The Critical Election Incident Public Protocol

Backgrounder

The Critical Election Incident Public Protocol (CEIPP) was the mechanism for communicating with Canadians during the 2019 General Election in a clear, transparent and impartial manner if there had been an incident that threatened the election’s integrity (e.g. hacking of a government website or wide-scale disinformation). It was created to ensure coherence and consistency in the Government of Canada’s approach to publicly informing Canadians during the writ period about incidents of election interference.

During the election, the threshold triggering the use of the CEIPP was limited to exceptional circumstances that could impair Canadians’ ability to have a free and fair election, whether based on a single incident or an accumulation of incidents.

A panel made up of the following five senior public servants determined whether this threshold had been met:

  • the Clerk of the Privy Council;
  • the National Security and Intelligence Advisor to the Prime Minister;
  • the Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General;
  • the Deputy Minister of Public Safety; and
  • the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The process for a public announcement during the writ period was:

  • Heads of national security agencies become aware of election interference during the writ period and brief the Panel.
  • The Panel evaluates the threat, and if it determines that the threshold for informing the public has been met and that Canada’s ability to have a free and fair election has been jeopardized, the Panel informs the Prime Minister, political party officials, and Elections Canada of the incident. A public announcement is then made.
  • Barring any national security considerations, Canadians are informed of what is known about the incident and any steps they should take to protect themselves.

During the 2019 General Election, no threats met the threshold, and therefore none were reported to Canadians.

For more information on the CEIPP, please visit:

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