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The Wednesday Report In this issue: Canada's New Homeland Defence Policy
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Volume 18, Number 18, April 28, 2004

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Canada Creates Homeland Security Framework

Wary of criticism that Canada is a security risk and has allowed its military capability to fail from neglect and underfunding, and as a prelude to the first U.S. Presidential meeting with Canada's new political leader, Paul Martin (who succeeds the recently retired Jean Chretien),  Canada's federal government  has issued a statement which promises a better effort on seaport security and more extensive identification and tracking of its citizens. 

The new plan appears to have as its model the "U.S. Joint Warfare: Homeland Defence" style of coordinated institutions and agencies.

It will also create a federal-provincial forum on emergencies, a national security advisory council, and a cross-cultural roundtable aimed at engaging Canada's various ethnic and religious communities on security matters.

"Working to prevent attacks like the one launched against commuter trains in Madrid requires a more integrated approach to national security," says Canada's latest "White Paper" on security entitled   Securing An Open Society: Canada's National Security Policy

Such an approach will also help us to develop a long-term strategic framework to more effectively prevent and respond to other types of security threats. "In short", says the Martin government, "we need to take the historic step of issuing Canada’s first-ever comprehensive statement of national security policy which provides an integrated strategy for addressing current and future threats to our country."

The statement was issued yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan in Canada's federal Parliament. "Securing An Open Society: Canada's National Security Policy", sets out what the government says it believes is "an integrated strategy and action plan designed to address current and future threats".

"The National Security Policy is an integrated strategy that demonstrates the Government of Canada's leadership and commitment to protecting Canadians," said the Deputy Prime Minister.

"A key element of the policy is to ensure domestic partners will be engaged in improving our national security system, through:

  • a permanent, high-level federal-provincial-territorial forum on emergencies, which will allow for regular strategic discussion of emergency management issues among key national players;

  • the National Security Advisory Council, which will give the Government the benefit of advice by security experts external to government in evaluating and improving our system; and,

  • the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security, which will better engage Canada's ethno-cultural and religious communities around ongoing security-related issues.

"A Government's most important duty is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens," said the Deputy Prime Minister. "The National Security Policy protects our collective security interests in a way that reflects core Canadian values of tolerance, openness and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms."

The policy is a long-term strategic framework focused on three core national security interests:

  1. protecting Canada and Canadians at home and abroad;

  2. ensuring Canada is not a base for threats to our allies; and,

  3. contributing to international security.

"The National Security Policy assesses the threats to Canadians, articulates our national security interests and outlines an integrated management framework for national security issues," says a government release. "It provides a blueprint for action in six key areas - intelligence, emergency management, public health, transportation, border security, and international security."

"New investments detailed in the policy will address the need for enhanced tools and capacities across the Government of Canada in order to fulfill its security responsibilities and activities. Key new measures include:

  • enhancing intelligence capabilities ($137 million);

  • securing critical government information systems ($85 million);

  • fully implementing the RCMP Real Time Identification Project and improving the national fingerprint system ($99.78 million); and 

  • implementing the Passport Security Strategy, including facial recognition biometric technology on the Canadian Passport, in-line with international standards ($10.31 million).

"The policy also outlines new structures and strategies which will enable the Government of Canada to better anticipate and effectively manage complex threats:

  • the creation of the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre ($30 million) and Government Operations Centre ($14.95 million) to improve the sharing and dissemination of threat information and better coordinate responses;

  • the creation of Health Emergency Response Teams made up of health professionals from across the country, increasing Canada's ability to respond to health emergencies;

  • strengthening marine security, including measures to improve coordination, enhance capacity and develop greater marine security co-operation with the United States ($308 million);

  • the development of a Critical Infrastructure Protection Strategy for Canada - with the provinces, territories and the private sector - beginning with the release of a position paper this summer setting out key elements; and 

  • the convening of a high-level national Cyber-security Task Force with public and private representation to develop a National Cyber-Security Strategy ($5 million).

