CIC Vancouver: Securing Canadian Elections – Examining Global Trends in Election Manipulation

Dec 7, 2018 | Event Summary

On 4/12/2018, CIC Vancouver (in partnership with the Canadian Association of Security and Intelligence Studies – Vancouver), held a public speaking event on Securing Canadian Elections – Examining Global Trends in Election Manipulation.

The 11th event of this year, this discussion featured three experts, Samantha Bradshaw (Oxford), Dr. Nicole Jackson (SFU), and Dr. Heidi Tworek (UBC), who examined different dimensions of the issue and potential ways for Canada to move forward.


The manipulation of public opinion over social media platforms is a critical concern of the 21st century. Over the past few years, there have been several attempts by foreign operatives, political parties, and populist movements to manipulate the outcome of elections by spreading disinformation, amplifying divisive rhetoric, and micro-targeting polarizing messages to voters. While the cyber element of election security has traditionally focused on securing ballot boxes or voter registration rolls, governments are increasingly concerned about the impact of harmful information on democratic outcomes. This panel will examine the global trends of social media manipulation, the legal and private self-regulatory responses currently being developed to address these challenges, who is trying to undermine Canadian elections, and what to expect during Canada’s 2019 elections.

Key Takeaways

  • We live in an age of information richness, but wisdom scarcity.
  • Combatting disinformation is a key challenge for the next Canadian election.
  • That disinformation can come from within as well as internationally.
  • Some of the main issues here will be climate change, immigration, and the budget deficit.
  • The problem is multi-faceted and will require responses from government, social media companies, and civil society.
  • Only a spectrum of responses (from media literacy to positive narratives to rethinking journalism to international coordination) can help.

Speakers’ Bio

Samantha Bradshaw (CIC Senior Fellow and PhD candidate, Oxford University)

Samantha Bradshaw is a D.Phil. candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute and works on the Computational Propaganda Project as a core member of the research staff. Her dissertation examines government use of social media for coordinated digital disinformation campaigns. Samantha’s work has been featured by numerous media outlets, including the Washington Post, Bloomberg, and the Financial Times.
She holds an MA in global governance from the Balsillie School of International Affairs, and a joint honours BA in political science and legal studies from the University of Waterloo.

Nicole Jackson (Associate Professor, Simon Fraser University, School for International Studies)

Nicole J. Jackson is Associate Professor International Studies, specializing in Russian and Eurasian Politics and Security at the School for International Studies, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada. She has authored multiple refereed articles and chapters on Russian and Central Asian security and foreign policy, regional security governance, securitization and trafficking, and the spread of authoritarian ideas and practices.

She is currently working on two projects. This first analyzes the role of Russia and global security governance focusing on the “global commons”, and the second examines NATO and Canadian approaches to hybrid warfare. Dr Jackson’s work links theory, empirical data, practice and policy. She holds an MSc and PhD (2001) from the London School of Economics and BA (hons) from University of Toronto (Trinity College).


Heidi Tworek (CIC Executive Member and Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia, History Department)

Dr. Heidi Tworek works on media, international organizations, and transatlantic relations. She is a visiting fellow at the Joint Center for History and Economics at Harvard University as well as a non-resident fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Heidi is committed to bringing a historical sensibility to policy discussions. She has briefed or advised officials and policymakers from multiple European and North American governments on media, cybersecurity, democracy, and the digital economy. One of her projects in this area is an international comparison of policies on hate speech and disinformation. She holds a PhD from Harvard University and a BA (Hons) from University of Cambridge.