Loading articles...

CSIS warns of increasingly sophisticated state-sponsored activity targeting elections

Last Updated Jul 22, 2021 at 3:10 pm EDT

A sample ballot box is seen ahead of the 2019 federal election at Elections Canada's offices in Gatineau, Que., Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. A judicial recount in the Montreal riding of Hochelaga was cancelled Monday midway through the process. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA — The Canadian Security Intelligence Service says it continues to observe steady, and in some cases increasing, foreign interference by state actors against Canada.

In a new report on the threat, CSIS says it has observed persistent and sophisticated state-sponsored threat activity targeting elections for many years and continues to see a rise in its frequency and sophistication.

For instance, CSIS sees social media being leveraged to spread disinformation or run foreign influenced campaigns designed to confuse or divide public opinion, or interfere in healthy public debate.

The service warns that although Canada’s electoral system is strong, foreign interference can erode trust and threaten the integrity of the country’s democratic institutions, political system, fundamental rights and freedoms, and ultimately, its sovereignty.

The spy service’s warning comes amid speculation Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will pull the plug on the minority Parliament in coming weeks, sending Canadians to the polls.

CSIS is a member of the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections task force, which co-ordinates efforts to protect federal elections.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2021.

The Canadian Press