Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has governed with an authoritarian bent, particularly throughout the pandemic, and he once again showcased his big-government beliefs during a recent town hall event.
During the two-hour public conversation, he attempted to address the delicate balance between freedom and safety in a digital society. At least at first, his remarks seemed to strike a fairly conservative tone.
“Governments have very limited tools to protect people in an online world, which is a good thing,” Trudeau said. “It allows for a tremendous amount of freedom — freedom of expression, freedom of discovery, no oppressive governments controlling what you see, what you want.”
On the other hand, he asserted, such freedom “also opens us up to a tremendous amount of crap, of hate speech, of things that are illegal, but also things that are just going to bring us down roads where we’re going to get lost.”
He went on to disparage peddlers of alleged “disinformation” by comparing them to individuals who believe the Earth is flat.
Trudeau said he became “fascinated by flat-Earthers” prior to the pandemic and claimed that there “wasn’t really any moment back in recorded history” when people doubted the shape of our home planet.
From there, he made the leap to a supposed “phenomenon of anti-vaxxers and anti-science, anti-skeptics, and this rise in these echo chambers that are validating this kind of thinking in ways that have real consequences.”
The prime minister asserted that Canadian citizens “died surrounded by their families because they truly and genuinely believed that the vaccine was more dangerous than the virus, and it killed them,” going on to describe his advocacy for increased regulation regarding which views are allowed to be posted online.
“I can’t protect everyone from every bit of disinformation on the internet,” he said. “So we have to have reflections of how we move forward, how we responsibilize the companies that are controlling so much, the private companies that are controlling so much of the public square you now live in that doesn’t have police paid by your taxes to keep you safe.”
PM Trudeau: "we must regulate Canadians' internet speech to stop misinformation!"
Also PM Trudeau: "Tories get money from the NRA"
(It's obviously illegal for foreign organisations and foreign nationals to donate to Canadian political parties) https://t.co/QZAMLQKuFd
— Ryan O'Connor (@rpoconnor) March 28, 2023
Despite his repeated diatribes against COVID-19 disinformation, critics say it was his own government that offered citizens flawed advice and imposed restrictions that did not make people safer.
In an op-ed published last month in the Toronto Sun, Fraser Institute senior fellow Kenneth Green wrote: “The Trudeau government — like governments in the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union — has been strident and aggressive at policing what it deems misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 (and the government response) across traditional media and social media. But it should take a good hard look in the mirror because policymakers are a major part of the problem.”