Foreign Interference Commission Releases Initial Report | Unpublished

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Foreign Interference Commission Releases Initial Report

May 3, 2024
Cover of the Canadian Foreign Interference Commission's Initial Report; May 3, 2024

Message from the Commissioner

There is growing concern about foreign interference in our electoral processes and democratic institutions. In this context, the government established the Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference in Federal Electoral Processes and Democratic Institutions ("the Commission"). I have the honour of chairing the Commission and presenting this report.

The Commission recently completed the first phase of its work, which focused on three issues.

  • The first is to determine whether China, Russia and other foreign actors interfered in the 2019 and 2021 federal general elections and, if so, the potential impact of this interference on the integrity of the elections;
  • The second is to examine the flow of information to senior decision makers, as well as between the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections Task Force (“SITE TF”) and the panel of five senior public servants tasked with informing Canadians in the event of a critical electoral incident that would threaten the integrity of the elections (the “Panel of Five”);
  • The third is to examine the measures taken by the government in response to the information it had;

In the second stage of its work, the Commission will examine the capacity of various state actors and processes to detect, deter and counter foreign interference, and make recommendations on how to strengthen this capacity. The Commission's work is far from over.

Read or download the Inquiry's report below in PDF or visit their website in the references. 

May 3, 2024 (Ottawa) -- After conducting months of investigation and hearing from more than 60 witnesses during 21 days of hearings, the Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference in Federal Electoral Processes and Democratic Institutions has released its Initial Report, which focuses on foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

Commissioner Marie-Josée Hogue found that the Canadian electoral system itself is robust, but she did find evidence of foreign interference.  “Acts of foreign interference did occur during the last two federal general elections, but they did not undermine the integrity of our electoral system,” she said. “Our system remains sound. Voters were able to cast their ballots, their votes were duly registered and counted and there is nothing to suggest that there was any interference whatsoever in this regard. Nor did foreign interference have any impact on which party formed the government in the two most recent elections. Nonetheless, the acts of interference that occurred are a stain on our electoral process and impacted the process leading up to the actual vote.”

The Commission has reviewed thousands of documents to date, many of which are classified by the Government on the grounds of national security.  “The Commission had access to the documents it deemed relevant, without any redactions for national security reasons. I can therefore say that our team was able to conduct our investigative work without limitation on access to classified information,” said Commissioner Hogue.

The Commission faces an immense challenge in balancing the protection of Canada's national security interests with the transparency of its work. The Commission has released a substantial amount of information and documents, enabling the public to gain a better understanding of what happened during the last two elections.

The Initial Report also addresses how information about foreign interference concerns circulated within the government apparatus, and the actions that were taken in response. “I have not found evidence of any actions taken in bad faith, but I have found that there were some communication problems and a certain lack of understanding of the role that everyone plays, or should play, in combatting foreign interference,” she said.

The findings in the Initial Report are preliminary. “The Commission will soon begin the second Stage of its work, and it is possible that this Stage will shed further light, or even a different light, on some of the events investigated and reported in the first Stage,” said Commissioner Hogue. “That said, I do not think it likely that the main conclusions in this report will change.”

The second Stage of the Commission’s work will include an examination and assessment of the capacity of relevant federal departments, agencies, institutional structures, and governance processes to permit the Government of Canada to detect, deter and counter any form of foreign interference directly or indirectly targeting Canada’s democratic processes. 

Stage Two of the Commission’s work will also focus on the experiences of diaspora community members. Canadians will have the opportunity to share their experiences with, and views on, foreign interference through the Commission’s public outreach program, the details of which will soon be announced.  This Stage of the Commission’s investigation will culminate in public hearings to be held in the Fall.

The Commission will also hear from various experts who will advise the Commission on means of better protecting federal democratic processes from foreign interference during the Policy Phase of its work in the Fall.

The Commission’s Final Report, which must be submitted to the government by December 31, 2024, will include recommendations about how to protect Canada’s elections and democratic institutions from foreign interference.

The Commission’s Initial Report


Michael Tansey

Sr. Communications Advisor

Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference in Federal Electoral Processes and Democratic Institutions

(343) 630-2154

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