Evidence of meeting #149 for Procedure and House Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was election.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Andrew Lauzon
André Boucher  Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, Communications Security Establishment

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

It's an excellent question. I think the first one is public sentiment. Trust with their users is an important one. Their reputations are also important.

Canadians are some of the most connected people on the planet. In fact, I think the stats indicate that they are the most connected people on the planet. As you may know, 77% of Canadians have a Facebook account; 26% are on Twitter and Instagram, and I think the stat is that about 100% are on Google.

11:45 a.m.

An hon. member

Not in my riding.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

Maybe not in your riding, so maybe it's 99.9%. We are very connected. We use these platforms on a daily basis and in so many aspects of our lives.

I think platforms want to respond to that. I think you've seen some responses globally, not just here in Canada. They want to be seen as good actors that are promoting democratic values and participation. That's why you've seen some change in behaviour and some more public reporting. I think there's still more to be desired.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Are actions such as the recent blocking of Faith Goldy by Facebook the kind of actions you're looking for, or are there different actions you're looking for from social media companies?

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

One thing I spoke about at the press conference on Monday and in several media interviews since then is that we have been talking to the platforms about a number of different issues that fit within three buckets, which are the authenticity, transparency and integrity of their platforms and of the activity that takes place there.

One item we have discussed with them is just enforcing their own terms of service and their own conditions. Most of the platforms have wording to the effect that they do not accept illegal content or activities that call for violence or that demonstrate violence on their platforms. They have a range of other things. Part of this is just about enforcing their own rules with their users.

I think that Facebook's step on Monday was a step towards that. I welcome that. I think that's important. Those are ongoing conversations we're having with them.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

In another of the committees that I sit on, we're discussing cybersecurity as a threat to national economic security. There's a lot of interesting topic matter coming up relating to physical and technological threats. How severe are these threats against our democracy, against Elections Canada, against parties and against anybody who is involved in the democratic process?

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

We're taking all of these threats seriously, which is why as soon as I was appointed to this position, I asked the CSE to prepare this report and make it public. It's the first time that any intelligence service around the world has made public a report of this nature. We're seeing more of that happening elsewhere. I also asked the CSE to provide technical support for IT security to all of the political parties that are represented in the House of Commons. That relationship has been established and it's ongoing

We announced on January 30 our plan to protect Canadian democracy, the amendments that were made to Bill C-76, and then this update to the report and the ongoing engagement with social media platforms. I would say that the threat is real. We're taking it seriously and we're acting to protect Canadians.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Have you seen any significant culture shift inside the parties, all of them, as a result of this work with the CSE?

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

I would not be able to comment on that because I'm not engaged in it. I actually don't know about the relationship between the CSE and the parties. I think it's really important that the relationship for trust purposes between the parties and the CSE remain that way, but it's up to the parties to decide how they use that information and how they operate.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

That's all I have for the moment.

Thank you very much, Minister.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Were you splitting your time?

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Sure.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Okay.

Mr. Simms, you have three minutes.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, NL

When a serious incident has occurred, what do you see, in your mind, as some of the essential criteria in order for us to be effective?

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

That's an excellent question. It's one for which I think we can look at past examples around the world to say that these are things that would merit Canadians to be aware of. For example, in the French presidential election, there was the leaking of the Macron campaign emails publicly. That was a pretty big thing which the French government took upon themselves to inform the French people about. There was the consistent and coordinated attempt by the Russians to interfere in the U.S. presidential election which we saw in 2016.

Those are things that we would be alerting Canadians to. It's important to note that this all falls under the critical election incident public protocol, which has a panel of five senior public servants who will receive information from our intelligence agencies and will make that determination based on consensus.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, NL

What does the information look like when the panellists for this protocol get it? When they receive that information, will it be a definitive “This is what's happening” or “We suspect and here are the data that we've collected,” and so on and so forth? How comprehensive is that?

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

It could be either, because it could be difficult to determine attribution specifically at that moment, but our security agencies are professional. They are diligently looking at everything that's going on and should they feel there is something that merits the attention of the panel, they are duty bound to inform them of the information they have at that time.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, NL

Speaking of the panel, who constitutes this panel? What are you looking for in the individual panellists to be qualified for this position?

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

There are five senior public servants who make up this panel. One is the Clerk of the Privy Council. There is the deputy minister of justice, the deputy minister of global affairs, the deputy minister of public safety and the national security and intelligence adviser.

These are five individuals—or five positions, I should say, because it's not about the individual; it's about the position that they hold—who have an extensive background in public service but also have an eye for and an understanding of the global context of the public safety and threat environment. Also we specifically put the deputy minister of justice there as well to have a look at how this impacts things from a rule-of-law perspective.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Now we'll go to Ms. Kusie.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you so much, Minister, for being here again today.

Before I proceed with my questioning and since we are short on time, I'm going to move right into a motion that I know you previously stated you supported, because certainly I do believe you are looking to PROC to assist you in these challenges of trying to come up with appropriate legislation given the balancing nature of all the considerations.

I move:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(a)(vi), the Committee continue the study of Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections; that the study consist of five meetings; and that the findings be reported to the House.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Do you want to debate this motion now?

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

No. I will just put that there for the time being.

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Then do you want to go on to your questions?

April 11th, 2019 / 11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

No, I had given the notice previously, so this is the moving of the motion.

Then I'll move into my questioning.

Of course there's been a lot in the news recently in regard to the social media platforms. We've seen Facebook with two responses now, the first one being the repository, if you will, and the second one in regard to the hate speech earlier.

Then this week Google, of course, has eliminated itself entirely from our electoral process. At present, we're still waiting for Twitter.

Now you have said in the media that the social media platforms have not responded with the appropriate action that you would have hoped for. Certainly we look to you as the government to take some form of action in an effort to find the delicate balance between free speech and the integrity of our elections.

Our leader, Andrew Scheer, said yesterday that he is open to the idea of regulation. Should these social media platforms not be willing to take any action, what are you prepared to do as the minister and the government in an effort to find the balance between these two mediums?