Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Defence and Security
Issue 2 - Evidence (morning session)
OTTAWA, Thursday, July 19, 2001
The Standing Senate Committee on Defence and Security met this day at 8:45 a.m.
to conduct an introductory survey of the major security and defence issues
facing Canada with a view to preparing a detailed work plan for future
Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Whether you are here in
person or are watching the proceedings on television, welcome to a meeting of
the Standing Senate Committee on Defence and Security.
Our committee is the first permanent Senate committee with a mandate to examine
matters of security and defence. We are continuing our introductory overview of
issues that relate to our mandate.
Today, our first witness is Mr. Michel D'Avignon, who has been a federal public
servant for 29 years. He has occupied successively senior positions in a number
of departments and agencies, including the Public Service Commission, the Privy
Council Office, Indian and Northern Affairs, and the Canadian Security
Intelligence Service. Mr. D'Avignon is currently Director General of the
National Security Directorate at the Department of the Solicitor General.
Mr. D'Avignon will provide an overview of responsibilities in the federal
government for national security. He is accompanied by two officials from the
department of the Solicitor General, Ms Annie Leblanc, Acting Director,
Technology and Lawful Access Division, and Mr. Mike Theilman, Acting Director,
Welcome to the Senate committee. The floor is yours, Mr. D'Avignon.
Mr. Michel D'Avignon, Director General, National Security, Policing and
Security Branch: I am very pleased to be with you today to provide a brief
overview of the portfolio, with a particular emphasis on the Department of the
Solicitor General and its national security role/responsibilities and how it
fits into the overall government security structure.
I will also provide a brief description of how we are working with the U.S. and
other allies to both strengthen domestic national security and to bolster
international efforts to combat international security threats such as
I then will turn to the work that the Department of the Solicitor General is
undertaking at the present time to improve national security.
And last, I want to say a few words on what we perceive to be the immediate
challenges facing us from a national security perspective.
I would like to preface my remarks today by noting that the national security
apparatus of the government is much larger than the Portfolio of the Solicitor
General alone, although the Portfolio does play a central role.
The Departments of National Defence, Foreign Affairs and International Trade,
Justice, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, Citizenship and Immigration, Health
Canada and Transport Canada all share with the portfolio responsibility for the
protection of Canada's national security.
It should also be noted that the Privy Council Office, through the coordinator
of security and intelligence, works to advise the Prime Minister and cabinet on
all national security issues. In short, Canada's national security community is
indeed something that is greater than the sum of its composite parts.
The Solicitor General of Canada is the lead minister for public safety in Canada
and has statutory responsibility for national security, policing and law
enforcement, including Aboriginal policing, and corrections and conditional
The Solicitor General is supported in his responsibilities by a portfolio that
is comprised of the department itself, four agencies - Correctional Service of
Canada, National Parole Board, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and Royal
Canadian Mounted Police - and three review bodies, the RCMP Public Complaints
Commission, the RCMP External Review Committee, and the Office of the
The central role of the Solicitor General in national security derives from his
responsibility for coordinating Canada's response to terrorist incidents and for
ensuring that our national response arrangements are effective.
During a terrorist incident or threat, the Solicitor General is also the lead
government public spokesperson and is responsible for providing advice to the
Prime Minister and cabinet colleagues. The minister, along with the Minister of
National Defence, also plays a key role in authorizing, if necessary, military
support to assist the police response to a terrorist incident. The Solicitor
General's lead role for national security also reflects his responsibility for
both the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, two agencies with
a key national security mandate and responsibility. As both these organizations
will be speaking with you later today, I will not go into any great detail about
their roles and responsibilities.
The department supports the minister in his national security responsibilities
by providing independent policy advice on national security issues. In this
capacity, the department assumes a lead role in the planning, coordination and
implementation of the government's national security policies. The bulk of this
work falls to the National Security Directorate, for which I am responsible.
Often, our work is to act as a catalyst, either bringing the portfolio or the
broader federal community together to address national security issues that need
a horizontal approach. For example, we are involved in bringing the portfolio
together to work with the new office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and
Emergency Preparedness to identify areas where we can cooperate and forge
The National Security Directorate is made up of three divisions. The Security
Policy Division is responsible for independent advice and support to the
minister on national security issues generally and support to him in his
direction, control and accountability for CSIS. Another division is the Counter-
Terrorism Division, which supports the minister in his lead responsibility for
Canada's counterterrorism program. It includes maintaining the national
counterterrorism plan and the complementary operation readiness program. The
third division is the Lawful Access Division. As the title suggests, it is
responsible for advising the minister on issues related to maintaining the
lawful intercept and search and seizure capabilities of police and security
I would like to take a few moments to describe in more detail the role and
responsibilities of these three divisions.
The Security Policy Division often represents departmental or portfolio
interests on broad national security issues. For example, the division
represents the portfolio interests in the review that is underway of the
government security policy. The division's other chief responsibility is to
support the Solicitor General and the Deputy Solicitor General in the exercise
of their statutory responsibilities under the CSIS Act and the Security Offences
The Counter-Terrorism Division is responsible for the national counterterrorism
plan, which was approved by the government in 1989. The plan is the heart of our
national counterterrorism arrangements. The overall aim of the plan is to ensure
coordination of counterterrorism roles, responsibilities and resources of
federal departments and agencies and other levels of government and law
enforcement agencies in Canada. The plan is considered a living document and, as
such, is subject to periodic revisions that reflect lessons learned during
exercises, changing roles and responsibilities and, perhaps most important,
changing trends in terrorism.
A larger and more fundamental two-year review of the plan was completed in May
2000. This review included consultations with federal partners, the provinces
and territories, all RCMP divisions and major municipal police forces. The end
result is a much more user-friendly plan that, among other things, takes into
account the threat of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear terrorism.
When the plan was approved in 1989, the Department of the Solicitor General was
also given responsibility for evaluating, amending and exercising the plan on an
ongoing basis. In response, the department developed the operational readiness
program, which consists of exercises, seminars and workshops, and other training
The program has several objectives. First, to create awareness of national
counter-terrorism arrangements and resources, particularly among first
responders and other levels of government; second, to provide training
opportunities where the integration of the policy and operational response to
terrorist incidents can be practised; third, to promote the use of best
practices in counter-terrorism response; and finally, to identify areas for
improvement and ensure that our arrangements are in keeping with the threat
The national counterterrorism plan and the operational readiness program are
mutually reinforcing. The overall result is a continually evolving cycle that
promotes improvement and hones our counterterrorism arrangements.
Lawful access consists of the court-authorized search and seizure of information
and the lawful interception of communications. For federal and non-federal
enforcement agencies, lawful access is an essential tool, especially in the
investigation and prevention of organized crime and terrorism.
However, the agency's investigating capabilities is continually eroded by the
illicit use of new technologies. Complex technologies such as those developed to
maximize the speed, volume and security of communications are increasingly
challenging conventional lawful access methods.
With globalization, networks are now connected worldwide. This presents complex
technical and legal challenges. In this context, Canada must work with its
allies to combat trans-border high-tech crime. Deregulation has resulted in a
rapid increase in the number of equipment manufacturers and service providers.
In order to maintain lawful access to communications, law enforcement agencies
must now deal with a wide range of companies and, consequently, a more
diversified combination of network infrastructure. Authorities need to retain
their capability to lawfully access the information and communications essential
to fulfil the mandate granted to them by Parliament.
The department continues to work either directly or in support of foreign
affairs to strengthen security cooperation and coordination with the United
States. The Ahmed Ressam investigation and trial illustrated that we have strong
effective working relationships in both the government-to-government and
operational levels. The same level of cooperation has been evident in the trial
of Mokhtar Haouari that concluded in New York last week.
The department is a key member of the Canada-U.S. bilateral consultative group
on counterterrorism. This is the primary Canada-U.S. forum for discussion of
counterterrorism issues. It brings together departments and agencies from both
governments to enhance counterterrorism collaboration, cooperation and
The Department of the Solicitor General and the U.S. Department of defence
co-manage the Canada-U.S. bilateral agreement on counterterrorism research and
development. Its shared objective is to develop new or adapt old technology to
counterterrorism threats. The department has a lead in organizing the
Canada-U.S. counterterrorism tabletop exercises.
The last such exercise was in February, 2000 and was the subject of a briefing
to both the Solicitor General and the then Attorney General of the U.S., Janet
Reno. Another exercise is planned for February 2002.
The Department of the Solicitor General and the U.S. Justice Department co-chair
the Canada-U.S. cross-border crime forum. While the focus of this forum is on
transnational crime, it also touches on emerging cross-border security issues.
The recent crime forum meeting in June was attended by John Ashcroft, the new
Attorney General of the United States, who said, at that time, that the
Canada-U.S. relationship was a model for cooperation.
One of the fundamental principles of Canadian national security policy is that
domestic security and global security are interdependent. To that end, the
Department of the Solicitor General works in a range of international fora,
usually in support of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
to develop comprehensive global responses to security issues such as terrorism.
This includes the G8, the UN and the Organization of American States, among
others. In the case of the UN, Canada is a signatory to all 12 UN conventions on
terrorism and has ratified 10 of them. The conventions and other agreements, to
which Canada is a signatory, set standards for preventing or responding to
The department also provides a Canadian chair for the Canada-U.S.-United Kingdom
trilateral group on chemical biological terrorism. The main objective of this
group is to coordinate efforts and exchange information to counter chemical and
biological terrorism. Again, in support of foreign affairs, we have also
participated in bilateral discussions to address security issues.
In response to the January 1999 Report of the Special Senate Committee on
Security and Intelligence, the government made a commitment to develop options
for a strategy to strengthen national counterterrorism response capability,
particularly the capability to respond to the threat of chemical, biological,
radiological and nuclear terrorism. This is a particularly complex and demanding
area because a chemical or biological terrorist incident would demand a
multi-jurisdictional and multi-agency response.
The provinces are key partners in this initiative, given their primary
responsibility for first responders and consequence management. To ensure that
their views are represented in the development of a national strategy, we will
be conducting consultations with them this fall.
Bill C-16 in respect of the registration of charities and security information
and the Income Tax Act would be an important tool in Canada's fight against
terrorism. It is intended to stop those front organizations that have obtained
charitable status in Canada from providing tax receipts for money that is
intended by the donor to go to a charitable cause but which ultimately supports
terrorist activity. This bill will maintain the integrity of the charitable
registration system as well as maintain Canada's international commitment to
stop the flow of funds that supports terrorist activity. The bill is currently
before the Commons Finance Committee.
The drive towards worldwide knowledge-based economies has accelerated the
development of sophisticated information and communication technologies.
Technology is a tool for those who enforce laws, but it is also a weapon for
those who may wish to undermine our security. With the growing challenges to
lawful access, we need to work even harder to keep pace with new technologies.
The Lawful Access Division is coordinating the work of the portfolio in this
area and both CSIS and the RCMP have dedicated resources to develop technical
solutions. These solutions will be shared with police services.
