Justice Committee on Oct. 23rd, 2009
On the agenda
- Frank A. Beazley Chief of Police, Halifax Regional Police
- Brian Brennan Officer in Charge, Federal Policing Branch, H Division, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- David Aggett Director, Enforcement and Intelligence, Canada Border Services Agency
- Sharon Martin Coordinator, Youth Advocate program, Halifax Regional Police Drug Unit
- Stephen Schneider Associate Professor, Saint Mary's University, Department of Sociology and Criminology, As an Individual
- Robert Purcell Executive Director, Public Safety Division, Nova Scotia Department of Justice, Government of Nova Scotia
The Chair Ed Fast
I call this meeting to order.
This is the meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. This is our 42nd meeting, and today is October 23, 2009. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we're studying the state of organized crime.
To those who are here as witnesses, first of all, welcome to all of you.
You may know that we've been conducting this study since the spring of this year. We've been in Vancouver and we've heard witnesses in Ottawa, and we're looking forward to hearing the unique perspective that you bring to the table on this issue from the east coast.
Without further ado, we'll begin.
Who is speaking on behalf of the Halifax Regional Police? Chief Beazley?
Chief Frank A. Beazley Chief of Police, Halifax Regional Police
The Chair Ed Fast
Excellent. You know that each organization has 10 minutes to present and then we open the floor to questions from our members.
Chief of Police, Halifax Regional Police
Thank you very much.
Good morning, Mr. Chair and members of the panel.
My name is Frank Beazley, and I'm chief of the Halifax Regional Police. The Halifax regional municipality is a region of approximately 385,000 people, who represent about 42% of the population of Nova Scotia. It is home to an international seaport, an international airport, and Canada's armed forces, including the east coast navy.
Organized crime, in its many forms, is not new to HRM. We deal with organized crime groups we describe as being both structured and unstructured, involving organized drug trafficking groups, interprovincial prostitution rings, drug importation groups, and the phenomenon over the last couple of years of street gangs. At the heart of these groups is criminal activity and the profits these activities bring to their membership. Within HRM, these groups deal in most drugs: cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, and crack cocaine, being the drugs of choice in this area.
Members of these groups have become sophisticated in their criminal operations in many ways. They utilize the latest in technology to communicate with each other, with things like throw-away cellphones, text messaging, speaking over the Internet, and social media sites. It has been very difficult for mid-sized police agencies such as the Halifax Regional Police to keep pace with the changing technology. Many of these groups hide their illicit moneys through the establishment of companies such as pizza shops, numbered companies, and owned real estate, just to name a few. Investigating these groups does require specialized training. Further, these types of investigations are usually very long in nature and very expensive.
What has alarmed the citizens of HRM has been the increasing violence that comes with these groups and the street gangs. In 2004, a report from Statistics Canada indicated that per capita, HRM was the most violent city in Canada. Crimes such as drive-by shootings and gang-related homicides have contributed to the fear of crime within our communities.
As a police agency, we've changed our approach to fighting crime, particularly violent crime. We continue to support and participate in integrated police intelligence units, proceeds of crime units, and integrated enforcement units. To address the violence at the street level, we have formed street teams of police officers who work flexible hours and carry out surveillance on known crime groups and active street members. Our teams are focused in their activities by crime analysis reports that are shared with all members of patrol and the street teams. We have instituted a monitoring program of all known offenders in the community who are presently before the courts and released on conditions. We also have community response officers assigned to our policing divisions who deal full time with crime and quality of life issues. These officers specialize in solving community problems by working with citizens' groups and government and non-government agencies.
In 2009, HRM created a public safety officer position to deal with crime and its root causes and to develop crime prevention strategies. This position was founded after a very extensive report entitled, “Violence and Public Safety in the Halifax Regional Municipality”. This report was authored to address mainly violent crime issues throughout the region.
One of the approaches the report recommended was the establishment of a tripartite forum on justice, which would bring together municipal, provincial, and federal representatives to consider violence and public safety issues and strategies to deal with them. At this time we are at the early stages of forming this committee. In 2006, a committee known as Safer and Stronger Communities was formed by the Halifax Regional Police, the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, and the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services, to address issues in high-crime neighbourhoods. We are working on expanding this committee to bring in representation from the federal government.
