Liberals launch consultations to create registry of foreign agents

Liberals are launching consultations to create a register of foreign agents

Justin Tang The Canadian Press The consultation announced Friday by Minister Marco Mendicino will run from now until May 9. It will include a virtual portal on the Department of Public Security website.

Minister of Public Safety, Marco Mendicino, is launching public consultations to eventually create a registry on foreign influences, and thus help prevent other countries from interfering in Canadian affairs.

< p>The Liberals have been bombarded with questions for the past few weeks about allegations, published in the media, that the government failed to act after being informed that China was trying to interfere in the last two federal elections.

“There are few greater challenges facing us than foreign interference,” Mendicino said Friday morning during a press conference on Parliament Hill. As a government, we need to keep our eyes wide open.”

Mendicino said the consultation, which he hopes all Canadians will participate in, will begin Friday and run until May 9. It will include a virtual portal on the Department of Public Security's website.

As part of such a registry, individuals who act on behalf of a foreign state to advance its objectives should disclose their links with the government that employs them.

The idea of ​​a register, which already exists in Australia and the United States, is to make these interactions more transparent, with the possibility of fines or even prison sentences in case of non-compliance.

Mr. Mendicino said late last year that the Liberal government wanted to hear from experts and the public, including members of affected communities, about creating a registry.

He n ', however, provided no details Friday on when a registry would be operational, saying it needed to take the time to get it right.

One of the goals of the consultation is “to broadly engage all Canadians in a conversation about how to protect our institutions from foreign interference in an inclusive manner that respects the diversity of our population and, of course, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” the Minister noted.

Chinese-born International Trade Minister Mary Ng said it was important to create the registry in a way that does not fanning anti-Asian racism.

“We have a great responsibility to ensure that we do not unfairly or unintentionally create a cloud that hangs over an entire community that feels incredibly uncertain and who felt the discomfort of the unconscious biases that became very conscious at the start of the pandemic,” she said alongside Mr. Mendicino.

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  • Chinese interference: difficult to expel diplomats, says Mélanie Joly
  • Foreign interference: a mouse in slow motion to face the Chinese elephant — Marie Vastel's analysis