Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 19 - Evidence, Morning Session

OTTAWA, Monday, June 9, 2003

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 9:50 a.m. to examine and report on the need for a national security policy for Canada.

Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the Chair.


The Chairman: Honourable senators, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. Today we will hear testimony on Canadian coastal defence and security.

My name is Colin Kenny; I am a senator from Ontario and I chair the committee.

On my immediate right is the distinguished senator from Nova Scotia, Senator Michael Forrestall. Senator Forrestall has served the constituents of Dartmouth for the past 37 years, first as their member of the House of Commons and then as their senator. Throughout his parliamentary career, he has followed defence matters and served on various defence-related parliamentary committees including the 1993 Special Joint Committee on the Future of the Canadian Forces.

At the end of the table, is Senator Banks from Alberta who is well known to Canadians as one of our most versatile musicians and entertainers. His talents and dedication have earned him a Juno award and a Grand Prix du Disque — Canada and many other honours. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1991 and appointed to the Senate in the year 2000. Senator Banks is chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources and currently that committee has just completed its review of the amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act.

Beside him is Senator Norm Atkins from Ontario. Senator Atkins came to the Senate in 1986 with a strong background in the field of communications and with experience as an adviser to former Premier Davis of Ontario. Senator Atkins is a member of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs and also the Standing Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration. He also serves as chair of the Senate Conservative caucus.

Also with us is Senator David Smith. He was appointed to the Senate in the year 2002. He previously served in Toronto as a councillor and deputy mayor, then as a member of the House of Commons and as Minister of State in the Trudeau government. He also serves on the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedure and the Rights of Parliament.

Our committee is the first permanent Senate committee with a mandate to study security and defence. Over the past 18 months, we have completed a number of reports beginning with Canadian security and military preparedness. This study, which was tabled in February 2002, examined the major defence and security issues facing Canada.

The Senate then asked our committee to examine the need for a national security policy. To date, we have released three reports on various aspects of national security: First, "Defence of North America: A Canadian Responsibility," was published in September 2002. Second, "Update on Canada's Military Crisis: A View From the Bottom Up" was published in November 2002. Third and most recent, "The Myth of Security at Canada's Airports" was published in January of this year.

The committee is continuing its long-term evaluation of Canada's ability to contribute to security and defence in North America. As part of this work, the committee has been holding hearings on the federal government's support to the men and women across this country who respond first to emergencies and disasters. However, the committee has decided to give priority to an ongoing evaluation of Canada's ability to defend its territorial waters and help police the continental coastline.

These hearings update an earlier committee report, "Defence of North America," published in 2002, which found Canadian coastal defence efforts to be largely ad hoc and fragmentary.

Our first witness today will be Mr. John F. Thomas, who is a partner with BMB Consulting Services where he provides advice on organizational and development and strategic-change leadership. Mr. Thomas previously worked for the Canadian shipping industry, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Canadian Navy. His executive positions include an appointment as president of Saint John Ship Building Limited, Halifax Ship Yard Limited and affiliated companies, and as Commissioner, Canadian Coast Guard.

Mr. Thomas, welcome to the committee. Please proceed.

Mr. John F. Thomas, Partner, BMB Consulting Services: Honourable senators, the committee poses the question: What is an appropriate role for the Coast Guard in enhancing security in Canada. Many of the previous witnesses have raised points that argue for retaining the status quo. In part, the current rationale is that this is not within the mandate of the Coast Guard and it would be difficult to make the necessary changes.

I do not agree that the status quo is acceptable; nor do I agree that it would be too difficult to move to an enhanced role, which would include security and enforcement. This morning I would like to present an argument as to why the Coast Guard should have enforcement responsibilities with peace officer status.

I have outlined a number of points and, in doing so, I was referring to comments previous witnesses have made in stating their case. I wanted to put a different perspective on the table. First, where should the security regime be located?

The argument has been made loud and clear that there is a need for enhanced security, certainly on the coasts. However, we seem too often to forget the Great Lakes, an key area where we need to enhance our security. The intelligence component, therefore, should be located, in my mind, in Halifax and Vancouver, and for the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, probably in Ottawa, simply because we already have major operation centres in those three areas. It would be easy to adjust to that.

I believe the intelligence analysis should be focused in DND. They have the largest capacity to do that. I would like to see a change implemented similar to the way the Coast Guard collocates with the navy in regional operations centres. Those activities could be carried out at the main operations centre. One could also envision the RCMP, the CIC, and the immigration and customs authorities, CCRA, moving there as well. There could be a jointly manned operations centre.

Many departments have operations centres located around the coast, which are there to meet their own needs. However, with intelligence gathering, there is a good argument to be made for creating a stronger relationship between the various operations than there is now.

I do not think that DND should have the role of coastal security. DND's ships, aircraft and trained personnel are very expensive, perhaps as much as 10 times the cost of Coast Guard equipment and personnel. Navy personnel are trained for war and navy systems are developed for war, not to fulfil a policing role on the coast. One would expect there to be a significant difference in cost. I recall one of the witnesses talking about $30,000 an hour for an aircraft, whereas it costs about one-tenth of that for Fisheries, for instance, to lease an aircraft, which does the job just fine.

The navy should be called upon only when the police force cannot do the job. For instance, the Coast Guard has been in situations before where they have attempted to stop a ship in the St. Lawrence River. The ship would not stop. Contact was made through the operations centre, and DND sent a SWAT squad on helicopters to the ship and stopped it.

When a situation arises that police officers cannot deal with, you escalate the action up to the next level, but you do not start at the highest level. I must emphasize that point. There is a need for a flexible response. The military should be seen, from a policy perspective, as a force of last resort, in the same way as they are for land-based police operations. We do not call in the military to work with, say, the Toronto police unless the police are facing a significant situation that is beyond their capacity. The military is not called in as a first step.

I do not see the Coast Guard as a paramilitary force. This view is different, I think, from the views that you have heard expressed. You have heard about a range of options — from being a military force, a paramilitary force, a police force, to where what are now. I would argue that their role should be more like a police force role. In fact, I see the Coast Guard being a police force, their beat being the Great Lakes and coastal waters out to 200 miles, with the same mindset and model as the RCMP has on shore, which is seen as a positive aspect of policing in Canada. I would see the Coast Guard filling the same role on the waters. If a situation is beyond the capability of the Coast Guard, then the navy would be called in, but that would not be done until that happens.

The Coast Guard has had some reasonable experience in enforcement. For instance, the Coast Guard and Fisheries were extensively involved in the so-called turbot wars. The navy kept its ship over the horizon, out of sight, and were not involved in the dispute. That was a policy decision. The navy was there in the event they were needed, but they were not. It was unnecessary to bring in the military. Bringing in the military, in my mind, to deal with an issue, must be the last step. There is nothing beyond that.

The Coast Guard ship was armed with 50-calibre machine guns. There were armed personnel on board and established rules of engagement. The rules of engagement were that, following the discussions with them on board the ship, we then moved to a stage of cutting across the stern and cutting the nets, cutting very close to the stern. From the fishing vessel, I would have thought it looked like we were going to ram them, but we passed just astern to catch the line before it went too deeply into the water.

The next stage was to discharge the water cannon across the bow of the ship, and then the water cannon was to be discharged at the fishing vessel. The next stage was to fire the 50-calibre machine guns across the bow. The final step, which was never taken, was to fire at the ship. The rules of engagement provided for a flexible response. The Coast Guard ships were able to provide that flexible response. I think that is what is needed. Your first choice cannot be the use of heavy weapons.

Of course, that one example does not make the rule. However, I think it does provide an example of why the Coast Guard would be a better choice as the kernel for building the security role. The Coast Guard does have some capabilities that would lead into this role. The Coast Guard has extensive surveillance and communications experience and capability, not just with vessel traffic management, but also with dealing with the number of vessels that are out there, the aircraft that are being used and so on. Intelligence gathering is not their role, but they do provide information to DND. They have over 104 vessels ranging in length from 47-foot up. The 47-foot vessels are the search and rescue vessels and are designed to deal with heavy weather. Those are not small, commercial boats; rather, they are heavy-duty boats. They also have deep-water ships. They have quite a range of capability.

Currently the Coast Guard has approximately 4,400 people. If they had the training and the mandate, they would have the capacity as enforcement officers. At present, we carry the DFO enforcement officers on Coast Guard vessels, and the DFO officers have the enforcement mandate.

It is not a big stretch to go from what we have been doing to think of the Coast Guard as having an enhanced enforcement role.

If you look at the U.S. Coast Guard as a model, this is where I would differentiate between the paramilitary role and the role of policeman. The U.S. Coast Guard is a good model for us to consider, because it does provide some good targets with respect to training, resources and the mandate. However, it is not something that we would want to replicate 100 per cent. It is a paramilitary force.

The Commissioner, U.S. Coast Guard sits with the joint chiefs of staff of the military. They have weapons up to three-inch cannons. The mindset is not just coastal security; they have taken it beyond that to a paramilitary role.

I am not suggesting the U.S. model should be replicated, but it is something we should consider in designing an enforcement role. We could look it as a target, that is, where the Canadian Coast Guard could be.

We must also think about where the Coast Guard should be located. There are some options to consider. The Coast Guard could stay in Fisheries and Oceans, but it would be more difficult to take on the enforcement role, in part because it is not the mindset of the department. Some witnesses have told you that that should not be changed. I would agree that that is probably the case unless the Coast Guard were a separate agency within the DFO. If they were, they could provide equal priority to fisheries enforcement, science, CIC, Revenue Canada and the RCMP. If it were placed within DND, the security enforcement role would be developed more easily.

However, I think some of the key roles that the civilian fleet currently has would suffer as a result. It is like looking through a telescope. If you focus only on security, then that is all you will see. If you focus on a service to mariners, that is what you will get. We are trying to bridge the two functions.

If you place it in DND, which has a heavy emphasis on security, or if you leave it in the department as it is, with the heavy emphasis being on science and fisheries enforcement, I think you will have some difficulties in implementing the enforcement role. As a separate agency — and that has been considered a number of times — I think you will be able to do a much better job of implementation; and leaving it in Fisheries and Oceans would ensure that the civilian mandates were achieved properly.

Leaving it within DFO has another significant benefit. You raised the question of how quickly we could move to this new role. It could be done quite quickly because there is a core of trained personnel in DFO. They are trained by the RCMP — trained enforcement officers — and they do carry weapons. They have the mandate within Fisheries and Oceans. We work with them on the Coast Guard vessels.

As to an expanded mandate, we would use not all of their enforcement officers, because many of them walk the creeks or are on the shore side. However, you could increase the number of those who form the core group that is normally at sea, and you could enhance the mandate. Again, I would not see that as being, from a cultural change perspective, a terribly difficult move.

Within the Coast Guard we need to consider a change in the mandate, to clarify that new role. That would be done as part of your policy review. They require the resources and training and, most importantly, they require determined leadership. They need to know, in clear terms, exactly what the government wants them to do. They should know that they are not being asked to do more with the same resources.

Not all Coast Guard personnel will require training. You will not be required to train, say, 4,400 people to fulfil this new role. However, you must train those people who would have an enforcement role and who would be carrying arms, those people who would be police officers or would play a peace officer role.

All of the new people coming into the Coast Guard from now on would be trained, with the orientation being enforcement. They would not necessarily be trained in carrying weapons, but they would know that that is part of the mandate of the Coast Guard. That orientation training, over time, would help to change the culture.

The Coast Guard has tremendous public support. They have high, positive public recognition. In fact, the Coast Guard is used in advertisement for everything from Tim Hortons to B.C. Telephone. The public already believes that the Coast Guard has an enforcement role. When they are told it does not, the response is normally that it should have that role. The public perception of the Coast Guard is positive, even when they are seen as having an enforcement role.

Having an enforcement role need not be a negative. A number of witnesses seemed to indicate that that was a negative, that people would not want it. The RCMP, in this case, is an excellent model. In spite of some of the hardships they have gone through, they retain a positive public image. The same could apply to the Coast Guard in an enforcement role.

I would like to think that the Coast Guard could build on its positive image and take on an enhanced role that they are best equipped to perform. That role is as the police officer on the beat of our coastal waters and the Great Lakes, enforcing all the regulations and legislation that would fall within their renewed mandate.

The Chairman: You suggested that the intelligence focus should be with DND. You did not mention CSIS at all. Perhaps in the course of your comments you could describe to us where CSIS might fit in.

The role you saw for the Coast Guard was constabulary, if I understand correctly. You commented on the Coast Guard going perhaps 200 miles out. You did not mention how far in they would patrol. Would you see them having responsibilities related to ports? If so, what would those be?

If they were properly armed and crewed, would the 40-foot search and rescue vessels you talked about be suitable for interdicting vessels? How fast can they travel?

Finally, would all watchkeepers on a Coast Guard vessel, as you conceive the constabulary role, need to have peace officer status in addition to the landing party?

You can deal with those now or in the course of the questions that come up, whatever suits you best.

Mr. Thomas: I will deal with them now, Mr. Chairman.

When I talk about DND being the focal point for security, I am thinking primarily, because of the coastal security and the Great Lakes security, that they have the operation centres in place. CSIS is involved in security — that is their core mandate — but I would see them as feeding some of this type of information we are talking about into the operation centre and vice versa. That information would go back and forth.

