Ottawa moves to clamp down on potential meddling in next federal election

Only disruptive incidents that harm Canada’s free and fair election will be publicly disclosed

The federal government is creating a new mechanism to warn Canadians if malicious actors try to manipulate the outcome of this fall’s election.

It is establishing a “critical election incident public protocol,” under which five senior public servants will decide when an incident is egregious enough to warrant going public in the midst of a campaign.

The protocol is intended to avoid the dilemma that faced James Comey, the FBI director during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, when he was confronted with evidence of Russian interference apparently aimed at boosting Donald Trump.

With no rules for dealing with such a situation, Comey decided not to reveal the interference during the campaign.

The five public servants who will be charged with determining what should be revealed during a Canadian federal campaign are: the clerk of the Privy Council, the government’s national security adviser, and the deputy ministers of justice, public safety and global affairs.

OPINION: Fake news, or the truth – who decides?

“Nothing is more important to this government than protecting our democracy and ensuring the next election is fair and free,” Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a news conference Wednesday, alongside Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould.

Officials say the threshold will be high: only disruptive incidents that harm Canada’s ability to hold a free and fair election will be publicly disclosed.

The protocol will apply to either domestic or foreign actors who launch cyberattacks or use orchestrated disinformation campaigns through social media to undermine the integrity of an election.

Officials say there is no intention to police routine political spin during a campaign.

The protocol will apply only during the official campaign, known as the writ period. Outside the writ period, national-security agencies will inform the prime minister and minister of democratic institutions of any interference and it will be up to them to decide what to disclose publicly.

Sajjan said the Canadian government has been working with other G7 countries worried about their own elections to come up with joint plans for monitoring and dealing with foreign threats such as hackers trying to break into election systems.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

New Sarepta students host political forum Apr. 10

Political Forum hosted by NSCHS Students

Robbery in Leduc County estimated at $40,000

Leduc RCMP investigate break and enter and theft of firearms

Motorcyclist seriously injured after hit on one-way road in Nisku

Leduc RCMP respond to vehicle versus motorcycle with serious injuries

OPINION: Jason Kenney won by portraying himself as the Guardian of Alberta

How did Kenney do it? He never considered himself an opposition leader and didn’t pretend to be one.

EALT enhanced critical habitat on our lands by planting 263,000 native trees

Celebrating a Decade of Conserving Nature for our Communities

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand ‘a roof too’

Wealthy people have donated millions to effort to rebuild cathedral after devastating fire

Singh says childhood abuse steeled him for scrutiny and stress of politics

He recounts the assaults for the first time in his book Love & Courage

Despite five extra weeks’ parental leave in Canada, dads still face stigma: survey

One reason people said dads don’t need leave is because they can just bond with their kids at weekend

Calgary’s public school board responds to Syrian child’s suicide after bullying

Amal Alshteiwi, a newcomer to Canada from Syria, took her own life several weeks ago

Child, 11, accidentally shot in the chest at Alberta religious colony

Child taken from Hutterite colony to nearby hospital

Woman in critical condition after motorcycle crash on Edmonton highway

Police say both women were thrown from the bike, and the van continued forward, hitting a Nissan Altima

Ceremonies, vigils planned in Toronto to honour victims of deadly van attack

Many of those who helped that day — first responders and Good Samaritans alike — still affected

New study suggests oilsands greenhouse gas emissions underestimated

New study is the first to use actual field measurements taken from aerial overflights, or top-down measurements

Shoppers Drug Mart launches second online medical pot portal in Alberta

As in Ontario, the Alberta platform touts ‘expert advice and counsel from trusted health-care professionals’

Most Read