In addition, a sound, legal framework must be in place. The government needs to
review current laws to ensure that they address new technologies.
For the immediate future, the Canada-U.S. security relationship and Canada's
work in international fora will continue to be both a challenge and a priority
for the government and the Department of the Solicitor General. In the case of
the Canada-U.S. security partnership, we already have extensive arrangements in
place, both at the government-to-government and the operational levels. However,
we will continue to work with our U.S. counterparts on a priority basis to
enhance national security on both sides of the border.
As I mentioned earlier in my remarks, domestic security and global security are
interdependent. With that in mind, the department will need to continue to work
in bilateral and multilateral fora to develop a concerted approach to terrorism
and other national security threats. This too will remain a priority.
This concludes my formal remarks. I would be happy to answer any questions the
committee may have.
Senator Forrestall: You will appreciate that we are a little reluctant
because of our lay background and the distance between your daily world and
ours. Frankly, it scares us. Nevertheless, we appreciate your being here and,
even more so, your role in our society. It is comforting to know that people are
doing things that we do not really have to know all about.
You indicated that we had ratified only 10 of the 12 UN conventions. Which two
remain? Could you give us an explanation of the conventions, briefly, with
particular emphasis on the two that we have not signed and the reasons for that?
Mr. D'Avignon: The 10 that have been signed deal with a range of issues
that include airplane hijackings. I do not have the list in front of me to give
you the full explanation of the 10 that have been signed, but the two that we
have not ratified deal with terrorist bombing and the suppression of terrorist
financing. Suppression of terrorist financing was signed in February 2000, and
terrorist bombing was signed a little sooner than that. Those are the two that
have not been ratified, as yet.
The suppression of terrorist financing would involve, in all likelihood,
modifications to legislation, possibly including the Criminal Code. The lead on
the work with respect to that is with the Department of Justice.
Senator Forrestall: The reason I would presume that we have not ratified
them is house time and the priority of other matters to be dealt with to let the
debate proceed in its normal way.
Mr. D'Avignon: Exactly, and to examine in detail the implications and
requirements that need to be met in order to be able to do so.
Senator Forrestall: I was not aware of that. I thought we had ratified
pretty much as these events arose.
Can you given us some information in respect of security in the air. The various
forms, looks and faces of terrorism are interesting. In your assessment, what is
the primary threat to us as we head into the new millennium?
Mr. D'Avignon: If you look at the issue in global terms, the primary
threat is the changing nature of the phenomenon itself and how that nature and
new technology allow terrorists to develop a versatility that challenges the
forces of order. That ever-changing reality forces us to be constantly vigilant,
to be fleet of foot, to keep abreast of how the threats are changing, how
methods are changing, and how new developments, particularly in technology, help
not only us but also help terrorists to accomplish their ends.
Senator Meighen: As Senator Forrestall said, this is a daunting area for
amateurs. What concerns me as an ordinary citizen is whether we have the
organizational coherence in Canada to deal with known threats and whether we
have the tools to do the job without, of course, compromising human rights.
In terms of organizational coherence, the analysis and investigation of these
matters is split between the RCMP and CSIS. We also have OCIPEP, the Office of
Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness, which, I am told,
answers to the Department of National Defence. I am not necessarily being
critical. I am just wondering whether the right hand knows what the left hand is
doing all the time, without even mentioning what collaboration and cooperation
arrangements you have entered into with provincial departments of the Solicitor
General or Attorney General or whoever it might be. Is everyone tripping over
everyone else? Or are you satisfied, Mr. D'Avignon, that you have a seamless
organization that can react quickly and coherently anywhere in the country to a
Mr. D'Avignon: I would say, yes, I am satisfied. There are a number of
things in place that allow us to be agile and flexible in dealing with our
universe. Committees exist to bring people together on a regular basis so that
information is exchanged and people know where other people stand. The national
counterterrorism plan, to which I alluded earlier in my remarks, is the key
document that lays out the structure and the functioning of the government's
response in the event of an incident occurring.
I mentioned earlier as well that we are engaged in discussions with OCIPEP to
ensure that we have a good understanding of areas where we could partner. They
are developing their mandate from the beginning and sorting out their new
universe. Some of that is an old universe because Emergency Preparedness has
been around for a long time. We have had relationships with them for a number of
years. We are dealing now with a new component of Critical Infrastructure
Protection. We are in the process of working with them to provide greater
definition and ensure that we have a good symbiotic relationship.
The provinces have responsibilities as first responders in any event, be it a
terrorist event or a hazardous-material incident. They can then engage Emergency
Preparedness. Because of the provinces' primary roles, we maintain good contacts
with them. We are engaged in a very extensive consultation process on the
counterterrorism plan to ensure that they are in the fold, as it were. The
Security Offences Act provides for police-to-police arrangements between RCMP
and local police forces. All of the provinces, with the exception of Quebec,
have arrangements. Discussions have started with Ontario and B.C. to examine the
arrangements with those two provinces. There is a need to look at these again.
A whole structure is in place. It is a bit like an iceberg, with most of the
structure under the water, but it is there and is functioning well. There is a
reasonably good sense of how the various roles interact. We engage in exercises
that bring the players together. That is one of our responsibilities under the
operational readiness program. We propose a scenario and then work through the
decisions on how the various agencies and departments would interact in response
to the incident and how the information and policy advice would flow to the
Senator Meighen: That is very encouraging. Can I conclude then - and I
have no information to the contrary - that the incidents reported in the press
recently and to which you have alluded in your presentation did not bring to
light any major breakdown in communication between our various agencies?
Mr. D'Avignon: That is a fair statement. The response was not perfect.
However, in this business, though we strive for perfection, I doubt we will ever
attain it. There will always be some weird wrinkle that will catch us out.
Things did work reasonably well and people were generally satisfied.
In keeping with the philosophy or the approach usually taken in this business,
we are constantly assessing events to see what we did well and what we did less
well. A process is underway at this time to decide what improvements we can make
after our experience with the Ressam incident. Some departments have already
made changes, and some of the more glaring errors that needed attention are
already receiving attention. The nature of the work forces us to be in a
continual improvement mode. We cannot afford not to learn from every incident to
which we are exposed.
Senator Meighen: This may not be under your jurisdiction, but I would be
interested in knowing what liaison exists. Before the fact, when a terrorist is
coming to Canada, there have been accusations in the press, raised both in
Canada and elsewhere, that we are a haven for terrorists and that we are the
gateway to the United States. Do you have any reassurance or any comment on that
criticism? Is it a false criticism? Do you work closely with the Department of
Citizenship and Immigration in examining these areas? I am wondering whether
something can be done, if it needs to be done, to tighten up our security
regarding this issue.
Mr. D'Avignon: There are a number of elements that connect with this.
Yes, the primary responsibility is with the Department of Citizenship and
Immigration. They have programs in place and work closely with the Canadian
Security Intelligence Service in watching the borders and in identifying people
who may want to come to Canada, or who do come to Canada, about whom we would
have concerns. Citizenship and Immigration also work closely with the RCMP in
instances where more direct action, if you will, is required, whether an arrest
for purposes of deportation or whatever. Again, I would say that the system is
not perfect, but it has a series of elements in it that work reasonably well
that we could certainly improve. In fact, there is a bill before the House of
Commons, Bill C-11, that proposes to bring more rigor, I believe, to the process
that Citizenship and Immigration are responsible for and to deal with some of
Senator Meighen: I would hope that in committee you might be called upon
to support the bill, if you could or if you wish, to give evidence as to why it
is necessary. I am old enough to remember that the killer of Martin Luther King
used a Canadian passport to travel around Europe. It took that incident for
Canada to come to the realization that passports should not be handed out like
lottery tickets, that an individual must go through some process to get a
passport. Canada has always bent over backwards to make sure that our protection
measures were not ones that infringed upon human rights. It is a difficult
balance, and I appreciate that; however, we must monitor the situation
carefully, as you have said, to make sure we have the right combination.
Mr. D'Avignon: Yes. In fact, in the context of Ressam, the passport
office now has a new automated system that allows them to improve their
information exchanges and to verify with other federal government departments
whether, for one reason or another, there is concern with a particular
applicant. That is an instance where, in reaction to the Ressam incident, action
is already being initiated to take us down that road.
Senator Atkins: I am not sure that my questions fall directly under your
jurisdiction but I will ask them anyway.
In the wisdom of this government, they decided to eliminate the port police.
What measures has the government taken to compensate for the dismissal of port
Mr. D'Avignon: Unfortunately, that is totally out of my area of
competence. I am aware of the decision but I truly know nothing of that
Senator Atkins: Under your position, do you not see a certain
vulnerability of the country through the admission of people who can come
through our ports, including terrorists?
Mr. D'Avignon: I would not know how to respond to you because that is one
issue that I know very little about. I would need to make some assumptions by
saying that Transport Canada, in making whatever alternate arrangements they
have made, would have taken into consideration the importance of security and of
controlling, to the extent that they have a responsibility for doing so, access
and verifying movement of people.
I must also assume that in doing that they would make sure that they had
arrangements in place, either with police of local jurisdiction or with the
RCMP, to ensure that in the event there was a requirement for assistance that
the police and the RCMP were in a position to be able to assist.
I am speaking here just on the basis of supposition. Truly, I do not know
anything about that particular area. If you wish, we could look into it and
provide you with some additional information.
Senator Atkins: One of the reasons I raise it is because of issues of
concern to the Canada-U.S. Parliamentary Association, of which I am a member.
That association meets on an annual basis. The American politicians, senators
and congressmen leave the impression that we are vulnerable through our ports
and that they are vulnerable as a result of that. That is the reason. Then they
get into this whole question of drugs. We had a meeting in May and I can tell
you that one thing they were very concerned about is the examination that is
underway on this whole question of the use of marijuana. Apart from energy, they
spent more time on that than anything.
Mr. D'Avignon: I mentioned in my remarks the cross-border crime forum. I
know that, in the context of that forum, some of these issues get discussed with
a view to finding practical solutions to a number of these issues. I am not
speaking specifically of port police, but the kinds of concerns about drug flow
and so on. The Canada Customs and Revenue Agency also speaks with their American
counterparts and maintains close contacts with them. At the operational level,
at the working level, there are a number of measures that are in place and
discussions to keep that information flowing and to mutually reinforce one
another. The RCMP have IBETs - integrated border enforcement teams - that work
with the American border patrol in specific areas of the country to focus on
problems, whether it is drug smuggling or whatever might occur along the border.
There are a number of measures in place that involve both the Americans and us
that are cooperative both in terms of the sharing of information and of taking
Senator Atkins: I should make the point that the Americans were
cooperative in terms of the security matters. I am not being critical of this.
The final question I have for the moment is the following: Can you explain the
statement that "terrorism runs on fundraising?"