We are also in the second year of a program known as the youth advocate program, which is a partnership between the federal government and HRM. The purpose of this program is to work with youths who are at risk of becoming street gang members. We currently have approximately 25 young people in the program, with a waiting list for more to attend.
It is our belief that organized crime and its violent activities have to be addressed in a number of strategic ways. Focused, proactive policing is necessary, but if we concentrate on policing alone and do not address the contributing factors to crime, we will never make any significant inroads to preventing crime in the first place.
HRM's approach is to deal with these issues in a planned, deliberate approach, with partners coming from all levels of government and the community itself. Having said that, new laws that are tough on crime are welcome. I would like to see proposed bills that deal with issues such as lawful access passed. Rules around disclosure, I believe, have to be revisited as well.
Organized crime files have become so large and complicated that it is very difficult to proceed through the justice system in a reasonable timeframe. Affidavits for part VI investigations, or affidavits for information such as banking or tax information pre-charge, for proceeds-of-crime files are in the hundreds of pages.
Also, a federally funded national witness protection program would be of great assistance to the policing community. The cost of witness protection is prohibitive for many small and medium-sized police agencies.
In closing, it is my belief that to address organized crime and crime in general requires partnerships from all orders of government working together towards a common goal of achieving safe communities. I believe the federal government should take a leading role, by passing new laws, strengthening existing laws, and funding programs that will assist the provincial and municipal governments to address the many issues that contribute to crime.
I have brought with me this morning Sharon Martin from our youth advocate program. It's been a very effective program working with young people in high-crime areas. And I've brought Superintendent Don Spicer, who's now the HRM public safety officer. They're also available for questions.
Those are my opening remarks, Mr. Chair.
The Chair Ed Fast
Thank you very much.
We'll move on to Superintendent Brian Brennan of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Supt Brian Brennan Officer in Charge, Federal Policing Branch, H Division, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Good morning, and thank you for inviting us here to speak today about organized crime and its impact on our community. I appear before you today as a superintendent in charge of the RCMP federal policing program here in Nova Scotia.
The federal policing program is focused on the highest level of organized crime, which has the most significant impact on everyone's safety. As such, significant disruptions of organized crime groups continue to be made through integrated, intelligence-led investigations and to result in a considerable impact in the reduction of crime and the enhancement of safety throughout the province. Although Atlantic Canada is not experiencing the extent of organized crime and gang activity that central and western Canada are, our large coastline, small population, and relative proximity to international borders make Atlantic Canada an attractive gateway for organized crime.
An example of this was furnished in September 2008. The RCMP interdicted a vessel in Spanish Ship Bay, Nova Scotia, containing approximately 750 kilograms of cannabis resin. It was determined that a well-known organized crime group operating within Hamilton, Ontario, was transporting the drugs from the Caribbean. This case is currently before the courts.
Using an intelligence-led integrated approach with our policing and law enforcement partners, the RCMP in Nova Scotia is focused on reducing the threat and impact of organized crime throughout the province. The impact of organized crime is reduced by the coordinated efforts of municipal, provincial, federal, and international police and by all levels of government, by the community, and by industry. In Nova Scotia, we are using this approach to share intelligence. The integrated steering committee, consisting of RCMP senior management, municipal chiefs, and criminal intelligence services in Nova Scotia, uses information gathered by the H Division criminal analysis section and CISNS to coordinate and set provincial priorities in relation to organized crime groups or individuals.
Further, the organized crime tactical assessment committee, consisting of RCMP and municipal police resources, meets bi-weekly to provide ongoing monitoring of the priorities and to identify organized crime groups as outlined by the steering committee. The provincial threat assessment, which assesses the potential threat of organized and serious crime in a province, is now an integrated process between CISNS and the RCMP H Division criminal analysis section.
Nationally, the newly created Office of the Chief Criminal Intelligence Executive is effectively aligned with the Criminal Intelligence Services Canada central bureau and the RCMP criminal intelligence and national program support and development within the policing support services of the RCMP.
Our law enforcement community has made significant progress, operating by the principle of integrated, intelligence-led policing. Examples of this include the development of the integrated provincial and national threat assessment, the Canadian law enforcement strategy to combat organized crime of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the development and implementation of the CISC Sentinel strategic early warning methodology, watch lists and assessments, and the creation of the Council on Public Safety, renamed as the Canadian Integrated Response to Organized Crime, commonly referred to as CIROC.
