Government introduces legislation to counter foreign interference

May 6, 2024

Ottawa, Ontario

Today, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs, and the Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced the introduction Bill C-70, An Act respecting countering foreign interference.

Bill C-70 proposes to update existing laws to better equip the government to detect, disrupt, and protect against foreign interference threats against all people in Canada, including members of diaspora, marginalized or otherwise vulnerable communities. This includes proposed changes to the Security of Information Act, the modernization of the 40-year-old Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, and the sabotage offence in the Criminal Code. It also proposes amendments to the Canada Evidence Act to establish a standardized and streamlined regime for handling sensitive information in administrative proceedings in the Federal Court of Canada.

The CSIS Act is old and predates the modern internet.  Amendments would address growing gaps caused by evolving threats and technological advancements Safeguards have been built in and are strong – the legislation was developed to ensure that CSIS activities comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Proposed warrant powers, while new to the ­CSIS Act, are not new tools; they are modelled on powers routinely relied on by Canadian law enforcement and intelligence agencies in other democracies.­ The threshold for accessing these tools is still high.

This bill also introduces the Foreign Influence Transparency and Accountability Act (FITAA), which creates a Foreign Influence Transparency Registry. Overseen by an independent Foreign Influence Transparency Commissioner, the Registry would promote transparency from people who advocate on behalf of a foreign principal (including a foreign state or state-owned business) and accountability from those who would do so in non-transparent ways. Under this proposed framework, individuals or entities who enter into an arrangement with a foreign principal and undertake activities to influence a government or political process in Canada would be required to publicly register these activities.

This legislation has been informed by the input received during the public consultations on foreign interference to ensure that it aligns with our national values, captures a wide range of expertise, perspectives, views and opinions, and respects Canadian fundamental rights and freedoms, including those protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting Canada and its residents from the threat of foreign interference, and to enhancing our collective resilience against malign foreign influence. This is an issue that impacts all aspects of society – and the government will continue to work with all partners, including provinces, territories, municipalities and Indigenous governments and partners, affected communities, academia and civil society, to collectively address foreign interference. This legislation will better enable the Government to detect, investigate, provide advice and get at the root source of foreign interference by enabling stronger enforcement.

Together, we can better protect Canadian values, principles, rights and freedoms from those who seek to harm them.

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