Evidence of meeting #44 for Public Safety and National Security in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was terrorist.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • John Davies  Director General, National Security Policy, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
  • Michael MacDonald  Director General, National Security Operations Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

We'll move back to the government.

We have Mr. Norlock, please, for seven minutes.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Through you to the witness, thank you, Minister and officials, for attending the meeting today.

Would the minister expand a little further on the sorts of investments our government has made in relation to national security and the reasons we're making them? You mentioned the Kanishka project. I think there are others that could be expanded on. I know that Mr. Garrison related the acceptance of that in that it is consultative and collaborative.

Could you expand on some of the investments? They could be investments in making sure that our agencies work together. They could be investments in how we work with other nations.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

I think I can answer that very broadly, to give the committee a general understanding of what we are making investments in, and the officials, Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Davies, can add some of the numbers around that.

I did mention the Kanishka project that came right out of the Air India inquiry, of $10 million over five years for this type of targeted research. This is something that has gone on since 2001, so it's not partisan in that sense. I think it's a recognition...in the same way that Mr. Garrison mentioned, that he could support the general principles. I think that even the prior government, while they didn't necessarily have—and here I don't want to use the word coherent, because I don't want to say that their policy was incoherent—a unified strategy, given the developmental stage it was in. But since 2001, the Government in Canada has taken action to address terrorist threats through legislative changes, through targeted programming, through criminal investigations, and other similar initiatives. For example, we've created several entities that have a role in countering terrorism, such as the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre, the RCMP-led integrated national security enforcement teams, and the Government Operations Centre, and the Financial Transaction Reports Analysis Centre. So it's a multi-faceted approach.

We've also listed a number of terrorist organizations under the Criminal Code, and that is an ongoing process. We've also introduced the Combating Terrorism Act to re-enact the investigative hearings and the recognizance with conditions provisions under the Criminal Code to help law enforcement investigate terrorist activity. So we've taken many of these initiatives with investments we've made and put them into this unified policy that finds its expression in the document we filed.

In terms of some of the money involved, perhaps Mr. Davies would have something to say.

3:55 p.m.

John Davies Director General, National Security Policy, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Sure.

Simply to round that out a bit, there's the $10 million over five years for the Kanishka project that the minister has mentioned. We think it's a very important project. There's not much research in the area of countering violent extremism. This $10 million is the envy of all of our allies, who don't have much of any resources for this and are really looking to us to lead, not only in Canada but also globally, to help improve the knowledge base in this area. One investment in particular is with Canadian universities, creating a network across the country to help build up knowledge in this area.

A couple of other major announcements, certainly in the context of tight fiscal constraints these days, was an announcement by the Prime Minister recently of $367 million over five years for the global partnership program, which was originally a G-8 investment to help secure weapons of mass destruction facilities abroad. It started in the former Soviet Union, and the scope has since been expanded to a major counter-proliferation effort abroad and capacity building by Canada.

A third investment a little more recently was the Prime Minister's announcement of $110 million over three years, I believe, for the Afghan national security forces that will help build their capacity in the years to come.

As the minister said, really, the main investments have been knowledge-based support from staff across the Public Safety portfolio on building new policy initiatives with the U.S., the Beyond the Border initiative, for example, and the action plan with its 16 commitments, all of which are policy initiatives. So there are major policy investments, going forward.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Thank you very much.

I wonder if you could talk about what kind of monitoring the government has put into its efforts for reporting to Canadians on the strategy's progress, including an annual report to Canadians on the evolving threat environment, which I think was mentioned. I wonder if you could tell the committee the parameters for this annual report, and maybe expand on it somewhat.

4 p.m.

Director General, National Security Policy, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

John Davies

Yes, there is a commitment. You'll notice that pages 7 to 9 of the policy run through this year's threat assessment, with an all-of-government approach of sorts, articulating the threat to Canadians. There's a commitment to update that assessment each year. We're working with the security intelligence community to frame the next iteration of that, so that the assessment will complement other kinds of reporting that you see. The director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service also puts out his annual report from his perspective on national security priorities for Canada.

I think there's a general commitment recognizing that the strategy, which is new, is an evergreen document. There are things that we'll probably want to pick up in the days to come, and I'm sure there's a commitment to report to Canadians on that.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

You said it was evergreen, so the parameters for the annual report have not been fully....

4 p.m.

Director General, National Security Policy, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

John Davies

We're just working with the community to define both the threat assessment and then how the four pillars will be enacted and implemented through an action plan through each of those four pillars.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Thank you very much.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Thank you very much, Mr. Norlock.

We'll now move to Mr. Scarpaleggia, please.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Thank you, Chair.

Welcome, Minister.

I just want to refer to page 17 of the strategy, where it says that Canada will also be involved in “increasing interaction with non-traditional partners Canada has less history in dealing with.” What do you mean by that, more or less?

4 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Traditionally, we have been a part of the so-called Five Eyes: the Australians, the New Zealanders, the Americans, the British, and us. Those have been our traditional partners. What we've come to realize is that the threat of terrorism impacts upon other countries that we do not necessarily have close security relations with. In fact, some of the trips I've had abroad deal with building up those types of relationships with other countries so that we can enter into security agreements with these individuals.

As I indicated, those types of agreements, although very important, also raise new issues. How do we share information with these individuals? They may not all have the same type of democracy we have, for example. They may not have the same adherence to the rule of law that Canadians have. So with each country then, we have to look at them and ask: how do we share information appropriately with this type of an ally?

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

You seemed to mention before that these agreements with these new, non-traditional partners for the sharing of information will have to respect the privacy rights of Canadians and so on. Who's going to determine which independent government agency or organization is going to determine whether these agreements are in the interests of protecting Canadians' privacy, or are not unreasonable in terms of what they contain? Is it the Privacy Commissioner of Canada?

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Well, in fact, it is, to a great extent, the Privacy Commissioner in Canada who informs us about some of the steps we should be taking on the agreements that we are making.

June 5th, 2012 / 4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Surely you know, Minister, that a lot is going to be put on the shoulders of the Privacy Commissioner. She will supposedly be required to scrutinize the measures that you've introduced under Bill C-30. Now she'll have to vet agreements with non-traditional partners, yet her budget has been cut. So how is she going to get all of this work done?