Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti has introduced a bill to define and address online hate speech.
Lametti notes that the proposed bill aims to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to clearly define a new discriminatory practice of communicating hate speech online and to provide improved remedies for victims of hate speech.
The bill also aims to create a new peace bond in the Criminal Code designed to prevent hate propaganda offences and hate crimes from being committed.
Further, the legislation would define hate speech as “content that expresses detestation or vilification of a person or group.”
The government outlines that the bill will be complemented by a regulatory framework to crack down on harmful content online. The proposed framework would create rules for how social media giants and other digital giants address hate speech and other harmful content.
In the coming weeks, the government plans to engage Canadians on a technical discussion paper to outline the proposed steps to make social media giants more transparent and accountable while combating hate speech.
“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,” said Lametti in a news release.
“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.”
The federal government notes that the bill will address the impacts of hate speech on individuals and communities.
It’s worth noting that the bill won’t be considered in the House of Commons until after the summer recess. However, if there is an election before the summer recess ends, the legislation will die and needs to be re-introduced once the next parliamentary session starts.