The Canadian Constitution Foundation is deeply concerned that the Online Harms Act introduced in the House of Commons on February 26 will significantly hamper constitutionally-protected expression.

Among other effects:

  • The Bill would create a new process for Canadians to report instances of online speech directed at them is discriminatory, with a quasi-judicial tribunal ordering fines up to $50,000, and up to $20,000 paid to complainants, who in some cases would remain anonymous. Findings would be based on a mere “balance of probabilities” standard rather than the criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt;
  • The Bill would increase the maximum sentence for “advocating genocide” from five years in prison to life in prison. That means words alone could lead to life imprisonment;
  • The Bill would allow judges to put prior restraints on people who they believe on reasonable grounds may commit speech crimes in the future;
  • The Bill would require social media companies to “minimize the risk that users of the service will be exposed to harmful content” with the threat of massive fines if they don’t properly mitigate the risk; &
  • The mere threat of human rights complaints and fines for Canadians and social media companies will chill large amounts of otherwise protected speech.

Read more of our concerns in our full press release.

Protecting Canadians from harmful online content and interactions should not require such a draconian law. Nor should it require handing so much power to unaccountable agents of the administrative state, rather than actual courts of law.

Tell your MP to stop this legislation!

To my Member of Parliament,

The tabled Bill C-63—the Online Harms Act—is unacceptable in its current form.

Bill C-63 is a profoundly anti-free expression bill that threatens draconian penalties for online speech and chills legitimate expression.

I urge you to do everything in your power to prevent the Online Harms Act from becoming law in its current form.


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