Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc reiterated that the four by-elections occurring across the nation, including one in Calgary, would be free from the influence of foreign interference.
Speaking to the media in Calgary on June 19, Minister LeBlanc said that the federal government would continue to utilize a task force of senior Canadian security and intelligence leadership to ensure the integrity of Canada’s elections.
That task force was formed in 2019, and was utilized again in 2021, he said.
“A task force representing the senior leadership of Canada’s security and intelligence communities meets very regularly during the electoral process precisely to monitor and respond to attempts from foreign countries perhaps to interfere in a democratic process,” Minister LeBlanc said.
“It’s obviously essential in a general election context. We thought it was also essential to have these independent nonpartisan professional people on the job very much engaged during a by-election process.”
Questions over whether foreign nations, including those of China, Russia, and United States, have influenced elections in Canada has raged over the past several months.
Foreign interference special rapporteur David Johnston resigned from that position this month after what he said was intense politicization over his work to report on the possibility of foreign influence.
Johnson, a former Governor General of Canada, had been appointed to investigate the possibility after the Globe and Mail published a series of stories claiming that the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service had said the 2019 General Election had been influenced by China.
That appointment was contested by members of the Conservative Party of Canada, including its leader, Pierre Pollievre.
The by-election in Calgary Heritage is being held on Monday, July 24, 2023.
Minister LeBlanc said that political party leadership, along with local campaigns, would have access to that task force.
“One of the benefits of this mechanism is it provides local campaigns and national political organizations with direct access to the senior leadership of intelligence agencies, as particular questions arise as particular things in a local context may appear,” he said.
“We’re able to have the most senior, nonpartisan public servants respond with opposition parties as well, to ensure that we have obviously all of the information necessary to take all of the steps necessary.”
He said that he was confident based on the intelligence briefings that he had received, that there will not be foreign interference in any of the by-elections.
“These measures are working and the by-elections that are underway now, and the by-election here in Calgary, will be decided by Canadians in Canada.”