Evidence of meeting #58 for Justice and Human Rights in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was security.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Terry Jamieson  Vice-President, Technical Support Branch, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
Marie-France Dagenais  Director General, Transportation of Dangerous Goods, Department of Transport
Raoul Awad  Director General, Directorate of Security and Safeguards, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
John Davies  Director General, National Security Policy, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Commissioner James Malizia  Assistant Commissioner, Federal Policing Operations, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mike Wallace

I call to order meeting number 58 of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. According to the order of reference of November 30, we're going to continue our discussion of Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code.

We have two panels today, ladies and gentlemen. We have a motion that I'm going to make sure we reserve 15 minutes for at the end of the meeting, and we have a duly noted notice of motion from Madam Boivin. If this first panel finishes early, we will deal with that motion and then move to the second panel.

From the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, we have a number of guests. Mr. Jamieson is going to introduce his guests and give a short presentation.

We also have with us, from the Department of Transport, Madam Dagenais, who is the director general, transportation of dangerous goods. She has a very brief opening statement.

The floor is yours, Mr. Jamieson.

February 11th, 2013 / 3:30 p.m.

Terry Jamieson Vice-President, Technical Support Branch, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee, for the invitation to appear before you today to discuss certain aspects of Bill S-9, the Nuclear Terrorism Act, and how they relate to the mandate of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

I'm accompanied by Mr. Raoul Awad, director general of the directorate of security and safeguards, and Mr. Jason K. Cameron, director general of the strategic planning directorate.

The CNSC is Canada's sole nuclear regulator and, as such, is responsible for protecting the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment with regard to the use of nuclear energy.

The CNSC is also tasked with ensuring that Canada meets its international obligations as far as the peaceful use of nuclear energy is concerned. We carry out our mandate under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and related regulations.

The CNSC and its predecessor organization have been regulating nuclear activities for more than 65 years. Activities regulated cover the entire nuclear cycle, from uranium mining and milling through to fuel fabrication, to nuclear facilities such as nuclear power plants, and ultimately to waste management. Regulatory oversight also extends to nuclear substances and to commercial, medical, academic, and research applications.

I will focus my brief comments today on describing how the CNSC ensures the security of nuclear materials and of nuclear facilities.

The prevention of nuclear terrorism relies on several elements, starting with international treaties and conventions. In Canada, the CNSC oversees the application of physical protection, threat assessment, and security measures. While Bill S-9 deals with Criminal Code offences if terrorist activity is found, the work of the CNSC is largely meant to be preventive, so that nuclear terrorism efforts will be detected and thwarted as early as possible.

The CNSC was involved in helping to develop the amendments to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. The CNSC's nuclear security regulations were updated in 2006 to reflect those changes. These regulations set out prescriptive and detailed security measures that licensees must adhere to. Physical protection requirements are based on a graded approach commensurate with the risk level and the resulting consequences.

For example, with respect to category I and II nuclear materials, and the facilities in which they are stored, the requirements range from site access controls to an on-site armed response force capable of intervention in the case of intrusion, theft, or sabotage. Employees and supervisors must fulfill mandatory requirements for awareness and education of security protocols. Those workers with access to nuclear materials must undergo rigorous background checks.

Licensees must develop and maintain contingency plans, as well as practise regular emergency drills. In fact, the North American nuclear industry holds an annual competition in which the tactical and physical skills of nuclear security protection officers are demonstrated. Canadian teams are regularly among the winners.

The transport of category I, II, and III nuclear materials is covered by the packaging and transport of nuclear substances regulations, and requires a licence from the CNSC. In order to obtain such an approval, the licensee must submit a transport security plan that provides detailed information, including a threat assessment, the proposed security measures, the route, and other arrangements along the route, all in accordance with the nuclear security regulations. Security plans are required for all shipments, including those in transit through Canada. Transport Canada's transportation of dangerous goods regulations also apply to any transport of nuclear substances.

Consequently, if Bill S-9 is enacted and Canada ratifies the CPPNM as well as the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, there is no additional work necessary to implement the physical protection measures among Canada's nuclear facility operators. These measures in fact have already been in place for years.

Similarly, Canada's framework and policy for the import, export, control, and safeguarding of nuclear material is transparent and comprehensive, to the extent that the CNSC is routinely consulted by regulators in other countries seeking to replicate various aspects of the Canadian model.

