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

Candidate corner: Cowichan-Malahat-Langford hopefuls talk environment and climate change

This is part one of a four-part series outlining candidates’ thoughts on key topics

Pumps at Cowichan Lake shut down

Recent rain raised water levels

Cowichan United opens season with draw

Good start to season for Div. 2 women’s soccer team

Review: ‘Mrs. Warren’s Profession’ offers audiences a choice, and a lot to chew on

George Bernard Shaw 19th century morality play still rings true in 2019

Catch Michael Kaeshammer at the Cowichan Theatre on Sept. 26

Vibrant virtuosity and musical excitement is the name of the game when Kaeshammer takes the stage

Yearbook photo surfaces of Trudeau wearing ‘brownface’ costume in 2001

The report describes the occasion as an ‘Arabian Nights’-themed gala event

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

B.C. bus crash survivor petitions feds to fix road where classmates died

UVic student’s petition well over halfway to 5k signature goal

NDP, Liberals promise more spending, while Tories promise spending cuts

Making life more affordable for Canadians a focus in the 2019 election

UPDATE: Police probe third threat against a Kamloops high school in eight days

Police have not released any further details into what the threat includes

Most Read