Election Risk Monitor: Canada

Election Risk Monitor: Canada

The context in which we’re operating here, with the Election Commission, is an international trend toward malicious interference in democratic processes. And I think we should be under no illusions in Canada — we face those same threats in the federal election, which will be held in October of 2019. The threats that I’m talking about are really threats to three things. First of all, to politicians and political parties; second, to voters; and third, to the election process itself, and let me explain what I mean. In terms of politicians and political parties, we saw in America, in 2016, how the Russians hacked into the email of the Democratic Party and then leaked those emails in a strategic way to try and do harm and influence the outcome of the election. Secondly, voters themselves are vulnerable to being manipulated, misled, interfered with. Voters these days derive an awful lot of their information electronically, from social media. And those social media platforms are vulnerable to interference, to misinformation. And lastly, the political system itself. I mean, we’re lucky in Canada, because we have an old-fashioned paper ballot, we don’t vote electronically, so the act of voting itself cannot be interfered with. But, we store our information electronically, and so we have to be careful that it’s not interfered with. The Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity met here in Ottawa at the end of April. We brought in members from around the world, and it gave me an opportunity to present to my colleagues on the Commission a report of what Canada has been doing. For example, Canada amended our Elections Act in legislation that was adopted last December, to strengthen it in many ways: to prohibit absolutely any foreign financing of Canada’s election, to prohibit misinformation, to make it clear what the expectations are in terms of the truth of statements made by candidates or people about candidates. Number two, the government of Canada also committed $750 million toward the creation of a new Cyber Security Centre, and that money is being used to consolidate the bits and pieces of cyber security that are present in departments throughout government and bring it into one place. Third, the government has created a whole-of-government approach toward defending our elections. There’s something called SITE, which is a task force intended to identify and defeat threats to our elections’ integrity. The government of Canada is also leading an effort among G7 countries, called the Rapid Response Mechanism, which is intended to coordinate the responses by all the democracies of the G7 in defending against these threats. I think there are still gaps to be addressed. The biggest vulnerability is through the social media platforms, and Canada, to this moment, has not regulated social media. Self-regulation is rarely successful in protecting the public interest. The main interest for the big social media companies is returning value to their shareholders, not protecting the electorate of Canada. So, there should be measures taken to protect Canada’s elections which force social media to behave in certain ways. It’s not enough for Canada to act alone in regulating social media, because they are global platforms. And here’s where the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity hopes to make a contribution: by learning about what democracies are doing around the world; identifying measures that work, that are enforceable, that are effective; and sharing those best practices among democracies, so that we can pick and choose and put in place in Canada what has been seen to work elsewhere. Crucial to the health of democracies is the ability to have a conversation among voters that is frank and direct but that is based in truth and reality and not distorted by some malicious foreign actor who wants to undermine the strength of our countries.

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10 thoughts on “Election Risk Monitor: Canada

  1. at 3:36 He says the Canadian government needs to "Force social media to behave in certain ways," then at the end he says, "Crucial to the health of democracies is the ability to have a conversation among voters that is based in truth and reality." These statements are contradictory and problematic at best considering our only view into "truth & reality", outside of the mainstream media, is social media. Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, its our own state run media (CBC) that is distorting reality and undermining the strength of our country by monopolizing the conversation. For example the CBC is telling Canadians they are Genocidal even though we live in one of the most peaceful countries in the world. Another example is being told Canada is responsible for climate change and pollution around the world, when we are not even close to being the worst offender as a developed country. This is far from truth and reality in my opinion. The CBC is supposed to exist to serve the public interest and uphold a productive conversation that is "frank, direct, and based in reality." In my experience, these days, I can only truly find that through social media, and you want the government to regulate that as well? It's a very professional and well done video but it smells like halibut.

  2. What a big pile of crap!

    This is a globalist move to spy on Canadians more and curtail free speech. #TrudeauMustGo

  3. The Ministry of Truth must not have competition; we must ensure you elect Big Brother for your own good. Long life to the Republic!

  4. He is absolutely correct in that social media can be manipulated in order to sway public opinion!!
    And that is exactly what happened in the last election! The US government flooded social media sites to change the outcome of that election! The NDP was at 48% 3 months before the election, and at the time of voting, 15%!!! Nothing could have enacted a change in that short a time BUT social media!
    If you think this is farfetched, I invite you to have a look at the comments on CBC videos, here on youtube. The stories are full of americans commenting and quite often pretending to be Canadian! They stand out a mile, and can't figure out why!

  5. Canadians will not benefit from becoming so "conspiracy-theory-bonkers" as our southern neighbors. But we do need to be increasingly conscious of where we are getting our "informing information" from. It's the same as being astute when someone with a thick accent calls you and tells you you have some special Microsoft rebate or tax issue they will fix if you just give them your vital personal data.
    There are forces at work trying to use the democratic process to overthrow that process. And they hide in plain sight with names like the one above. (Now I have not personally vetted the CIGI yet, but someone should and share the results).
    I'm currently vetting a story from CTV News saying "a study" found that Canadians are polarized but that social media isn't a significant factor. Now that's a suspicious assertion in and of itself to anyone who knows just how adept social-media-bots are at discerning your viewing patterns and feeding you just the stuff from that particular echo-chamber. "The Study" led to a special "school" within McGill U gifted with a profound "vagueness" about their core guiding principles and couched in profound exposé of words that sound nice but really don't tell you anything about who they are or what they're up to — other than "influencing public policy". I couldn't find which way and to what end things were being influenced. I also noticed in their methodology they were using . . . just Twitter . . . as a representation of the pantheon of "social media"?
    So then I looked at their "supporting organizations" for "the study" and where was the impression of some of them being "above-board"; but a number of them seemed to be sharing the same puppet-babble very high-sounding but exceedingly vague representation of who they are and what they stand for. A number of them also talk about "effectively influencing" public policy. But to what end is hard to discern.

    Any company, movement, organization etc should tell you clearly and up-front what their rubric, motivation and desired outcomes are. If their website's front page instead gives you puppet-babble, assertions about the influencing and changing of public policy and how nice their diversity mix and social representation is and "nice people" saying random "nice things", be cautious.
    A company with truly noble intents will be able to express them very succinctly and understandably up-front.
    And far too much about CTV's "story" on "the study" simply led to baffle-gab assertions and virtue-signaling language, quite likely with the intent of saying, "We're not trying to subvert opinion with social media! There's nothing to see there, so stop looking!
    They correctly point out the symptom of "polarizing tribal warfare" . . . but then work to try to diminish or eve dismiss social media as a factor. Think about that.

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