While the Government of Canada says it is determined to take a leadership role in defining and protecting the national security of Canada, it claims to recognize and value the partnership it has with provinces, territories and front-line responders. The government release yesterday says the federal Liberals are committed to co-locate federal, provincial, territorial and municipal emergency operations centres.

Highlights of 'New Canadian Security Policy':

Current Threats

The world is a dangerous place, even if the relative safety of life in Canada sometimes obscures just how dangerous it is. As recent events have highlighted, there is a wide range of threats facing Canada from pandemics to terrorism. These threats can have a serious impact on the safety of Canadians and on the effective functioning of our society.


The bombings of commuter trains in Madrid in March of 2004 provided a stark reminder of the risks of terrorism and the vulnerability of open, democratic societies to it. The Bali bombing of October 2002 and the attacks of September 11 are part of the same phenomenon. In a taped message released on November 12, 2002, Usama bin Laden identified Canada as a target for attack. Terrorism may be motivated by a variety of causes. Broadly speaking, four key types affect Canada, though they can be intermingled:
  • Religious extremism, including that practiced by a network of groups known collectively as al-Qaeda, remains a threat to Canada.
  • Violent secessionist movements pose risks to Canadian citizens. Major secessionist movements from other countries have been active in Canada in a variety of ways.
  • State-sponsored terrorism continues to be a serious problem and contributes to a more dangerous world that affects Canada’s security and prosperity.
  • Domestic extremism, while not very prevalent in Canada, has in some cases resulted in violence and has threatened Canadians, including immigrant communities and religious minorities.

Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. 

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and their delivery systems, poses a risk to Canadians. Evidence exists that terrorist organizations and states with troubling international records have sought and experimented with such weapons an example being the foiling of a planned attack using the deadly chemical ricin in 2003 in the United Kingdom. Whether or not Canada was the primary target of such an attack, the impact on our security could be immense. The physical effects of such attacks would not respect borders and would have a significant impact on the global economy. 

Failed and failing states.

The growing number of failed or failing states is one of the most disturbing of recent security developments. These states contribute to spreading instability and can be a haven for both terrorists and organized crime groups that exploit weak or corrupt governing structures to pursue their nefarious activities. These activities have had consequences far beyond their borders, including for Canada. 

Foreign espionage. 

Foreign espionage against Canada did not stop with the end of the Cold War. As a highly advanced industrial economy, Canada is subject to foreign espionage that seeks to steal Canadian industrial and technical secrets for gain. Economic espionage can impact on our prosperity by undermining the competitiveness of Canadian companies. 

Though Canada may not face the same level of military threat from foreign states as during the Cold War, some countries remain interested in our defence and security plans, particularly as they relate to our defence co-operation with the United States and other allies. 

Natural disasters. 

Many regions of Canada have been subject to severe natural disasters in recent years which have taken lives and caused extensive property damage. Critical infrastructure vulnerability. 

The August 2003 electrical blackout that affected Ontario and eight U.S. states demonstrated how dependent we are on critical infrastructure and how vulnerable we are to accidents or deliberate attack on our cyber and physical security. 

Cyber-attacks are a growing concern that have the potential to impact on a wide range of critical infrastructure that is connected through computer networks. 

Organized crime. 

Organized crime in Canada is increasingly becoming part of a globalized network that supports the narcotics trade, migrant smuggling and the trafficking in persons, weapons smuggling, money laundering, theft (including identity theft), commercial fraud and extortion. A number of terrorist movements have advanced their activities by developing links with organized crime. Elements of organized crime are also increasing their attempts to undermine our justice system.

In Response to the Threat

Funding Promises:

The government has earmarked a modest $690 million spread over five years to accomplish its hastily prepared and less than ambitious goals:

  • $308 million for marine security, including establishment of operations centres, increased on-water presence of the Coast Guard, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Forces Maritime Command, and additional aerial surveillance. 
  • $137 million to bolster the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and DND's Communications Security Establishment.
  • $85 million for defences against assaults on vital computer networks and collaboration with the U.S. on a continent-wide early warning system to fend off cyber-attacks. 
  • $100 million to improve the national fingerprint system through digital technology. 
  • $30 million for an Integrated Threat Assessment Centre to be located at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. 
  • $15 million to create a Government Operations Centre for managing national emergencies. 


