Following the murder of a Muslim family, which police claimed was motivated by Islamophobia, Canada will soon disclose steps to combat internet extremism, a cabinet minister said on Wednesday.
Four members of the family were murdered on Sunday in London, Ontario, 200 kilometres (124 miles) south-west of Toronto, when a pickup vehicle hopped the kerb and ran them over. Four charges of first-degree murder have been filed against a 20-year-old male.
“Our government is continuing to do what is necessary, obviously working with the social media platforms, to combat online hate and we’ll have more to say on specific measures in the coming weeks,” Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc told a news conference. He did not give details.
There is no evidence that the suspect, Nathaniel Veltman, had any connection to hate groups.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, facing complaints from religious and ethnic communities that Ottawa has not done enough to combat bigotry and racism, promised on Tuesday to intensify efforts to fight far-right groups, in part by cracking down on online extremism.
“We don’t yet know all the causes or reasons, but there is probably an element of online incitation to violence,” Trudeau told a virtual conference on digital governance on Wednesday.
In January, he asked Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault to work with Public Safety Minister Bill Blair “to take action on combating hate groups and online hate.” Neither minister’s office was immediately available for comment.
Guilbeault has said for months that legislation to address online hate is coming. But even if the government introduces a bill, it has no chance of being adopted by Parliament before legislators rise for their summer break later this month.
In February, Canada named the far-right Proud Boys a terrorist entity, saying it posed an active security threat.
Stephanie Carvin, an assistant professor and security specialist at Carleton University in Ottawa, believes that banning additional extremist organisations is the most likely choice in the short term.
“The problem with targeting these ideologically motivated violent extremist groups is that they just resurface,” she said over the phone, advocating for policies that target the far-right movement as a whole.
Another critical component, she added, was addressing the role of social media platforms and ensuring they stick to their own regulations on various types of hate speech.