Canada's Coastlines:

The Longest Under-Defended Borders in the World


Canada’s  LACK OF RESOURCES   in its Coastal Waters

“At the national level, virtually all of the organizations involved directly or indirectly in maritime security appear to have significant capacity problems. The escalator phenomenon prevailed during the 1990s fewer and fewer dollars chasing greater and greater responsibilities.” John F. Thomas,

Partner, BMB Consulting Services, Former Coast Guard Commissioner  

The Committee’s third report in this series, For an Extra 130 Bucks… Update on Canada’s Military Crisis (November, 2002), outlined in detail the lack of hardware and personnel available to Canadian Forces after more than a decade of cutbacks in Canada’s military spending. Since the focus of this report will be on new approaches and new roles, we will keep this chapter on resource deficiencies to minimum. However, to put the later chapters of the report in context, the Committee decided to begin with this brief sketch of some of the resource problems our Navy and other departments and agencies are faced with in attempting to secure our coasts.

It will not take readers long to recognize that Canada is not in the same league as countries like Japan, which uses 130 maritime patrol aircraft for surveillance of a land mass equal to 38 per cent of the province of British Columbia.[1] Or the United States, whose Coast Guard is generally regarded as the third-largest navy in the world. Or Australia . . . the list goes on.  

In January, 2003 Transport Minister David Collenette announced a five-year package of initiatives of up to $172.5 million to enhance the security of Canada’s marine transportation system and maritime borders. This was an encouraging initiative but, at an average of $34.5 million a year, it is only a modest down payment on what is required if Canada’s maritime defences are going to be shored up to a reasonable level.  

Improved policy, coordination and deployment of resources will take Canada a long way toward this end, but all the improved structuring in the world is incapable of countering inadequate resources.  

Inadequacy of Funding: The Canadian Coast Guard 

The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is rusting out. Although the CCG possesses 107 ships (see appendix IX, Volume 2), the majority of them are reaching the end of their useful lives and the federal government must make a decision soon as to whether to replace many of these vessels or reduce their tasks. Charles Gadula, Director General, Fleet Directorate, Marine Services, CCG told the Committee that it will cost an estimated $350 million to replace those vessels that need to be replaced now. This resource issue is of particular interest to the Committee, since this report will be recommending an increase in CCG tasks, not a decrease.  

When the Chair of the Committee cited a report that the CCG was forced to break off an exercise with U.S. counterparts on the West Coast, Sylvain Lachance, Acting Director of the General Fleet, acknowledged that money is short:  

Mr. Lachance: “We certainly have a capital problem.”  

Sen. Kenny: “You cannot buy new ships, is that right?”  

Mr. Lachance: “Not enough, that is correct.”  


The Canadian Coast Guard now falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Regarding the replacement of CCG vessels, the Departmental written response was that “the Department of Fisheries is going through a reassessment and realignment” process from which will flow a capital plan for ship replacement. As of July, 2003 that plan was several months from completion. Taking into account the need for government approval, plus the process of issuing requests for proposals and tendering contracts, plus the time it takes to build vessels, it is the Committee’s assessment that given current government priorities, it is likely to be 2010 at the earliest before the Canadian Coast Guard sees any new vessels.  

John Adams, Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, acknowledged that the CCG is currently “hurting” for funds. “Immediately after 9/11, we were given an injection of funds to help us keep our vessels out longer, but that money has now dissipated.” A reference to reports that there have been shortages of both equipment and clothing for Coast Guard personnel elicited the following response from Mr. Lachance: “There may be cases, but it is not widespread.”  

Although it is not properly funded for the role, the Canadian Coast Guard has begun to conduct security surveillance upon the request of other government agencies such as the RCMP and the Canadian Navy. Turning surveillance into intelligence, of course, requires the capacity to report the results of surveillance. Unfortunately, the Canadian Navy is currently better able to communicate with the U.S. Navy than it is with the Canadian Coast Guard:  

Sen. Banks:  “A Canadian frigate . . . can join an American task force, or vice versa, and immediately be plugged into everything and there is no communications problem at all, but the Canadian Navy cannot do the same thing with the Canadian Coast Guard.”  

Capt. Larry Hickey, Asst. Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations (for Maritime Forces Atlantic, DND: “Right.”  

Sen. Banks: “That is just really stupid.”  

Capt. Hickey: “That is a function of investing the hardware and the systems need to pass the information.”  


While the Canadian Coast Guard is now being asked to play a surveillance (but non-constabulary) role in the furtherance of national security, it clearly does not have the resources it needs, let alone those required for a more muscular role envisioned by the Committee. In fact, the Auditor General reported in December, 2000 that the Canadian Coast Guard is trying to perform five different sets of duties without proper funding from the government departments and agencies that are benefiting from CCG tasking.  




Inadequacy of Funding: The Canadian Navy 

The Committee was told by a number of senior naval officers that it is not Canadian Forces policy to continually patrol Canadian waters, nor to play more than a support role (primarily surveillance and intelligence) in defending Canadian waters through interdiction of undesirable vessels.  

During World War II Canada’s Navy played a vital role in sinking German submarines and protecting Canadian ships in and around Canada’s east coast and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. To the Committee’s knowledge, no Canadian government has ever instructed the Navy to do away with its patrol of the country’s home coasts. Nevertheless, such patrols were largely abandoned over the years. Nor have they been restored now that new threats have emerged.  

This is partially a matter of attitude as the mindset in the Canadian Forces has generally been that naval vessels are best put to sea defending Canadian interests in other parts of the world, rather than defending Canadian shorelines. It is also a matter of practicality; naval vessels are often too big and some are too slow to conduct efficient interdiction roles close to Canada’s coastlines. But it is also a matter of funding.  

Whether the Canadian Navy continues to play the role it now plays in defending coastal waters - largely one of surveillance - or whether it is called upon to become more involved in interdiction, the Navy is under-funded.  If the Navy were called upon to upgrade its interdiction capabilities, it would need new ships, such as cutters that can move quickly and far less expensively than frigates.  


