Feds refuse to disclose details of Russian meddling in Canadian elections

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in September that there was not “much direct interference” by Russia

Despite publicly confirming that Russia interfered in the last federal election and warning that it will doubtless try again in next year’s vote, the Trudeau government won’t provide any details about the alleged meddling.

It is refusing to respond to a written question from Alberta Conservative MP Blaine Calkins, who had pointed out that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in September that there was not “much direct interference” by Russia in the 2015 federal election.

He asked in what specific ways Russia did interfere, then.

In a response from the prime minister’s parliamentary secretary, the government says the answer to Calkins’ question has been withheld under section 15 of the Access to Information Act “for reasons of international affairs.”

That section exempts the government from disclosing information that could be injurious to the conduct of international affairs, the defence of Canada or its allies or the detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities.

RELATED: Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Trudeau’s comment is not the only time the government has suggested Russia has already interfered in Canadian elections.

Last March, Canada expelled four Russian diplomats over the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain.

At the time, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a statement saying: “The four have been identified as intelligence officers or individuals who have used their diplomatic status to undermine Canada’s security or interfere in our democracy.” She refused to elaborate.

Just this week, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan warned that Canadian voters will be targeted by online cyberattacks and fake news during next fall’s federal election as Russia steps up its efforts to undermine Western democracies.

“We have taken this into account very seriously in our defence policy,” Harjit Sajjan said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “We need to further educate our citizens about the impact of fake news. No one wants to be duped by anybody.”

Given all that, Calkins said he finds it “kind of puzzling” that the government refuses to disclose any details about what Russia has already been up to.

“Canadians do have a right to know if there is Russian interference in our democratic process,” he said in an interview Thursday, adding that it’s hard for voters to know what to watch out for in future if they don’t know what’s happened in the past.

“It’s very unfortunate that this information is being kept from the Canadian public.”

RELATED: Bill just one tool to deter foreign interference in Canadian elections: Gould

Calkins pointed out that the United States has been far more open about Russian meddling in its 2016 presidential election.

American intelligence officials have issued detailed reports on efforts by Russian operatives to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign and bolster Donald Trump’s chances, including hacking into Democratic campaign emails and creating hundreds of phoney social-media accounts to disseminate fake news and undermine public trust in the electoral process.

Joan Bryden , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Duncan city council declares climate change emergency

“I think sometimes it’s important to start with identifying the fact that something’s real.”

Andrea Rondeau column: Second chance for dogs in Duncan bylaw a good idea

I’m not usually timid around animals, big or small.

Drivesmart column: Electronic monitoring pilot projects already underway

Our current system of trying to change driver behaviour largely consists of traffic tickets

Robert Barron column: Hats off to humanitarian workers

Saurazas didn’t seem to be fazed very much by the peril she was exposed to

Cowichan Valley jazz graduate wins prestigious scholarship

Bassist Brock Meades and drummer Graham Villette get $2,000 Fraser MacPherson Scholarship

Duncan Grande Parade draws a crowd

Entries old and new enjoyed by a big audience

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read