Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I am very happy to see you.
I also hope that all the committee members spent some quality time with their families and loved ones over the winter holidays.
Colleagues, it is a pleasure and a privilege to come before you today to say a few words and answer your questions about the nature of this study regarding certain questions around equipment that was procured by the RCMP vis-à-vis Sinclair Technologies.
At the very outset, I would like to state a few things up front.
First, national security and protecting Canadians are my top priorities. Our eyes are wide open when it comes to foreign threats, which is why we have rigorous screening procedures in place when we procure equipment and services to support our public safety agencies.
Second, the RCMP has conducted a review of the procurement, installation and maintenance of equipment in this matter and concluded that, at all times, they followed the applicable policies and protocols.
Third, the RCMP further assessed there were no breaches of security as a result of the equipment in question, and that the risks, at the time of procurement, were—and remain—low.
Fourth, the RCMP has suspended the use of the standing offer, and all other contracting and transactions with Sinclair Technologies and Norsat International until further notice.
Fifth, and finally, I have instructed all agencies within my portfolio to apply national security screening protocols to all procurement contracts with the strictest of diligence, so as to ensure the ongoing integrity and protection of all public safety-related critical infrastructure.
I will now highlight a few key facts to inform your study.
The current standing offer completed by Public Services and Procurement Canada—I will refer to them as PSPC—for radio-frequency filtering equipment was issued to Sinclair Technologies Incorporated on October 6, 2021, for a period of three years, until March 31, 2024. There are two one-year option periods to extend the use of the standing offer until March 31, 2026. The total value of the standing offer is $549,637. To date, the RCMP has issued only three call-ups against the standing offer, totalling $55,073.
Further, a separate standing offer for antennas was completed by PSPC and used by the RCMP between December 2013 and December 19, 2018. Under this standing offer, there were 11 call-ups, and these were issued payments totalling $188,982 for antennas, radio shelters and radio-frequency filtration equipment to Sinclair Technologies.
In addition to the above standing offers, there were also 11 contracts for various antennas, radio shelters and radio-frequency filtration equipment totalling $234,606. Thus, for the RCMP, the total call-ups and contracts with Norsat, operating as Sinclair Technologies, are 25. They are valued at $478,661.
In addition to these contracts, there were 144 low dollar-value payments between the RCMP and Sinclair totalling $461,184 for radio communications equipment, repair parts and other related products.
Radio frequency filters allow radio users, including RCMP officers, to communicate more clearly by preventing interference and background noise.
The equipment procured by the RCMP under this standing offer is basically unpowered assemblies of tin cans, metal rods and cables that filter out unwanted signals and interference to help optimize radio performance.
Given these characteristics, I want to be clear that the equipment in question does not have the technical capability to access RCMP radio communications. Moreover, RCMP radio communications are protected with end-to-end encryption, using the Canadian centre for cybersecurity's encryption standard.
While the radio frequency filtration equipment procured from Sinclair Technologies poses no security concerns given its specific function, the use of the current standing offer was suspended on December 9, 2022, and a stop-work order for undelivered goods was issued as well, on the same date. Further reviews are being conducted by the RCMP's independent audit unit.
Again, there is no reason to believe that Canada's national security was under threat at any time during this process. Regardless, there is no shortage of real threats.
That is why we are continually striving to ensure the integrity of our democracy and the protection of national security.
We are making investments to provide all the tools that law enforcement and public safety officials need to protect Canadians and our institutions, including the critical infrastructure that supports the RCMP.
These efforts are ongoing and part of our broader goals to protect national security.
Combatting foreign interference is a complex challenge, particularly in today's geopolitical environment. That is why we are attacking it from all angles, continually re-evaluating our approach, making new investments in public safety tools and reinforcing our already rigorous protocols to safeguard our national security.