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Prime Minister’s Office dragging heels on FI legislation: Intelligence Source

(Written by Sam Cooper. Originally published here in The Bureau, republished with permission.)

Days before Ottawa’s Foreign Interference Commission issues its first report regarding allegations Chinese agents interfered in recent Canadian federal elections, a coalition of diaspora groups and Members of Parliament is pressing the Trudeau Liberals to implement a foreign agent registry, regardless of Justice Marie-Josée Hogue’s findings.

“The Inquiry into Foreign Interference has clearly demonstrated the vulnerability of our democracy, and multicultural communities to the threat of foreign interference, intimidation and transnational repression” coalition organizer Gloria Fung stated. “We call on all parliamentarians to support (a foreign agent registry) and help protect these vulnerable communities and our democracy against the threats posed by foreign authoritarian regimes.”

Four government sources in Ottawa have informed The Bureau that a number of legal measures to counter hostile state activity, including a foreign agent registry, have been in the works in Ottawa since at least 2022.

These laws were essentially finalized by Public Safety Canada and the Department of Justice before January 2023, a senior intelligence source said.

The source, with direct awareness of work on these laws, told The Bureau that some members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s caucus have been supportive of implementing counter-interference laws, but that officials in Trudeau’s office have stood in the way.

“The Prime Minister’s Office won’t allow Public Safety Canada to move forward with Foreign Interference legislation, other than the [foreign agent] registry,” the source said in an interview.

Public Safety Canada did not directly respond to the question, on whether Trudeau’s office has been standing in the way of Foreign Interference legislation in Ottawa.

In Ottawa Tuesday, Gloria Fung’s coalition said Canada’s intelligence community and experts have warned that foreign authoritarian information and influence operations targeting Canada and Canadian interests are persistent and growing.

Prior to the coalition’s press conference, Russian disinformation expert Marcus Kolga stated: “The sovereignty of our democratic decision-making processes is at stake, from elections to the debates that take place in our information space. In the current geopolitical environment and with the upcoming 2025 federal elections, the government and Parliament cannot afford to hesitate in imposing transparency and costs to interfering in our democracy.”

– more to come