Legislation to counter foreign interference receives Royal Assent

OTTAWA, ON, June 21, 2024 /CNW/ – The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs, and the Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, highlighted that Bill C-70, An Act respecting countering foreign interference, received Royal Assent on June 20, 2024.

Bill C-70 bolsters Canada’s ability to detect, disrupt and counter foreign interference threats to all people in Canada, including members of diaspora communities, through a series of new measures and legislative amendments to national security and criminal laws. It brings the most significant update to the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service Act (CSIS Act) since the Act was first brought into force in 1984. The Bill also modernizes foreign interference offences in the Security of Information Act and the sabotage offence in the Criminal Code. Finally, Bill C-70 also made changes to the Canada Evidence Act to establish a standardized regime for handling sensitive information in administrative proceedings.

The Bill sets out the framework for a new Foreign Influence Transparency Registry, which will be administered by an independent Foreign Influence Transparency Commissioner. The coming into force date of the Foreign Influence Transparency and Accountability Act (FITAA), which creates the Foreign Influence Transparency Registry, will be set by the Governor-in-Council in the coming months.

The changes to the CSIS Act come into force immediately. Changes to the Security of Information Act, the modernization of the sabotage offence in the Criminal Code, and amendments to the Canada Evidence Act will come into force 60 days after Royal Assent, on August 19, 2024.

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting Canada and individuals in this country from the threat of foreign interference, and to enhancing our collective resilience against malign foreign influence. Together, we can better protect Canadian values, principles, rights and freedoms from malicious actors threatening to harm them.

Quote

“Our intelligence and law enforcement personnel work around the clock to protect Canadians. With Bill C-70 becoming law, they will now be better equipped to detect, disrupt, and counter foreign interference and take action against those seeking to harm our way of life. Thank you to all parliamentarians who worked with us to ensure the swift passage of this legislation.”

– The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions, and Intergovernmental Affairs

“We now have measures in place that will better protect people in Canada, including diaspora communities, from the threats of foreign interference. These reforms to our criminal and national security laws are key to our country’s safety, security, and democracy. Canada’s democratic institutions are now better positioned to face threats from foreign actors.”

– The Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Quick Facts
  • Foreign interference includes harmful activities undertaken by foreign states, or those acting on their behalf, which are clandestine, deceptive, or involve a threat to any person to advance the strategic objectives of those states. Foreign interference poses a threat to all orders of government, the private sector, academia, diaspora communities and the general public.
  • In 2019, the Government of Canada announced the Plan to Protect Canada’s Democracy. Measures introduced as part of the Plan include the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol (CEIPP), the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections (SITE) Task Force, the Digital Citizen Initiative, the G7 Rapid Response Mechanism and the Canada Declaration on Election Integrity Online. The Government is committed to continuously improving its defenses, including elements of the Plan, to ensure Canada remains best protected. 
  • On March 6, 2023, the Government of Canada announced a series of measures to take further action on foreign interference and strengthen the public’s confidence in our democracy. 
  • From March 10 to May 9, 2023, the Government held public consultations to guide the creation of a Foreign Influence Transparency Registry in Canada.
  • On September 7, 2023, the Government of Canada launched the Foreign Interference Commission to respond to concerns about foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. The Commission is also examining the flow of information within the federal government in relation to these issues, evaluating the actions taken in response, assessing the federal government’s capacity to detect, deter, and counter foreign interference, and will make recommendations on these issues. The Commission released its initial report on May 3, 2024, and will deliver its final report by December 31, 2024.
  • From November 24, 2023 to February 2, 2024, the Government of Canada held additional public consultations that focused on potential legislative amendments to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, the Criminal Code, the Security of Information Act and the Canada Evidence Act.
  • Budget 2023 provided $48.9 million over three years starting in 2023-24 to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to protect people in Canada from harassment and intimidation, increase its investigative capacity, and more proactively engage with communities at greater risk of being targeted, as well as $13.5 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, and $3.1 million ongoing to Public Safety Canada to establish a National Counter-Foreign Interference Office.
  • Budget 2024 proposes to provide $655.7 million over eight years, starting in 2024-25, with $191.1 million in remaining amortization, and $114.7 million ongoing to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to enhance its intelligence capabilities.
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SOURCE Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada

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