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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 5 - Evidence, December 2 (Morning session), 2002


OTTAWA, Monday, December 2, 2002

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 9:30 a.m. to examine and report on the need for a national security policy for Canada.

Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. Today, we continue our study on the need for a national security policy by looking at the issue of airport security.

My name is Colin Kenny, from Ontario, and I chair the committee. On my immediate right is our Deputy Chair, the distinguished Senator Michael Forrestall from Nova Scotia. After an early career as a journalist with the Halifax Chronicle-Herald and as an airline executive, Senator Forrestall entered politics and was first elected to the House of Commons in 1965. He served the constituents of Dartmouth as their Member of the House of Commons for 25 years and for the past 12 years as their Senator. Senator Forrestall was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport in 1985 and 1986. Throughout his parliamentary career, he has followed defence matters, serving on various parliamentary committees, including the 1993 Special Joint Committee on the Future of Canada's Armed Forces, as well as representing Canada at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

On my extreme right is Senator Jack Wiebe from Saskatchewan — one of Saskatchewan's leading citizens — who has been a highly successful farmer and a member of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly. In 1994, he became the first farmer to be appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the province in almost 50 years. Senator Wiebe first became known in Saskatchewan as a leader in the farm community. He and his family built a thriving farm in the Main Centre district of the province, and from 1968 to 1970, he was owner and president of L & W Feeders Limited. Senator Wiebe is Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, which is currently examining the impact of climate change on farming and forestry practices across the country.

Beside him is Senator Norman Atkins from Ontario. He came to the Senate in 1986 with a strong background in the field of communications. He also served as adviser to former Premier Davis of Ontario. A graduate in economics from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Senator Atkins received an Honorary Doctorate in Civil Law in 2000 from his alma matter. During his time as a senator, he has championed the cause of the Canadian Merchant Navy veterans and is a member of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. Currently, Senator Atkins is Chair of the Senate Conservative Caucus and is Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration.

Beside him is Senator Jane Cordy from Nova Scotia. An accomplished educator, she also has an extensive record of community involvement. Senator Cordy earned a teaching certificate from the Nova Scotia Teacher's College and a Bachelor of Education from Mount St. Vincent University. She has served as Vice-Chair of the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission and is Chair of the Board of Referees for the Halifax Region of Human Resources Development Canada. In addition to serving on our committee, she is also a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs that recently released a landmark report on health care. Senator Cordy is an active participant in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and has just returned from meetings in Istanbul.

On the far left is Senator Joe Day from New Brunswick. He holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from the Royal Military College in Kingston, an LLB from Queen's University and a Master of Laws from Osgoode Hall. Prior to his appointment to the Senate in 2001, Senator Day had a distinguished and successful private practice. His legal interests include patent and trademark law and intellectual property issues. Senator Day is the Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance that has just finished studying the Supplementary Estimates and is now looking at the operations of the National Capital Commission and the Treasury Board's role in granting emergency funds. He is also a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, which is just finishing its study on intercity busing. In addition, he serves as Deputy Chair of the Subcommittee on Veteran's Affairs.

Beside him is Senator Tommy Banks from Alberta. Senator Banks is well-known to Canadians as one of our most accomplished and versatile entertainers. A Juno-Award-winning musician, Senator Banks is an international standard bearer for Canadian culture. From 1968 to 1983, he was the host of The Tommy Banks Show. He also served as guest conductor with symphony orchestras throughout Canada and the United States. In 1991, Senator Banks was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 1993, was awarded the Alberta Order of Excellence. Senator Banks is Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, which is currently studying Bill C-5, the Species at Risk Act.

Our committee is the first permanent Senate committee with a mandate to examine subjects of security and defence. Over the past 16 months, we have concluded a seven-month study of major issues facing Canada and have produced a report entitled, ``Canadian Security and Military Preparedness.''

We have also issued a report on coastal defence entitled ``Defence of North America: A Canadian Responsibility.'' This past week our committee released a report entitled ``For an Extra 130 Bucks...Update on Canada's Military Crisis, a View from the Bottom Up.''

The Senate has now asked our committee to examine the need for a national security policy. Today we focus on airport security. So far, our committee has visited airports in Montreal and Vancouver and held hearings on this subject in Toronto in June and in Ottawa during the summer and fall.

Last Wednesday we heard from Mr. William Elliott, Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Transport Canada. The committee did not have sufficient time to complete our questions, so we agreed to have a second round today.

Mr. Elliott, welcome once again to the committee. Could you please introduce your colleagues to us?

Mr. William Elliott, Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Transport Canada: Yes. Honourable senators, to my right is Janet Luloff, Acting Director for Regulatory Affairs in our security and emergency preparedness directorate. On my left is John Barrette, the Director of Security Operations in that directorate.

The Chairman: Thank you. Once again, welcome back. Thank you for taking the time to come and help us with this study.

Senator Banks: When we spoke on Wednesday last, Mr. Elliott, I had asked you a question about the approximate present percentage of bags that are being screened, that is, checked baggage. You had said that you might ask the minister whether you could make that information available to us. I had asked that you do that through the clerk. Have you had a conversation in that respect? Can you tell us anything about that now?

Mr. Elliott: I have had a discussion with the minister. I am not in a position to add anything to what I indicated on Wednesday.

Senator Banks: Should we ask the minister about that question?

Mr. Elliott: Yes.

Senator Banks: I remind you that we are not after specifics; we are after a ballpark figure.

As we said before, everyone who flies knows that all carry-on baggage is carefully and well screened. I do not believe that anyone complains about that any more.

Checked baggage is an area of concern, the baggage that we check in at an airline counter, which goes down a hole to be seen next at the final destination, one hopes. The United States has undertaken to have 100 per cent of that checked baggage screened in fairly short order. Many of their major airports have been doing that for well over a year now, long before September 11, beginning, for example, with Salt Lake City. Their target is January next, that is to say, a month from now.

We know that they will not entirely make that target, however, many airports will. They are fairly confident that the remainder that are not able to screen 100 per cent of the luggage now will be able to do so within the next couple of years at the outside. That is the American view.

Now, we have heard that the consensus from the international agreement to which Canada is adhering is that that should be achieved by 2006. You were hopeful that it might be achieved earlier than that, however, as that is a long way from now.

Given that the international agreement is among, I presume, nations from different continents, we are right next to the United States and many of our airplanes fly there and vice versa, what measures are we taking to fill that gap between our target date of 2006 and the American target time of January 2003? That is a fairly significant gap between us and our closest neighbour, and the place to which most of us fly internationally.

Mr. Elliott: As was mentioned, the screening of checked bags was the subject of discussion at the International Civil Aviation Organization prior to September 11, 2001. It was recognized that it was desirable to have countries move forward on screening the checked bags, particularly for explosives.

We have begun work in that regard. ICAO has indicated a date of January 1, 2006. A considerable amount of the money that is being provided to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority is for the acquisition and deployment of explosive detection equipment. Prior to the creation of CATSA, the Minister of Transport announced that $55.7 million, I believe, was being allocated to purchase that equipment.

CATSA has proceeded with other purchases. Initially, much of the equipment went towards the screening of carry- on bags. Equipment is now being deployed for the screening of checked bags. I believe that considerations of where that equipment will go and how soon screening will take place include, in part, a consideration with respect to the U.S.

One of our priorities is dealing with flights to the United States. Another is dealing with U.S. officials to give them some comfort with respect to the steps that we are taking in Canada that may impact on their security.

We have been concerned in many of the things that we have done since September 11 about the border between Canada and the United States and the free flow of goods and people across that border.

Senator Banks: That is important. I certainly do not believe that we should tap dance necessarily to the tune of the Americans, or anyone else. However, in terms of the priorities, what is the difference between the way we are doing it, aiming at 2006, and the way that the Americans are doing it, substantially meeting their goal of 100 per cent screening by next month? We are saying we will substantially meet that goal in 2006. What is the difference in the priorities? Is there something that I do not understand? There must be something that I do not understand here. If we believe it is necessary at all, why can we not do it in approximately the same timeline?

I am assuming that when the department determined that we were going to impose the $12-per-person fee, it had some vague idea that that was going to cover the costs. Why is it going to take us, in effect, five years to do what the Americans will have done in two?

