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View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I appreciate that very much. I also return my thanks to the committee for hearing me out on this.
Mr. Chair, as stated, this piece of legislation, Bill C-10, has undergone significant change with the removal of proposed section 4.1. As a result, it is questioned whether an individual will actually be allowed to put up content of their choice on their social media platform or use apps on their phone, based on Bill C-10. In other words, it is presumed—not just by me but by other experts—that individuals' rights will actually be brought under attack by this legislation.
It seems, then, very important for the members of this committee to receive an updated charter statement. Of course, what this would do is take the bill in front of us—Bill C-10 as it exists now, in its amended form—and put it up against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This charter statement would be delivered by the justice minister and it would state whether or not this bill holds up.
The reason this is so important is that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the supreme law of the land, and paragraph 2(b) protects freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and freedom of belief. When we are at a point in Canadian history where we are using social media platforms as the public square, it is important to protect the voices of Canadians and how they express themselves in those spaces.
The government has gone too far when it imposes itself—or empowers the CRTC, which of course is directed by the government, to impose itself—on people and their freedom of expression, freedom of belief and freedom of opinion and starts regulating what people are saying or posting.
Of course, I am offering my own take on it, as well as the takes of many other experts who have analyzed this piece of legislation. What I am asking is that this committee also request the take of the justice minister. Again, this would be accomplished by a charter statement.
One of the reasons this is so crucial is notwithstanding the most important one, which is to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians. It's been interesting over the weekend as I watched as the Minister of Heritage responded to the concerns raised around Bill C-10. One of the accusations that was brought out by Minister Guilbeault is that all of the individuals expressing opposition or raising questions or concerns with regard to Bill C-10 are suddenly being called “extremists”. If you disagree with the government, if you have a question about a bill being brought forward by the governing party or are opposed in any way, you are now labelled an “extremist”. If that is happening in this small fraction of time, I can only imagine the types of stipulations that would be put in place by this same minister should the legislation be successful.
If he and his department are responsible for telling Canadians what they can and cannot post, then anything that might be against the ideology of this government would be flagged. Anything that would raise questions with regard to a government decision would be taken down. Any material that an individual posts that would make someone feel uncomfortable or at which someone might choose to take offence would be removed.
It has a silencing effect, and it's wrong. It must be stopped. Canadians must be protected. Their charter rights must be preserved.
I am asking for something that I believe is extremely reasonable, which is that we push the “pause” button on this committee for a very short time and that we seek this statement from the justice department. We would be looking for an opinion as to whether Bill C-10 does, in fact, align itself under the charter. If it does, okay, but if it doesn't, this committee has some work to do in terms of making sure the charter rights of Canadians are indeed protected.
With that, I have put a motion on the table asking for that statement and asking to hear from the Minister of Heritage. I would ask the members of this committee to vote in favour of it.
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