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

Central Coast Regional District swears in new Board of Directors

There are three new faces representing our region and two returning directors

VIDEO: Black horse signals ‘sign of peace’ for Tsilhqot’in Nation

Justin Trudeau rides black horse provided by Cooper family

Trudeau exonerates hanged war chiefs of 1864 on B.C. Tsilhqot’in title lands

Prime minister rides horseback with Chief Joe Alphonse, TNG Chairman, to Xeni Gwet’in meeting place

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Rain, snowfall warnings in effect across B.C.

B.C.’s Interior set to get hit with snow while the Lower Mainland is expected to see more rain

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

B.C. dog owner sues after pet killed in beaver trap

A Kamloops man is suing the operator of a trapline north of the city after his dog died

Most Read