As a science fiction fan, I remember how excited I was when Philip K. Dick’s 1956 novella was made into a Steven Spielberg movie, “Minority Report,” starring Tom Cruise.

In the world of 2054, Cruise heads an elite law enforcement unit called “Precrime.” It was called this because they arrest people “precognitively” — that is, before a crime is committed or even thought of by the predicted future perpetrator. In the film, released in 2002, the process is corrupted to snare the innocent, and Cruise must right this wrong.

I thought of this movie when I read about legislation proposed in Canada, bill C-63. Ostensibly a bill about online safety and fighting AI-generated deepfake porn — who could be against any of that? — the bill’s details are a chilling read. Proponents intend to create the first “precrime” enforcement established by a democratic country. Indeed, one of the ways we used to be able to tell an authoritarian government from a democratic government is that authoritarian governments are masters at identifying people they consider “precriminals” and locking them up in gulags for decades. Democratic countries didn’t do that, or try to. Until Canada, that is.

Let me just pause to say that I grew up in a time when most people saw Canadians as the sensible North Americans, while Americans, in contrast, could be somewhat, well, batty. That narrative has shifted 180 degrees. Under the government of Justin Trudeau, we’ve seen an unconstitutional response to a truckers’ strike that involved preventing the truckers (and anyone who contributed to their cause) from accessing their own checking accounts. We’ve seen a galloping rate of increase in euthanasia due to constantly expanding access for people who are not terminally ill. We’ve seen the Canadian government use new anti-discrimination legislation (bill C-16) to police pronouns.

But Canada would take things to a whole new level with bill C-63′s creation of precrime. Let’s suppose you hold an unpopular opinion, such as a certain transgender woman is male. You need to be careful because part of the bill would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to provide that “it is a discriminatory practice to communicate or cause to be communicated hate speech by means of the Internet or any other means of telecommunication in a context in which the hate speech is likely to foment detestation or vilification of an individual or group of individuals on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.”

Further, the bill authorizes the Canadian Human Rights Commission to deal with complaints and authorizes the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to investigate and “order remedies.”

In other words, stating your opinion online might be hate speech, and if it is so judged, it would be punishable by between five years and life in prison. Yes, life in prison for online hate speech is a possibility under bill C-63.

Lest you think there is no way that posting an opinion online contrary to government policy would see you hauled up before a Canadian judge, consider that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Canada’s Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre believe that the growing parental rights movement is a “violent threat” to Canada and that the supporters of “parental rights” and the “anti-gender movement” are “likely connected to neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups.” Your belief in, say, biological reality could easily be judged the product of hate.

But that’s not all. If a person “fears on reasonable grounds” that you will commit such an offense in the future, even if you have not yet done so, they may make a complaint to a provincial court judge and they have the right to ask that their identity not be revealed to you. If the judge decides the informant has “reasonable grounds to fear” your opinion (i.e., hate speech) will be communicated online in the future, then the judge may decide that, for a period of one to two years, you might have to wear an electronic monitoring device, be confined to your home for set periods of time, be prohibited from being in certain locations, and be prohibited from using alcohol and drugs. In addition, you may be required to pay $20,000 apiece to any complainant(s) (whose identity you cannot know), on top of $50,000 to the government. The justice minister of Canada added that you might also be prohibited from accessing the internet, as well.

Remember — this is all possible even if you have not posted anything online yet; it is based on the “reasonable fear” that you will post something. This is “precrime.”

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“The prospect of jail or house arrest for distasteful speech should terrify everyone, but, more than that, the new laws will have a silencing effect on so many people,” says Meghan Murphy, a Canadian who is critical of gender ideology. It’s hard to disbelieve her. Bill C-63 is meant to completely silence those who think outside the accepted narrative.

Biological realism being labeled hate is, of course, a trend creeping into the United States as well. An Oregon woman was recently convicted of a hate crime after she shoved a transgender woman in a women’s restroom, told the person to “get out” and “told her she ‘was a man’ and should use the other toilet,” according to a report in The Oregonian.

More encouraging, across the Atlantic, when a misgendering complaint was made to the U.K. police against author J.K. Rowling, the police announced that the incident did not “meet the criminal threshold.” But neither of these cases involved the sinister “precrime” element seen in Canada’s proposed legislation.

Canada is headed in a very troubling direction; let us hope bill C-63 does not pass. As “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin so aptly put it, “When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”

Valerie M. Hudson is a university distinguished professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and a Deseret News contributor. Her views are her own.