Federal announcement about a threat to coming election will be a 'last resort'

Élection

A senior federal official says the threshold will be high for deciding to tell Canadians about an attempt to interfere in the coming general election.

The official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, says the extraordinary step of a public announcement would be a last resort.

Scenarios that might trigger an announcement include blackmail against political candidates, hacking of databases or the spread of misinformation through video manipulation or other deceptive means.

Should the government become aware of an interference attempt, security agencies would brief a panel composed of the Privy Council clerk, the national security adviser and the deputy ministers of foreign affairs, justice and public safety.

If the panel finds there is a substantial threat to a free and fair election, it would tell the prime minister, political party officials and Elections Canada about the incident and then a public announcement will be made.

Canadians would then be told what is known about the incident and any steps they should take to protect themselves.