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

PHOTOS: Alberta male team takes silver in Winter Games relay speed skating

Alberta was close behind Quebec in the team relay speed skating finals

Senior girls Lakers drown Eckville in exhibition game

H.J. Cody’s senior girls basketball team defeated the senior girls Aces 60-30 on Feb. 21

Alberta was crowned champions in Wheelchair Basketball at Canada Winter Games

Ontario won silver while Quebec took home the bronze medal

Sylvan Lake’s Megan Cressey misses Freestyle Skiing Big Air podium

Alberta’s Jake Sandstorm captured silver in the men Freestyle Skiing Big Air contest

Sylvan Lake fiddler says performing at Canada Games an amazing experience

Brianna Lizotte performed with three drummers during a segment of the Opening Ceremonies

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

WATCH: Pet therapy brings calmness to Winter Games athletes

Canada Winter Games in Red Deer continue on until March 2nd

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

Child advocacy centre raising funds through Dream Home Lottery

The child advocacy centre in Red Deer uses its resources to help kids all over Central Alberta

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Mueller report looming, new attorney general in hot seat

Robert Mueller is required to produce a confidential report to pursue or decline prosecutions

B.C. woman shares story of abuse with church officials ahead of Vatican summit

Leona Huggins was the only Canadian in the gathering ahead of a historic summit at the Vatican

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

Most Read