July 20, 2021
An Internet censorship bill will be useful in prosecuting bloggers and Facebook subscribers, an RCMP specialist said Monday night. Bill C-36 will “see more things through to charges,” a webinar was told.
“Law enforcement has to have the ability to use the law effectively,” said Cpl. Anthony Statham of RCMP’s British Columbia Hate Crimes Team. Statham complained Parliament did not “define what hatred is” when it outlawed hate speech in 1970.
Bill C-36 An Act To Amend The Criminal Code threatens house arrest or $70,000 fines for any Internet publisher, blogger or social media user suspected of posting hateful content without incitement of any crime. Cabinet introduced the bill June 23 just minutes before Parliament adjourned for a three-month recess.
“In Canada we don’t have anything regulating speech,” said Statham. “Under Sec. 2 of our Charter Of Rights our freedom of expression is protected. So there is no such thing as free speech in Canada, only freedom of expression.”
Speaking in a webinar sponsored by the federally-funded Canadian Anti-Hate Network, Statham noted the current Sec. 319 of the Criminal Code forbids “public incitement of hatred” by “communicating statements in any public place (that) incite hatred against any identifiable group.” The term “hatred” is not defined.
“The government is now proposing to add a definition of hatred under this section of the Code,” said Statham. “Now, it may come as a surprise to many Canadians just in general, the fact we have this section that deals with promoting hatred, but we haven’t actually defined what hatred is.”
Bill C-36 would define hatred as “the emotion that involves detestation or vilification and that is stronger than dislike or disdain.” The amendment will lead to more charges, said Statham.
“I think the proposal to do that is a very good thing,” he said. “It may not seem like a massive development in terms of dealing with the scope of everything that’s been talked about here today, but it will equip law enforcement to see more things through to charges in this country.”