Online bill raises red flags

In this week’s report, I will focus on Bill C-63, “An Act to enact the Online Harms Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Human Rights Act and An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts.”

Before I begin, I want to remind everyone of Bill C-18, “An Act respecting online communications platforms that make news content available to persons in Canada”, because — as I noted in my report on this bill in May — a government, despite having the best intentions, can exacerbate the problem if it hastily pursues quick solutions.

After Bill C-18 was granted Royal Assent and became law — Facebook and Instagram — as predicted by many industry participants and experts, permanently ceased your ability to share news links in Canada on their platforms.

This policy has significantly impacted numerous media organizations. These organizations rely on Facebook and other platforms for driving substantial traffic to their online news websites, which in turn, increases their revenue.

I bring up Bill C-18 not as an “I told you so” moment, but to highlight what occurs when a government ignores advocacy groups and critics.

Regrettably, we see this pattern repeating with Bill C-63. Critics, industry participants and advocacy groups are once again being disregarded by the Trudeau Liberal government, which insists it knows best.

It’s important to make the internet safe for Canadians by reducing criminal content targeting children. I think most Canadians would agree with this. However, with the current Liberal government, which often appears to be driven by polls, the specifics of achieving this task demand meticulous scrutiny.

Michael Geist, law professor and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa has pointed out that creating a “Digital Safety Commission charged with enforcing the law and with the inclusion of Criminal Code and Human Rights Act provisions with overbroad penalties and the potential to weaponize speech complaints,” raises red flags.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has also pointed out, “The creation of a ‘digital safety commission’ composed of government appointees given ‘vast authority’ and ‘sweeping powers’ to ‘interpret the law, make up new rules, enforce them, and then serve as judge, jury, and executioner. Granting such sweeping powers to one body undermines the fundamental principle of democratic accountability.”

The decision of the Trudeau Government in Bill C-63, which gives non-judicial groups sweeping powers over the internet, is worrisome. These officials — appointed by the government — will be complaint driven and  will require less evidence than a court of law. They will decide what is considered online hate or harmful content and can fine Canadians based on these decisions.

Conservatives believe we need tougher actions against illegal online content. We believe that online criminals should face jail time, not just fines.

My question this week: When it comes to protecting the online safety of Canadians, do you believe that a flawed approach such as C-63 is better than the status quo online? Why or why not?

I can be reached at or call toll-free 1-800-665-8711.