Our friendly neighbors to the north are taking election interference incredibly seriously and instead of waiting for it to happen, they are going to attempt to prevent it in advance. In fact, Canada doesn’t believe that social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are doing enough to help prevent election tampering. That’s right, war rooms and disclosure systems aren’t good enough for Canada. Which is why the Canadian Democratic Institutions Minister has established a panel of five politicians that will let the public know if and when an election has been tampered with. The interesting part is that these politicians will not only alert the Prime Minister, but they will also alert party officials, Elections Canada and hold a press conference to let the public know about the details.
How is that for transparency? I mean, it definitely sounds great, but will it work? To start, Elections Canada is a non-partisan government agency. Yes, it’s technically run by the government, but they have powers which prevent the government from touching it in many ways. It definitely begs the question as to whether or not the current Prime Minister can be transparent though. For example, if the election is swinging in favor of his party, and the meddling is against his opponent, would he be transparent enough to bring that forward? Well, guess what? He doesn’t have to. It would be brought forward by the panel of five politicians.
Who are these politicians exactly? The panel includes the Clerk of the Privy Council, the National Security Advisor, and the Deputy Ministers of Global Affairs Canada, Justice and Public Safety. You’re probably thinking – that’s not fair, especially if these people are appointed to their positions by the Prime Minister himself. But this is where it gets interesting. The Clerk of the Privy Council is appointed by the Governor General, not by the Prime Minister directly. The National Security Advisor, however, is appointed by the PM, but Deputy Minister positions are not elected nor appointment. In Canada, a deputy minister is the senior civil servant within the government. In their day-to-day work, they take direction from the Cabinet Minister, who is appointed by the PM, after they’ve become a Member of Parliament.
This is an interesting take on a modern day problem. But why is Canada doing this? Canada is tied very closely to the United States in terms of its economy and the more turmoil that happens south of the border, as a result of election tampering, the more trouble they are going to see. So this kind of makes sense.
That said, is this something that can even be prevented? I mean, if a third party has been able to meddle in an election by spreading fake news, is there anything that can be done about it? I guess the stance that Canada is taking is saying that they will go on record and let citizens know about what has happened. But this is in addition to what Twitter and Facebook are doing. Who is actually responsible for this? On one hand, it makes sense that Canada is being extra careful, but shouldn’t the social networking companies whose platforms are enabling the meddling