Canada taking action to combat harmful online content including hate speech on social media

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The Government of Canada is taking actions to combat harmful online content on social medi platforms in a bid to protect Canadians from hate speech and hate crimes.

David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, along with Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, and Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, announced actions the Government of Canada is taking to better protect Canadians.

“As part of this approach, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada introduced amendments to the Criminal Code, the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the Youth Criminal Justice Act,” the Department of Justice of Canada said in a statement.

The statement further added that the proposed legislation takes an important step towards creating a safe online environment that protects all Canadians from hate speech and hate crimes.

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of freedom of expression for all Canadians and is taking a balanced and targeted approach to tackle the most extreme and harmful speech, the statement said, adding that the bill aims to mend the Canadian Human Rights Act to define a new discriminatory practice of communicating hate speech online, and to provide individuals with additional remedies to address hate speech, add a definition of “hatred” to section 319 of the Criminal Code based on Supreme Court of Canada decisions, and create a new peace bond in the Criminal Code designed to prevent hate propaganda offences and hate crimes from being committed, and make related amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

“Canadians expect their government to take action against hate speech and hate crimes. These legislative changes would improve the remedies available to victims of hate speech and hate crimes, and would hold individuals accountable. The actions we are taking today will help protect the vulnerable, empower those who are victimized and hold individuals to account for the hatred they spread online,” Minister lametti said.

Meanwhile, Minister Blair, said “The Government of Canada is taking action to address harmful content online and make the internet safer. We look forward to hearing from Canadians and to continue working with allies and social media platforms to prevent the internet from being used as a tool to incite and promote terrorism, violence, and hatred.”

This comes as a 2020 study conducted by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue Global concluded that Canadians were using more than 6,600 online channels, pages, groups and accounts across several social media platforms to spread white supremacist, misogynistic or other extremist views.

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