An Analysis of the Platform of the People’s Party of Canada

We finish our roundup of all the platforms with the People’s Party of Canada. Our analysis extends to that party.

With early voting under way, we finally are able to wrap up our analysis of different party platforms. In the early part of the election, party leader, Maxime Bernier, was asked about his platform. The question revolved around when the platform for this election would be available. The response was that it is already up. That platform was from 2019. The reasoning behind it was that his party stands on various core principles and that the platform doesn’t need changing.

So, the question you might have at this stage is that if it was available all this time, why not analyze what was up on their site? Part of the problem initially was that a lot of comments refer to issues happening before the 2019 election. Also, at the time, we were busy analyzing the Conservative and NDP platforms. So, when we looked back at the platform, we noticed some parts of it were tweaked. Some of those tweaks started referring to issues that happened in the last government, not the government before. So, we covered some other stories and looked back and there were further tweaks when we checked back.

This put us in a bit of a situation. If we did an analysis earlier, the platform might change part way through or some time after, rendering our analysis worthless. What we also noticed as time went on is that some parts of the platform started containing notes saying “Updated for the 2021 Campaign”. Some sections still don’t have that note at the bottom. So, we were generally waiting for every section to have that note at that point. As time went on, other parties released their platforms, so we performed our analysis of the other parties in the mean time.

So, that leads us to today. Polls are already open for early voting. The analysis for other parties were already done and people are already voting. So, we made the decision that we might as well get this analysis done now and risk some tweak being later added rendering some parts of our analysis useless. Like other parties, we’ll use the block quotes so that everyone sees what we had to work with to at least have some consistency. It’s either a possibly out of date analysis for this election or none at all. Better to have something than nothing in our view.

What is interesting when analyzing this platform is the fact that there isn’t a PDF download available. Everything is strictly on their website. So, we’ll hotlink to the relevant sections in question instead because there are no page numbers to refer to. The platform itself, for anyone else who wishes to follow, is available on the official website.

Hate Speech

In the freedom of expression section, we see the following:

A People’s Party government will:

  • Restrict the definition of hate speech in the Criminal Code to expression which explicitly advocates the use of force against identifiable groups or persons based on protected criteria such as religion, race, ethnicity, sex, or sexual orientation.

If you know nothing about the party, you can already get that sense that this is definitely a far right political party. Every other political party recognizes that there is a problem of racism both offline and online. Some parties are saying that they want to launch a study into online racism while others are actively calling for laws that force platforms to crack down on hate speech online. Here, we see the exact opposite approach where the concern seems to be that Canada has gone too far in the fight against racism and that the proper approach is to roll back laws instead. With this excerpt, the idea is that as long as you aren’t calling for or advocating violence, then you are in the clear about your speech. You can say whatever you like afterwards.

Shortly after, the site also says this:

  • Ensure that Canadians can exercise their freedom of conscience to its fullest extent as it is intended under the Charter and are not discriminated against because of their moral convictions.

So, cementing the idea that, as far as the party is concerned, Canada has gone too far in its fight against discrimination and needs to tone things down.

Freedom of Expression

In the same section, we also see the following:

  • Repeal any existing legislation or regulation curtailing free speech on the internet and prevent the reinstatement of section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
  • Repeal C-16, M-103, C-10, and C-36.

So, this is actually much more confusing than you might think when you first read it.

So, let’s start with the most obvious standout which is Bill C-10. As long time readers know, Bill C-10 died on the order paper when the election was called. So, it isn’t actually law thankfully. Perhaps what the party meant is that they are opposed to this legislation. This is because, in order to repeal a law, it actually has to be passed in the first place. Bill C-10 was never passed, so there is nothing to actually repeal.

Now, chances are, the legislation will get re-introduced in the next government, but it can very easily take on a different form. It might have a different number altogether.

So, while that is confusing, the takeaway here is, at least, is that the party does oppose that bill.

