In a rare gesture during a turbulent sitting of Parliament, the Conservative foreign affairs critic is offering his party’s help to speed up passage of the Liberal government’s foreign interference bill.

Earlier this month, the federal government introduced Bill C-70, which is aimed at curbing foreign interference in Canadian politics.

“As the general election draws closer, time is running out to strengthen the confidence Canadians have in our elections,” Conservative MP Michael Chong wrote in a letter to Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc, posted to social media.

“Conservatives will work in good faith to ensure the rapid progress of Bill C-70 through the House while ensuring sufficient scrutiny of the bill’s measures.”

Chong proposes in his letter moving a unanimous consent motion at the end of debate at second reading. If adopted, he wrote, that motion would allow the bill to quickly pass through the House of Commons and through committee, “allowing sufficient time to implement safeguards against foreign interference before the election.”

Bill C-70 would introduce new foreign interference offences, change how the Canadian Intelligence Security Service (CSIS) applies for warrants, update the rules on who CSIS can brief and launch a long-awaited foreign influence transparency registry.

The government introduced the bill days after the public inquiry investigating allegations of election meddling found that while foreign interference did not affect who formed government in 2019 and 2021, it “undermined the right of voters to have an electoral ecosystem free from coercion or covert influence.”

Justice Marie-Josée Hogue, who is overseeing the inquiry, said that foreign interference undermined public confidence in Canadian democracy.

“This is perhaps the greatest harm Canada has suffered as a result of foreign interference,” she wrote in her first report. 

Chong wrote that the government has been slow to introduce legislation to confront a well-known problem. 

“Inaction and delay cannot continue,” he wrote. “The government and Official Opposition must work together to ensure that our democratic institutions and elections are protected from the threats of authoritarian states.”

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