Mr. D'Avignon: Yes. One of the realities of terrorism is how terrorist
groups are organized to collect fund and to channel those funds to their causes.
We are faced with reality that that is done through a number of vehicles. In
countries where there are sizeable expatriate populations that come from
countries where there are terrorist concerns operating, organizations that are
front companies profess to have humanitarian ends and collect funds in other
countries and then take those funds and divert them. It depends on how those
companies are structured but a part of that money goes toward supporting
terrorist actions, whether it is the procurement of weapons, allowing people to
travel and so on. A range of support activities goes into ensuring that
terrorist action on the ground occurs.
As in any other reality that we are faced with, money makes it go. Fundraising
is one of the ways that terrorist groups are able to secure funds sometimes
putting a very benign face on it. Other times, it is through more crass methods,
such as levying taxes within ethnic communities, for example. It runs the gamut
from very sophisticated through to more criminal, almost, activities. That
source of funds is what allows them to operate in whatever area of the world
that they are operating in to pursue their political ends.
Senator Atkins: Does this kind of fundraising reach down right into the
grassroots, or is it more sophisticated?
Mr. D'Avignon: It is both. Some of it is very sophisticated and some of
it is shaking people down on street corners.
Senator Atkins: How does the public know? How can they protect themselves
Mr. D'Avignon: Again, in looking at this, you must think of expatriate
communities of people who come from countries where they do not necessarily
trust the forces of order. They view the police with fear and concern. They come
to a new country to escape some of these realities. Unfortunately, these
homeland conflicts follow with them in many cases. They tend to be a little more
isolated from the mainstream and in the beginning do not quite understand how
the culture functions, what kind of trust they can put in the police forces or
the forces of order that exist. Essentially, they become victimized. This can go
on for a period of time before they either decide that they will stop doing this
and turn to the police forces to protect them or they continue to be victimized
for a period of time.
Senator Atkins: Are we talking about big dollars?
Mr. D'Avignon: We are talking sizeable amounts of money, yes.
Senator Wiebe: Going back to the port police, your answer left me with
the impression that the right hand does not know what the left land is doing. Is
that not your job, to protect the security of this country through our ports?
Saying that the Department of Transport may have had a reason for not having the
police there, what was the reason for the police in the first place and what is
there now to replace it? This scares me, to be truthful with you.
If your response is that you do not know why the police were taken away and your
do not know what the Department of Transport is doing, is our security so
fragmented that we are different departments looking after different areas of
the country? I hope you can reassure me.
Mr. D'Avignon: As I told Senator Atkins, I will look into this a little
more closely. It is not something with which I am particularly familiar. I will
be more than happy to get back to the committee with some answers.
Senator Cordy: You used the term "lawful access." As a citizen
of Canada, I have wondered how you balance the acts of terrorism, the tactics
that terrorists or criminals in general would use with the rights of the
citizens? As Senator Meighen said earlier, in Canada we tend to bend over
backwards to ensure that the rights of citizens are not trampled upon. How do
you balance the two?
Mr. D'Avignon: The quick and easy answer to your question is that when
police forces or security agencies want to use very intrusive techniques that
come under the heading of "lawful access," they require warrants from
the courts. The police must take the case to court, to a judge, present the case
and seek judicial authorization. The police or security agency gets a warrant
that has conditions attached to it, which they must respect, that allows them to
undertake the interception or whatever else it could be, entry into a building,
seizure or whatever it is that they are specifically asking for. They take it to
a judge, they outline the case, the basis of the investigation and what it is
that they are specifically looking for and the techniques that they wish to use.
The judge decides whether their proposal is acceptable and whether they have a
strong case for taking such action.
Senator Cordy: It would be done on a case-by-case basis; is that correct?
Mr. D'Avignon: That is exactly correct.
Senator Cordy: Perhaps not most, but certainly a significant amount of
policing in our country is managed by municipalities and the provinces. You
spoke earlier about the having made arrangements with these different policing
agencies. Would this include training? What are the arrangements that you make
with the local police forces?
Mr. D'Avignon: The arrangements are made under the Security Offences Act,
in particular, section 6(2), which allows for police-to-police arrangements to
The arrangements are made between the RCMP and the municipal police forces. They
deal, in particular, with terrorist incidents and how terrorist incidents will
be managed. The Security Defences Act gives the RCMP the responsibility for
terrorist incidents, but the RCMP has not interpreted their role as an exclusive
role because, most often, if an incident occurs, the police force of
jurisdiction will be the first on site and will start to deal with whatever is
in front of them.
These arrangements allow the police, among themselves, to identify beforehand
the types of events that they may be dealing with and how they will interact
with one another, including the handover of responsibilities for the management
of that particular incident. These arrangements are very operationally focused
in relation to these kinds of incidents.
Mr. Mike Theilmann, Acting Director, Counter-Terrorism Division, Department
of the Solicitor General Canada: Your point about training is very well
taken, too. That is why we have the operational readiness program to support
these arrangements, to ensure there is awareness at the local level and that
police and incident commanders in particular know what arrangements are in place
in their local jurisdiction. That is why we have been running seminars and
tabletop exercises across the country for the last couple of years. We also run
a component in the incident commanders course at the Canadian Police College.
They are a primary target audience and we want to ensure they know what their
responsibilities are in a terrorist incident and how they work with the RCMP.
That backs up the arrangements with concrete training to ensure there is
awareness at the local level.
Senator Cordy: In order that you have full cooperation by all levels in a
Mr. Theilmann: Exactly. It is a multi-jurisdictional response and any
terrorist incident engages the national interest, so that has to be there. That
is why we put such an emphasis on training.
Senator Banks: I will be a bit more rude than my colleague Senator Wiebe
was in reinforcing his point. If a reasonable person looked at the office of the
Director General of National Security, Policing and Security Branch in a country
with the longest coast line in the world, in which access to our country through
the ports is and always has been an ongoing problem with regard to criminals and
terrorists, it would be absurd, on the face of it, given the title of your
office, that you do not have knowledge of, let alone control of, the policing of
our ports. Perhaps you do in a different way, perhaps through the RCMP, CSIS or
whatever, but it would seem to me that you really must know those things. I do
hope that you will get back to us on that.
My question is addressed to Ms Leblanc. It follows up on what Senator Cordy
said, something that Senator Atkins will remember well. We recently dealt with a
bill dealing with CCRA and legal access to peoples' mail, particularly mail that
was either leaving or coming into the country, sent by people of interest or
addressed to people of interest - which is a nice way of saying people who are
under suspicion of something.
I do not want to speak for either the committee, which recommended the bill's
passage, or for the Senate, which did pass it. I will speak only for myself when
I say that I held my nose when I voted for that aspect of the bill in committee,
and in the Senate as well. We each had to make a decision as to the benefit as
opposed to the disadvantage of allowing the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency to
open peoples' mail, all the while claiming that they do not read it, they only
open it to see if there is something in it. I understand why. One can put a
computer chip or a dot in a piece of mail that could contain who knows what. We
do need to do that. On the basis of opposite benefit, I, and I think all of us,
decided to vote for the bill and it was passed.
However, we heard some horror stories, Ms Leblanc. One in particular that I
recall vividly was that if they had to get a court order for every time they
opened peoples' mail, the courts would be jammed. They do it with such frequency
and in such large volume that they could not possibly get court orders to open
all the mail they open. They are permitted to open mail without a court order
depending upon its size and weight. There was a case, however, in which a piece
of mail that exceeded the limit was opened. It was addressed to a person of
interest outside the country. It turned out to be entirely innocent, but it
contained confidential information having to do with a court case, I believe. In
any case, the document contained in that piece of mail ended up in the dossier
of the prosecutor in the case, which it clearly ought not to have. There is no
way on earth that it should have got there because, of course, they do not read
My question to you is the same one that we asked at the time: Who is minding the
store? Who makes the judgment? How far must we trust lawful authority and its
exercise? How open do we need to have that gate? Can you give us some confidence
that the circumstances that I described to you do not happen a lot and that
there is a reasonable and acceptable balance between the cost in terms of access
to private information, on the one hand, and the security of all of us on the
Ms Annie Leblanc, Acting Director, Technology and Lawful Access Division,
Department of the Solicitor General Canada: Perhaps I can ask for
clarification. You mentioned that mail opened was from people of interest to
people of interest. Do you recall how that was defined by CCRA?
Senator Banks: Yes. The person in Canada to whom the mail was addressed
was a person of interest.
Ms Leblanc: That was not defined further?
Senator Banks: Yes. We asked. A person of interest was someone toward
whom a security organization, CSIS, the RCMP or some other, had expressed an
interest because the individual was under suspicion of criminal activity.
Ms Leblanc: So they did have information from a law enforcement or
national security agency?
Senator Banks: Yes, and they were looking for the mail. This is almost a
perfect example of the cost-benefit analysis. Here is a person of interest,
under suspicion of having nefarious dealings, although not yet convicted of any
crime. A piece of mail to that person was intercepted. It was an innocent piece
of mail, not an illegal piece of mail. It was not contraband, it was not
anything that ought not to have been sent through the mail, but it ended up in
the wrong place. That is a risk, and I understand that we take it, but who is
minding the store?
Ms. Leblanc: These types of situations are not the norm. There are
exceptional circumstances in which some action needs to be taken before the
judicial authority may be sought. The realm in which I work, lawful access, is
based on the premise that there is a court authorization, either under the
Criminal Code or the CSIS Act.
Senator Banks: I am sorry to interrupt, but we do have lawful access for
packages over a certain size, and a court order is not required to open a
package or a large envelope. If I understand it correctly, no such authority is
needed. The post office can simply do it, and they do.
Ms Leblanc: In those circumstances, all facets were weighed very
carefully. It was deemed that this was an appropriate measure to be taken.
Obviously, it is not one that is taken lightly.
In the situation where a judge waives an individual's privacy rights, the
decision is not taken easily; it is taken for the public good.
Senator Banks: I have no problem when court authority is requested,
whether obtained or not. My problem is that the law now permits the opening of
mail above a certain size and weight without a court authority. Who is minding
Ms Leblanc: I do not have much more information than what you have
provided to me, and I appreciate that. I would venture to say that if the
agencies are involved, and they are, then there is a basis for all the
information to be compiled on these people of interest. If the process were
approved, and it was, and the bill has passed, then these measures were deemed
to be appropriate in exceptional circumstances.
Again, I would say that confidential information such as a letter, which is
probably solicitor-client privilege, should have not surfaced. I would say that
this would be exceptional circumstance.
Senator Banks: One more question, if I may. It has to do with points
raised previously. My question is with respect to the passport. You will forgive
my, if not our, cynicism.
Senator Meighen mentioned that he remembers the kind of passport that the
accused assassin of Martin Luther King carried. It was a Canadian one. People
said that they would tighten this up. However, it now appears that Mr. Ressam
received his passport without even having gone to pick it up. Someone else
picked it up for him.
