Do endorsements from Obama, Clinton constitute election interference?

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Edmonton — Support from high-profile foreign politicians has sparked a debate about electoral interference.

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Former US President Barack Obama took to the electoral fray on Thursday to bolster Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s campaign, wishing him good luck in the upcoming election and crediting him for being an “effective leader”.

On Friday, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also greeted and congratulated him “Our Progressive Canadian Neighbors” Best in Monday’s Poll

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While neither Obama’s or Clinton’s tweets explicitly ask Canadians to vote for liberals, the implication is clear from their support for the party.

On the other hand, US Sen. Bernie Sanders, Full support of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh on FridayPraising him for his efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, “That’s why I support @NDP and @theJagmeetSingh.”

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Claim

Dozens of tweets, many of which were directed to the Election Canada account, suggest that such endorsements constitute an intervention effort.

“A foreign endorsement can be flown as a friendly gesture. The two endorsements by foreign leaders are a coordinated effort and political interference.” read a tweet in response to Clinton’s message on Friday.

“How this is not election interference,” read another tweet directed at the Election Canada account.

Analysis

Legally speaking, the tweets of Obama, Clinton and Sanders are clear.

According to the Canada Elections Act, they can endorse foreign candidates as long as they do not exercise what the Act says. “undue influence” – Intentional spending, such as donating money in direct support of a candidate or political party, or violating Canadian law in the process of providing support.

There is no evidence of any such activity on the part of Obama, Clinton or Sanders.

Elections Canada shared the same response on its Twitter account, stating that “a foreign national speaking about a Canadian election does not in itself constitute an instance of undue foreign influence under the Canada Elections Act.”

“While we cannot talk about specific cases, we can say that all individuals, Canadian or non-Canadian, are free to express their views on any topic during the election,” the statement continues.

In a statement sent to Granthshala News on Thursday, after Obama tweeted his support for Trudeau, Canada’s cyber espionage agency said it had not detected any form of foreign interference to inform the public. meets the limit.

A spokesman for the Canadian Security Establishment said, “The threshold to declare is the emergence of extraordinary circumstances that could impair our ability to hold a free and fair election, whether based on a single event or an accumulation of incidents.”

But, while there are no legal issues, these tweets may be a cause of moral concern to some.

“Of course it’s unfair, but it’s not a major source of inappropriateness,” Conrad Winn, a professor of political science at Carleton University, told Granthshala.ca by phone on Friday.

Similar allegations of electoral interference were brought to the fore during the 2019 campaign, when Obama publicly supported Trudeau and Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg rallied against parties supporting the Trans Mountain pipeline.

At that time, Professor at Carleton University written by marshall palmer“Our national dignity is violated when Canadians are forced to question the nature of foreign support.”

“What American interests did Obama serve with Trudeau’s election, for example? What did the Liberal Party offer in return? Perhaps nothing, but, as is often the case, the manifestation of a conflict of interest is equally outrageous. As real as it can be.

Should there be no apparent conflict of interest, however, others point out that this type of support is nothing more than political camaraderie.

“I wouldn’t call the very spontaneous tweets made by politicians in the United States interference,” Maxwell Cameron, a professor of political science at the University of British Columbia, told Granthshala.ca by phone on Friday.

“It is not uncommon for people from other countries to comment on elections, especially when they consider the stakes to be important.”

But Cameron notes that there is a clear distinction between a former president versus a current president who supports Canadian politicians.

“I think if Biden had tweeted Barack Obama’s tweet … it would be unfair as president,” he said. “Because, obviously, it is in the national interest of Canada that whoever is elected has a good relationship with the US and Biden, doing so may irritate, for example, O’Toole and the US relations.” set it at a bad level.”

Cameron noted that Sanders’ endorsement differs because the US Senate plays a role in foreign policy, but maintains that it is within reason.

“It’s really up to the voters to make these decisions, whether they think these things are unfair or fair,” he said.

Conclusion

Tweets like Obama, Clinton and Sanders don’t break any rules in the Canada Election Act.

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