June 19th, 2024

Election panel for 2019 vote worried about ‘interfering’ in democracy, inquiry hears

By Stephanie Taylor and Dylan Roberston, The Canadian Press on April 8, 2024.

The public inquiry studying alleged meddling in Canada's most recent elections will hear from the prime minister's national security adviser today. Nathalie Drouin appears as a witness at the Public Order Emergency Commission, in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – A member of the panel that monitored threats to Canada’s federal election in 2019 says there were concerns that alerting the public would be seen as interfering in democracy.

Nathalie Drouin, who was deputy minister of justice at the time, is testifying today before the public inquiry into foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

The 2019 panel did not issue any warning of potential threats, although it discussed a disinformation campaign about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that members decided didn’t meet the threshold.

Drouin, now the prime minister’s national security adviser, says there were important reasons to maintain a high bar for notifying voters.

Doing so, she says, would have risked causing more harm than good by sowing confusion among Canadians.

Drouin says the panel also wanted to ensure it was not seen “as taking a position” or “interfering in a democratic exercise” during an election campaign.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 8, 2024.

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