Mr. Elliott: Honourable senators, as I indicated, the intention is to get on with the screening of checked bags as quickly as possible.

You mentioned the financing. The Department of Finance and the Minister of Finance set the air traveller's security fee in the 2001 budget and the budget for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, including with respect to the purchase of equipment. Those funds are being provided to CATSA over the time frame that we have discussed.

Senator Banks: Is it money? Is it that we cannot do it approximately as quickly as, for example, the Americans, because we do not have enough money?

Mr. Elliott: I believe there are a number of considerations. CATSA has been provided with money over a number of years to purchase equipment.

When it comes to the screening of checked bags, there are a number of practical considerations as well.

Senator Banks: Surely the Americans face the same practical considerations that we do. They fly the same kind of airplanes over the same kind of distances. Flights between our two countries are, for all intents and purposes, ``domestic'' because of the enormous amount of traffic to which you have referred. What is the difference? What is the impediment that is keeping us from getting to the same place at approximately the same time?

Mr. Elliott: Certainly the Americans are experiencing some difficulty in meeting their time frames. I was just at a meeting of airport authorities in Salt Lake City. The airport authorities in the United States are very concerned about the practicality of getting high-volume screening systems, particularly, in place at an early date.

Senator Banks: Salt Lake City has been screening 100 per cent of their baggage since 2001.

Mr. Elliott: Perhaps just to clarify, the meeting that I attended was in Salt Lake City, but it was of airport authorities from across the United States and Canada.

Senator Banks: I guess there is no definable answer. We do things differently, and our priorities are different. If someone arrived here in a bottle they would likely say, ``Well, these people are being efficient and these people are not being efficient.''

How would we answer that? It is taking us three or four years longer to do something that we agree is necessary. If we said it was not necessary, I would understand that. However, we do say it is necessary. Why would it take us three years longer when we are umbilically connected in terms of transportation? Is there a clear answer?

Mr. Elliott: I do not have a clear answer, senator. I believe I have raised issues with respect to money and practicality. The U.S. administration has adopted a date, which I think is based in part on their perception of the level of risk.

Many airport authorities at the meeting I attended would suggest that Canada is taking a more practical approach than that adopted in the United States. However, I really do not have a view on that.

The Chairman: In order to have a better understanding of your position, Mr. Elliott, your first comment was that Finance Canada is providing CATSA with a certain amount of money. The implication was that they are not providing them with enough money to move at the same speed as the Americans.

The second point you made to us was that there were problems with the facilities, and Senator Banks said the facilities must be about the same as in the United States. Could you clarify how ours are different from theirs?

The third point you have raised with us is the different perception of risk.

Could you clarify those three points for the committee, please?

Mr. Elliott: First of all, with respect to finances, Senator, I indicated that the budget established for CATSA, as set out in the December 2001 budget statement by the Minister of Finance, provides CATSA with funds over a number of years for the purchase of equipment.

It may be a little chicken and eggish. The time frame established for the deployment of explosive detection equipment and the budget are on the same cycle, so I am not sure how you would determine cause and effect.

I was not suggesting any significant differences at airports in Canada as compared to the United States. Putting high-volume explosive detection screening equipment in American airports and Canadian airports is a complicated challenge. In some instances, it requires changes to the physical layout of airports. Some of the equipment is quite large.

There are practical considerations with respect to installing a system. You cannot do it overnight.

I am not in a position to speak, based on any special knowledge, to the United States' perception of risk. As I said, their government has established a target date that is certainly in advance of ours.

The Chairman: Does CATSA have the capacity to borrow?

Mr. Elliott: The answer to that question is a bit complicated. I may not be the best one to answer that, but I can tell you what I do know.

I believe they have the capacity to borrow, subject to the approval of either the Minister of Finance or the Treasury Board. I am not quite certain.

I know that the issue of CATSA's ability to borrow came up in the context of discussion and debate on the legislation that created it. My understanding at that time was that there was no impediment to borrowing in their legislation. Their corporate plans are approved by the Treasury Board. I believe that the Treasury Board could also approve borrowing.

The Chairman: If there were a lag in the taxes collected and they decided to proceed at a faster rate, would borrowing be a potential recourse?

Mr. Elliott: Yes. I might clarify it, Senator. Again, that is more a question for Finance Canada than for Transport Canada. However, the finances provided to CATSA do not come directly from the air security charge. Their finances are provided by appropriations on approval of their corporate plan. Their budgets are not completely in synch with the projected revenues from the air traveller's security charge.

The Chairman: We understand that. It is of great concern to this committee that we find it very difficult to trace where the funds go once they land in the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The Auditor General has also indicated that she will have some problems with it. I do not think you are the witness with whom we should be pursuing that, but we will pursue at some point.

Senator Banks: I am still dissatisfied with the nature of the answers to the question about the difference in alacrity with which we are tackling and achieving something we agree is necessary. I will leave here dissatisfied with the answers, because it sounds to me like the tail is wagging the dog. With respect to money, CATSA started spending money before we collected the $12, so they got the money from somewhere. One assumes it was the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Did CATSA indeed begin to spend money before we began to collect the $12?

Mr. Elliott: The bill appropriated funds to the authority.

Senator Banks: That means they began spending money almost immediately, before we even had an idea about a $12 fee, so they do not have any trouble getting money. This is what I am worried about, and this is an analogy that we used earlier: If there is a fire, I do not want somebody to tell me they will send the second fire truck as soon as they have the money, but it is budgeted for next year. We would need the fire trucks now. I will leave it there, because if we have agreed that these measures are necessary, I do not understand why we are going to be three or four years behind the Americans in substantially achieving them. I have not heard an answer yet today, other than money.

When you say that the equipment is heavy, it is as heavy in Kalispell, Montana as in Lethbridge. When you say it is expensive, it is the same at Lax or Pearson. When you say it requires structural changes, yes, that would be true in both Chicago and Calgary. However, none of those things add up to anything other than what sounds to me like a budgeting/bureaucratic foul-up, which has us doing something we agree is necessary later than our neighbours. If you do not think it is necessary, that is the third question, which you said you could not address.

Everyone who flies knows that every airport is always under construction; it never stops. Edmonton, where I fly from every day, is under construction. Ottawa, where I end up every day or every week, is under construction. Toronto is under construction.

Senator Day: Saint John, New Brunswick is under construction.

Senator Banks: Halifax is under construction, Moncton; you cannot name one that is not.

Have we been able to intercede in the planning and construction that go on in those airports? I know that they are under the jurisdiction of local authorities in many cases. However, the department is still essentially the landlord, I believe.

Have we been able to make sure that the alterations going on in those airports, in respect of load-bearing capacity for those heavy machines and routing of baggage, take these new imperatives into account? Are we going to find, as so many of us notice with cities, that someone comes along, paves the street, then two weeks later it has to be dug up because the water main has to be fixed? Are the renovations underway in these airports, of which your department is the landlord, taking into account these new needs?

Mr. Elliott: I believe if the minister were here, he would point to the success of the government's policy on the devolution of airports as being evident in the capital investment in airports.

Senator Banks: We are making that capital investment every time we board an airplane.

Mr. Elliott: With respect to construction at airports across the country, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority is directly involved in discussions about the requirements for equipment that CATSA will be installing and operating. There has been discussion with individual airports and with the Canadian Airports Council.

Certainly, it is no surprise to airports that equipment will need to be installed in their facilities. Mark Duncan, who is a vice-president with CATSA, and who I believe appeared before this committee, is the lead on dealing with airports.

There have been specific discussions. I cannot speak exhaustively on the topic, but I know that there have been discussions about the airports in Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton, Halifax and Toronto. Those airports are building facilities and adjusting their plans in order to accommodate the CATSA equipment.

An agreement has been reached with the airport authority in Timmins. I am aware of that because those discussions started before CATSA was created.

Senator Forrestall: You probably have some sense by now of the committee's frustration. Generally, we were somewhat pleased that the department will be introducing an enhanced restricted area pass system that will include the use of central data banks supporting the issuance, verification, cancellation and tracking of restricted area passes. The system will accommodate some form of a biometric indicator.

