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Bickering in Ottawa over how to protect children on the Internet

Photo: Sean Kilpatrick The Canadian Press Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the House of Commons, February 14

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau intends to lead a battle to abandon the idea of ​​verifying the age of fans of pornographic websites, which is supported by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, but also by a majority of federal deputies.

The Liberal leader directly attacked Thursday the bill drafted by Quebec senator Julie Miville-Dechêne, which proposes to limit young people's access to sexually explicit material by forcing age verification on certain websites. The day before, Pierre Poilievre had reiterated his support for this idea.

“[Pierre Poilievre] suggests that adults give their ID cards, and personal information, to questionable sites, or create a digital ID to surf the Internet as they do. 'hear,' chanted Justin Trudeau from Nova Scotia, in an impromptu speech in English launched as his press briefing was over.

Bill S-210 received much broader support than just Pierre Poilievre's troops. After the Senate, it was supported at second reading by the Bloc Québécois, the New Democratic Party (NDP), the Green Party and 15 Liberal elected officials. This support is more than sufficient to have the text adopted in Parliament, given the context of a minority government.

The promise of a law

Never mind, Justin Trudeau announced the tabling “soon” of his own bill on online harm. Such legislation was promised within the first 100 days of the Liberal mandate, which began in fall 2021. Among the many twists and turns that delayed its tabling is the change in the responsible minister, from Heritage to Justice.< /p>

Justin Trudeau insinuated Thursday that what his government is proposing is more “serious” than S-210. He gave some hints about its contents, which he presents as his way of “keeping kids safe online.” This will include measures against child sexual exploitation, online bullying and “distress related to mental illness experienced by young people”.

Without having been able to read the liberal text, since it has not yet been revealed, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre said on Wednesday that the government intends to label as hate speech “all those who criticize its program radical in matters of childhood,” which he later called “woke.” Mr. Poilievre then launched into a long accusatory tirade against Justin Trudeau, called a “practicing racist” who has “hate in his heart” and whose contribution to the fight against racism should be limited to reflecting on the reasons having pushed people to paint their faces at costume events in the past.

A debate that has become partisan

“It’s not Pierre Poilievre’s bill, it’s Julie Miville-Dechêne’s bill, who is an independent senator! » reacted the author of the bill, stung when Le Devoir informed her of the Prime Minister's criticisms. The senator insists that her legislative proposal does not create a threat to privacy since it allows the age verification mechanism — a technical question — to be specified by regulation. Other countries have adopted the approach she advocates.

“No one in the world has found anything better than age verification so that children cannot have access to millions and millions of images, often violent and degrading,” he says. -she falls at the end of the line. “‘I don’t understand why the government wants to defeat this bill. »

The senator says she is optimistic to see the text adopted even if the Prime Minister opposes it, but would also welcome its content being recovered by the promised liberal bill.

S-210 must still be examined by the Standing Committee on Public Security and National Security this spring, which could modify it, before returning to Parliament to be put to a vote again. In an email to Devoir, the Bloc Québécois also reiterated its support for the text.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116