NATO researchers consult federal government on foreign election meddling

A leading NATO researcher says Canadian voters have a duty to think critically about the news they consume as foreign-interference threats loom over the coming federal election.

Janis Sarts, the director of the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, says Canadians have to keep their emotions and knee-jerk reactions in check to avoid succumbing to malevolent foreign actors who want to tamper with the democratic process.

Top officials with the NATO communications centre are in Ottawa this week as part of the federal government's efforts to shore up Canada's democratic institutions ahead of the federal vote.

Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould told an event sponsored by the centre and the government that foreign meddling can rear its head in the months leading up to an election.

She says journalists have a role to play in explaining issues to citizens in what can be heated election campaigns where information can travel through cyberspace at lightning speed.

Last month, Gould said the federal government isn't getting enough help from the world's biggest social-media companies, including Google and Facebook, in efforts to head off foreign interference, such as the election meddling the U.S. experienced from Russia in 2016.