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Evidence of meeting #14 for Public Safety and National Security in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was agencies.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jim Judd  Director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service
William Sweeney  Senior Deputy Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Myles Kirvan  Associate Deputy Minister, Deputy Minister's Office, Department of Public Safety
Marc-Arthur Hyppolite  Senior Deputy Commissioner, Correctional Service Canada
Stephen Rigby  President, Canada Border Services Agency

10:35 a.m.

Director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service

Jim Judd

It may have occurred in the past, where information was received by the service that had been obtained through torture, but it's clear now that our policy is that such information is not to be relied upon, and that we, under no circumstances, condone the use of torture for any reason.

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Thank you.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Garry Breitkreuz

You have two minutes, Mr. Ménard.

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

My question is for Mr. Sweeney from the RCMP.

I see that this year your budget has been cut by a further $30 million or even more. Some services assigned to the RCMP could very well be assigned to another agency, such as the DNA analysis service, for example. Only 1% of cases are considered urgent. It takes a considerable amount of time to handle all the other requests, far more than the deadlines given.

In addition, very simple requests are submitted to you, such as those to determine whether someone has a criminal record. A person may need this kind of information to prove that he does not have a criminal record, in order to get a job or to travel outside Canada. However, it takes about a year to respond to these requests.

Will you be trying to cut down those time periods or will you continue trying to convince me that an agency like a forensic laboratory would enhance its credibility and efficiency if it were detached from the police forces? If it doesn't increase its efficiency, we could at least give it budgets that would enable it to do so.

In view of this cut to your budget, wouldn't assigning all these other functions to other agencies be a better solution?

10:35 a.m.

Senior Deputy Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

D/Commr William Sweeney

All solutions that improve levels of service in law enforcement certainly are solutions that should be examined with all seriousness to determine whether they're more viable options for the Government of Canada and the provinces and territories to invest in as opposed to the current model. We should always challenge the models that exist in law enforcement, to ensure the best service is provided to the Canadian public.

As it relates to the forensic laboratory services, there's no question there's been an explosion in terms of the demand for biology casework analysis. It is the best evidence available in many instances, and right across this country law enforcement agencies are looking for expansion of access to biology casework.

We have recently undertaken a complete audit of our business processes within the RCMP forensic laboratories. We had the United Kingdom come in, iforensic, to provide us with some advice to ensure that our current reference levels allow us to invest in the most efficient way possible so that we can deliver those services. We have amended those business processes, and we are continuing to amend those business processes.

We will require additional resources on biology casework, but before we present a business case to anyone, we want to be absolutely confident that we can say we are using our existing capacities in the most efficient manner possible. And we're near that point.

10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Does the RCMP give the Americans lists of people who have a criminal record? A large number of Canadians have come to complain to our committees that American authorities are clearly familiar with their criminal records. They're increasingly denying these people access to the United States, even for very old offences.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Garry Breitkreuz

Just a brief response, please.

10:40 a.m.

Senior Deputy Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Garry Breitkreuz

Thank you.

Mr. Harris, do you have any questions?

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Yes, I do, as a matter of fact.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Garry Breitkreuz

Okay, go ahead.

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Thank you, sir.

Mr. Judd, with all due respect to the testimony you gave this morning about the change in policy—the now policy, that your agency doesn't make use of torture or information obtained through torture—how can we, in this committee, or the public in general have confidence that this is something everyone in your agency follows, when we had Mr. O'Brian giving the perhaps admittedly speculative answer to our committee on Tuesday? If he, who is the legal adviser and adviser on legislation to CSIS, can engage in that, what about all the activities of the agents and the people who are operating in your service? What confidence can we have that they are aware of that policy and are actually implementing it?

10:40 a.m.

Director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service

Jim Judd

I have two comments, sir.

First of all, to clarify, Mr. O'Brian is not our legal adviser. He works on legislative issues. But legal counsel is provided by the Department of Justice, which has a large office of lawyers working in the service.

With respect to the issue of confidence, I would say to you the following. CSIS is the most reviewed intelligence service in the world--externally reviewed. It may be the most reviewed agency of the Government of Canada. We are subject to review by all the various agents of Parliament, including the Privacy Commissioner and the Access to Information Commissioner. We have two statutory independent review agencies: the Inspector General, reporting to the minister, and the Security Intelligence Review Committee. Both conduct annual reviews of our operations and both report on those and any instances of non-compliance with the law or policy.

