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A coalition of diaspora communities in Canada joined by MPs of all stripes took to the House of Commons to call upon the federal government to table legislation to create a foreign agent registry. 

Gloria Fung, a spokesperson for the coalition, told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday that diaspora groups have been waiting since 2021 for the Trudeau government to act upon their request.  

“We are tired of empty promises. We need action now,” said Fung. 

The coalition is being supported by MPs from the Conservatives, NDP, Bloc Quebecois, Green and Liberal parties. 

They asked for a foreign agent registry that would require anyone involved in government or election influence to register their activities should they also work on behalf of a foreign power.

The coalition believes that failure to do so should result in jail time for foreign agents. 

“If you take money from a foreign government you should have to register in Canada. It’s time to do it,” said Conservative MP Tom Kmiec on Tuesday.

The Trudeau government started working on a suite of reforms last year to deal with foreign interference that included a foreign agent registry, as well as amendments to the Criminal Code and the Canadian Security Intelligence Act to make foreign interference an offence. 

While the reforms have yet to become legislation, Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said such legislation will be “coming soon” during Tuesday’s press conference. 

According to Leblanc,  additional measures will be introduced to counteract foreign interference in Canada from hostile states. 

“This is part of our ongoing effort to strengthen legislation with respect to foreign interference,” he said. “So, I’m confident that the foreign influence registry will be part of a broader effort to strengthen legislation with respect to countering foreign interference.”

Canada is lagging behind other nations like the United States and Australia, which have already implemented foreign agent registries, and the U.K. created a new law that will come into effect later this year. 

Under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was able to arrest Chinese agents who were intimidating Chinese citizens in the U.S. last year. 

Similar activity by Beijing has likely been underway in Canada for some time via the use of Chinese “police stations” located throughout the country. 

Certain members of the Chinese-Canadian community have voiced their opposition to implementing a registry, like Independent Senator Yuen Pau Woo. 

Woo, who was appointed to the upper house in 2016 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, claims that such a registry would do more harm than good and he fears that it will infringe on Canadians’ Charter rights. 

However, President of the Central and Eastern European Council in Canada Marcus Kolga doesn’t see how a foreign agent registry would differ from the already existing registry in place for domestic lobbyists who are required to register when they are trying to persuade the government. 

“100% Canada must enact a Foreign Influence Transparency Registry immediately to protect vulnerable Canadians, minority communities, the critics of the Kremlin, PRC and Iran and the sovereignty of our democracy,” said Kolga in a social media post on X.