Sears: Warning bells have rung for years over the risk of American money flowing into Canadian politics

Of note, and reinforcing the Marshall Fund analysis:

For decades now, Canadians have been proud at how effectively we have limited the influence of money in politics.

Arguably, there is not another G7 country with as clean a political culture as ours. It has been the hard work of two generations of campaign finance reformers. Those protections are now at serious risk, however, and our record on anti-money-laundering action has been frankly appalling. The issues are linked.

The attacks by small groups of truckers on several Canadian cities have revealed many things. That the Conservatives flirtation with anti-democratic militant groups continues. That our three orders of government are still dreadful at co-ordination. That Canadian intelligence and policing has not kept up with the “clear and present danger” represented by these well-funded groups of angry young men.

The most alarming revelation, though, is the large hole that has been blown in our walls of protection against foreign influence in Canadian political life. Conservative hysteria pre-pandemic about American environmental foundations’ funding of green groups here turned out to simply be that — hysteria.

In Alberta, the Kenney government spent millions of public dollars trying to find the secret bank accounts and found pennies. Conservatives’ reactions to the revelation that the militant truckers have access to millions of American dollars — with the promise of millions more from international neo-fascist allies — will be interesting. This flood of cash is a genuine threat to the sovereignty of Canadian democracy.

A chilling incident unfolded before my eyes this week, as I drove by the truckers’ Ottawa compound. Suddenly, two large black SUVs swept past me and turned into the protest command centre. They had New York state plates. Interestingly, they had no insignia, no flags and no slogans anywhere; they wanted to be invisible. It was an almost cinematic moment, with the bad guys surfacing at the scene of the crime.

We now need to reconsider how we prevent the flow of secret money from the U.S. into the hands of Canadian militants — or worse, from there into the war chests of the People’s Party of Canada, or even Conservative candidates. Our current election finance laws were not written to deal with this type of interference. Neither do we have the investigatory or prosecution expertise to track it being washed through third parties.

For years, experts have demonstrated our record on money laundering is embarrassing. Meanwhile, CSIS has been focused on Islamic terrorism for far too long, and only last year did Public Safety Canada recognize white supremacists as among the top 10 national security risks. Our police and intelligence agencies will need to pivot from their outdated focus to our actual reality: the growing power of these insurrectionists and their political allies.

Source: Warning bells have rung for years over the risk of American money flowing into Canadian politics

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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