The OCCIE has been structured to ensure that the independent yet complementary mandates of CISC and RCMP criminal intelligence are respected, while at the same time deriving significant benefit by having a common program support and development component. Thus, the new organizational structure of the OCCIE will ensure that despite the fact of limited budgets and resources, the alignment of a common service will permit the dedication of maximum resources and funding to critical projects, such as the development of the new Canadian criminal intelligence information system, the Canadian intelligence model, and ongoing enhancement of key intelligence products and services. This includes the integrated threat assessments, Sentinel strategic early warning assessments, and targeted organized crime group and criminal market assessments.
The OCCIE creates a truly aligned criminal intelligence community at all levels of policing across Canada, thereby making maximum use of limited human, material, and financial resources. These are all aimed at ensuring that our municipal, provincial, and federal law enforcement agencies are equipped with the best and most timely intelligence possible to ensure safety in all regions of Canada. The realization of this vision will be recognized as a global best practice in integrated, intelligence-led policing.
In the fight against organized crime and serious crime in Canada, the criminal intelligence community relies heavily on computer systems to collect, collate, analyze, and disseminate criminal information or intelligence. One of the key responsibilities of CISC, leveraging the resources of the RCMP chief information officer sector, is the ongoing support of the automated criminal intelligence information system, known as ACIIS. ACIIS is the Canadian law enforcement community's national database for criminal information and intelligence on organized and serious crime, the only such repository in Canada.
Through ACIIS, law enforcement agencies at all levels collaborate in the collection, analysis, and sharing of criminal intelligence across the country. The information contained in ACIIS is used to support national law enforcement efforts to reduce harm caused by organized crime. The volume of intelligence information that the criminal intelligence community needs to manage has grown significantly as a result of Internet usage and of multi-media digital technologies such as voice, image, and video. As well, the evolution of organized crime requires that law enforcement agencies have more sophisticated automated systems to support the collection, analysis, and sharing of criminal intelligence information.
CSIS and the RCMP have been assessing the current information management technology needs of the criminal intelligence community and creating a vision for the future of ACIIS. The availability of new technologies can significantly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of analysts, investigators, and intelligence officers. Under the sponsorship of CSIS and the RCMP, five workshops have been held with respect to the development of a new national criminal intelligence system to facilitate the sharing of intelligence.
From these workshops a new vision of ACIIS was formulated, along with a set of expected outcomes. The new ACIIS will be an integrated set of applications or tools utilizing a single, shared national databank. It will operate on a desktop computer for use by all intelligence services across Canada.
There is an urgent need to replace the ACIIS with a modern system capable of meeting the business and technological demands of the criminal intelligence community in Canada. A business case for the development of the next-generation national criminal intelligence information system was forwarded to members of the ACIIS governance and CISC supervisory groups on July 23, 2009. The business case has been developed by Fujitsu Consulting in collaboration with representatives of CSIS' central bureau and CSIS' partner agencies, including the RCMP.
To give an overview of the Atlantic region, organized crime is growing increasingly complex and is consequently creating very time-consuming and resource-demanding investigations. New trends in technology, such as smartphones, pay-as-you-go services, and devices with password protection and encryption, create a challenge for law enforcement. If a suspect is in possession of a phone that contains valuable voice or text data but the password is protected, legally there is no requirement for the suspect to provide law enforcement with the password. Further, with one phone call to a service provider or by entering a series of numbers, the suspect can easily wipe the device of all information.
Our current interception laws and regulations have not kept pace with changing technologies. More than 75% of part VI applications are now cellphone-based. Every intercept is proving that text messaging is becoming a primary source of communication. However, law enforcement cannot confirm the author of a text message, creating an additional barrier in completing timely investigations. Because of disposable phones and number portability, the costs associated with intercepts are drastically increasing. An example is that when a part VI application is made, telephone numbers and service providers are given as part of the application. If a target ports the number to a different service provider or changes devices, a new part VI application must be made. This is proving to be time-consuming for law enforcement. There is nothing compelling the original service provider to notify law enforcement if a number is ported to another service provider, and there is no single database coordinating number portability.
Legislative changes are required to bring our processes more in line with the new technologies, and consequently technological resources are required to keep pace with the growing list of tools utilized by organized crime. The private member's bill, Bill C-47, would enable telecommunication service providers to make legal access available to Canadian law enforcement and criminal intelligence services.
