Evidence of meeting #69 for National Defence in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was turkey.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Stéfanie von Hlatky  Associate Professor and Director, Centre for International and Defence Policy, Queen's University, As an Individual
Yves Brodeur  Fellow, Canadian Global Affairs, As an Individual
Julian Lindley-French  Fellow, Canadian Global Affairs, As an Individual

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

Thank you for your patience. You are going to see Canadian democracy in action here. I'm going to put this to debate.

Mr. Garrison, go ahead.

5 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Chair, while I do agree that cyberwarfare is important, we have established a priority in this study, and if we are going to finish this NATO study at a time when it might be useful, I would not be in favour of the cyber study going ahead of the NATO study.

Of course, I have my own self-interest. We agreed to a peacekeeping study last April, which has fallen down the list as other priorities have overwhelmed it.

While I am supportive of the member's idea, I am not supportive of prioritizing it above the work we are now doing and the peacekeeping study.

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

Mr. Gerretsen, go ahead.

5 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Chair, I would move that we suspend for five minutes to allow our witnesses to properly depart, to allow them to leave and officially be thanked so that they don't have to sit through this. Then we could continue with the meeting to discuss this.

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

All right, I'll suspend. We'll come back in public, because I'm sure you want to continue this discussion in public, and then we'll go in camera.

Witnesses, thank you very much for your participation in this very important conversation about Canada and its involvement in NATO. I appreciate your time.

I'll suspend for a few minutes.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

Just a reminder that we are still in a public setting. We'll debate the motion by Mr. Hoback, and then, following the resolution one way or the other, we will go in camera to do committee business.

The floor was about to be passed to Mr. Gerretsen, and I have Mr. Bezan and Mr. Hoback.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

I don't want to waste a bunch of time, because we have important business that we want to do in camera.

I would just say that there are no timelines tied to this. This is just a motion to undertake the study. I agree with Randall that we have another study—the motion that was passed some time ago—which in my opinion should be dealt with sooner rather than later.

The NATO study is our priority. Let's get this work done. The Ukraine study is at the report stage. We are drafting another report anyway. Let's get the NATO study wrapped up.

The steering committee can deal with this and schedule it in. We have two years between now and the next federal election, so we have lots of time to make this work.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

Mr. Hoback, do you want to add to that?

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Like Mr. Bezan, I am open-minded on this as far as timing is concerned. I am even open-minded if you want to use some of the evidence in one of the existing reports. That would be fine, too.

I just think it's very important. We are hearing it come up time after time with witnesses on cybersecurity and our role in it. We need to get an understanding in this committee of what we actually have for capabilities. I respect my NDP colleague's preference. That is why I said to take it back to the steering committee, and you guys can decide in the steering committee how you want to bring this forward in the timeline.

It would be a good study for this committee to have because it's coming up all the time.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

Mr. Gerretsen.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

I moved that we adjourn debate on this at the last meeting a couple of days ago because of my concern over the timing and where this lines up. I agree totally with what Randall said.

What we're trying to figure out is what other committee might be studying this, in particular, the new committee that's just been formed for security and intelligence. Am I getting that right? I really want to get a better understanding as to if this is within the purview of that committee and therefore if what we're doing is just being redundant. I don't want to just go out and vote against this to kill it. That's why I want to adjourn the debate again so that we can look into that and then come back.

I do agree that it's an important topic. I think we all agree on that. But we just want to make sure that we're prioritizing properly and that we're not being redundant.

I want to move that adjournment of debate again so that we can figure that out, but I don't want you to interpret it as we're trying to push the item off the table. We're genuinely interested in this.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Could I reply before you adjourn?

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Yes.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

You're not moving to adjourn debate?

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

No. I would like to hear what Mr. Hoback has to say before I do that.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

First of all, the new committee being struck is not a standing committee. It's a special committee on its own. Second of all, it would not be public so we would not be able to take that data and analyze it ourselves to use it in our reports or studies or use that information to have better questions for the witnesses who come in front of us. That would be my concern with having it go to a different committee.

They may do their own study, and I suspect they will, and I suspect that study will go 10 times deeper because of the security clearances that committee will have compared to this committee.

But I think as members of Parliament we need to have our own understanding of exactly where we sit, and you can't do that through the other committee. That would be the concern I have.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

I apologize, Ms. Gallant. I think you wanted to get in earlier.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

I've been sitting in on that public safety committee and they do have that bill before them.

There will be some overlap. In addition to having the sharing of information and a whole-of-government approach to cybersecurity, we also have to make sure that from a military perspective and how we work with our allies there is a coordinated effort. That is the dimension we are looking at.

Even if there is redundancy, it doesn't mean we're going to discover the same things or hear the same things or come to the same conclusions. Just as with a computer system, it's good to have redundancy in some respects.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

Mr. Bezan.

November 8th, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

My understanding about the national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians is that they're reviewing CSIS and CSE as to their operations and functions, not so much looking at doing studies. They're going to call in the experts definitely to talk about threat levels and our capabilities. They're going to have a lot more tools at their disposal than we have.

Again, we do have Bill C-59 that's coming before the House. That has a CSE component. This study would dovetail off that as public safety deals with it. Then how does CSE function? How does cybersecurity...? Bill C-59 actually has an enabler there for first-time legislation on cyberwarfare, both on defensive and offensive means. I think once Bill C-59 gets through the House, it will provide us an opportunity to look at that in greater detail and how those changes may impact national defence.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

Before I go to Mr. Gerretsen, did you want to jump in? I had you on the list.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

No, I'm fine.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

Okay.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

We hear all of that. We get it. We're interested in the topic too, but we're asking that you let us consult with ourselves again so that we have a better thorough discussion and then we talk about it at the next meeting or the one after that.

With all of that in mind I'll move adjournment on the debate, Mr. Chair.

(Motion agreed to)

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

I will suspend the meeting so that we can administratively go in camera.

[Proceedings continue in camera]