Canada’s ruling Liberals have found themselves accused of working against free press, as they continue their “war on misinformation.”
This time, the Liberals were caught doing this during their party congress that saw attendance from members coming across the country, and one of the things they did was pass a resolution – albeit a non-binding one – regarding the need to tackle “online misinformation.”
Not only are critically minded observers interpreting this as yet another danger likely to be faced by the free press, but how the document was adopted was also not particularly democratic in nature – the vote took place with no prior debate.
And it was on a Saturday morning that this “slipped through” and made it into the convention’s documents, albeit with only a couple of dozen party delegates present and willing to vote.
However – non-binding or otherwise, the intent is clearly there, and now the fear is that the government will find a way to work it into its policy with the aim of increasing control over Canadian media.
For the moment, the facts are that the resolution calls for “exploring options” (a habitually broad wording of initiatives of this sort) that would result in the accountability of internet services for the content they publish.
And, importantly – also exploring options – as to how to “limit” that content from being published on the services’ platforms, but no less importantly, “limit” that content “only to material whose sources can be traced.”
It wasn’t long before observers saw parallels with the way media, and online content is treated here in a way some saw as telling not merely of being “repressive” – but even “more repressive,” than some other regimes, than that in power in Canada.
From CBC (emphasis ours):
“The office would not say whether that means the government will commit to never implementing the resolution.
Responding to criticism Monday, the author of the resolution, B.C. Liberal Catherine Evans, said the policy was never intended to “target reputable Canadian journalists” but rather to combat disinformation people post anonymously online.”
Those who thought officials like Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez – who has managed to make an (international) name for himself for all the wrong reasons – would come out and say, yes – this is the natural progression of the course our policy has been taking for years toward tighter control over information, by often revealing it as “disinformation” for ease of elimination – will be disappointed.
Instead, Rodriguez is quoted as telling CBC News that, “A Liberal government would never implement a policy that would limit freedom of the press or dictate how journalists would do their work.”
And apparently we have to take his word for it.