  • Further investments will be made to enhance Canada’s intelligence collection capacity, with a focus on Security Intelligence.
  • An arm’s-length review mechanism for RCMP national security activities will be created.
  • The proposal to establish a National Security Committee of Parliamentarians will be implemented.

Emergency Planning and Management

  • A new Government Operations Centre will provide stable, round-the-clock co-ordination and support across government and to key national players in the event of national emergencies.
  • The Emergency Preparedness Act will be reviewed and modernized to achieve a seamless national emergency management system.
  • A permanent federal-provincial-territorial forum on emergencies is proposed.
  • The Government is committed to co-locate, where practical, with provincial, territorial and municipal emergency measures operation centres.
  • The Government will release a position paper this summer setting out the key elements of a proposed Critical Infrastructure Protection Strategy for Canada.
  • The Government will increase its capacity to predict and prevent cyber-security attacks against its networks.
  • A national task force, with public and private representation, will be established to develop a National Cyber security Strategy. Public Health
  • The new Public Health Agency of Canada and the position of a Chief Public Health Officer for Canada will be created.
  • The National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg and the
  • Laboratory for Food borne Zoonoses in Guelph will be enhanced.
  • The National Emergency Services Stockpile System will be replenished and updated.
  • The Government will establish Health Emergency Response Teams made up of health professionals across the country to enhance capacity to respond to health emergencies.
  • The Government continues its commitment to work with the provinces and territories to address vulnerabilities and build on existing public health strengths across Canada.
  • The Government will increase public health surveillance capacity across the country.

Transport Security

  • The Government is strengthening marine security through the implementation of a six-point plan that will: - clarify responsibilities and strengthen co-ordination of marine security efforts; - establish networked marine security operations centres; - increase the Canadian Forces, RCMP, and Canadian Coast Guard on-water presence and Department of Fisheries and Oceans aerial surveillance; - enhance secure fleet communications; - pursue greater marine security co-operation with the United States; and - strengthen the security of marine facilities.
  • In partnership with the private sector and our international partners, Canada will identify strategies to enhance our aviation security, including air cargo.
  • The Government will improve and extend security background check requirements for transportation workers. Border Security
  • Canada will deploy facial recognition biometric technology on the Canadian passport, in accordance with international standards.
  • The Government will complete implementation of the RCMP Real Time Identification Project to achieve an automated and modern fingerprint system.
  • The Government will table new measures to streamline our refugee determination process to ensure efficient protection for people genuinely in need and to facilitate effective removals of people attempting to abuse our refugee program.
  • Canada is developing a next-generation smart borders agenda with Mexico and the United States, building on the success of the Smart Borders Declaration signed with the United States in December 2001.
  • Working with our international partners and in international forums, such as the G8 and the World Customs Organization, Canada will internationalize the Smart Borders model.

International Security

  • The Government will make Canada’s national security one of the top priorities in its International Policy Review.
  • The Government is committed to ensuring that the Canadian Forces are flexible, responsive and combat-capable for a wide range of operations, and are able to work with our allies.
  • Beginning with the establishment of a dedicated capacity-building fund, Canada will leverage its experience in building peace, order and good government to help developing, failed and failing states. 
  • Canada will continue to play an important role in countering international terrorism, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and defusing key intra- and interstate conflicts.

Editor's note: Readers may obtain a complete copy in PDF format: Securing An Open Society: Canada's National Security Policy.

Complete Issue

Copyright © 2004 MPRM Group Limited. All rights reserved.

Publisher and Editor In Chief:
Micheal J. O'Brien
The Wednesday Report is published and printed weekly in hard copy by MPRM Group Limited
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