The government of Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has produced a bill, C-63, the Online Harms Act. It’s dangerous in many ways. One of the worst parts is the so-called “Peace Bond.” When I first read that term, I thought, “Oh, that’s nice; people will bond over peace.”

Not quite. I regularly read a Substack on Canadian politics called “The Line.” The authors seem to be left of center, but it’s sometimes it’s hard to tell, and I love that it’s hard to tell. It’s typically straight reporting with a little of their own views thrown in. Here’s what Jen Gerson, one of the regular writers for “The Line,” wrote yesterday about the Peace Bond:

The most controversial element of the bill — the peace bond — would allow a judge to subject an individual to up to one year of house arrest in order to prevent a hate crime or hate propaganda offence.

When I read that, I immediately thought of the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report. The premise of that movie is that the government tries to predict who will commit crimes and instead of waiting until they do so, throws them in prison before they can do so.

There are other bad parts of the bill also. Even if this bill is not made into law, the Canada that I grew up in is much less free than it was when I was young. If the bill does become law, that will be another huge step away from freedom.

I would go into more detail about the bill but Jen Gerson does an admirable job.

I do want to take issue with one thing she wrote:

The ability to screen for a legitimate complaint is only as good as the quality of the screener, and as Human Rights Tribunals are quasi-judicial kangaroo courts staffed by activists, that quality is not high. Look, I’m sure HRT commissioners are all lovely and well-intentioned individuals, but it’s impossible to peruse their profiles and fail to notice that this is a self-selecting crowd. To put it mildly. If you share their social gospel and fail to see the problem, I would invite you to imagine an HRT run by Jordan Peterson appointees and re-examine the value of this institution.

It’s that last sentence that I think is off. I’ve seen Jordan Peterson speak in person twice and have seen a number of his YouTube performances. What comes across, whatever his faults might be, is a man who believes passionately in free speech. So I think that if he appointed all the HRT members, he would choose people who also believe passionately in free speech. So they would do the analogue of what Fred Kahn did when he was chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board under President Carter. Before the deregulation law passed, Kahn looked at what the pre-deregulation law allowed him to do, and it was quite a lot. My impression at a distance–I was following it fairly closely– was that if an airline applied for a new route, Kahn approved. If it applied to reduce fares, Kahn approved. If it applied to raise fares, Kahn approved. Peterson’s appointees, if they hewed to the criteria that I think he would set, would be Kahn’s analogue: they would let freedom ring.

Now, it is possible that Gerson agrees with me that Peterson is a man of principle who favors free speech. She might justify her statement by pointing to what the “social gospel” people think about him That could work. Still, although I don’t follow Canadian politics as much as she does, I think she probably could have come up with an example of a right-winger who wants to crack down on free speech. The person I have in mind is Ezra Levant of Rebel News. While he has been a passionate defender of his own and his employees’ free speech, he recently went the other way, advocating deporting foreigners who think differently of Israel and Palestine than Levant does.

Here’s what I found on his website:

Foreign nationals are in our countries as guests. If they misuse that privilege to glorify terrorism and murder, they should be deported.

My guess is that not all of those whom he targets glorified terrorism and murder. Still, I’m sure that some of them did. And glorifying horrible acts, while despicable, is part of free speech.

I think mentioning him would be more effective than mentioning Jordan Peterson because the “social gospel” people would all understand how dangerous that would be.