It turns out that although Mr. Ressam was a person of interest to our security
forces, United States officers arrested him as he crossed the border into the
United States with a bomb in his car. On the face of it, that would make us look
Perhaps I should not address the question to you but rather to the Minister of
Citizenship and Immigration, but you must surely have an interest in whether or
not people can pick up Canadian passports by sending a messenger. This is not a
new situation. This is a situation that, as Senator Meighen pointed out, has
been in place for years and years. Are you confident that something will be done
Mr. D'Avignon: As I said earlier, senator, there is a review underway of
that entire case and the various dimensions of it, including access to
passports. That is being examined.
The passport office has already introduced measures to offset the use of
baptismal certificates and to increase exchange of information to better
identify who the people are. I am not totally familiar with all the
technicalities but, suffice it to say, yes, it is a concern.
The entire case is being examined to identify weaknesses in the system and how
to correct them. Particular to passports, there is some work that is already
underway to deal with those vulnerabilities.
We are learning. We will continue to learn, and we will be taking measures to
stopgap those cases where there has been some vulnerability, which has been
Senator Pépin: I would like to come back to one aspect of our security
cooperation with other countries, and specifically the Echelon network which the
United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia are part of. That network was
created some years ago and was originally conceived as a communication
intelligence system capable of intercepting communications originating in East
Block countries. According to several articles that appeared in mainly European
newspapers, the Echelon system is now used for other purposes. Indeed, faxes,
phone conversations and E-mail are now apparently used for the purposes of
economic espionage. Without necessarily attributing too much credibility to this
information, I would like to know what the exact nature of that network is. What
are its actual capabilities and what is Canada's role within that network? And
finally, in what way does it benefit our country?
Mr. D'Avignon: Unfortunately, that is not an area I am particularly
familiar with. I would have to do some research and provide that information at
a later date. I am afraid I am not able to give an intelligent answer to that
Senator Pépin: Earlier, you referred to the security work and training
you carry out in cooperation with all the provinces with the exception of
Quebec. Would it be indiscreet to enquire as to why Quebec is not part of that
Mr. D'Avignon: Quebec prefers not to sign formal agreements involving
police force cooperation. However, that does not mean that there is no
cooperation. On the contrary, relations between our Department and the Ministry
of Public Security in Quebec are excellent. The Sûreté du Québec and the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police work very well together. I could cite the example
of the Summit of the Americas held in Quebec City, where the RCMP, Sûreté du
Québec, and the Ste-Foy and Quebec City Police Forces worked together to divide
up roles and responsibilities. Together, they worked out an agreement that all
parties abided by throughout the event and which allowed them to maintain
control during the Summit.
Quebec's official position, however, is that it does not wish to be a party to
any formal agreement. Notwithstanding the reality in terms of the police forces
and officials involved, we maintain very good relations as regards information
sharing and cooperation.
Senator Pépin: In Montreal, a ceremony is held every year in November
where the RCMP and Quebec police officers distribute awards to police officers
who distinguished themselves in the performance of their duties. So, I was
wondering why Quebec was not a signatory to the agreement.
Mr. D'Avignon: On the ground, there is excellent cooperation.
The Chairman: Mr. D'Avignon, what relationship, if any, is there between
the Solicitor General and the Department of Defence in defining threats or risks
to the country?
Mr. D'Avignon: There is a fairly tight relationship, if you will. There
are a number of areas in which we intersect. In the context of the national
counterterrorism plan, National Defence has a role at the table in the work that
we do in putting the plan together.
Within the counterterrorism plan, there is the interdepartmental policy advisory
group, which I chair, and on which National Defence sits. In fact, Cmdre.
Forcier, who was here yesterday, and some of his staff sit on that committee.
We have a relationship with them for training and involvement in exercises. All
of the exercises we have done engage the Department of National Defence and
bring them to the table to participate in those exercises.
As well, we organize training with them for first responders and for provincial
police forces, particularly in the area of chemical, biological and radiological
threats. There is a required training component coordinated with National
Defence for first responders and police forces.
At a broader level, the Department of National Defence is involved in a series
of committees operating at a senior level to discuss national security matters.
They sit on the interdepartmental policy committee, which is chaired by the
Privy Council Office, that brings together assistant deputy ministers to discuss
policy issues related to national security engaged at that level. The
interdepartmental committee on security and intelligence, which is chaired at
the deputy minister level, involves National Defence as well. DND is part and
parcel of the fabric of everything that is done.
They also provide assessments to various departments. Their primary focus on
threat from a military point of view, and it is usually most focused offshore in
respect of areas where the Canadian Armed Forces are actually engaged. However,
they receive information from other agencies and share information with the
other agencies to round out the threat analyses during the everyday course of
The Chairman: You commented earlier on Quebec and the fact that they had
not signed an accord with the federal government. Do contract provinces function
differently than non-contract provinces? Do Quebec and Ontario, with their own
provincial police forces, have a different sort of arrangement?
Mr. D'Avignon: I do not think so, no. The arrangements are made between
the RCMP and the Ontario Provincial Police or the Sûreté. In the case where
the RCMP are the police of local jurisdiction, such as in some of the provinces,
then that facilitates the whole relationship because they are dealing with
themselves at different levels, obviously. I have not seen anything that would
indicate that there is any substantive or qualitative difference in terms of the
functioning of the relationships. They tend to cooperate well with one another
to exchange information and work together in those cases where they are brought
together by operational need.
The Chairman: There is legislation in place that provides for the federal
authorities to take control of a terrorist incident. Is that correct?
Mr. D'Avignon: Yes. The Security Offences Act gives the RCMP the
authority to take charge of those cases that involve a terrorist incident.
The Chairman: Has that authority ever been exercised?
Mr. Theilmann: I do not believe it has ever actually been used.
The Chairman: How does it work when you train with other police forces?
Do they accept the arrangement and are they comfortable with the idea that a
federal officer can arrive on the scene and declare that, under the act, they
are in charge?
Mr. Theilmann: In our training exercises, one of the objectives is to
exercise whatever agreement is in place between the RCMP and the local police
force of the jurisdiction. That agreement is in place to lay out the roles and
responsibilities during a terrorist incident. It is laid out in black and white
already. In an exercise, we are practising the provisions of that agreement,
such as calling for a handover.
The RCMP say they always interpreted it to mean that they have primary
jurisdiction but not exclusive jurisdiction. They realize that in some areas of
Canada there will be a police force on the ground, such as in Toronto. They work
out exactly who does what in responding to a terrorist incident.
For example, if the Toronto police force wanted access to federal resources,
such as Joint Task Force 2 or the RCMP-DND biological defence response team,
that would always be done through the RCMP chain of command. Thus, the RCMP are
always important players; and that is in these agreements.
The Chairman: The legislation provides for the RCMP to decide on their
own that they will assume authority. They do not have to consult with the
municipal officials because they have authority under the act to say, "This
is our baby."
Mr. Theilmann: We work it out beforehand to ensure that there is a
legislative authority to respond to terrorist incidents. In an operational
context where there are jurisdictional people on the ground, the RCMP could give
you more information about the arrangements they have in specific provinces.
The Chairman: Are agreements in place with each municipal police force?
Mr. Theilmann: Yes, they are.
The Chairman: In respect of government computer systems, have we
experienced unauthorized access?
Mr. D'Avignon: I am not quite sure what the answer to that question is. I
think that representatives from the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection
and Emergency Preparedness, OCIPEP, would be in a better position to speak to
that particular issue. There have been studies, as well as some review, of these
kinds of intrusions, and they would have a better sense of what has happened on
Senator Forrestall: I have a question concerning a current problem. The
United States has issued a second terrorist attack warning, concentrating
primarily on the Arabian Peninsula and within the Persian Gulf, generally. That
warning is for both the military and civilian population in the area. A few
weeksago, a Canadian frigate in the gulf put to sea to lessen her
vulnerability to attack. Of course, this relates quite directly, but not solely,
to the attack on the USS Cole.
Are you aware of the American warning that I understand was reported yesterday
but perhaps issued somewhat earlier? Is this warning attributed, or related, to
Usama Bin Laden? Has Canada taken any steps to issue a caution to our civilians
and military personnel who are in the Persian Gulf or the Arabian Peninsula
Mr. D'Avignon: Like you, I read this morning in the newspaper that a
warning had been issued to American forces in the Persian Gulf.
As you know, threat assessments are conducted on a daily basis based on
information that is shared between the various intelligence agencies. That is
done on an international level; they talk to one another.
As to whether the Department of External Affairs or the Department of National
Defence have issued warnings to Canadian citizens overseas in that area, I quite
honestly do not have the answer to that.
Normally, the Department of External Affairs does put out warnings to Canadians
who are overseas in areas where a problem is brewing or is occurring. Canadian
travellers may be asked to leave or to go to the consulates. I do not know in
this particular case whether External Affairs has done so.
Senator Forrestall: This would not then normally come across your desk?
Mr. D'Avignon: No. That would be dealt with either by Department of
National Defence in its own right or by the Department of External Affairs. We
are not responsible for that.
Senator Forrestall: You will appreciate the concern?
Mr. D'Avignon: Absolutely.
Senator Forrestall: The concern has been heightened somewhat. I thought
perhaps there was a coordinating effect whereby a warning went across your desk
before going any further.
Mr. D'Avignon: No, it does not.
Ms Leblanc: Mr. D'Avignon, Alberta has as one pride and joy a
province-wide public radio network, the CKO radio network, which has 17 radio
stations throughout the province. At the flick of a switch, that network can
interrupt all other radio stations and broadcast emergency preparedness notices,
warning of any kind of disaster. The federal government contributes on the basis
of emergency preparedness. I do not know how familiar you are with that, but do
you know if any such instant radio-based warning systems exist in other
Mr. Theilmann: I honestly do not know. I worked at Emergency Preparedness
Canada many years ago and much work was being done then on emergency broadcast
systems. I do not know where it stands right now. You might want to direct that
question to the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Critical
Preparedness this afternoon. They may have more knowledge.
The Chairman: Thank you for appearing before us. We appreciate receiving
the information you have provided us and we hope to receive still more from you
regarding ports. We will look forward to receiving that.
Mr. D'Avignon: I will make sure you get it.
The Chairman: Honourable senators, our next witness this morning is
Superintendent Pilgrim. Supt. Pilgrim has been a member of the RCMP for 31
years. Much of his career was spent in New Brunswick, where his duties included
general policing, drug enforcement and national security enforcement. After
receiving his commission to the rank of inspector, he was posted to Nova Scotia,
where he was responsible for planning and management services, federal
enforcement branch, in the Cole Harbour detachment. After promotion to
superintendent, he served as Director, Counterterrorism Division, at the
Department of Solicitor General. Last September, he transferred to his present
position as Officer in Charge, National Security Investigations Branch, Criminal
Intelligence Directorate at RCMP headquarters. He will speak to us about the
national security mandate of the RCMP.