Sunken Fortunes 

On June 30, 2003, Rear Admiral Glenn Davidson, Commander of the Maritime Forces in the Atlantic (MARLANT), stated that the Navy was “taking a pause” for a year to try to put its house in order. The Navy has finally been forced to come to grips with a lack of funding and of rested personnel. Sixteen of its eighteen sea-going vessels and 97 per cent of its personnel have done service in the Persian Gulf since September 11, 2001. Canada is down to one active ship in the Persian Gulf and has informed NATO that it will not rejoin the NATO Standing Naval Force until the latter part of 2004.


The 12 frigates owned by Canada’s Navy are middle-aged and will soon require their major midlife refits to perform their duties. Moreover, given the extremely high usage rate of the frigates in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere since September 11, 2001 the Navy’s ability to react to national and international crises has become severely limited.


The Committee has already commented on the sad state of the Sea King helicopter fleet. During the height of Canadian participation in the war on terror, two Canadian ships (HMCS Regina and Algonquin) sailed without helicopters on board. Recently, Canada’s Air Force has informed Canada’s Navy that it will be unable to provide more than one serviceable Sea King on each coast for deployment on board ship at any given time.   Helicopters, of course, are the eyes and ears of a fleet, and can often be used to deal with potential threats before they get near a combat ship.

Naval Surveillance

The Canadian Navy’s main role in coastal defence at the moment - and perhaps far into the future - is coordination of surveillance. Let us assume that the Navy takes on no other significant responsibilities for coastal defence. Does it have adequate resources to perform its current role? It is worth examining the Navy’s capacity to coordinate surveillance under seven headings:


1.     Aurora Air Surveillance

2.     High Frequency Surface Wave Radar

3.     Satellite Surveillance

4.     Arctic Surveillance

5.     Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels

6.     Drones- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

7.     Dirigibles


1.  Aurora Air Surveillance


Canada provided a maritime patrol detachment of Aurora aircraft in the Persian Gulf for 18 months, up to July 2003 reducing the capability of the Canadian Forces’ ability to adequately patrol Canadian coastal waters. Aurora patrols off the East and West Coasts were mostly restricted to about one a week. Even the semi annual surveillance and sovereignty flights across the Arctic have not been conducted for at least two years. The Aurora fleet is undergoing a modernization program, but only 16 of 18 aircraft will be upgraded due to financial limitations. Moreover, the three Arcturus aircraft used for training and visual surveillance will be retired in 2005. Ergo, there will continue to be limited resources available for “coastal surveillance flights” in the foreseeable future.


In the Navy’s Maritime Command Impact Study for 2003 obtained by the Ottawa Citizen and published on Sept. 27, 2003, the option of hiring private companies to conduct sovereignty patrols along Canada’s east and west coasts is put forth. The reason: budget cuts and equipment shortages have hurt the military’s ability to do the job: “Despite excellent working relations with the Air Force, maritime air support is dwindling.”


Here are a few examples of testimony heard by the Committee with regard to lack of Canadian Forces resources for air surveillance off our coasts:


“We have no standing naval patrols on either coast that are capable of keeping watch over our maritime littoral . . . The Canadian Air Force lacks the resources for aerial reconnaissance over any of our major ocean and sea going areas. When they conduct occasional patrols, they are forced to use antiquated aircraft, the Aurora patrol aircraft. These antiquated aircraft are functioning with obsolete sensor systems and without the latest technology.” Prof. Wesley K. Wark, Assoc. Prof., Dept. of History, Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto


“I do not have a great deal of difficulty at the moment with ships being deployed in the Middle East. I have a bit of difficulty with Aurora aircraft being deployed in the Middle East when we have few assets to conduct basic surveillance at home.” James C. Kelly, Research Fellow, Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, Dalhousie University  

 “ . . . One must bring into question the ability of the Aurora fleet to carry out the over-ocean surveillance missions and the cost of doing so. At present, the full capability for this is not being used.

Peter T. Haydon , Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, Dalhousie University  


2.  High Frequency Surface Wave Radar Surveillance (HFSWR)  

One of the most positive developments in coastal surveillance is the government’s commitment to this new type of radar. High frequency electromagnetic signals are vertically polarized and propagate along the ocean surface. Thus, they can detect low flying aircraft and surface targets beyond the horizon. The HFSWR test models in Newfoundland can operate out to approximately 200 nautical miles virtually unaffected by weather conditions and are operational in all but the most severe of seas. This radar will go a long way to upgrading the current patchwork system of coastal surveillance, which is too often based on projections of where a vessel appeared to be headed when it was spotted, rather than producing “real time” pictures of where vessels are located at any given time.  

The government is currently funding two pilot installations (Cape Bonavista and Cape Race, both in Newfoundland) with what the Committee was told was a government commitment to “five or six more.” The plan is to have these radar installations scanning approaches where vessel traffic is greatest. This exciting world class technology, developed in Canada, is likely to be introduced by other countries, such as the United States and Australia, before Canada has it up and working. As this report went to press, the proposal to put this technology in place had not even gone to Treasury Board.  


3. Satellite Surveillance

The Committee was told that Canada has no dedicated satellite surveillance capability, and rarely makes use of satellite images from private companies other than Department of Fisheries and Oceans contracts to track oil slicks from ships. Since satellite surveillance is not a line item in the Navy’s budget, any decision to purchase satellite coverage from a private company in any given situation is not a quick and easy response.  

Dedicated satellite surveillance appears to be too costly for Canada’s military pocketbook, even if funding were increased significantly (see appendix XIII, Volume 2). Obtaining the desired coverage with a commercial imaging satellite would cost about $140,000 a day, per surveillance area, which works out to $51 million a year.  Satellites have the advantage of being able to survey a large area with different levels of resolution. However, DND notes that satellites typically only visit an area once every 24 hours, and it might not be possible to refocus on a target the second time around. Given the cost, the Committee is not critical of the Navy’s lack of satellite surveillance capacity. It simply notes the lack of this capacity.


