Evidence of meeting #61 for Public Safety and National Security in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was oversight.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jessie Housty  As an Individual
Marvin Kurz  National Legal Counsel, B'nai Brith Canada
David Matas  Senior Legal Counsel, B'nai Brith Canada
Tom Stamatakis  President, Canadian Police Association
Matt Sheehy  Director (Canada), Jetana Security, As an Individual
Clare Lopez  Vice-President, Research and Analysis, Center for Security Policy
John McKenna  President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada
Kyle Shideler  Director, Threat Information Office, Center for Security Policy
Michael Skrobica  Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Daryl Kramp

Thank you very much.

Your time is up, Mr. Falk.

Madame Doré Lefebvre.

8:05 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I would like to thank the witnesses for being here today to discuss Bill C-51.

Since I don't have much time, I would like to focus my questions on the provisions relating to air transport security and passengers not being permitted to fly. Not many witnesses have spoken to us about that. That's why I find it extremely interesting that you addressed these points today.

I'll start with Mr. McKenna.

On March 12, Marc-André O'Rourke from the National Airlines Council of Canada appeared before the committee. He, too, mentioned some concerns about certain provisions of Bill C-51. He spoke about clause 9, specifically. Since you also mentioned it in your presentation, I won't go over it again.

Here's some of what Mr. O'Rourke said in his testimony:

We are concerned with the potential direction to airlines to do “anything”. While our members are committed partners, what may be reasonable and necessary from the minister's perspective may not always be feasible from a carrier's perspective. As private companies, our member carriers may be limited in the actions they can take.

Could you comment on this whole burden that is placed on airlines and on what you can really do, concretely?

8:05 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada

John McKenna

I'll ask Mr. Skrobica, who is our expert on that, to answer your question, and I will provide more details, if necessary.

8:05 p.m.

Michael Skrobica Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada

From our perspective, we wanted to highlight that the systems we have are very complex. They're based upon computers. We rely upon their availability in order to do our check-in and processing of passengers. It includes a very substantial degree of security measures that are inherent. If they're down, we are unable to provide the same level of assurance that we would when we have the system.

There are problems worldwide in some airports. For example, the systems that are provided for you—when I say you, the airline is not provided an opportunity to utilize their own systems. We did an analysis with regard to the advance passenger information that the CBSA put into place. We were shocked to discover that the airport that's causing us the most problems is Charles de Gaulle in Paris, France. We had anticipated that it would be an airport in Cuba, for example, but there are many circumstances that are beyond our control.

The second part of proposed section 9 talks about due diligence but does not go into elaborating on it. We're very concerned by that. We have not had an opportunity.... For example, CBSA has instituted a number of new systems over the last few years. We've always had advanced consultations with them so that everybody understood where the limits were and what the expectations were. That's not been the case in this circumstance.

March 26th, 2015 / 8:10 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

You are talking about the level of assurance and the security measures that all that can lead to. You also mentioned the fact that the legislation would impose a certain tax burden on airlines. And you mentioned that airlines could be fined up to $500,000.

Aside from the fines, which we have a specific number for, do you have an idea of what would be required in terms of security to put in place the measures in Bill C-51?

8:10 p.m.

Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada

Michael Skrobica

From our perspective, we're anticipating that we're going to be able to utilize the existing passenger protect program, which is known as the no-fly list. If there is an expectation by Public Safety for us to institute a new system, that would come in the millions of dollars.

With regard to the expectation that, for some of the passengers, they are not just not going to be allowed to fly but they will be subject to additional security measures, there is an existing procedure that's being used today. We're making an assumption, because we have not been told definitively by Public Safety, that we could adapt an existing system that the U.S. has, the Selectee list. It's a system that requires the people at CATSA to undertake additional security measures to satisfy the Transportation Security Administration's requirements.

8:10 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Perhaps you've seen other good practices in other countries around the world that could serve as a model to solve our problems with the no-fly list.

8:10 p.m.

Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada

Michael Skrobica

One of the things that we have seen and that we advocate is that a law enforcement officer be present. Under the existing passenger protect program, we are not allowed to tell individuals who have set up for a flight, who are on the no-fly list, that they will not be able to board, except when they show up at the airport and present their credentials at the check-in.

In the United States there is a procedure that requires a law enforcement officer to be present. I believe that our check-in agents deserve the same level of security, considering that we are typifying these people as an immediate threat to civil aviation. With the hardening of air transport, we are finding there are probably going to be more attacks on the non-secure areas of airports. We want to be able to anticipate that and protect from that.

8:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Daryl Kramp

Thank you very much. The time is up now.

Ms. Ablonczy, you have seven minutes, please.

8:10 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Thank you to the witnesses.

I'd like to start with the Center for Security Policy. You mentioned that Canada has shown itself to be a global leader in fighting terrorism, and we thank you for that. We know Canadians are enormously proud that we're punching above our weight in fighting this threat.

You mentioned that there are groups whose agenda is to mislead the mass media, to influence politicians, to undermine policies that are aimed to address terrorism, and to undermine western governments. I'd like for you to expand on the who and the how of that.

8:10 p.m.

Vice-President, Research and Analysis, Center for Security Policy

Clare Lopez

We're referring specifically here to the network of the Muslim Brotherhood. That network spans both the United States and all of North America including Canada but also elsewhere in the world, certainly western Europe, in terms of this kind of targeting of our society for infiltration and subversion from within. Whereas elsewhere we see jihadist organizations taking a violent or a kinetic approach to conducting attacks with explosions and murder, and these things are being targeted against our societies as well, with the Muslim Brotherhood, we're seeing a calculated program to infiltrate society in different spheres. In other words, we're talking about academia, government at different levels—both the legislature of our countries and also the senior serving and appointed members of government—the media certainly, and throughout society. That has been the modus operandi of the Muslim Brotherhood and its various groups.

