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e-4534 (Public safety)

Initiated by Winnie Ng from Toronto, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled

  • In view of the recent CSIS revelation on China’s interference and influences in Canada, we are deeply concerned that some members of the community are using the centenary anniversary of the Chinese Immigration Act 1923, aka “Chinese Exclusion Act,” to undermine our Government’s commitment to proceed with the Foreign Influence Transparency Registry;
  • It is imperative not to conflate the racist Act, which discriminates against all Chinese, with the Registry, which is applicable only to those, Canadian or not, who lobby on behalf of foreign governments;
  • Anti-Chinese racism cannot be used as a shield to distract from and to minimize the urgent actions required to preserve our Canadian democracy;
  • Setting up a comprehensive system of our own Foreign Influence Transparency Registry is one of the most effective ways to safeguard our Canadian democratic system and uphold the universal core values of freedom, democracy, and justice;
  • Canada must be in step with our allies including Australia, the UK and the US., each of which has established its own registry; and
  • Canada simply cannot afford to play politics with our national security or our democratic process.
We, the undersigned, citizens or residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to (1) Move expeditiously with the passage of the Foreign Influence and Transparency Registry legislation in the coming Fall Session of the House; (2) Develop a proactive and comprehensive strategy in eradicating systemic racism in all its manifestations within Canada; and (3) Develop a proactive public education strategy on promoting civil engagement and democratic participation.

Response by the Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): JENNIFER O’CONNELL, M.P.

The Government of Canada is committed to the protection of individuals and communities in Canada, as well as our democratic institutions and processes. Developing legislation to establish a Foreign Influence and Transparency Registry remains an integral part of the strategy to uphold this commitment. A Foreign Influence Transparency Registry would not tackle all forms of foreign interference, such as transnational repression. However, by creating a registration obligation and making its information public, a registry would generate transparency, deter malign and covert influence activity, and foster societal resilience by encouraging individuals to undertake due diligence when entering into a relationship with, or conducting activities on behalf of, foreign organizations. 

So far, the feedback that Public Safety Canada received from Canadians and a diverse range of stakeholders, including racialized communities, during public consultations has indicated that there is broad support for a registry. Since the close of online consultations, Public Safety Canada has continued engaging with stakeholders to make sure that the various perspectives are meaningfully considered in the design of a proposal. A registry would not singularly address the complex issue of foreign interference. Rather, it would serve as an important tool to enhance Canada’s counter-foreign interference toolkit.

In addition to a Foreign Influence Transparency Registry, the government is actively considering further legislative tools and approaches to address other aspects of foreign interference. On November 24, 2023, Public Safety Canada and the Department of Justice Canada launched public consultations on potential legislative amendments to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, the Criminal Code, the Security of Information Act, and the Canada Evidence Act. Our aim is to develop a modern and robust legal framework to counter foreign interference, which balances national security considerations with privacy and other Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protections.

Response by the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Sameer Zuberi

In 2019, Canada’s first Anti-Racism Strategy was launched. Budget 2022 committed $85 million over four years to support the work underway to launch a new Anti-Racism Strategy and an Action Plan on Combatting Hate.

Budget 2023 provided an additional $25.4 million over five years, and $0.6 million ongoing, to continue to support the Strategy and address all forms of racism, including but not limited to anti-Asian racism, anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Black racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia.

In Budget 2023, the Government of Canada further announced its plans to introduce a new Action Plan to Combat Hate. This Action Plan will include measures to address hateful rhetoric and acts, building on measures in Budget 2023 to build safer, more inclusive communities.

To enhance efforts to address antisemitism and Islamophobia in the country, the Government appointed a Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism and a Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia to serve as advisors, to work with civil society and other stakeholders, and to enhance broader government anti-racism work. 

Furthermore, the Government supported Motion M-63, which called upon the Government to condemn Anti-Asian hate and all forms of racism and racial discrimination.

