April 30, 2018 10:26 am
Updated: April 30, 2018 10:49 pm

Will the Liberals crack down on Facebook in new bill to ‘modernize’ Canadian elections?

The federal government unveiled changes to the way our federal elections are run. As David Akin reports, they're aimed at securing elections against foreign influence and so-called fake news.


The threat of foreign interference still looms over the federal election scheduled for 2019, but on Monday, the Liberals are expected to announce how they plan to “modernize” Canadian elections.

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According to the notice paper, which is where the government announces bills it intends to table within the coming days, the Minister of Democratic Institutions will introduce a piece of legislation titled “An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments.”

READ MORE: Liberals look to election law changes after Facebook scandal

That bill comes as elections officials have increasingly warned that with the one-year countdown to the next election getting nearer, time will soon run out on any potential to make legislative changes to Canadian election laws before the 2019 campaign.

It also comes amid the scandal embroiling Facebook after revelations it allowed the personal information of 87 million users to be harvested and allegedly sold to a political profiling firm, Cambridge Analytica, which helped support the presidential campaign of U.S. President Donald Trump.

WATCH BELOW: Electoral integrity must balance freedom of speech: Brison

Officials from Facebook have been called to testify before parliamentary and legislative committees around the world and each time faced tough questions about whether the time has come for regulations to crack down on how social media platforms can be used during elections.

READ MORE: As America deals with Russian interference, Canada allocates millions to protect electoral system

The Liberals allocated $7.1 million over five years in Budget 2018 to the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections to help protect Canada’s electoral system from threats.

As well, the budget also reallocated an existing $14 million over the next two years to let Elections Canada hire more staff to protect the electoral system.

According to finance officials, $3 million that is normally allocated to hire contract staff at Elections Canada will instead be used in 2018-2019 to hire staff who will work full-time to prevent attempts to interfere in the upcoming 2019 federal election. Another $11 million will be re-allocated the same way in 2019-2020 to do the same.

WATCH BELOW: Companies like Facebook need to take more responsibility

It is not yet clear what measures may be included in the new bill. But the government has repeatedly flagged concerns over whether social media platforms are willing to regulate the way they are used to target divisive ads at voters.

READ MORE: Political parties should not police themselves on voter data: privacy commissioner

Federal officials, including Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien, have gone further and called for changes to the ways political parties collect data on voters and for tighter rules around how voter information is protected by parties.

At 3:45 p.m. on Monday, officials will hold a technical briefing with reporters ahead of the 5 p.m. announcement of the bill by Acting Democratic Institutions Minister Scott Brison.

Brison, who is also President of the Treasury Board, is temporarily leading the portfolio while Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould is on parental leave.

Gould became the first sitting cabinet minister to give birth while in office back in early March.

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