Ottawa monitored domestic extremists as possible threat to 2021 election: docs

A “significant” spike in threats to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other senior public figures during the 2021 federal election led to concerns that domestic extremist groups and anti-vaccine protestors could pose a threat to the vote, newly-released documents suggest.

The documents, prepared by a multi-agency committee tasked with safeguarding federal elections from interference, show it wasn’t just hostile foreign states and their proxies that had officials concerned about the integrity of the vote.

In the lead up to the 2021 election domestic extremism was a “key concern” for Canada’s security and intelligence community.

One document prepared by the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections (SITE) task force said the threat of domestic, ideologically-motivated extremism against Canadian elections has been a worry since the U.S. Capitol riots in January 2021.

“While the issue did not manifest in Canada in the same way as the U.S., there was nevertheless a notable increase in violent rhetoric, threats and incidents during the writ period,” the document, prepared two months after the election, reads.

“Anti-COVID restriction grievances drove both online discussions and in-person protests throughout the campaign period. Violent rhetoric and behaviour escalated throughout August and September, which included a number of public order incidents occurring at various (Trudeau) campaign stops, at the all-party leader’s English debate and at various hospital protests.”Just over a month after the SITE report was written, those tensions boiled over into the convoy protests that paralyzed downtown Ottawa and multiple Canada-U.S. border crossings.

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