The security role, one could argue, is the same sort of situation as in the U.S., where there are some central security intelligence agencies and then there a more operational security role on the coast. What I am talking about is more the operational role of gathering information, determining how we react to it, who should react to it and so on, as opposed to the longer-term security aspects, the intelligence gathering that would stay with CSIS and the RCMP.

As to how far in we should go, we could do that in two different ways. I want to emphasize again that we would go all the way into the Great Lakes. We would go all the way around the coast, into small harbours and ports, with these 47-foot vessels. These are places that we would not normally go to but they happen to be places where pleasure boaters go and those are good locations for us. I say "us" because, even though I have not been in the Coast Guard for some time, I still have an affiliation with them.

However, the Coast Guard would not have responsibility with respect to ports — that is for, say, commercial ships coming alongside — primarily because there are land-based authorities such as Customs or Immigration that already have that role. Both are well established in that role and have significant resources attached to that function. I think Revenue Canada also has several hundred people employed in that role across Canada. They are doing their job. Our concern is primarily with what happens on the water.

The 47-foot SAR vessels are quite capable of the interdiction of fishing sized vessels, though probably not the large commercial ones. You would probably want something with more presence than that. The 47-foot vessels are designed for out to 50 miles, that sort of range. For greater distances off shore, I think you would move to a larger, deep-water vessel.

I would think, from a security point of view, the highest threat areas are from Vancouver down to the U.S.; the Great Lakes; and from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick down to the U.S. I am not talking about vessels coming into Canada, but going from Canada to the U.S. That is exactly where these vessels would be stationed and where they would do the best job.

It is likely that all of the watchkeeping officers would be peace officers, and that a cadre of maybe 10 people would be trained for each of the larger vessels. This would be an increase in the number of the resources that they now have on these larger vessels. At the other end of the scale, currently these SAR vessels are manned with three people, a very small crew who would deal with smaller "target" vessels. You are not talking about an armed commercial vessel. As they are usually close to the coast, I do not know that targeting a large commercial ship would happen very often, but if a suspicious situation arises, you need to be able to stop the vessel and conduct an investigation. If there is a requirement to call in a larger vessel, they can do that within the Coast Guard or, depending on what they find, within the navy, if the investigation has escalated to that level. There should be watch officers, whether they are on the smaller vessels or the larger ones, plus a small enforcement cadre on board.

Senator Banks: Mr. Thomas, are you a registered lobbyist?

Mr. Thomas: No I am not, Senator Banks.

Senator Banks: It is a pleasure to have a chance to speak with someone with whom I agree; that does not always happen. I am a landlubber and ignorant of these matters in practice and therefore, one of those folks to whom you referred.

When I learned that the Coast Guard had no enforcement capacity in and of itself, I was surprised. Now, having looked at the situation, albeit in ignorance, I believe that what you said is true. We have 100 ships of varying capability, including deep-sea ships and some weighing thousands of tons in displacement value. In the short term, if we were trying to quickly solve the problem of enforcement of the littoral — the area between land and where the navy would typically and traditionally take over — would be to put enforcement capability on the Coast Guard. I am delighted to hear that a former Commissioner of the Coast Guard agrees with that. When we have asked about that in the past, witnesses have told us that there would be a very stiff, cultural resistance to it by the command and management of the Coast Guard. For example, in the instance you gave where the Coast Guard had and performed an armed enforcement capability in the turbot wars, the personnel involved could not wait to get those guns off the ships and to be rid of that responsibility.

Could you expand, Mr. Thomas, on the extent to which you think that view may be wrong? In other words, would there be less resistance within Coast Guard personnel to the training of some members to be peace officers?

Mr. Thomas: Both parts of that view are dead wrong. Before coming here, I met with a number of people who had been in the Coast Guard and who have now gone off to other jobs in other departments or other areas. I met with five of them over the past week. I wanted to be sure that my sense of the situation was valid and that I was not out on a limb. Each one of those five agreed wholeheartedly with me that the resistance would not occur. If it were a question of trying to do it with the existing funding, then the resistance would occur.

The problem would be in trying to do more while continuing to do what they are supposed to do. It was more an issue of resourcing. It was definitely not the case with the turbot wars. We reviewed the situation daily during the turbot wars — the captains of the ships and the crew. It certainly was not the case and, in fact, there was a great deal of pride about what was happening.

The Chairman: Could you tell us what your job was during the turbot wars?

Mr. Thomas: I was still the Commissioner of the Coast Guard but moving on to Senior Assistant Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. I was wearing two hats at the time.

I do not believe that there would be cultural resistance. Some people I talked to have come through the Coast Guard college, worked in SAR and at headquarters; and they know the people intimately at all levels, and they are keen and positive. Another fellow I spoke to would love to have this job. He is currently at the director general level and he would love to have the job of looking after the overall enforcement within the Coast Guard because he can see how it could work.

Senator Banks: You would have some intimate knowledge of this question: Are there impediments in the labour agreement with respect to members of the Coast Guard that would preclude their being given these roles or that would argue against members of that union being placed in harm's way?

Mr. Thomas: We placed the members of the Coast Guard in harm's way when we carried the 50-calibre weapons in the turbot war. We have done it. If it were to be part of the mandate and on a regular basis, I would think that there would have to be negotiations with the unions with respect to it. That would be the normal course when changing the role of people. Again, I do not see this as an impossible task, but it is one of the steps you must go through. I do not see it as an impediment.

Senator Banks: As a practical matter in the short term, a quick and relatively — by comparison with the other options — inexpensive way to obtain an enforcement capability for Canada, in that space between the deep sea and the coast, would be to give the constabulary role to the Coast Guard with the ships that it now has?

Mr. Thomas: Yes. To do it in the quickest way, you would build on a core team from the Fisheries and Oceans enforcement officers who have gone through extensive training with the RCMP as enforcement officers. They are already in place and doing the job. You would build on that core. Assuming the mandate and resources were in place, it could, virtually, be done overnight. Improvements could be made because not all vessels are ideal for that kind of effort. Some vessels are relatively slow because they are designed for buoy tending — that is their job. Some vessels are more than a few thousand tons and displace several thousand tons, such as the large ice-breakers; and you would not want to use them. There is a middle line.

A number of vessels in the Coast Guard need to be replaced. In doing that, you would replace them with vessels that would be more suitable to the enforcement role, as well as to the other tasks they perform. The Coast Guard has a number of vessels in that category, so it is a matter building more of them. They are referred to as "an offshore supply vessel design," and we use them in buoy tending and in support of Fisheries and enforcement.

Senator Banks: Some ships currently in the fleet could be converted, without much trouble, to enforcement use.

Mr. Thomas: You would not have to convert the ship at all; you would just have to use it.

Senator Banks: You would have to arm it, to a degree.

Mr. Thomas: Putting a 50-calibre gun onboard amounts to putting two steel stanchions on the bow and securing the 50-calibre gun on top. It is, perhaps, a two-hour job.

Senator Banks: It is not expensive to do.

Senator Forrestall: You say that it is not very expensive but try it some day and find out what they charge for it.

Senator Banks: I meant not expensive in the global scheme of things.

Senator Forrestall: I know you did.

Senator Banks: In the longer term, the replacement ships would, one assumes, be designed slightly differently and be somewhat similar to a cutter with better speed capability. Is there a significant cost difference between those ships, with which you, if you were the king, would replace the Coast Guard fleet, in comparison with the cost if they were being replaced with no need to consider enforcement capability?

Mr. Thomas: When I was in the shipbuilding business, we looked at this. Again, I am not a lobbyist for Irving, but my experience is with them. We built the Marine Coastal Defence Vehicles, MCDVs, and the frigates, so we have that base of information experience.

If the Coast Guard were looking for a replacement for one class of vessels, they should consider an offshore supply vessel. That is partly because the Coast Guard has had such good success with those vessels. The captains of those vessels think they are just great. There is a large, flat deck with a crane on the stern. We looked at it because it provided a great deal of space for science, for people and for carrying the enforcement team. They are also very rugged, and they can be purchased off the shelf. Rather than smooth and shapely, the vessels are rather chunky but they do a good job, and they are cheap to build. Our estimate was that they cost about 50 per cent of what the Coast Guard was considering for a vessel with the same capability. They are a commercial design as opposed to a CCG purpose-made design. To use a commercial design would probably be a good bet.

Senator Banks: How fast would they go?

Mr. Thomas: It depends on the size of the engine, but it would be about 18 knots. However, you would probably want a vessel to do about 21 knots.

Senator Banks: Is that doable?

Mr. Thomas: Yes. The ship would be a bit longer when you increase the speed capability.

Senator Banks: You have to consider the beam to length ratio.

You referred to four terms of engagement during the turbot wars. During the second last engagement, there was shooting with machines guns across the bow. During the last, there was firing of machine guns at ships. Under the terms of engagement, at what part of the ships would you shoot with the machine gun? Would you be shooting at people or objects?

Mr. Thomas: Objects. If you shoot a 50-calibre weapon across the bow, it is hard to tell that shooting is occurring. However, it was obvious when the water cannon was used.

The water cannon is big enough to propel our ship. It was used to put out large fires in harbours. When you lay that across the bow, the ship either stops or goes into it. By going into it, the deckhouse would be knocked over. It is a very powerful blast of water.

That was our preferred measure. The last rule of engagement is firing actual weapons, but we did not get to that stage.

Senator Banks: At what would you have shot?

Mr. Thomas: We would probably have shot at the bow. We would have shot where there were no people, but they would have recognized that they were being shot at. However, but that did not take place. I would have thought that there would have been some significant resistance to actually doing that.

Again, we must consider the notion of having a flexible response. In this case, the water cannons were better than the 50-calibre weapons to do what we wanted to do. The water cannon was slow enough that you could see it and come to a stop. It was not something that was fired and the effect was over instantly. It is like a wall in front of you. It would have been a much better choice.

The Chairman: You are talking here about a continuum of force and working up the continuum?

Mr. Thomas: Yes.

The Chairman: With my oil business background, you are describing something that sounds to me like a supply boat.

Mr. Thomas: Exactly, it is an off-shore supply boat.

The Chairman: An offshore supply boat that is a little longer. Will that vessel do 21 knots? How many vessels can do better than 21 knots?

Mr. Thomas: Not many vessels that we would be interdicting would go that fast. Cigar boars can move faster.

The Chairman: Cigarette boats.

Mr. Thomas: We are not going to catch them.

However, going at 21 knots, we would catch up to almost everything else.

The Chairman: Why would you not arm big vessels such as the Sir John A. Macdonald? You might not send them out because it would not be efficient. However, if they were out, would it not make sense to arm them?

Mr. Thomas: There is a cost attached to training the officer crew in the enforcement cadre. The icebreakers, when out doing ice breaking, would not likely be tasked with enforcement because when there would be few, if any, other vessels moving through such a restricted path.

The Chairman: However, going to or returning from an icebreaking area, that ship might come across something.

Mr. Thomas: They then should have that capacity, yes.

Senator Forrestall: Many vessels are outfitted to carry weapons systems. Most larger vessels have the deck strength. At some point in their series of overhauls the deck had been strengthened.

Our concern, of course, is coastal security and port security. Bearing in mind that we are lay people, would you say that we are on the right track?

Would movement in the direction you have suggest tend to placate our neighbours to the south who are concerned that we are not doing all we should be doing, although I would reject that as a reason to do it? Will these changes benefit our nation as our trading capability expands?

Our ice breaking capacity may be used in other government-related maritime activity, since global warming has resulted in the Arctic being more accessible to certain vessels. In fact, this year we saw the early passage of a sizeable yacht. In future, there may be other requirements put on our icebreakers.

Are we headed in the right direction? Is this a useful subject for examination by this committee?

Mr. Thomas: In my opinion, yes it is the right direction. I believe that security on the coasts and the Great Lakes areas has been close to non-existent. There were, and still are, large voids. The efforts have been moving towards improving communications in intelligence gathering. However, I do not think we have focussed on what we will do with that intelligence. Of course, in the Great Lakes, the navy would not do that work. The Great Lakes is a large part of what we do, particularly in dealing with people moving from Canada to the U.S for whatever reason, whether smuggling, illegal aliens or whatever.

You are on the right track. I do not think that it is necessarily driven simply by 9/11 and what happens in the U.S. It is part of our broader responsibility for the security and protection of Canada.

We have had illegal aliens and we have had drug smuggling. We have built a significant capacity on shore to deal with those situations. It is targeted primarily towards larger vessels coming into Canada. However, we do not have much security along the coast for smaller vessels going from Canada to the U.S.

It is worthwhile to look at the matter. I would like to see it as part of the security policy; however, I do not know that there is a security policy that deals with the coastal-Great Lakes aspect.

Senator Forrestall: I return to a question that Senator Banks asked earlier about the cultural impact of moving from one discipline to another. I am not sure that an adversarial union would want a structure such as the one we have discussed. We have to find a way around that. It is a negotiable item, but the government would have to take a very firm position negotiations related to that.

Do you have any suggestions in that regard? Would we need to train these people to be part of a disciplined force? Could we contract with them, and act as a good employer?

Mr. Thomas: A subgroup of the ships officers was the ship safety inspectors. They examine the ships when they come into port. They can detain a ship. They can seize the ship. They are now part of Transport Canada, but at one time they were part of the Coast Guard.

