How Canada became a cauldron of authoritarianism

Now the woke Trudeau regime wants to punish people for ‘precrime’.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Free Speech Politics World

It seems Justin Trudeau isn’t only a dick – he also gets his ideas from one. Philip K Dick, to be precise. Trudeau’s government has proposed a new law that would give judges the power to put an individual under house arrest if they fear he might commit a hate crime. That’s right – might. It’s right out of The Minority Report, Dick’s 1956 dystopian tale of a future America in which a ‘Precrime’ police division uses intelligence from mutants known as ‘precogs’ to arrest people before they’ve committed an offence. Welcome to woke Canada, where Dickian nightmares come true.

It is courtesy of Bill C-63 that the pitiable citizens of Canada might soon find themselves languishing in court-ordered confinement despite having committed no crime. The bill is devoted to tackling ‘hate’ on the internet. As is always the case when officialdom puffs itself up and declares war on mean words online, it is riddled with draconianism. For example, the mad law, if passed, would allow people to file complaints (shorter version: snitch) to the Canadian Human Rights Commission if they spot ‘hate speech’ online. Those found guilty of this sin of making a nasty utterance could be ordered to pay victims up to $20,000 in compensation.

Imagine the levels of grift this would give rise to. The offence-seeking snowflakes of the phoney left would finally be able to monetise their hurt feelings. Call a ‘transwoman’ a fella and he (yes, he – sue me) could potentially drag you to the CHRC for a nice little payday. The law would incentivise complaint-making. Worse, it would foster self-censorship. Who would risk getting angry online, far less logging on when drunk to wind up the woke, when it’s possible they’ll have their pockets turned out by a misnamed Human Rights Commission so that some professional victim can be compensated for the pain of having seen a word or idea he doesn’t like?

It really is possible it will be ideas, not just blind hatred, that will be punished under C-63. The justice minister Arif Virani’s promise that speech that is ‘awful but lawful’ will not be censored, and that a ‘high threshold’ will have to be met before people are penalised for what they post, is not reassuring. After all, Canada’s a country in which entirely legit publications have found themselves under investigation by the Human Rights Commission just for publishing controversial matter. Maclean’s magazine had its collar felt by the human-rights overlords following a complaint from the Canadian Islamic Congress about an excerpt from a book by Mark Steyn. The CHRC also launched an investigation into Alphonse de Valk, a priest, after he raged with passion against same-sex marriage.

I’m not confident that a nation that has such an inquisitorial body, a body whose very description of itself as a ‘human rights’ commission is a brazen act of Orwellian deceit, will keep its promise of permitting the expression of ‘awful’ thoughts. So much is branded ‘hate speech’ these days – from correctly calling ‘transwomen’ men to saying Islam has a lot of dumb ideas – that it feels inevitable that the expression of fairly normal ideas that Canada’s woke regime just doesn’t like will get swept up in this crusade against ‘hate’. Indeed, under Canada’s C-16 gender-identity law, ‘deliberately misgendering’ a trans person is treated as a potential ‘violation’ of their human rights. I predict that C-63’s incentivising of snitching will cause an explosion in complaints of ‘misgendering’. Perhaps Canada will become a no-go zone for thoughtcriminals like JK Rowling.

But it is C-63’s proposal to introduce something like precrime into Canada that has caused most waves. The idea is that individuals who are talking shit online, especially if they’re aiming their invective at minority groups, could be ordered to stay indoors or to wear an electronic tag if a judge fears there could be an ‘escalation’ in their behaviour. Precrime, then. Dick’s idea made flesh. The newspaper headlines give a sense of how chilling this suggestion is, how headlong Canada’s descent into dystopia has become. ‘Justice minister defends house-arrest power for people feared to commit a hate crime in future’, says the Globe and Mail. Mate, when you’re defending the confinement of people who’ve broken no law, it’s surely time to stop and think.

In keeping with Canada’s Orwellian theme, these precrime confinements are referred to as ‘peace bonds’. In short, we’re riding roughshod over the first principle of justice – that no one should be punished unless they deviate from the law – in the name of ‘peace’. ‘War is peace’, said Big Brother. ‘Stripping an individual of his fundamental liberties is peace’, says Big Trudeau. Canada really has become a cauldron of authoritarianism. From using wartime emergency laws against protesting truckers to depriving protesters of their legally raised funds, from demonising the accurate description of a person’s sex to launching investigations into unwoke publications, truly Canada is at the forefront of woke tyranny.

Canada’s embrace of precrime is deeply disturbing, but isn’t it also in keeping with the tyrannical drift of our times? We’re all precriminals now. We’re all viewed by the priestly technocrats that rule over us as volatile creatures, a mob-in-waiting, one Daily Mail editorial away from becoming pitchfork-waving lunatics. There’s a precrime feel to so much of what woke officialdom does, whether it’s their stymying of public discussion about England’s grooming gangs or their ruthless war on offensive commentary online. In every case, it is a fear of future crime that animates them, a misanthropic dread that future hate-criminals lurk among us and might be ignited any minute now by some event or idea. Other states haven’t gone as far as Canada and actually proposed instituting precrime, but their rulers are nonetheless kept awake by visions of the as yet uncommitted crimes of the dim, dangerous throng.

Let’s be clear: the Western elites’ war on ‘hate’ is a war on freedom. From Canada to Ireland to Scotland, and all over Europe, laws are being enacted or proposed that would punish what is fundamentally an emotion, a thought, a feeling: hate. My view is that no emotion or thought or utterance should ever be punished – only action; only actual behaviour that harms person or property. I’m with Émile Zola. ‘Hatred is sacred’, he wrote. ‘It is the indignation of strong and powerful hearts, and the militant scorn of those who are angered by stupidity and mediocrity.’ ‘There is no crime in having one’s own opinion, and the freedom to express it should be absolute’, Zola said. Can someone tweet that at Justin Trudeau? Not a Canadian citizen, ideally – we wouldn’t want you to be arrested.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Free Speech Politics World


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