Welcome, Supt. Pilgrim. The floor is yours.
Superintendent J. Wayne Pilgrim, Officer in Charge, National Security
Investigations Branch, Criminal Intelligence Directorate: On behalf of the
RCMP, it is a pleasure to be here today to provide an overview of the national
security program and to identify some of the challenges that face law
enforcement as it relates to national security.
I wish to draw your attention to two organization charts that were provided for
you. One is entitled "Headquarters Organization"; the second is
entitled "Criminal Intelligence Directorate." To put things in
perspective as to where I sit in the scheme of things, in the "Headquarters
Organization" chart you will note that the Commissioner is at the top. The
highlighted area indicates the Deputy Commissioner of Operations. Follow that
down to the Criminal Intelligence Directorate or the Assistant Commissioner
Criminal Intelligence, my immediate boss, Assistant Commissioner Richard Proulx.
The second chart provides the organization of the Criminal Intelligence
Directorate and the highlighted areas show where the National Security
Investigation branch fits into that process.
To begin, I would like to provide a brief overview of the RCMP mandate to
investigate national security offences under the Security Offences Act.
With the separation of the security service in 1984, the RCMP maintained its
responsibility to conduct criminal investigations of national security offences.
The act did not create any new offences. It did, however, confirm, for the first
time in legislation, that, for specific offences having a national security
dimension, the RCMP had primary peace officer responsibility.
While the responsibility of CSIS is to collect and advise the government on
threats to the security of Canada, we both have the responsibility to prevent,
deter and investigate potential threats. The RCMP has the primary responsibility
to conduct criminal investigations into national security offences, which has
been defined to include threats to the security of Canada, as defined under the
CSIS Act, and threats against internationally protected persons, or IPPs, within
the meaning of the Criminal Code of Canada. Criminality must be present for RCMP
RCMP headquarters monitors all national security-related investigations. We
ensure liaison and dissemination of information between field units and various
international agencies. In order to carry out our duties, we have 169
established positions within the program nationally.
The RCMP provides subject-matter expertise in various areas of responsibility,
for example, criminal investigators of national security offences, collecting
and reviewing threat-related information and intelligence pertaining to persons
and property of specific Canadian and foreign dignitaries, diplomatic and
consular officials, performing a liaison function with CSIS and agencies, and
managing a threat assessment program in support of our protective operations.
Threat assessments are used to assign appropriate level of physical security.
In 1996, the RCMP enhanced its national security investigation capability at
international airports. This initiative coincided with the termination of the
RCMP's protective and security mandate at designated airports. It is important
to note that the RCMP continues to provide protective and security functions
under contract to airport authorities where we are the police of jurisdiction.
Airport national security investigation sections are located at Vancouver,
Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Dorval and Halifax. Mirabel and
Gander, because of their change in status, no longer have a national security
investigation present. The airport units are satellites of the divisional
national security investigation sections to ensure there is a cohesion and
direction with respect to national security priorities.
Pursuant to section 6(1) of the Security Offences Act, the RCMP has primary
responsibility. We have interpreted this to mean that this responsibility is not
exclusive. As you heard from the previous witness in this regard, it takes into
reality the jurisdictional makeup of the country, federal, provincial and
municipal. At present, there are approximately 65 police to police agreements
nationally between the RCMP and other police of jurisdiction. These agreements
are designed to set out the role of the RCMP vis-à-vis the police force of
jurisdiction in the event of a national security incident.
Section 6(2) of the Security Offences Act provides the federal government with
authority to enter into an arrangement with provinces and territories for the
policing of an offence outlined under the act. The Solicitor General, as you
heard earlier, is presently undertaking a review of the government-to-government
arrangements. This will be followed by a re-examination of the police-to-police
agreements. Any new or revised police-to-police agreements will continue to be
consistent with the spirit and the intent of the Security Offences Act.
On the issue of international cooperation, terrorism, as everyone is aware, is a
globalized phenomenon. It is a challenge that requires global solutions.
Conspiracies are often hatched in one country, logistical and material support
amassed in another, with the objective of carrying out an attack in a third
The exchange and the cementing of relationships through formal arrangements are
enhanced through the RCMP's participation in various international fora and
working groups. In addition, we have created several bilateral arrangements with
international partners in the U.S. and the U.K., just to name a few. To
facilitate our relationships internationally, we are a full participating member
of Interpol. As well, we have foreign liaison officers posted to Canadian
embassies and high commissions in various locations around the world, for
example, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Washington, Istanbul. In fact, we have 29
liaison officers in 20 foreign postings. Our liaison officers perform a support
function to Canadian police services, not just the RCMP, in criminal
investigations abroad, and they facilitate the sharing of information between
law enforcement agencies.
Being the neighbour of the number one target of terrorism - that is, the U.S -
it creates an added responsibility to ensure that our level of readiness is
adequate and to ensure an effective response to a terrorist incident. Although
there has always been a high degree of cooperation between our two countries,
the recent Ressam investigation highlighted the need to ensure continued
cooperation. With that in mind, we have been participating in a variety of
bilateral arrangements with American agencies for several years, for example,
the Bilateral Consultative Group on Counterterrorism, the North East Border
Regional Terrorism Taskforce, Project Northstar, Integrated Border Enforcement
Teams and the Canada-U.S. Cross-border Crime Forum, just to name a few. In
addition, we participate in a number of other international fora or
organizations, for example, the International Association of Chiefs of Police,
Counterterrorism Committees of the G8 and the Organization of American States.
From a domestic national security perspective, we are faced with several
challenges. For example, the terrorist immigrant. A serious threat continues
from individuals who choose to pursue homeland conflicts and use Canada as a
staging ground to further criminal conspiracies to carry out terrorist acts. We
are mindful of the potential for developing links between organized crime groups
and terrorist organizations. However, at this time, there is no direct evidence
of a symbiotic relationship between terrorists and organized crime groups in
this country. There has been some evidence that organized street gangs with
links to criminal extremists have provided money that is intended to support the
We are cognizant that funding is the lifeblood of terrorism. In Canada, funding
by and large, from our assessment, is conducted by legal means. We would become
involved when criminal acts are committed or suspected in conjunction with
There is evidence to show that criminal extremists are using technology to
thwart police investigations. The use of firewalls in computer systems makes it
difficult, if not impossible, to search systems to obtain evidence of criminal
activity. The threat posed by chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear or
CBRN weapons or, to use the American term, "weapons of mass
destruction," is new and emerging. The capacity or intention by terrorist
organizations to use weapons of mass destruction is presently assessed as low.
However, the impact of any attack could have devastating consequences. The most
notable example of such an act is the Aum Shinrikyo attack with sarin gas on the
Tokyo subway system. This incident highlighted to the world that there is a new
The recent example of the suspicious package received at the Department of
Citizenship and Immigration office here in Ottawa clearly illustrated the
challenges posed by this type of threat, even if it is eventually determined to
be a hoax. Vigilance and close cooperation within a diverse group of responders
Finally, with respect to challenges facing law enforcement, is the ability to
protect sensitive sources of information in judicial proceedings. Section 38 of
the Canada Evidence Act provides for some protection of sensitive information
involving international relations, national defence, or national security. There
is a reluctance to use the Canada Evidence Act where sensitive information may
form a critical element of the criminal case, and if the information is withheld
the case may not stand on its own. There is new legislation being proposed in
the near future that will address some of the concerns by law enforcement.
Within the national security program, we have developed enforcement priorities
in two categories of criminal extremism: threats that are homegrown or domestic
in nature; and foreign-based or influenced. Earlier I briefly mentioned
chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or CBRN and weapons of mass
destruction as one of the challenges facing enforcement. As part of the RCMP's
response capability, we recognize that other agencies have developed expertise
to respond to specific aspects of chemical and biological threat or incident.
Therefore, we have developed partnerships that will strengthen our overall
For example, we have created a criminal incident team of explosive disposal
technicians and forensic identification specialists who have been trained in the
area of explosive detection, mitigation and crime-scene examination. This team
is part of the joint biological and chemical response team with the Department
of National Defence from Canadian Forces Base Borden. In addition, we utilize
the services provided by the Defence Research Establishment Suffield, Alberta,
or DRES, which provides a scientific assistance in the form of research, advice
and laboratory analysis.
In other areas throughout the country, our explosive disposal technicians have
partnered with local hazardous material teams normally attached to local fire
departments. Such is the case in the National Capital Region, where excellent
efforts have been made toward enhancing the overall response capabilities to a
chemical and/or biological incident. The National Capital Region first
responders committee may very well be the model for the rest of the country.
To improve our first response capability, bomb technicians at a number of
strategic locations have been trained in device recognition and site
safeguarding. They have not been trained in threat mitigation. Also, we have
provided training to our national incident commanders with respect to crisis or
incident management involving chemical and biological threats.
There was some discussion earlier from the previous witnesses with respect to
lawful access. In 1974, Parliament saw the need to provide law enforcement with
an important tool in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of criminal
offences. In amendments to the Criminal Code, law enforcement was given the
authority to intercept private communications providing that strict conditions
were met. For example, a judge must be satisfied that it would be in the best
interests of the administration of justice to do so and that other investigative
procedures have been tried and failed or are unlikely to proceed. It was
necessary to show that the matter is urgent and that other means of
investigation would not be practical. The conditions provided a time frame - a
period not to exceed 60 days - in which law enforcement had to operate. The age
of technology has increased the challenge of maintaining a lawful access
capability or the ability to intercept private communications. An added
challenge and a key element of lawful access is the ability to search and seize
information or computer files.
New technologies are increasingly overwhelming conventional lawful access
methods. It is enabling criminals to shield their activities from detection. New
features create new challenges. For example, local number portability permits
individuals to retain phone numbers when they change addresses. Personal
communication systems, such as cellphones, paging devices or palm pilots,
feature digital technology that provides an increased level of security.
Communications via satellite provide the versatility to conduct business
anywhere and the capability for systems to connect through various gateways
throughout the world. As well, there is the Internet, which is being
increasingly used by criminals as a means of communication in conducting
criminal activity. The challenge is for law enforcement to maintain its ability
to detect, prevent and prosecute those who utilize the Internet to further their
To contribute to the challenge is the use of cryptography by the criminal
element. Cryptography is basically a means to change text or voice into
unbreakable codes. Technology has enhanced the ability to encrypt to the point
where it has surpassed the ability to decrypt messages. As technologies improve,
encryption products will also increasingly be used to encrypt voice
conversations. There is increasing potential for cryptography to become an
effective tool for criminals intent on shielding their criminal activities, such
as drug trafficking, money laundering, child pornography and terrorism.
