Posted on February 29, 2024

Liberals’ “Online Hate” Bill Contains $70K Fines for Speech and Life Imprisonment for Hate Crimes

Cosmin Dzsurdzsa, True North, February 26, 2024

In a move aimed at curbing the spread of what it terms “online hate,” the Liberal government of Canada has revealed its plan, including hefty fines for online speech and stringent punishment including up to life imprisonment for hate crimes.

The centrepiece of this initiative is the proposed Online Harms Act, details of which were unveiled during a technical briefing released to reporters on Monday.

Among the categories of harmful content identified in the act are materials that incite violent extremism or terrorism, promote violence, or foment hatred.

The bill will include amendments to the Criminal Code aimed at addressing hate crimes more effectively. The Online Harms Act, also known as Bill C-63 was tabled by Liberal Minister of Justice Arif Virani in the House of Commons on the same day.

These amendments include the introduction of a standalone hate crime offence applicable across all criminal offences, with penalties extending up to life imprisonment.

Maximum punishments for existing hate propaganda offences are also set to be increased substantially.

“New standalone hate crime offence that would apply to every offence in the Criminal Code and in any other Act of Parliament, allowing penalties up to life imprisonment to denounce and deter this hateful conduct as a crime in itself,” the technical briefing explained.

The bill would also raise “the maximum punishments for the four hate propaganda offences from 5 years to life imprisonment for advocating genocide and from 2 years to 5 years for the others when persecuted by way of indictment.”


The text of the bill defines “content that foments hatred” as any content “content that expresses detestation or vilification of an individual or group of individuals on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination, within the meaning of the Canadian Human Rights Act, and that, given the context in which it is communicated, is likely to foment detestation or vilification of an individual or group of individuals on the basis of such a prohibited ground.‍”


Amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act will let anybody file complaints against persons posting so-called hate speech with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. If found guilty, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal can order those found to violate the government’s definition of hatred with fines up to $70,000 and takedown orders for content.


The Liberals have pledged to reintroduce Section 13 which deals with “communication of hate speech” over the internet.


Prior to the bill’s unveiling, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre said he would oppose the law, accusing the government of using the issue to legislate censorship and infringe Canadians’ free speech.