Within one union there is the capability to designate a subgroup as having a certain capacity. One could argue that the same applies to the crew's labour agreement. The union covers everyone, but for those people who agree to be part of this enforcement regime, some further rules could pertain. It is not an impossibility, because it will only apply to those people who volunteer. It would be a volunteer force. Based on my discussions with certain people, I do not think it would be difficult to get people to volunteer for this enforcement aspect.

Senator Forrestall: You do not see it as any kind of major block?

Mr. Thomas: It must be negotiated with the unions. I do not think the unions would say that, no matter what, this cannot happen. They do not normally work that way. They would say what is it they need to do and how is the best way of arriving at it.

Senator Forrestall: You enlist in the navy or join the Coast Guard.

Mr. Thomas: No, as I say, the ships officers had a union agreement, and within that, we had a subset that dealt with the ship safety inspectors, who were also under that ships officers category, but had separate rules around them.

Senator Forrestall: Are watchkeeping officers in the navy allowed to join the merchant officers guild?

Mr. Thomas: I do not know. I know that we have had people who have come out of the navy and joined the guild, but I cannot recall in my time in the navy that anyone who was in the navy was also a member of the guild.

Senator Forrestall: That is interesting. I must say to you in anticipation of your being here this morning, I met with a group of people, including my son. If some form of militarization occurred to make this work smoothly and compactly, or some fundamental change occurred in this cultural milieu that they work in, would it be your view that they could still carry out other functions on behalf of Fisheries and other government agencies?

Mr. Thomas: I would see that they would have to do that absolutely. This is not moving from one role to another role. It is enhancing an existing role. Enhancing that existing role is to bring in an enforcement role as part of everything else they are doing.

Senator Forrestall: I meant that question in the sense that, if we go to the expense — and we would have to, of course — of specialized training for people who would become peace officers, would you see any difficulties being created in other law enforcement agencies or with other departments of government?

Mr. Thomas: It is more a question of working with them. You are not taking away their responsibilities.

Senator Forrestall: I had in the back of my mind this concern: Would we still have interchanges between the crews of the larger other ships in the fleet who have navigational aid responsibilities? Would there be an interchange of the crews? If you go to special training, it would seem unlikely.

Mr. Thomas: Not everybody would receive the special training. You would have a core group. As it is, the crews do not move much from ship to ship.

Senator Forrestall: They like to stay.

Mr. Thomas: They tend to stay with a ship. If it goes into refit, they do some other work. We are talking about, for example, the officer cadre, who would be receiving training as peace officers. Most of the officer cadre now goes through three years of training, so adding a number of months for training for enforcement responsibilities would just be part of that. In other words, there is a basis of training within the Coast Guard, and whether they do the additional training with the RCMP, which they are currently doing, or with the Fisheries enforcement officers, or at other colleges, would have to be determined. For instance, CCRA and CIC have their own training and enforcement colleges.

You do not take over the enforcement for all the government departments. No one does that in any country. The navy cannot do that, nor can the RCMP. No one can. Individual departments have their own legislation, and you have delegation within that. You would have to work out what the Coast Guard could do on behalf of the other departments, perhaps with just a phone call. Say it were the customs side of CCRA.. You need to negotiate that we have the capability and the training, and we can act on their behalf. They have to have a level of comfort that the Coast Guard can do that for any one of the regular departments that has its own specific legislation. You want basic enforcement training and then solid communications to confirm that you can act on behalf of them.

When an issue arises now, the navy phones CIC, that is, immigration, and asks for authority to act on their behalf. The navy does not have the authority to act unilaterally. Although I am not sure of this, I do not think the RCMP does, either. I believe the RCMP must have authority in, say, an immigration issue, to act. There is a certain police function, a certain peace officer responsibility, but then specific aspects lie with different departments.

Senator Forrestall: Is it not automatic?

Mr. Thomas: That is what you have to negotiate. Now it is done by a phone call. You may have to determine whether there could be situations where you could stop and inquire automatically, and if there were something specific, get further clarification.

Senator Forrestall: Finally, there was a suggestion about a fairly large helicopter for an extended viewing capacity for a revised Coast Guard. I do not think we need a Sea King on the Coast Guard vessel, but a number of "marinized," so to speak, helicopters are available off the shelf, to the best my knowledge, that are much cheaper, lighter and could do a good job of providing extended vision or dealing with a number of circumstances.

What would be the smallest size or the optimum size of vessel to accommodate that? What would that cost?

Mr. Thomas: We use small helicopters now in the Coast Guard. We have about 26 or 27 of them.

Senator Forrestall: What is the smallest vessel we use those off?

Mr. Thomas: It would be the Type 1000. They can touch down. They can be housed on the Type 1100, but they can touch down and drop people off or pick people up, However, hangers could only be provided for them on vessels that are one size up.

Senator Forrestall: How large is the Type 1000?

Mr. Thomas: It would be the size that one would use, optimally for this, perhaps, because those vessels are capable of going out to the 200-mile limit. I do not know exactly, but it would be several hundred tons.

Senator Forrestall: Are they over 4000 or 500 tons?

Mr. Thomas: Yes, they are.

Senator Forrestall: What is the cost?

Mr. Thomas: If you were to buy a commercial design, it would be in the order of $30 million.

Senator Forrestall: That is not too bad at all

Would you build them big enough to house the Halifax Rifles?

The Chairman: There is the question we were waiting for.

Senator Forrestall: They laugh at me. I will close with this: If we are to effect good Maritime security, history will show that it was the Halifax Rifles who first provided coastal defence in Atlantic Canada, and inasmuch as we were around long before you fellows were, I just want you to keep that in the back of your mind.

The Chairman: We concede the value of the Halifax Rifles, Senator Forrestall. We are anxious that they be recreated as an active force so we can stop raising that question at every hearing. That alone is a good reason to revitalize the rifles.

Mr. Thomas, just on that question, you said that a number of these vessels are about to be replaced?

Mr. Thomas: They should be replaced.

The Chairman: How many are there? Do you have a ballpark number?

Mr. Thomas: Eight or ten, something of that order.

The Chairman: Are they equally split coast to coast?

Mr. Thomas: They are also in the Great Lakes. They would be mainly in the Great Lakes and on the East Coast.

The Chairman: Great Lakes and the East Coast, including in the St. Lawrence?

Mr. Thomas: Yes.

The Chairman: Are there a couple on the West Coast?

Mr. Thomas: Yes.

The Chairman: You talked about a separate agency reporting to Parliament through the Minister of Defence.

Mr. Thomas: No, through the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

The Chairman: Does that follow on your logic of the peace officers being Fisheries officers?

Mr. Thomas: Also following the logic that if you want to continue to support commercial fishing, for instance, and support pleasure boating, science and fisheries more generally, it would be better not to have them in DND. In DND there is the question of the telescopic view of things. The telescope would be focused so much on the security side that other considerations could be diminished. On three occasions since Confederation, the decision has been made to keep this within Fisheries and Oceans. We keep coming back to that department, so there must be a good reason for doing that. It is largely because of the other roles they perform. Currently the focus is on security, but other roles are carried out all the time. We want to enhance their role and include security, not replace it with security.

Senator Smith: I have a country place in Coburg, Ontario. The house is located about 1,500 feet from the harbour where there is a Coast Guard station. I am sure you have visited it. We keep a boat in the harbour and, from there, we can travel to Rochester and the Thousand Islands. When people talk about the station, they usually talk about the assistance they gave to boats that ran into difficulties in bad weather.

If you were to increase activities on the Great Lakes — I do not know if you are talking about doubling the number of stations or tripling the number of stations — what activities are going on there to justify that increase that activity other than, say, assisting in bad weather? Is there a lot of skulduggery going on?

Mr. Thomas: There is much more activity than search and rescue.

Senator Smith: That is important.

Mr. Thomas: The Coast Guard does ice breaking in the Great Lakes and works jointly with the U.S. from Lake Superior all the way through to look after the navigation aids. Search and rescue is activity that goes on. There is also work to be done with regard to pleasure boats that is not search and rescue. Some of these activities involve basic training and safety inspection and are not a SAR activity.

In moving to an enhanced role there are several things to consider. One that may consider as you make your recommendations, Mr. Chairman, relates to pleasure boats. Pleasure boats are driven or sailed from Canada to the U.S., and operation licensing is required. The licensing body is the CCRA, not the Coast Guard. That function will be transferred to the Coast Guard. Currently, those licences are not systematized. They are put in a box on a shelf. If you want to check who is driving a particular boat and confirm that the operator should validly have that boat, there is no system that allows you to do that right now.

In a SAR incident where you found a boat that was turned over, the question is: Was it turned over because of a SAR incident or was it turned over because somebody was smuggling and they just left it? There is no way of checking that, and there should be.

Senator Smith: Would they do it for every boat over 20 feet?

Mr. Thomas: All pleasure boats.

Senator Smith: What about a 10.5-foot boat with an outboard motor?

Mr. Thomas: We are not looking at canoes, row boats and boats with up to 10 to 15 horsepower engines. No licences are required for the operation of these small boats, and they tend to stay in local waters. Our concern relates to boats with larger horsepower engines.

Senator Smith: What type of boat is required to be licensed now? What is the criteria? I would assume no licence is required for a rowboat.

Senator Meighen: I have a 9.9 horsepower runabout, and I am told I need to have a licence and pass a test.

The Chairman: What about your canoe?

Senator Meighen: It does not apply to my canoe.

Mr. Thomas: The difficulty with those licences is there is no way to validate their status. That issue needs to be addressed.

Senator Smith: That could be costly.

Mr. Thomas: There would be no cost. A proposal was put in by a private-sector company to provide that service free of charge to the department. The company would come up with the money. With revenues of, say, $25 every three years for the pleasure boater, the initial cost plus the payment of the contract would cover the costs. The cost to the government would be zero. The cost to the taxpayer would be about $8 a year for the boat that was being operated. The pleasure boating associations do not consider that to be unreasonable.

This is not just a security issue, it would include enhanced SAR. If and when we found a boat, we would be able to trace the owner and check other details.

It appears that the public would find that to be acceptable. If the proposal were for a charge of $20 or $30 a year, there might be some resistance, but $8 a year for the pleasure of driving a boat does seem like an untoward cost.

Senator Smith: To go back to my original question, to increase the activity to the level you have in mind, would you increase stations or boats by 50 or 100 per cent? Do you have any approximation in mind?

Mr. Thomas: I do not think you would have to do any of that. I think you would do the training and change the mandate. In this case, I do not think there would be significant increases in vessel resources. The vessels and people are already there. We are talking about the situation as it applies to the Great Lakes.

Senator Smith: I heard your remarks about why you did not think the Department of National Defence should be responsible for coastal protection, that is, the navy costs about 10 times as much. I appreciate, respect and applaud cost-effective thinking. Is that 10 times based on any data, or is that a gut feeling? I am not questioning it, I am just wondering if there is data.

Mr. Thomas: It takes into account the cost of, say, a frigate to do a task as opposed to a smaller vessel. Using a frigate is like using a 10-ton hammer to do a job as opposed to the appropriate, and smaller, tool. There is way more capability than you need. A frigate costs probably close to $1 billion. When you look at the total cost of the program, including the spares, the training, the infrastructure, there were 12 frigates at a cost of between $10 billion and $12 billion.

Senator Smith: You made reference to an incident where a ship on the Great Lakes would not stop and a helicopter was sent in. Were they up to skulduggery or do you know the nature of what they were doing?

Mr. Thomas: We had asked them to stop. We knew that they knew we had asked them to stop and they were not going to stop. It ship was out of Quebec City. They would not stop. We tried to come across the bow in front of them so that there could be no question about our request. Still, they would not stop.

Senator Smith: Were they doing something illegal that you were aware of or just being ornery?

Mr. Thomas: We suspected they were doing something illegal. We would not know until we did the verification.

Senator Smith: You mentioned the turbot wars. Say there were a revival of that situation and we concluded that the situation was addressed well and cost effectively, would we not just do the same thing again?

Mr. Thomas: I think we probably would. At that time, the Coast Guard ship did have the 50-calibre gun and they did have the trained people on board. It was clearly a Fisheries enforcement issue so enforcement people were on board. At the time, interestingly enough, the Prime Minister said he wanted the biggest red-and-white flag out there. We took one of our largest icebreakers out there simply because it was red and white and we raised our big flag, so everyone could see it because, of course, the event was reported in the media.

Senator Smith: When I was in Mr. Trudeau's government, when you had an idea that was going to cost money and you raised it with him, generally his first question was, "Do you have any ideas on where the savings can come from within your department to help pay for this?" If you had some credible ideas then you tended to have a longer conversation with him. If you did not, the conversation was pretty short.

Do you have any ideas as to where some savings could be made that would help make the case for some of these additional costs that you are discussing?

Mr. Thomas: The one example I gave you has two spin-offs. The first is savings. That is the notion of licensing pleasure craft from the point of view of security and individual safety. The estimate was that, at $25 for three years, there would be about a $7-million-a-year saving. That $7 million could go back into pleasure boating where it could be used to enhance security. As a result of that you have a system that allows you to provide security and to put money back into the system.

