Director of Canada's spy agency agrees integrity of federal elections not compromised

OTTAWA — The director of Canada's spy agency says foreign actors did not compromise the past two federal elections.

David Vigneault says he agrees with an independent panel tasked with overseeing the elections that determined foreign interference did not affect their outcome.

Under a federal protocol, there would be a public announcement if the panel of senior bureaucrats determined that an incident — or an accumulation of incidents — threatened Canada's ability to have a free and fair election.

There was no such announcement in 2021 or concerning the 2019 election.

Vigneault is testifying in front of the procedure and House affairs committee today, where he says CSIS takes foreign interference seriously, and he often briefs the prime minister and other ministers on the issue.

He says it's important to protect certain information from the public because foreign governments are learning how CSIS works, the types of powers it has, and what it can do.

Meanwhile the deputy commissioner of federal policing for the RCMP, Michael Duheme, said the Mounties did not receive any "actionable intelligence" about the last election that would lead to an investigation, and no charges have been laid.

Earlier Thursday, the commissioner of Canada Elections told the committee her office is reviewing past complaints related to foreign interference following recent media reports that allege China tried to meddle in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

Caroline Simard said her office received 158 complaints related to 10 situations in the 2019 election, and 16 complaints related to 13 situations during the 2021 election.

It is not clear if any of those complaints were found to be actual cases of foreign interference.

She says two more complaints have been brought to her office since she last testified at the procedure and House affairs committee in November.

Simard was back at the committee Thursday, where she told MPs she is not able to provide further comment about the investigation in order to protect its integrity.

Her office can work with CSIS and the RCMP, and Simard does have the power under the Criminal Code to bring charges forward if there is evidence that an offence occurred.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2023.

The Canadian Press