Although modern technology is posing many challenges for law enforcement, the RCMP has a dedicated Atlantic region tech crime unit focused on searching, seizing, and analyzing digital evidence from computers, cellphones, and electronic devices. This unit must constantly stay one step ahead of new technologies. This is often achieved by partnering with private industry experts. Recently the unit partnered with the University of New Brunswick to eliminate malicious botnets. A botnet is a new technology that allows a large network of computers to be controlled from a single source. There have been instances where organized crime has used these networks to extort money from website owners from around the world. Although there have been no websites in Atlantic Canada attacked by botnets that we are aware of, there have been many examples of computers here being controlled by botnets and used as part of an attack. This partnership is looking at new ways to eliminate network attacks.
Modern technology has enabled organized crime to rapidly expand their illegal drug trade network, which continues to be the driving force fuelling organized crime within the Atlantic region. Of the 109 organized crime groups profiled in provincial threat assessments prepared by the criminal intelligence service for each Atlantic province, 99 are involved in the illicit drug trade, and in Nova Scotia organized crime accounts for 90% of the drug trade. Most organized crime groups traffic in a variety of commodities, the most common in Nova Scotia being marijuana, cocaine, crack, ecstasy, prescription pills, and contraband tobacco.
We know that Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia are the primary source provinces within Canada. Further, hash and hash oil are often imported from Peru, Colombia, and the Middle East.
Due to the vast coastline of our province, illicit drugs and contraband cigarettes come through our ports as a gateway to reach other provinces. A recent example of a significant seizure at our ports was in conjunction with the Canada Border Services Agency. Together, CBSA and the RCMP national ports enforcement team discovered and seized approximately 28 kilograms of heroin from within a container of boxes of towels destined to an address in Toronto. It is believed to be the largest heroin seizure in Atlantic Canadian history. It led to a coordinated investigation that culminated in the arrest of four individuals from the greater Toronto area. This was a very significant seizure of heroin, as heroin seizures are almost unheard of within the Atlantic region.
A recent trend we are experiencing within the Atlantic region is the trafficking of substances that were believed to be MDMA--commonly known as ecstasy--that actually contained only a small amount of MDMA. Ecstasy is growing rapidly in popularity amongst teens and university-age students. Organized crime markets this product to youth by creating a brightly coloured tablet with popular logos and brand names stamped into the tablets to attract a younger generation and to differentiate various organized crime groups. Traffickers within Nova Scotia purchase ecstasy, or a substance sold as ecstasy, from larger organized crime groups within central and western Canada.
In 2007 a sample of tablets from seizures was analyzed, and it was determined that only one in four tablets were pure ecstasy.
The Chair Ed Fast
Superintendent, you're well past your 10 minutes. You're actually at 13 minutes, so could you just wind up? We do have copies of your remarks, so they will form part of the public record anyway.
Officer in Charge, Federal Policing Branch, H Division, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Enforcement alone is not enough to reduce the effects of organized crime. Law enforcement needs to broaden its focus in seeking modern ways to educate our communities on the everyday impacts of organized crime, from faulty counterfeit goods affecting public health and safety, to drug-related street violence, to higher insurance premiums or auto insurance from vehicle thefts and falsified claims. Organized crime reaches into every facet of our lives and is entrenched in our communities.
Government, industry, and community leaders need to become acutely aware that when citizens purchase illegal cigarettes from a local distributor or buy a counterfeit purse from a convenience store, it links back to funding large organized crime groups. Law enforcement agencies need to partner with government, private industry, and community groups to deliver the scope and impact of organized crime in our communities. In communicating what measures we are taking to increase safety, thereby raising awareness, we are helping to protect citizens from becoming potential victims.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, members of the committee, for allowing me to present to you this morning.
The Chair Ed Fast
We'll go to Mr. David Aggett, representing the Canada Border Services Agency.
David Aggett Director, Enforcement and Intelligence, Canada Border Services Agency
Mr. Chairman and honourable members of the committee, thank you very much for inviting Canada Border Services Agency to participate in today's hearing.
The Atlantic region of the Canada Border Services Agency is responsible for securing Atlantic Canada's borders at our ports of entry, which consist of 18 land border crossings, 26 airports, 11 commercial vessel reporting stations, three ferry terminals, and seven cruise ship offices.
