Jamil Jivani: Trudeau damaged Liberal Party’s commitment to free speech

Trudeau has spent the past few years cultivating support from a subset of Canadians who don’t value free speech as much as the Liberals did in the past.

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For Canadians who believe in freedom of expression, it’s time to acknowledge the wrongs Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has done to the Liberal Party of Canada. He has abandoned center voters and appealed to an increasingly left-leaning base that is breaking away from the federal Liberal Party’s past support for free speech.

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New survey data from the Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research at the University of Saskatchewan shows that Canadians on the left of the political spectrum do not see freedom of expression as a top priority in our country.

According to the data: oOnly three percent of respondents on the left feel they have very little or no freedom of expression; a the meager 2.5% of respondents on the left do not want any limits on speech; and meLeft-wing respondents were more likely than right-wing respondents to say that governments and businesses should have the power to reduce misinformation and hate speech.

It’s hard to believe that so many left-leaning Canadians would be comfortable with the direction of free speech in this country. Even the Liberal government of Canada is struggling with the concept right now. Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez is resumption of consultations on the government’s controversial ‘online damage’ bill, after government-appointed experts could not agree on a definition of ‘harm’.

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Trudeau has spent the past few years cultivating support from a subset of Canadians who are increasingly comfortable with the expansion of executive power and who don’t value free speech as much. the Liberals have done in the past.

Trudeau also showed his own contempt for free speech. As his popularity waned, he treated people who disagreed with him as threats to democracy (going so far as to invoke the Emergencies Act), imported from America’s culture wars ( like exploiting America’s mass shootings to pursue his own gun control policy) and has pushed an internet censorship agenda disguised as “digital security” (he even wants to create a digital security commissioner to oversee this we say online).

Historically, this has not been the norm for Canadian Liberals, who sought support from voters at the centre. The Liberal Party itself has changed significantly over the past 20 years. In 2003, Liberal Prime Minister John Christian used words like “freedom” in a way very similar to how Canadian conservatives use that language today. Speaking in the House of Commons in support of a bill confirming Canada’s decision not to participate in the American war in Iraq, Christian advocated for freedom of expression for parliamentarians.

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“Nothing is more fundamental to our democracy than the rights and privileges of MPs to speak freely,” he said. “These rights and privileges have evolved over centuries in the British parliamentary system. These rights and privileges are a valuable asset in a democracy and should never be tampered with.

Christian went on to criticize what we might call the cancel culture today: “We do not use our majority to move motions asking the House to express regret and apology for what Members of Parliament face might say. We don’t for a very simple reason. It is for the electorate and not for the House of Commons to make such judgments.

ChristianTrudeau’s successor, Prime Minister Paul Martin, also had a very different voice from Trudeau. In 2004, he responded to Conservative MP Randy White’s proposed use of the notwithstanding clause by accusing the Conservatives of wanting to take away Charter rights from Canadians.

Research from the University of Saskatchewan says it matters who we elect as leaders. It’s been a long time since left-leaning Canadians have heard one of their own speak like Christian or Martin. Right-wing and centrist Canadians are now on the front line in the battle to protect free speech.

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