The digital charter and the death of free speech in Canada
Two years ago, I attended a cousin’s wedding and stayed at a hotel in Long Island, New York. One morning, I started a conversation with one of the employees. Once I told them I was Canadian, the discussion focused on our leaders. Much to my annoyance, they couldn’t shield how envious they were of Canadians who have the inimitable Justin Trudeau for Prime Minister. His youthful buoyancy and sophistication was irresistible, they said. I quietly scoffed at their judgments, but I let Trudeau’s admirer have their day.
Until the scandals, Trudeau’s reputation, for the most part, appeared unblemished. This is a testament, no doubt, to his efforts to preserve his image as a paragon of civility and tolerance. He has carefully comported himself to sustain such a beautifully constructed facade. Of course, this image has always been at odds with reality as he has provided Canadians with endless reasons to abominate him. At New York University, he delivered a commencement address wherein he panegyrized the virtues of peaceful co-existence and tolerance of ideological differences.
Regarding political opponents, he enjoined the Class of 2018 to “listen to them, truly listen, and try to understand them, and find that common ground.” This character is at variance with the man who in the House of Commons has denigrated business owners that don’t conform to his worldview or called citizens “racist” who have the temerity to question his policies. One wishes that the decorum about which he preaches elsewhere were noticeable in his actions.
But it is an excellent way to contrast himself against Trump, who is an apoplectic egomaniac who has a penchant for self-flattery and demagogy. In his rhetoric, at least, Donald doesn’t demonstrate much deference to the constitutional niceties regarding free speech and executive power. If it weren’t for such a robust American Constitution, perhaps he would act upon ambitions to do away with the free press. Luckily, for Americans, the First Amendment remains intact, and they enjoy absolute speech rights that won’t be infringed any time soon. After all, Donald is incapable of doing anything because the Constitution contains him, as it should. But yet, some are still paralyzed by anxiety over the prospect of Trumpian fascism.
In spite of all his virtue signalling in response to Trump’s antics, Trudeau doesn’t seem to like certain opinions or “Fake News,” either. The difference is that our misguided understanding of free speech enables him to do something about it.
Which brings us to a new zenith in Trudeau censorship with the Digital Charter. In an admonitory speech, Trudeau claimed that social media platforms “must be held accountable for the hate speech and disinformation we see online,” and threatened “meaningful financial consequences” if they don’t step up.
In a free society, this should be considered disgraceful, given the open hostility to free speech and the insistence that the government should determine what ideas one consumes. And like similar initiatives, it is infuriatingly vague and rife with doublespeak.
For example, principle 9 of this glorious Charter states that “Canadians can expect that digital platforms will not foster, or disseminate hate or violent extremism.” And principle 10 claims that there will be “penalties for violations of the laws” that “support these principles.” But of course, more government control over what you can read and watch will actually “defend freedom of expression online.”
Whenever a government claims to be the protector against “disinformation,” it quite obviously means the information they may not like. This is also the case with hate speech. Who is the all-knowing moral arbiter who gets to define it? That’s the problem with these manipulative terms—without any clear definition, those who are in the position to wield them have the luxury to define them however they see fit.
The entire concept of “hate speech” perturbs free speech absolutists because it’s simply subjective. There is certainly speech that is hateful in nature, but what is usually considered to be beyond the pale by some is entirely based on their own prejudices. Besides, we’ve already devised libel/incitement laws to deal with speech that objectively threatens someone’s safety and wellbeing.
I find Communists nonsensical, just as they find my reverence for capitalism revolting, but that doesn’t mean we have the right to silence or hurt each other. As Peterson and others have said repeatedly, free speech isn’t just another value; it’s a mechanism to help us establish truths, and for a dogmatist, the truth is sometimes inconvenient.
Indeed, “hate speech” is only in the eyes of the beholder. The beholder can be, at best, ineffective, and at worst, nefarious. In Trudeau’s case, it’s both. The former because his compassionate disposition compels him to pursue anti-speech initiatives, which he and his cabinet can never explain because they’re based upon nothing but emotional platitudes. The latter because these initiatives are a reliable measure whereby he can ensure those who deviate on issues like diversity or immigration don’t have as much influence on public opinion.
As always, the Charter should be met with recalcitrance. For such overreach is to be expected from the magnificent Justin, whose government is a perfect parable of how one man’s hubris makes for some shoddy and deleterious policy.
Outrage on social media over a recent discovery that Amazon is carrying products that many people are appalled by–Holocaust ornaments. It was the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum who first raised awareness of the tasteless line of products which include a decaled can-opener dawning a picture of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp as well as Christmas tree ornaments that show train track leading into a camp’s entrance.
