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Canada creating system to detect, prevent, and warn public re: Russian election interference, ahead of 2019 election

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Canada learned from the 2016 US election, and Brexit.



To ward off the type of threats that tainted the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the Brexit vote, the government is setting up a new "critical election incident public protocol" group — five bureaucrats who will alert the public if they become aware of interference during the campaign period, also known as the writ period.

The panel will be made up of:


The Clerk of the Privy Council.
The federal national security and intelligence adviser.
The deputy minister of justice.
The deputy minister of public safety.
The deputy minister of Global Affairs Canada (GAC).


No elected officials will sit on the council, in order to remove any game-playing. Politicians would also not be able to stop any public announcements about attempted interference.



Gould said that, given Canada is a member of both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, it would be "naive" to assume this country won't be targeted in the lead-up to the election.


If the team determines there's a substantial threat — either foreign and domestic — it would alert the prime minister, political party officials and Elections Canada that it would be holding a news conference to warn the public and advise people on what they should do to protect themselves.



Government officials, speaking to reporters on background, said the threshold for going public would have to be high, involving threats deemed "disruptive" to a free and fair election in October. As examples of such threats they cited the email hacking scandal in France or videos spreading false information that go viral.


While politicians would be alerted first, the government officials said they wouldn't be in a position to stop the panel from going public.


One official said the protocol would be used in "Comey-like" incidents — a nod to the former FBI director who struggled with the timing of his disclosure of the bureau's probe of potential links between Russian officials and President Donald Trump's campaign.


The opposition parties aren't against it. In fact, they think it should go further, such as allowing Canada to order the cooperation of Facebook and other social-media platforms which allow the spread of misinformation.


A new intelligence-based taskforce (jointly run between the intelligence agencies) is also being created that will work year-round to prevent interference:



The government also will be bringing together members of Canada's intelligence agencies — the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the RCMP and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), along with GAC — to try to prevent clandestine or criminal forces from influencing the electoral process.


This new Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections (SITE) Task Force will work to identify foreign threats to Canada's electoral process and help the government respond. Unlike the panel, it will be active outside the writ period as well.


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