Feds beef up bill to prevent foreign interference in Canadian elections

Making it easier for Canadians to vote and harder for foreign entities to interfere

The Trudeau government is beefing up legislation aimed at making it easier for Canadians to vote and harder for foreign entities to interfere in federal elections.

It has sponsored a number of amendments to Bill C-76, including one that would ban advocacy groups from ever using money from foreign entities to conduct partisan campaigns.

When the bill was introduced last spring, the government proposed only to prohibit the use of foreign money by so-called third parties during the weeks immediately prior to an election being called and during the actual campaign, known as the pre-writ and writ periods.

RELATED: Facebook finds ‘sophisticated’ efforts to disrupt U.S. elections

It is now proposing a blanket ban on the use of foreign funds at any time for the purpose of supporting or opposing a political party or candidate.

The government is also sponsoring an amendment that would require online platforms, such as Facebook and Google, to create a registry of all digital advertisements placed by political parties or third parties during the pre-writ and writ periods and to ensure they remain visible to the public for two years.

Facebook allows users to view current partisan ads but they disappear from the platform once the ad buy wraps up.

The government is also proposing a number of other amendments, primarily aimed at bolstering the ability of Elections Canada to enforce election laws.

Bill C-76 is an omnibus bill that would reverse a number of changes wrought by the previous Conservative administration’s widely denounced Fair Elections Act. The new legislation would restore the use of voter information cards as a valid form of identification and do away with measures that critics argued were designed to benefit the deep-pocketed Tories.

Among other things, it would limit spending by parties and advocacy groups during the three-month period before an election is officially called. Conservatives, who’ve been stalling the bill at committee since last spring, argue that unless government spending announcements, ads and ministerial travel are banned at the same time, the pre-writ spending cap amounts to Liberals trying to rig next year’s election in their favour.

RELATED: Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen boasts of aiding Mueller investigation

The bill also represents a first stab at grappling with the spectre of social media being abused by bad actors — foreign or domestic — to manipulate the results of an election, exacerbate societal divisions, amplify hate messages or instill distrust in the electoral system. It comes in the wake of scandal over Russian interference in the last U.S. presidential contest and the misuse of personal information of millions of Facebook users during the United Kingdom’s Brexit campaign.

Among other things, the bill would require political parties to put in place and publish policies designed to protect the privacy of Canadians whose personal information winds up in their massive voter data bases. But there would be no requirement for independent monitoring or enforcement of those policies.

New Democrats are seeking to amend the bill so that privacy laws would apply to political parties. They’re also proposing to change the traditional Monday voting day in Canada to Sunday.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna classroom where child allegedly overdosed re-opens after cleaning

An 8-year-old was unresponsive and unable to walk after ingesting an unknown substance at school.

Rockets lose to Blazers in nail-biting shootout

The Rockets came back to tie the game 2-2, but would ultimately lose in a nine-round shootout.

Okanagan brothers recognized with medals of bravery for saving four from drowning in 2013

The two brothers saved four from drowning after they were swept into the rough waters of Wood Lake.

Kelowna author releases 2nd book with stories of overcoming personal trauma

The launch for Diana Reyers’ Trauma to Recovery comes to Kelowna Sept. 21

Rockets make cuts to Memorial Cup roster

The Kelowna Rockets re-assigned three players to their respective farm-affiliates on Sunday.

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Video: Rain doesn’t deter Terry Fox runners in Salmon Arm

Dozens showed up to continue the Canadian icon’s marathon of hope.

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

Road block was costly legal battle for Summerland

Resolving Garnet Valley dispute took six years

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Coming Home: Penticton fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Most Read