Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections Task Force - Threats to the Canadian Federal By-elections - June 2023
On May 16, 2023, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, announced that the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections Task Force (SITE TF) was to provide enhanced monitoring and assessment of foreign interference (FI) threats directed at the federal by-elections being held on June 19, 2023 in the following four electoral districts:
- Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount, Québec
- Oxford, Ontario
- Portage-Lisgar, Manitoba
- Winnipeg South Centre, Manitoba
The SITE TF met weekly between May 16, 2023 and June 20, 2023 to review and discuss intelligence collection, assessment, and open-source analysis related to FI directed at the by-elections. As noted in the May 16, 2023 announcement, the focus of the SITE TF during the by-election period was to assess FI threats; however, the SITE TF also committed to report any observations of threats of violent extremism relating to the by-elections. The SITE TF provided daily situation reports (SITREPs) on both FI and violent extremism threats directed at the by-elections to the Deputy Minister Committee on Intelligence Response (DMCIR) from May 24 until June 21, 2023.
Scope and resources
This report covers the SITE TF observations of foreign threat actors’ intentions and activities relating to FI as well as any observations of threats of violent extremism directed at the by-elections in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount, Québec; Oxford, Ontario; Portage-Lisgar, Manitoba; and, Winnipeg South Centre, Manitoba, with votes held on June 19, 2023. It is based on analysis, reporting and observations – from both classified and unclassified sources – reviewed from May 16 until June 20, 2023.
SITE TF members and role
The SITE TF consists of representatives from the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). The SITE TF’s role is to help safeguard Canadian federal elections from FI by:
- providing a clear point of engagement with the security and intelligence community for Government partners engaged in related work.
- reviewing and focusing intelligence collection, assessment, and open-source analysis related to FI in Canada’s democratic process in a coordinated manner.
- providing situational awareness for Government partners, senior public servants, and other relevant partners.
- promoting the use of intelligence, assessment, and open-source information analysis in the protection of electoral processes through sharing with partners or, when respective mandates permit, take action to mitigate the threat.
As the Government of Canada’s (GC’s) technical authority for cyber security and information assurance and an integral member of the SITE TF, the CSE’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (the Cyber Centre) supported the federal by-elections by:
- providing the political parties with advice and guidance during a SITE briefing, including an overview of common cyber threats and best practices for IT security.
- providing enhanced monitoring of cyber incidents for Elections Canada from May 16 until June 20, 2023.
- offering political parties a 24/7 Hotline Service to obtain centralized support if party or candidate communications, email, or social media accounts were compromised. The 24/7 Hotline Service will continue to be available to political parties for reporting of cyber incidents until one month after the election. Use of the Hotline triggers an immediate response to minimize damage and restore normal operations.
The SITE TF defines foreign interference as: “activity conducted or supported by a foreign state/actor that is detrimental to Canadian national interests and is clandestine, deceptive or involves a threat to a person.” In the context of Canadian electoral processes, the objective of FI is to affect electoral outcomes and/or undermine public confidence in Canadian democratic institutions.
Observations on foreign interference
The SITE TF monitored for FI directed at the four by-elections from May 16 to June 20, 2023. The SITE TF did not observe, at that time, any indication of FI directed at the by-elections. No cyber incidents were detected to suggest that any foreign state actors were specifically targeting Elections Canada from May 16 until June 20, 2023.
While SITE TF is focused on FI, both the RCMP and CSIS have mandates and authorities to look at threats of violent extremism. For the June 19, 2023 by-elections, the SITE TF committed to reporting any threats of violent extremism directed at the by-elections.
Observations on violent extremism
The SITE TF monitored for threats of violent extremism directed at the four by-elections from May 16 to June 20, 2023. The SITE TF did not observe, at that time, any threats of violent extremism directed at the by-elections. The SITE TF did not identify any direct threats to the by-elections in social media, message boards, chatrooms, online forums or news media relating to the by-elections. No direct threats to any of the candidates, or to the administration of the election were identified.
© His Majesty the King in Right of Canada (2023)
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Cette publication est également disponible en français : Menaces pour les élections partielles fédérales du Canada – juin 2023
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