Could you give us some indication of whether the biometric indicator has been chosen? If it has, at what stage is the development of these passes? When might we expect to see them issued and in service?

I gather they are not now available on a universal basis. When do you expect them to be in place?

Mr. Elliott: Transport Canada has looked at a number of different biometrics. As I mentioned when I was here last week, my department has invested considerable resources in automated fingerprint identification systems. We have also done some work on iris scans. The Canada Customs and Revenue Agency has invested in that technology.

We have begun discussions with Canada Customs and Revenue Agency to try to coordinate our efforts. They work quite closely with us on the background check program for airport workers. I would say that fingerprint reading and iris scanning are the two leading candidates.

Regarding where we are with respect to implementing the enhanced system, the minister made an announcement on November 5, 2002. We have had some discussions with CATSA, and CATSA has had some preliminary discussions with airport authorities. My expectation is that it may take about a year for this new system to be implemented.

Senator Forrestall: Have you identified a preference for the type of system, or are you still open-minded about this? It will have flexible application requirements.

Mr. Elliott: I would say, senator, from a departmental perspective, our preference at this point is for fingerprints because that is technology that we are now using. We work with the RCMP to check criminal records. However, one of our partners, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, has made investments in iris scanning, so there are some things to be worked out.

Senator Forrestall: Is there any merit in getting your act together, or is there some merit in perhaps going with more than one system in the event one were to break down? We know what technology can do to systems.

Mr. Elliott: I would say it is a requirement that we get our act together, but that does not necessarily mean that we would universally rely on one biometric.

Senator Forrestall: I am pleased to hear that. What is the timetable for the introduction again? You think that the system will be installed within a year — by early 2004?

Mr. Elliott: When I say ``about a year,'' senator, I mean about a year from now. However, we do not have a well- developed, detailed work plan. We are in the process of developing one.

Senator Forrestall: Who will be responsible in the first instance for the issuance of new passes?

Mr. Elliott: The details need to be worked out, but my current expectation is that airports will likely continue to issue passes that relate uniquely to their facilities. CATSA will likely issue passes that provide individuals with access to restricted areas at more than one airport.

Senator Forrestall: We will have multiple levels of responsibility? Is there one overall authority at Pearson Airport that would be responsible for the issuance of a pass?

Mr. Elliott: As I said, my expectation is that at Pearson, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority will be responsible for issuing passes for access to their facilities. There are already preconditions to the issuance of passes.

As I mentioned the other day, before a restricted area pass can be issued under the current regime, a security clearance must be obtained from the Minister of Transport. In addition to that clearance application, which system is currently in place, the issuance of the pass by Pearson would be supported by a database maintained by CATSA.

Senator Forrestall: Let's talk about the database.

We have a negative system now. We are looking for the bad guys. Will there be the introduction of a positive aspect? In other words, will we check against a data bank of valid passes in addition to those that are done for invalid passes?

Mr. Elliott: I personally would like to see us get to the point where an individual would be issued a pass with biometric identifiers incorporated. That pass would be linked to a database and to an access control system at the airport.

People would use their restricted area pass to gain entry through a door that would open when the card was swiped. If the pass were revoked, it would not open the door.

Senator Forrestall: That sounds neat and tidy. However, it does not answer the question of whether or not the data bank would be made up of invalid passes.

Mr. Elliott: I would envisage the data bank —

Senator Forrestall: — the data bank alone. What else would be in that data bank?

Mr. Elliott: As I envisage it, senator, if I were to get a job at the Ottawa International Airport, for example, that required me to work in a restricted area, I would fill out an application form for a clearance and, ultimately, assuming that my background check was satisfactory, I would be issued a pass. Who I am, by whom I was employed, that I had been given access to the Ottawa airport and all of the details about the issuance of the pass would be on that database.

Senator Forrestall: What you are saying scares me a little. We have a pass that people can swipe and have access to the door. My secretary uses my banking card from time to time. Nothing in that banking machine identifies her as anyone other than myself; how do you guard against that?

Mr. Elliott: There is now new technology, senator. I have seen demonstrations of where, in order to gain access, you do two things: You put your thumb on a fingerprint-scanning instrument and you swipe your card.

Senator Forrestall: We are now getting there.

I wondered how you got around that. Are we looking at a fingerprint and then a straight digital, numerical or some other process of identifying or linking the pass?

Mr. Elliott: The best system would be one where there are actually two links. First, your thumbprint would be linked to the biometric on the card. That would demonstrate that the person presenting the card was the person to whom it was issued. Second, there would be a link to a database to confirm that the pass was valid.

Senator Forrestall: What happens if the computers break down? How do you then check the validity of a pass?

Mr. Elliott: Certainly things break down. What one tries to do is to build in a certain amount of redundancy. Again, I have seen technology that is similar to that you see in retail stores, where you can swipe your card to pay either by charge or debit. There are now wireless, hand-held versions of those instruments.

Senator Forrestall: Could you summarize this for us? Where are we today in real time? Where do you expect us to be 12 and 24 months from now, in terms of the capacity of individuals to work in and around the airports? When I say ``individuals,'' I refer to groomers, caterers, people who fuel planes, the whole lot. Can you give us a progressive report?

Mr. Elliott: I can tell you where we are now. I have just been talking about where we would like to be and the direction in which we are going. At the moment, local airport authorities issue passes. There is no centralized data bank with respect to those passes. We do have a data bank with respect to clearances or background checks. Transport Canada maintains a database with respect to those people for whom we have processed security clearances. However, currently, we do not have a central place that I could consult and tell you how many passes there are. Basically, airport authorities issue passes independently once a security clearance has been given to an individual.

The Pearson airport authority could probably tell you how many passes they have issued, as could the Edmonton authority. However, we do not have a central system at the moment.

Senator Forrestall: That is scary and alarming. Could you tell me how many cancelled passes have not been turned? How many airline employees have left and gone on to other employment, or been fired, whatever the cause, and have failed to surrender their passes?

Mr. Elliott: I cannot give you a precise number. There is no easy way for me to develop that answer.

Senator Forrestall: I will ask you this: Can you not give that figure to us or will you not? There is a difference. I am not faulting you for it; I am just saying there could be an enormous difference in how I interpret your response.

Mr. Elliott: Unfortunately, the answer is we do not know.

Senator Forrestall: Is it in your interest to learn the answer? Would that be time well spent?

Mr. Elliott: It is not at all desirable that we do not have readily accessible information with respect to a number of things relating to passes. That is why we are developing a better pass system. There are currently requirements for airport authorities with respect to the management and tracking of their passes. We do audit those activities. However, there is not one central storehouse of information.

Senator Forrestall: Perhaps we will have a little paragraph in our next report that suggests you might look at that.

I ask this question because on June 24, 2002, witnesses advised us that the identification passes being used at Pearson would be quite easy to forge. Indeed, you could do it for as little as $3 or $4; could you comment on that?

Mr. Elliott: We have been encouraging airports to make their passes difficult to replicate. We have identified five or six things that can be incorporated in passes. I believe that at least some airports are building those into the passes that they issue.

One of the things want to do, as we develop this enhanced pass system, is to make it more difficult for passes to be duplicated.

Senator Forrestall: Is it cost effective to renew passes quarterly, annually, or at some other pre-determined date? Once you have the data, surely it is not expensive to issue a new pass. I say that simply as a suggestion. On January 1 of each year, you would know that everyone has a new pass that is valid and up to date.

Mr. Elliott: Some airports have done just that. Since September last year, they have cancelled passes and issued new ones.

Senator Forrestall: My final area of questioning has to do with some disturbing reports. Indeed, one or two of these incidents occurred while we were in session in public hearings. The Air Line Pilots Association warned the committee on August 14 of this year that terrorists were targeting pilots' uniforms and credentials and that pilots were afraid that terrorists posing as undercover police officers might use forged passes.

Can you comment on that? Do you have an idea, for example, of the number of reports, inside or outside Canada, that have been made to authorities with respect to stolen or lost multi-airport passes such as the ones carried by aircrew?

Mr. Elliott: I know there have been two or three incidents where concerns were raised about pilots' uniforms. I will ask Mr. Barrette whether we have any information with respect to the senator's question.

