Federal Liberals Prepare Self-Serving Attack on Freedoms

The Trudeau government is going all-out to present the perfidious view that inimical forces of one sort or another are to blame for the dissatisfaction of Canadians with the political process and cartel party system. A recent mantra blames foreign actors and their disinformation, spying and infiltration. This is said to be carried out by either willing agents or dupes or ideological adherents of countries which seek to undermine Canada's liberal democratic institutions. Whatever the case, they  need to be checkmated and criminalized.

Some people are past masters at championing the U.S. constitution as the paragon of democracy and they are using the recent events on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, while others used the sad occasion of the fourth anniversary of the shooting at the mosque in Quebec City to further criminalize the people's opposition. They target the people's opposition to police impunity, mistreatment of minorities, women, Indigenous people and children, war, regime change and policies which undermine the well-being of the social and natural environment to once again enact so-called anti-hate legislation. The Liberal government is shamefully attempting to use the resolve of the people to put an end to all manner of hate crimes to assault their right to conscience and criminalize those who are fighting for rights, opposing war, and striving to bring the New into being. This issue merits serious attention and discussion.

During the January 29 meeting of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Lyne Bessette, the MP for the Quebec riding of Brome-Missisquoi, in reference to the Quebec City mosque shooting four years ago, said: "Islamophobia motivated this act." Regarding the victims of that massacre, she added that shortly after the attack, "we learned that their aggressor had been radicalized via social media. So we know that Canadians are often exposed to hateful, violent, extremist, even radicalizing content when they navigate on digital platforms."

Addressing herself to Steven Guilbeault, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, whose mandate letter includes the creation of new regulations for social media platforms, she asked him to update the Committee "on the essential work the government is doing to protect Canadians online."

Acknowledging that "this individual radicalized himself on social media before he committed that act on January 29," Guilbeault reported that for some months his and other ministries (Justice, Public Safety and Innovation) have been working towards the presentation of a new bill, with regard to "regulatory framework around the issue of hate speech," as well as "juvenile pornography, incitement to violence, incitement to terrorism and the sharing of non-consensual images."

"Only a few countries in the world have addressed this problem," he said. "At the public service and political levels, we've had meetings, discussions with the representatives of these countries with regard to looking at how we could adapt these models to the Canadian reality."

He also reported that he had recently had discussions with Australia's eSafety Commissioner, "to fully understand how they set up their system" and with regard to elements that had to be given "careful attention."

"Of course we, like everyone else, are concerned with the issue of protecting freedom of expression," he said. "But just as freedom of expression in the physical world has been delineated over the years through our laws and court judgments, we are also trying to see how we can reproduce the same framework that exists in the physical world for the virtual world."

"While we recognize that everyone has the right to freedom of speech," Bessette then commented, "rules are in place to limit speech when it becomes hateful, offensive or racist. Social media have played a major role in amplifying hateful messages aimed at the most marginalized communities, violating their rights without being held responsible."

She then asked Guilbeault to explain how he was planning on holding social networks accountable for the publication and dissemination of such content.

"We're [...] going to do it through the presentation of the bill," he said, noting that its purpose is "to define a new regulatory framework in Canada. And platforms will have to conform."

Guilbeault further explained that regulators would be hired to put the new regulations in place and monitor platforms with regard to hate speech and that various avenues were presently being explored, such as the possibility of imposing fines for non-compliance.

"And you're right, it's an issue of concern to more and more Canadians. You may have noticed earlier this week the publication of a survey carried out by Abacus for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation," he said. It "reveals that the vast majority of Canadians have acknowledged" that they have been "the victims of violence on social media, with women and racialized populations at the top of the top of the list," and that "a strong proportion of Canadians are asking the government to intervene."

On the same day, which marked the fourth anniversary of the massacre at the Quebec City mosque, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said: "The Muslim community is still reeling from the horrific attack that took place at the mosque in Quebec City four years ago. For communities to feel safe, the Liberal government must tackle head-on hate and alt-right groups that are growing in numbers in Canada. Without action today, it will just be a matter of time before the next attack. We need action now. People deserve to feel safe in their communities." The press release points out: "Justin Trudeau must move beyond nice words and take concrete actions. People who face [I]slamophobia, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination shouldn't feel alone in this fight. They deserve to know that their government is on their side. I am on your side."

Jagmeet Singh followed through by tabling a motion in the House of Commons, passed unanimously by MPs, calling for a ban on the Proud Boys and other measures to dismantle white supremacist groups in Canada. On February 3, the Ministry of Public Safety announced the addition of 13 groups deemed violent to the list of terrorist organizations, including the Proud Boys.

How all these things are decided and on the basis of what criteria, such as what constitutes speech with the intent of causing violence or "illegal content" on social media is a serious concern, particularly when the police and security agencies equate opposition to NATO and NORAD and the integration of Canada into the U.S. war machine with disloyalty or subversion.

(With files from Hansard, Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and NDP Press Release.)

2017 Shooting at Quebec City Mosque

On January 29, 2017, a lone shooter, Alexandre Bissonnette, burst into the Centre Islamique Culturel de Québec, shooting and killing six men and injuring 19 others as they prayed.

The shooting took place just days after the publication of the U.S. presidential decree banning citizens of seven countries with predominantly Muslim populations from entering the U.S. and closing U.S. borders to refugees.

An outpouring of compassion, solidarity and social love was the response of Quebeckers and Canadians, who immediately went into action to stand and grieve as one with people of the Muslim faith.

Vigils, rallies and ceremonies across Quebec and Canada were immediately organized, as people came together to condemn this barbarous act and offer heartfelt condolences and support for the families, friends and community who had lost their loved ones and for Muslim communities who are the target of state-organized and state-inspired Islamophobia. People expressed the sentiment that if the Muslim community and all communities are not thriving, free to express their right to be, and free from violence being exercised against them, then neither are the Quebec and Canadian people.

January 30, 2017. Vigil in Montreal.

In Montreal the day after the tragedy four years ago, thousands gathered outside the Parc metro station. Organizers there prevented the representatives of the cartel parties and the monopoly media from speaking, holding them accountable for their part in the tragedy through their insinuations, depiction and innuendo regarding Muslims and in this they were strongly supported by the crowd.

January 29, 2021. Vigil in Montreal.

That stand was reiterated again this year in Montreal, through the holding of the commemoration, the only physical event, at the same venue, on an extremely cold day and despite the pandemic. Speakers pointed to the fact that various communities in Quebec and in Canada have suffered and continue to suffer state-organized and state-promoted racist attacks. The solution, they said, is to take up our social responsibility to condemn such attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice.

This article was published in

Volume 51 Number 6 - February 28, 2021

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