Foreign Influence Registry and Accountability Act

An Act to establish the Foreign Influence Registry and to amend the Criminal Code


Second reading (Senate), as of May 16, 2023

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill S-237.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment enacts the Foreign Influence Registry and Accountability Act , which imposes an obligation on individuals acting on behalf of a foreign principal to file a return when they undertake specific actions with respect to public office holders. It also provides for the establishment of a public registry in which all returns must be kept.
It also amends the Criminal Code to increase the sentence for intimidation if the offender acted on behalf of the government of a foreign state, and it specifies that anyone who has filed a return under the Foreign Influence Registry and Accountability Act is presumed to be acting on behalf of the government of a foreign state unless the contrary is proved on a balance of probabilities.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Public SafetyStatements by Members

September 25th, 2023 / 2:10 p.m.
See context


Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton Mill Woods, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will begin by offering my sincere condolences to Bhai Hardeep Singh Nijjar's family. I also did so in person with his son soon after his assassination, an assassination of a Canadian on Canadian soil in the parking lot of a gurdwara.

At that time in June and now, we called on the RCMP for a full investigation. We call on the Indian government to act with utmost transparency in this investigation, because these allegations represent an outrageous affront to Canada's sovereignty.

Canadians must be kept safe from extrajudicial killings of all kinds, most of all from foreign governments. Canadians must be protected on Canadian soil. It is for this reason that Conservatives brought forward a foreign agent registry bill, Bill S-237, in November 2021, which continues to be blocked by the Liberal-NDP government. If this bill was passed two years ago when Conservatives proposed it, foreign agents working to intimidate, influence and even assassinate a Canadian citizen could have been stopped.

We must work together to protect Canadians from foreign interference and to ensure Bhai Hardeep Singh Nijjar's killers are brought to justice.

Hardeep Singh NijjarStatements by Members

September 25th, 2023 / 2:05 p.m.
See context


Jasraj Singh Hallan Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to express my sincerest condolences to the family of bhai Hardeep Singh Nijjar on their loss due to this outrageous assassination.

In June, Conservatives called on the RCMP to conduct a full investigation into this murder, reiterated in strongest terms by the Conservative leader just last week. He said that Canadians, “must be safe from extrajudicial killings of all kinds, most of all from foreign governments” and called “on the Indian government to act with [full] transparency” in the investigation of this murder so the truth comes out.

Conservatives brought forward a foreign agent registry bill, Bill S-237, nearly two years ago and it is still being blocked by the NDP-Liberal coalition. Only Conservatives have brought forward any meaningful action on foreign interference. This registry would have exposed foreign agents operating in Canada on behalf of foreign governments.

The NDP-Liberals need to stop the talk and take meaningful action. They should join us in passing this bill immediately so Canadians and the sangat can feel safe. Those who assassinated bhai Hardeep Singh Nijjar must be exposed and brought to justice.

March 31st, 2023 / 9:05 a.m.
See context

Dan Stanton Former Executive Manager, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, As an Individual

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good morning, members.

My insight and understanding of PRC foreign interference comes from 32 years of operations with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, most of which was in what we called counter-intelligence. I worked in CI against hostile states—posted in the field and in headquarters—for a number of years. This also includes what we refer to as state-driven foreign interference.

When I started working was during the Cold War, and espionage was the all-consuming threat in the west, and in Canada in particular. That was what we worked against—against various state actors. There has been an evolution since about the implosion of the Soviet Union, and, in fact, espionage has become rather passé. It's high risk. It's very difficult to do against hard targets. You have to get people to commit treason. It's a lot easier with foreign influence.

What we have seen in the last 30 years is that foreign interference has eclipsed classic espionage as a national security threat in terms of both its scope and its speed. Why risk stealing another state's secrets when you can influence and manipulate the targeted country's policy-makers? You can get close to what we consider the soft underbelly of the state through its democratic institutions.

The People's Republic of China, in this effort, is the A-team. It's the best at this. Its level of sophistication, confidence bordering on arrogance, has made it probably the most daunting threat from a foreign intelligence perspective. While China continues to play chess, Canada plays whack-a-mole. We need to raise our game.

There has been some talk recently that we don't have any legislative hammer to hit foreign interference with, that there isn't legislation, like with espionage and terrorism. I respectfully disagree with that. If you look at the Security of Information Act, particularly at the back of it, in subsection 20(1)—I will just read a little of it to you—and in section 3, you have the language that is appropriate, in my opinion, for prosecuting foreign interference.

Subsection 3(1) says it's “prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State” if someone commits an offence punishable by two years or more in prison to advance a political objective or to benefit a foreign entity.

If we move to subsection 20(1), we see that it's an offence if, “for the benefit of...a foreign entity”, a person “induces or attempts to induce” or causes something to be done that “increas[es] the capacity of a foreign entity” or “is reasonably likely to harm Canadian interests.”

These offences are easily captured by the Security of Information Act, in my opinion. I think that perhaps this committee or others might want to take a look at some of that. I have highlighted that in the legislation.

We know now that this is an existential threat. What really has been done? What has been done since the allegations came out in November?

Well, there has been the proposal for a foreign-agent registry listing, which has merit, but unless I'm mistaken, there already is a bill in the Senate, Bill S-237, which is a foreign-agent registry bill that has been there since August. Why don't we just move it through the Senate and the House of Commons, instead of going across the country and having town halls to see what people think of it?

I don't mean to be facetious, but I really think that if the government wants to have a registry—and I know a lot of Canadians want to—we have already done some groundwork there.

We're allocating millions of dollars to the RCMP, I learned last week, with no investigative strategy, no prosecution strategy. We're just saying, “Here. Take this money and use this.” In 32 years of national security work, every time we have had a crisis, every time we have had an incident, that's what the government has done. It'll throw money at the RCMP. It'll say, “You folks have to sort that out.” I don't think that's really an appropriate response.

We haven't had a national security policy renewed since 2004. That's the first time we ever had a national security policy written. The threat landscape in this country has changed enormously in the last 20 years—qualitatively. There are new threats with AI and all sorts of things. I think Canadians deserve something like that, and it should be a national security policy that is China-centric.

I don't mean to sound partisan. I don't mean to blame any particular government. I worked this threat from the PRC for many, many years. I actually was the national program manager 12 or 13 years ago. It was a different government at the time, and the reaction to foreign interference reporting—as I think was suggested earlier—was no different from what it is today. There was nobody home. There really wasn't much of a response.

This really isn't a partisan issue for me. I think this threat and how the government is going to react, or how it reacts to it historically, has transcended party and time. What we really need is a more holistic approach to pushing back against that threat.

Finally, I want to say that I'm so delighted to be here to speak today, but particularly with Mr. Ho and Mr. Chiu as panel members—and the other fellows, as well, of course. However, I think it's extremely important that we have Chinese Canadians, that they have a platform to talk about what has been going on.

They need to have a voice, and not simply as some PR exercise to find out what they think now and then. These are the people who have been in the crosshairs of the People's Republic of China's regime for 30 or 40 years, and they are the people who need to come forward. They need to have the trust and confidence that there are going to be outcomes and a follow-up if they are going to take a risk and come forward to say what's happening. Not only does the government have to listen, but Canadians have to listen to our Chinese Canadian community for once and hear what they have to say.