Mr. Jean Barrette, Director, Security Operations, Safety and Security Group, Transport Canada: If I remember well, on two occasions we investigated allegations about stolen pilots' uniforms. We investigated both incidents but we did not uncover any evidence. We have had one case, however, in which both a uniform and a laptop computer were stolen. Again, we investigated the incident and did not come up with any real evidence.

Mr. Elliott: There have also been suggestions that people are posing as police. We have no knowledge of an incident of that kind. Again, I would say that that is a potential threat, and one of the things that we would like to safeguard against, particularly as we design and implement the new pass system.

Senator Forrestall: Do you have any system of audit for these passes and impersonation incidents? Do you have any way of checking these?

Mr. Elliott: Whenever an incident occurs, we certainly investigate it, and we do have a system of auditing airports with respect to their issuance and tracking of passes.

The Chairman: Have all the Canada 3000 passes been recovered yet?

Mr. Elliott: I am informed that there are 172 passes outstanding. We have assessed monetary penalties with respect to those.

The Chairman: I am trying to register that. Did you say you fined a bankrupt company because there are 172 passes that have not been returned yet?

Mr. Elliott: I believe we have taken enforcement action against individuals. We were in contact with 700 individuals. Some 172 people did not return their restricted area passes.

The Chairman: How do you deal with the passes? That is why you are looking for invalid passes, is it not?

Mr. Elliott: As I mentioned the other day when I was here, the pass issued to a former employee of Canada 3000 would identify that person as an employee of that company. Canada 3000 passes are no longer valid.

The Chairman: If I understood you correctly when you were describing the new pass system, Transport Canada will issue passes for aircrew moving from airport to airport, but individual airports will still continue to issue their own passes?

Mr. Elliott: I indicated that that is what I thought was likely, but decisions on that have not yet been taken.

The Chairman: A press release has gone out. What does that press release mean?

Mr. Elliott: The press release indicates that we are moving forward to develop, implement and enhance restricted area passes, and that we are working with CATSA and airport authorities to do that.

The Chairman: You have announced that you are starting to work on the passes, but you do not know whether the airport authorities or Transport Canada will be issuing them?

Mr. Elliott: I do not envisage Transport Canada issuing passes. I envisage that CATSA will issue passes and airport authorities will issue passes of a different kind, but supported by similar biometrics and databases. However, the decision on that has not been taken. We are beginning consultations with airport authorities with respect to the pass system. We will develop some options. We will then make some decisions.

The Chairman: Is it fair to say that when all is said and done, a year from now or whenever it is complete, the same preventive systems will be in place for all passes to ensure that they are not counterfeit, and that the same biometric system will be in place on all the passes so that there will be a common system from coast to coast?

Mr. Elliott: That is my expectation, yes.

The Chairman: Turning to what you rely on for these passes, it is CSIS and CPIC checks?

Mr. Elliott: Yes, in addition to background checks and credit history.

The Chairman: Who carries out the background checks and credit history?

Mr. Elliott: The RCMP checks for criminal records. CSIS also does a check. Perhaps Mr. Barrette could expand on the credit history and who does what.

Mr. Barrette: Basically, three checks are done, as Mr. Elliott confirmed. In fact, CSIS does the security check on the individual, while the RCMP does the criminal record check.

The Chairman: Just so we can be clear, Mr. Barrette, when you say CSIS does a security check, that simply means their name is typed into a computer and, if they have previously been of interest to CSIS, it comes up, but you are not suggesting that CSIS sends out people to investigate each person, are you?

Mr. Barrette: I cannot speak on behalf of CSIS. I know that their role in the Transport Canada program is to verify the security background of individuals and whether they have any kind of affiliation with certain organizations.

Senator Forrestall: Do you not require them to meet a certain standard?

Mr. Barrette: I do not have these details.

The Chairman: Could you provide this committee with the information? It is our understanding that it is simply a question of whether they have come to the attention of CSIS or not; and if they have not, they say, ``We have not heard of these people before,'' and that is it.

Mr. Elliott: My understanding is that you are correct; CSIS does not conduct a field investigation for every clearance application.

The Chairman: In fact, it does not for any, does it?

Mr. Elliott: They may conduct a field investigation if they feel it is warranted.

The Chairman: Do you have knowledge of that, Mr. Elliott?

Mr. Elliott: That is my understanding.

The Chairman: How about CPIC? Is it simply a question of whether they have a criminal record or not?

Mr. Elliott: Yes. There may be some further information from CPIC on arrests that are pending trial. Generally speaking, however, yes, the criminal records check is for an existing criminal record.

The Chairman: We have been advised that people with criminal records are still hired and still receive passes; is that correct?

Mr. Elliott: That may occur, yes.

The Chairman: Are the credit history checks carried out by Transport Canada or CATSA?

Mr. Elliott: They are not carried out by CATSA. CATSA has no direct role in the clearance program. The clearance is given or denied by or on behalf of the Minister of Transport. I understand we carry out the credit history check.

The Chairman: Do you have an investigative group that does this or do you contract the work out? How do you check a potential employee's background?

Mr. Elliott: Another of the directors in the security and emergency preparedness group, our director of intelligence, runs this program.

The Chairman: He carries out credit checks. What other kind of checks does he carry out?

Mr. Elliott: I believe it is employment history and credit record.

The Chairman: Is it Transport Canada or the airport authorities that make the final judgment as to whether or not the pass shall be issued?

Mr. Elliott: There is a panel that reviews applications for security clearances from the Minister of Transport. That group consists of a representative each of Transport Canada, the Department of Justice and the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. A decision is then made as to whether a clearance will be granted or denied. That information is then conveyed to the airport authority. Under our current system, it is the airport authority that decides whether or not to issue a pass. If there is no security clearance, they cannot issue one. If there is a security clearance, they may issue a pass.

The Chairman: What criteria do the airport authorities use, above and beyond your clearance process, to go ahead with the pass?

Mr. Elliott: That largely would be based on whether individuals require access to a restricted area at an airport for purposes of their employment.

The Chairman: How long does it take to provide passes to airport and construction workers? Can any of these people work without having gone through the clearance process?

Mr. Elliott: Can you indicate, Mr. Barrette, how long it takes to process an application for clearance?

Ms. Barrette: It all depends on the information and the background of the individual.

For most cases, the turnaround is rather rapid, between 48 hours to a week, approximately.

For those cases that require further investigation, individuals are allowed in certain restricted areas with what we call ``temporary passes'' with security control. Someone who has had a full background check escorts these individuals, and they must be under surveillance or allowed into a sterile area only. They can remain in the sterile area only as long as they and their goods have been subjected to security controls. This is while they are awaiting the issuance of their clearance.

The Chairman: Could you have a dozen workers under the supervision of one person who has a pass?

Ms. Barrette: There is a ratio of supervisors to the number of employees under surveillance, to maintain control over these individuals.

The Chairman: What is that ratio?

Ms. Barrette: I do not have it off the top of my head.

The Chairman: Roughly, is it one to one, ten to one or a hundred to one?

Ms. Barrette: I believe it is five or six to one. However, I would have to verify that, senator.

Senator Banks: We have heard evidence from several people, and the Chair has just mentioned it, that there are numbers of people who have criminal records working airside in various airports.

I understand that if I had a motor-vehicle-related criminal record, it should not be an impediment to my becoming a baggage handler or refuelling person.

Where is the line drawn? What kind of criminal record would preclude someone from getting an airside pass? Conversely, what kind of criminal record would be okay?

Mr. Elliott: The test is whether the background of the individual indicates that the person would be a risk to aviation safety, or might be subject to — in the words of the policy — ``being suborned to breach security on the part of someone else.'' I do not think there is a hard and fast rule with respect to types of criminal records. A value judgment is made based on the record.

I believe the honourable senator is quite correct. A driving offence would not be viewed the same way as a conspiracy to traffic in cocaine offence, for example.

Any offence that indicated this individual is more likely to pose a risk would be used as a basis for denying the clearance.

Senator Banks: However, the suborning part is important. It is plausible that what we have heard is true, that people who have been convicted of hybrid offences or indictable offences do possess airside passes?