Now, M-103 might vaguely ring a bell for some readers here. It was actually party of the 2019 platform. That is a motion to condemn Islamophobia. As we pointed out at the time, it is a motion, not a law. What’s more is that, even in 2019, it’s not something you can repeal. This is because when the 2019 election was called, it basically no longer exists in the first place. The same is true today. There is nothing to repeal here in the first place. What’s more is that it’s a very non-controversial motion in the first place.

Bill C-16, on the other hand, is a bill that was a thing before the 2019 election and was ultimately passed. We’ll basically repeat our research of the bill in 2019 by offering the Wikipedia entry as a source. Essentially, it curtails discrimination based on gender identity. The persistent conspiracy theory that has been long debunked is that the legislation makes it a criminal offence to not use the proper pronoun. Under the most extreme theoretical circumstance, repeatedly knowingly refusing to use a proper pronoun could lead to an offence under the legislation. Experts agree that such a scenario is extremely unlikely.

The only known case, according to the entry, was a teaching assistant showing a video of someone criticizing the bill. Faculty members said that this might have led to a violation, however, Bill C-16 doesn’t even apply to faculty settings, so it doesn’t even legally apply. We’re not aware of any actual cases beyond that and we haven’t seen speech issues crop up from all of this. In short, outside of the conspiracy theories, nothing really came of this.

That leaves Bill C-36. Bill C-36 died on the order paper when the election was called. So, like Bill C-10, the bill can be introduced in another form in the next government, but as of now, there is nothing to actually repeal. The most that can be said is that the party opposes the legislation.

So, in short, out of the 4 items mentioned, only one could actually be repealed (Bill C-16) – and that bill has a track record of not only be non-controversial, but also not problematic as well.

Attacking Free Speech

It took a bit to find anything relevant after and we actually did find something of interest in the pipelines section:

Our plan

The oil and gas industry has been for decades a major source of employment, government revenues, and economic well-being for all of Canada. It should be allowed to grow, export its products, and bring prosperity to our country.

A People’s Party government will:

  • Counter anti-oil and anti-pipeline propaganda from radical environmentalists and foreign foundations.

This actually seems to contradict all this talk about protecting Canadians speech and protecting the freedom of conscious. So, if your going to “exercise [your] freedom of conscience to its fullest extent”, you better not do so from an environmentalist perspective. As far as the party is concerned, you are a radical that needs to be countered. What does “countered” mean is unclear. Whether that means that the government will simply pump out pro-oil propaganda or actually take action is unclear. This ultimately lends credence to the criticism is that right wing perspectives are all for freedom of expression unless it’s expression they don’t like.

From a free speech perspective, this should be concerning to see in the platform.

Conclusions

From the digital rights perspective, this is literally all we found. There is nothing here addressing the sky high Internet and cell phone bills, nothing on expanding broadband to rural and indigenous communities, nothing on privacy/privacy reform and nothing on, well anything else related to digital rights for that matter. It’s wafer thin on digital rights. Even then, the freedom of expression that seems to be such a big thing for the party is couched in fighting against anti-racism efforts and ends when it comes to expression from an environmentalist perspective. Further, we found some of the platform rather confused in the first place.

At any rate, this is a brief summary of what we found:

  • Against Bill C-10 and Bill C-36.
  • Against efforts to fight discrimination and narrowing anti-discrimination to language that advocates and encourages violence
  • “Counter” “propaganda” from “radical environmentalists” that are against pipelines, thus undoing the push for freedom of expression efforts

Not a lot there and what is there is tainted with other far less desirable aspects of the party. Another party to add to the “not recommended” list as far as we can tell.

That concludes our run of analyzing the various party platforms. We hope you found it all informative – even if demoralizing. The plan is to offer a roundup post of all the platforms in the future. We hope to get that out as soon as we can.

Further reading:
Conservative Party platform analysis (part 1)
Conservative Party platform analysis (part 2)
NDP platform analysis
Pirate Party of Canada absence
OpenMedia platform
Bloc Quebecois platform rough analysis
Liberal Party platform analysis (Part 1)
Liberal Party platform analysis (Part 2)
Green Party platform analysis

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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