Canadian law endorsed by Trudeau government could imprison people for life for speech crimes

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A Canadian law that aims to make social media platforms safer is getting flak for what some decry as government overreach. 

Introduced late last month, the Online Harms Act, or Bill C-63, would allow judges to imprison adults for life if they advocate for genocide. 

A view of the Canadian flag during day one of the Platinum Jubilee Royal Tour of Canada on May 17, 2022 in Saint John’s, Canada. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The law would also allow a provincial judge to impose house arrest and a fine if there were reasonable grounds to believe a defendant “will commit” an offense – a provision Wall Street Journal columnist Michael Taube likened to the 2002 film, The Minority Report. 

Maragaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, has criticized the bill as “Orwellian.” 

“If this account of the bill is true, it’s Lettres de Cachet all over again. The possibilities for revenge false accusations + thoughtcrime stuff are sooo inviting! Trudeau’s Orwellian online harms bill,” Atwood wrote on Twitter. 

Writing in Public, conservative author Stephen Moore called it the “most shocking of all the totalitarian, illiberal, and anti-Enlightenment pieces of legislation that have been introduced in the Western world in decades.” 

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Citing a government spokesperson, the bill would increase the maximum penalty specifically for advocating genocide from 5 years to life imprisonment and from 2 years to 5 years, on indictment, for the willful promotion of hatred.” 

Justice Minister Arif Virani, who introduced the bill, said, as a father, he was “terrified of the dangers that lurk on the internet for our children.” 

He argued that laws exist regulating the safety of toys his kids play with, but not the “screen that is in our children’s faces.”

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Fox News Digital has reached out to Virani’s office for additional comment and will update this story accordingly. 

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