To go back to the efficiency that was displayed during the turbot wars, the fact that the naval vessel was there served as a backstop if something went drastically wrong. No one expected it to, and that is why there was total agreement at the time to stay over the horizon and out of sight. At the time it sounded like the right thing to do, and looking back it sounds even better.

Senator Smith: Did it work?

Mr. Thomas: It worked. They wanted a presence. The red and white of the Coast Guard is almost identical to the red and white of the U.S. Coast Guard. People actually see them as being the same. They are not, but they look the same. People have a perception that the Canadian Coast Guard has not only the same sort of mandate but the same capacity, if you like, because you see it all the time with the U.S. Coast Guard. Just having the red and white out there helped.

Senator Banks: Mr. Thomas, you have already referred to this in answers to other senators, but my belief is that, if it became common knowledge among shippers, and people who are boaters and other folks, that the Canadian Coast Guard did have an enforcement capacity, that the enforcement-by-sight factor would multiply by an exponential amount the effect of the actual events. Is that in your view a possible advantage of doing that?

Mr. Thomas: It is not just an advantage; I agree that would happen. The red and white colour has a connotation. The reason B.C. Tel and Tim Hortons used red and white in their advertising is because it has recognition. In one it was a rescue case and in the other one, with Tim Hortons, it was a feel-good thing. The point is that they saw it as being positive. It is highly visible. People think the Coast Guard has the enforcement role now. All you need is a few incidents where the enforcement role was carried out and the red and white was seen, and then you would get the multiplier effect.

Senator Banks: To be specific, a bad guy who does the research will know that the red ships with the white stripes, as opposed to the white ships with the red stripes, do not have an enforcement capacity and will not stop his ship. If the bad guys know that the red ships with the white stripes do have an enforcement capability, then that would make them more effective, would it not?

Mr. Thomas: Yes, it would.

Senator Banks: In many organizations that deal with unions, there is a line and management are not members of the union but folks below management are members of the union. Does that obtain in the Coast Guard? That is to say, do ships officers belong to the same union as seamen?

Mr. Thomas: No, they do not. There are two different unions.

Senator Banks: There is already a line there then, and it would be the ship's officers who would more likely in your view be practically trained to become peace officers; is that so?

Mr. Thomas: Yes, they would be, but in addition, for a boarding party you would need a ship's crew as well, so training would apply to some of the ship's crew. This is where I am suggesting that whether you have a piece of the union agreement dealing with the people who have this responsibility, as we had with the ship inspectors, or whether it is generally accepted, we think that the union will react totally negatively to this, but I am not sure that that will be the case.

Normally, if people are brought into the discussion and it is explained why it is good for Canada and why we should be doing it, the enforcement role would be accepted. If you look at the SAR people, there would be no more risk to individuals than there is now. Search and rescue is a high-risk venture. Carrying a side arm is a high-risk venture. However, not many vessels have shot back at us. It is a question of presence.

Senator Banks: Has there ever been a case where someone has shot at a Canadian Coast Guard vessel?

Mr. Thomas: Not that I can recall.

Senator Banks: You said the Coast Guard should be an independent agency reporting through DFO. Would that be as opposed to Transport?

Mr. Thomas: It should definitely not be Transport.

Senator Smith: I remember the activity that was going on in the St. Lawrence around Cornwall several years ago related to cigarette smuggling. People on the reserves were involved. The impression almost everyone had was that it was totally out of control. Was the Coast Guard involved in that?

Mr. Thomas: No, they were not, sir.

Senator Smith: Why were they not involved?

Mr. Thomas: They did not have a mandate to be involved.

Senator Smith: Is that because of the reserve?

Mr. Thomas: No. They had no enforcement responsibilities.

Senator Smith: Based on your knowledge, is my impression that it was totally out of control accurate?

Mr. Thomas: My knowledge is a layman's knowledge that I gained from what I read in the paper. It seemed that it was not so much out of control than there was, perhaps, a lack of willingness or a lack of ability to take action with respect to the reserves. It was partly a Canada-U.S. issue as well because it crossed the borders.

Senator Smith: I am sensitive in my support of bona fide Aboriginal causes. That was not one that fell into that category. Were there ever discussions about whether that would have been a role for the Coast Guard?

Mr. Thomas: No, there was not.

The Chairman: There were some discussions about whether it was worth the risk to police to ask them to go into the area. We have some witnesses on our agenda who might be able to clarify that.

Mr. Thomas, you alluded a couple of times to a plan to register vessels, including Senator Meighen's 10-horsepower.

Senator Meighen: That is 9.9.

The Chairman: Pardon me, 9.9 horsepower.

You say that a licensing system would be a no-cost event to the government, and that the annual cost to boaters would be about $8 a year. You told us that the suggestion was fairly broadly accepted by boating organizations. To coin a phrase: Why did that plan flounder?

Mr. Thomas: The Department of Fisheries and Oceans was going through an internal review at the time, so that no new initiatives were being considered while they went through a review of the status quo. It floundered for that reason, even though there was new money coming in and there were a number of positive indicators. In fact there was even a driver because Revenue Canada, which is currently doing it, reached agreement with the Coast Guard about five years ago that, as of a year ago April, they were going to stop. Fisheries had to pick it back up. There was an administrative push as well, if you like, to bring it back into the department.

Departmental assessments, as they were called, put all new initiatives on hold until that was resolved. In fact, the assessment is still ongoing. It will be complete, perhaps, by this summer.

The Chairman: You have a remarkable background that we did not do justice to in our introduction. You have been in the navy. You have been with the Correctional Service of Canada. You were Commissioner, Coast Guard. You have held senior positions in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, finishing up as Senior Assistant Deputy Minister.

Senator Forrestall asked you earlier about whether there is a real problem. Could you talk further about the void you see in the Great Lakes and the void you see on the littoral? Could you give us your impression of where we are missing out from a national security perspective in terms of protecting Canada?

Mr. Thomas: What I see is that Canada is putting increasing effort into security with respect to larger commercial vessels coming into Canada. Some steps have been taken. For instance, there was a recommendation to put a transponder on larger vessels to track them through.

In my mind, what seems to be the hole relates to the smaller vessels entering Canada from the U.S. or the U.S. from Canada. I am referring to something the size of a fishing vessel that is not required to carry a transponder but could most certainly carry any of the things we do not want them to carry, whether they are illegal aliens, drugs, terrorists or whatever. Dealing with smaller vessels is where I see the problem. That is one of the reasons — and excuse me for repeating it — that smaller vessels should be licensed in a way that would allow them to be tracked, as is done with vehicles. That would catch the small vessels coming into Canada as well as those going back and forth between Canada and the U.S.

Concerning the notion of transponders, I do not believe the decision has been taken as to what lower level of tonnage would be used to determine on which vessels a transponder could be placed. The cost of transponders has been decreasingly significantly over the years.

Many fishing vessels carry some technology, such as an emergency position indicator buoy. If something were to happen to a ship, such as it sinking or turning over, that device is activated by salt water and it gives off a signal. There is technology onboard those vessels. However, it only works if there is an emergency situation.

One would think that it would be worth the research effort to combine that technology with something that would give a signal all the time, just as a transponder would. For instance, it could be just a broadcast signal. Perhaps if it got a little salt water on it, it would speed up like an alarm system, or perhaps it could have some indicator showing that there is a problem. In the meantime, those vessels could be tracked.

You would be able to track all legitimate vessels. Vessels that are not carrying a transponder — in other words you do not see a signal — would be where you would focus your effort. This would narrow the numbers from the thousands down to a certain number on which you need to focus. The transponder would allow you to identify a number of these small vessels and you would focus on the others.

The problem is in coming to grips with the large number of smaller vessels. Transport Canada is primarily concerned with the larger commercial vessels. People do come in on the container ships and so on, but some of the smuggling has been on fairly small boats. Drug smuggling is done on small boats. Pleasure boats could do all of the things we are talking about. That is the area I see as being missed out.

The Chairman: Would I be putting words in your mouth, sir, if I said that efforts to enhance national security on each coast would also be significant steps towards improving our position vis-à-vis criminals and the illegal acts that are taking place off the coast?

Mr. Thomas: Absolutely, but not just the coast but the Great Lakes as well. It is not just terrorism that is driving it. It is what do we need from the point of view of our own policing security. It is a matter of making the best use of the capacity that you have. There is a fairly extensive capacity within the Coast Guard that needs training, and that would need a mandate.

When we talk about resources, sometimes that relates to the fuel to keep the vessel at sea. Currently, they are so strapped for resources that they keep vessels tied up. That also applies to National Defence, unless it has changed, which has one of its destroyers tied up on the West Coast. There is a shortage of money for fuel. We had to cut off an exercise on the West Coast because of a lack of money for fuel.

We are not talking about enormous increases in resources, just enough to allow the ships to do what they are supposed to be doing now. As they are replaced, you should take into account any new mandate. We could probably replace them with cheaper vessels than those that would fit the design worked up within the organization itself. The vessels were designed for a single purpose as opposed to an off-the-shelf, well-proven design.

The Chairman: Would you describe the Coast Guard as a wasted asset at the moment?

Mr. Thomas: Definitely not.

The Chairman: I am sorry, by "wasted" I meant underutilized.

Mr. Thomas: Yes, especially with regard to security where they are not utilized at all. However, when they are utilized in carrying out their core functions, they are strapped for resources. I would say that they would come back and argue that we do not have the resources to fulfil the mandate to the level that we think it should be fulfilled.

The Chairman: Would they say, "Do not give us this new job"?

Mr. Thomas: That is where it is. I do not think you can give it to them, unless you fund it. Without resources, it could not be given to any department. It is not as if they are that unhappy and saying, "We are looking for something more to do." They are not looking for more to do. That is part of the resistance that I have seen.

The Chairman: Nobody is looking for more to do. The question that Senator Forrestall was trying to get at, I think, was: Is there a problem that needs to be solved, and does it need to be solved urgently?

Mr. Thomas: I believe there is a problem that should be solved. That is to say, we do not have a handle on security enforcement in our littoral waters. We are starting to focus more and more on the larger commercial ships that are seen as being a primary threat, but we need to focus equally on the smaller vessels because I see them as an even higher risk.

We do not have the intelligence to indicate the extent of the problem, but it is improving. Even if it were significantly better, the question would be: What capacity would you use to react to that intelligence? We do not have that in place. I do not believe that the navy is the right tool. It is a very expensive tool for doing first response. A first response equates with the police going to their car to check out information. If they do find something at, say, a house, they do not immediately phone the military and ask them to intervene. The first response tends to be a low-key policing function. In most cases that is what we need.

The Chairman: Mr. Thomas, on behalf of the committee I want to thank you very much. Your testimony has been useful to us. We appreciate the research you have put into it with your colleagues before coming, as well as the breadth of your experience. We hope to be able to come back to you in the future. Our researchers may have some questions they will send to you in writing, and we would be grateful if you could address those.

For those of you following our work, in a few minutes the committee will hear from representatives of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

If you have any questions or comments, please visit our Web site by going to 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.

Our next witness is Assistant Commissioner Lenton. Welcome to the committee. I wonder if you would be good enough to introduce colleagues you brought with you and if you could qualify them for the committee, please?

Assistant Commissioner W. A. (Bill) Lenton, Federal Services Directorate, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you this morning. On my immediate right is Superintendent Peter Henschel, who is the officer in charge of our critical incident program. The particular interest here this morning is part of that program in the area relative to armed ship boarding and our capacity in that area. He would be able to supply any detail I may not be able to provide to you.

On my immediate left is Superintendent Bill Adams. Superintendent Adams is the officer in charge of the criminal organizations branch within our criminal intelligence directorate, and anything to do with the specifics of intelligence sharing and information sharing. Perhaps we can differentiate the two in the course of our meeting this morning. Superintendent Adams can address those issues.

To my far left is Superintendent Ken Hansen, who is the officer in charge of federal enforcement. He has, in his current duties, a particular interest with respect to the marine security aspect of things. He works as part of our border integrity group, which is one of the groups reporting to my position as the director of federal services within the RCMP.

The Chairman: Thank you, commissioner. My understanding is that you have a short statement you would like to make to the committee and this would be the appropriate time to do it.

Mr. Lenton: My objective is to highlight the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's integrated policing strategy to contribute to the marine security of Canada's major ports, including offshore and coastal enforcement.


I understand this is the focus of much of this Committee's recent work, including the 11 written questions on the RCMP's marine programs submitted to us by your staff. We have provided written answers to the Committee's staff, and trust that this will assist the Committee to understand our programs better.


The RCMP marine security program is one of the key national security programs that fall within my responsibility. More specifically in terms of RCMP internal organization, marine security falls under the responsibility of the federal enforcement branch, which is part of the RCMP's border integrity program.

The tragic events of September 11, 2001 led to a heightened concern with security, not just south of the border, but also around the world. Since that date, every federal, municipal and provincial government and law enforcement agency has been faced with continuously re-evaluating enhancing security at all our points of entry into the country whether by land, air or sea, and at our border between those points of entry.


The RCMP uses an intelligence-led, multi-disciplinary approach to gather criminal intelligence and target organized criminal and any terrorist-related activity at Canada's borders.

Through close national and global partnerships, the RCMP actively engages in information gathering and the sharing of intelligence.