The Nuclear Safety and Control Act does contain regulatory offence provisions and penalties. Indeed, an individual was successfully prosecuted in 2010 for trying to ship nuclear-related dual-use devices to Iran, which could have been used for uranium enrichment. The proposed provisions of Bill S-9 would supplement our Nuclear Safety and Control Act for more serious offences and acts of nuclear terrorism.

In closing, the CNSC has been on the leading edge of implementing safety and security of our nuclear material inventory here in Canada as well as controlling the movement of nuclear materials, both domestically and across our borders. Consequently, the regulatory framework in Canada is already in a position to accommodate the provisions proposed in Bill S-9.

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I look forward to your questions.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mike Wallace

Thank you, sir, for that presentation.

Madam Dagenais from the Department of Transport, please go ahead.

3:35 p.m.

Marie-France Dagenais Director General, Transportation of Dangerous Goods, Department of Transport

Good afternoon. My name is Marie-France Dagenais, and I'm the director general, transportation of dangerous goods, for Transport Canada.

The transport of dangerous goods program deals mostly with the safe transport of the United Nation's nine classes of dangerous goods. Some of the issues raised by this proposed legislation fall exclusively on class seven, nuclear material, which falls mostly under the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission mandate, as indicated by Mr. Jamieson.

I'm here to answer any questions that may fall under the TDG program responsibilities.

Thank you.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mike Wallace

Thank you very much. We'll move right to questions. Our first questioner is Madam Boivin from the NDP.

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Thank you.

Thank you to our witnesses for being here today.

I am going to give in to temptation and start with one question, in particular, and whoever would like to respond, may go ahead.

In your view, is the threat to our nuclear security greater domestically or internationally?

3:35 p.m.

Vice-President, Technical Support Branch, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Terry Jamieson

Thank you, Ms. Boivin.

Regardless of the comparison of threats within Canada to those of some of our international partners, we can assure you that all nuclear materials in Canada remain in a safe state and are for strictly peaceful uses.

We rely upon some of our partners in the federal family to evaluate those threats for us. I will say that we don't routinely do a cross-comparison of threats across various countries, but we would use intelligence that was gathered exterior to Canada in establishing the threat level within Canada.

I hope that answers your question.

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Yes and no in a sense.

You talked about your partners in the matter, but how is the level of communication between.... I'm sure CSIS is involved. I'm sure a lot of agencies are.

Is there a formal format whereby you can review all these things? We get to study a bill and we don't know what it is needed for. I take it there are some conventions internationally that we have to conform to. All of you must have read the article in the Ottawa Citizen this morning entitled, “Liquid bomb-grade uranium to be shipped secretly from Chalk River to U.S.”. I might not have thought too much about it normally, but now that I'm reading Bill S-9, I'm thinking that my goodness, if somebody inside Canada had bad intentions, those are all types of events that could create some type of.... Are you reasonably assured that all the means are already in place, because that's what I gathered from your testimony, and if so, why do we need Bill S-9?

3:40 p.m.

Vice-President, Technical Support Branch, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Terry Jamieson

I'll answer your questions in sequence, and in a moment I'll turn it over to Mr. Awad to talk perhaps about some of the more detailed aspects of security planning for such shipments.

To start with, yes we do have a formal manner in which we interact with our partners, so we'll regularly work with the RCMP and our CSIS partners in order to arrive at the latest assessment of the threat environment.

In terms of why we need Bill S-9, currently Canada has signed for the amendment to the CPPNM and also has signalled intent for ICSANT. Of course, we can't ratify them without modifying our legislative framework to make acts of nuclear terrorism a Criminal Code offence. That in fact is the driver for Bill S-9.

With regard to your remarks concerning the HEU shipments, such shipments of nuclear material, certainly of nuclear medical isotopes, occur routinely, hundreds of times a day in Canada.

For the proposed HEU shipments, from a number of viewpoints this is the right thing to do, to return that material, which was originally of U.S. origin, to the U.S. Of course, this is consistent with the Nuclear Security Summit commitments made by our Prime Minister directly to President Obama.

The proposed shipments will be entirely safe and secure. There will be a detailed security plan that will be filed before any shipments take place. The actual physical packaging for the material, which is in a liquid form, which is the only difference between the routine shipments that we have now, those transfer containers will be certified, and the safety and security of them will be demonstrated.

Also, as I mentioned, we will work specifically with our partners, our security partners, in order to review the threat assessment along the proposed transportation route.

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

There is the aspect of environment, I gathered that from the article, but on our side, on justice, I was thinking more of somebody with bad intentions or something. I guess that's why you keep the information very hush-hush so nobody knows the convoy will be on this road, this day. That's pretty tempting.

