On December 13, 2019, Justin Trudeau sent out a series of mandate letters to his newly appointed Cabinet ministers, outlining their policy objectives for the upcoming session of Parliament. In several of these letters, Trudeau urged initiatives to combat online hate and counter hate speech. Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault was instructed to develop new social media guidelines requiring all platforms to remove hate speech within 24 hours, and Minister of Justice David Lametti was told to look into measures to support victims.
The letters were sent amidst global concerns over the growth of alt-right extremism and fears over the potential of the Internet as a tool to promote hatred. Last year the United Nations launched its Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech, which argued: “Hate speech is a menace to democratic values, social stability and peace.” Canada’s Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights conducted its own study on online hate, and its June 2019 report recommended that Ottawa formulate a clearer definition of what constitutes “hate,” work to better track its spread online, and develop a legal remedy for victims of hate speech.