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Ottawa assesses possible actions against foreign interference

Photo: Sean Kilpatrick archives The Canadian Press Justice Marie-Josée Hogue listened to the appearance of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a witness at the public inquiry into foreign interference in federal electoral processes and democratic institutions, in Ottawa, April 10, 2024. A federal inquiry into foreign interference has yet to submit its first report, but the Liberal government is already exploring plans to overhaul a series of national security laws and procedures.

The Canadian Press in Ottawa

Posted at 9:06 p.m.

  • Canada

A federal inquiry into foreign interference has yet to submit its initial report, but the Liberal government is already advancing plans to overhaul a series of national security laws and procedures.< /p>

In two new reports, the government says recent consultations revealed general support for measures to address foreign interference, as well as some concerns about the potential effects on vulnerable communities.

Ottawa is considering the creation of new foreign interference offenses under the Information Security Act, as well as modernizing the sabotage offense in Canada.

The changes could include making it a crime to take secret or covert action for the benefit of a foreign entity knowing that it would harm Canadian interests.

This offense would expand the scope of the current information security law, which currently concerns threats or violence of foreign origin.

An example could be knowingly helping agents of a foreign state, who pose as tourists, to enter Canada, says the government. Another example would be circulating false information to discredit an opponent of a foreign government.

A recently released report indicates that there are divergent views on the precise way to combat foreign interference, but that there is a “general consensus on the need for increased efforts” to confront the threat.

Also read

  • MP Michael Chong asks Justice Hogue not to rush her conclusions
  • Justin Trudeau failed to act on interference allegations in 2019
  • What to remember from two weeks of public hearings on foreign interference

Strengthening intelligence

The government is also considering amending the legislation governing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS ), to expand the spy agency's ability to share information, gather intelligence and use data.

A key change would allow the CSIS to release information beyond the halls of government to build resilience against foreign interference.

Other new provisions would allow CSIS to require the retention of perishable information when it intends to seek a warrant, and to require the production of information that could advance its investigations.

Still other changes would improve the ability of spy services to collect foreign intelligence and gather and use data sets in a timely manner.

The Business Council of Canada wants CSIS to be able to share threat intelligence with businesses to help them take protective measures. He also urged the government to create a new agency that would ensure information is shared securely and widely across the Canadian economy.

Concerns are expressed

However, serious issues must be addressed, particularly those surrounding threats against individuals and interference with essential services that endanger people's health and safety, said the Coalition for International Civil Liberties Monitoring (ICCLC). ), based in Ottawa, which brings together 45 organizations including Amnesty International, the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Muslim Forum and several major unions.

“We are concerned that the overall approach to this issue so far has focused on greater securitization, increased powers for the police and intelligence agencies, and raised concerns about targeting and to the marginalization of certain communities and concern about a new “McCarthyism” focused on individuals with ties to particular countries, based on political divisions and not a real threat,” explains a statement from the coalition .

A report on consultations on the CSIS Act says participants “generally understood” the need for changes and agreed that existing gaps are problematic.

“While support was strong overall, some respondents expressed particular concerns about the importance of privacy and the need for monitoring and rigorous accountability. »

A previous public consultation had highlighted the idea of ​​creating a transparency register regarding foreign influence, but participants had stressed the need to clarify its operation. No action appears to have been taken in this direction by the government since.

A federal investigation into foreign interference is expected soon to produce a report on allegations of interference in the last two general elections.

Commissioner Marie-Josée Hogue's report will contain findings and recommendations that could prompt calls for additional changes to protect integrity Canadian electoral processes.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116