4. Arctic Surveillance  

Charles Gadula, Director General, Fleet Directorate, Marine Services, Canadian Coast Guard, told the committee that the CCG’s deployment for surveillance in the Arctic is limited to six-ship coverage for 90 days each year. He added that, with global warming, “Our view is that there will be a greater need for Canadian government icebreaker support in the Arctic, and we will need the capital replacement of Coast Guard ships to take this into account.”  

Dr. James A. Boutilier, Special Advisor (Policy), Maritime Forces, Pacific Headquarters, Department of National Defence, testified that surveillance of the Arctic by Canada’s armed forces is largely a myth:  

“Experts on the Arctic predict that commercial trans-arctic shipping may be only a decade away. The Arctic sea route reduces the Northern Europe Northeast Asia voyage by roughly 4,000 nautical miles. We have gone for 45 years without the ability to move major naval assets into the Arctic. My colleagues who work in the Arctic maintain that it is simply a question of time before there will be commercial trans Arctic shipping. All of the evidence I have been able to deduce is that our presence in the Arctic has been largely fictional.”


The Committee knows of no government plans to increase surveillance in the Arctic. Presumably, it could eventually decide to do so through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) - strategic drones. The Arctic is unlikely to present a terrorist threat, but there remain issues of sovereignty, safe transport, and oil and mineral rights for which UAVs may prove useful.  


5.  Coastal Defence Vessels

The Navy’s maritime coastal defence vessels (MCDV’s) are not, in fact, coastal defence vessels. These ships are used primarily for training naval reserves. The recent purchase of 12 of these vessels, therefore will not add appreciably to Canada’s coastal defence capabilities. Peter T. Haydon, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, Dalhousie University, told the Committee that the Canadian Navy needs “a new kind of coastal patrol vessel” capable of moving as quickly as frigates but able to stay at sea for two to three weeks. Vice-Admiral Ron Buck told us that the Navy is contemplating new vessels that could be used for both training and patrol, but not only have they not been built yet, they have not even been designed:  

“We have a plan to design other vessels that will be used primarily as training vessels, but they will also do inshore patrol. They will have a higher speed. They are in the defence services program. They are awaiting departmental approval and they will be in the 50 tonne range.”


The Navy is currently so overtaxed performing what it believes to be its primary role in blue water engagement far from Canadian shores that it is unlikely to attach any kind of priority to upgrading its coastal defence capabilities.


6. Drones  

The Army has acquired a tactical unmanned target acquisition and surveillance drone, the Sperwer UAV. It will be deployed with Operation ATHENA in Afghanistan. Clearly, if the Army finds drone surveillance useful and economic, the Navy would be interested in using them for coastal surveillance.  

Drones permit beyond-line-of-sight surveillance, and have been adopted for surveillance by many countries since the Americans first introduced them to the battlefield in the first Gulf War. The Department of National Defence website quotes Captain Nathaniel Ng, Director Land Requirements: "We’ll actually be able to see what’s over that next hill or on the other side of the wall. It gives the commander a real-time image of what’s going on out there."  

Eventually, the tactical UAV system is intended to be one component of Intelligence Surveillance Tactical Air Reconnaissance (ISTAR), a seamless surveillance and communications system linking soldiers and commanders up and down the chain of command. The Army plans to acquire smaller drones for use at the company level and below.  

"UAVs are ideal for dull, dangerous and dirty missions," Capt Ng observes. "Why have a pilot flying over an area for ten hours when a UAV can do the job? And why put a pilot at risk when a UAV can gather the information?”  

There is a difference between strategic drones and tactical drones. The Committee considered the option of using the recently fielded Global Hawk UAV for potential high level strategic surveillance of Canada’s shores.  These large UAVs are capable of long hours on surveillance station (up to 24 hours) and from high level can surveil a large area (approximately 40,000 square kilometers). The down side to these UAVs is the present cost, in the neighborhood of US$20 million - per copy and the support equipment and staff required to operate them. Thus, the Committee has decided to discard the option of strategic drones and will be recommending more cost-effective options for coastal surveillance.

The Committee believes that the use of tactical drones for surveillance should be considered by the Canadian Navy, given their apparent effectiveness and relatively inexpensive cost.  


7. Dirigibles  

Most Canadians probably associate blimps with aerial shots at sporting events. But, used in conjunction with new optical technology, they can be very useful for security surveillance. The U.S. Border Patrol and Homeland Security agents have begun using a blimp to patrol Pacific Coast waters. It is equipped with a high resolution camera and the Littoral Airborne Sensor Hyper spectral (LASH), an optical system that uses size and colour to identify objects that would otherwise blend in with their surroundings. The LASH system, in itself, cannot assure that an anomaly is a proper target, but it can do so in conjunction with high resolution cameras and drones.  

In that the Navy cannot assemble the money or personnel to fully sustain its blue water role over the next year, it is unlikely to even think about investing in dirigibles.  


Inadequate Funding: RCMP 

The RCMP is supposed to have some policing responsibilities both at major Canadian ports and on the Great Lakes and other internal waters, but testimony showed the agency to be short of resources to carry out its mandates.  

Local police and port security personnel have constabulary duties at the ports of Halifax, Vancouver and Montreal, but the RCMP through its national ports project has been reviewing security gaps at these ports that have been created by the infiltration of organized crime.  In 2002 it began to head up intelligence-led integrated teams called National Ports Enforcement Teams at the three ports, working with other key players such as CCRA and the local police force of jurisdiction. Their mandate includes national security, organized crime and other criminality.  

With respect to the Great Lakes, while the Canadian Coast Guard has a presence, its primary roles are search and rescue and boat safety. The interdict mandate belongs largely to the RCMP. The RCMP are under-equipped and under-funded to conduct these tasks.  



at the Three Major Ports 

According to Supt. Ken Hansen, Director of Federal Enforcement, over the next five years the RCMP will receive $11.5 million of the federal government’s $172.5 million Maritime Security package announced in January. That amounts to an average $2.3 million a year, approved in May, 2003.  

