Justin Trudeau
by Stephen Tucker | The Daily Skeptic

The dangers of poorly drafted laws relating to online speech and expression were starkly revealed late this March when it emerged that a heavily pregnant businesswoman had been arrested in Nigeria, banged up in a water-flooded prison cell and threatened with a sentence of seven years behind bars and a £2.8m fine in damages – all for the heinous crime of criticising a tin of a local tomato purée product online.

Chioma Okoli, 39, reportedly said the purée in question – which I shan’t name here, for fear of being immediately beheaded by overseas operatives from the Tomato Blasphemy Dept. of Boko Haram – was “too sweet” for her tastes, leading to her being contacted by a man claiming (possibly figuratively, using local Nigerian slang) to be the “brother” of the businessman who made the stuff and told to stop complaining about it to her 18,000 followers on the internet.

To this request, Okoli replied: “Help me advise your brother to stop ki**ing [‘killing’, presumably] people with his product, yesterday was my first time of using and it’s pure sugar.” The company owner deemed this statement to be somehow defamatory in nature – I guess he took the insinuation that his tomatoes were “killing” customers literally? – saying that, as it had gone viral online, it had since cost him oodles of custom.

For carelessly expressing this heinous viewpoint in such a reckless public fashion, Okoli was subsequently charged in both criminal and civil suits with severe offences like “instigating [public opinion against] Erisco Foods Limited, knowing the said information to be false”. After all, no matter how much sugar the tins may or may not have contained, they did not literally represent a real-life Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, did they?

The Nigerian Police Force put out the following solemn statement about the whole affair on Twitter:

I cannot pretend to be an expert in the minutiae of Nigerian online hate and libel laws but – whenever and by whomever they were drafted and passed – are cases as absurd as the above really what their creators hoped they would one day be used for?

A Real Act of Harm

Amidst some stiff competition from the likes of Scotland and Ireland, perhaps the most ill-conceived piece of web-related anti-free speech legislation currently being pushed through in the Western world today is Canada’s appalling Online Harms Act, a real pet project of the nation’s present simpering woke man-child PM, Justin ‘Aladdin Sane’ Trudeau. So badly written is it, Canadian web-users may soon be seeking asylum in downtown Lagos, where they will probably be infinitely more free to speak their hateful little minds, whether specifically about tomatoes or otherwise.

Already decried on the Daily Sceptic, the provisions of this Act have aptly been deemed “Orwellian” due to their incredibly illiberal provisions which, astonishingly, allow provincial Canadian judges to order individuals to be placed under house arrest if they deem there to be “reasonable grounds” to believe a person “will commit” an offence of “online harm” hate-speech in the future. That’s the basic plot of Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report come true; Protected Minority Report, maybe.

According to Boyband Justin’s [Social] Justice Minister and Attorney General Arif Virani, who introduced the Bill pushing the Act into possibly forthcoming law, he was “terrified of the dangers that lurk on the internet for our children”. Personally, I’m much more terrified of the dangers that currently lurk inside the West’s ‘democratic’ parliament assemblies for our children, Mr. Virani being a prime example of such hazards.

According to the mollifying mantras of individuals such as Virani, however, the harshest uses of Bill C-63, as it will be known, will supposedly be used very, very sparingly indeed – an offender would specifically have to portray a protected group (i.e., all the usual ones) as being “inherently violent” or “unhuman” to be prosecuted under threat of the greatest punishments available, to such an extent that their words could be considered to be advocating genocide. If somebody is found guilty of this particular offence, they might well be sentenced to life imprisonment. In Nigeria, you only get seven years for dissing tinned purée products.

Well – fair enough, some may say. Nobody wants genocide to happen, do they? If only Adolf Hitler had been banned from Twitter, with his all smart-devices confiscated from him by the excessively lax Weimar-era State, then six million Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and assorted other items of supposed human refuse need never have died at all.

Others, however, disagree. The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CFF), for instance, thinks Trudeau’s Act may well be unconstitutional, as:

The Bill would create a new process for individuals and groups to complain to the Canadian Human Rights Commission that online speech directed at them is discriminatory. The tribunal could order fines of up to $50,000, and awards of up to $20,000 paid to complainants, who in some cases would be anonymous. Findings would be based on a mere ‘balance of probabilities’ standard rather than the [much higher] criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The subjectivity of defining ‘hate speech’ will lead to punishments for protected speech. The mere threat of human rights complaints will chill large amounts of [previously constitutionally-] protected speech.

When is “protected speech” no longer protected? When people are being “protected” from “harm” even more by an utterly ‘benign’ Big Brother Government, that’s when!

The Truth Will Set You Unfree

Meanwhile, even David L. Thomas, the former Chairman – sorry, ‘Chairperson’, don’t accidentally want to commit an online hate-crime – of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal complains that Trudeau’s and Virani’s Act will, um, breach Canadians’ Human Rights. In an op-ed piece for leading Canuck newspaper the National Post, Thomas argued that:

The Liberal government’s proposed Bill C-63, the Online Harms Act, is terrible law that will unduly impose restrictions on Canadians’ sacred Charter right to freedom of expression. That is what the Liberals [Trudeau’s and Virani’s Party] intend. By drafting a vague law creating a draconian regime to address online ‘harms’, they will win their wars without firing a bullet… Criticism of Government policies, like immigration policy for example, might suddenly become dangerous.

