This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

Evidence of meeting #64 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was csis.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Andrew Jackson  Chief Economist, Canadian Labour Congress
Pierre Céré  Spokesperson, Conseil national des chômeurs et chômeuses
Jason Clemens  Director of Research, Macdonald-Laurier Institute
Greg Smith  Vice-President, Finance, Risk Administration and Chief Financial Officer, PPP Canada Inc.
Paul Kennedy  As an Individual
Jane Londerville  University of Guelph, As an Individual
Michael Zigayer  Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice
Jerome Brannagan  Deputy Chief, Operations, Windsor Police Service
Stephen Bolton  Director, Border Law Enforcement Strategies Division, Public Safety Canada
Superintendent Joe Oliver  Director General, Border Integrity, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

7:30 p.m.

Prof. Jane Londerville

No.

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

It's not.

Okay, good. Thank you.

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you, Mr. Van Kesteren.

Monsieur Mai, s'il vous plâit, pour cinq minutes.

May 29th, 2012 / 7:30 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Kennedy, I'm really curious because I think Ms. Glover mentioned that when the officials were here and we asked them questions—and I think Ms. Nash has said it—they were basically telling us there was duplication and they just wanted to make it easier and save a bit of money.

You wrote a piece on May 11. I would say it is quite alarming in the sense that you are saying we are cutting the eyes and ears of the minister.

Maybe that's why it has been put in this bill and that we at the finance committee are looking at it, so that we understand what's happening.

I know you've been there. You've worked for 20 years, if I'm not mistaken, in public security. Can you tell us, should we be worried that we're cutting the Inspector General's position and the role of the Inspector General?

7:30 p.m.

As an Individual

Paul Kennedy

What you should be concerned about is if your primary objective is to get rid of fat within the system to address the deficit problem and things like that, you look at fat, but you're stuck now with a policy issue that you're not equipped by your expertise, obviously, to look at. Your expertise is in finance, your expertise isn't over here. So you assume that yes, there's a million dollars, you save a million dollars, so we're ahead of the game.

What you're not being told is why those structures were put in place in the first place. You had about a two-year long royal commission of inquiry headed by a superior court judge where you had criminal charges laid against people. You had a unique combined House of Commons and Senate committee sitting to craft this piece of legislation. We're one of the first in the world to create legislation to set out a mandate for an intelligence service, so we were unique in that way. We addressed the problem. We said there was a problem and we were going to take care of it. And there were abuses.

So now you have a regime that you have no background on, no knowledge on. There's a series of calls by various commissions and even some oversight bodies to strengthen the regime. You do nothing to strengthen the regime, and yet here you are pulling away a piece without realizing what you're doing.

Now, it's eyes and ears, because as I said—and I'm not exaggerating—the minister is personally accountable for those intelligence officers. That was the way the model was, because the public can't be involved in it. So the public's assurances are that we have a responsible minister and he's on the hook for this, and he's informed and can do the job and deliver it for us.

With the RCMP, they're independent in terms of who they investigate and when. If they get in trouble, it's all in the public. It plays out in public. This is a covert intelligence agency, so these vehicles are put in there to allow the minister to control it so that he can give the public those assurances. One of the tools that's there is being removed.

You have to remember.... Fine, I've dealt with CSIS for a long time and I have many friends there and I admire them, but I'll say the same thing I said to my colleagues at the RCMP, which I dealt with for 36 years, who wanted to be involved in what oversight powers they had. I said the horse doesn't get to select the saddle. The Mounties don't decide who has oversight on them and to what extent. For anyone to sit here and possibly think that because CSIS doesn't like this, CSIS should be accommodated and it should be removed is sheer insanity. It really is. CSIS doesn't get to make that call.

Your job is to give the public the assurances and make sure the tools are there to give it. If you come up with a better model, fine, but do it in a comprehensive fashion. Don't do it as a money-saving effort, because CSIS wants it and it looks easy. That would be, with the greatest respect, the height of irresponsibility. It really would be.

7:35 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

You say here that the minister is responsible for a portfolio that employs some 40,000 individuals, of which CSIS is one portion. How can the minister possibly fulfill his responsibilities to the public and ensure that CSIS hasn't stepped over the line? You answer that the reality is he cannot.

7:35 p.m.

As an Individual

Paul Kennedy

He personally cannot. That's why he needs tools there. He needs someone whose job it is and who's accountable to the minister. As a minister, when I give a ministerial direction or I approve a policy, someone has to make sure those guys adhere to that, and if they don't, I want to know because my neck is on the line because I'm giving assurances to Parliament, I'm giving assurances to the public.

Parliament has no access to that information. Parliament has to take the assurance of the minister. If the minister is not in a position to give the assurances, Parliament is weakened. You can't do your job, and this is the same Parliament that had been asking for years to have a parliamentary committee to do oversight of CSIS, which would be very difficult to do because of its highly classified operational information.

So we have this interim step. That's why it's there.

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

You're over time.

7:35 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Very quickly, could you—

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Mr. Mai, actually, you're over time, but there may be time for another round, so we'll come back to you.

Ms. Glover, please.

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to say, Mr. Garrison, you're welcome to come to finance committee. It's nice to see other members attend. However, it's ridiculous to think that with all the experience here in this room the public safety committee somehow would have some alternate questions. And to compare kettling, which is a crowd control technique—I have 19 years in the police service and I intend to go back—that can be chosen to be used by whatever police service chooses to use it.... But the use-of-force continuum is not something that you can defer from. It is something that is actually judicially measured. If you do not follow it...and it must be followed consistently. So to compare apples to oranges and then pretend you know what you're talking about is, frankly, disrespectful to the members of the finance committee.

