Clamping down on foreign meddling

The federal government is hoping some new laws can turn foreign interference into a foreign concept.

What happened: The feds proposed a set of laws and measures to counteract the growing threat of foreign interference from hostile states like China and Russia. It includes: 

  • The creation of a public mandatory registry for individuals undertaking “influence activities” on behalf of a foreign entity and a commissioner to oversee it.

  • New rules allowing CSIS to share sensitive information beyond the government to better communicate with potential targets of interference.

  • Adding new offences to the Criminal Code for foreign targeting of essential infrastructure and the sale or possession of devices used for sabotage.

Catch-up: The bill comes three days after the first report from the public inquiry into foreign election interference, which found that meddling didn’t affect the final outcome of the 2019 and 2021 federal elections — though it may have swayed individual races in certain ridings.

  • One such instance was the headline-grabbing accusation that students with ties to China were bused in to vote in the Liberal leadership election for Don Valley North.

Why it matters: The report warned that meddling “may become more severe in the future,” which could undermine public confidence in Canadian elections, and even democracy itself in the country. In proposing new rules, the government is acting to prevent such a fate.—QH