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Foreign influence registry must not be ‘overly broad,’ senator warns as talks begin


OTTAWA – A senator says a prospective foreign influence registry must not be “overly broad” to avoid unfairly targeting members of the Chinese-Canadian community and other minority groups.

Yuen Pau Woo, who sits in the Independent Senators Group, spoke to reporters today about the upcoming centennial anniversary of the introduction of the Chinese Immigration Act, known also as the Chinese exclusion act.

Woo recently compared the legislation, which forced Chinese immigrants to register themselves or face deportation, to the idea of a foreign influence registry that would keep track of those working in Canada on behalf of other countries.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino announced last week that the Liberal government was beginning consultations on setting up a registry as part of its response to allegations of Chinese interference in recent Canadian elections.

Mendicino said the government would pay attention to feedback from the Chinese diaspora community, and Woo called the consultation process an “excellent opportunity” for Chinese-Canadians to weigh in.

He warned that the registry could stigmatize communities if it is designed to be “overly broad” and compels people to register based on factors such as their views or background.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 16, 2023.

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