The Government of Canada's increased investment in national security through its public safety and anti-terrorism, or PSAT, enhancement announced in the December 2001 budget, has increased our capacity in the areas of intelligence, enforcement and technology. This has enabled the RCMP to more effectively work and liaise with its domestic partners — including provincial and municipal police forces — as well as U.S. and international partners. These partnerships are invaluable in helping the RCMP to enhance its efforts towards a more integrated approach to marine security.

Prior to September 2001, the RCMP had identified ports as a priority with respect to organized crime. In the spring of 2002, the RCMP established its National Port Strategy. This has allowed us to work with our key domestic, international and U.S. government and law enforcement partners to strategically and tactically deal with criminal and any potential terrorist activities at Canada's major marine ports located in Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax.

Our objective is to take a forceful, integrated and calculated approach to prevent, deter and detect any illicit activity, cargo or people that may pose a threat to the safety and security of Canada, the U.S. and the world.

Through its port strategy, local management teams, LMTs, were created at three major Canadian marine ports, which involved key players such as CCRA and the local police forces of jurisdiction. These LMTs are mandated to implement measures and initiatives related to enhancing national security, combating organized crime and facilitating other investigations. The teams supplement the intelligence component through liaising with integrated border enforcement teams, integrated national security enforcement teams, and other government agencies such as CSIS.

The RCMP's role in marine security also includes enforcement of federal statutes in areas such as customs — other than at the ports of entry — illegal immigration, drugs, counterfeit goods, and national security. In addition to this federal role, we provide law enforcement under the Criminal Code at various ports where we are the local police of jurisdiction. To further our commitment to federal partners, the RCMP has joined the interdepartmental marine working group led by Transport Canada. This group is mandated to identify gaps in marine security and recommend ways of addressing those gaps to the government.

As part of the recent marine security announcement by Transport Canada, the RCMP will receive an additional $11.5 million over five years, which will fund three persons to conduct criminal records checks, increase training in armed ship boarding and fund eight investigators to our national support strategy. In addition, the RCMP has recently reallocated additional FTEs from other existing programs to form the RCMP component of the teams at Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax. Each of these ports will, therefore, have a core of eight RCMP members.

The RCMP's current plan of action toward marine security includes the following: first, the preparation of a strategic intelligence report on all major ports.

Second, we are developing protocols for sea-borne incidents as an appendix to the National Counter-terrorism Plan. Part of the sea-borne incident protocol will concern armed ship boarding for reasons of national security. While the RCMP has some capability in armed ship-boarding, there may be times where, due to the size of the vessel or other factors, the RCMP will not be capable of conducting an armed ship boarding. In such cases, other responses, such as the JTF2 or other military action, may have to be considered. We are working with DND and other agencies to enhance Canada's capability in this area.

Third, we are identifying specific needs and requirements for our emergency response teams to be better prepared to handle events or incidents related to ports or other marine locations. Although we have conducted numerous armed ship-boardings in the past, none has been for reasons of national security, so we are re-evaluating our Armed Ship Boarding Course Training Standard to determine how it should be modified.

Fourth, we have developed and implemented the RCMP National Ports Strategy. To support this strategy, we have created a National Management Team comprising all our key partners responsible for marine security. Local Management Teams are also in place at designated ports and consist of RCMP, CCRA and police of local jurisdiction.

My purpose for highlighting these particular action items is to help demonstrate the RCMP's serious commitment to the safety and security of Canadian marine ports.


In closing, I want to assure you we are very cognizant of the new realities Canada has to consider not only with enhanced marine security measures but also for our overall national security.

The RCMP will continue its law enforcement function in contributing to the safety and security of Canada's marine ports, coasts and off-shore waters.


The Chairman: Perhaps before we get going, could you clarify for us what FTE is please?

Mr. Lenton: I apologize for not specifying; FTE is a full-time equivalent — that is, a person-year, which used to be called a PY.

The Chairman: We blame Treasury Board for that one.

My impression from the commissioner was that the terrorism budget produced sufficient funds for the force to add eight full-time equivalents to its marine effort. When he mentioned this, I was a little stunned. Is that eight in total, or is that eight at each of your 16 locations?

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

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

Mr. Lenton: Yes, but there have been two funding packages. There was the initial one that came out — the PSAT funding, which was dedicated — and there was a series of 17 initiatives that were undertaken. Some of them were technology-based, some had FTEs involved; and they were broader than just the ports. The marine security MC focused uniquely on the needs of the marine security component.

The Chairman: MC being memorandum to cabinet?

Mr. Lenton: That is correct. It focused uniquely on the needs for maritime security. In that subset of applications, we received eight investigative FTEs, which we have complemented in part by reallocating some resources in the initial allocation from the more wholesome PSAT funding package.

The Chairman: Are you telling this committee that, as we speak today, you have eight people in Halifax, eight in Montreal and eight people in Vancouver that are doing 24/7 coverage of those ports?

Mr. Lenton: We do not have eight in each yet; the funding was just approved on May 29. We do have the local management teams in place and there are three people in each port. There are ongoing investigations in those ports, which are a redeployment of other resources based on the investigate projects that are underway. We have identified the 16 people who will be redeployed, and will be undertaking those redeployments as we can, because those people are doing other functions. It is a matter of timing to complete it, but the plan is in place to do that as we speak.

The Chairman: Perhaps I am just slow, but the question is how many people do you currently have in each port doing this function? Are you telling me it is less than eight?

Mr. Lenton: I am telling you there are currently investigative positions — there are three in each port on the ground at this time. I am telling you that complement will be increased by the new funding made available, as well as an additional 16 redeployed. Our ultimate goal is to have eight dedicated permanent people in each of the three ports, Halifax, Montreal and Vancouver.

The Chairman: By what date?

Mr. Lenton: That probably would be in place by the fall, I would expect. It is Superintendent Hansen's area for the deployment of those resources.

The Chairman: Senator Meighen is doing some math. He will have the supplementary question to this.

Eight people, 24/7, do not seem like very many policemen. They take holidays; they have sick leave; they work an eight-hour shift. The ports are huge. The committee has been to each of those ports and they cover miles and miles. In Vancouver, they cover a number of different locations. In Montreal, they run 20 kilometres down the river. Are you adequately staffed, assistant commissioner?

Mr. Lenton: No. However, duties are not 24/7 duties. These are investigative positions to conduct project policing with respect to issues such as internal conspiracies at the port. These are people who will work in the ports. As with any other deployment, if the investigation grows to where we need more people, we redeploy based on priorities toward the highest priority that we are facing at any time.

We would have liked to have had more, but there is only so much funding to go around, and that is what we have been able to do at this time with the funding available to us.

The Chairman: We have received testimony from your people in the ports that they cannot even get on to the ports without being identified the moment they step on to the ports. They say that their system of cell phones enables the organized criminals that are functioning at the ports to spot them right off the bat; and that they do not have nearly the people to deal with the problems they are facing. This is what they say when we visit them.

We run into a strange phenomenon where we get a whole lot of bad news when we talk to people on the ground, and we get good news here in Ottawa that things are in shape. What sort of the news will you give us?

Mr. Lenton: The reality is that there is significant activity going on in the ports; and there is significant activity going on in other areas of society.

The Chairman: What does "activity" mean?

Mr. Lenton: There is criminal activity, ongoing criminal investigations involving the ports; but there is also serious organized crime investigations going on landside. In some cases, the ports are only one portion of the overall investigation. In other words, if we are more typically used to dealing with a drug-type scenario, it is fairly easy to anticipate. The portion of the investigation involving the ports is that short period of time as the illicit cargo moves through the port project. It is not consumed on the port, it is not grown on the port, it moves through the port.

The Chairman: It is your choke point, is it not?

Mr. Lenton: It is a potential choke point for the commodity. It is not a choke point necessarily for the organization that drives the commodity. That is where we have to have a comprehensive approach that is intelligence-led. We may well be more effective dealing with what is happening in the port of Halifax by controlling an entity that is functioning in Toronto. I am using that hypothetically; but if the drivers are in Toronto, and we can control those by deploying organized crime investigators to deal with that, we will, in turn, control what happens in the port of Halifax.

Ideally, we would want to know that the contraband is aboard the vessel long before it reaches Halifax. We would not want to rely solely on the fact that it is a choke point. There are great numbers of items passing through that choke point in container cargo. It is almost impossible to balance that against the free movement of trade, cargo and legitimate commodities because it is important to the Canadian economy.

We cannot have an absolute 100 per cent secure port facility where only three containers per day can be cleared because vessels will simply go elsewhere. Our ports would become irrelevant, in that case. We have to do risk assessment in determining our actions and we have the eight dedicated people per port to examine port issues and to complement the other ongoing investigations.

The Chairman: I have a mathematical supplementary from Senator Meighen and a substantive supplementary from Senator Atkins.

Senator Meighen: I understood Mr. Lenton to say that we have three, three and three today, which makes nine, but that you would end up with eight. That would total 24.

Mr. Lenton: That is correct. If you will permit me, I will defer to Superintendant Hansen who has the more specific details on the current status at the ports and who comprises the local management teams. Perhaps that will get us back on track.

Senator Atkins: I assume that you chose Halifax, Montreal and Vancouver because they are the major container ports in Canada?

Mr. Lenton: That is correct.

Senator Atkins: What happens in Saint John, St. John's and Toronto?

Mr. Lenton: That is part of the challenge and the reason we have to rely heavily on intelligence-led policing as an approach. We have to rely on the people who are in those areas. There is nothing to prevent us from creating an ad hoc working group in Quebec City or in Saint John or in St. John's to work with an issue in respect of the relevant port. Those kinds of police operations are ongoing. The investigation may be triggered from far afield — nowhere close to St. John's, for example. It may come from information picked up during an organized crime investigation in Vancouver. The information we receive through informants, intelligence or other kinds of investigative techniques such as electronic surveillance, could indicate that the commodity might enter through St. John's. If that is the case, then we would complement our investigation in Vancouver by placing people there to focus on who made the phone call to whom, who are the players, and whether they are known locally. We would rely on the knowledge of the local police departments to complement the investigations happening elsewhere.

Senator Atkins: Is it a task force?

Mr. Lenton: They become task forces that are created as required. In some areas, we have permanent task forces for organized crime activities, and in some places, they are ad hoc. It depends on the scenario. The teams at the three particular ports we have been discussing — Halifax, Montreal and Vancouver — are permanent deployments. It is not a task force per se but they are not limited to eight in number. If they happen to work on a file where they require 24/7 over a period of three months so that they can deal with the issue, then we would redeploy ourselves in conjunction with our other partners so that the issue is covered as adequately as possible.

If you wish for clarification, Superintendent Hansen could add some words. I do not want the record to inaccurately reflect what we are doing.

Superintendent Ken Hansen, Federal Services Directorate, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: When we set this up, we had a core staff from CCRA, the RCMP and the police force of jurisdiction. We are not the police force of jurisdiction in the three major ports. I believe Mr. Lenton was referring to that minimum core — which would be three: one RCMP, one CCRA, and one police force of jurisdiction. In reality, most of the teams are larger than that depending on the project.

With the new funding, apart from reallocation, each of those teams will have a component of eight RCMP members, in addition to the members from the other police force jurisdiction, the CCRA, et cetera. This will greatly expand the team and the capability for doing the projects. In reality, we will have up to 24 RCMP members for the three ports. That could increase at a later date, depending on what our intelligence shows.

Senator Forrestall: Would the presence of the additional force alleviate the need, to some greater or lesser extent, for the arming of customs and immigration people?

Mr. Hansen: That is a whole different issue.

Senator Forrestall: I know it is, but you opened the can.

Mr. Hansen: These members would, obviously, be armed whereas CCRA and CIC staff would not be armed. In that respect, it would be more of an armed presence than before. That is about as much as I am able to say in response to your question. I do not know.

Senator Forrestall: If nothing more, it would provide a deterrent to someone.

Mr. Lenton: I would like to complement that question. In reality, CCRA is concerned about how we use their people in such a scenario — not only in the ports. The key role is twofold: First, to give us the best access to their intelligence data banks and the information that they may have that would drive the investigation forward; and second, to bring their expertise in customs law enforcement. They provide information on what is an infraction and what is not; what are controlled goods and what are not controlled goods. We deal with some things that are marginal and they know where to get the information they need — for example concerning counterfeit goods. We recently had a seizure of counterfeit T-shirt that were not of the quality that the brand name would normally indicate to people. Thus, with that kind of expertise their role is not to increase the armed presence but rather to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the group with respect to dealing with a port issue and a border issue and with the movement of, in the case of CCRA, commodities through the border process.

Senator Forrestall: I believe I understand that. Let us come back to the question with which we seem to be struggling: Whether there is a need for improvement of Canada's coastal security. It seems clear to us that there is.

We have always relied on the force. We are accustomed to the presence of your vessels in our harbours. I understand that you will build one more for the Maritimes. That makes me wonder about the coastal distance around Newfoundland; what will you do about Newfoundland? You used the phrase "Maritimes." Does that include Newfoundland?

Mr. Lenton: Our current vessel on the East Coast is stationed in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Senator Forrestall: It does not do any work in the Maritimes.

Mr. Lenton: It is deployed on an as-needed basis. Last year, when the Burnt Church scenario was occurring, we required a platform from which to work on the water. We had the vessel brought from Newfoundland and had it off shore in New Brunswick to deal with the issue there.