Mr. Elliott: Again, senator, I would say that a judgment has to be made. Certainly, the nature of an offence is relevant. The time frame of an offence is relevant. Someone convicted of an offence 30 years ago, with an otherwise impeccable record, is in quite a different situation from someone convicted of an offence last month.

Senator Wiebe: I was not able to attend the November 27 hearing. I had a regularly scheduled committee meeting at the same time, which of course forced me to read the transcript of what took place here.

An area that I thought was not addressed completely was that of security audits of airports. We have heard witnesses say that as far as carry-on luggage screening at our airports is concerned, the audits that have been done show a highly unacceptable failure rate. I am sure that this situation has improved. After being involved in public life over the years, one has a tendency to think that when a minister or a department has good news, they are usually quite anxious to let the general public know. When they do not have good news, they have a tendency to say that the information is restricted and cannot be provided.

I am not after percentages, numbers or figures. However, can you assure us that, with respect to the security audits of screening facilities at all airports, especially the major ones — Pearson, Dorval, Mirabel and Vancouver — there has been a vast improvement as a result of that responsibility now belonging to CATSA?

Mr. Elliott: You have posed a number of questions. First, with respect to the disclosure of specific information about the testing of screening at airports, the decision not to make that information public was taken absent any specific results; it was taken shortly after September 11, 2001. It was done, in part, in discussions with officials of the United States. We quite regularly compare notes with our colleagues there.

CATSA has undertaken a number of activities, particularly in relation to the training of screeners. However, it is not currently responsible for screening at airports. It is anticipated that it will take over screening operations at the end of this calendar year.

Senator Wiebe: That sounds encouraging. Thank you for the correction.

I am extremely pleased to hear that they will now be responsible. This is similar to Transport Canada's responsibility prior to the change in our airport structure, in which those working in security at our airports were basically employees of Transport Canada. Is that correct?

Mr. Elliott: No, that is not correct. In fact, screeners at Canadian airports have always carried out their activities on behalf of air carriers. It is air carriers, under our current regulatory regime, that are required to carry out screening of passengers and their carry-on baggage.

The transfer of responsibilities envisaged by the CATSA legislation, as I said, is to take place at the end of this year. Under their legislation, CATSA has three options with respect to how they provide screening: They can hire screeners themselves, they can make arrangements through airport authorities or they can contract for services. Their intention initially is to contract for screening at airports.

The requirement that is set out in the legislation states that if they enter into contracts, they must certify both individual screening officers and the companies providing those services.

Senator Wiebe: Will those contracts also include the minimum salary and the level of training of each individual whom the contractor provides?

Mr. Elliott: My understanding is that the answer to both of those questions is yes.

Senator Wiebe: Good. You spoke about an agreement with the United States when explaining that there would be no release of the failure rates of screening audits. Yet in August of this year, there was a press release on some of the audits that were done at some of the U.S. airports. They were not very good. I stand to be corrected, but about a year ago, there was an audit released of Canadian airports, which included Pearson and Calgary, that was also not very good.

One of the disadvantages of contracting is that if you have 10 airports, you have the possibility of 10 different contract companies providing that service, and probably 10 different levels of training, although you have certain requirements or regulations in regard to what that training should entail. Would it not be in the best interest of the safety and security of Canadians to have one organization providing screening at all of our airports so that the level of training will be exactly the same, whether that screener is at a smaller airport like Regina or an international airport like Pearson?

Mr. Elliott: I would agree that uniform training is preferable. In fact, CATSA is taking steps to provide the same training to all screeners at all airports under their responsibility, and 89 airports have been so designated.

I would like to clarify something. The senator suggested that we had an agreement with the Americans. I was not suggesting that. I meant to indicate that we had some discussions with the Americans about what they were doing with the results of infiltration tests. They indicated that their intention was to no longer release that information. It was the practice prior to September 11, 2001, in both Canada and the United States, to make that information public. We did it here pursuant to an access to information request while I was Assistant Deputy Minister of the Safety and Security Group within the department.

Following September 11, 2001, however, we felt that it would be preferable not to make such information available. My understanding is that the United States administration's position is that they will not make such information available. However, I am familiar with the information to which the senator is referring. I believe some information was leaked and reported in a magazine.

Senator Wiebe: Can you provide us with some idea of how frequently these audits are done? Can you give us some comfort that, while you cannot provide us with the percentages, the failure rates have dramatically declined since the last time information was provided under the Access to Information Act?

Mr. Elliott: First, any incidence of failure is not acceptable. There have been several changes to the screening system since September 2001, including an expanded list of prohibited items.

The training that the screeners have been taking or are required to take has been upgraded and CATSA is in the process of delivering that. The most recent information I have would indicate that things are getting better.

Senator Wiebe: All right. What about the first part of my question, namely, how often are these audits done?

Mr. Elliott: Perhaps I might clarify. Infiltration tests are done — and I have conducted a number of them — whereby we try to take objects through screening points. We would not call that an audit.

We audit for a number of things. If it would be helpful, we could talk a little more about what our security inspectors do. Our security inspectors are on-site at all the major airports during the hours of operation. We regularly do infiltration tests.

Senator Wiebe: It can be safely said that every airport in Canada has had an infiltration test?

Mr. Elliott: Yes.

Senator Wiebe: Good.

Mr. Elliott: If I might clarify, the test has been done at every airport where there is screening, which is 89 airports in Canada. However, there are many more airports than that.

Senator Wiebe: That is understandable.

A favourite subject of mine, and something that causes me a lot of angst in terms of the safety and security of the people who live in our country, is that for some reason, there seems to be a vast proliferation within government of farming out security responsibilities, whether it be our police forces, our port police, our borders, our airports and so on — you name it. I believe something like five different departments are involved. Five ministers are now forming a special group, along with their deputies, to try to coordinate overall security.

Has any thought been given by your department to making a recommendation, or by the ministers involved for that matter, to do a Canadian-wide security audit on the effectiveness of all our different agencies in regards to safety and security in this country?

Mr. Elliott: The Auditor General is carrying out an audit of government expenditures on security post-September 11, 2001. However, I am not aware of any other such audit or activity.

Senator Cordy: I wish to thank you, Mr. Elliott, and your colleagues for appearing before us once again so that we can complete our questioning.

My first question concerns the Canadian Air Carrier Protective Program, probably better known by the American term, ``air marshals'' program.

You referred to it in your testimony before us last week in saying that there is a legal framework for notifying certain crew members that there is an officer on board.

We also heard testimony in November from the Air Canada Pilots Association and CUPE, which represents the flight attendants, that there are no protocols, procedures or training governing the activities of the pilots, the crews and the officers who may be on board.

All three groups were particularly concerned about this. However, the union representing flight attendants was particularly concerned that if they did not have prior knowledge of an officer on board, they might not come to the aid of an officer who has to take some action on a flight. In fact, they may interfere with or hinder the role of that officer.

I am wondering whether the Department of Transport has established protocols, or intends to establish protocols, for the cooperation of the pilots and the cabin crew with any armed police officers who may be on board.

Mr. Elliott: Firstly, the RCMP does have protocols, as I understand it, for this program, and the carriers are also required to have procedures in their operations manual.

Having said that, we have certainly heard directly from the associations and unions that the senator mentioned. They were all involved in our Aviation Security Advisory Committee. We recognized the need to change and improve training for flight crew. We are in the process of developing enhanced training with that in mind.

Senator Cordy: You said the RCMP has a protocol. Who, in fact, is notified if an officer will be on board?

Mr. Elliott: My understanding is, the pilot in charge and the chief flight attendant.

Senator Cordy: I can certainly understand the concern of the flight attendants who may be walking down the aisle of the plane and see a gun in someone's pocket, which would be startling if you were not aware that there was an officer on board.

Do you think it is necessary for more of the flight crew to be knowledgeable about whether or not an armed officer is on board?

Mr. Elliott: To be truthful, I do not know what is the right balance. I have sympathy for the views expressed by members of CUPE. For example, if I were one of their members, I would probably want to know.

On the other hand, I believe there is an advantage, and a necessity, to keeping the identity of the police officer secret, and certainly, not telling people who do not need to know. I believe it is a debateable point.

