11, 2020. Blair Gable/Reuters

What is required for a government to pass a law against misinformation? To begin with, it presumes an infallible authority that’s able to make judgments on what is, or is not, correct information. Even worse, it presumes the government has the ability to make judgments on a matter that, incontestably, is not yet fully understood by anybody.

This virus is new. The investigation of its nature, transmission, the best policies to confront it, the extent of the response to it, even the nature of the response — all of these elements are, at best, in an incomplete and early stage of understanding.

Experts have varying degrees of skill and knowledge. If experts disagree, which happens often, will some of them be silenced? In actuality, a divergence of opinions can be seen as a path to the full truth emerging. But this cannot happen if the government gags those who may seem to be wrong at the present moment.

A man wears a mask as he walks past a mural showing a modified image of the Chinese Communist Party emblem, in Shanghai, on Jan. 28. Aly Song/Reuters

On the purely political front, there are equal objections to giving government censorship powers. Governments take to extensions of their power like bears to honey. The more power they get, the more they believe they alone should exercise it. Power swells the ego. Add more power, and if you follow the analogy, a little balloon soon thinks it’s the Hindenburg. And a government swollen with power does not like other voices.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau barred the leader of the Opposition from joining talks with other opposition leaders because, in Trudeau’s own memorable words, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer “disqualified himself from constructive discussions with his unacceptable speech earlier today.”

Yet it is not for Trudeau, or any other prime minister, to determine what is “acceptable speech” from his constitutionally positioned critic, the leader of the Opposition. Nor is it proper for this minority government, which has had enough struggles of its own over misinformation — on masks, on screening at airports, on our relative security from the pandemic — to decide what the rest of us can, and cannot, say or write about this unique crisis.

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