Third reading of Bill C-70, An Act respecting countering foreign interference

By: The Hon. Andrew Cardozo

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Hon. Andrew Cardozo: Honourable senators, I have a few comments I’d like to share.

First, I want to be clear that I believe this is an important bill. I think the timing is very important because, certainly, Canada and many countries around the world are facing a real and growing threat of interference that is more serious and more dangerous than it has ever been before — in part because we live in a more dangerous world and in part because of everything that can be done through the internet.

The comments I want to make are about the issues of loyalty and the motherland that came up a few minutes ago. It’s not just about how we discussed it here; it’s how we think about these terms in society.

We live in a country where the population is approximately 95% immigrants and descendants of immigrants. Currently about 30% of the population are themselves — ourselves — immigrants. Loyalty is not easy to define and should not be enforced in a draconian way, saying that you’re either loyal or you’re not.

I want to differentiate the comments I’m making from the issues of sabotage or acts against the state. There is no question that we should not tolerate sabotage against the Canadian state or the Canadian people — or any acts of sabotage. I’m talking about how we converse among ourselves and how we regard each other.

As immigrants, people develop a sense of loyalty over a period of time. That is determined by a complex set of issues, starting with when they came here, why they came here, why they left their country of origin, whether they still have family there, whether they were the majority, whether they were chased out and whether they are refugees. All of these different issues will determine how much feeling they have toward their country of origin. They may have come from another country but were never considered part of that country, so they may not see that country as their motherland. They may see Canada as the motherland they have been looking for all their lives.

However, these things change over time, and they change with a person’s age. At a certain age, a person may be more interested in school, in girls, in boys and all sorts of things. At another time they may be more conscious about politics and the nature of the country they came from.

It also depends on what’s happening in their country of origin. A person of Ukrainian origin may have been proud of their origin five years ago but today they are feeling their “Ukrainianness” very strongly because their homeland — their motherland — is under attack. For the first time, they feel more Ukrainian than they’ve ever felt before. Are they suddenly being disloyal to Canada? No; we live in a diverse country, and we can have loyalties to more than one country.

We talk about someone from China or Russia, but let’s look at somebody of French origin, like a former leader of the Liberal Party who was a dual citizen of Canada and France. Was he disloyal? Some people thought he was. I don’t think he was, but that’s the nature of dual citizenship.

Andrew Scheer is also a dual citizen. I don’t think that makes him less loyal.

We have these various concepts in this democratic free society of ours where we try to ensure that people are loyal, but I want to — and, again, I don’t want to be pointing fingers and just looking at our debate here this evening, but it’s about — as we move ahead with this law and we talk about foreign interference and foreign others, understand that there are people among us who are at various stages of loyalty to Canada. It’s sort of that thing about love. It grows, and sometimes you’re more in love and sometimes you’re less in love, and it changes over time depending on a whole lot of reasons. I won’t go further down that road.

I should end here by saying this: This is a complex society we live in. This is a complex world we’re living in that’s becoming more complex, and, indeed, we’ve got a complex bill that tries to deal with a lot of the different things that a law of this kind has to.

Overall, I think it strikes the right balance, and it’s for that reason I am proud to support the bill. Thank you.

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