B’nai Brith Canada is warning that Iran and other foreign actors have issued “grave and insidious” threats against Canadians.
The advocacy organization also called on the government of Canada to act in response to what it described as the bullying of Iranian Canadians by the Islamic Republic.
It questioned why Ottawa has not followed other western nations with legislation creating a foreign agent registry.
Addressing Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, B’nai Brith noted that in August, Public Safety Canada published a document entitled “Foreign Interference – Foreign Agent Registry,” which alerted the public that “The Government of Canada continues to look for new and innovative ways to enhance the measures we have in place to counter foreign interference.”
But it lamented that the government did not follow through on consulting stakeholders, including B’nai Brith, and quickly enacting a registry.
According to the B’nai Brith, no consultations occurred and no legislation has been tabled.
In a letter to Mendicino, Marvin Rotrand, national director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights, reminded the minister that “public awareness of the dangers of foreign influence over Canadian society, institutions and democracy have grown in recent weeks. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alerted Canadians this week of credible information that Iran has issued threats against Canadians and was engaged in bullying of Iranian Canadians.”
“This influence can manifest itself in misinformation and disinformation, bullying and intimidation of ethnic communities by agents of the countries of their heritage and the lobbying of Canadian officials and decision-makers without the necessity of registering in Canada’s lobbyist registry,” Rotrand said.
B’nai Brith told Mendicino that there is a growing debate about hidden foreign influence across the democratic world with several of Canada’s allies adopting strong laws creating a foreign agent registry in their countries.
Australia’s Foreign Influence Scheme Act and the United States’ reinforcement of its Foreign Agent Registry Act are models that Canada could use to draft its own act, the advocacy organization explained.
“Polling shows that Canadians are overwhelmingly in favour of a Foreign Agent Registry through amending Canada’s criminal code and establishing such a federal registry for individuals and entities that seek to influence Canada’s democratic processes and policies on behalf of foreign regimes,” B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said.
B’nai Brith also encouraged Mendicino to forge bipartisan support for fast-tracking new legislation through parliament.
B’nai Brith added that it believes “Canada is behind the curve and that the dangers of foreign interference are grave and insidious.”