"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
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
"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:
protecting Canada and Canadians at home and abroad;
ensuring Canada is not a base for threats to our allies; and,
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
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
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':
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
- 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
- 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
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 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.
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
Cyber-attacks are a growing concern that have the potential to impact on
a wide range of critical infrastructure that is connected through computer
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
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
- $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
- $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
- 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
- The Government is committed to co-locate, where practical, with
provincial, territorial and municipal emergency measures operation
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.