Opinion: My Response to the Online Harms “Consultation”

In response to the so-called “consultation”, Drew Wilson has written in with a response to efforts to supposedly address harmful content.

The other day, I mentioned how the Canadian government is readying plans to basically initiate another round of cracking down on the Internet. The article I wrote addressed some of the concerns raised by the legislation.

Of course, what I was responding to was a technical paper of what the government was hoping to table as legislation. Presumably, this is for the next government. It is my interpretation that the government wants to hit the ground running in the next parliament session with this crackdown along with Bill C-10.

With the technical paper out, I don’t believe that this consultation is really meaningful. It’s basically, as Michael Geist put it, consultation by advisory notice. In short, this process is little more than, “this is our plan and it’s up to you to agree with it.” The political calculation is obvious: if anyone questions their approach, point out that they had “extensive” and “thorough” consultation before tabling this legislation even though neither will actually be the case. For those curious, the page that has everything you need to submit your own comments is here.

Upon discovering this, I had a personal dilemma about this. Since this is basically a fraudsultation, is there really a point in responding to it? My comment will get blatantly ignored along with any other comments that says that this is either a bad approach or an approach that should be put straight into the trash can. So, is there a difference on that front? Not really.

After all, the Heritage Minister has a long history of deflecting or outright ignoring anyone and everyone who offers opinions that differs from his own. In fact, he’s gone so far as to attack some and even considers anyone who disagrees with his approach as people perpetuating misinformation (ironic since it’s often him spreading misinformation in the first place). Case in point is the entire Bill C-10 debate.

From a political perspective, however, it does make a difference. If the only response from the fraudsultation is that everyone loves this approach and to implement everything said as quickly as possible, that gives ammunition to the opponents of the Internet. They can easily say that no one opposed this during the consultation, therefore, any criticism after the fact is fake and made up.

So, as a result, I went ahead and submitted my response despite knowing full well it is going to be completely ignored. The biggest reason is that it denies opponents of freedom of expression the talking point that the consultation was unanimous in that this approach should go forward as-is.

Since it is abundantly clear that the comments submitted will never be made public, I wanted to provide proof of what I submitted to the public. So, for anyone who is interested in what I submitted, here is a PDF version of my submission.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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