Online Harms Bill C63: Life in Jail for ‘Hate’ Speech? -Bruce Pardy, Lawyer

Online harms Bill C-63 “is a terrible bill. It needs to be defeated…detrimental to our free speech and to the welfare of the country,” says Bruce Pardy, Lawyer and Executive Director of Rights Probe.

“Everyone who commits an offense under this act…is guilty of an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for life.”

In an eye-opening interview with Bruce Pardy, the stark realities of the Trudeau government’s Bill C-63, also known as the online harms bill, were laid bare. Introduced on February 26th, the bill has stirred considerable controversy, primarily for its potential to severely curtail freedoms long cherished by Canadians. Pardy, a vocal critic of government overreach, shared his insights into how this bill, if passed, could fundamentally alter the Canadian landscape of free speech and civil liberties.

Bill C-63 aims to address online harms, particularly those targeted at children, by implementing measures that, on the surface, seem to protect the vulnerable. However, as Pardy elucidates, the devil is in the details. One of the bill’s most alarming aspects is the introduction of amendments to the criminal code, potentially subjecting individuals to life imprisonment for crimes committed with “hate.” The term “hate” is worryingly undefined, leaving its interpretation open and subjective, which could lead to draconian enforcement for what might be considered regular discourse.

Moreover, the bill proposes changes to the Canadian Human Rights Code, setting dangerous precedents by introducing hefty fines – $50,000 to the government and $20,000 to victims – for violations deemed as hate speech. Another contentious point raised by Pardy involves the provision allowing anonymous complaints, effectively setting up a “snitch line on steroids” that could embolden malicious accusations without accountability.

Pardy’s concerns extend beyond the immediate effects of the bill, highlighting a broader, more insidious trend of encroaching authoritarianism that threatens the bedrock of democracy. The vagueness of the bill’s language, especially regarding what constitutes “hate speech,” poses a chilling effect on free expression, compelling individuals to self-censor out of fear of unknowingly crossing undefined boundaries. This atmosphere of intimidation and surveillance undermines the principles of open discourse and debate, essential elements of a healthy democracy.

Drawing parallels with the WHO pandemic treaty, Pardy hints at a global pattern of overreach and control, where governments, under the guise of public health and safety, may increasingly dictate terms that erode personal freedoms and sovereignty. This international context serves as a backdrop to the discussion on Bill C-63, suggesting that the struggle for maintaining democratic values and free speech is not confined to Canada but is part of a larger, global challenge.

Pardy’s analysis of Bill C-63 is a clarion call to all who value their democratic freedoms. It underscores the need for vigilance and active engagement in the political process to safeguard the rights that define free societies. As Canada stands at this critical juncture, the implications of Bill C-63 serve as a stark reminder of the thin line between protection and control, urging citizens to question, challenge, and resist measures that threaten to undermine the very essence of democracy and free speech.

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