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Statements and Speeches

Remarks of the Chief Electoral Officer before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs Foreign election interference

March 2, 2023


Thank you, Madam Chair.

I will state at the outset that I am not in a position to comment on the accuracy of the information in the Globe and Mail article referred to in the motion adopted by the Committee on Tuesday, February 21st, as the information has not been shared with me previously or since.

And while I encourage everyone to treat it with caution, the article raises questions that are of great concern for our democracy and for our national sovereignty. Foreign interference is not a partisan issue: it can target elected and public officials at all levels of government, across political parties.

Canadians have a right to know that our institutions have clear mandates, that they have the tools to pursue those mandates, that there are mechanisms for collaboration and sharing of information, as appropriate, and that the laws are adequate. Canadians also have a right to know that every effort is deployed to tackle the threat of foreign interference.

While it is not possible to draw a straight line between foreign influence and the outcome of a particular election, acts of foreign interference attack the fairness of the electoral process and must be addressed to protect our democracy.

When I appeared on November 1st, I spoke of the importance of a whole-of-government approach. I would add that political parties, electoral district associations and local campaigns also have a crucial role to play.

Foreign interference is conducted through a range of tactics, and countering those tactics requires an array of measures, both legislative and non-legislative. Several suggestions have been made, within and outside of this committee. None of them, including recommendations that I have made, provide a complete answer. We cannot totally shield ourselves from foreign interference, but we can and must increase resiliency.

Thank you for inviting me today. I welcome your questions.