When Should I Complain?
Foreign interference in the Canadian electoral process can pose a serious threat to our democracy. All allegations of wrongdoing on the part of a foreign person or entity are taken seriously and are carefully examined to determine whether they fall within the Commissioner’s mandate.
However, there are a number of ways foreigners can participate in the electoral process – primarily in those areas that could be seen as helping to foster a healthy debate – that are not considered an offence under the Act.
For example, as long as no expenses are incurred, foreigners are free to:
- express an opinion about the outcome or desired outcome of the election;
- make a statement encouraging electors to vote or not to vote for a candidate or a registered party in the election; or
- share editorial content in print or broadcast media, including an editorial, speech, interview, column, letter, commentary or news.
Undue influence by foreigners
Foreign persons or entities are prohibited from unduly influencing a Canadian elector to vote or refrain from voting, or to vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate or registered party. Examples of undue influence may include an individual who does not reside in Canada who is neither a Canadian citizen nor a permanent resident knowingly incurring expenses that directly promote or oppose:
- a candidate in an election;
- a registered party that has endorsed a candidate in that election; or
- the leader of such a registered party.
It may also include attempts to influence the elector that involve committing an act or omission that is contrary to federal or provincial laws and regulations.
During both the pre-election and election periods, foreign entities are not permitted to incur expenses for partisan activities, election or partisan advertising or election surveys.
Broadcasting signals that originate in Canada – even if they are re-transmitted elsewhere - and whose subject matter has reference to an election are permitted.
However, a broadcasting station, or broadcasting signals that originate outside Canada, used with the intent to influence persons to vote or refrain from voting, or to vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate or registered party during an election period is not permitted.