Senator Forrestall: What is the size of the commissioner class?

Mr. Hansen: They are between 17 and 19 metres. The largest is the Inkster, which, I believe, is 19 metres long.

Mr. Lenton: That would equate a 65-foot vessel. They are catamaran style. They are not designed to sail the high seas. In Newfoundland, numerous areas are inaccessible by road, therefore, we need a floating detachment to provide those communities with policing service. The vessels move in and dock at shore so that allows us access to relatively small ports and they have off-load capacity of smaller vessels. They have all of the services that one would normally expect from a police office in that community while they are there. They move on to do a patrol circuit.

The Chairman: How long did it take to get from St. John's to Burnt Church?

Mr. Lenton: The vessel travels at about 25 knots.

Senator Forrestall: I thought that you said that you trucked it over.

Mr. Lenton: I believe that they sailed it across. I am not sure of the amount of time that it took. However, I know that they had ample time to get it there as they saw the situation evolving. We did have other vessels in New Brunswick. We had rigid inflatable zodiacs on the water. As the situation escalated, the decision was made that we needed something a little more permanent and stable at large so they brought this vessel across.

Senator Atkins: How many helicopters are there for Canada?

Mr. Lenton: There is at least one at Moncton and I think that they still have one on Newfoundland. I do not believe that they have one at "H" division. I believe the one in Moncton services both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. I do not know whether my colleagues could add more clarity to that.

Senator Atkins: That is pretty thin.

Mr. Lenton: The resources are thin, sir.

Senator Forrestall: What about Prince Edward Island?

Mr. Lenton: For helicopters? None. They would also use the Moncton one. The distances there are not such that it would be problematic.

Senator Forrestall: With respect to the commissioner class, are all five of the boats catamarans? Is the one being built a catamaran?

Mr. Lenton: It is a catamaran style, yes.

Senator Forrestall: All of them?

Mr. Lenton: All of them, yes.

Senator Forrestall: They are operating on the West Coast of British Columbia. Would they be suitable for similar operations in Atlantic Canada?

Mr. Lenton: My understanding is that when the need in Atlantic Canada arose, which was about the same time as we had to redeploy the vessel from "B" division to take care of the Burnt Church crisis, one of the things we considered was moving a vessel from the West Coast to the East Coast. The length and the structure of the vessels on the West Coast were built for the type of wave and seas that you typically see on the Pacific Ocean. I am told that the Atlantic Ocean is somewhat different to navigate. Therefore, the structure and the construction of the one that is currently being built for the Atlantic coast will be adjusted. They will make it suitable for the types of waters it will have to navigate.

They paid very close attention to that. They did not want to transport one from the West Coast to the East Coast and have it not be a functional piece of equipment.

Senator Forrestall: What is the cost?

Mr. Lenton: The construction cost is somewhere in the order of $2 million, and the operation cost annually is somewhere in the order of $1 million for staffing. You need a four-person crew for each outing.

Senator Forrestall: Is that operation and maintenance?

Mr. Lenton: Yes. If you wanted to double-crew it, chances are that the $1 million would not cover that. There is a cost-sharing arrangement for the new one for the Atlantic. The provinces will contribute to the cost of some of the personnel to assist, because there is a degree of provincial policing to it.

Senator Forrestall: How does one crew work seven days on, seven days off? Do you just shut the boat down?

Mr. Lenton: Our goal is to have eight people assigned to that vessel so that they will be able to be out on a seven-day rotation. Typically, there are eight on board each time the vessel goes out.

The Chairman: For clarification, do eight constitute a double crew? Is four a single crew, and eight is a double crew?

Mr. Lenton: Each time the vessel leaves port there are four crew members aboard. If that vessel is out for seven days, you would need another four people when that vessel returns.

The Chairman: That would be "double crewing"?

Mr. Lenton: That is correct.

The Chairman: The budget of $1 million is for a single crew. What is the rule of thumb? Is it an additional $100,000 per crew after that to make it a double crew? If you have a double crew, does it cost about $1.4 million to function?

Mr. Lenton: I would suggest it would be in that area of magnitude.

The Chairman: How many vessels are double crewed?

Mr. Lenton: I believe that all of the vessels in "E" division are double crewed. The one in Newfoundland is currently double crewed as well.

The Chairman: For our audience, "E" division is where?

Mr. Lenton: "E" division is British Columbia. The ones in Newfoundland are "B" division. I believe they all are double crewed, but we can confirm that.

Senator Forrestall: You have had about a year with your integrated policy. Can you tell us how you are getting along with other enforcement agencies? How you are getting along with the new Secretary of Homeland Security in the United States? How are you getting along with the Coast Guard in the United States and the U.S. enforcement agencies? Can you comment?

Mr. Lenton: The working relationship is effective and functional. We attend numerous forums with our counterparts. In Canada, we probably have had more success in bringing things together than the Americans.

Senator Forrestall: What do you mean by that?

Mr. Lenton: The majority of my comments will be in respect to law enforcement. Canada Customs' role is primarily revenue generation and they work at the ports of entry, per se. As soon as you are dealing with an organized criminal activity involving a customs infraction, it becomes an RCMP responsibility. Therefore, when it is regulatory under the Customs Act, it is the responsibility of Canada Customs. When it is higher-level organized crime and you require wiretap techniques or undercover techniques, it becomes an RCMP-led investigation with the assistance required from Customs.

The U.S. customs, at least until Homeland Security, was a full enforcement agency. It would not be uncommon for the RCMP to be dealing in a drug transaction investigation directly with U.S. customs in the same way that we would deal with the FBI and the same way that we would deal with the secret service on a counterfeit matter or with their immigration and naturalization service on an immigration matter.

The same applies to immigration. The immigration system and the Minister of Immigration look after the immigration, per se. When it becomes a matter of dealing with a group of individuals who are trying to manipulate the immigration system — for example, a criminal organization involved in human smuggling or trafficking — it becomes an RCMP investigation.

Many of the things that the Americans are trying to create with Homeland Security by taking the enforcement component out of U.S. customs and U.S. INS and moving it towards a more holistic approach already exists in Canada. It is not exactly the same, but a significant amount is the same. Much of it from the high-end criminal investigation perspective falls under the responsibility of one agency. We partner with our other enforcement groups and regulatory groups.

Senator Forrestall: You are a collector and dispenser of data and information. Do you do any of your own analytical work?

Mr. Lenton: We do. That is the area of expertise of Superintendent Adams. I will make some opening comments and I will have him complement the answer. That is where the difference is between information and intelligence. Many people confuse the two as to what it is. The information does not become intelligence until it has been subjected to some kind of analytical process and is linked up to mean something.

Sharing intelligence, typically, is not a significant problem. Sharing information is a problem because information is collected by different agencies for different reasons under different statutory controls and regulations, and there are limitations as to what they can do with that. That is one of the issues that we continually are working to try to achieve: the appropriate balance to respect the privacy of individuals and, at the same time, provide the most secure environment for Canadians to live in.

Superintendent Adams may want to add to that to clarify that point.

Superintendent Bill Adams, Federal Services Directorate, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: That was well said. There is a misnomer within even the law enforcement community as to the difference between information and intelligence. Within the criminal intelligence directorate, we have a branch that is devoted toward the analysis of information from a variety of different sources — not only internal to our organization, but also from our external partners and open sources from a variety of different areas of which we collect information.

That information is analyzed to produce an intelligence product, which is then disseminated through a variety of different ways and through a variety of different methods. For example, the product of the analysis could be a top secret document and yet we could modify that document to provide information to another government department or another agency; we can downgrade the security through editing and so forth. In that way, one product can be distributed in a variety of ways depending on the client and the requirements that we have to protect that information for national security or other means.

Senator Forrestall: Are you saying that you protect that information for national security purposes, not necessarily in the best interests of the force, or are you saying the opposite, which I would find strange?

Mr. Adams: Through integrated policing and our efforts to become intelligence-led, whatever can be shared is shared.

Senator Forrestall: It is shared.

Mr. Adams: Yes.

Senator Forrestall: Does CSIS get at you from time to time?

Mr. Adams: We have a good relationship with CSIS when it relates to the sharing of intelligence. The problems that we have had in the past and the ones that make the paper most often are problems with sharing information because of disclosure rules. Oftentimes, the information that they want to share cannot be shared in an investigative environment. That is where we often run into our problems.

Senator Meighen: If my memory serves me well, the force has benefited from a substantial budgetary increase for information gathering, processing and turning into intelligence.

On the topic of cooperation and sharing what you can share with other agencies, we have all heard that one of the big challenges in the U.S. has been the lack of sharing. Do you think we are doing better and that you, as the RCMP are doing better? If so, why? Is it because of increased funding, institutional changes, personal relationships, or are we, for some reason, different in this area than the Americans? What is the situation?

Mr. Adams: I will give you a biased view. I think we are the best or among the best in the world.

Senator Meighen: I beg your pardon?

Mr. Adams: We are the best or among the best in the world.

Senator Meighen: At doing what?

Mr. Adams: At collecting information —

Senator Meighen: Fine, but it could sit in someone's drawer, could it not?

Mr. Adams: — and creating an intelligence product —

Senator Meighen: What about sharing it internally?

Mr. Adams: — and sharing the intelligence product, yes.

Senator Meighen: Is it just because we are nice people or we have the institutional framework to do it, or we have a tradition?

Mr. Adams: I think the assistant commissioner alluded to the fact that we, as a federal police force, are integrated in ourselves. Many agencies need to come together to form a full federal mosaic or picture. We have an advantage in that we, as a federal police force, are looking at all areas of criminality across this country. We do not have to compete. That is what it comes down to in many cases with other interests.

We are now integrating and, certainly, since September 11, all other federal departments and agencies are coming together. Whereas before we talked about integration, in the last two years, there have been definite moves to ensure that not only are we physically integrated, but also the information that we are collecting and the intelligence that we are producing are shared.

Senator Meighen: Has this budgetary increase allowed you to mine more information at home and abroad? Where has the largest amount of the money gone to, or where is it going? I am not asking for names of people or the techniques used, but have there been any changes in the way or the places that you mine for information or, down the chain, convert into intelligence?

Mr. Adams: The assistant commissioner talked about the 17 initiatives that were sponsored by the PSAT money. A lot of that speaks to infrastructure. Some of it speaks to resources.

With respect to intelligence, the commissioner's goal of having us be an intelligence-led organization has created the culture where all of our employees are intelligence officers. From a criminal intelligence directorate perspective, we are attempting to go out, monitor and mentor the collection of that information. Many times through either projects or criminal investigations, a lot of information is collected, but it is not made available to us at the headquarters environment, so that it is not centrally collected into the NCDB database.

The emphasis, money and push has been to go out and try to integrate the collection process so that it comes to one central location and that it can be advantaged by our criminal analysis people in creating an intelligence product from the information. As you all are aware, it is the one or the two pieces of information that may be sitting in a notebook or the bottom drawer of a member's desk that could be the key to creating an intelligence product that is of greater value not only to us but also to our partners.

The Chairman: When you mention sharing intelligence, Superintendent Adams, we are all familiar with the days of the security service and the discussions that we had at the time where intelligence was being shared freely within the force. Many of us suspected it was not, and it took the McDonald Commission to finally establish that it was not. It appears that we have a new security service in place now, that we have the same intelligence capacity in the RCMP now that we had when the security service existed. Is that a fair question?

Mr. Adams: Are you asking if we are now in competition with CSIS?

The Chairman: I am asking what your current capabilities are.

Mr. Adams: From a directorate point of view, we are better engaged with our field personnel. Since September 11, we are more focused on information collection and intelligence production. We are also more focused on working together with our partners — not only within Canada, but those outside Canada, predominantly, with the United States — in the collection and sharing of intelligence, also.

The Chairman: You talked about a seamless transition when a customs matter went from being a revenue collection question to an organized crime question. What exactly happens? Does the RCMP invoke an act and declare the matter theirs? Does customs decide that it is beyond their capacity and ask the RCMP to step in? How does it work when control of a case moves from customs to the RCMP?

Mr. Lenton: A memorandum of understanding between the two agencies, CCRA and the RCMP, governs the relationship. Typically, the intelligence component of the customs group will be aware of the scenario that is evolving and they will see very quickly it has gone beyond their capacity. That happens, for example, if they do what we call "a cold seizure" of a significant quantity of contraband; by protocol, they will call the RCMP immediately to say what they have found.

The Chairman: Define cold seizure?

Mr. Lenton: That is something where the customs officer has, by virtue of training and skills, either found a person carrying contraband or, through their risk assessment of the container traffic, decided to search a container and find something of a contraband nature that is significant in size.

The Chairman: Contrast that to a "hot seizure"?

Mr. Lenton: That would be where we have information and knew a particular vessel or container was containing contraband. We would alert customs that it is coming their way. We want it to pass the choke point in a discrete fashion, monitoring who is showing an interest in it, then we can do a "controlled delivery" and try to take that inland to the criminal organization that is driving the actual illicit active.

The Chairman: Could you also elaborate on intelligence-based policing? Every time a member of the RCMP comes before us and talks about a shortage of personnel they say it is okay because they are doing intelligence-based policing, which means they do not need as many police officers here because they are using better information there and applying their resources more efficiently.