3:40 p.m.

Vice-President, Technical Support Branch, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Terry Jamieson

Thank you for reminding me to respond to that.

In the reporter's article there's some allusion to highly secretive operations that would be taking place. In fact, that is just standard security protocol. For shipments of this nature you would not publicize in a paper that this is the transport route and it would be leaving location X at 10:00 in the morning.

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Excellent. Thank you.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mike Wallace

Thank you very much.

Our next questioner is Monsieur Goguen from the Conservative Party.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Conservative Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to the witnesses for appearing and enlightening us on this subject.

The physical protection measures that are contemplated under the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material are already in place in Canada. We know that. Under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is responsible for setting physical protection standards in Canada and ensuring that those standards are met. We know that the nuclear security regulations set out the physical protection measures, which licensees must implement to meet minimum security standards.

As we speak and at this time, how safe are our nuclear facilities in your opinion?

3:40 p.m.

Vice-President, Technical Support Branch, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Terry Jamieson

They're absolutely safe. The upgraded Canadian security regimes started after the 9/11 events. We have very highly secured facilities. I can't go into a lot of details in an open forum such as this, but suffice it to say that the full range of standard security techniques are put in place so there'll be barriers, defences, and detention mechanisms. I must stress that at the class I facilities, the nuclear power plants, we have armed on-site response forces. They essentially are army-level trained in terms of tactics and response strategies.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Conservative Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Thank you.

That's my questioning.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mike Wallace

Next is Mr. Cotler from the Liberal Party.

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'm wondering how one would define the particular role and mandate of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. In other words, would you regard the mandate as being one primarily concerned, let us say, with the prosecution of crimes relating to nuclear materials and facilities or the early detection and prevention of such crimes? How does the commission work with regard to these two priorities?

3:45 p.m.

Vice-President, Technical Support Branch, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Terry Jamieson

Our number one priority is to ensure that no threat is posed to these nuclear materials in the first place. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, our activities are largely preventive in nature. We do have some limited ability to fine individuals for contraventions of our regulations. Certainly one of the aspects of the mandate of the CNSC is not to be involved in prosecution. We'll support prosecutions that would be led by Justice.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

During the Senate committee proceedings it was suggested that Canada's regulatory framework for the import, export, control, and safeguarding of nuclear material has been in place for years and is already sufficient to implement the physical protection measures required for the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, the ICSANT, and the amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.

Would you say it's correct that our current legislative and regulatory regime is consistent with our obligations under ICSANT and the amendment to the CPPNM, or is Bill S-9 necessary for us to be in a position to ratify both treaties?

3:45 p.m.

Vice-President, Technical Support Branch, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Terry Jamieson

Bill S-9 is required to allow us to ratify because there are specific requirements to have acts of nuclear terrorism considered as Criminal Code offences.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Okay, thank you, Chair.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mike Wallace

Thank you, sir.

Our next questioner is Mr. Albas from the Conservative Party.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

First, let me thank our witnesses for their presence and their expertise in helping us study this important legislation.

It's my understanding that the Nuclear Security Summit process brings together 47 countries with a view to strengthening international cooperative efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism by enhancing global nuclear safety. At the inaugural 2010 summit in Washington, D.C., Prime Minister Stephen Harper and 46 other leaders agreed to a joint communiqué and work plan, which among other commitments welcomed a four-year international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials worldwide.

It also highlighted the importance of achieving the universal ratification and implementation of the amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. The March 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul provided countries with an opportunity to identify areas for cooperation to enhance nuclear security.

Mr. Chair, I'm going to direct my questions to Mr. Jamieson or his colleagues as they feel they can answer.

Mr. Jamieson, when you testified before the Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism back in June, you noted that “the regulatory framework in Canada is already in a position to accommodate the provisions proposed in Bill S-9”. Do you think it's important for Canada to become a state party to international counterterrorism instruments?

3:45 p.m.

Vice-President, Technical Support Branch, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Terry Jamieson

Sir, that's one of the principles Canada has always acted by. I would suggest that ratifying the two instruments affected by Bill S-9 is an important step towards reaffirming our commitment to be 100% compliant with the international system.

As to the physical protection, I want to stress that all those aspects have been in place since 2006, and some aspects were in place before that.

As for the comment about being one of the items considered by the Nuclear Security Summit in securing vulnerable material, in no way would the HEU and other material in Canada be considered vulnerable in comparison to established international norms for the protection of such material.