Some of this funding will pay for enhanced criminal record checks on port employees, and for Armed Ship Boarding Training for RCMP members. The RCMP believes that it has received sufficient funding for these two programs.  However, the funding was enough for only eight additional investigators at the three major ports, and the RCMP does not feel that this is adequate.  

The third portion will pay for eight investigators spread among the three major ports, new posts for the RCMP who will supposedly manage the undermining of the organized crime that has entrenched itself over the years. The RCMP will therefore help close security gaps. In the words of Supt. Hansen:  

“Any organized crime presence in a port will increase the potential for terrorist attack, because there is the possibility of corruption . . . you do not have control over what is in the containers, where the port workers are, where the containers are, and so on.”  

In other words, when holes are opened for criminals, they are opened for everyone. Closing these holes is to be accomplished in conjunction with personnel from the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency and local police, with the RCMP taking the lead. Supt. Hansen was bluntly honest with the Committee in saying that the RCMP had recognized that the new government money with which it was supposed to fund this huge new task was insufficient. As a result, the RCMP has been forced to take 16 officers from other assignments and redeploy them at the ports.  

This might not constitute a problem if the RCMP were a rich agency with extra personnel and funds to spare. But it is no secret that it is not. For example, Senator Atkins asked RCMP Assistant Commissioner W. A. Lenton how many helicopters the RCMP, the agency responsible for interdiction on Canada’s coasts, has available to it across the country. Assistant Commissioner Lenton began to count them on one hand.  

Sen. Atkins:  “That is pretty thin.”

A/Commr. Lenton: “Resources are thin, sir.”  

The RCMP asked for funding for 24 officers for the three major ports. The government funded only eight officers, so the RCMP was forced to make up the difference. Even then, it is clearly understaffed in the ports. An RCMP liaison officer to the Committee sent us a document which states that "experience has shown that the original estimate of 24 positions was too low. The displacement of crime from major ports to smaller ports such as St-John's, Saint John, Quebec City, Hamilton and Prince Rupert is also a growing concern."


The RCMP on the St. Lawrence and on the Great Lakes 

While Canada’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts receive much of the attention, it is our border waters with the United States the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes, and other adjoining waters that some experts see as having the greatest potential for terrorist activities. 

“I would think, from a security point of view, the highest threat areas are from Vancouver down to the U.S.; the Great Lakes; and from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick down to the U.S. I am not talking about vessels coming into Canada, but going from Canada to the U.S.” John F. Thomas, Partner, BMB Consulting Services, Former Coast Guard Commissioner  

When Supt. Hansen was asked what he perceived to be the biggest challenges to the RCMP in its role of countering terrorism across the country, the first one he mentioned was “a lack of capacity to conduct armed ship boarding in the St. Lawrence Seaway, although the new funds will give us the capability on either coast.”

A lack of capability to interdict on the St. Lawrence Seaway constitutes a major hole in Canadian security, as well as in North American security. On the East and West Coasts, the RCMP often uses Canadian Coast Guard vessels for interdiction. But that capacity has not been developed on the Seaway. So a lack of CCG capability amounts to a lack of RCMP capability.  

“It is not just a matter of getting a platform. We have done 23 armed boardings in the last five years. All but one have been on either coast. There has never been a need in the past to conduct them. Therefore, we have not built that capacity.” Superintendent Ken Hansen, Director of Federal Enforcement, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)  

Does the fact that nearly all armed interdictions have been done on Canada’s East and West Coasts mean there is no illegal behaviour occurring on the waters between Canada and the United States? Hardly. The amount of smuggling that has taken place on these waters over the years is legend, and if smuggling is easy, other possibilities clearly exist.


John F. Thomas, the former Coast Guard Commissioner, outlined what he perceives to be the problem with small boats essentially behaving as they please on these waters:


“Pleasure boats are driven or sailed from Canada to the U.S., and operation licensing is required. The licensing body is the CCRA, not the Coast Guard. That function will be transferred to the Coast Guard. Currently, those licences are not systematized, they are put in a box on a shelf. If you want to check who is driving a particular boat and confirm that the operator should validly have that boat, there are no systems that allow you to do that right now.


People do come in on the container ships, and so on, but some of the smuggling has been on fairly small boats. Drug smuggling is done on small boats. Pleasure boats could do all of the  [terrorist activities] we are talking about. That is the area I see as being missed out . . . We are starting to focus more and more on the larger commercial vessels that are seen as being a primary threat, but we need to focus equally on the smaller vessels because I see them as an even higher risk.”  

Between them, the RCMP and the Canadian Coast Guard admit that they do not have the resources to even begin to address this higher risk.  

This chapter has focused on the shortage of resources at the Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Navy, and the RCMP. We encountered many other areas in which government funding has failed to respond to the magnitude of the threat that now faces all North Americans.  


We heard evidence that CanMarNet, the information-sharing system between federal agencies and departments that is supposed to lead to a more coordinated shield against terrorism, is little more than a website where items of possible interest can be posted. A proposal for a more sophisticated information sharing system, called MIMDEX, has only been slowly working itself through the system, and is waiting for approval from Treasury Board.  


We heard evidence that no new money has been diverted since September 11, 2001 to intelligence research for graduate students or academics that might direct them into the intelligence field.  


These are issues that will be addressed in following chapters. This chapter is here only to remind Canadians that all the new approaches to surveillance, intelligence, cooperation, administration and policy are likely to come to nothing if adequate resources are not made available in the crucial area of national and continental security. So far, north of the Canadian-U.S. border, they have not been.


