Provisions of new foreign interference bill will have much broader consequences on rights and freedoms in Canada, warns civil liberties coalition

May 7 2024, OTTAWA – While diaspora groups have made it abundantly clear that more needs to be done to address foreign interference, especially when it involves threats or leads to violence, many of the proposals in the newly-introduced An Act respecting countering foreign interference go far beyond addressing foreign interference and will have wide-ranging impacts on the rights and liberties of people in Canada, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) is warning.

Areas of concern for the ICLMG include significant changes to CSIS’ powers to secretly collect and analyse troves of information about people both inside and outside of Canada; what information CSIS can disclose and to whom, including foreign entities; as well as new rules around what evidence can be disclosed in open court, and the ability of defendants to challenge those decisions.

“These are concerns we raised during the federal government’s consultation on new foreign interference measures, but they have decided to charge ahead,” said Tim McSorley, national Coordinator of the ICLMG. “These and other changes deserve their own specific scrutiny but instead are being lumped in with another omnibus bill.”

The areas of the bill specifically addressing foreign interference will also require a great deal of scrutiny to ensure they do not infringe on Charter rights of freedom of expression and association, and the ability to participate fully and freely in democratic processes in Canada, while addressing threats to Canadians and people in Canada, says the coalition. Some items that raise immediate questions are new stand-alone offences regarding interference with very broadly defined “essential infrastructure” and provisions of the proposed Foreign Influence Transparency and Accountability Act.


The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, founded in 2002, is an Ottawa-based coalition of 46 Canadian civil society organizations that works to defend civil liberties in Canada in the context of anti-terrorism and national security.

More information:

Tim McSorley
National Coordinator, International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
(613) 241-5298

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