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Canada’s fake news laws face a Charter challenge. That’s a good thing

5 1 0
15.10.2019

Recently, the Canadian Constitution Foundation announced that it was launching a Charter challenge against new rules which criminalize the distribution of “fake news” during an election campaign. While most Canadians would probably agree about the importance of promoting honesty and integrity in communications, the new law goes far beyond targeting organized disinformation campaigns.

Rather, the criminal provisions apply to any communication made with an intent to impact an election, a standard that would include just about all political commentary, from a documentary series to a single tweet. Criminal penalties now apply to factual misstatements about anything from a candidate’s “professional qualifications” to their “membership in a group or association.” In other words, Canadians had better be careful before they claim a particular politician is a “socialist” or a part of the “alt-right,” since getting a statement like that wrong could lead to up to five years in prison. To make matters worse, the law contains no requirement that the speaker must know that the statement they are making is false.

Journalists have........

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