The Museum contacted the retailer and demanded such products be taken down from the website to which Amazon concurred. Shortly thereafter the Museum discovered more products including a computer mouse pad that displayed the freight cars used to transport Jewish people and anybody the Nazi’s considered to be “undesirable”.
The Museum, which is located on site in Auschwitz, Poland described the products as “disgusting” and “disturbing”. Amazon has confirmed that they will keep watch for such products in the future and have them taken down and in certain cases, have the sellers’ accounts deleted. This prompted a public response from the museum to thank Amazon.
However, since then more Holocaust products have been posted, despite Amazon’s policy that “All sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who do not will be subject to action, including potential removal of their account.”
It seems Alberta is in for more cuts.
According to the CBC, Huskey Energy CEO Rob Peabody revealed on a conference call Monday that his firm will be cutting 370 jobs this year as it looks to reduce spending.
“What we’re seeing is that (the reductions) will generate forward savings of about $70 million … per year,” said Peabody, adding the company will take a charge against earnings of $70 million in the fourth quarter to account for the cuts.
“We’re going to continue those efforts to capitalize on the fact we’ve created a more focused and a simpler company.”
While these cuts will provide roughly $70 million in savings, overall spending for 2020 and 2021 will be cut $500 million due to worsening market conditions.
The split will be heavier in 2021, with over $400 million coming in cuts.
Huskey stock has fallen by over 40% in the last year.
Liberal MP gets Twitter lashed for wishing people 'great month of December!' instead of 'Merry Christmas!'
Liberal Member of Parliament (Ontario, Hamilton East—Stoney Creek) Bob Bratina received a lot more comments than likes and retweets for his Twitter post wishing his constituents a “great month of December!” instead of a “Merry Christmas!”
On Sunday Bratina tweeted a holiday-neutral, first-day-of-the-month greeting to people in his riding, “Wishing everyone in Hamilton East – Stoney Creek a great month of December!”
By the end of Monday the tweet had 307 mostly negative, mocking comments compared to three retweets and 18 likes, a phenomenon called being ratioed (when a postt gets overwhelmingly negative comments, meanwhile receiving far less positive engagement and shares).
Some Canadians on Twitter had fun lampooning Bratina’s politically correct festive cheer.
Others just wished Bob a “Merry Christmas!”
December tends to bring out the so-called War on Christmas, where politically correct politicians and other members of the chattering class become Grinches, attempting to excise Christmas from greetings and celebratory events in attempts to be “more inclusive”.
Last Friday a guest host on CTV’s talk show The Social suggested Canadians towns should change the name of Christmas or Santa Clause parades with “Winter” parades. A couple weeks ago a US town erased Christmas from its festivities, changing the “Annual Tree Lighting” to “Frost Fest”.
Despite many organizations and institutions distancing themselves from a disgraced Prince Andrew after his disastrous interview with the BBC–discussing his relationship with the late convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein–the National Post reported he will still keep his Canadian military appointments.
The step away from public life may come as no surprise, however, the Prince maintains certain roles and appointments that are somewhat tricky to get out of.
“As is the custom, the Duke of York holds honorary title of Colonel-in-Chief of The Princess of Louise Fusiliers, The Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada and Queen’s York Rangers,” Department of National Defence (DND) specialist Jessice Lamirande to the National Post.
The National Post questioned the DND for a week before they were even willing to confirm just what roles the now disgraced Prince held.
The questions surrounding Prince Andrew’s removal from these appointments have left the Canadian Armed Forces and the government puzzled.
“This has never happened before,” said one government source to the National Post.
A Royal spokesperson previously released a statement that he would be stepping away from public duties: “The Duke has stepped back for the time being and will not be undertaking any public duties on behalf of his Patronages or associations.”
This statement has put the Canadian military in a quagmire. The role of Colonel-in-Chief is not just a symbolic one, it does involve some active duties. If the Canadian government wanted to rescind Prince Andrew’s appointments themselves, there is no set of procedures in place that would even necessarily allow them to do so. The various regiments of the Commonwealth can only be appointed a Colonel-in-Chief by the Queen herself, and once appointed there is an expectation to fulfill role until death or a formal retirement from public life.
“The position of Colonel-in Chief is a symbol of a direct relationship between the Sovereign and the members of that regiment,” said Richard Berthelsen, who specializes in the Crown’s relationship to Canada. “It’s not like a patronage. It has a much deeper meaning. It is something that is official and is recognized in the Canadian Forces as having significant importance to history and heritage of that unit.”
“There is nothing stopping a prime minister from making a recommendation, a very strong recommendation, I suppose,” Toffoli told the National Post earlier this week.
The November BBC interview that the Duke of York was hoping would clear his name was generally considered a disaster, leaving many people and organizations scrambling to cut ties with the Prince. Prince Andrew’s own mother, Queen Elizabeth II, even went so far as to cancel her son’s upcoming 60th birthday party.