Liberal Party Releases Platform – Our Analysis (Part 2)

The Liberal party released their platform yesterday. We started our analysis on the same day and are continuing that analysis today.

Yesterday, we began our analysis of the Liberal party platform. Generally, what we found is a mix of old promises that were never delivered on and/or abandoned during the last session of government as well as promises to continue their war on the Internet. Essentially, they aren’t really hiding their attack on the Internet at all and are pretty much running on link taxes, speech crackdowns, and Bill C-10. It’s pretty shocking that the party is so open about their plans to attack the open Internet. Whats more is that we aren’t even done with our analysis yet. So, that continues here.

As mentioned in the previous part, we are starting with page 38 (PDF page 44). Also, there are a number of pages at the beginning of the PDF prior to the actual platform. This throws the page count in the PDF file, so we are including both to ensure that it is clear which page we are reading quotes this from. Just like yesterday, you can get the PDG here or on the Liberal Party website.

Right to Repair

On page 52 (PDF page 57), we see the following:

A Right to Repair Your Home Appliances

The lifetime of our home appliances has dramatically reduced over the past decade and it is often cheaper to replace it than repair it. That means people are paying more for appliances they are using for less time. And more and more appliances are ending up in landfills. This is costing the middle class and creating a real environmental problem. It shouldn’t be this way.

A re-elected Liberal government will:

  • Implement a “right to repair” to extend the life of home appliances, particularly electronics, by requiring manufacturers to supply repair manuals and spare parts and facilitate their replication after the part is no longer produced.
  • Amend the Copyright Act to ensure that its provisions cannot prevent the repair of digital devices and systems, even when nothing is being copied or distributed.

It’s admittedly rather curious to see this become such a major theme across so many platforms now. This, honestly, isn’t a bad thing. What’s more is that it actually addresses the DRM issues that would obstruct Right to Repair on top of it all. One can only hope that this means that Right to Repair is pretty much as good as implemented. Of course, one could’ve been led to believe this with privacy reform during the last election, but that failed to materialize. So, we’ll have to wait and see if there is any follow through with action on this front.

Pushing Online Harms Paper

On page 65 (PDF page 69), we see the following:

Protecting Canadians from Online Harms

Too many people in Canada are victims of hate speech, which is often amplified and spread on social media. Canadians want action and they want leadership that will put a stop to harmful online content and hold platforms accountable.

A re-elected Liberal Government will:

  • Introduce legislation within its first 100 days to combat serious forms of harmful online content, specifically hate speech, terrorist content, content that incites violence, child sexual abuse material and the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. This would make sure that social media platforms and other online services are held accountable for the content that they host. Our legislation will recognize the importance of freedom of expression for all Canadians and will take a balanced and targeted approach to tackle extreme and harmful speech.
  • Strengthen the Canada Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to more effectively combat online hate.

This is the third prong of the Liberals efforts to crack down on the Internet. As we previously examined in their online harms proposal, the problem is that it puts requirements on websites that are impossible to follow. Moreover, it opens the door to abuse by allowing anyone to flag content and requiring 24 takedowns. Failure to comply means a $10 million fine or 3% of annual turnover. To make sure that it’s impossible to comply with these requirements, websites are required to track the volume of “harmful” content and submit it to a government super structure on a regular basis.

Yes, the government did launch a consultation, but everyone knows that it’s not so much a consultation and more of a consultation by notice. We did, in fact, respond, but we know that the Liberals have no intention of listening to criticism of this paper. It isn’t just us that is criticizing the proposal, either. Canadian lawyers and observers have been condemning it on a near universal basis. That criticism grew to international condemnation for very good reason. Experts around the world are horrified at the proposal and fear other countries might try to replicate these laws elsewhere.

The fact is, the government is proposing to not only push through the legislation, but is actively running a campaign on ramming it through in 100 days. Anyone who believes in freedom of expression and online innovation should most certainly be nervous. This especially with the fact that this proposal also carries with it Internet censorship for websites outside of the country. While the Liberals seem to try and insert language saying that they will move forward in a way that respects freedom of expression, it is extremely unlikely that this is anything beyond mere lip service.

International Trade

On page 68-69 (PDF pages 72-73), we see the following:

Trade that Works for Everyone

Canada is a trading nation and trade has an important part to play in our plan for a robust economic recovery. Under our leadership, Canada became the only G7 country to have free trade agreements with all other G7 countries.

