International group passes on monitoring election due to limited resources

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OTTAWA — An international body that specializes in monitoring elections is skipping this year’s contest in Canada despite concerns about the role of third-party groups, cybersecurity and social media in the campaign.

The Organization for Security and Economic Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, monitored Canada’s federal election in 2015 and recently sent an advance team to determine whether it should return for 2019.

The team reported at the end of August, recommending a mission following discussions with the main political parties as well as Elections Canada, several government departments and outside experts.

The team said an observation mission could help assess recent changes to the election law, Canada’s effort to protect the election from cyberthreats, and new rules around campaign financing and social media.

But Katya Andrusz of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights says the organization has decided not to send an observation mission to Canada because it has already deployed a lot of missions to other countries this year.

Dalhousie University professor Lori Turnbull, who talked with the advance team in July, says it is unfortunate the OSCE opted not to send an observation mission given some of the issues that are likely to come up during the campaign.

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