Canada PM warns of Russian interference in parliamentary polls

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday warned of the risk of interference by Russia in Canadian parliamentary elections scheduled for this fall.

“We’ve seen over the past number of years an increase in the interference or the implication of foreign actors in democratic processes,” Trudeau told a news conference in Toronto.

“We saw very clearly that countries like Russia are behind a lot of the divisive campaigns, a lot of the divisive social media, you know, spreads that have turned our politics even more divisive and more anger-filled than they have been in the past,” he said.

“Our minister of democratic institutions, Karina Gould, is moving forward on a number of significant ways to ensure that the election that is coming up in six months will be decided by Canadians,” he added.
“That is what Canadians expect.”

The Canadian leader echoed his foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, who said that outside interference in the country’s upcoming vote was “very likely.”

“We are very concerned. Our judgment is that interference is very likely and we think there have probably already been efforts by malign foreign actors to disrupt our democracy,” Freeland said on the sidelines of a G7 meeting in northern France.

“What we are seeing in many liberal democracies, the effort is not so much to secure a particular outcome in an election,” she said. “The effort is to make our societies more polarized and make us, as citizens of democracies, more cynical about democracy and that it can work.”

Facing such risks, Ottawa announced in late January the establishment of a special task force to fight disinformation and foreign meddling in the upcoming polls.

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