Jordan Peterson warns of ‘Orwellian Thought Crime’ in Online Harms Act


Jordan Peterson, one of Canada’s most distinguished and outspoken psychologists, has

Jordan Peterson (Wikipedia)

issued a stark warning regarding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s proposed Online Harms Act. According to Peterson, this legislation paves the way for what he terms an “Orwellian Thought Crime” to become entrenched in Canadian society.

Peterson, with his characteristic intellectual fervor, urged Canadians to awaken from their slumber, expressing his concerns on X last Thursday in response to a post by Trudeau’s Attorney General, Arif Virani, who was advocating for the Act.

“This is your federal Attorney General literally publicizing the fact that he wants to grant a new authority the power to arrest you on the suspicion that you might at some point commit an (undefinable) ‘hate crime,’” Peterson wrote. “This is not only the most authoritarian law ever contemplated in a western democracy but truly the most authoritarian law conceivable.”

Virani had posted on May 31, urging for a redefinition of hatred within the Criminal Code, coupled with severe penalties for violent acts of hate. He emphasized the necessity of preemptive measures to halt anticipated hate crimes, advocating for the Online Harms Act as the solution. Virani’s insistence that the Conservatives must support this bill was met with Peterson’s sharp critique.

Peterson highlighted the chilling implications of Virani’s proposal, noting that it does not merely flirt with the concept of Orwellian Thought Crime but actually embraces it, criminalizing even the mere possibility of such thoughts. He condemned Virani’s portrayal of the legislation as a moral imperative, suggesting that dissenters are vilified.

He called upon Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre to take note of Virani’s alarming declarations.

The Online Harms Act, also known as Bill C-63, aims to retroactively regulate internet speech, a move that could result in hefty fines and imprisonment for those found guilty of vaguely defined online “hate speech” infractions. Introduced by Virani in the House of Commons in February, the bill has faced immediate backlash from constitutional experts.

Tech mogul Elon Musk has condemned the bill as “insane,” particularly its retroactive targeting of internet speech.

The bill proposes the establishment of a Digital Safety Commission, a digital safety ombudsperson, and a Digital Safety Office, all tasked with policing internet content, including already illegal material such as child exploitation. However, it also seeks to govern “hate” speech online, employing broad definitions and severe penalties.

The bill’s provisions suggest dire consequences, including potential life imprisonment or significant fines for posts deemed “hate speech” based on gender, race, or other categories. It intends to amend existing laws, including the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act, under the pretext of targeting specific cases of internet content removal.

In addition to Bill C-63, other Trudeau administration laws impacting the internet, such as Bill C-11 (the Online Streaming Act), have been enacted. Bill C-11 mandates the regulation of online platforms like YouTube and Netflix to ensure compliance with government requirements, though its implementation has been delayed until late 2025. Another significant piece of legislation, the Online News Act, was passed in June 2023.

Should Bill C-63 become law, there remains a possibility that it and other internet-related bills from the Trudeau government could be rescinded. Recent polls indicate that the federal government, mired in scandals, has seen a significant decline in support. If an election were held today, the Conservative Party under Poilievre, who has vowed to overturn all of Trudeau’s internet censorship bills, would likely secure a majority in the House of Commons over Trudeau’s Liberals.