Of the 750 CBSA employees in the region, 430 of those are Border Services officers. Each year, nearly 500,000 air passengers, over 650,000 shipping containers, over three million passenger vehicles, and nearly 250,000 commercial trucks arrive in Atlantic Canada through our ports. Of these, CBSA conducts nearly 300,000 examinations each year. On average, CBSA in the Atlantic region takes nearly 8,000 enforcement actions each year.
In the Atlantic region in the last 20 years, CBSA has seized something in the order of $3.2 billion worth of drugs; in the last 18 months alone, somewhere in the order of $176 million worth of drugs. The majority of these drug seizures in the past two years have involved hashish from Asia and Africa and cocaine from South America. Other drugs seized to a lesser degree include heroin, hash oil, and marijuana.
Although the majority of drug shipments transit through Halifax en route to larger centres such as Montreal or Toronto, intelligence indicates that there are organized groups in the Halifax area that assist in facilitating the movement of container shipments of drugs for organized crime in larger centres. One of CBSA's challenges in identifying suspect containers is the use of legitimate companies by organized crime to conceal their drug shipments.
In the Atlantic region, we continue to have success in identifying shipments of stolen vehicles. In 2008, the Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP ran a six-month project in Halifax and Montreal resulting in the seizure of 258 stolen vehicles.
The enforcement mandate of the Canada Border Services Agency is delivered through the efforts of four different groups of officers. The vast majority of our officers who work at our ports of entry, managed through a network of four district offices, through the four Atlantic provinces, each with a district director, are the Border Services officers. That is the face of CBSA. When you come back from your Christmas shopping across the border and you encounter a uniformed officer, those are Border Services officers. These officers who do all the inspections of arriving goods, conveyances, and people at our ports are the front-line protection of our borders.
Complementing the port staff are three other groups of officers, all reporting to the regional enforcement and intelligence division, which is my division. Within the enforcement and intelligence division are three sections: criminal investigations, inland enforcement, and intelligence. In addition to the core unit in Halifax, each of these functions is also located in offices in St. John's, Newfoundland, in Saint John, Fredericton, and in Moncton, New Brunswick.
Our criminal investigators are responsible, simplistically speaking, for investigating for the purposes of prosecuting activities that result in goods or people circumventing our controls at the border. In the Atlantic region, our investigators are prosecuting for a number of offences, including handgun and firearms smuggling, child pornography, and currency violations. Our CBSA investigators conduct criminal investigations into suspected cases of evasion or fraud with respect to over 80 federal acts that relate to border legislation.
Our inland enforcement officers locate and remove foreign nationals who enter Canada illegally, or individuals, including permanent residents, whose admissibility status changes after they have entered Canada. Over 50% of the people removed from the Atlantic region have been deemed inadmissible because they've been involved in criminal activity somewhere in Canada or overseas. A recent case involved a group of Irish travellers working and travelling illegally across Canada.
Finally, our intelligence officers and analysts are responsible for anticipating illegal activity that has not yet occurred and for providing actionable intelligence to all program areas so that our interdiction efforts are more effective and our officers' safety is protected. Many of the indicators used by BSOs, the Border Services officers, to identify suspicious behaviour were developed within the intelligence program. More directly related to your deliberations here today is the fact that our intelligence program is most frequently and directly involved in gathering analysis and sharing of information related to organized crime.
As you know, within the federal family the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are responsible for coordinating efforts toward curbing organized crime and investigating offences committed by organized criminals. CBSA's responsibility for our borders places us in direct contact with the cross-border components of organized criminal activity. The CBSA is ideally positioned to provide intelligence support on organized criminal activities having a border nexus to our law enforcement partners. Consequently, the CBSA, in the day-to-day execution of its duties, encounters people and information that are of value to not only our specific mandate but to others in our fight against organized crime.
It has long been recognized that the timely and full sharing of information and intelligence among law enforcement agencies is essential to our gaining insights into criminal organizations and their operations. For this reason, CBSA has historically been an active participant in the myriad of standing and ad hoc initiatives aimed at addressing threats presented by organized crime. I would like at this time to provide a brief outline of our involvement with partner agencies in these initiatives.
