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Liberals to introduce new hate speech bill

June 23, 2021

Right before the House of Commons breaks for summer, the Liberal government will introduce a new bill tackling hate speech, which could bring back a controversial law under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Justice Minister David Lametti has given notice the government will introduce a new bill, dealing with “hate propaganda, hate crimes and hate speech.” Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has been working on a new online harms bill with Justice and other ministries, though government spokespeople declined to say Tuesday whether that bill is the legislation that will be tabled by Lametti.

One possibility is that Lametti’s bill could leave out online regulation and focus only on changes to hate speech law the government consulted on last year — though if that includes bringing back a civil remedy for hate speech, the bill still stands to garner much opposition.

Guilbeault told an industry conference last week that the upcoming online harms legislation, which will deal with hate speech and other illegal content, will be even more contentious than broadcasting bill C-10. That legislation finally passed through the House of Commons in the early hours of Tuesday morning after nearly two months of concern about its impact on free expression.

“Now, this is going to be controversial. People think that C-10 was controversial. Wait till we table this legislation,” Guilbeault said at an appearance at the Banff World Media Festival.

Spokespeople for Guilbeault and Lametti said they couldn’t provide any information about what will be in Lametti’s bill because of parliamentary privilege. Guilbeault and Arif Virani, Lametti’s parliamentary secretary, told the National Post in March the online harms bill would include both a Justice ministry piece in the form of a codifying in law a new definition of online hate, and new rules for online platforms, including a regulator that would enforce 24-hour takedowns for illegal content.

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