The above-mentioned commitments are all aimed at preventing, addressing and ultimately condemning racism and discrimination, including against individuals and communities of Asian descent.

Response by the Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): JENNIFER O’CONNELL

The response from the Privy Council Office (to part 3) is as follows:

Democracies are built on public participation. That is why the Government of Canada has put in place a number of measures that aim to promote both civil engagement and democratic participation. 

With the December 2018 passing of the Elections Modernization Act, Elections Canada was provided with a mandate to conduct public information campaigns on voter registration, voting, and running as a candidate, including through efforts tailored to those persons and groups most likely to experience difficulties in exercising their democratic rights. The Elections Modernization Act also called for the creation of a National Registry of Future Electors (NRFE), which Elections Canada launched on April 1, 2019, to facilitate youth participation in Canada’s elections. Future electors who are between 14 and 17 can consent to be included in the NRFE which enables Elections Canada to add them to the National Register of Electors when they turn 18. As result, Elections Canada can mail them a voter information card once a federal election is called, which ensures they have the information they need to vote. Additionally, between the 43rd and 44th general elections, Elections Canada mailed out more than 270,000 letters to potential new electors between 18 and 19 years old. This mailout resulted in over 39,000 new electors being added to the National Register of Electors.

To give students the opportunity to experience the voting process firsthand and practice being an active participant in our democracy, Elections Canada has also partnered with CIVIX to administer the Student Vote – a mock election conducted in parallel with general elections. In 2021, more than 800,000 elementary and high school students across Canada participated by casting a mock ballot, while in 2019 more than 1.1 million elementary and high school students took part.

The Government of Canada welcomes efforts such as these by Elections Canada’s to promote civil engagement and democratic participation. 

Investments have also been made to ensure Canadians have the resources needed to be active participants in our democracy, including through youth-specific programs that encourage civic participation. The Youth Take Charge program, administered by the Department of Canadian Heritage, aims to strengthen youth attachment to Canada by providing funding for a diverse range of youth-led projects in the realms of arts and culture; civic engagement and youth service; economic activities; and history and heritage. Canadian registered not-for-profit organizations, Canadian registered charitable groups, and Indigenous representative organizations that are experienced in serving youth on a national, provincial, or territorial scale are eligible to apply for funding through the program.

Additionally, in October 2023, the Government of Canada launched a call for proposals under the Canada Service Corps program, through which successful organizations can receive funding to create, promote, and facilitate volunteering opportunities for youth aged 12 to 30 years old. Successful projects can use the funding to create flexible or full-time volunteering placements and micro-grants to allow youth to design, develop, and lead their own service projects. In line with the Government of Canada’s focus on reaching youth from diverse backgrounds, projects funded through the Canada Service Corps program will target a minimum of 50% of participants who identify as either Indigenous youth or under-served youth, or both.

Youth involvement in various aspects of Canadian society, from casting a mock-ballot or exchanging views online to volunteering in an organization or advising senior government officials, lay the foundation for a lifetime of active civil engagement and democratic participation. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring youth in Canada can access youth-specific resources and activities that encourage public participation – investing in opportunities and experiences for our youth is an investment into our future. 

Lastly, the Government of Canada recognizes that democracy is facing unprecedented challenges around the world. That is why, in 2023 the Government announced over $50 million for initiatives that promote and protect democracy at home and abroad.  Canada also currently serves as president of the Community of Democracies and is an active member of multi-stakeholder organizations, such as the Open Government Partnership, the Media Freedom Coalition, the Freedom Online Coalition and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance—all of which are working to promote and protect democracy, reinforce trust and confidence in democratic institutions and governments, and ensure that people have the opportunity to engage with their governments without fear.

Open for signature
August 16, 2023, at 3:47 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
October 15, 2023, at 3:47 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East)
November 21, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01941)
Government response tabled
January 29, 2024
Photo - Jenny Kwan
Vancouver East
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia