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

Donated bikes to help low-income kids in Delta have a merry Christmas

Surrey-based R.E.C. for Kids donated the bikes to Deltassist for its annual Christmas toy depot

VIDEO: Collision in Surrey breaks axle off SUV

Two people were reportedly sent to hospital

North Delta crime beat, week of Nov. 3

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

‘Meet Your Muslim Neighbour’ event bridges gap on Semiahmoo Peninsula, association says

Event serves as an educational space for residents in South Surrey-White Rock

Students spend night at White Rock shelter

Students hear powerful stories about homelessness on the Semiahmoo Peninsula

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

Security camera records hatchet attack on Langley store owner

Target escaped uninjured, but was ‘upset’ by incident

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants blank Cougars 4-0

Goaltender David Tendeck turned aside all 38 Prince George shots for his WHL-leading third shutout

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

Most Read