Like a growing number of countries, Canada is contending with some vexing challenges to its democracy posed by ambitious and more internationally active authoritarian states. Writing for Policy Options, NED Vice President for Studies and Analysis Christopher Walker assesses the risk posed to multiple sectors—media, universities, academic publishers, technology, elections—by autocratic regimes capable of exerting influence beyond their national borders in an era of hyper-globalization. The threat from authoritarian countries like China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran is multidimensional and requires a full spectrum response, including the active participation of civil society. Initiatives like the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) initiated in 2018 under Canada’s G7 presidency to defend against foreign threats could offer a valuable model of cooperation for future efforts to defend democracy.
A concerted response is needed to the challenges presented by such authoritarian regimes. Any effort to strengthen resilience and defend democracy’s integrity must be durable. It will require effective cooperation and dedicated channels for information sharing.