Senator Cordy: Yes, I believe it is debateable, because I also would want to know if I were a crew member. You do not want everyone in Canada to know who the armed officers are, either. I believe it is a question of trying to find a balance. Certainly, if you are working on a flight and you are concerned about the safety of the passengers, in addition to your own, it would be nice to know what you have to do, how you can best cooperate with an officer.

Mr. Elliott: Again, I notice that Deputy Commissioner Loeppky from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be before the committee this afternoon. My understanding of the program is that an officer would only intervene in extreme situations.

Senator Cordy: Are there pre-flight security briefings for the armed police officer and the flight crew?

Mr. Elliott: There is certainly no briefing of the entire flight crew with the officer.

Mr. Barrette, do you have any other information about the interaction among the officer, the chief flight attendant and the pilot in charge?

Mr. Barrette: The protective program officer will brief both the pilot and the chief flight attendant. Part and parcel of the air carrier procedures is for the chief flight attendant to brief the rest of the attendants on the plane.

Senator Cordy: They would be aware that there would be an officer on board, but just not who it would be. Is that what you are saying?

Mr. Barrette: That is correct.

Senator Forrestall: Would they not be required to advise the second officer?

Mr. Barrette: It would be the cockpit crew, so both the pilots and the first officer.

Senator Forrestall: There is quite a difference between the pilot in charge and the cockpit crew. It could extend, as well, to navigator, a spare pilot, an engineer.

Mr. Barrette: It would be the cockpit crew.

Senator Cordy: I am wondering about the cost of placing armed police officers on the flight. It must be extremely high when they are taking up an additional seat in addition to receiving their salary. I understand that if we want to fly into Reagan, we have no alternative.

However, was there any costing done, in addition to having the officer on board, for some perhaps additional security, as at some airports, when you go through the gate? When you are checking in, you are asked three standard questions about your luggage. Some airports have people going up and down the line while people are going through the security system.

Have you done any costing of that or any looking into the best value for our dollar?

Mr. Elliott: I would say it is true that the program for having RCMP officers on board flights is costly. It takes a fair amount of money to train and pay an RCMP officer.

With respect to the costs of the seat, as you may have heard from carriers, they are required to provide it at no charge to the government. However, that is a significant cost as well.

With respect to other measures, our approach has been, both before and after September 11, but certainly since then, to enhance security in a number of ways, each of which we would hope complements the other.

We have spent a considerable amount of money on the screening of passengers and their belongings, and on the program with the RCMP we have just been discussing. The government is also investing $35 million to assist carriers in fortifying the cockpit against intrusion.

Certainly, it is not our view that improvement in one area is sufficient.

Senator Cordy: It is a variety of things.

I am going to change now to a related subject that you made mention of when we were talking about the officers on board, and that is the training of the crew.

I know that Transport Canada is currently leading an internal working group dealing with cabin crew training. When you spoke to us last week, you said that the minister approved the group's recommendations in June.

You also said that the target date for implementation is the summer of 2003, which seems kind of far off to me, although it is almost 2003 now.

We heard testimony from CUPE about the lack of training for dealing with air rage, dangerous substances and terrorism. We also heard testimony that training has not been updated, that no changes have been made to it in 10 years.

What percentage of the current basic training course for flight attendants must be spent on security measures?

Mr. Elliott: I am sorry, senator. I do not know the answer to that question.

Senator Cordy: Are there refresher courses? People take basic training, but do you hold refresher courses to update knowledge of security issues for the crew?

Mr. Elliott: My understanding is that there are training requirements with respect to security and a number of related issues, including bomb threats, hijackings and security of aircraft on the ground. As I indicated in my remarks, we are in the process of updating and enhancing the requirements related to that training.

Senator Cordy: How often do people receive ongoing training?

Mr. Elliott: I believe annually, but I am not certain of that. I will have to look into it.

Senator Cordy: Many things have been implemented since September 2001. However, we have heard a suggestion that the delay in adopting updated standards of training can be attributed to disagreement within the department over who is responsible for developing the new regulations or standards. Would that be accurate?

Mr. Elliott: It has been suggested, but I do not agree with it.

Senator Cordy: Does the department stipulate how much basic training ramp workers, baggage handlers, cargo handlers and plane groomers should receive on how to identify and handle explosives, or is that strictly under the jurisdiction of the air carriers?

Mr. Elliott: I am informed that it is under the responsibility of the air carrier. We have worked on some awareness material.

I am sorry, senator, but I do not know what the requirements are for those categories of employees. I would certainly be happy to undertake to provide the committee, Mr. Chairman, with information in that regard.

The Chairman: If you could, it would be helpful. The unions have suggested that they are waiting for further training from the carriers, and the carriers are, in turn, waiting for instructions from Transport Canada. It has been suggested to the committee that the carriers could proceed with a training program now, but they are reluctant to do that for fear that Transport Canada will subsequently come forward with a slightly different program, and therefore they will have to retrain. As a consequence, no training is going ahead in this regard.

Would you provide the committee with a specific clarification that that is the process, you provide the carriers with what the training is to consist of? Would you also tell us what the timelines would be once Transport Canada decides what sort of training is appropriate, and how long the carriers will have to train their employees? That would be very helpful.

Mr. Elliott: I would be happy to provide that information.

Senator Atkins: We have heard conflicting testimony. I will ask you this question: Who is responsible for screening the mail and parcels that are put on board passenger aircraft, Air Canada or Canada Post? How do they discharge these responsibilities?

Mr. Elliott: I think if the mail were in the possession of the carrier, it would be the carrier. Prior to it being delivered to the carrier, it would be Canada Post. My understanding is that mail is not routinely screened.

Senator Atkins: Is there a risk that the responsibility could fall between two stools, so to speak, between Canada Post and Air Canada, in terms of who screens and who watches for any possibility of dangerous cargo or mail?

Mr. Elliott: As to watching for dangerous cargo, it would depend at what time and where in the process. The mail is always either in the custody of Canada Post or the carrier. One or the other. I would think it would be clear when it was in Canada Post's custody, and vice versa.

Senator Atkins: It could be with a contract carrier between Canada Post and the airport. Who would watch and secure that mail?

Mr. Elliott: My suspicion is that it would be the responsibility of Canada Post until the mail was actually delivered to the carrier.

Senator Atkins: However, chances are, if the carrier got a certification from Canada Post, it would satisfy the carrier that that mail is okay to transport?

Mr. Elliott: I believe so, yes.

Senator Atkins: You talk about the 89 airports in Canada where there is screening. How many are you aware of beyond that 89? Are they in remote areas? I assume they are.

Mr. Elliott: Yes, among the list of 89 are some fairly remote locations. I think our civil aviation branch would say that there are some 250 ``aerodromes,'' as they call them.

Senator Atkins: If people want to transport a parcel from the far North, they put it on an aircraft and they check it through. Assume it is going to Vancouver from somewhere in the North. To get to Vancouver, it has to go through Edmonton. Is there any process in place to check anything that might come from one of those remote areas, where there may be no screening, and then is transferred from one major airport to another?

Mr. Elliott: The general regime with respect to the carriage of people and bags from locations where there is no screening is that they cannot be discharged into the secure area of an airport until they are screened.

What information do we have with respect to the mail?

Mr. Barrette: First, by law, there are acceptance procedures that have to be carried out by the air carriers who accept mail for transportation. After that, the air carriers have to exercise control and custody of the mail until transported.

Senator Atkins: Any mail that is coming from a remote area to Edmonton, for example, and then distributed to other parts of Canada, would be screened at the Edmonton airport?

Mr. Elliott: As we indicated, senator, I do not think there is a system for the comprehensive screening of mail.

The Chairman: Mr. Elliott's testimony is that they are not screening the mail, Senator Atkins.

That begs the question, why are you spending so much effort checking passengers and not the mail?

Mr. Elliott: There are a couple of answers to that, senator. I think that certainly mail is an area of concern. There is one distinguishing characteristic of mail as opposed to passengers, and that is, generally, if I mail something, I do not know what airplane it is going to be on.

The Chairman: That may well be the case, but that is not true of parcels, which also are not screened.

Mr. Elliott: I cannot agree with that, with respect.

The Chairman: You may not agree with it, but it is a fact.

