Feds refuse to disclose details of Russian meddling in Canadian elections

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in September that there was not “much direct interference” by Russia

Despite publicly confirming that Russia interfered in the last federal election and warning that it will doubtless try again in next year’s vote, the Trudeau government won’t provide any details about the alleged meddling.

It is refusing to respond to a written question from Alberta Conservative MP Blaine Calkins, who had pointed out that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in September that there was not “much direct interference” by Russia in the 2015 federal election.

He asked in what specific ways Russia did interfere, then.

In a response from the prime minister’s parliamentary secretary, the government says the answer to Calkins’ question has been withheld under section 15 of the Access to Information Act “for reasons of international affairs.”

That section exempts the government from disclosing information that could be injurious to the conduct of international affairs, the defence of Canada or its allies or the detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities.

RELATED: Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Trudeau’s comment is not the only time the government has suggested Russia has already interfered in Canadian elections.

Last March, Canada expelled four Russian diplomats over the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain.

At the time, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a statement saying: “The four have been identified as intelligence officers or individuals who have used their diplomatic status to undermine Canada’s security or interfere in our democracy.” She refused to elaborate.

Just this week, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan warned that Canadian voters will be targeted by online cyberattacks and fake news during next fall’s federal election as Russia steps up its efforts to undermine Western democracies.

“We have taken this into account very seriously in our defence policy,” Harjit Sajjan said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “We need to further educate our citizens about the impact of fake news. No one wants to be duped by anybody.”

Given all that, Calkins said he finds it “kind of puzzling” that the government refuses to disclose any details about what Russia has already been up to.

“Canadians do have a right to know if there is Russian interference in our democratic process,” he said in an interview Thursday, adding that it’s hard for voters to know what to watch out for in future if they don’t know what’s happened in the past.

“It’s very unfortunate that this information is being kept from the Canadian public.”

RELATED: Bill just one tool to deter foreign interference in Canadian elections: Gould

Calkins pointed out that the United States has been far more open about Russian meddling in its 2016 presidential election.

American intelligence officials have issued detailed reports on efforts by Russian operatives to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign and bolster Donald Trump’s chances, including hacking into Democratic campaign emails and creating hundreds of phoney social-media accounts to disseminate fake news and undermine public trust in the electoral process.

Joan Bryden , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Washout brings delays to drivers heading in and out of Tofino-Ucluelet

West Coast commuters are facing delays Tuesday morning.

Ucluelet’s Royal Marine Search and Rescue team seeking new recruits

“We’re on call for anything and everything on the water.”

Five rescued after boat crashes between Tofino and Ahousaht

“Ahousaht has always been a willing participant to save anyone who is in distress in our territory.”

Search continues for missing Tofino dog allegedly taken by tourists

Shannon Boothman fears Itska has been taken off Vancouver Island after sighting at Nanaimo ferry.

Northbound lanes re-open along Malahat after small rockslide near Goldstream

Drivers asked to use caution, clean-up crews have finished on-site

Bye bye Bei Bei: Giant panda born in U.S. zoo heads to China

Panda heads back to China as part of cooperative breeding program

B.C. man gets life with no parole until 2042 for murder of Belgian tourist near Boston Bar

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

Salvation Army kettle campaign targets $200,000 for Island residents in need

Goal is to raise $250,000 this year for Vancouver Island residents needing support

‘Very disrespectful’: B.C. first responder irked by motorists recording collisions on cellphones

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue deputy chief challenges motorists to break the habit

Daily cannabis linked to reduction in opioid use: B.C. researchers

Researchers looked at a group of 1,152 people in Vancouver who reported substance use and chronic pain

Port Alberni rallies for mill workers

Fundraisers helping ease the sting of five months without work

Island student lobbies school board for dress code consistency

Jaylene Kuo contacted school trustees after seeing dress guidelines at brother’s school

Bids down, costs up on Highway 1, B.C. independent contractors say

Rally protests NDP government’s union-only public construction

Members of little people community applaud change to drop ‘midget’ term

‘It’s not about sensitivity,’ says Allan Redford, the president of the Little People of Canada

Most Read