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LETTER: Officials draw 'fine line' on election interference

Testimony from Canadian Security and Intelligence Service and Privy Council office 'very disturbing', former Conservative Solicitor General says
2021-03-20 Letter
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I have been following the news coverage of the Inquiry into Foreign Interference with Canadian elections with interest, from the perspective of a former Conservative Solicitor General, and as a candidate in five Federal elections.

The testimony of officials from the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service and the Privy Council office is very disturbing. 

One example, officials from the Privy Council office testified that false allegations against Prime Minister Trudeau in a message on WeChat were treated differently. In the case of the Prime Minister, they took steps to see that the article was deleted because they were afraid it would go viral and risked “threatening the integrity of the election”.

In the case of Conservative leader Erin O'Toole and Conservative candidate Ken Chou, false allegations were treated differently, apparently because they were “written in Mandarin” and not considered likely to reach the broader Canadian population. So the same officials took no action. In my opinion that is drawing a pretty fine line.

A Privy Council staffer explains the situation this way: “I do not want to leave you with the impression that it was treated with any less seriousness. I am only observing that they had different qualities.”  

As we say in Simcoe North: “That dog won't hunt.” That is only one example of the nonsense that has been repeated time and time again by Federal Government officials. One is reminded of the phrase: “The gang that couldn't shoot straight.”

I could go on at length, but I want to deal with what foreign interference in a Federal election means to candidates and their supporters.

Elections are contested by candidates with the support of volunteers. Elections are a lot of hard work. Candidates and volunteers spend time, energy and money on the outcome. Everyone is entitled to think that there is no foreign interference in a Canadian election, by any country. 

Every vote counts. In my case I won three elections handily, won one by 66 votes, lost the last one. In the one I won by 66 votes we worked just as hard as in the others. 

The findings of the Commission will be important in helping us to prevent future foreign interference in our elections. However, if the same “gang that couldn't shoot straight” is still overseeing elections it may not make any difference.

Doug Lewis