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Election Integrity

Hon. Linda Frum: Leader, last week, the government tabled in the other place an answer to an Order Paper question regarding the role Russia played in the 2015 election. The government would not give any detail on such interference for reasons of international affairs.

What does the Trudeau government have to hide regarding Russian meddling in the last election? Why not tell Canadians exactly what the Russians did? If they did not do anything, why not say so?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senators for her question. The response of the government stands for itself: reasons of national security, which are not known to me but are known to those who must know, are the basis on which this government has responded. As the honourable senator will know, there are ways in which Parliament has some insight into these matters. It is not through the generalized committees of Parliament but through the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.

I do not know whether that has been the case. This government is operating to ensure the security of intelligence matters, if they are involved, and respond in a fashion that protects the interests of Canada while apprising Canadians of the very real concern of Russian interference, not only in the past but in the future.

Senator Frum: Would the honourable senator not agree the integrity of our election results is a subject of interest to all Canadians and all political parties? It is not the proprietary interest of one political party, the Liberal Party.

Senator Harder: I believe the Government of Canada acts in the interests of the Government of Canada. The security interests of the Government of Canada are those of the security interests of Canada.

Our system is based on deference to those in authority to protect the interests of Canada and to trust the judgments that are being made with the appropriate oversight of various bodies, including the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.

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Senator Frum: If there was Russian interference or an attempt to affect the outcome of the 2015 election, is that not information that should be shared with Canadians?

Senator Harder: Again, senator, I am left with the same response. That is to say, when reviewing what is in the national interest and national security, those who are charged with making those decisions make those decisions in the interest of Canada. The Government of Canada has been responsive to the extent that national security allows and will continue to do so.

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