What exactly is intelligence-based policing? Where does it start, who runs it, how does it go and how do you get it so that the smaller number of people that you have can work more efficiently?

Mr. Lenton: Intelligence-based policing is as much a behaviour as a concept in and of itself. The ideal case with intelligence-led policing is the front-line police officer patrolling a neighbourhood at 3:00 in the morning and notices a vehicle that is out of the ordinary, takes the time to document that and uploads it into a system readily available to them. That may not mean anything to that person. However, it may be a significant event to an ongoing criminal investigation in which we were trying to link person A with person B and suddenly the patrol person found out that night the vehicle registered to one of the persons of interest is sitting in front of the address of the other person. That is one component.

The Chairman: Stop there. The constable knows his neighbourhood. He has a computer in the vehicle, types in the licence plate, the make, maybe the VIN number and sends it in. How does it get from whomever he sent it to, to someone in another city? What is the route that it tracks over to get to a place where it is useful?

Mr. Lenton: It depends on the level of activity in the ongoing investigation. There are systems where we have what we call a persons-of-interest system on CPIC. That would come up. They would query it and suddenly realize that vehicle licence is of interest to someone in another city. That is a direct link. There is also the "silent hit," in which the investigator who entered the vehicle as one of interest would get a message indicating that a constable checked that vehicle the previous night three o'clock in the morning. They would see that it is of interest and contact their brother officer — either in our force or in another force — and find out what the circumstances were.

With intelligence-led policing, ideally the patrol people would know what areas are of interest to the investigative people so they can start recording, keeping track of that. Intelligence-led policing is more than that. It is a question of taking the information that is gleaned from the ongoing investigations — from our informants, from agents that we use in ongoing files — and do what is called a "threat and risk assessment" on different organizations.

The Chairman: Take it a step at a time. You talked about informants. How many informants would the RCMP have? One hundred? One thousand? Ten thousand?

Mr. Lenton: I would not be able to provide you with a number. Informants are controlled by division level. We could get the number. It is a question of whether they are active or not active.

The Chairman: As a ballpark? When you say "informant" I assume that is someone who is either paid or with whom you have a special relationship for one reason or another. You are not talking about a citizen calling 911, you are talking about someone with whom you have a relationship and some measure of control that would cause them to cooperate with you.

Mr. Lenton: I cannot respond with a simple yes because some of the things you said are accurate and some are not. Fundamentally, an informant is someone who is providing us information that is of interest to us. We may or may not compensate them for the information. We have to be careful. When you say that we have control over them, you start getting on difficult legal territory. If you assume that you have control over someone, then you could become — in the eyes of the court, at least —an "agent" and you become responsible for that person. Then you are required to disclose under the law that you have tasked that person or that they are under your control. Therefore, an informant is a free spirit who has chosen to provide information for whatever reason.

The Chairman: You described "agent." What is the difference between an agent and an informant?

Mr. Lenton: An agent is someone dealing with us in a fashion similar to informant, but knowingly will have to go court and testify as to what they have done. That signifies that if we are doing an investigation that involves organized crime, most likely we will have to offer that person a protection package after the testimony. That could be a relocation, new identity, that type of thing.

The Chairman: Those are two sources of information that you would feed into the intelligence stream?

Mr. Lenton: Those are among several.

The Chairman: Could you list the others for us and give us a brief outline?

Mr. Lenton: There are the surveillance reports. Our surveillance teams are conducting surveillance in the ongoing investigations.

The Chairman: Are the surveillance teams are all members of the RCMP or are there some non-members?

Mr. Lenton: No, they would be police officers.

The Chairman: Always police officers?

Mr. Lenton: Yes. I am hesitating because the customs people, in a joint force may not be working on their own, but they may be riding partner in a car under surveillance if there was something of significance with respect to customs that we expected to run across in that surveillance. Primarily, they are sworn police officers or peace officers, and they will either be the RCMP or of the police force of jurisdiction.

The Chairman: The watchers who are used for surveillance left the RCMP with the security service?

Mr. Lenton: I am not exactly sure what you mean by "watchers?"

The Chairman: Perhaps that is before your time.

Mr. Lenton: It is a physical surveillance where we watch the person using, where possible, the same method of transportation that they are using. For example, if they are on foot, we surveil them on foot. If they are in a vehicle, we do it by vehicle.

There is also electronic surveillance, which is court-authorized under part 6 of the Criminal Code. There is then information gleaned from those lines that we will use as intelligence, to find out who is talking to whom about what. Our investigators contribute their findings, observations and contacts. There is information from seizures that we make under a search warrant. Such information can help us make links between people and provide us with information on a particular organized crime group of interest, for example.

As we focus on these particular groups, the intelligence-lead component is the fact that you try to get the best information possible before you invest significant resources in a particular group to investigate. You want to ensure that you are not investigating someone who represents a lower threat than someone else who you are not investigating. Therefore, the process of intelligence led to try and collect as much information as possible.

As Superintendent Adams suggested in his response, we also work with our foreign counterparts — the Americans where possible — and other international agencies. If you are dealing with a transnational organized crime group, there can be intelligence and information from other countries that becomes of interest to us as we try to be intelligence-led.

It is a question of doing the best we can in allocating scarce resources against the group that represents the highest risk — be that a national security risk or an organized crime risk — while recognizing that we have a core mandate to deliver with respect to the day-to-day functioning of what we do in other types of investigations, whether that is on the federal side or the contract side of the slate.

Senator Smith: Several months ago in Vancouver, we met with the person who had formerly conducted the policing authority for what was then the Vancouver Harbour Commission. About three years ago we had legislation that established a whole bunch of independent port authorities, similar to the airport port authorities, which was intended to have them operate in a more cost-effective break-even basis.

To me, it symbolized a jurisdictional swamp in which you can have a problem that is not clearly in anyone's primary jurisdiction. I regard the RCMP as the foremost policing authority in this country, with due respect to other very worthy and notable ones. Therefore, I will start with you and see if you can enlighten me.

I am amazed that ships seem to be able on leave our harbour with containers full of stolen cars and the extent that we are doing much about this seems very little. Subsequent to hearing about this in Vancouver, there were some newspaper articles in which some "deep throat" who was an authority from within the organized crime movement talked with incredible candour about how they just steal cars literally to order and how they seem to usually be able to do it with impunity. There have also been stories about the extent to which this activity has been rampant in Montreal.

It would seem to me that when you are loading ships with containers full of stolen cars, quite a few people must know about this activity. I am not suggesting the Mounties have primary responsibility, but can you enlighten me as to whether any progress is being made on getting a grip on this. We must be talking about hundreds of millions of dollars worth of crime?

You are in touch with police authorities in other countries, which would include the ports to which some of these ships are going. Can you enlighten us on this? Can you give us any cause to feel that some authority somewhere — sooner or later — will do something about this? Why are the insurance companies not screaming bloody murder? Maybe they are for all I know. It mystifies me. They seem to regard it as the cost of doing business. However, it does offend me that this seems to be so rampant in our country. What can you tell us about it?

Mr. Lenton: The fundamental problem is theft of auto — not the ports per se, in my view. The ports, as was suggested earlier, are a conduit. However, keep in mind that those containers are not loaded on the port. They are loaded at some off-site and brought onto the port. One container looks pretty much like the other container, with the exception of the paperwork that follows. The detection process is looking at the paperwork and trying to find out what is in the container and what may be suspect in a container. Canada Customs would typically look at that.

As far as the degree of attention focused on what is leaving Canada versus what is coming into Canada, I would not be able to tell you how they divide their energies and efforts. With respect to stolen cars, as you suggested, the auto industry is concerned about that. There are different techniques to try to make the high-end vehicles more difficult to steal. Some police forces have specific teams dedicated to auto theft to become experts on how to deal with that particular element.

The other component is that Canadians in general are pretty much unaware of how much organized crime affects their day-to-day lives. The insurance each of you pays on your private vehicle is greater because of those containers of vehicles leaving the ports. It is a question of a collective effort from the owners, from the vehicle manufacturers, to the insurance industry, to the policing industry and to the ports authority. There is no one particular place you can aim at as being problematic.

Senator Smith: Let us explore one area that would fall within your purview, and that would be getting intelligence from foreign police forces.

Do you have any idea of the primary ports where these ships are docking? Are these countries where maybe policing officials are "subsidized" for turning a blind eye? Are you able to be helpful by getting information that these ships are going somewhere? Do you have any handle on where they are going?

Mr. Lenton: I will answer that partially and perhaps Superintendent Adams will have more on that from the intelligence side. You are right to assume that in certain jurisdictions the vehicles arrive at the other jurisdiction and, again, the container leaves the ports, it is unloaded and then the vehicles disappear into the market in that particular jurisdiction and they are not easy to trace.

In terms of securing the Canadian markets, particularly on the incoming side but as well on the outgoing side, it is a question of whether we should have an increased presence in foreign ports. We have that now with immigration, we have immigration control officers at certain points of departure. The RCMP has a liaison program. In the early stages of the marine security package, there was discussion as to whether we should place RCMP investigators — more than liaison officers — in ports, and whether we should have people in ports with customs. We worked closely on the people side with the immigration control officers in the jurisdictions with respect to individuals. Those are things that probably would help.

Senator Smith: If the police forces in some of these countries become aware of it, do they cooperate? I am all in favour of Canadian exports, but this is one area where I draw the line. I find it hard to believe we cannot come to grips with this when it is on such a wide scale.

Mr. Lenton: For the most part, we have cooperation from police forces in foreign jurisdictions. Admittedly, in some locations, we have to be selective in regard to both the agencies and the persons within them with whom we deal. One of the key roles of our liaison officers abroad is to, for example, deal with situations involving particular ports that are receiving a lot of illicit goods from Canada. The liaison officer would find out who we could rely on in that jurisdiction and what we could do from that side of the spectrum.

Mr. Adams: I agree with the assistant commissioner. The issue is about theft of vehicles. That goes on every day in our Canadian cities. In fact, it has escalated in part as a result of the vehicles that are leaving Canada. We get information from foreign agencies. In fact, last week I got some information from our liaison officer in Vienna about two vehicles over there with Ontario plates. We checked and they were there for legitimate reasons, although they probably should not have been showing the Ontario plates at the time. However, that is another issue.

Senator Smith: No ports in Austria, though.

Mr. Adams: No.

It comes down to the fact that, again, we are dealing with trying to be an intelligence-led organization and putting our resources to where the greatest criminality occurs. The whole probability of solvability is ensuring that our money and resources are put into acts of criminality that have a high impact on Canadian society in which we can actually make a dent or, in some way, resolve. It is not that stolen autos are not; but in the present scheme of things they are not the highest priority on the list.

With the phenomenal number of cargo containers going through our Canadian ports, it would be akin to stopping every vehicle on the Trans-Canada Highway. We have seen through our operation pipeline that where we do enforcement and integration action on our highways, we are successful in uncovering criminal activity. It just comes down to the resources, the number of vehicles or, in this case, the number of containers that are leaving port.

You must also appreciate that people can say pretty well anything they want on television or in public forums, whereas we have a higher test that we have to live by in order to get authorizations for criminal investigations.

Where that information or intelligence is available, then we can project, again based on the priorities and resources that we have available, toward that.

Senator Smith: I can understand how it is difficult when it is individual cars we are talking about. However, when you have a ship with hundreds of these, it is very hard to believe that, even though they are in a container, some people working in the port would not have a good idea of what was going on. I find it frustrating that we are not getting to the bottom of this. That is all.

Senator Meighen: Does it depend on the priority or does it depend on something else as to whether you would only react to information or whether you would be proactive and do spot checks? It seems to me spot checks are a great deterrent. Every once in a while there tends to be a Ride Program in Toronto. It tends to cut down on the number of people drinking and driving. They do not do it every night, but they might do it tonight.

Do you do a lot of spot checks without having information? Or do you not have the resources for that?

Mr. Lenton: You will recall that the ride program underwent a constitutional challenge in the early stages. The Supreme Court of Canada decided that given the problems with impaired driving it was a valid violation of personal rights to be subjected to a ride check.

With respect to container traffic, in a way, they do spot checks now in that customs will select randomly a number of containers to look at. That is the equivalent of a spot check. If you were to try to do this with every container, you would jam the system. That is the reality and the practicality of doing a spot check in this particular type of a scenario.

Senator Smith: Let me give you an example. Highway 407 was recently privatized. They check the licence plate, which is how they bill you. Would you know offhand if there is a system by which the licence plate of a recently stolen car would show up on your system and then alert someone? Do you know if that occurs?

We will have more and more toll roads where you do not have collectors. It is done that way where the licence plate comes up. They know they have to get the licence plates or they do not get paid. Would you know offhand if that is in place?

Mr. Adams: I do not know if it is in place. The technology is there to do it, but we also run into privacy issues with respect to monitoring the comings and goings of individuals. .

The Chairman: They are put into containers off port and then trucked to the port, so you do not get to see the licence plate. Was that not your point?

Mr. Lenton: That was my point. However, I think the senator is suggesting that from point of theft to point of containerization, the vehicle will take a roadway. If the vehicle happened to use the 407, and the licence plate is picked up, is there any system in place that would cause a trigger? That would require two things to be in place.

Senator Smith: It may be just a stolen car that is not going on a ship.

