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

Car accident on Leckie Road backs up traffic

An accident involving a bus is blocking traffic driving near Dilworth Mountain

Top Okanagan wedding venue no longer allows wedding ceremonies

Gellatly Nut Farm Regional Park and Kaloya Regional Park will no longer allow the ceremonies

Okanagan College has new entrepaneur-in-residence

Jason Richards, has been involved in a number of start-ups over his career

Kelowna Pride Society looks for community feedback

The society is already planning this year’s festivities

Accident reported on Harvey Avenue in Kelowna

The two vehicle accident happened this afternoon

VIDEO: Car flies across median, flips over edge of B.C. overpass

Dash cam footage shows vehicle speeding across Brunette Avenue overpass in Coquitlam

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups an increasing concern: Goodale

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch in Toronto

Canadian stock exchanges to conduct lottery for ‘POT’ ticker amid high demand

The symbol became available after fertilizer Potash Corp. officially merged with Agrium Inc. in early 2018

Millennial Money: Don’t let Instagram envy get you into debt

A full 48 per cent of U.S. households have credit card debt

Jury debates fate of man accused of killing 12-year-old B.C. girl 40 years ago

Police allege Garry Handlen told a cop how he abducted, sexually assaulted and strangled Monica Jack in May 1978

Most Read