The Need for

BETTER SURVEILLANCE  of Canada’s Coastal Waters  

“The surveillance problem on our coast . . . is enormous. The areas of responsibility are huge, with the bays along the coastline. Against a determined and clever opponent, we are very vulnerable.” (Retired) Commodore Hans Hendel, Consultant, Canadian Forces Staff College  

“We have no system in place to provide for any kind of systematic surveillance of our maritime area, not on the East Coast, the West Coast, the Arctic, Great Lakes or St. Lawrence Seaway . . . We have no standing naval patrols on either coast that are capable of keeping watch over our maritime littoral. The Canadian Air Force lacks the resources for aerial reconnaissance over any of our major ocean and sea going areas.” Prof. Wesley K. Wark, Assoc. Prof., Dept. of History, Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto  

“You are looking for something that is not quite right and only by looking at everything can you decide what is not quite right.” Peter T. Haydon, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, Dalhousie University  


Domain Awareness

Watching our Waters  

“Domain awareness” refers to the degree that Canadian enforcement authorities know what is going on in their jurisdiction – both on Canada’s land mass and in its coastal waters. Those coastal waters include:  

TERRITORIAL SEA: Canadian territory stretching 12 nautical miles off coastal base lines and charted according to treaties in the Great Lakes and border rivers; (see appendix XII, Volume 2)


CONTIGUOUS ZONE: An additional 12 nautical miles beyond territorial seas; by international law, Canada is allowed to prevent infringement of customs, fiscal, immigration or environmental laws up to 24 nautical miles from its coasts; (see appendix XII, Volume 2)


EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE: Areas of the high seas extending beyond the contiguous zone extending out to 200 nautical miles from the coastline in which Canada is allowed jurisdiction over natural resources. Canada can generally only intercept and board vessels with permission of the flag state, if there is a national security concern, or if Canadian authorities are in hot pursuit from territorial waters (see appendix XII, Volume 2)  

The Committee made several recommendations in Defence of North America:  a Canadian Responsibility (September, 2002), to improve surveillance of Canada’s coastal waters and ships approaching Canada’s coastal waters by using a multifaceted “layered approach.”  The Committee recommended:  

· Adoption of a layered approach of reporting and monitoring to provide timely warning of vessels approaching Canadian waters; (Recommendation #1 page 13)   

· That Canada negotiate reciprocal arrangements with other maritime nations to provide notice to one another when vessels are departing for each other’s territorial waters; (Recommendation #4 page 14) 

· Mandatory reporting procedures be introduced whereby all vessels (of a displacement to be determined by Canadian regulators) planning to enter Canadian waters be required to report from their departure harbour as to their Canadian destination and estimated time of arrival, with periodic updates during their voyage and upon arrival; (Recommendation #5 page 14)   

· A requirement that vessels (of a displacement to be determined by Canadian regulators) intending to enter Canadian waters be equipped with transponders to permit electronic tracking of all approaching vessels; (Recommendation #7 page 14)   

· New security measures on the Great lakes including:   

a) Mandatory reporting for all vessels (of a displacement to be determined by Canadian regulators) to Canadian authorities 24 hours prior to anticipated entry into Canadian Great Lakes ports; 

b) All vessels (of a displacement to be determined by Canadian regulators) intending to operate in the Great Lakes region be equipped with transponders to permit electronic tracking by Canadian authorities. This requirement would have the added benefit of greatly improving the precision of search and rescue;   

c) Mandatory daily reporting to Canadian authorities for all vessels (of a displacement to be determined by Canadian regulators) operating in Canadian national waters; and   

d) Canada’s Great Lakes reporting stations be responsible for receipt and coordination of these reports and for communication with policing agencies. (Recommendation #8 page 15) 


Progress Report 

Coastal surveillance is one area in which the government has made some progress, although at a less urgent pace than the Committee would have wished, and with a smaller funding commitment than the Committee believes is necessary.  

Witnesses informed the Committee that several measures have been taken or will be taken to improve Canada’s ability to identify vessels, crew, passengers and cargo that might represent an approaching or arrived threat. Some of the measures that have been introduced or announced include:  

Loading in Foreign Ports 

Canada is implementing a 24-hour advance notification rule for marine cargo importation. Ocean carriers and freight forwarders intending to ship to Canada will be required to submit data on their cargo to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA) at least 24 hours before loading in a foreign port. The data will be sent electronically, and will be processed by CCRA automated targeting systems. Based on risk assessment, Customs officers will identify certain containers for examination prior to loading.  

This rule reflects United States procedures and will provide a consistent reporting requirement for North American marine shipments. It will not be mandatory until April, 2004 to give companies time to prepare their operations and systems for implementation.  


Entry into Canadian Waters  

Foreign ocean-going vessels entering Canadian waters must obey a 24-hour rule and a new 96-hour rule. These rules relate to the amount of notice that ships must give to the Canadian Coast Guard-Department of Fisheries and Oceans in advance of their entry into Canadian waters. The 24-hour rule is mandatory.

The 96-hour rule is not mandatory, in the sense that there is no legal regulation behind it. The 96-hour rule came into being after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, when the Coast Guard issued a "Notice to Mariners" directing all ships to also report 96 hours before entering Canadian waters.

The 96-hour rule was an initiative of the Interdepartmental Marine Security Working Group. The Group is still discussing co-ordination issues related to the implementation of the rule,whether to make it mandatory, and what type of information ships will have to provide.


Automated Identification System  

AIS is a shipboard broadcast system that acts like a continuous and autonomous transponder. Using the VHF maritime band, it broadcasts information such as ship name, course and speed, and registration.  

AIS was central to the December, 2002 International Maritime Organization (IMO) Conference that developed maritime security amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. A key change was the requirement that AIS be installed on all ocean-going ships of 300 gross tonnage and more, on cargo vessels of 500 gross tonnage and more not engaged on international travel, and on passenger ships irrespective of size. The agreed to deadline for compliance was December 31, 2004.  

Canada supports the IMO decision. Transport Canada is taking the lead in developing new regulations to implement the AIS provision. The Coast Guard will develop the shore-based receiver component of the AIS system. By the end of 2004, the above types of ships entering Canadian waters will be required to have a transmitting AIS on board.


