Charter Rights Under Threat if Senate Fails to Fix Foreign Interference Bill

Charter Rights Under Threat if Senate Fails to Fix Foreign Interference Bill
If they don’t act, we will, say civil society groups

JUNE 19 2024 — In its rush to do, and to be seen to do, something about the very real problem of foreign interference, the House of Commons hurried through — in hours — a well-intentioned but deeply flawed Bill C-70: Countering Foreign Interference Act. Under enormous pressure, it appears the Senate will do likewise today.

Because of poorly-worded, vague language, the Bill will likely have significant impacts — both directly and in the form of a chilling effect — on freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and on privacy, and it could well be used to profile people on political, racial, religious, or nationality grounds. The law will allow the undermining of academic freedom, freedom of the press, the right to protest and engage in dissent, and efforts at international cooperation and solidarity.

This could mean shutting down legitimate protests perceived by law enforcement as being held to the benefit of a foreign state. It could also mean forcing universities to provide information to the Foreign Influence Registry if they are working on a research project in association with a foreign university that happens to be state-owned.

If the Senate fails in its responsibility to be the chamber of sober second thought by passing C-70 without ensuring the time for proper study and amendment, the Centre for Free Expression and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group plan to create a mechanism to monitor how the law is used.

This will be a web portal where individuals can report instances where they believe their rights to privacy and their internationally-protected and Charter rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, or freedom of association have been violated under this new law.

The information shared will be kept confidential and will be used to monitor and report (without identifying affected individuals and ensuring anonymity where requested) on the impacts of the Countering Foreign Interference Act. While legal or other forms of support cannot be guaranteed, all reports will be reviewed and where appropriate there will be the possibility of follow-up with individuals about further action (sharing with the media, pursuing legal action, etc.).

The stated goal of Canada’s new foreign interference legislation is to protect democratic participation and processes in Canada. This cannot be achieved if, at the same time, the legislation allows those very rights to be undermined. This portal will help ensure Canadians’ rights can be protected.


Amnesty International Canadian Section (English speaking)
BC Civil Liberties Association
Canadian Association of University Teachers
Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Canadian Muslim Public Affairs Council
Centre for Free Expression
Independent Jewish Voices Canada
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
Privacy & Access Council of Canada


More information:

Tim McSorley
National Coordinator
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

Jim Turk
Centre for Free Expression

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