Canada Wants To Jail You BEFORE You Commit A Thoughtcrime – The Online Harms Act Is To Blame

Source: markhampubliclibrary

Say what you want about free speech restrictions in America – it’s nowhere close to as bad as Canada. In fact, it could be getting a lot worse for Canadians if Bill C-63 (also known as the Online Harms Act) receives Royal Assent. Here’s everything you need to know about the proposed legislation!

What Is The Online Harms Act?

Liberals introduced the Online Harms Act (Bill C-63) on Feb. 26, 2024 in an effort to ‘hold social media platforms accountable for addressing harmful content on their platforms and for creating a safer online space that protects all people in Canada, especially kids.’

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It took the Liberals nearly three years to put the legislation together. While it has garnered a lot of support over the past few weeks, many citizens (and even Americans) are describing it as ‘Orwellian’ – something meant to erode personal freedoms.

Seven Types Of Harmful Content

The primary goal behind Bill C-63 is to protect people (especially kids) from harmful content on the internet, but what exactly constitutes harmful content? According to the proposed bill, the Canadian Government is targeting seven different types:

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Content that sexually victimizes a child or revictimizes a survivor, intimate content communicated without consent, content used to bully a child, content that induces a child to harm themselves, content that foments hatred, content that incites violence, and content that incites violent extremism or terrorism.

Social Media Services Subject To Three Duties

Social media providers will bear a lot of the responsibility, in regards to maintaining a safe online environment for all. The Online Harms Act outlines three specific responsibilities social media services will be subject to if the bill is passed:

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For starters, social media services must 1) act responsibly and 2) protect children. They must also have the ability to remove certain content from their platform – especially content that sexually victimizes a child or revictimizes a survivor or intimate images posted without consent.

Amendments To The Criminal Code

One of the more controversial aspects of this bill is the amendments to the criminal code – which include increasing the maximum sentence for advocating genocide from five years to life imprisonment. Many people believe this is a direct response to those who support Israel.

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Not only that, but one provision in the bill would allow a judge to impose house arrest and a fine on anyone they feel is likely to commit a crime – even if they don’t actually commit the crime. Some critics are dubbing this a ‘thought crime.’

Amendments To The Canadian Human Rights Act

The Canadian Human Rights Act was signed into law in 1977. It protects Canadian citizens from discrimination and promotes equal opportunity for all. While it originally had a provision about the communication of hate messages, that provision was repealed in 2013.

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If passed, Bill C-63 would allow complaints about online hate speech to be filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission – the organization tasked with investigating complaints of discrimination.

Establish A Digital Safety Commission of Canada

If that’s not enough, the bill also proposes a five-member Digital Safety Commission of Canada, which would be overseen by a Digital Safety Ombudsperson and administered by a Digital Safety Office. 

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“The Commission would oversee and enforce the new regulatory framework and the Ombudsperson would act as a resource and advocate for users and victims,” the Canadian Government wrote in its press release in February.

How Will Canadian Citizens Benefit?

In an effort to gain public support, the government listed some of the many ways Canadians stand to benefit from the bill – including special protections for children, stronger reporting of child pornography, and strengthened Criminal Code provisions.

Source: Adobe Stock

They’re vowing to improve public safety, both in the community and online, and are giving citizens more power over the content they (and their children) see on the internet. Of course, many people are already preparing for some people to take advantage of the bill if it passes.

Meta Vows To Work With Canada

Despite the public outrage, one social media service has already vowed to cooperate with Canada’s proposed law – Meta, which owns both Facebook and Instagram. The company recently released a statement about the bill:

Source: Medium

“We support the federal government’s goal of helping young people have safe, positive experiences online and have spent more than a decade developing industry-leading tools and policies to protect them. We look forward to collaborating with lawmakers and industry peers on our long-standing priority to keep Canadians safe,” Meta wrote.

Virani Insists The Bill Doesn’t Amount To Censorship

Arif Virani, Canada’s current minister of justice and attorney general, is the one behind the proposed bill. The 52-year-old lawyer was appointed to his position in July 2023 after holding several parliamentary secretary portfolios between 2015 and 2023.


As far as those who think the bill is an attack on free speech, Virani has a message: “It does not undermine freedom of speech. It enhances free expression by empowering all people to safely participate in online debate,” he said – adding that it won’t target content sent through private message services.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh Supports Bill

Jagmeet Singh, the current leader of the New Democratic Party, has already confirmed that his party will support the bill, but he stopped short of praising them over it. In fact, he was a little disappointed it took the Liberals this long.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“Their inaction has meant that kids were harmed. That kids actually were exploited online because they failed to act,” Singh said in February. In response, Virani admitted to spending a long time on it, adding that it was ‘because we had to get it right.’

Conservatives Are Undecided On How To Vote

While the NDP have already decided how they’ll vote, the Conservatives aren’t so sure yet. They reportedly support criminalizing the harmful content categories laid out in the bill, but don’t think the bill does enough to support local law enforcement.

Source: Adam Schultz

“These serious acts should be criminalized, investigated by police, tried in court and punished with jail, not pushed off to new bureaucracy that does nothing to prevent crimes and provides no justice to victims,” Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre wrote in a statement.

Bill Receives A Whirlwind Of Criticism

Margaret Atwood, a famed Canadian writer and author of The Handmaid’s Tale, took to her X account to liken the bill to the ‘Lettres de Cachet’ – referring to old letters signed by the King of France that contained un-appealable orders.

Source: Wikimedia/Collision Conf

“If this account of the bill is true, it’s Lettres de Cachet all over again. The possibilities for revenge false accusations + thoughtcrime stuff are sooo inviting! Trudeau’s Orwellian online harms bill,” she wrote in her X post.

Conservative Author Echoes Atwood’s Criticism

Stephen Moore, a Conservative author, grilled Parliament for its weak attempt to solve a serious issue. He called it the ‘most shocking of all the totalitarian, illiberal, and anti-Enlightenment pieces of legislation that have been introduced in the Western world in decades.’

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“But Virani’s bill is totally unnecessary to protect children. Its real goal is to allow judges to sentence adults to prison for life for things they’ve said and for up to a year for crimes they haven’t committed but that the government fears they might commit in the future,” he wrote.

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Ryan Handson

Written by Ryan Handson

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