The expert advisory group provided advice on the Government of Canada's approach to combatting harmful online content
OTTAWA, ON, June 15, 2022 /CNW/ - Today, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pablo Rodriguez, delivered opening remarks at the Public Policy Forum's Canadian Citizens' Assembly on Democratic Expression, taking place from June 15 to 19 in Ottawa. This year's Citizens' Assembly will hear viewpoints from a representative group of citizens on the core elements of a successful legislative and regulatory framework on online safety.
The Minister shared that the discussion of the Citizens' Assembly will build upon the excellent and rigorous work of the expert advisory group on online safety that was launched on March 30 and concluded its weekly meetings on Friday, June 10. Over the last ten weeks, experts brought their knowledge and experience to provide advice to the government on a legislative and regulatory framework on online safety. Worksheets and summaries of their deliberations were posted online, and Canadian Heritage will publish a final summary on the group's work, which will outline their findings and conclusions. This final summary will be available in the coming weeks.
The Minister encouraged the participants at the Citizens' Assembly to reflect on the outcome of the expert advisory group discussions on online safety in Canada as they are undertaking their own deliberations. He emphasized the importance of a diverse citizens' perspective as each participant in the Citizens' Assembly brings their own personal values, experiences and understanding of Canadian society to the table.
Throughout the summer, Canadian Heritage will hold more engagement activities that will seek further input from Canadians, Indigenous Peoples, and key stakeholders on harmful content online to help inform a legislative and regulatory response that supports an inclusive, free and safe online space for all Canadians.
Canadians should be able to express themselves freely and openly without fear of harm online. The issue of harmful content found online is both a critical and complex issue that calls for an approach that balances freedom of expression, protection of privacy, and online safety. Minister Rodriguez reiterated the government's commitment to get this right and to engage Canadians in a thorough, open, and transparent manner every step of the way on the road to tabling legislation as soon as possible.
"I would like to thank the expert advisory group for their work in studying online harms. Their advice is essential in crafting a legislative and regulatory framework to address this complex issue and help create a safe space online that protects all Canadians. I'd also like to thank the Citizens' Assembly for building on the work submitted by the expert advisory group. Freedom of expression is at the core of everything we do, and Canadians should be able to express themselves freely and openly without fear of harm online and our government is committed to taking the time to get this right. This issue is too important to not get right."
—Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez
The expert advisory group was mandated to provide advice on a legislative and regulatory framework that best addresses harmful content online. The group was composed of diverse experts and specialists from across Canada who contributed their knowledge and experience from a variety of fields:
Amarnath Amarasingam, Assistant Professor, School of Religion, Queen's University
Bernie Farber, Chair, Canada Anti-Hate Network
Chanae Parsons, Community Activist and Youth Engagement Specialist
David Morin, Full Professor, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Université de Sherbrooke
Emily Laidlaw, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Calgary
Ghayda Hassan, Professor of Clinical Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal
Heidi Tworek, Associate Professor, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and History, University of British Columbia
Lianna McDonald, Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Child Protection
Pierre Trudel, Professor, Faculty of Law, Université de Montréal
Signa A. Daum Shanks, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa
Taylor Owen, Beaverbrook Chair, Media, Ethics and Communications
Vivek Krishnamurthy, Samuelson-Glushko Professor of Law, University of Ottawa
Harmful content, such as hate speech, sexual exploitation of children and incitement to violence, is published online every day. There are no broad regulatory requirements in Canada that apply to platforms regarding their responsibilities in relation to such content.
As outlined in the 2021 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada is committed to fighting serious forms of harmful content online to protect Canadians and hold social media platforms and other online services accountable for the content they host.
The Canadian Citizens' Assembly on Democratic Expression examines the impact of digital technologies on Canadian society and is composed of randomly selected Canadians. Each Assembly issues a detailed report to the Canadian Commission on Democratic Expression, to the federal government, and to the Canadian public.
Some facts and figures on online violence in Canada:
62% of Canadians think there should be more regulation of online hate speech;
58% of women in Canada have been victims of violence online;
80% of Canadians support requirements to remove racist or hateful content within 24 hours;
1 in 5 Canadians have experienced some form of online hate;
Racialized Canadians are almost three times more likely to have experienced harmful behaviour online;
1,106% increase in online child sexual exploitation reports received by the RCMP National Child Exploitation Crime Centre between 2014 to 2019.
The Government's commitment to address harmful content online
What We Heard: The Government's proposed approach to address harmful content online
The Canadian Citizens' Assemblies on Democratic Expression
SOURCE Canadian Heritage
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