Canadian government official uses threats of criminal prosecution to silence critics of ruling party politician
Aslam Nathoo(R) campaigning with Taleeb Noormohamed in 2019.
A senior Canadian government official on Thursday used threats of criminal prosecution to silence critics of a controversial ruling party politician.
Aslam Nathoo, director of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, hit out at social media users who mocked Taleeb Noormohamed, the candidate who narrowly won the riding of Vancouver Granville for the ruling Liberal Party.
It emerged during the campaign that Noormohamed had bought and sold 21 homes in the year since buying them since 2005.
News of Noormohamed’s housing rollover broke a day after the Liberal Party promised an anti-rollover tax in a bid to address Canada’s growing housing crisis.
Noormohamed’s behavior has been mocked on social media, with dozens of memes poking fun at liberal politicians’ real estate activities.
Nathoo, a former Liberal Party organizer and longtime friend of Noormohamed, appears to have taken offense to some social media posts that mocked Noormohamed for potentially evicting tenants.
A defamatory libel is a statement published, without legitimate justification or excuse, which is likely to damage the reputation of a person by exposing him to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or which is intended to insult the person of or about which it is published. Criminal Code S298(1)
— Aslam Nathoo (@AslamNathoo) October 1, 2021
“Do you have solid and irrefutable evidence to support this claim? Because otherwise you are definitely in the defamatory libel,” Nathoo replied to a user on Twitter. “A defamatory libel is a statement published, without lawful justification or excuse, which is likely to damage the reputation of a person by exposing him to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or which is intended to insult the person of or about which it is published. Penal Code S298(1)”
While one user deleted his tweets following threats from Nathoo, many others expressed contempt for Nathoo for trying to bully Noormohamed critics into silence.
“Trying to intimidate people is brutality. Your friend is a politician – get used to seeing 4 years of smutty, fake, speculative, bogus and sometimes dumb SATIRE,” one Vancouver Granville voter wrote. “But don’t try to intimidate us voters. We have a right to know if Taleeb has kicked Canadians out of their homes.”
This latest incident involving Canadian government officials silencing Liberal Party critics comes even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prepares to move forward with a series of controversial bills that critics say will lead to the Internet censorship in Canada.
“The proposed approach does not strike an appropriate balance between addressing online harms and protecting freedom of expression,” wrote University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist in his presentation to the government consultation on bills.
“The proposed approach also threatens to harm the very groups it purports to protect. Without full due process and with clear incentives to remove content, there are real fears that the rules will be used to target BIPOC communities and vulnerable groups,” Professor Geist warned. “These groups could be reduced to silence by a process that is weaponized by hatemongers with their voices suppressed due to ill-conceived rules that lack adequate due process.
“The government should ask a simple question about many of its proposals: Would Canadians be comfortable with the same measures implemented in countries like China, Saudi Arabia or Iran,” writes Geist. . “If the answer is no (as I think it should be), the government should think twice before risking its reputation as a leader in free speech.