International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code  

This is one of the most far-reaching amendments agreed to at the IMO conference. Transport Canada notes that the Code “seeks to establish an international framework of co-operation between governments, government agencies and the shipping and port industries in order to detect and take preventive measures against security incidents affecting ships or port facilities used in international trade.” The Code comes into effect on July 1, 2004.  

Transport Canada – as the Government’s designated authority – will implement the ISPS Code. The Department has said that its key responsibilities include “approving ship and port facility security assessments and plans, verifying compliance with the ISPS Code’s requirements, and exercising control and compliance measures on foreign ships in Canada.” The Code will impose significant requirements on shipping companies, port operations and governments, including the development of security plans and assessments. Transport Canada will spend $ 17.7 million over the next five years on the regulatory and inspection costs.  


Improved Coast Guard Surveillance  

Witnesses told the Committee that the Canadian Coast Guard has become much more cooperative in identifying and tracking suspicious ships on behalf of other agencies, such as the RCMP, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and the Canadian Navy. Before the Interdepartmental Marine Surveillance Working Group (IMSWG) was created to improve cooperation between government departments and agencies, there had been complaints that the Coast Guard was not always responsive to surveillance requests from policing agencies. Now it reportedly asks enforcement agencies what they require in terms of providing identification of vessels of interest, tracking vessel progress, and providing helicopter support for surveillance.  


High Frequency Surface Wave Radar 

Please see discussion in Chapter 1, page 21.  


Please see discussion in Chapter 1, page 25.  


Great Lakes Screening  

Enhanced security screening procedures for ships entering the St. Lawrence Seaway Great Lakes system (introduced in the aftermath of September 11) have been refined and agreed to by Canadian and U.S. authorities and were introduced at the opening of the 2002 shipping season.  

Ships must report to the Canadian and U.S. Seaway management corporations 96 hours before they enter the St. Lawrence Seaway or Great Lakes.  The U.S. Coast Guard and the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency special analysis units conduct the initial screening of the ship’s information and submit the crew and passenger list to a centralized information centre.  

Security boardings may take place before vessels enter the St. Lawrence Seaway or Great Lakes.  Security boarding typically take place at Pointe-aux-Trembles or Montreal.  But, depending on the case, a boarding could take place at Sorel or perhaps as far away as Quebec City.  A ship can be boarded if it does not report, reports incompletely, or is suspect for some other reason. Based on Transport Canada’s assessment of the risk, it decides which Canadian federal government departments and agencies should comprise the boarding team.  

If there were no information on the ship, then inspectors from the U.S. St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation and the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation would board the ship and conduct a seaway inspection and risk assessment.


U.S.-Canada Surveillance Planning  

Subordinate to the Canada-U.S. bi-national planning group is the Maritime Plans and Surveillance Working Group that will concentrate on bi-national maritime security and surveillance. This group will collaborate with groups like IMSWG and the NORAD Maritime Surveillance Working Group to create joint military plans.


More Funding for Fisheries Surveillance  

The federal government has given Fisheries and Oceans Canada funding for additional fisheries surveillance, and requests for proposals have gone out to industry for some 4,000 to 5,000 hours per year of surveillance capability, multi-engined aircraft, radar, IR sensors and computers on board. Presumably fisheries surveillance could be dovetailed with security surveillance, in the manner that Coast Guard planes and vessels are now matching ships against “vessels of interest” lists being provided by other agencies.


Improvements at Ports 

While it is the intention of this report to focus on security in Canada’s coastal waters rather than at ports, it is worth noting that Canada Customs and Revenue Agency has introduced a number of improvements to its security measures at sea ports, and is cooperating with its counterparts in the United States to introduce improved security practices. Improvements include:


Passport Scanners 

Primary inspection lines are now equipped with passport scanners to determine whether or not an arriving person should be referred to security as a high risk.


Ferry Terminal Benchmarks  

Canadian and U.S. ferry terminals are now adhering to a series of joint benchmarks designed to improve security and enhance interception of passengers of interest.


Examining Canada-U.S. Vessel Identification System  

Customs authorities in both countries are working on systems to capture as much information as possible regarding vessels entering their points, and consideration in being given to creating a joint Canada-U.S. vessel identification system.  


Targeting Containers  

Canada now has targeters of suspicious containers in two U.S. ports (Tacoma and Newark) and the U.S. has targeters in three Canadian ports: Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax.


Container Scanners  

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency has begun using new technologies such as mobile/pallet gamma rays, scanning systems, radiation detection equipment, hand-held ion scans, remotely-operated vehicles, tool trucks, and biological and chemical weapons detectors in Montreal, Halifax and Vancouver. Several ports have Vehicle and Cargo Inspection Systems (VACIS) mobile gamma radiation scanners that can scan a container in five seconds, which officials in Halifax testified have led to the scanning or searching of 8 per cent of incoming containers, instead of the 3 per cent rate of recent years. Officials are also using, hand-held ion scans, pallet x-ray equipment and rolling container X-rays that were designed in Canada. U.S. authorities intend to introduce aspects of this system at American ports.


Sharing Security Tips  

Canadian and American customs authorities have been examining each other’s security setups to the end of introducing best practices at ports in both countries.  


High-Risk Passengers  

The two countries are also sharing information about passengers deemed to be high risk attempting to enter either country and have set up joint passenger analysis units in Miami and Vancouver.  


But Canada Could Do Much Better 

The Committee applauds the increased interest being shown in the crucial area of coastal surveillance. It does, however, have a number of recommendations to make that would further upgrade Canada’s coastal surveillance matrix.  

1.          High Frequency Surface Wave Radar (HFSWR)  

Several witnesses expressed enthusiasm to the Committee that this Canadian invention will add significantly to Canada’s domain awareness. Two test systems are currently operating in Newfoundland, at Cape Bonavista and Cape Race. In addition to these two pilot projects, a full-fledged capital project is being designed. The Committee was told that the government has committed itself to funding five or six more of these HFSWR installations, which will focus primarily on high traffic areas frequented by commercial vessels, such as the Straits of Juan de Fuca, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and approaches to Halifax. However, as mentioned earlier, this project has not yet  gone to Treasury Board.  

