Evidence of meeting #100 for Public Safety and National Security in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was scan.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Warren Coons  Director General, Preventive Security and Intelligence, Correctional Service of Canada
Johny Prasad  Director, Program Compliance and Outreach, Programs Branch, Canada Border Services Agency
Rob Campney  Deputy Director, Preventive Security and Intelligence, Correctional Service of Canada
Phil Lightfoot  Acting Director General, Science and Engineering Directorate, Information, Science and Technology Branch, Canada Border Services Agency

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Thank you very much. I've got a brief second question, and then I will delegate the remainder of my time.

You mentioned in your testimony that 75% of inmates come to you with some sort of an existing substance abuse problem. Taking advantage of the opportunity to have you here, in your assessment, are programs adequate to address those percentages of people when they come to your doorstep, or does more work need to be done to provide treatment?

12:05 p.m.

Deputy Director, Preventive Security and Intelligence, Correctional Service of Canada

Rob Campney

Programs are constantly being revised and upgraded. Our current program is a comprehensive integrated correctional program model. It's active, our participants are there. Ultimately, you would have to look at the recidivism rate of our offenders being released, and then their successful reintegration into the community, to see the ultimate result of the programming.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Specific to pre-existing addiction when they come to your facility, are the treatment programs meeting expectations at the moment?

12:10 p.m.

Deputy Director, Preventive Security and Intelligence, Correctional Service of Canada

Rob Campney

They are.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Chair, thank you.

12:10 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Matthew Dubé

There are three and a half minutes left.

March 20th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

When individuals are slated for a secondary search, doubt has already been established by an agent in the primary search. So you then have access to their luggage without needing an ion mobility spectrometer; you can open baggage without restrictions.

Is the scanner simply used as an alternative to searching luggage, or is it an additional verification method, that is to say that if there's nothing in the luggage, you will check to see whether there are trace substances before searching someone?

12:10 p.m.

Director, Program Compliance and Outreach, Programs Branch, Canada Border Services Agency

Johny Prasad

I think that's the perfect question.

We've talked about complementary tools, whether it be an X-ray, an ion scan, or a detector dog. The officers use a multiplicity of indicators to make sure they move from non-intrusive, the least intrusive ability to examine a person or their goods, before moving to much more intrusive, let's say a pocket search or a personal search, as you just mentioned.

We're also quite cognizant of the traveller and their ability to facilitate their travel. We don't immediately try to do examinations where they're not needed. The officer does use other tools, other information at their disposal, whether it be documentary analysis, the travel patterns, or any other information within one of our databases.

Based on this consolidation of information, the indicator from an ion scan, travel patterns, advance information, is used together to do the appropriate examination for that instance.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

I have a question for both of you.

Do you get false positives with sniffer dogs?

12:10 p.m.

Acting Director General, Science and Engineering Directorate, Information, Science and Technology Branch, Canada Border Services Agency

Phil Lightfoot

There are false positives, as I described earlier, where there's no drug there, but it does give an indicator of a drug. We collect information on false positives over the years, and we think we have a fairly good understanding of which products can provide false positives.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

From the ion scanner standpoint.

Do we have any false positives from the dogs?

12:10 p.m.

Director, Program Compliance and Outreach, Programs Branch, Canada Border Services Agency

Johny Prasad

From the CBSA perspective, detector dogs can also hit and be...infallible. Usually, though, from our experience, when you couple the ion scan, the detector dog, and the X-ray, we've had a very good success rate, trying to find these concealed goods, whatever they might be. Usually the officer, through questioning, can explain why the detector dog or the ion scan might have identified something that isn't there. If it was a false positive or a nuisance alarm, the person might have just used narcotics prior to getting on the plane or prior to getting out of their car. That would explain why the dog did hit or identify a positive.

12:10 p.m.

Supt Warren Coons

Our answer would be very similar. There's no infallible device or technique that we're aware of. Rather it's the total of the whole package to point us in a particular direction.

I certainly wouldn't say there's not a detector dog that hasn't falsely indicated, but I don't have any specific statistics on that. Again, because we're using a variety of devices, one should corroborate or complement the other.

12:10 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Matthew Dubé

Thank you, Mr. Picard.

Our next speaker will be Ms. Gallant.

Ms. Gallant, you have seven minutes.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

First of all, to Mr. Lightfoot, on the ion velocity measurement that's used to identify a substance, is there any allowance for measurement of volume of a substance, or is it just yes or no, it's there or it's not?

12:10 p.m.

Acting Director General, Science and Engineering Directorate, Information, Science and Technology Branch, Canada Border Services Agency

Phil Lightfoot

The instrument does respond more strongly to an increased volume. However, we don't use that in our machines. It's either yes or no, above a certain threshold. We're looking for such tiny quantities, that if you have a nanogram here or two nanograms over there, it's still a very small amount. The volume that you might see from these tests is not a good indicator of what might be in the bag.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Is the sensitivity or the threshold set differently for airports versus prisons?

12:15 p.m.

Acting Director General, Science and Engineering Directorate, Information, Science and Technology Branch, Canada Border Services Agency

Phil Lightfoot

I can't speak for my colleagues at CSC, but we certainly set the sensitivity.... Part of that is based on the number of nuisance alarms. We'll set it so it's not so sensitive that we're getting lots of nuisance alarms, but it's not insensitive.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Coons, can you tell me whether or not there's any similarity in your thresholds?

12:15 p.m.

Supt Warren Coons

I'm not aware of the CBSA thresholds, but similarly that's how the thresholds are established, so we're satisfied that when there is a hit, a positive result, there's a high likelihood that the individual has come in contact with that substance.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Lightfoot, you mentioned interference, what about masking substances? If they're measuring the velocity of a substance to determine whether or not it's an illicit material, are there not substances that can overlap and be superimposed so they're hiding the actual substance that is being looked for? These technologies are two decades old. Surely they must have go-arounds to mask—

12:15 p.m.

Acting Director General, Science and Engineering Directorate, Information, Science and Technology Branch, Canada Border Services Agency

Phil Lightfoot

Any of the identified interferent substances could, in principle, be used to mask a narcotic, or dirt. If you put a lot of dirt into a machine, it doesn't operate very well.

As I mentioned, these are incredibly sensitive machines. They're looking for traces. If you have a bunch of junk in there, then it's going to render them less effective. We've been working on this for almost a couple of decades now, and I think we have a pretty good handle on how the machines operate and how they need to be looked after.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

There are new technologies. There's the use of neutron scanning for detecting substances as well as explosives. You have one scanner that can be used for both. There's muon technology. Are these cost-prohibitive, or have they just not been investigated?

12:15 p.m.

Acting Director General, Science and Engineering Directorate, Information, Science and Technology Branch, Canada Border Services Agency

Phil Lightfoot

You raise a couple of good examples. What I would say is that neither of those are trace detection technologies. The muon technology is really for bulk detection. Neutron technology is also for bulk detection of material. You might find a brick of cocaine, but you would not find a trace of cocaine.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

What about the brand of scanner? What brand do you use at CBSA? What brand do you use in the prison system?