It is not often that the turning point in a debate of French-language leaders occurs in English, but that is what Rebel News presented on Wednesday. After a Federal Court judge tidy the Leaders’ Debate Commission to have one of its reporters cover the debates, Rebel News used his questions to talk about himself. For a website that you like to accuse Prime Minister being a narcissist, Rebel’s house looks dangerously glassy here.
After Justin Trudeau explained that Rebel’s exclusion from the debates was a decision made by the commission, not his government, he returned the stone thrown in his direction.
“The reality is that organizations, organizations like yours, that continue to spread misinformation and misinformation about the science around vaccines … is part of the reason we are seeing such unfortunate anger and a lack of understanding. of basic science, “he said. said. “Frankly, your – I won’t call it a media organization – your group of individuals must take responsibility for some of the polarization that we are seeing in this country.”
For the thousands of people who saw this clip, it was a satisfying reprimand to an organization that has contributed to the polarization of our political discourse in Canada. But while the exchange between Rebel News and the prime minister may have been an inadvertent gift to liberals, the exchange should remind everyone that all groups dedicated to spreading misinformation and anger are a cancer in our body politic. These groups specialize in arousing fear and anger around a number of causes, whether it’s attacking progressive leaders like Rachel Notley and Trudeau or undermining the scientific consensus on climate change and vaccines. In fact, it’s built into their business models, and the prime minister’s reprimand will almost certainly generate a renewed flow of donations and cash for groups like The Rebel.
So if liberals emerge as the biggest player in the next Parliament, Trudeau needs to do more than just speak a good game about bad faith actors. I should go ahead with amendments to the Penal Code, the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Juvenile Criminal Justice Act proposed by your government earlier this year to target online hate speech and those who traffic in it.
Those amendments would make it easier to file complaints against online posts and people who trade in targeted harassment and hatred, and would impose fines of up to $ 20,000 on culprits. That’s a far cry from the penalties available under German law, which include fines of up to $ 73 million for companies that don’t remove “obviously illegal material” within 24 hours. But it is a step in the direction and it is long overdue.
And while social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter in Canada were exempted from the proposed changes, it is only a matter of time before they are included in this as well. That’s where the vast majority of racist, misogynistic and other hate online is generated and shared, according to a 2020 report. report from the UK-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue.
And while Canadians have a reputation for being polite, the report’s data suggests it’s undeserved. It showed that Canadian users on the fringe website 4Chan created 1,636,558 posts or 5.71 percent of the total content. Compared to the country’s “estimated Internet user population”, Canada had the highest per capita user rate in the world for that website.
Nor was he the only one. In total, the researchers found 6,660 far-right channels, pages, groups and accounts on seven social media platforms, which included top sites like Facebook and Twitter and more marginal ones like Gab, Fascist Forge and Iron March. In total, those forums reached more than 11 million users.
And in case anyone still wants to pretend this is all just talk, there is the terrorist attack earlier this year that killed a Muslim family in London, Ontario. Anti-Muslim hatred, along with the broadsides against Trudeau and the COVID-19 conspiracies, is the bread and butter of these online hate factories, and the consequences are spreading almost as virulently as the virus itself. Just as the COVID-19 virus replicates within the host, these forums and websites are creating new vectors of hate and violence and infecting a growing population of vulnerable people.
It is time to start inoculating ourselves more aggressively against its spread. That means that all of our political leaders, including those who know that some of their supporters frequent these websites and forums, need to speak out against anyone who traffics in hate.
Opinion: Until all of our federal leaders, including the Conservatives, take a harder line here, the twin viruses of hate and misinformation will continue to spread, writes columnist @maxfawcett for @NatObserver. # elxn44
It was good to see Trudeau take on Rebel News and all that it stands for. Jagmeet Singh is right to refuse to answer your questions. And Erin O’Toole has finally agreed, although somewhat belatedly, that you can no longer give interviews to the website. But until all of our federal leaders, including the Conservatives, take a tougher line here, the twin viruses of hate and misinformation will continue to spread.