In a report submitted to the House of Commons on Tuesday, Chief Electoral Officer Stephane Perrault outlined his plan to quash disinformation about elections before it has a chance to spread throughout Canada.
"False information about the electoral process and the integrity of elections can harm public trust in elections," Perrault wrote. "This can serve to facilitate voter suppression and, in the longer term, jeopardize trust in the entire electoral system on which democracies rest."
He pointed out that there are currently "no specific prohibitions" in the Elections Modernization Act against making false statements about the electoral process," and suggested that there ought to be.
"To protect against inaccurate information that is intended to disrupt the conduct of an election or undermine its legitimacy," Perrault advised, "amend the Act to prohibit a person or entity, including foreign persons and entities, from knowingly making false statements about the voting process, including about voting and counting procedures, in order to disrupt the conduct of the election or to undermine the legitimacy of the election or its results."
Perrault also noted that current provisions prohibiting foreign interference in elections only pertained to the election period, and advised that the timeframe be extended to include the pre-election period.
He then took aim at political parties who "promote hatred," recommending that a court be given the authority to determine whether or not they may be allowed to register as official parties and reap the benefits that come with that status.
The protection of Canada's elections against threats is only one of nine areas Perrault's report focuses on. Others include making elections more accessible, moving beyond advertising, and regulating channels of electoral communication.
Stéphane Perrault was nominated for his position by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2018.
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