As was pointed out when we discussed CBRN as an emerging threat, the same
applies to cyber-terrorism. We see it as an emerging threat. While the tactics
used may very well be the same, cyber-terrorism is not the same as information
warfare or high-tech cyber-crime. The factor that distinguishes one from the
other is motive. An essential element of terrorism is that the actions taken
against the target are intended to influence decision-makers and the decisions
The impact of a threat, whether actual or real, against an electronic
information system should not be restricted to the loss of life or serious
damage to property. We should also consider the pressures felt by the loss of
confidence in the system and in the organization's whose systems were disrupted
or destroyed. Also, consideration must be given to the loss of confidence in the
ability of government to effectively prevent or respond to such incidents. The
disruption, corruption or unauthorized access to a system can add the same, if
not greater, impact than physical damage and may have more influence on
Such activity can be dealt with as a crime in Canada under the Criminal Code of
Canada, notwithstanding the national security dimension.
Further challenges for law enforcement in this respect, from an investigative
standpoint, include cyber-crime and cyber-terrorism. These present enormous and
unique challenges. As indicated, attacks can be masked in a number of ways. In
the absence of a claim of responsibility in the early stages, it would be
difficult to determine the nature or source of the attack. Good intelligence is
critical with respect to an organization's capability andmodus operandi.
Given that such attacks can be conducted from relatively obscure and safe
locations, prosecutions can present an even greater challenge.
The RCMP has developed a critical incident program that was approved by our
senior executive to ensure that the RCMP was continually in a proper state of
readiness to deal with critical incidents. We recognize that training is a key
component to developing an effective response capability. Subsequently, we have
trained to a high level a select group of national commanders who would be given
command responsibility in the event of a critical incident in Canada. Their
training has given them extensive exposure to the national counterterrorism
plan, Canadian forces directives, the Security Offences Act and subsequent
One of the primary forms of training is scenario-based exercises. As you heard
earlier from a previous witness with respect to the operational readiness
program, the RCMP participates actively in that program. The incident commanders
also participate as observers in serious incidents, both nationally and
internationally. We have expanded the critical incident program to include
commanders from other police forces and agencies.
In conclusion, the RCMP takes its responsibility for national security very
seriously. We are committed to ensuring that we fulfil our mandate. However, it
is essential to understand that the protection of our national security is a
multi-agency responsibility. We can only accomplish our objectives through a
cooperative approach in areas such as the sharing of information, intelligence
and training. As you have seen from my presentation, this occurs both nationally
That concludes my formal presentation. I would be pleased to respond to any
Senator Banks: My first question is somewhat rhetorical: Why did we not
catch Mr. Ressam? The RCMP had knowledge of him. The security people had been
watching him, and here he is driving around our country with a bomb in his car.
The Americans caught him. Is that okay? Did we slip up? Should we have or could
we have stopped him? Did he not do anything actually illegal until he got to the
border? Obviously, he did, he was driving around with a bomb in his car. As I
said, it is a rhetorical question, but I am sure you understand the thrust of it
because I am getting at the whole question: Can we catch people like that? Are
we doing okay? At times are we looking like fools, as I think we might have in
that case at least to the uninformed who do not know the circumstances? Are we
happy with that situation?
Supt. Pilgrim: Whenever we have a situation such as the Ressam incident,
and there are individuals who are planning or staging criminal activity in
Canada, of course we are not happy with that. There is a reluctance to get into
the specifics of the investigation, but Mr. Ressam was active and lived in
Montreal. We are talking about a large population base, with many places to
conduct business undetected.
There is some evidence that the authorities were aware of his presence in
Canada, but obviously, from the chain of events, there was no evidence to
indicate what his particular plans were at that time. We are fortunate that the
American authorities apprehended him as he was crossing into the U.S.
More generally, procedures are in place to work with the other law enforcement
agencies. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service is charged with identifying
individuals who may pose a threat to Canada and our national security or to
other areas, and the exchange of information and intelligence is in place to
ensure that those agencies that have a requirement to be aware of certain
activities are made aware of those activities in a timely fashion.
You will be hearing from my CSIS counterparts that there are a number of
individuals who have been identified by the service and where the RCMP has
become, in some cases, involved at various stages and to varying degrees,
resulting in the apprehension or the disruption of activities. In some cases,
through the immigration process, they have been deported from Canada.
Senator Banks: Was Mr. Ressam an unusual case? Are we being assiduous
enough? Are there impediments in the way of your apprehending persons such as
Mr. Ressam? I am only using his example because it is such a glaring one.
Must we assume that there are fairly large numbers of people in the country,
like Mr. Ressam, about whom we know little or who have not raised their profile
enough, who are engaged in activities about which we can do nothing, because
they do not have a high enough profile? Are we not sure they have bought
materials to make the bombs with; is that the case?
Supt. Pilgrim: First of all, for the RCMP involvement, we must have a
criminal activity or suspicion of a criminal activity to become involved.
Senator Banks: Such as a bomb?
Supt. Pilgrim: We must have the information or intelligence that that is
the activity. Short of that information, in many cases it is difficult for us to
determine what is happening.
Senator Banks: In that particular case, do you know or can you disclose
whether we had any such information?
Supt. Pilgrim: I can tell you that we were not aware of the conspiracy to
develop a bomb prior to the arrest.
Senator Banks: I think you were in the room when we were talking about
the lawful access to mail. You have referred to that in your presentation, also.
I commend your attention to the fact that mail, over a certain size and weight,
is opened apparently with great frequency at the request of various security
services, the RCMP being one, without court authority. Pieces of mail above a
certain weight and/or size can be opened when and if CSIS, Canadian Customs and
Revenue Agency or the RCMP thinks that there might be something that ought to be
Are you comfortable that when that is done at your behest it is only done when
you have really solid reasons? Bear in mind that I am only asking you now about
those instances in which a court's acquiescence is not required, where you can
do this without asking a judge. Are you confident that we are being careful? I
am asking this question for two reasons: first, regarding the protection of
privacy; and, second, as you know better than I, if we are not careful, then an
otherwise successful prosecution against a person who is unquestionably guilty
of a crime or of contemplating one might fail because of an improper procedure
before the fact.
Are we sufficiently careful in that regard?
Supt. Pilgrim: My immediate response is yes, and for the reasons that you
outlined. When we either conduct a search ourselves or request another agency to
do so, we have to do so based on the principle of reasonable and probable
grounds, and also knowing that it will have to stand up to the scrutiny of the
court systems at some point in time. It is important that we do not jeopardize
the eventual prosecution of a particular case for a fishing trip, for example.
Senator Banks: That is precisely the reason I am asking the question. You
have to have reasonable or probable cause in order to ask a judge to open an
ordinary envelope that could contain a letter. However, the test is less
stringent for a package. Without an x-ray which shows something illegal, if it
just contains paper - although that could be a part of a criminal activity - you
have no way of having reasonable or probable cause to think that a package might
contain something illegal. The only indication is that it is from or addressed
to a person of interest. The test for when it is proper to open larger mail is
less stringent, as I am sure you know better than I, than for opening an
ordinary letter, which can only be done with the approval of a judge, and in the
presence of either the recipient or the sender. That test does not apply to a
package, and it is in that circumstance that I ask you the question.
Supt. Pilgrim: From a police perspective, the size of the package is
immaterial. In order for us to open any package, we require a court order. We
have to have a warrant.
Senator Banks: That is not so.
Supt. Pilgrim: The RCMP must. I understand that Canada Customs, Canada
Post and courier companies have authority to inspect packages that are
suspicious in nature, or with regard to which there is information to indicate
that they may pose a threat. Canada Customs works on a set of guidelines with
which I am not totally familiar. However, they have specific authority to
inspect goods and items coming into the country.
From a policing perspective, we require a search warrant to open packages that
are going through the mail or are seized in other circumstances.
Senator Banks: I believe I recall the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency
having told us that they sometimes open packages without a court order at the
request of the RCMP. Would you check on that and let us know, please?
Supt. Pilgrim: Yes, I definitely will.
Senator Cordy: Welcome to our meeting. In my other life, I was a teacher
in Cole Harbour, so I know the area well.
Could you clarify the term "cyber-terrorism"?
Supt. Pilgrim: That is a difficult one. I have participated in various
discussions, nationally and internationally, where defining cyber-terrorism has
been on the table.There is reluctance to define terrorism, per se, and even more
to define specific aspects such as cyber-terrorism.
Situations in which information systems or critical infrastructures are
threatened through the use of computer systems is probably the best definition I
could give you. Again, let us not forget the motive, which is to change policy
or influence decision-makers. It is not traditional a criminal activity for
which greed is usually the underlying motive. It is committed more with the
intent of changing policy decisions and influencing decision-makers.
Senator Cordy: With regard to influencing decision-makers, the previous
speaker this morning talked about terrorist fundraising and laundering the funds
raised so that they would appear legitimate. Does the criminal element, in an
organized way, try to legitimize affecting decision-makers or lawmakers?
Supt. Pilgrim: Are you talking about traditional criminal organized
groups at present?
Senator Cordy: Yes, organized crime groups.
Supt. Pilgrim: Organized crime groups use different methods to cover the
means by which those proceeds were obtained. We have proceeds of crime
legislation that helps us deal with some of those issues.
With respect to using those proceeds to influence decision-makers, there is
always the potential that organized crime groups may attempt to influence
decision-makers to be more relaxed with respect to certain legislation with
regard to criminal organizations so that they are freer to carry on business as
Senator Cordy: Unbeknownst to the lawmakers, would they try to affect
them in terms of political goals of terrorist groups?
Supt. Pilgrim: For the most part, criminal organizations are considered
exactly that - criminal organizations, with an objective of obtaining proceeds
through criminal activity. Although I have no specific details, there have been
some public discussions with respect to some organized crime groups attempting
to influence various Canadian establishments.
Senator Cordy: If the RCMP were aware of an organized attempt by a group
to affect lawmakers, would the lawmakers be notified that this was happening?
Supt. Pilgrim: Yes, there is a process in place to advise and inform
lawmakers and other officials when there is a potential for threat, influence,
corruption or intimidation.
Senator Wiebe: Superintendent Pilgrim, I appreciated very much your
presentation this morning. Throughout it you talked to us about the challenges
that are facing the force throughout Canada. I just want to emphasize the word
"resources." Given the resources at the disposal of the RCMP, I think
that you are doing an outstanding job on behalf of the people of Canada.
However, I do have a very serious concern, especially when it comes to organized
crime. Money is not a problem as far as they are concerned. They have the
wealth. They are moving into legal enterprises. They are able to afford the
technical expertise to hire the individuals through these legal companies. Some
of these individuals may not even know that they are using that technology for
organized crime. That technology is changing rapidly each and every day, even as
I am very much afraid that we are not, as a government or as a society,
providing our police forces with the resources and the tools to be able to
combat that kind of wealth. Is there anything that you could tell me to reassure
me that those financial resources are there?
Second, I am a strong believer in a visible presence for the force throughout
Canada. Are we sometimes sacrificing manpower in order to be able to afford the
technology that is required to combat organized crime?