HFSWR would be a great boon to the concept of “layered surveillance” that the Committee has been advocating. Current tracking of vessels of interest is sketchy. Spotters such as Coast Guard officers may report a sighting and predict the course the vessel seems to be taking, but intelligence officers’ assessment of where any vessel may be at any given time is often based on information fed into the system as much as 24 hours earlier. Vice Admiral Ronald Buck, Chief of Maritime Staff, Department of National Defence, extolled the virtues of this radar that “looks 200 kilometres out to sea” and that will help attach Canadian “eyes and ears” to approaching ships:  

“We also have many other sources of information, whether it be vessel traffic management reports, reports from a number of our allies it is called white or commercial shipping that would all come into our operational centre, along with this [radar] data. It would be keyed to other information we have so that we would have a real-time picture of what is actually moving. That is a capacity that we do not have today.”  


This is not a capacity that Canadian enforcement authorities will have in the majority of Canada’s coastal waters, even if the Treasury Board approves five or six additional installations. The Committee acknowledges that total surveillance of every spot on our coastlines would be beyond Canada’s resources, but believes the government should not restrict its HFSWR surveillance strictly to high-traffic approaches to major ports.  

Everyone would love to cover off the entire coastline,” said Mr. Frappier, “but there are certain trade offs that must be made, in particular, for fiscal reasons. [We] had to ensure that we at least had coverage of the areas where most of the ships are coming in.”  

It is time that the Government of Canada made appropriate HFSWR coverage a reality, and that cost-saving not get in the way of a reasonable amount of coverage.  High Frequency Surface Wave Radar has proven itself  an effective tool within a coastal surveillance matrix, and it is cost-effective in comparison to satellite surveillance or continuous aerial patrols. (see appendix XIII, Volume 2).


2.  Automated Identification System

AIS transponders were originally introduced to ensure that ships traveling at night, in fog, or in other difficult positions have a clear picture of where other ships are in relation to them, to avoid collisions.  

In conjunction with High Frequency Surface Wave Radar, AIS receivers will allow surveillance personnel to separate the blips that are acknowledging their presence from those that are not. Those that are not reporting are likely to be of more interest for follow-up surveillance from aircraft or patrol vessels than are those that do report.  

Class A transponders capable of both transmitting and receiving location data have come down in price as demand has increased. Such transponders currently cost in the neighbourhood of $10,000-$12,000, installed.  

The International Maritime Organization has decided that Class A transponders must be installed in the ocean going vessels of all its members by December, 2004.  Fishing vessels and other small vessels are not required to install a transponder under the IMO decision. Canada supports both these positions.  

A Class B AIS transponder is now being developed. These transponders will be able to transmit, but not receive. The cost is expected to be much lower than that of Class A transponders – perhaps half the price.


3.  Use of Transponders 

Transponders, of course, require receivers if the data they transmit are to be of any use. In Canada, these receivers would be the responsibility of the Canadian Coast Guard under the Maritime Communications Traffic System (MCTS).   

Canada’s AIS receivers, according to Admiral Buck,  

“would largely be focused on the choke points. The additional ones on the East Coast would cover the gulf area and approaches to the gulf. And on the West Coast, the Straits of Juan de Fuca, potentially up to the Queen Charlottes and those kinds of areas.”  

Again, the layered surveillance system will be confined to high traffic areas. Furthermore, current plans confine it to very large vessels. Again, in the words of Admiral Buck:  

“Right now, the requirement for AIS will be on IMO-registered vessels of a certain size. As time goes on, we will see whether it is appropriate to apply that to other vessels. This is part of the consultation process that is going on right now. We are not yet sure whether fishing vessels will be required to have AIS.”  

To Dr. James A. Boutilier, Special Advisor (Policy), Maritime Forces, Pacific Headquarters, Department of National Defence, this presents problems:  

“The problems lie in the expectation that these tracking devices will probably be on ships over 300 tons. A number of the ships that we are looking at, illegal vessels that are bought for $20,000 or $30,000, which is the amount that one illegal migrant will be charged for passage, could be below that threshold. The ship is completely expendable. It is a one way vessel. These vessels will be more difficult to track because they are small. They do not necessarily follow normal shipping routes, and they will not be subject to international pressure to have these automatic tracking devices.”


4.  Canada’s Presence at Foreign Ports  

In her appearance before the Committee, Maureen Tracy, Acting Director General, Policy and Operations Division, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, spoke proudly of a joint Canada-U.S. program under which U.S. Customs officers have been placed at the ports of Halifax, Montreal and Vancouver to try to spot potentially dangerous cargo headed for the United States from Canada, while Canadian customs officers are placed at Newark, New Jersey, and Tacoma, Washington, to try to spot suspicious containers headed for Canada.  

“The beauty of having the people in the U.S. and our Canadian ports,” said Ms. Tracy,“ is that we can use our systems to jointly target containers.”  

One must question whether terrorists or other types of delinquents wishing to target Canada would try to approach our shores through the United States, which has been on various colours of alert since September 11, 2001. Even if they were misguided enough to approach Canada via American ports, would they not prefer, having already arrived in the United States, to do their damage there?  

Ms. Tracy acknowledged that the United States “has a container security initiative where it places people at foreign ports.” However, she said, other than Tacoma and Newark, Canada is not interested in placing spotters at foreign ports in places like Europe or Asia. “We do not believe that we need people at foreign ports.” She explained that there was no need to place people at foreign ports because, under the 24-hour rule, foreign ports can be advised to either search or stop shipments that Canadian intelligence experts suspect might be dangerous. “We do not believe it is necessary to have an officer over there when you can do electronic targeting from home.”  

When pressed by the Chair and Senator Banks as to whether Antwerp might not make more sense that Tacoma, Ms. Tracy confessed “in theory I would have to agree with you.”  

