Tory Senator Introduces Motion to Establish Registry Countering Foreign Interference in Canada

A Conservative senator has introduced a motion to set up a registry for agents of foreign governments that he says is crucial for Canada’s national security. Introduced on Feb. 24, Sen. Leo Housakos said Bill S-237 is needed to combat the “growing threat” of foreign interference in the country. “It is critical that Canada takes concrete steps to curb the growing threat of foreign interference into our affairs & democracy. That is why, today, I introduced a motion calling for the establishment of a registry that identifies agents of foreign influence in Canada,” Housakos said on Twitter.  Bill S-237 aims to establish a Foreign Influence Registry and to amend the Criminal Code. The Act seeks to impose an “obligation on individuals acting on behalf of a foreign principal to file a return when they undertake specific actions with respect to public office holders.”  These individuals could be fined or jailed should they fail to “file a return as required” or if they “knowingly make any false statements in any return filed under the Act.”  The bill also seeks to increase sentencing for intimidation if an offender, acting on behalf of a foreign government, attempts to stop someone from doing anything they have a legal right to do, or to make them do anything unlawful.  Housakos’s bill echoes the sentiment of Bill C-282, a motion introduced by former Conservative MP Kenny Chiu who lost his seat in the B.C. riding of Steveston–Richmond East in the 2021 federal election.  Bill C-282, which received its first reading in the previous Parliament on April 13, 2021, is a private member’s bill that sought to increase transparency by compelling anyone working on behalf of a foreign entity to register as a foreign agent. “We are all aware of the instances of foreign interference in Canada and the threat of further intimidation and corruption. For years, we have heard the dangers of such foreign interference, cautioned by Canada’s National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and Canadian Security Intelligence Service,” Chiu said upon introducing the bill in the House of Commons.  “Beyond calls for action and attention, the government has suggested no other plan to counter interference operations.”  In a previous interview with The Epoch Times, Chiu said he has been a target of misinformation in previous election campaigns, but in 2021 it became “exceptional” due to an onslaught of social media posts, radio commentaries, and online articles in pro-Beijing media that portrayed him negatively. Many have attributed this to possible campaigns by pro-Beijing forces to slander him due to the bill he introduced. In August 2021, Public Safety Canada updated its threat assessment, saying that China and Russia, among other countries, routinely attempt to threaten and intimidate individuals around the world through various state entities and non-state proxies. “These states may use a combination of their intelligence and security services as well as trusted agents to assist them in foreign interference activity on Canadian soil,” the department said on its website. In January, Federal Court Justice Vanessa Rochester affirmed that the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office (OCAO) engaged in espionage activities that are “contrary to Canada’s interest.”  Her ruling resulted from a case involving a former OCAO employee and his spouse seeking a judicial review of their applications to become permanent residents in Canada through sponsorship by their daughter, who is a naturalized citizen. Their applications were rejected after an officer from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada deemed them inadmissible due to their ties to the Chinese agency.  “Given the evidence in the record that links OCAO to the activities described by the Officer, it was reasonable for the Officer to conclude that there were reasonable grounds to believe that OCAO had infiltrated overseas Chinese communities in Canada and other countries and engaged in covert action and intelligence gathering,” Rochester said during the ruling.  “Consequently, I conclude that the Officer reasonably determined that such acts by OCAO fall within the definition of espionage.” Follow Isaac Teo is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.

Tory Senator Introduces Motion to Establish Registry Countering Foreign Interference in Canada

A Conservative senator has introduced a motion to set up a registry for agents of foreign governments that he says is crucial for Canada’s national security.

Introduced on Feb. 24, Sen. Leo Housakos said Bill S-237 is needed to combat the “growing threat” of foreign interference in the country.

“It is critical that Canada takes concrete steps to curb the growing threat of foreign interference into our affairs & democracy. That is why, today, I introduced a motion calling for the establishment of a registry that identifies agents of foreign influence in Canada,” Housakos said on Twitter. 

Bill S-237 aims to establish a Foreign Influence Registry and to amend the Criminal Code. The Act seeks to impose an “obligation on individuals acting on behalf of a foreign principal to file a return when they undertake specific actions with respect to public office holders.” 

These individuals could be fined or jailed should they fail to “file a return as required” or if they “knowingly make any false statements in any return filed under the Act.” 

The bill also seeks to increase sentencing for intimidation if an offender, acting on behalf of a foreign government, attempts to stop someone from doing anything they have a legal right to do, or to make them do anything unlawful. 

Housakos’s bill echoes the sentiment of Bill C-282, a motion introduced by former Conservative MP Kenny Chiu who lost his seat in the B.C. riding of Steveston–Richmond East in the 2021 federal election. 

Bill C-282, which received its first reading in the previous Parliament on April 13, 2021, is a private member’s bill that sought to increase transparency by compelling anyone working on behalf of a foreign entity to register as a foreign agent.

“We are all aware of the instances of foreign interference in Canada and the threat of further intimidation and corruption. For years, we have heard the dangers of such foreign interference, cautioned by Canada’s National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and Canadian Security Intelligence Service,” Chiu said upon introducing the bill in the House of Commons. 

“Beyond calls for action and attention, the government has suggested no other plan to counter interference operations.” 

In a previous interview with The Epoch Times, Chiu said he has been a target of misinformation in previous election campaigns, but in 2021 it became “exceptional” due to an onslaught of social media posts, radio commentaries, and online articles in pro-Beijing media that portrayed him negatively. Many have attributed this to possible campaigns by pro-Beijing forces to slander him due to the bill he introduced.

In August 2021, Public Safety Canada updated its threat assessment, saying that China and Russia, among other countries, routinely attempt to threaten and intimidate individuals around the world through various state entities and non-state proxies.

“These states may use a combination of their intelligence and security services as well as trusted agents to assist them in foreign interference activity on Canadian soil,” the department said on its website.

In January, Federal Court Justice Vanessa Rochester affirmed that the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office (OCAO) engaged in espionage activities that are “contrary to Canada’s interest.” 

Her ruling resulted from a case involving a former OCAO employee and his spouse seeking a judicial review of their applications to become permanent residents in Canada through sponsorship by their daughter, who is a naturalized citizen.

Their applications were rejected after an officer from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada deemed them inadmissible due to their ties to the Chinese agency. 

“Given the evidence in the record that links OCAO to the activities described by the Officer, it was reasonable for the Officer to conclude that there were reasonable grounds to believe that OCAO had infiltrated overseas Chinese communities in Canada and other countries and engaged in covert action and intelligence gathering,” Rochester said during the ruling. 

“Consequently, I conclude that the Officer reasonably determined that such acts by OCAO fall within the definition of espionage.”


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Isaac Teo is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.