Supt. Pilgrim: The issue with resources, of course, as you very well
know, is a never-ending story. With respect, there has been a need for more
resources identified to government. The government, through the integrity
funding process, has recognized this need. Last year there was $15 million
allocated, and this year there is an additional $25 million allocated with
respect to integrity funding. That is in the area of organized crime.
We are constantly assessing the degree of the threat and resetting our
priorities with respect to organized crime. There is always the option to deploy
or re-deploy resources and/or return to government and request additional
The threat is not the traditional national security threat. It is an area that
is somewhat outside of my particular area of responsibility as it now stands.
However, there are some linkages between my area from a national security
perspective and the organized crime side of things because, as I stated earlier,
some of the groups that are involved in some criminal activity, whether it is
credit card fraud or fraudulent documents, impact the national security side.
When we get into some of these issues, there is a potential danger to affect the
economic security as well.
With respect to the technical requirements, with the advance of technology and
with the new means for criminals to carry out their activity, the added
challenges and the added demands are on the police to detect, disrupt, apprehend
and prosecute. Without the equivalent technical means to perform those duties,
the task is increasingly more difficult.
The short answer is yes, we always need resources. Coupled with that, we need to
ensure that the resources that we have are effectively deployed commensurate
with the threat and with the challenges that the criminal activity or the
organized crime are posing to Canada.
Senator Wiebe: This is a problem in our society, and in all societies
throughout the world, that we have never had to face previously. There is a
completely new kind of speed in the ability to finalize the criminal act as far
as the criminal is concerned. It makes it that much more difficult to try to
detect that something may be going on. It may require that governments must
provide the resources to address this threat.
As you know, I sit on the government side of the Senate and have always felt
strongly that we are not providing the tools that are required to do the job. If
we are not careful, we could lose that battle.
Supt. Pilgrim: The issue of globalization of technology was mentioned
earlier this morning. Technology breaks down those traditional borders and
jurisdictions that we depend on to contain some of these activities and provide
us with a little more advantage. However, as I pointed out, one could conduct
criminal activity sitting in a basement or office in any part of the world.
Senator Wiebe: You could commit a criminal activity while in a boat in
the middle of a lake while you are fishing.
Supt. Pilgrim: That is right.
Senator Forrestall: I will follow up on Senator Wiebe's observations.
Additional funds in the amount of $15 million last year and $25 million this
year were provided. What amount do you expect next year?
Does lack of knowledge of the exact amount of money that will be forthcoming
lead to proper long term planning? Would it not be better if the amount were set
somewhere, so that it was a natural annual increment that you could plan on?
Supt. Pilgrim: There is a process of which you are aware. There is a
traditional budgetary process to identify needs for the upcoming fiscal period.
In addition to that, there are usually ongoing discussions with respect to
specific projects, initiatives and priorities of government, whether it is
organized crime or another matter, to address those more on a case-by-case or on
an individual basis. I do not have the specifics of that process. However,
traditionally it is part of an ongoing strategy. We look at it in more of a long
term time frame, especially when the priorities are identified. It is part of
that annual strategic planning cycle in which the RCMP, like other agencies of
government, are actively involved.
Senator Forrestall: I have been concerned particularly about comments
from the United States and other jurisdictions that Canada is the back door to
the United States for terrorists. I love tourism promotion. I love when people
come to beautiful Nova Scotia. We want all the good publicity we can get. It is
a form of disservice to suggest, internationally or globally, that a terrorist
wanting to enter the U.S. should try Canada because it is the easiest door. That
simply promotes Canada as an easy entryway to the United States. I do not want
that kind of trans-traffic.
Does it bother the RCMP to have to live with this kind of comment? Does it
bother you that we have this kind of inappropriate promotion?
Supt. Pilgrim: It goes to the question that was asked earlier about
Canada being perceived as a safe haven. We have always maintained, within the
community, that Canada is not a safe haven. I think you will hear that same
comment from our CSIS colleagues when they appear before the committee. There
have been numerous occasions when, as I mentioned earlier, individuals have been
apprehended and deported; they have been dealt with by the legal process,
whether immigration or the courts, and deported from the country.
Again, I do not have the numbers, but those examples demonstrate that we are not
necessarily a safe haven; there is always the chance that such individuals would
be detected and apprehended. We are a democratic society, and so we provide
certain opportunities that many people in other parts of the world do not enjoy.
With our system of society, we have an immigration process that invites people
into the country.
At the same time it is hoped that, through the necessary screening process, we
can balance the process so that we do not experience large numbers of
undesirables entering Canada. When I say "undesirables" I am speaking
strictly from a criminal perspective of those who enter the country and conduct
criminal activities. However, the potential always exists for these things to
happen with the current system and process that are in place.
Senator Forrestall: I appreciate your response. It is my understanding
that, in recent years in particular, there has been growing evidence of
surveillance of your side of this constant war by the criminal element - from
biker gangs to the Russian mafia - anywhere you look. To what extent is this
happening? Are you confident that you have a bit of a handle on it? Are you able
to protect yourselves? The cyber-problems that we have are almost
insurmountable. I do not know what we will do about it. It is the major problem
that transcends rogue missiles from dissident states, in my mind, because it
corrupts completely when you are denied the type of intelligence you need to
serve the populace.
To what degree is surveillance of CSIS, and the particular elements in the force
who are responsible for this type of work, being conducted?
Supt. Pilgrim: I cannot give you any details in respect of the degree of
the surveillance, but I can speak about the RCMP. When we conduct criminal
investigations, or projects in respect of criminal activity, on any individual
in Canada, we do so with the understanding that there is always the potential
for counter- surveillance being conducted on us and on our methods of doing
There is some protection under the law to protect sources of information and the
methods of operation. We utilize those means whenever possible. Again, we are
cognizant of the fact that the potential is there, and we attempt to develop our
operations in a manner that will prevent counter-surveillance and the disclosure
of our activities as they relate to sources, techniques and overall means of
Senator Forrestall: Are you successful in recruiting the experts needed
to deal with this level of computer technology?
Supt. Pilgrim: It appears that we are successful. From the information
that I have, it appears that when we are seeking a particular expertise that we
do not have in-house, then we obtain that expertise outside, either through
direct recruiting or on a contract basis, whatever the case may be.
However, we have a computer crimes area within the RCMP, and we also have an
area called "Infomatics" that looks at the RCMP systems. These areas
also provide a pool of expertise when we deal with technology.
Senator Forrestall: Do you prefer to have in-house expertise or do you
prefer to have it on a contract basis? If it is necessary, can you search as far
as the U.K., for example, to find the appropriate expertise? Do you do that from
time to time?
Supt. Pilgrim: Yes, there has always to be a balance of what capabilities
we have internally, and economically it is not always feasible to maintain a
capability internally that may not be required or called upon on a regular
basis. Subsequently, there are means whereby we are involved in exchange or
secondment programs as a means of exchanging information and doing business. We
form part of a variety of arrangements internationally where much of this
expertise is at the table; and we are able to draw upon it as required.
Senator Forrestall: Do you have enough authority to do transborder chase
and pursuit of information or conduct such a surveillance? Do you feel free or
Supt. Pilgrim: There is sufficient authority to do that. It is important,
in that respect, that the relationships and the protocols are in place between
the RCMP and other agencies, whether domestically or internationally. Of course,
when we talk about Canada and her border, the U.S. is the first country to come
It is important that we have a relationship on both sides of the border and an
understanding of the respective legal requirements and issues. In that way,
instead of an RCMP officer running across the border, there is a degree of
confidence and trust in the counterpart on the other side of the border to
ensure that the task is dealt with as required.
Senator Forrestall: On the need-to-know basis, then, is that a reciprocal
Supt. Pilgrim: Yes.
Senator Forrestall: When you need to know something, how cooperative are
our neighbours to the south? Are they good or are they indifferent?
Supt. Pilgrim: No, I would definitely not say it was indifference.
Through the Ressam investigation, we saw that we have a very good level of
cooperation between ourselves and our counterparts in the FBI. We also have a
very good relationship with other policing agencies. Whether it is state,
federal, the Drug Enforcement Agency or the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms Agency,
we have an excellent rapport. As I mentioned earlier, we are also part of
Interpol and of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. That brings
to the table, of course, the opportunity to create more partnerships and to
strengthen the existing ones.
Senator Forrestall: In other words, you are pretty happy with the
need-to-know level under which we operate with our neighbours to the south. What
about the United Kingdom and Europe?
Supt. Pilgrim: Yes. With respect to our liaison officers, we have 29 in
20 posts around the world. They add greatly to the development of our
relationships with various agencies internationally. That goes a long way to
strengthening the partnerships that are in place.
Senator Atkins: Superintendent Pilgrim, my first question goes back to
our first witness' testimony and this whole question of port security. Does the
RCMP work closely with the local authorities to satisfy their concerns with
regard to port activities?
Supt. Pilgrim: Yes. Depending on the nature of the activity that we are
interested in, we will work hand in hand with the authority that has
jurisdiction. In addition, we have other programs targeting the broader context
of border integrity at our ports, be they airports, land or sea ports. We work
closely, sometimes daily, with the municipal or local police, provincial police,
federal agencies, according to the jurisdiction. In addition, we conduct our own
criminal investigations as they relate to activities at specific locations. The
short answer is yes, we have a very good working relationship with the police.
Senator Atkins: Why do we get the feeling that there are not enough
resources to deal with the level of activity? For example, in the port of
Montreal, there is a sense that the level of security is insufficient to protect
the interests of Canadians. To what extent can our authorities investigate
containers to know what is going out of this country or coming into it?
Supt. Pilgrim: I am not sure any number of resources would be able to
deal with the container situation at our ports. As you can well appreciate,
container shipping is a major business. Thousands and thousands of containers go
through a port on any given day.
It is difficult to say that we need additional resources to deal with the
problem as a whole. However, resourcing is definitely one issue with respect to
policing all of our ports, air, land or sea. Port security has been identified
as one of our national priorities. Strategies are being examined on the best way
to address the situation. It is to be hoped that the appropriate level of
resources will be dedicated to that particular challenge.
Senator Atkins: If you find a Z71 red truck, let me know, license plate
On industrial espionage, do you have any comment on whether it is taking off or
whether you feel it is under control?
Supt. Pilgrim: It is in an area on which I do not have a great deal of
information. That area is being monitored and assessed on a regular basis. You
may want to approach that question with our CSIS counterparts when they appear
before the committee.
Senator Atkins: Yesterday we heard about the military having a difficult
time keeping their numbers in terms of recruitment. Is that a problem with the
RCMP or not?
Supt. Pilgrim: Recruiting within the RCMP is an ongoing process, not
unlike the military, I am sure. Our human resource area within the RCMP is
constantly looking at the formula to ensure the right balance of people leaving
and coming in.
We do not have problems with attracting applicants for the RCMP. The difficulty
is determining the numbers that we can accommodate given budget restraints and
the established positions that we have. The balance is important. Recruiting and
developing of expertise in police officers or peace officers does not appear to
be a problem for us.