The Committee believes that CCRA should agree in practice, as well as theory. It suggests that putting people in Newark and Tacoma can only be window dressing to counterbalance the reality that the U.S. government is insisting on installing its agents at Canadian ports.  


5.  Drones  

Drones, used by the United States in the 1991 Gulf War, are being successfully employed for surveillance around the world by far smaller countries than Canada. They are capable of scanning more than 500 kilometres off our coasts.  

Drones appear to be a much better option for Canada than satellite surveillance or increased manned patrols. Satellite surveillance is extremely expensive to rent, and is not often used because it cannot be squeezed as a line item into the Navy’s budget. Dr. Wesley K. Wark, Associate Professor of History at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, pointed out that our Aurora patrol aircraft, even if regular patrols were budgeted, are not properly equipped for modern surveillance:  

“The Canadian Air Force lacks the resources for aerial reconnaissance over any of our major ocean and sea-going areas. When they conduct occasional patrols, they are forced to use antiquated aircraft, the Aurora patrol aircraft. These antiquated aircraft are functioning with obsolete sensor systems and without the latest technology.”  

(In fairness, while Mr. Wark is correct that the Auroras have been flying with outdated surveillance equipment for some time, the Department of National Defence has now addressed this issue. The Aurora Incremental Modernization Project has begun upgrading 16 of the 18 Auroras with new avionics, navigation and communications equipment.)  


6.  Advance Passenger Information  

In the wake of 9/11, U.S. and Canadian authorities introduced a regime under which no aircraft leaves one country’s territory destined for the other country’s territory without forwarding a manifest identifying the persons scheduled to fly. This is known as the Advance Passenger Information/Personal Name Record.  

Maureen Tracy told the committee that this system “will broaden out into the marine cruise ship mode and ferry terminal mode at a later date.” She also said that part of the problem with expanding the system from air to sea has been that “I understand that cruise ship lines have much more limited information.”  

But a cruise ship should have as much information as airlines do, and advance information on passengers should be forwarded to Canadian authorities in a similar manner that flight information is forwarded.  

7.  RCMP Surveillance at Ports  

The Committee noted earlier that surveillance at Canadian ports has been improved in a number of ways, most notably in the use of improved scanning technology.  

The Committee regrets, however, that the Government of Canada has clearly under-funded new RCMP contingents at the ports of Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax that are supposed to deal with security gaps caused by the presence of organized crime. The RCMP originally asked for 24 officers to staff investigative units at these three ports, and was funded for only eight officers. It now realizes that even its original request for 24 was insufficient. Furthermore, there is the danger that organized crime will fan out to Canada’s smaller ports if the focus is on the three large ports alone.  

Port surveillance is not the only area in which the RCMP is under-funded with regard to its maritime duties. RCMP helicopters are also scarce, according to the testimony of  

ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER W. A. LENTON, FEDERAL SERVICES DIRECTORATE, RCMP: “Through the marine security memorandum to cabinet, we have requested more resources, In reality, from an investigative perspective, we received eight in total. Therefore we have now redeployed internally 16 to make up 24 investigators, so that we have a team of eight for each of the three major ports that are of concern at this time. An additional three are dedicated toward the intelligence side of things.”   

CHAIR: The so-called post 9/11 budget gave you eight additional people for ports in total, and you have reallocated since then?   

A/Commr LENTON: “ . . . our ultimate goal is to have eight dedicated permanent people in each of the three ports, Halifax, Montreal and Vancouver.   

CHAIR: By what date? 

A/Commr: That probably would be in place by the fall, I would expect.”   

SEN. ATKINS: How many helicopters are there for Canada?   

A/Commr: There is at least one in Moncton and I think that they still have one in Newfoundland. I do not believe that they have one at “H” division. I believe the one in Moncton services both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick . . . “  

SEN. ATKINS: That is pretty thin.   

A/Commr: “The resources are thin, sir.” 



With respect to security SURVEILLANCE on Canada’s coasts, the Committee recommends that:  

2.1          At least eight and possibly more High Frequency Surface Wave Radar sites be installed to monitor areas of heavy traffic on Canada’s coasts, plus other coastal sites that terrorists might target as alternates to high-traffic ports.  

2.2          Tactical drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)) be introduced as surveillance aids off both coasts.  

2.3          The government conduct a study to ascertain whether the use of higher-cost strategic drones should be introduced into Canada’s surveillance matrix  in the Arctic, as well as the east and west coasts.  

2.4          The Department of Transport require all vessels of more than 15 tonnes to be equipped with transponders of at least Class B[2] capacity by 2008.

2.5          The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) be designated as the lead police force at all Canadian air and sea ports with adequate funding to combat security breaches caused by the presence of organized crime at those ports.  

2.6           Canada Customs & Revenue Agency (CCRA) personnel be relocated from the U.S. ports of Newark and Tacoma to major world ports where the likelihood of terror-related embarkations is much more likely.  

2.7          Significant numbers of Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) personnel be posted to major world ports to gather maritime intelligence.  

2.8          All cruise ships, ferries and other vessels approaching Canadian ports be required to provide information on passengers and crew comparable to that provided to immigration officials at Canadian airports under the Advance Passenger Information/Personal Name Record Program.  

2.9           Canada Customs & Revenue Agency (CCRA) ensure that there are adequate trained personnel to operate the new technology introduced at Canadian ports.  

2.10         Goods confiscated by Canada Customs & Revenue Agency (CCRA) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in conducting their normal duties be auctioned off and the funds raised be reinvested in the upgrading of policing  capabilities.[3]  

[1] Testimony of Dr. James A. Boutilier, Special Advisor (Policy), Marine Headquarters, Department of National Defence.  

[2] A Class B transponder is able to transmit but not receive. [3] Parks Canada’s revenues for entry fees at Canadian parks went up considerably after it was decided to partially reimburse parks for fees collected. Park wardens had previously been less than vigilant about staffing entry posts, since all revenues went directly to Ottawa.  

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