Conservatives offer to help Liberals pass interference bill

Pierre Poilievre’s Conservative Party is offering to help Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government pass a law aimed at countering foreign interference in Canada.

The rare display of cross-party cooperation came in a letter from Conservative MP and foreign affairs critic Michael Chong to Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc.

In it, Chong says that in order for Bill C-70, the “Combating Foreign Interference Act,” to be passed and enacted before the next federal election, the official opposition is willing to “work in good faith to ensure rapid progress” of the legislation “while ensuring sufficient scrutiny.”

The nearly 100-page legislation introduced earlier this month proposes a host of new measures and legal changes, including enacting the long-sought foreign agent registry.

Noting that it took “years” for this bill to be introduced, Chong said “inaction and delays cannot continue.”

“The government and the official opposition must work together to ensure that our democratic institutions and elections are protected from threats from authoritarian states,” Chong said. “As the general election approaches, time is running out to strengthen the confidence Canadians have in our elections.”

Specifically, the Conservatives are offering to table a unanimous consent motion at the end of the second reading debate on Bill C-70 (currently scheduled to begin on Wednesday) which, if all MPs agreed, would allow for the swift passage of the bill. legislation through committee. and the House.

The legislation was proposed amid widespread scrutiny over the federal government’s handling of foreign interference efforts in the 2019 and 2021 elections, and has also been welcomed by the federal NDP.

LeBlanc said when he introduced Bill C-70 that he hoped the series of reforms it contains could be in place before the next vote, and promised to work with opposition parties to achieve that goal, given widespread calls for it to be Take more action on this matter.

Speaking briefly to reporters as he left a Cabinet meeting in Parliament, LeBlanc said he was reassured by Chong’s offer to work together to pass the bill, and indicated he was open to amendments to strengthen it.