Rex Murphy on COVID-19: The power to censor speech and other great ideas from our Liberal overlords – National Post

If there is one positive thing that can be said about this terrible plague were enduring, it is that now and then, it gives the Trudeau government some really, really great ideas.

Sure it was only a couple of weeks ago that the Liberals came up with the idea that they a minority in Parliament, remember should give themselves the power to tax and spend for the next two years, without having to get parliamentary approval. It was a truly brilliant idea, except that it ignored the fact that approving government spending is one of the most important functions of Parliament. Take away its authority over spending and the House of Commons might just as well be any old bingo hall, or with a little imaginative renovation, a one-of-a-kind Costco store.

Now, compliments of Privy Council President Dominic LeBlanc, we learned that the Liberal government is contemplating legislation to make it an offence to, as a CBC report put it, knowingly spread misinformation that could harm people. In plain language, this government is openly thinking of making itself the official censor of what can and cannot be said about COVID-19. Pure brilliance again, dont you agree?

Well, actually, no. Dont even think of it. Better still, to borrow a phrase from Greta Thunberg: how dare you? There is already a government that has that power, and in some cases brutally exercises it. That is the government of the Communist Party of China.

And what has it done with that power? It barred telling the truth about COVID-19, and instead told lies about it. On the where it happened, when it happened, how it happened and how it spread, the Chinese government confounded, confused and lied about a plague that has now hobbled the whole planet. And China officially reprimanded the doctor who initially tried to warn people about the coronavirus, and who, with dread irony, actually died from it. (A postmortem apology followed from the government. That surely helped.) Admire the Chinese government if thats your thing, but on this subject, it is not an example to be followed.

So, lets tap this serpent of an idea on its little head before its fangs emerge and it develops a real appetite. The problem with government having control over what is said and written, completely aside from it being the utter contradiction of a liberal democracy, is that governments especially on a matter such as this pandemic are simply not competent enough to know what is right and what is wrong.

What is required for a government to pass a law against misinformation? To begin with, it presumes an infallible authority thats able to make judgments on what is, or is not, correct information. Even worse, it presumes the government has the ability to make judgments on a matter that, incontestably, is not yet fully understood by anybody.

This virus is new. The investigation of its nature, transmission, the best policies to confront it, the extent of the response to it, even the nature of the response all of these elements are, at best, in an incomplete and early stage of understanding.

Experts have varying degrees of skill and knowledge. If experts disagree, which happens often, will some of them be silenced? In actuality, a divergence of opinions can be seen as a path to the full truth emerging. But this cannot happen if the government gags those who may seem to be wrong at the present moment.

On the purely political front, there are equal objections to giving government censorship powers. Governments take to extensions of their power like bears to honey. The more power they get, the more they believe they alone should exercise it. Power swells the ego. Add more power, and if you follow the analogy, a little balloon soon thinks its the Hindenburg. And a government swollen with power does not like other voices.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau barred the leader of the Opposition from joining talks with other opposition leaders because, in Trudeaus own memorable words, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer disqualified himself from constructive discussions with his unacceptable speech earlier today.

Yet it is not for Trudeau, or any other prime minister, to determine what is acceptable speech from his constitutionally positioned critic, the leader of the Opposition. Nor is it proper for this minority government, which has had enough struggles of its own over misinformation on masks, on screening at airports, on our relative security from the pandemic to decide what the rest of us can, and cannot, say or write about this unique crisis.

National Post

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Rex Murphy on COVID-19: The power to censor speech and other great ideas from our Liberal overlords - National Post

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