We know that quite a number of those groups operate throughout North America, in the United States as well as Canada, among which would be those listed on the Muslim Brotherhoods own explanatory memorandum's last page, which was one of those documents presented as evidence in our own Holy Land Foundation trial. On that list, which the Brotherhood titles “Our friends and the organizations of our friends”—quite helpful, them—were organizations like CAIR, Council on American-Islamic Relations; ISNA, Islamic Society of North America; ICNA, Islamic Circle of North America; NAIT, North American Islamic Trust, which, by the way, holds the deeds of trust to around 80% of all mosques and Islamic centres in the United States. These are some of the organizations I'm talking about.

8:15 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Just this week, the media reported that there is new military intelligence showing that DND here in Canada is monitoring constant threats made against Canadian Armed Forces members and their families from ISIL terrorists on social media. I wonder if you could comment on any knowledge you have of this type of activity.

8:15 p.m.

Vice-President, Research and Analysis, Center for Security Policy

Clare Lopez

Certainly we've seen similar reports of targeting against American troops, also using social media. We know that the Islamic State is extremely sophisticated, very knowledgeable about the use of the Internet and specifically social media for the propaganda, indoctrination, and indeed, threat activities that they engage in.

I might turn to my colleague to expand on this a little bit, because that's an area in which he works very closely.

8:15 p.m.

Director, Threat Information Office, Center for Security Policy

Kyle Shideler

As you mentioned, very recently we've seen in Canada and also in the United States the so-called Islamic State hacking organization, which released a list of names they claimed they had stolen from Department of Defense computers. The reality is that they had conducted open-source intelligence, a system typically called “doxxing” in hacker-speak, to gather up the names, locations, and social media identities of members of the armed forces. They have also used this technique to target Arab allies flying combat missions against the Islamic State and also against individuals who they alleged to be members of the Israeli intelligence service.

To date I'm unaware of any case where the Islamic State has successfully targeted an individual on the basis of that list, but certainly once that list has been created and published, it will be considered acceptable, authentic, and legitimate for any supporter of the Islamic State to act against an individual, and I absolutely expect they will attempt to do that.

If you look at the situation that occurred in Paris with the attack on the magazine Charlie Hebdo, that was a case where those individuals had been threatened many years in advance. It was some time later, but eventually they were indeed targeted.

8:15 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

In your view, are there measures in this bill that would help to contain and push back against the kinds of threats we've just been discussing?

8:15 p.m.

Director, Threat Information Office, Center for Security Policy

Kyle Shideler

Yes. I think creating opportunities to prevent or disrupt.... For example, opportunities to conduct aggressive counter-intelligence to try to get in and collect the names of ISIS supporters before they strike, or something of that nature, would be one method of disrupting and preventing. Also, from our reading, I think that what's being discussed would permit that kind of activity, and it would be useful.

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Thank you.

Mr. Sheehy, you mentioned that we're in a highly dangerous and highly fluid situation and that we need to be proactive. I wonder if you'd expand on what you mean there.

8:20 p.m.

Director (Canada), Jetana Security, As an Individual

Matt Sheehy

Thank you for the question.

Well, I guess I should be clear that my expertise is primarily in the aviation and transportation area. That being said, I spent 37 years flying airplanes in hostile environments, so how I've applied this same sort of thinking to the threat environment we find ourselves in is that we have to capture any and all pieces of information that will help us reach our destination safely.

I think this bill, for example, sharing of information between different agencies, is excellent. When I fly an airplane, the mechanics tell me what kind of situation the airplane's in as far as the mechanics of it, and the meteorologist tells us what kind of weather we're going to have to deal with and any other issues like that. Also, we have a crew, so we engage with them too.

We're in a very fluid environment. I believe that all Canadians sincerely want to do the right thing here. These are very difficult times and this is a somewhat controversial piece of legislation from some quarters, but it's an excellent start. I think it's then up to this committee to fix it, if it needs to be fixed. But generally speaking, this is a good piece of legislation and the sharing of information is critical. Unless you have the information, unless it's clear, and unless it's sent down to the front lines.... If it's kept quietly in headquarters at CSIS, CIA, or whatever and not shared, it's useless.

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Daryl Kramp

Thank you very much.

Thank you to Ms. Ablonczy.

Mr. Easter.

8:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to all our witnesses for your presentations.

Just so I have you pegged correctly, does the Air Transport Association of Canada represent all the airlines that fly in Canada?

8:20 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada

John McKenna

No, sir. We share that responsibility with the National Airlines Council of Canada. We represent some of the larger carriers but mostly the regional and smaller carriers.

8:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

We've had one other representative from the airlines here. Did I hear you say, in your presentation, that you were not consulted in the preparation of this bill? Did I hear you say that?

8:20 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada

John McKenna

Mike is our local expert, our subject matter expert. He is usually consulted in these matters. I'll let him reply to this.

8:20 p.m.

Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada

Michael Skrobica

We were not consulted in advance with regard to this bill.

8:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

We don't know whether the other group representing airlines—but I do.

To be honest with you, I am shocked. I am shocked that on one of the most important pieces of legislation related to anti-terrorism in this country, an omnibus bill, your association was not consulted in its preparation. I am shocked. I can't say any more than that.

The area related to airlines is this:

The Minister may direct an air carrier to do anything that, in the Minister's opinion, is reasonable and necessary to prevent a listed person....

I do favour the part of the bill that establishes no-fly lists domestically. I do think there has to be better coordination internationally as well. Some of the points that you have made make me concerned. How do we stack up? I think you said that in the United States there is a police officer, probably an armed customs agent or something, who is there to assist representatives in detaining an individual who is on the no-fly list. That doesn't exist in Canada.