The Hamilton Spectator

Clarify when to reveal election interferen­ce, report says


The federal government should explore lowering the threshold for when to notify Canadians about potential interferen­ce in the middle of an election campaign, says a report released Tuesday evaluating how an independen­t panel monitored the 2021 election.

Former civil servant Morris Rosenberg, who was tasked with writing the independen­t report on the protocol designed to inform Canadians in the event of threats to the 2021 federal election, concluded it worked well overall.

But he made several recommenda­tions on better informing Canadians about what the panel created by the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol would consider cause for concern and urged further study on whether to lower the bar on when to tell them about potential threats.

The report comes more than 17 months after the last election, at a time when media reports regarding allegation­s of Chinese interferen­ce in both the 2019 and 2021 elections have led to increased scrutiny of the protocol and calls for greater transparen­cy over potential threats.

The protocol was created in 2019 to monitor threats to federal elections. If a threat meets its threshold, the panel created by the protocol can make an announceme­nt to Canadians. The threshold currently sets out several considerat­ions, including the degree to which the incident undermines Canadians’ ability to have a free and fair election, the potential for an incident to undermine election credibilit­y and the degree of confidence officials have in the intelligen­ce of informatio­n about an incident.

Rosenberg said the panel did not find there was foreign interferen­ce in the 2019 or 2021 elections that compared to the scale of Russian interferen­ce in the 2016 U.S. election.

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