Senator Atkins: The new challenges in policing require new levels of
qualifications. Over the last few years we have heard the challenges of ethnic
balance and recruiting women. Would you care to comment on those two areas?
Supt. Pilgrim: The RCMP, in its recruiting process, takes these issues
into consideration. I do not have the exact percentages right now. However, I do
know that the percentage of women as regular members in the RCMP has
significantly increased over the past number of years. Female members are in
senior ranking positions in the RCMP at the present time.
We also take into consideration the other requirements from a policing
perspective with respect to other communities within the country, communities
such as Cole Harbour or our black communities in and around Halifax. It is one
of the issues that we dealt with on a regular basis to ensure that we had
sufficient numbers of black candidates being recruited, meeting the requirements
and being engaged in the force.
It is always a challenge, because in many of these communities, as was pointed
out earlier, depending on the cultural issues and some of the background, the
police are not always seen as I would like to think the police in Canada are
seen, which is in more of a positive light. In some of the other cultures that
we may need to deal with, the police are not necessarily seen in that same
Senator Atkins: In regard to the comments made by Senator Forrestall, I
gather that where you need the expertise in certain areas you are recruiting
civilians into senior roles in the establishment?
Supt. Pilgrim: That is correct. There are some capabilities that we need
outside of the traditional police function, so the trend is to recruit within
that particular requirement as opposed to taking an individual and bringing him
in as a police officer and then developing that capability at a later stage.
Sometimes there is a difference in what you require there, and sometimes there
is a need to have a combination of both. We are also meeting that requirement.
Senator Atkins: How do you change the slogan that the RCMP always get
Supt. Pilgrim: In the generic sense?
Senator Pépin: You mentioned in your presentation that if information
held in files is not kept confidential, Canadians will have less confidence in
the government. On the one hand, I fully agree that the government needs to pass
laws to counter terrorist activity, particularly in the context of globalization
and the emergence of new technologies. On the other hand, if we are talking
about invading people's privacy, I have some concerns. There is a very fine line
between the two. With the advent of new technologies, people's lives are
becoming open books.
You pointed out that there was not adequate legislation in place now to assist
you there, but what could we do in this area without endangering the right to
Supt. Pilgrim: In relation to the whole issue of creating a balance with
respect to developing our capabilities to respond to threats or potential
threats so that the government, or the systems or the establishment, is seen to
be able to effectively respond, the area to which we turn to determine that that
balance exists is usually what we refer to as our "threat assessment."
The threat assessments will provide us with a reasonably good assessment as to
what are the threats being faced by Canada or Canadians with respect to national
security issues. Subsequently, the process, or the procedures or the
capabilities, we develop must be balanced out with the threat assessment.
For example, in my previous function in the office of the previous witnesses
here, there was always the question of the Americans investing or infusing
millions of dollars into terrorism or counterterrorism, and why is Canada not
doing that? We must look at it from two different perspectives, one being, as I
mentioned earlier, that the U.S. is the number one terrorist target in the
world. Subsequently, they need to take measures that we probably would not need
to take. In Canada, where the threat is deemed to be much lower - or low, I
suppose, from a definitional perspective - it is important that we do not
overreact. However, by the same token, we take the necessary steps to ensure
that we have a balanced approach to what we see or what is assessed as the
Can we do more? I believe there are initiatives in place right now, as was
mentioned by Mr. D'Avignon, for government initiatives to develop options or
strategy to strengthen Canada's counterterrorism response capabilities. I am
hopeful that when that initiative is completed, we will see more of a balance.
Therefore, we will be able to say to the Canadian people - and I believe we can
say it now - that there may be some shortfalls but, with the existing threat
level and with the methods and the means or the process and the arrangements
that are presently in place, we can then say that there is a balance, and we are
in a position to inform people that they can have confidence in the government,
or in their police or in their fire department, or whatever the case may be, to
be able to effectively respond to a given situation.
Senator Pépin: When you say you have assessed the threat, well, clearly
we have no choice but to trust you as far as that information goes. And yet, as
parliamentarians, we often have the feeling that we are not being told
everything. I understand that you have to protect information and that there are
times when you cannot release certain information. However, the answer I got
from a previous witness was that he had no information about the question I had
asked, when in fact, that information was on the Internet. You can always count
on cooperation from parliamentarians. Yet the impression remains that we are not
being told everything we should.
As concerns computer networks, we are told that the Senate's computer system
could easily be targeted by hackers. Canada is highly dependent on its computer
systems. Do we have reason to remain optimistic in the face of threats of
cyber-terrorism and are we able to respond effectively to such threats?
Supt. Pilgrim: At the present time I understand OCIPEP are in the process
of conducting an assessment. I believe this afternoon that you will probably
hear more details of that with respect to the vulnerabilities and the level of
preparedness with respect to our information systems. Those witnesses may be in
a better position to respond to questions of that nature.
Senator Pépin: We have to wonder if making the law more severe will dissuade
cyber-terrorists or if they will find another way to proceed.
The Chairman: Superintendent Pilgrim, earlier in the discussion you
talked about Canada being less of a target than the United States; is that
Supt. Pilgrim: That is correct.
The Chairman: Therefore, we do not need the same measures that they need,
being a major target?
Supt. Pilgrim: That is correct.
The Chairman: The concern that some of the members of the committee are
trying to address is that if we do not provide a sufficient level of security at
our borders, then the Americans will close the borders to us. That is the
conundrum that Senator Atkins was trying to reflect to you that we are hearing
from American legislators. They are saying, "Look, we would prefer it if
you folks took care of the problem at your borders, but if you are not going to
do it, we will do it at our borders." Do you have a comment on that?
Supt. Pilgrim: Except for some of the issues that have been raised
publicly concerning the immigration issues and that are being addressed, I
believe that Canadians are addressing those issues. We have measures in place
through Canada Customs and the enforcement agencies to address the issue of
criminal activity across borders.
With that in mind, the arrangements, the partnerships and the joint training we
are seeing between agencies on both sides of the border, in my view, will go a
long way with respect to developing not only a stronger response capability but
also a detection capability. We are seeing a sharing of information and
intelligence between agencies, with a cooperative spirit. There is an
understanding that the border may very well be vulnerable, on either side of the
border. There has always been a high degree of cooperation but there seems to be
more of a willingness to develop stronger methods and means of dealing with
specific issues. We see that from the cross-border crime forum, in some of the
counterterrorism committees or fora that I am personally involved in or have
been involved in over the last several years. There is definitely a higher
degree of sharing of information and a sense of working closer together to
respond or deal with some of those criticisms or issues.
The Chairman: Are there no-go areas for police anywhere along our
Supt. Pilgrim: No, none of which I am aware. I know that was an issue
that came up several years ago with a previous committee. The response at that
time is that there are no no-go areas. That is still the case.
The Chairman: Let me rephrase the question: Are there places where police
officers go less frequently than others?
Supt. Pilgrim: It depends on the arrangements that are in place. Where
other police forces have jurisdiction, or there are other policing arrangements,
it may well be the case that an RCMP member may not go there as frequently as he
would if it were strictly an RCMP jurisdiction. With respect to a no-go area,
that is not the case.
The Chairman: Do RCMP officers move freely through Akwesasne?
Supt. Pilgrim: My understanding is that they have a working arrangement
in Akwesasne that allows for the RCMP to work within that particular area. I do
not have any specific details on the arrangement, but my understanding is that
yes, we do work within the Akwesasne area.
The Chairman: In response to Senator Atkins' car problems, you said that
you were not sure that any amount of resources would be sufficient to deal with
the container problem in ports.
Supt. Pilgrim: The container problem in ports is massive. I go back to my
days of working on the East Coast. There are a large number of ships coming in
and out of ports on a daily basis. This has always been one of the areas that we
have been concerned with, a means to be able to enforce effectively, or at least
have a comfortable level of detail to indicate, what is coming in and what is
not. I know that Canada Customs has a process in place whereby they look at
particular containers. We work hand-in-hand with customs and the police of other
jurisdictions in this respect.
To say that no level of resources would resolve the issue might not be correct.
However, by the same token, it would be difficult to place a number on it at
this point without effectively assessing the entire situation. I am not saying
that that assessment is not being done. I know we are looking at all ports on a
constant basis to ensure that our approach in dealing with the ports is as
effective as it possibly can be.
The Chairman: I appreciate your candour, Supt. Pilgram. However, it
sounds as if you are telling this committee that our ports are open to
Supt. Pilgrim: To say there is no smuggling would not be correct. To say
they are open to smuggling, I cannot give you that assessment. From an
enforcement perspective, smuggling, contraband, drugs and human smuggling are
areas of concern and priorities for the RCMP, and they are being addressed. To
say our ports are open for smuggling, I would not give it that assessment.
Senator Atkins: Having said all that, do you not think that it would be a
good idea if there were a federal agency charged with policing the ports
throughout this country? That would be a deterrent if people knew they were
there. The way it is now, there is a sense that smugglers can get away with
something, and they are willing to take their chances. Was it a good idea to
eliminate the port police?
Supt. Pilgrim: My understanding is that that was a political decision. It
would not be appropriate for me to second-guess it.
Senator Atkins: I do not expect you to do that. It seems to me that we
made a big mistake when we got rid of them.
Supt. Pilgrim: I know that the police of jurisdiction at the various
ports are doing their best to respond to criminal activity that it is alleged is
being committed at the ports. The RCMP and other agencies are working
hand-in-hand, trying to respond to that concern. The situation would have to be
assessed to determine whether there is a need for another ports police, as would
the overall effectiveness of replacing the existing regime with something new.
Senator Atkins: A division of the RCMP?
Supt. Pilgrim: I will let you make that recommendation.
Senator Forrestall: As an observation, part of this is an economic
function. I have been told in the past, and I have no reason to doubt it, that
were we to examine every single container coming into the Montreal and Halifax
ports, they would grind to a halt. It takes a minimum of 40 minutes to offload,
redirect, position, open, have a dog sniff, close, back up and put a container
back into the process. With 1,040 containers on big ships, how much time is
that? No economic process will allow that, no matter how great the risk. There
has to be way, and the best way, which seems to work most of the time, is
intelligence and surveillance.
Supt. Pilgrim: We cannot underestimate that.
Senator Forrestall: There seems to be a little confusion on this. We need
port police. There is no question about that. This burden has been passed to the
local police, who are untrained. They are doing a very good job, but it is a
Supt. Pilgrim:We cannot underestimate the value of intelligence,
information and the cooperative spirit to ensure that the information is being
shared. To echo your comments, there is no question that it is the key element
in this entire issue.
Senator Forrestall: It is a difficult problem.
Supt. Pilgrim: Yes, it is.
The Chairman: Thank you, Supt. Pilgrim. We appreciate your testimony
The committee adjourned.