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Canadian intelligence agencies have detected “overt and covert” attempts to interfere with the country’s October 2019 elections, according to a joint Toronto Star and Buzzfeed News investigation.

Canadian Intelligence

” Threat actors are seeking to influence the Canadian public and interfere with Canada’s democratic institutions and processes….For example, over the years (CSIS) has seen multiple instances of foreign states targeting specific communities here in Canada, both in person and through the use of online campaigns,” said Tahera Mufti, a spokesperson for Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

” Threat actors are seeking to influence the Canadian public and interfere with Canada’s democratic institutions and processes….For example, over the years (CSIS) has seen multiple instances of foreign states targeting specific communities here in Canada, both in person and through the use of online campaigns.”

The question of expanded ‘threat-reduction’ powers is politically controversial among the Canadian national security establishment, as Conservative and Liberal administrations have had differing policies.

Under Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, CSIS was permitted to go beyond intelligence-gathering into the realm of direct action to fight threats to Canadian interests and national security. When Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took office, these expanded powers were more specifically enumerated to include “reasonable” and “proportionate” directions. CSIS options for direct action reportedly include disrupting communications and financial transactions, interfering with freedom of movement or even impersonating another person.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Organization criticized the lack of transparency around direct action.

” We outside of the security [agencies] don’t really know what they’re doing, so I don’t know what threat reduction looks like in the election-interference context….So even for a very laudable objective like ensuring our elections have integrity, we do still have concerns. … There’s not a lot of information about what security services are talking about in terms of what constitutes a threat to the election or, more broadly, sort of threats to democratic institutions,” said Cara Faith Zwibel of the CCLO.Cara Faith Zwibel of the CCLO.

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