Expert warns about move to impose life sentences for disfavored speech

 March 14, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

Canada doesn't have the First Amendment which protects Americans' speech, although its reach certainly has been curtailed by recent censorship schemes implemented by the Biden administration.

And it shows, as a new proposal being considered by lawmakers there could provide a life prison sentence for speech that someone else finds offensive.

The possibility has raised concerns for experts, including George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley.

He's not only testified before Congress on constitutional issues but has represented members in court. And he's written the coming book "The Indispensable Right: Free Speech in an Age of Rage."

He writes now about the "steady criminalization of speech" in Canada, following the "unrelenting attacks by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau."

"Now the Canadian parliament is moving toward a new change that would allow the imposition of life imprisonment on those who post views deemed supportive of genocide," he explained.

"With a growing movement calling Israel’s war in Gaza 'genocide,' the potential scope of such a law is readily apparent. That appears to be its very draw for anti-free speech advocates in the country."

It is the "Online Harms Act" that now is pending.

It not only includes a possible penalty of life in prison, he explained, "It also increases the penalty for the willful promotion of hatred (a dangerously ill-defined crime) from two years to five years."

He warned, too, "There is also a chilling option for house arrest if a judge believes a defendant 'will commit' an offense. In other words, if a judge thinks that a citizen will be undeterred and try to speak freely again."

Turley's warning was stark: "Today the rationale is genocide. However, once the new penalties are in place, a host of other groups will demand similar treatment for those with opposing views on their own causes."

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