In addition to that, in the just over four years I've been with CSIS, we have been involved in four major inquiries, one of which has yet to report. They were conducted by Mr. Justice O'Connor, Mr. Justice Iacobucci, Mr. Justice Major, and the fourth one was conducted by Mr. Bob Rae on the Air India issue. So we have internal measures, policies, and so on, to deal with these issues. We have a large body of Department of Justice lawyers acting as legal counsel to us in virtually all our operations. And annually two external review bodies, over and above whatever independent inquiries are called, look through everything and anything we do and report on that.

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Thank you.

On another matter, Mr. Hyppolite, I'm interested in some of the comments. The minister made a comment that I agree with. We don't want to turn our correctional institutions into mental hospitals, although once people are incarcerated, they need whatever treatment they deserve while they're in your custody. But neither is the Correctional Service a trade school. Certainly the fact that someone can get training that is specifically useful for a particular job outside is a good thing, but surely, Mr. Hyppolite, the operation of a prison farm, where prisoners are engaged in physical activity, actively producing food for themselves and other prisoners and institutions, engaged in a working life on a daily basis, meeting expectations to do work, some of whom never had a job before...this is good for the mental health of prisoners, good for the protection of the public. When they're released you have people who are used to doing that. Isn't that a positive thing? Why wouldn't the Correctional Service keep that operation if it can contribute to the rehabilitation of prisoners?

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Garry Breitkreuz

Give an opportunity for the response here.

10:45 a.m.

Senior Deputy Commissioner, Correctional Service Canada

D/Commr Marc-Arthur Hyppolite

In terms of the link you make to mental health, obviously, when we occupy an offender, it is always better for the offender to do his time peacefully and then prepare himself and concentrate on the criminogenic...and the needs that have been identified in the correctional plan to prepare him for a safe and early release to society.

On the issue of the farms, obviously, as you know, we're one of the 21 agencies that have undergone a strategic review. We identified the farms and the work there as not being, strategically speaking, an enhancement to our capacity to deliver marketable skills to offenders. So we have decided to close the six farms around the country and invest in areas that are more strategic to our priorities and to link to the provision of better public safety services and make sure the offender, in the continuum of care, when released to society, can be employable and employed and have a meaningful job and be a law-abiding citizen.

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Garry Breitkreuz

Thank you very much.

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Is that your decision?

10:45 a.m.

Senior Deputy Commissioner, Correctional Service Canada

D/Commr Marc-Arthur Hyppolite

We have decided that within the strategic review. I believe a presentation was done to cabinet, and this measure was identified as a strategic move to enhance our capacity to do it--

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Garry Breitkreuz

Okay, thank you.

Mr. MacKenzie, please.

April 2nd, 2009 / 10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Thank you, Chair, and thank you to the officials for being here today. It's important to this committee.

I'd like to start with you, Mr. Judd, because some of my friends have spent a great deal of time talking about Mr. O'Brian's comment with respect to torture. My recollection is that you joined CSIS in late 2004, I believe, and you indicated how long you've been there. This government took office in January 2006. It's also my recollection that all of the issues in those inquiries dealing with torture occurred under a previous government, prior to 2006.

10:45 a.m.

Director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service

Jim Judd

In the early part of this decade, 2002, 2003, I think, yes.

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Right. My friends would indicate that somehow this government condones torture. I believe the minister was explicit in what he said, I believe you were explicit in what you said, and I believe the RCMP who were here on Tuesday were very explicit in what they said. Has change occurred within your organization since you took over in late 2004 to today with respect to policy and practice in the information you receive or in just dealing in the general sense with torture?

10:45 a.m.

Director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service

Jim Judd

Yes. As I indicated earlier in my comments, we have implemented all of the recommendations in Mr. Justice O'Connor's inquiry, a number of which dealt with information-sharing internationally. A number of other changes have been made in our policies and our ministerial directives, which provide us with policy instruction from the minister. They have been, I think, completely revised and were reissued to us last year.

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

We heard what Mr. O'Brian said, and I'm certain that on this side we thought he was talking about hypothetical situations.

I have a little quote here and I'm wondering if it's not very much the same: “In a war on terror, I would argue, the issue is not whether we can avoid evil acts altogether, but whether we can succeed in choosing lesser evils and keep them from becoming greater ones.” This is a quote from The Yukon News on August 7, 2006. Does that sound like somebody also talking about a hypothetical situation, as opposed to a practical one? If I told you that quote came from the current leader of the Liberal Party, would it sound as though he were also talking hypothetically rather than practically?