Mr. Elliott: That is not my understanding.

The Chairman: Would you clarify it for the committee, please? If it is not your understanding, then please tell the committee what your understanding is.

Mr. Elliott: My understanding is that when you send a parcel, you do not know what aircraft it will be on.

The Chairman: This committee has received testimony that it is possible, simply by the timing of taking a parcel to the airport, to ensure that it will be on a certain flight.

Mr. Elliott: We have requirements in place that should prevent that.

The Chairman: That is contrary to the testimony we have received to date, but thank you for telling us that.

Senator Forrestall: I have had the sometimes pleasant, sometimes unpleasant, task of shipping lobsters, and I want someone at the airport to meet that flight. So far, I have not had any problems. How did I do that?

Mr. Elliott: I would be happy to look into that, senator.

Senator Forrestall: I am just saying I think the Chair is right. I wish someone would look into it, because after all the talk of protection against terrorist acts, someone can put a box of chocolates in the mail. In Halifax, Corner Brook and St. John's, you have a pretty good idea what is leaving and when. Perhaps some qualified answer to this might be available, or indeed in the interest of the work you are trying to do. Possibly it should be made public, because it is not as black and white as you portray.

Mr. Elliott: I will certainly look into that, senator.

Senator Smith: You have just reminded me that last summer, I had a fine dinner at my place in the country, which is quite out of the way, and I was assured that 50 lobsters would arrive from New Brunswick at 5 p.m. Right at the stroke of 5 p.m., there they were.

I wanted to focus to some extent on the relationship among airport authorities in particular. We want to have a comfort level that there is coordination between the various stakeholders, whether Transport Canada, CATSA, the Mounties, the airlines, I suppose immigration, customs, et cetera, or others — that security is functioning in a coordinated, rationalized and also a cost-effective way. When we had the Auditor General here about two weeks ago, she testified, with specific reference to the airport authorities, that the Auditor General does not have the right to audit, but that Transport Canada does because of provisions in the leases.

Can you confirm that that is your understanding as well?

Mr. Elliott: That is my understanding. I might point out, Mr. Chairman, some written material following up on questions raised by Senator Meighen was provided to the committee through your clerk on this subject.

Senator Smith: I had a chance to review that. It was helpful and I appreciate that. I am sure the committee does.

Perhaps you could give us a commentary on the extent to which Transport Canada is exercising this right? The angle we are trying to get at is the source of funding to the airport authorities for security measures. It is probably helpful to have a feel for how it was before 9/11, and then, with the new security fee, post 9/11. The one with which I am most familiar, Pearson, handles about one-third of the traffic in the country. How much of that $12 fee do they get?

Mr. Elliott: As I believe the committee is aware, Mr. Chairman, that fee is collected by carriers and provided to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, so airport authorities as such do not receive any of that money. Funds are appropriated by Parliament to CATSA, which spends money on security at airports. At the moment, they are funding passenger screening and the buying and installing of equipment. I do not have a breakdown of that by airport.

Revenue generated by airports, as I indicated when I was last here, Mr. Chairman, actually falls under another Assistant Deputy Minister of Transport Canada, Programs and Divestiture, Ron Sully. My information, based on discussions with Mr. Sully's officials following my last appearance, is that audits are currently only done at airports that pay rent, and only with respect to security expenditures relating to revenue that they generate in those circumstances.

That is where information might be audited, but as I understand it, there is no comprehensive program to audit those revenues across the board.

Senator Smith: Which of the major ones would not pay rent? Do they not all pay rent?

Mr. Elliott: Certainly not all 89 airports pay rent. I believe there are only six airports in the country that do. Six might not be the exact number, but it is not significantly more than that.

Senator Smith: Do you recall offhand which ones do for certain? Does Toronto?

Mr. Elliott: Toronto certainly does.

Senator Smith: Do Montreal and Vancouver?

Mr. Elliott: I believe so, yes.

Senator Smith: Do you know the others offhand?

Mr. Elliott: Ottawa is one. I have certainly heard from Mr. Benoit on that subject, even though I told him what I told the committee, Mr. Chairman. It is not an area of responsibility of my group.

The Chairman: Can you provide us with a list?

Mr. Elliott: I would be happy to do that.

Senator Smith: There have been audits underway, but they really relate to ensuring that Transport Canada gets its appropriate share of rent. Is that the gist of the matter?

Mr. Elliott: That is my understanding, yes.

Senator Smith: Are you learning anything about security allocations from these audits? Is there anything coming out of these audits that is helpful to you with regard to the big picture on security? If you take Toronto, for example, and I regret to say this because that is where I am from — I was born there — when this committee thinks of Pearson airport, the word ``cooperation'' does not leap to mind.

Are these audits helpful? Are you learning things vis-à-vis a cost-effective, coordinated, cooperative security structure? Are they cooperating?

Mr. Elliott: I cannot answer that question, senator. I must confess that what I know about our audit regime with respect to airports I have learned since my appearance last week.

Senator Smith: Okay. You have 30 personnel in Transport Canada whose job is basically to monitor, review and manage these leases across the country; is that correct?

Mr. Elliott: That is my understanding.

Senator Smith: I am not quarrelling with that, I am just curious. What would these 30 people be doing if only half a dozen are paying rent? I imagine these are the big-volume airports, which manage a majority of the passenger flights in this country.

Mr. Elliott: That is my understanding. I also believe that there are leasehold arrangements with other airports that do not currently include the paying of rent. I hate to sound bureaucratic, Mr. Chairman, but I am afraid that is not an area of activity within my part of Transport Canada. Thus, my knowledge of it is extraordinarily limited.

The Chairman: We understand that, Mr. Elliott. There is a division of labour in the department and you are telling us that this is not part of your division. Senator Smith is pursuing the matter of the $12 tax that we understand goes into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. We also understand that it is appropriated by Parliament. Having said that, we think that Canadians would like to see where the $12 tax they are paying at various airports is being spent. Could you, on behalf of the department, undertake to give us some indication of how the spending matches up with the collection? That is the issue in question.

Mr. Elliott: That question, Mr. Chairman, is of more direct interest to me. The government has stated that its intention is to match revenues and expenditures — match revenues from the air travellers' security charge with expenditures relating to —

The Chairman: — incremental security.

Mr. Elliott: Yes. The government has also undertaken to do an annual review of those revenues and expenditures. The first such review is currently underway. The Auditor General has been asked to examine the revenues and the expenditures to provide assurances to Canadians that in fact there will be a balance between them.

The Chairman: I would invite you to review the testimony that the Auditor General gave before this committee some three weeks ago, when she expressed concern that the accounts were not being established in a manner that would facilitate the determination of revenues matching expenditures. That is of great concern to us.

Mr. Elliott: I hear your concern, senator, and I am certainly interested in that. However, Transport Canada did not establish the charge; we do not collect the money, and we do not directly spend it. The greatest portion of that money is spent by CATSA.

The Chairman: It sounds like you are saying that it is someone else's problem. Are you recommending that we call CATSA officials to appear before the committee again to give us this accounting?

Mr. Elliott: I am sorry, but I am somewhat at a loss. The Auditor General, in my understanding, will be in a good position to examine expenditures by CATSA. In addition to her general responsibilities as the Auditor General of Canada, she is specifically named by the CATSA legislation as its auditor because it is a Crown corporation.

The Chairman: Have you had occasion to review Ms. Fraser's testimony before this committee?

Mr. Elliott: I believe I did review parts of it.

The Chairman: I would commend it to you, because Ms. Fraser certainly left the committee with the impression that, aside from timing problems, she was uncertain as to whether the different accounts could be matched up in such a manner as to indicate whether Pearson, Ottawa or any other airport was receiving its share of the tax.

Mr. Elliott: I better understand your question now, senator. I do not have any information to offer with respect to the tracking of expenditures by airports. I am simply indicating that in her position as auditor of CATSA, a Crown corporation, the Auditor General will have broad information concerning its expenditures.

Senator Smith: Really, I am trying to understand the degree of cooperation among the various stakeholders, and the airport authorities in particular. I chose Toronto because it is the biggest. Could you comment, Mr. Elliott, on that degree of cooperation in terms of information that you need? Have there been any challenges or problems?

