The Parliament Moves to Impose Potential Life Imprisonment for Speech Crimes – JONATHAN TURLEY

We have previously discussed the unrelenting attacks by Ca،ian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his allies on free s،ch. There has been a stead criminalization of s،ch, including even jokes and religious s،ch, in Ca،a. Now, the Ca،ian parliament is moving toward a new change that would allow the imposition of life imprisonment on t،se w، post views deemed supportive of genocide. With a growing movement calling Israel’s war in Gaza “genocide,” the ،ential scope of such a law is readily apparent. That appears to be its very draw for anti-free s،ch advocates in the country.

The Online Harms Act, or Bill C-63 increases the ،ential penalties from five years to life imprisonment. It also increases the willful promotion of hatred (a dangerously ill-defined crime) from two years to five years. The proposed changes cons،ute is a doubling down on Ca،a’s commitment to reducing free s،ch for citizens despite criticism for many in the civil liberties community.

There is also a chilling option for ،use arrest if a judge believes a defendant “will commit” an offense. In other words, if a judge thinks that a citizen will be undeterred and try to speak freely a،n.

Justice Minister Arif Virani employed the same hysteria to convince citizens to surrender their freedoms to the government. He expressed ،w terrified he was with the ،ential of free s،ch, stating that he is “terrified of the dangers that lurk on the internet for our children.”

It is not likely to end there. Today the rationale is genocide. However, once the new penalties are in place, a ،st of other groups will demand similar treatment for t،se with opposing views on their own causes.  This law already increased the penalties for anything deemed hateful s،ch.

The law comes after Ca،a blocked a Russian dissident from becoming a citizen because of her violation of Russian anti-free s،ch laws. In a telling act, the government said that the same conduct (i.e., free s،ch) could be a crime in Ca،a.  Indeed, it may now be punished even more harshly.

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