Yesterday we learned that President Joe Biden has put his plans for a “Disinformation Governance Board” on pause. The supposed expert on “disinformation” who was going to lead this initiative, Nina Jankowicz, shared the news: “With the Board’s work paused and its future uncertain, and I have decided to leave [Department of Homeland Security] to return to my work in the public sphere.”
Biden’s now-paused censorship agenda resembles what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been working on for over a year: a government apparatus designed to give bureaucrats control over what citizens can say on the internet. In practical terms, that means the political opinions expressed by ordinary people on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube could be deemed problematic by the government and removed. Similar to Trudeau, Biden argues this is necessary because ordinary citizens are allegedly spreading “disinformation” on social media platforms.
Biden’s plans began to falter at the point of actually giving such absurd power over to one person. Upon naming Jankowicz the head of the initiative, the White House invited enormous scrutiny. Naturally, the American people wondered why they should trust this one person to decide what constitutes “disinformation” online. It turned out that Jankowicz, like any other person who might be selected for such a role, has her own political biases. And, according to the New York Post editorial board, Jankowicz has her own history of spreading false stories online.
The Trudeau Liberals have vowed to create a similar role to Jankowicz’s now-abandoned position. They’ve called it a Digital Safety Commissioner. Right now, that’s an idea on paper that current heritage minister Pablo Rodriguez is trying to sell to Canadians. But perhaps a practical lesson for Trudeau to take from Biden is that it’s going to be very difficult to fill that role with a person who the public will trust.
Think about it: Is there a single Trudeau Liberal who you want to decide what you can say on social media? I’d bet even most non-partisan liberals are uncomfortable with that thought.
This is an inherent problem with government overreach. When politicians want too much power in the hands of one bureaucrat, there is no right person for the job. Because no position with such power should exist.
Canadians who care about freedom are tempted by despair these days. It seems like there isn’t enough being done to push back against the Trudeau Liberals, especially now that they’ve made a deal with the NDP to secure their power until 2025. But what has transpired with Biden’s censorship agenda ought to give us at least a bit of optimism that Canadian advocates against internet censorship, such as former CRTC vice chair Peter Menzies and University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, might make a difference in our country, too.
Jamil Jivani is an award-winning lawyer and author, who serves as the Government of Ontario’s first-ever advocate for Community Opportunities. He also leads a youth-focused research nonprofit, Road Home Research & Analysis, which is supported by the Pinball Clemens Foundation, and hosts a weekly radio show, “Tonight with Jamil Jivani” on Newstalk 1010.