[U.S. Environmental Movement] What can really be done about foreign influence in elections? – by Gary Mason (Globe and Mail – August 18, 2017)


Vivian Krause, a B.C.-based independent researcher and writer who has investigated
the role U.S.-based foundations play in the financing of Canadian environmental
groups claiming charitable status, has submitted a 200-plus page complaint with
Elections Canada on the same subject….“But Canadian elections should be fought
using Canadian resources. Tides has Canadianized its money through Tides Canada,
but that’s just cosmetics. They are breaking the spirit of the law here,
in my opinion.”

When an investigation by The Guardian pulled back the curtains on the winning campaign in the Brexit referendum, the newspaper made a somewhat shocking discovery: evidence of foreign intrusion.

It was revealed that factions behind the Leave campaign were employing the services of analytics firms based offshore: AggregateIQ in Victoria, and another in the United States, Cambridge Analytica, a company owned by U.S. billionaire Robert Mercer, one of the men who bankrolled Donald Trump’s campaign for the U.S. presidency.

The microtargeting strategies used by the Leave forces were highly effective and almost certainly swung the vote in their favour. But what has some concerned are indications that perhaps not everything about the involvement of the foreign entities was above board. There have been accusations that money was channelled through third parties to circumvent spending rules. The matter is now the subject of an investigation by the country’s Electoral Commission.

It may ultimately be a probe that offers more questions than answers. Problems include the fact that current laws don’t prevent overseas individuals or governments from using social media to influence British elections – just print advertising. Beyond that, the proof needed to establish a firm finding of collusion or rule-breaking lies offshore, beyond the jurisdiction of British authorities.

We mention this because governments and electoral authorities in Canada are facing similar questions about the impact foreign groups could be having on elections here.

For the rest of this column: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/what-can-really-be-done-about-foreign-influence-in-elections/article36018654/