Mr. Elliott: My dealings with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, GTAA, are not directly related to their leases. On both safety and security issues, I would say that the GTAA has been quite cooperative with us. The head of GTAA certainly has strong views with respect to security, and he is not shy about making those views known. However, I would say that we generally experience good cooperation from the GTAA, and airports generally, on security.

Senator Smith: How long are the leases?

Mr. Elliott: I believe they are 60 years.

Senator Smith: Are there any renewal conditions along the way, or is it carte blanche for 60 years?

Mr. Elliott: I cannot answer that question.

Senator Smith: Do you have any leverage in the event that you believe that you are not getting 100 per cent cooperation from any particular airport authority?

Mr. Elliott: Certainly, with respect to security issues, we have several levers, including our regulatory regime and the potential for enforcement. Additional levers at our disposal are: first, good security is good for business; and second, no airport wants Transport Canada or anyone else to suggest that they are not being responsible.

Senator Smith: Have you had an opportunity to review the evidence that we heard last week from Professor St. John, who has written books on security and is a well-published author? He told us that the degree of security at Toronto is such that he avoids flying there, if possible. He tries to fly directly to Ottawa, or even through Hamilton. That is quite a statement. However, you may want to review his evidence.

Mr. Elliott: I must say, senators, that perhaps I looked a little confused earlier because I have read many transcripts of testimony before the committee. I read Mr. St. John's testimony and I read at least excerpts of the Auditor General's testimony. You have been very busy and there are volumes of information. It is difficult for me to keep all of it straight in my memory.

Senator Smith: There are a few highlights in his evidence that you should not miss, so I would commend it to you.

The Chairman: Senator Smith, I wanted to give you an occasion to attest to the value of Hamilton as an airport before we move on.

Senator Smith: Great airport.

Senator Day: I have two or three follow-up questions, Mr. Elliott, about testimony that you gave this morning. The first question concerns biometrics. What international standards are being set by such organizations as the international civil aviation authority? Is it possible that we might implement something here that will not be acceptable down the road — in a year or so — for international travel?

Mr. Elliott: It is my understanding that no international standards have been agreed to, but Canada is certainly a very active participant in the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, which is headquartered in Montreal. Canada is represented on the ICAO Council. We are actively in discussions, but no standards have been established yet.

Senator Day: How about the U.S. civil aviation authority? Are you in active discussions with them about aircraft taking off from Canada not being prevented from landing in the United States because the security is not to standard?

Mr. Elliott: We are in close contact with the Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, and with the U.S. Department of Transport. We have also had considerable discussions with the Transportation Security Administration, TSA. In fact, I recently met with Admiral James Loy, the U.S. Under Secretary for Security.

Senator Day: What mechanisms does Transport Canada have in place to ensure that serious security breaches will come to its attention? That question is prompted by testimony that we heard a while ago from an air attendant, who told us that a box of box cutters was discovered on board an aircraft.

That would be a serious security breach.

Did you know about that, and if so, how did you learn about it?

Mr. Elliott: I believe I learned about it by reading testimony before the committee. How do we learn about security breaches? They are reported to us by various people. As I said, we have security inspectors on the ground in major airports on a continuous basis.

We also have inspectors who board aircraft, both on the ground and in-flight, to verify compliance with various regulatory requirements, including safety briefings, for example.

Senator Day: Does the airport authority, the operator of the airport, have an obligation under the lease or by regulation to bring security breaches to your attention?

Mr. Elliott: There are regulatory requirements for the reporting of incidents, yes.

Senator Day: Could you bring the specific regulatory requirements to the attention of honourable senators? We can get copies of them if you can tell us what and where they are.

Mr. Elliott: I would be happy to look into that, honourable senators.

Senator Day: Thank you. That would be helpful, and that way we can get a feeling for how you become aware of things so that you can take corrective action.

Now that you have become aware of the box cutters, what corrective action have you taken in that regard?

Mr. Elliott: Perhaps Mr. Barrette can answer that question.

Mr. Barrette: The only incident involving box cutters I was made aware of was shortly after September 11, when a couple of box cutters were found in an overhead storage compartment on an Air Canada Boeing 767. We investigated the incident in close cooperation with the Peel Regional Police. We were never able to find out from where these box cutters originated.

Senator Day: Your testified earlier that the airport authority is responsible for passes for the non-passengers who have access to the restricted areas, but that Transport Canada would be responsible in the case of someone who needed to go to several different airports. It seems to me that the airlines still continue to have a vital interest in all of these matters. What relationship does the airline have to that process you have described to us in terms of passes or people who are working on their aircraft, other than their employees?

Mr. Elliott: Under the current regime, restricted area passes are not issued by anyone other than airports. Airports, at least prior to September 2001, issued two kinds of passes: local passes and so-called ``Canada passes.'' Therefore, Pearson airport, for example, could issue a pass that would give an individual access to a restricted area in Ottawa.

Under the enhanced regime that we are beginning to develop, I would see flight crew who fly between airports and, therefore, need access to restricted areas at more than one airport, applying to CATSA for a pass. CATSA would issue that pass to them.

Senator Day: Airlines are vitally interested in who might have access to their aircraft, I would think.

Do they have an opportunity to work with you, CATSA and the operator of the airport to determine what security is present, who is working on their aircraft or who might have access to their aircraft?

Mr. Elliott: They certainly have a need and an opportunity to do that. I know that, at least at major airports, there is a committee structure whereby various users of the airport get together to discuss issues of concern, including security.

Senator Day: Are airline operators involved in that discussion in terms of security?

Mr. Elliott: That is my understanding, yes.

Senator Day: They exercise their right and interest, and they have an opportunity to do that?

Mr. Elliott: Yes. Certainly, Air Canada has been active, just by way of example. I do not say it is unique to that carrier. However, we have been working closely with them and others, including the Air Transport Association of Canada, on security issues both before and after September 11.

Senator Day: Sure. My final question flows from Senator Smith's question about leases.

Does Transport Canada use a generic or similar lease in relation to all airports?

Mr. Elliott: Honourable senators, I believe that those leases were individually negotiated. I do not know what similarity there is from one to the other. I know that our chief legal counsel, Mr. Pigeon, was involved in the airport transfers. I believe he will be here this afternoon with the minister. He may be able to shed some light on that.

Senator Day: We will try to remember to ask him that, if we do not get caught up in other questions.

However, could I ask you to provide us with a copy of the generic portion of these leases? I suspect there are generic portions. That way, we can get some idea of what these look like.

Mr. Elliott: I will certainly relay that request to my colleague.

Senator Day: If you could relay that along with the other undertakings that you have given, that will assist us in understanding more thoroughly the daunting task that you are working on in relation to security.

The Chairman: Mr. Elliott, if I could, the reason we are focusing closely on leases is, we have been given the impression, at least by the Auditor General, that this is the principal way in which Transport Canada can influence the behaviour of the various airport authorities. Therefore, we are not only interested in the leases, but also in your comments of just a few moments ago about other levers and sanctions that you can use if the various airport authorities are not conforming with Transport Canada policy. That is the information we are looking to get back from you, if we could, please.

Mr. Elliott: Yes. Honourable senators, our relationship — that is, my part of Transport Canada, the Security and Emergency Preparedness Group in particular, but it is also true of my civil aviation colleagues — with our stakeholders, including airports, is not dictated by the lease. That is probably one of the reasons why I know so little about leases.

The Chairman: That is fair ball. If you have another mechanism for governing their behaviour, that is what the committee is interested in. If you could provide us with that, we would be most grateful.

I would like to thank you very much, Mr. Elliott, and your colleagues for appearing before us again. I gather that today will be a bit of a marathon for you, because you will be returning with the minister. We look forward to seeing you then and perhaps on other occasions. Thank you very much for your assistance today. I believe you have clarified several issues for us, and that is very helpful to the work of the committee.

For those of you following our work, please visit our Web site by going to www.sen-sec.ca. We post witness testimony as well as confirmed hearing schedules. Otherwise, you may contact the clerk of the committee by calling 1- 800-267-7362 for further information or assistance in contacting members of the committee.

The committee will now adjourn to a meeting in camera in the adjacent room.

The committee adjourned.