  • Establish a digital policy task force, comprised of industry experts, academia, and government, to integrate efforts across government and provide
    additional resources in order to position Canada as a leader in the digital economy and shape global governance of emerging technologies, including with respect to data and privacy rights, taxation, online violent extremism, the ethical use of new technologies, and the future of work. This will build on our work to implement Canada’s first Digital Charter and reform our laws to protect the personal information of individuals.

This is pretty vague. It resembles the NDP commitment to protect privacy rights under international trade. There is also a reference to online extremism, though that wasn’t elaborated on (we’re assuming this is related to tackling terrorism online, though).

This is also a second mention of reforming privacy laws which, as we mentioned in the previous part of our analysis, was largely abandoned part way through the mandate in favour of cracking down on the Internet. It was the same deal with the Canadian digital charter which was also shelved part way through the mandate only to be dusted off and presented to Canadians during the election. We have no reason to believe that history won’t repeat itself this time around and see that, after a few months or so into the next mandate, seeing this promises shelved once again.

Cyber Security

On page page 69 (PDF page 73), we see the following:

Strong, Secure, Engaged, and Inclusive

Canada faces a host of global threats, including rapidly evolving risks posed by cyber attacks, foreign interference, and climate change. Canadians deserve a 21st century military that is equipped to respond to emerging threats to our national security and in which all members feel safe and included. Building on Strong, Secure, Engaged, the comprehensive, long-term defence policy we released in 2017, a re-elected government will ensure that our military has the equipment and resources needed to keep Canadians safe, secure our Arctic sovereignty, and respond to the full range of hostile, cyber, and environmental threats we face.

A re-elected Liberal government will:

We cut our snippet off there because non of the bullet points that followed mentions anything related to the cyber security remark. We don’t know if it was an oversight or not, but that is a very vague.

Moving over to page 70 (PDF page 74), we see another mention to this:

Combatting Authoritarianism and Foreign Interference

With authoritarianism, geopolitical competition, and foreign interference on the rise, safeguarding Canada’s national and economic security requires strong action both at home and abroad. We will continue to implement domestic measures to protect Canadians and work closely with our friends, allies, and partners to respond to illegal and unacceptable behaviour by authoritarian states, including China, Russia, and Iran.

Specifically, a re-elected Liberal government will:

  • Work with G7, NATO, and likeminded partners to develop and expand collective responses to arbitrary detention, economic coercion, cyber threats, foreign interference in democratic processes, and egregious violations of human rights, including through the use of sanctions, support for international institutions, and coordinated action to reinforce the rules of international trade.
  • Introduce legislation to safeguard Canada’s critical infrastructure, including our 5G networks, to preserve the integrity and security of our telecommunications systems.

We’re not entirely sure what specifically the platform says the Liberals intend on doing to carry that out. We certainly hope this isn’t a vague reference to a return of the Lawful Access debate which was rightly swept away into the dustbin of history years ago. Still, that is a shot in the dark on how they might be thinking of carrying that out.

On the same page, we also see the following:

  • Increase resources available to our national security agencies to counter foreign interference and to the RCMP to protect Canadians from unacceptable surveillance, harassment, and intimidation by foreign actors.
  • It’s difficult to make of which way the platform is going with that. Is this a reference to reforming privacy laws or is this a reference to anti-encryption laws? You really can read both ways into the above snippet, but it’s largely inconclusive what this is in reference to.

    Conclusions

    So, a fair bit more to chew through on this second part as well. Generally, we found the following:

    • Commitment to Right to Repair legislation
    • Pushing the Online Harms paper into passed legislation within 100 days of being elected
    • Protecting privacy in international trade
    • A vague reference to cyber-security, though no real specifics
    • A possible reference to Lawful Access, though this is in response to a vague commitment
    • A possible reference to anti-encryption laws, though the point is rather unclear

    There you have it. Our analysis of the Liberal party platform. At this stage, we only have two parties left to go: The PPC and the Green party. We’ll continue to be on the lookout for those platforms when they get fully released (PPC only has parts of their platform seemingly updated for this election). Still, we hope you find all of this informative at the very least.

    Further reading:
    Liberal Party platform PDF
    Part 1 of our analysis of the Liberal Party platform
    Our NDP Party platform analysis
    Conservative party platform analysis (part 1)
    Conservative party platform analysis (part 2)
    The absence of the Pirate Party of Canada
    Our report on the OpenMedia platform
    Rough analysis of the Bloc party platform

    Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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