Pornhub: Canadian Ministers Appear Before Parliamentary Committee

Pornhub: Canadian Ministers Appear Before Parliamentary Committee

OTTAWA — Several members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal cabinet testified today before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics of Canada’s House of Commons, in the ongoing hearings targeting MindGeek and Pornhub.

The hearings, presided over by MP Chris Warkentin (Conservative, Alberta), were admittedly prompted by Nicholas Kristof’s December 4 New York Times article “The Children of Pornhub.” Religiously inspired organizations Exodus Cry and NCOSE have taken credit for inspiring Kristof’s editorial.

Over two-and-a-half hours, the members of the committee grilled Canada’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti, Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair and Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Brenda Lucki.

The members of the committee, representing all of Canada’s major political parties, continued a line of questioning from the previous hearings with an almost universal assumption of some of kind of criminal guilt on the part of MindGeek, Pornhub and its executives.

The first hearings featured a presentation by prominent U.S.-based anti-porn crusader Laila Haddad Mickelwait, mouthpiece for religious ministry Exodus Cry, and New York-based corporate litigator Michael Bowe, who has previously represented disgraced evangelist Jerry Falwell Jr. and Donald Trump. Bowe represents some of the women who are accusing MindGeek of participating in “human trafficking” and is trying to establish the company’s liability in order to bypass Section 230 in a potential civil trial.

Sex Worker Question Shut Down by Warkentin

An unusual incident occurred during the hearing today when MP Francesco Sorbara (Liberal, Vaughan—Woodbridge) brought up complaints from Canada’s sex worker advocates that the committee had prevented them from testifying about their concerns regarding the slanted proceedings.

“Our role as legislators is to protect all Canadians,” said Sorbara early on during the hearings, and asked the ministers if they were looking at legislation in places like New Zealand or Germany “to make sure we don’t drive work underground” and that “sex workers are protected.”

Warkentin — as Chairman — immediately cut him off, prevented the ministers from answering and claimed they were "out of time."

What makes this particularly strange is that throughout the rest of the meeting, particularly when MPs asked tendentious questions assuming MindGeek’s guilt, Warkentin repeatedly allowed the ministers to answer. The only exception he made was the one question about including sex worker voices.

Sorbara was not recognized during the following round of questions; throughout the remainder of the hearing, he did not attempt to repeat his question about sex workers.

Any Written Statement Will Be Accepted As Official Testimony

Much later, during a “point of order” exchange after the ministers had left, MP Hang Dong (Liberal, Don Valley North) finally returned to the issue of sex worker voices and asked Warkentin about complaints by sex work advocacy group STELLA that they had been prevented from testifying.

Warkentin, visibly nervous, claimed that “the committee has not determined future witnesses” and that it still needed to "make decisions."

“I would remind every person who thinks they have something to contribute,” Warkentin revealed, that “this committee has made a determination that we will accept all correspondence and it will be considered to be testimony.”

According to Warkentin, anybody who thinks that they have something to contribute to the matters discussed in the MindGeek/Pornhub hearings can turn in a written statement, which will then be entered on the record as official testimony.

“I haven’t heard of any witness that have their voice not heard,” Warkentin stated, even though several sex worker activists have contacted him publicly via his official social media.

XBIZ contacted MP Warkentin’s office asking who had scheduled Mickelwait and Bowe, and whether it was unusual to have foreign activists give testimony to Canadian Parliament to attack a Canadian business. We did not receive a reply.

MP Charlie Angus (NDP, Timmins/James Bay) — one of the most vocal inquisitors during the hearings and someone who has made it clear he has made up his mind that MindGeek and Pornhub are guilty of all the Exodus Cry-led accusations — vaguely added that “we did have a meeting” regarding witnesses and “we don’t discuss witnesses in public” and “we discussed it at the planning meeting.”

Angus, supposedly a “center-left” MP, has acted throughout the hearings in complete synchronization with far-right MP Arnold Viersen (Conservative, Alberta), Exodus Cry and NCOSE’s main ally and mouthpiece in the Canadian Parliament.

'If You Look Up Wikipedia!'

The three members of Trudeau’s cabinet deflected all the tendentious questions from several MPs — particularly Angus, Viersen and Shannon Stubbs (Conservative, Lakeland) — that asked for authorities to disregard proper procedure and assumption of innocence and “charge” MindGeek regardless of jurisdictional complexities.

In one of his tirades, Charlie Angus stated that MindGeek CEO Fares Antoon, a Canadian national, was building a house in an area of Montreal he called “Mafiaville,” a name that originated in right-wing British tabloids sensationalizing this story.

Angus also stated that regardless of corporate structure and law, MindGeek “is a Canadian company, subject to Canadian law.”

When the federal officials patiently explained that the matter is complex and that the actual location of servers is a key issue, Angus proudly retorted, “If you look up Wikipedia, you’ll see it says it is 'a private Canadian company.'"

More soberly, Viersen demanded that AG David Lametti “issue prosecutorial directives” to charge MindGeek for the Exodus Cry and NCOSE accusations and declared them guilty of “egregious offenses against women and children.”

The hearings will continue later this month.

To view today’s hearing in its entirety, click here.

Main Image: MP Arnold Viersen (Conservative, Alberta), main ally and mouthpiece of Exodus Cry and NCOSE in the Canadian Parliament.

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