So, for example, if one were to say that the introduction of such a rhetorically restrictive Bill by a man of obvious non-white immigrant stock like Arif Virani sounds suspiciously like a backdoor means for legally preventing any future public criticism about being forced to admit millions more people just like him into the country – an opinion which, whether it be true or false, would have been perfectly legal for any Canadian citizen to openly express prior to the creation of Bill C-63 – then one could, in the opinion of several informed observers like David L. Thomas, soon be prosecuted for it.

But, if one were to be prosecuted in order to shut you up for complaining that the whole law was specifically designed to shut you up from talking about such now-verboten issues in the first place, then would this not ironically prove that you were correct to make such accusations after all? Ah, but under the terms of the proposed Act, that’s no defence in court, either.

According to a comprehensive online demolition of the Bill produced by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) in February, “Those who are prosecuted by the Human Rights Commission [under the proposed Act] cannot defend themselves by establishing that their supposedly ‘hateful’ statement is true, or that they had reasonable grounds for believing that their statement is true.” Shades of the recent Sam Melia ‘racist stickers’ judgment, methinks (for my own appalled thoughts on which, by the way, see here).

If this particular assessment is indeed correct, then Trudeau’s Act really is well-described as being Orwellian in its scope, as it will quite literally contain provision for people to be prosecuted for ‘Truth-Crimes’, just like in 1984. Still, that’s ‘liberalism’ for you – or what currently goes around posing as it, at any rate.

The True Price of the Bill

The JCCF’s takedown of Bill C-63 is well worth reading in full, but amongst other clear flaws in the legislation, the organisation points out the following:

  • Complainants can be anonymous, and only have to assert to a provincial court that they “fear” someone may promote genocide online, not that they have done so; if found ‘guilty’ [sic] of a crime they have therefore not even yet committed, ‘offenders’ will be subjected to “pre-emptive punishment” in terms of enforced curfews, house arrest, electronic tagging, bans upon consuming alcohol, visiting certain places or people, or else outright imprisonment.
  • Under the terms of the Act, suggestions to commit genocide online need not actually be acted upon – indeed, how could they be? Very few individuals these days have a spare gas-chamber handy and waiting at the bottom of their back garden, or a helicopter gunship filled with hundreds of cannisters of waiting sarin or VX nerve-agents stored away inside the garage. In order to actually be able to commit genocide, you need the entire force of the centralised apparatus of the nation-state behind you: no matter how virulently any given individual online loudmouth may wish to eliminate the Jews/blacks/Eskimos/extended Trudeau and Virani clans from Canada wholesale, the only people with any even remote vague possibility of actually being able to do so one day are those who currently hold political power, i.e., men like Justin and Arif themselves. Therefore, say the JCCF, “Free societies recognise the distinction between speech and actions. The Online Harms Act blurs that distinction.” Or, a more forthright critic might say, recklessly erases it wholesale.
  • As the Act will give the Canadian Human Rights Commission new powers to prosecute “offensive but non-criminal speech”, this inevitably empowers malcontents or the mentally ill to subjectively deem any subject under the sun to be ‘hateful’ just because they personally happen to think it is, which sounds like an absolute cranks’ charter. Have a grudge against someone? Why not just make an anonymous complaint to the authorities about their Facebook posts and see if you can ruin their life, consequence-free (at least for you)? Under the terms of the Act, you may even get a CA$20,000 reward, direct from the pockets of the ‘criminal’; Trudeau’s own Government could be handed over an additional CA$50,000 in addition. Although many prosecutions under the proposed Act will not technically be criminal in nature, as so often, says the JCCF, the process is effectively the punishment in and of itself, as such court cases will prove exceedingly costly and time-consuming to defendants.
  • As complaints are potentially anonymous, “centuries of Common Law tradition” go out of the window, in terms of “the ancient and well-founded right to face and question one’s accuser” – if you even have an accuser, that is. Astonishingly, “No actual victims are required for the Canadian Human Rights Commission to find guilt or to impose penalties.” Thus, Trudeau has inadvertently given birth to a new legal variant to the old Zen koan “If a tree falls in a forest and no-one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?” in terms of “If you write ‘KILL ALL THE INJUNS!!!’ on Twitter and no-one reads it, have you still incited genocide under the terms of Bill C-63?”. Unlike Zen koans, however, Trudeau’s own legal conundrum actually has a definite answer to it: “Yes. Yes you have, and now you’re going to go to jail for it. Forever.”

As Canada’s greatest living author (Canada only has one great living author at present, the others have all just been executed for saying naughty things under the exciting new legal principle of “pre-emptive punishment”) Margaret Atwood warned about Bill C-63 on X: “The possibilities for revenge, false accusations + thoughtcrime stuff are sooo inviting!”

Do note who Trudeau is stood next to in this photograph – has he been taking some tips on online oppression from President Xi? Or just giving them out instead?

As the author of The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood knows quite a bit about the construction of disturbing totalitarian dystopias from which there is no possible human escape – but she has nothing in this respect on her countryman Justin Trudeau.

And yet, as we shall see next time, so ineptly has the Act been drafted, it does raise one rather delicious possibility: namely, that Justin Trudeau himself could be prosecuted under its terms, upon the potential charge of encouraging genocide himself!

Steven Tucker is a journalist and the author of over 10 books, the latest being Hitler’s & Stalin’s Misuse of Science: When Science Fiction Was Turned Into Science Fact by the Nazis and the Soviets (Pen & Sword/Frontline), which is out now.

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