Trudeau Liberals to create foreign agent registry after years of delay

‘The Opposition parties have been calling for many months for a foreign influence transparency registry,’ Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc told reporters. ‘Our hope is they will work with us so we can put it in place.’

Trudeau Liberals to create foreign agent registry after years of delay
The Canadian Press / Justin Tang
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“We intend to proceed quickly,” said Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc. Cabinet expected universal approval in Parliament, he added.

Bill C-70, An Act Respecting Countering Foreign Interference, would mandate the disclosure of “foreign principals,” defined as any “foreign economic entity, foreign entity, foreign power or foreign state.”

It threatens five years in jail and a $5 million for any principal lobbying for any person, corporation, union or association situated abroad, including “a service or use of a facility.”

Prohibited activities include undisclosed lobbying, social media posting, and gift distribution, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

“The Opposition parties have been calling for many months for a foreign influence transparency registry,” LeBlanc told reporters. “Our hope is they will work with us so we can put it in place.”

Conservative MP Tom Kmiec did not mince words when stating he hopes the registry is exhaustive. “It should be very detailed,” he told reporters. “That is what I want to see.”

A 2023 RCMP briefing note concurred that greater disclosure would be useful. “A foreign agent registry would be valuable for Canadians as a registrable activity would ensure foreign actors undertaking certain activities are operating in the interests of the Canadian public,” said the note Ministerial Briefing.

Bill C-70 would specifically outlaw “deceptive conduct” by foreign agents in “the exercise of a democratic right” such as voting. 

“I want to see full names, full sources, legal names of entities giving them money,” said MP Kmiec. “If it’s an entity connected to a government, I want to see that government listed,” he added.

“Why is it important?” asked a reporter. “Most of our Western allies have one,” replied Kmiec.

The United Kingdom last July 11 enacted its Foreign Influence Registration Scheme, while Australia in 2018 introduced a Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act to track foreign agents. 

The United States in 1938 introduced a Foreign Agents Registration Act, originally intended to track Nazi sympathizers. It has 519 registrants, which comprise mostly of Washington lobbyists working on behalf of Canadian enterprise and governments.

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