CBSA presently has intelligence officers embedded within the national port enforcement team based in Halifax. This unit consists of members of the RCMP, CBSA, and Halifax Regional Police. It is responsible for investigating organized crime and national security issues at marine ports. We also have an intelligence officer embedded in the integrated border enforcement team based in Woodstock, New Brunswick. We also participate in the IBET in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. These teams are composed of members of the RCMP, CBSA, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
CBSA also has intelligence officers embedded within integrated intelligence units located in Saint John, Moncton, and Fredericton, New Brunswick, and we participate in units in Bathurst and Edmundston, New Brunswick. These units consist of members of the RCMP, CBSA, and local police forces.
CBSA has been an active member of the Atlantic provincial bureau of the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada for nearly two decades. CBSA staff currently hold chair positions on the executive committees of the CIS in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Finally, CBSA has several intelligence officers and analysts embedded in the Maritime Security Operations Centre located at CFB Halifax. This unit is a sister to the MSOC in British Columbia and consists of members from the RCMP, Department of National Defence, Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, the Canadian Coast Guard, and CBSA. Most recently you will have heard about the MSOC in British Columbia being involved with the vessel arriving with the Sri Lankans.
I would be very happy to answer any questions.
Thank you very much.
The Chair Ed Fast
Thank you as well.
We'll open the floor to questions, beginning with Ms. Jennings. She's here representing the Liberal Party of Canada.
Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you all for being here and for responding at such short notice to the invitation from the committee through our chair.
We had hearings in Montreal yesterday. There have been hearings in other parts of Canada. I did not participate in those because I was not on the justice committee at that point. But a common theme is coming through that in this 21st century, third millennium, there are real technological challenges, and legislation needs to be updated.
Superintendent Brennan, you mentioned lawful access, for instance. We've also heard about the disclosure rules, and how the way the system operates now creates a real burden, once charges have actually been laid, in managing all of that disclosure.
In French, we say “divulgation de la preuve“.
Disclosure laws can make the actual criminal trial process very lengthy and very burdensome.
The government has in fact tabled legislation on this issue, the Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act, which I and my party are very pleased about. When we were in government, we tabled that legislation, but it did not have an opportunity to be adopted, so we're very grateful and happy that the government of the day has finally tabled it. I'm assuming that all of you who are involved in law enforcement see it as a positive development and as something that will help you.
On the disclosure rules, we had a suggestion yesterday from the Quebec bar association, which is the equivalent of your law societies, that the government may wish to amend the Criminal Code and the procedures to allow for a judge to be assigned even before a trial begins. It would be from the time that someone is actually charged with a criminal act that relates to gangsterism or organized crime. The judge would manage and render decisions as to disclosure. That would speed up the process so that when a trial actually began, most of the rulings would already have been made. I'd like to hear if you've heard of that as an idea and, if you have, what your thoughts are.
I have two other questions. With regard to the modernization of ACIIS, you said that the business case was presented or was finalized July 23, 2009. Do you have an idea of how much that would cost and how long it would take to actually implement, if the moneys were forthcoming?
Finally, in relation to the youth advocate program Chief Beazley talked about, I'd like to know about the funding. What is the budget and where are the sources of funding? It sounds as though it's working well, even though it's fairly recent. Are there similar programs elsewhere in Canada that you're aware of?
I'll let the chair decide who starts.
The Chair Ed Fast
Chief, why don't you start?
Chief of Police, Halifax Regional Police
Okay. In relation to disclosure, I think it's a good idea. I've heard about this before. I've attended meetings at which it's been discussed. A judge would be appointed to deal with all the technical issues and all the arguments and whether proper disclosure has been made. If there were any points of law, the judge could deal with them and render decisions on them. If we had something like that, I think it certainly would speed up the process, because once we're in the court, we're dealing with the evidence and the facts. I believe we'd be supportive of something like that.
I can't discuss ACIIS or costs. I'm not aware of those. Maybe if Sharon doesn't mind and if it's okay with the chair, Sharon could talk a bit about her program and funding arrangements.
Sharon Martin Coordinator, Youth Advocate program, Halifax Regional Police Drug Unit
With respect to the funding, it's a cost-shared program, so 50% of the funding comes from the federal government and the rest of the funding comes from HRM. It's a $4 million project over four years, and half of that comes from the municipality and our partners. It comes in the form of value-in-kind contributions, staff time, resources, and that sort of thing from our various partners supporting the program.
In terms of other programs, I know there are other federally funded programs across the country. I think there are 19, but they are all very different in terms of the communities in which they're operating. Our program is unique to Halifax's culture and traditions, and the program is designed for that, but I know there's some stuff going on in every province.