Was there foreign interference in the 2021 election? What a new report says


There was no foreign interference that “threatened Canada’s ability to have a free and fair election” in 2021, according to a report on the protocol designed to inform Canadians in the event of threats to the 2021 federal election. But there were attempts to interfere in the election that didn’t meet the threshold for a panel of experts tasked with monitoring risks to the election to report those attempts to the public, the analysis warned.The finding comes as part of an analysis by the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol (CEIPP), which is administered by a panel of senior federal public servants working alongside national security agencies.Morris Rosenberg, a former senior public servant, was chosen by the public service to prepare the independent report. Story continues below advertisement Rosenberg also served as CEO of the Trudeau Foundation from 2014 to 2018.In his report, Rosenberg notes that the government of Canada “did not detect foreign interference that threatened Canada’s ability to have free and fair elections.”“However, the national security agencies saw attempts at foreign interference, but not enough to have met the threshold of impacting electoral integrity,” the report adds.The panel cited the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSE), one of Canada’s intelligence agencies, which it says considered it “very likely” that Canadian voters would encounter “some form of foreign cyber interference ahead of and during the 2021 federal election.” 12:24 Did Canada’s election integrity panels get access to China memos? What the minister says These cyber activities, the report went on to say, were mainly attributed to state actors — especially China, Russia and Iran. Story continues below advertisement While social media is a “very large source of the problem,” the issue isn’t exclusive to those platforms, the report said. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the panel said, is “concerned about the use of all types of media by hostile state actors as a tool for foreign interference.”The report concluded that the nature of threats to Canada are “evolving.” Trending Now “It is becoming clearer that election interference is only one element of a broader series of threats to Canada’s democratic institutions,” it said.“As noted earlier, the medium to long-term goals of foreign interference efforts include reducing the public’s trust in democratic institutions, increasing polarization, lowering trust in the media and promoting the strategic interests of a foreign state.”This includes activities such as “the targeting of elected officials to promote foreign state interests,” as well as “encouraging individuals to act as proxies for foreign states,” and “threatening members of diaspora communities.”These actions, the report found, are occurring “long before election campaigns begin.”In recent months, Global News has reported a number of allegations of attempted Chinese interference, starting with a Nov. 7, 2022, report that Canadian intelligence officials had warned Trudeau that China had allegedly been targeting Canada. Story continues below advertisement The vast campaign of foreign interference allegedly included funding a clandestine network of at least 11 federal candidates running in the 2019 election, according to Global News sources.On Dec. 21, 2022, Global News reported that an unredacted 2020 national security document alleged that Beijing used an extensive network of community groups to conceal the flow of funds between Chinese officials and Canadian members of an election interference network, all in an effort to advance its own political agenda in the 2019 federal contest.Then, on Feb. 8, 2023, Global News reported that national security officials drafted a warning for Trudeau and his office more than a year before the 2019 federal election, alleging that Chinese agents were “assisting Canadian candidates running for political offices,” according to a Privy Council Office document reviewed by Global News.The report makes a number of recommendations about how to continue to safeguard Canada’s elections — and those who run in them — going forward.While some of the 16 recommendations aim to clarify the panel’s mandate and help them do their work within the set timeline, others called for greater communication with the public about foreign interference. 6:12 Liberal MP allegedly tied to Chinese interference: sources For example, the report said that going forward, there should be an announcement “within a year of the previous election” about the “government’s plan to safeguard the integrity of Canada’s elections.” Story continues below advertisement The panel also suggested national security agencies develop a program of “unclassified briefings” so members of Parliament and senators can be aware of foreign interference and election interference efforts — and better safeguard themselves against it.After a series of recent incidents where protesters have been aggressive with politicians — including pebbles being thrown at the prime minister on the campaign trail and a cabinet minister being verbally accosted in an elevator — the report also suggested a fresh assessment of politicians’ security options.That assessment, the report said, should consider “whether ministerial security, Royal Canadian Mounted Police protective policing, and local policing capabilities are adequate for the level and persistence of threats and whether there is effective coordination among these bodies.”“There should also be a review of the coordination between political parties and the government with respect to campaign and security operations,” it said— with files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Sam Cooper, Aaron D’Andrea &copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Share post:




More like this

More students turning to food banks as inflation shrinks already tight budgets

A local students’ association has seen significant increase...

Hundreds sign petition against Vernon, B.C. cemetery rules

Rules restricting the kind of tributes allowed to...

Guilbeault wants stronger links with Alberta on issues of oilsands tailings ponds

Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has repeated his...

Okanagan vape, cannabis store owners voice concerns about window coverings

A Penticton, B.C., vape shop owner is calling...