Nevertheless, I'm going to continue with our officers in uniform. I'm very pleased with the pilot project that was held, and I'd really like for you to express to us the successes with the pilot project so that we can envision how we might see this play out.

7:35 p.m.

C/Supt Joe Oliver

With respect to the 2007 pilot projects that were the longer term pilots, two of them were run concurrently, one on the west coast and one on the St. Lawrence Seaway in the area of Cornwall.

The Shiprider teams were involved in a number of interdictions and arrests. They were involved in six direct arrests, and they contributed to 40-some other arrests. They were involved in the seizure of contraband cigarettes and marijuana, the confiscation of proceeds of crime—vessels that were used for cross-border smuggling and modified for those purposes—as well as conveyances on land. They contributed.

In addition, they coordinated with land resources, as had been alluded to by Deputy Chief Brannagan. When these operations are deployed there's often contact with the land resources. In one case, in Cornwall, there was a complaint of a child abduction that was in the border zone and a vessel had been used. The Shiprider team had the operational flexibility to cross back and forth checking marinas along the Canada-U.S. border, on both sides of the border, which then helped them quickly identify where the vessel had landed and helped identify the vehicle, which ultimately led to the safe return of a child. They were seen as contributing to that investigation as well.

These highlight some of the successes that we've seen with the deployment of Shiprider along our shared waterways with our American counterparts.

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

This is fantastic and a good job, and kudos to those who were involved.

I do have a bit of time. I want to clear up some other misinformation while I'm at it, simply because I actually am married to a police officer who is retired. He spent much of his life doing intelligence work and spent the last five years of his life in surveillance, following some of our biker gangs.

In any event, I'm very familiar with CSIS. I'm very familiar with SIRC. What I do want to share with those who are watching is this. As police officers, we never assume things. We never assume anything unless we take the time to hear both sides of it, which is why I'm so disappointed in Mr. Kennedy's testimony when he says he hasn't heard the officials.

Let me tell him and all Canadians watching what the officials had to say about what's going on. The minister himself supports this legislation. The minister is very cognizant of the fact that quite often there are criticisms and so the review is now going to be consolidated within SIRC because it's at arm's length from the government. That is what is so important here, it's at arm's length, which means more transparency, more independence. There's duplication because both CSIS and SIRC were doing self-initiated reviews of CSIS activities. It's important that people know that one side of the story is not being told here, and this is a measure that will take some money that's being saved and allocate it, which is what was told by the officials. So the assumption that there will be no transfer is wrong as well.

I know, and I'm sure, Mr. Oliver, you know that when the chief of police puts his trust in the folks who are working around him and there are mistakes made—and Mr. Kennedy said clearly mistakes are inevitable, especially with intelligence people—the chief is not forced to resign. We all do the best we can because the interest of the public safety is what's important.

Would you confirm this for me, Mr. Oliver and Mr. Brannagan? Mistakes are made within the policing community, within public security. Would you fire the chief or the commissioner if a mistake was made down the line, knowing everyone is making their utmost attempts at doing the right thing?

7:40 p.m.

C/Supt Joe Oliver

I'd be speaking hypothetically, and I think everything is fact-based. So to suggest there may be circumstances when the head of the organization failed to exercise leadership to control misconduct may result in some sort of discipline or firing—

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

We have to go case by case. Wouldn't that be right? Wouldn't you have to go case by case and look at the facts of the story, look at both sides of the story, before you demand someone's resignation?

7:40 p.m.

Deputy Chief, Operations, Windsor Police Service

Jerome Brannagan

We believe mistakes are a foundation for growth, and in policing when you have persons—I call it calls under your belt. You need to acquire calls under your belt as a police officer to make better decisions as time goes on. You can only train so much and you can only experience training so much. You must deploy and you must make those decisions.

When the decisions get to a stage where there could be a criminal result or misconduct, we do have circumstances where that does happen.

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you. Unfortunately, we are out of time on that round.

We'll go to Mr. Hoback, please.

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Thank you, Chair.

Chair, I must say I feel like I'm the last guy at a prayer breakfast or a prayer meeting and there are no good prayers left to say. Having said that, there are a couple of questions maybe I'll look at.

Mr. Oliver, I'm looking at the pilot project that was being done along the border. Are you extending that project now into Saskatchewan, Alberta—the Prairies? Have you done similar projects outside of that region?

7:45 p.m.

C/Supt Joe Oliver

I think there is a misunderstanding with respect to the current status of the pilot projects. There are no pilot projects under way today. The pilot projects were of a very short duration to test a concept. In order to continue with the type of work that was under way and following the framework agreement, there is a requirement for legislation in order for us to operationalize this on a more routine basis. In the absence of legislation, we're not in a position to continue conducting Shiprider operations. So if we fail to get this legislative tool, we will have missed an opportunity.

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

That would explain, then, why it's part of the budget. If we look at the implications cost-wise or in the cost to trade, for example, of not having programs like this in place, we'd have to control things in a lot more severe manner on our side—would it not be fair to say?—since without that, trade and the flow of goods would be restricted?

7:45 p.m.

C/Supt Joe Oliver

I think this tool will provide us greater operational flexibility in the border environment and help us better leverage each other's resources while respecting each country's sovereignty.

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Okay. Thank you.

Ms. Londerville, would you not agree that the changes you see now in the budget are going to provide even better oversight of CMHC and the activities CMHC is involved with?

7:45 p.m.

Prof. Jane Londerville

Yes.

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Chair, I'm going to leave it at that.

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

I'll take the rest of the time.