GUNTER: Liberals are feeling the heat over Bill C-10

So the federal Liberals have heard the overwhelming public condemnation of their Internet-repression legislation – Bill C-10. They have promised an amendment to make it “crystal clear” the CRTC should keep its paws off your cat videos (or anything else users post).

I don’t trust them.

The Liberals saw a golden opportunity after the Capitol Hill riot in Washington D.C. in January to achieve two long-term goals at once – regulate the Internet and tax Big Tech giants such as Google, Facebook and YouTube (which is owned by Google).

The storming of the Capitol Building was fueled, in large part, by online conspiracy theories and Donald Trump’s social media posts. Therefore, as the Liberals saw it, an unregulated internet is a threat to democracy.

Meanwhile, the Trudeau government never has to work very hard to get its supporters to believe the “rich,” including “rich” companies, need to pay more taxes.

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Voila! The Liberals were sure they could give themselves the power to regulate online views while also raising a few billion dollars more to feed their spending addiction, all in the name of saving democracy from extremists.

But they hadn’t counted on ordinary Canadians’ commitment to free speech.

And they still aren’t.

Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, the one-time Montreal environmentalist who is the author of Bill C-10, still insists it was never the government’s intent to regulate free speech.

And that may be how the Liberals see it. To them, there is the Liberal view and everything else is misinformation.

If you define the world in those arrogant, self-centred terms – they are the only keepers of the flame of truth and all others are purveyors of lies and crackpot theories – it’s easy to convince yourself your effort to limit the free exchange of ideas is somehow actually a defence of democracy.

I guarantee you, Canadian Liberals are conceited enough to see it that way.

In their own, benighted minds, they weren’t giving the CRTC the power to limit free speech. They were giving the broadcast regulator the power to protect free speech for those who would misuse it.

However they justified their actions to themselves, their efforts would have had a chilling effect on full and open debate by giving individual Canadians and organizations the fear that Big Brother was watching.

Careful what you say online or you might run afoul of the law.

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Of course, Bill C-10 was never likely to extend the CRTC’s jurisdiction to your cat videos or charmingly TikTok dances.

It’s hard to imagine even the Liberals were after ordinary individuals’ “user-posted content.”

What they were more likely aiming for were streaming services such as Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media. And I’m betting the government still intends to try regulating similar services.

The Rebel has a YouTube channel with 1.45 million subscribers and over 600 million views.

And The Rebel is a giant thorn in the Liberals’ backside.

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The government has banned Rebel reporters from the prime minister’s pandemic briefings outside Ottawa’s Rideau Cottage. (They have even had the RCMP march Rebel reporters off the property, which is public.)

Ministers frequently cite the Rebel as a source of misinformation and tried to get the site banned from covering the leaders’ debate during the last federal campaign.

Giving the CRTC the power to regulate online news and opinion services, the way it regulates (i.e. defangs and controls) broadcast media is the Liberals’ true intent, not “Cute Kitty Pops Balloon.”

And they thought they could fool Canadians by hiding behind claims that all they were seeking was truth and tax fairness.

Even now that the Liberals have promised to rewrite Bill C-10 to better protect free speech, I still don’t trust them because their commitment to free expression is so self-serving.

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