Ottawa expands consultations on foreign interference, says registry widely supported – National

Respondents to a public consultation were in favor of creating a transparency register on foreign influence, but stressed the need to clarify how it would work, the federal government said on Friday.

A recently published summary of the consultation states that participants wanted a register that appropriately defined who should register and clarified what fell within the scope of activities covered.

Following a wave of media reports about allegations of foreign interference, Public Safety Canada announced a consultation in March on how Canada could implement a foreign influence transparency registry.

States can intervene to advance foreign political goals and employ people to act on their behalf without revealing their ties to the foreign state.

Some believe that requiring these people to officially register with the government they are trying to influence, with the possibility of fines or even prison time for non-compliance, can make these transactions more transparent.

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The consultation summary, released on Friday, said respondents supported financial and criminal sanctions, as well as “adequate enforcement capabilities” to ensure compliance.

They also stressed that a register should, wherever possible, avoid excessive administrative burden for registrants, the summary adds.

Although those surveyed “were mostly in favor” of creating a registry, many said it was just one tool to counter foreign interference.

The summary report is an overview of comments from more than 1,000 online respondents and more than 80 key stakeholder groups, as well as public comments in Canadian media.

The summary said stakeholders urged the government to undertake “structural and cultural reform” and other legislative amendments in the area of ​​national security, continue its outreach program to communities threatened by foreign interference and to allocate additional resources for the enforcement of existing legislation against foreign interference. .

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With a view to other measures, the government announced Friday that it was beginning new consultations on possible amendments to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, which governs Canada’s spy services, as well as to the Criminal Code, the Security of Information Act and the Canada Evidence Act. .

“Engaging with individuals and communities most affected by threats of foreign interference is essential to ensure that a broad range of perspectives and expertise are considered when developing measures reinforced,” the government said in a statement.

It is accepting submissions online until February 2 via a consultation web page.

“In addition to online public consultations, the government will also seek input from experts, stakeholders and community groups through roundtable discussions over the coming weeks and months.

As the threat of foreign interference evolves, Canada’s response must also evolve, the statement added.

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“The Government of Canada continues to consider new and innovative ways to improve measures currently in place and explore new approaches to keep pace with the evolving threat environment.

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