(OPINION) Americans must have breathed a huge sigh of relief last year when the Biden administration announced they were pausing plans for a “disinformation governance board.” As a Canadian, I’m here to warn you against getting too comfortable.

Canadians made the mistake of taking free speech for granted. Now, President Biden’s friend, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is close to having new laws in place that would expand government regulation of online speech in Canada. In fact, Biden will be traveling to Canada later this month on an official state visit. For the sake of the United States, here’s hoping that Biden doesn’t get any ideas from Trudeau.

According to Newsweek, The Canadian legislation in question is known as Bill C-11, or the Online Streaming Act. Ostensibly a way to prioritize the “needs and interests” of Canadians, the Trudeau administration claims the act will ensure online algorithms promote Canadian content on social media and streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+ and Spotify.


Yet when a multi-partisan group of Canadian Senators proposed an amendment to the legislation to protect what individual citizens say on social media from government oversight and regulation, the Trudeau administration rejected the amendment.

Under the current iteration of the bill, user-generated content is included in the scope of government oversight. The bill also makes clear that the purpose of these new government powers is to “support countering disinformation.”

It also specifically mentions serving the interests of “Canadians from racialized communities and Canadians of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, abilities and disabilities, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and ages.”

Taking these aspects of the legislation together, the Trudeau administration is asking the Canadian public to trust them with an unprecedented amount of control over the internet.

As currently written, the law would grant federal government bureaucrats the power to deem a student’s YouTube channel insufficiently diverse, or to find a rapper’s music guilty of spreading “disinformation.” Everyday Canadians could have their social media and streaming accounts shutdown or shadowbanned for creating content that’s rejected by a government-controlled algorithm.

Canadians should not trust Justin Trudeau or any other politician with such power. Partisanship and the power to control media platforms don’t mix well.

I’ve dealt with that problem in my own career. Last year, the Toronto-based radio show that I hosted on the iHeartRadio talk network was terminated due to partisan biases at Bell Media. In legal filings, Bell Media admitted to ending the show because I did not defend Trudeau against criticisms made by callers and did not adequately attack a conservative member of parliament.


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