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HomeBusinessKwan throws support behind petition for a foreign agents registry 

Kwan throws support behind petition for a foreign agents registry 

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Bob Mackin 

Vancouver East NDP MP Jenny Kwan, one of the targets of China’s foreign interference campaign, is sponsoring a new online petition to the House of Commons aimed at passing a foreign influence and transparency registry. 

E-petition e-4534, initiated by Winnie Ng of Toronto, calls upon the House of Commons to pass such a law expeditiously during the fall session, develop a strategy to eradicate systemic racism and develop a public education strategy to promote civil engagement and democratic participation.

Jenny Kwan in the House of Commons (ParlVu)

In a June interview, Kwan said that the Liberal government was not moving fast enough. 

“The more you send the message that the government is not taking this in the way it needs to, that doesn’t do Canada any good,” said Kwan, who has represented the federal riding since 2015. “The whole thing about foreign interference, of course, is that they want to undermine our democratic process, and to create chaos in our system. If we allow for this to continue, then they win.”

The new e-petition is the response to an earlier campaign that opposed a foreign agents registry, which was launched by a purported anti-racism activist, sponsored by a Liberal MP from Ontario and backed by pro-China Senators Yuen Pau Woo and Victor Oh. 

Critics of that petition, which drew 2,450 supporters, said it conflated the centennial of the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, a law that excluded nearly all categories of Chinese from moving to Canada until 1947, with calls in 2023 for a foreign agents registry to reduce the risk of any country seeking to intimidate or coerce Canadians. 

“As an ‘evergreen’ target of foreign interference, it is critical that every effort is made to uncover the extent to which foreign interference has impacted Canada’s political processes and electoral system,” Kwan said. “The threat of foreign interference is real and safeguarding the Charter rights of every Canadian is paramount.”

The earlier petition exceeded the minimum 500 supporters needed for tabling in the House of Commons. It was spearheaded by Ally Wang of Coquitlam, who co-founded the Stop Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Advocacy Group Association of Canada (SAAHCAG) and the Chinese Canadians Goto Vote Association (CCGVA). Wang appeared at a June 24 rally on Parliament Hill with Oh and Woo, where organizers bused-in hundreds of people and told them not to wave Chinese flags or sing patriotic Chinese songs. 

While Wang and co-founder Ivan Pak claimed CCGVA is non-partisan, some of its sign-waving, T-shirt wearing supporters gathered with Liberal Parm Bains before election day in 2021 and displayed Bains’ campaign signs in Steveston. 

Bains upset Kenny Chiu, the Conservative incumbent in Steveston-Richmond East who originally proposed the foreign agents registry and voted to condemn China for committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims. Chiu was the subject of a disinformation campaign on Chinese language social media that wrongly said his private member’s bill seeking a foreign agents registry would make Chinese second class citizens in Canada. A leaked report from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service indicated Chinese diplomat Tong Xiaoling boasted of helping defeat Chiu. 

The new petition went live on Aug. 16 with a deadline of Oct. 16. 

Supporters of the new e-petition, from the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement and Toronto Association for Democracy in China, officially launched their campaign Aug. 18 in Toronto. 

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