The Conservatives took a well-deserved shot at Liberal MP Hedy Fry during Question Period on Wednesday.
On Tuesday during a Heritage Committee hearing into the future of local news, Fry wondered who would regulate what is reported in the Internet, “Anyone can publish anything,” she reportedly said.
Of course those with political memories stretching back more than a year or two were quick to point out Fry’s folly on Twitter pointing to her “crosses are burning as we speak” comments. In 2001, Fry famously stood in the House of Commons and exclaimed, "Mr. Speaker, we can just go to British Columbia, in Prince George, where crosses are being burned on lawns as we speak."
The outburst at committee prompted Conservative House Leader and MP for Regina, Andrew Scheer to rise and ask if the government was planning a crack down on free speech.
“Mr. Speaker,” Scheer said, “yesterday the Liberal chair of the heritage committee was awfully concerned that nobody was regulating the content of the Internet. As we speak, there is just a whole lot of Internet going on out there—what with the emails and the Google and the kids twittering. She is worried that “anyone can publish anything”. When Al Gore invented the Internet, he did it in a way that protected free speech.
We know that the Prime Minister has great admiration for dictatorships like China. Is the current government going to take a page from the original red book and start stifling free speech?”
Scheer’s comment about Al Gore inventing the internet was yet another shot at progressive pomposity, mocking Gore for claiming during an interview that he had a hand in inventing the internet. As for the Trudeau comment on China, that is something the Liberal leader actually said during a “ladies night” fundraiser in 2013.
Trudeau’s admiration for the “basic dictatorship” of China was heard and recorded by several media outlets but was only made public thanks to the now defunct Sun News Network being brave enough to point out Trudeau’s ludicrous comments.
In response to Scheer’s question, Heritage Minister Melanie Joly gave a long and rambling reply. In some fairness to Joly, her reply was interrupted several times by Conservative MPs laughing and heckling but I’m still not sure it makes much sense. See for yourself.
Hon. Mélanie Joly (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we understand the importance of technological changes and the culture that is in line with these technological changes, and that is why our government is committed to really looking into the opportunity of—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
The Speaker: Order, please. Let us settle down, folks. We want to hear the answer to that question. I know members are anxious to hear the answer. The hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage has the floor. We will have order.
Hon. Mélanie Joly: Clearly, Mr. Speaker, there is no issue with free speech in this House. We will launch public consultation on the digital shift in order to really see the opportunity, but not only that, to really understand the impact the internet may have on users and creators in general.