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

Over 200 lives saved in first year at Victoria’s supervised consumption site

The Harbour celebrates its first anniversary with a report of zero deaths on site

Greater Victoria group helps low-income, at-risk seniors stay safe

Victoria chapter of 100+ Women Who Care donate $30,300 to Eldercare Foundation

Victoria businesses remain plastic-bag free, despite court ruling

Business association says no one has inquired into re-establishing the use of plastic bags

Views, brews and food on Gulf Islands craft beer cruise

Five day cruise from Sidney to Gulf Islands, includes chef and beer historian

Researchers head out from Sidney to explore Canada’s largest underwater volcano

The Explorer Seamount is as large as Greater Vancouver and full of previously undiscovered species

VIDEO: Dashcam video captures moment Victoria cyclist struck

Police seeking cyclist captured in video

Wolves not to blame for Island’s declining deer population, says researcher

Forestry practices, not predation, blamed for reduced numbers in prey animals

Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Most Read