Mr. Lenton: Your point is well taken. The issue is that the owners would have to know their car was stolen prior to it taking the toll route. They would have to report it. I cannot answer whether in the province of Ontario, or elsewhere, they have systems in place to monitor automatically vehicular traffic if there is any linkage.

Senator Smith: You might ask the OPP.

Mr. Lenton: I will. It is an interesting point. I will follow up with them. I cannot answer you whether they have it or not at this point in time.

Senator Meighen: Mr. Lenton, in your third objective in the written submission you gave to us, you say:

Although you have conducted numerous Armed Ship Boardings in the past, none have been for reasons of national security so we are re-evaluating our Armed Ship Boarding Course Training Standard to determine how it should be modified.

Do I understand, then, that if there has been a boarding for reasons of national security it has not been done by you but, rather, by the navy?

Mr. Lenton: To my knowledge, Canada has not done an armed ship boarding for national security reasons. The ones we have done have typically been drug offloads. There are some significant differences when you approach an armed ship boarding with respect to a drug offload versus a national security threat.

Senator Meighen: What is your distinction? First, what is the difference between a normal boarding and a national security boarding?

The Chairman: While you are at it, do national security boardings not take place all the time in the Gulf of Oman or the Straits of Hormuz?

Mr. Lenton: I guess it depends on what you are classifying as a national security boarding.

Senator Meighen: That is my question.

Mr. Lenton: A national security boarding would be a boarding where we have information that there is a specific threat on a vessel, that there is a national security concern. Either there is a nuclear or biochemical device on board, or there is some kind of explosive device on board and the intent of the group would be, for example, to take it into the Port of Montreal and blow it up under the Champlain Bridge and nullify the use of that bridge, or something like that.

The Chairman: Or Osama bin Laden is on the ship?

Mr. Lenton: Or a person is on the ship. If it is a cruise ship or a vessel, it could be part of the crew. It would depend on the information.

Inasmuch as an organized crime investigation is somewhat different from a national security investigation, an armed ship boarding to deal with an organized criminal group presents a different set of risks from one dealing with a national security threat. We face a fundamental difference. For the most part, organized criminals are not prepared to die for their cause. They know they run that risk if things go wrong, but they do not set out in the morning prepared to die for their cause. They are there to make money and to live to enjoy it freely — that is, not go to prison.

A terrorist has a totally different motivation and a totally different driver. Therefore, you must reassess significantly how you will address that situation. Are you making the situation better or worse by attempting an armed ship boarding and putting your personnel at significant risk of loss of life? It is a high-risk activity even at the best of times.

Senator Meighen: Suppose you did get information — to take a far-fetched example — that Osama bin Laden was on a ship approaching Canadian shores, or that someone who had in their possession an explosive device was on board. What do you do with that information? What would your next step be?

Mr. Lenton: The first step would be to confirm the authenticity of the information. We would assess where the vessel was, where it was going, and what assets were in place. If it is an individual, for example, we could monitor the vessel until it gets someplace or it docks. For the person to get off, it would either have to be close enough to swim ashore or he or she would have to get into some kind of a craft to get to shore. If we were concerned about a specific person on board, we would monitor that vessel until such time as we could deal with that individual. That would not necessarily represent the need to do an armed ship boarding at sea.

If a weapon of mass destruction or some other type of threat was on board and the people on the ship were in a position or were motivated to detonate or deploy that weapon, then we have to make a decision. It would involve very senior levels. The national counterterrorism plan would kick in. There would be discussion. The ultimate end may be that you may have to sink the ship, so to speak.

Before you got there, you would want to make sure your intelligence was very good. You would want to mitigate the risks to the fullest extent possible. There would be significant implications for the Government of Canada and the people of Canada if we had to do that. Heaven forbid we ever made a mistake.

Senator Meighen: In the first part of your answer when we were dealing with an individual, you did not involve consultation with anyone else. In the second part of your answer, you did. When you know there is a bad guy on board a ship, you would handle it yourself from "A" to "Z."

Mr. Lenton: I apologize if my answer inferred that. I take for granted that if we had that scenario, we would be involving our partners such as CSIS and CSE to find out what they knew about this situation, did they have information and intelligence from their sources, what sources do they have, and how can we try to solidify the information. We would also be consulting with other people. Ultimately we would have to take action.

Senator Meighen: Forgive me if I pursue that, but a preoccupation of the committee is that information does not always get shared, for whatever reason. First, because maybe people honestly do not think it is important, or second, because they are guarding their own turf. The Americans have run into trouble with this, and we discussed that earlier in these hearings. Obviously, it is a concern to members of this committee that we are satisfied that there is an interchange of information. Someone may have the missing clue to the puzzle and be able to put it together.

Mr. Lenton: There is a downside to sharing information unless you know what you are sharing. The intelligence system can very quickly feed upon itself. Before you start sharing something, the first thing you must do is ensure that your data is accurate, that it has been independently confirmed, and that it is not confirmed independently by someone else feeding the same piece of information into the loop. That is very important.

Then, depending on the scenario, it is a question of whom you share the information with so that you can respect the integrity of the ongoing investigation. In the area of national security, the technique and the sharing and the persons involved will be somewhat different than in the case of an organized crime investigation, because the interests of Canada are at stake.

The national terrorism protocol is in place and it sets out how, in a case like that, the national operations or divisional operations centre would be activated. Depending on what jurisdiction it took place in, a provincial police force would probably be involved as well.

Senator Meighen: I do not quarrel with your answer at all. My own feeling — I will not speak for the members of the committee — is that it is easier to talk about the Americans than us. There were obviously turf wars going on. There was obviously a lack of willingness to share information in pre-September 11 days.

I do not think we in Canada are necessarily immune to that. Perhaps there needs to be a little more emphasis own erring on the side of sharing rather than not sharing.

Mr. Lenton: I do not want to be critical of the American system either. From a law enforcement perspective and daily operations of getting the job done, we enjoy a good working relationship with the American system. They have things they are trying to work out and different approaches they wish to take based on their reality. We will work with them no matter what format they take.

We have improved here. There has been more willingness to share with them. The ongoing debate is how much privacy do you have to guarantee in order to guarantee the security that you want? It is not unlike our Charter where it is how much do individual rights have to be protected before they start undermining the rights of the collectivity. Theoretically, there is not an unlike discussion ongoing with respect to that side of things.

Senator Meighen: I do not know if you heard Mr. Thomas's evidence this morning. He suggested that the Coast Guard be given an enforcement and security role that they do not have now, as you know. That would obviously affect your proposal to re-evaluate your armed ship boarding course training standard to determine how it should be modified. It would be helpful to you to know whether the Coast Guard was going to be given this responsibility, would it not?

Mr. Lenton: It would be. I would expect that before it could be put in place, the expectation of the Canadian public would be that we would have some capacity to cope with the situation in the interim. There are other alternatives. There is a question of deploying JTF2 personnel. They have that training. That is what we have done, in particular with the aircraft assaults. We used to do them internally. Several years ago, we went to the use of JTF2. Now, under the current assessment is that we cannot rely solely on JTF2 because of the time to deploy and the need for at least our people to be in a position to contain the situation. If a serious incident starts to unfold, then we would have to be in a position to take some form of action.

There still would be a need, at least in the short term. If the Coast Guard mandate were to be modified, then of course we would adjust accordingly.

The Chairman: Commissioner, that answers the question that has come up before on this committee. We have seen pictures of police teams getting ready to board aircraft in a rehearsal and training mode. The question that came up was whether that was because JTF2 cannot or is not doing it. Your answer is they do not have the transportation capability to get where they need to get to quickly enough.

Mr. Lenton: On the morning of 9/11, there were a significant number of aircraft in the air, as always. Within the period of less than a few hours, we had aircraft landing at virtually every airport across the country. Any one of those aircraft could have had an incident, in reality. When we think about it now, JTF2 just could not be everywhere all the time.

The Chairman: The debate at the time was whether JTF2 were the right people to do it or whether the RCMP were the right people to do it. At first, the RCM Police got the task, but after a period of reflection, it was concluded that it was better to be a military task than a police task.

Mr. Lenton: From a policing perspective it was a significant drain on resources. It was deemed that we could best utilize those resources because JTF2 had the capacity and were able to focus the capacity from a Canadian government perspective in that area. That does not mean they deal with the whole incident. They deal with taking control of the aircraft. It fundamentally remains a criminal investigation.

The Chairman: Which was inconsistent with the serve and protect ethic?

Mr. Lenton: That is correct.

The Chairman: Did I understand correctly that, with respect to differentiating between a national security investigation and a police investigation, one of your key concerns was that the latter required more evidentiary effort, whereas the former required quick action merely to get rid of the problem?

Mr. Lenton: Can you run that by me again, just so that I get the two correct?

The Chairman: In case one, your ultimate goal is to get a conviction in court. In most criminal investigations, you go about collecting evidence in such a fashion that it will stand the test that is necessary in court to obtain that conviction. Whereas in a national security investigation, you may be far more concerned with simply eliminating the problem as quickly as you can. If you have a case to take to court later, fine and dandy. Is that one of the principal drivers behind the different approach you would have to the two investigations?

Mr. Lenton: That is correct. Disruption is a more acceptable outcome in the national security investigation than it would be typically in a long-term organized crime investigation.

The Chairman: Going in, how do you know which will it turn out to be?

Mr. Lenton: Sometimes you do not. It depends on your information at the start. It can evolve as you are dealing with it. The difference is all a function of how close you are to the imminence of the threat that the national security issue presents.

If the information were that something will happen in six months, and you are in a national security investigation, you would approach it much the way you do an organized crime investigation. If the information you have is that in six hours they will put a bomb in the local shopping centre, then you probably will not have the luxury of collecting the evidence. You will try to disrupt that to the best way you can. You continue your criminal investigation, but with the reality that you have had to do something to disrupt the loss of life to innocent people.

Senator Atkins: If you happen to run across a red Z 71 with an Ontario licence "Norman" I would not mind having it back.

That raises a question. There are two things: I was surprised by how casual the police were when we called them and said the truck had disappeared. The only question they asked is, "How much gas was in it?" There was enough gas in it to get it to Montreal.

Having said that, do they check manifests of containers leaving ports? If so, who looks at that? Do the police?

Mr. Lenton: The manifest leaving ports would be within the purview of the CCRA on the export side. It is an exporting process. We would not verify the manifest unless we had some reason to look at it. It is not a police role to verify the manifests of products leaving the country.

Senator Atkins: What about containers coming in?

Mr. Lenton: The same thing applies; the primary jurisdiction for materials moving through the ports is the CCRA jurisdiction, in the first instance, unless it is linked to an ongoing investigation.

Senator Atkins: On a manifest, is there not any information in the form that would be a clue as to whether there is something that should be investigated?

Mr. Lenton: Sometimes there are triggers that the CCR detection people look at. How often; is it a new company, for example; is it a company that ships cargo weighing so much and then, all of a sudden, this particular cargo weighs a significant amount more? Are the persons behind the company affiliated with some other criminal activity? That is what they do in their targeting or selection process where they try to pick out elements on a manifest. You are not looking at the two pieces at the same time, typically, unless they are at the X-ray process.

Senator Atkins: At what point would they call you in?

Mr. Lenton: They would call us in if they have actually found contraband. In the case of the car, if they found a container full of vehicles and the manifest did not match, they would call us or the police force of jurisdiction in to investigate the situation.

The Chairman: Under the questions provided for us, it says that $750,000 was provided through Transport Canada for the purchase of emergency response team, ERT, equipment related to training for armed ship boarding. Did any of that come through to you?

Mr. Lenton: I will let Superintendent Henschel respond.

Superintendent Peter Henschel, Federal Services Directorate, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: The money came to the RCMP for armed ship boarding related equipment and training. For the most part, it went into purchasing equipment that was required to upgrade the capacity of the teams that have an armed ship boarding capability as well as providing some additional training.

The Chairman: How does that mix with the armed ship boarding that the navy has and carries out on a day-to-day basis in the Persian Gulf, with the armed ship boarding capacity that the Coast Guard has, where they are carrying out fisheries officers to deal with trawlers, and the training that you are doing?

Is this all coordinated and put together in a package, or is it three independent operations going on, or how does it function?

Mr. Henschel: The armed ship boarding that the police are involved in is for the interdiction of some type of criminal activity. In the past, it has been used mostly for drug interdiction or for illegal migrants. The capacity is there to deal with smaller vessels where there are drug offloads and so forth that you can use to board the ship.

The Chairman: What platform do you use to get there?

Mr. Henschel: We use the Canadian Coast Guard if it is out at sea. We use the Canadian Coast Guard to take our rigid-hull, inflatable boats out there to conduct the armed ship boarding. They get us basically into the area and then, using what are called Ribs or zodiacs, we can board the ship.

The Chairman: How many people do you have on each coast that are trained and skilled in this?

Mr. Henschel: I believe on the West Coast we have four teams that are trained for that.

The Chairman: Of?

Mr. Henschel: Probably 12 to 14 people per team. On the East Coast, there are another three or four teams, depending on what exactly the target is. This is really a high-risk activity that requires significant training and maintaining skills that are perishable. Our teams on the Atlantic region do train for different scenarios based on their location and what they would be dealing with.

The Chairman: Do these folks do anything besides this? Are they permanently double-hatted in some way?

Mr. Henschel: Yes, they are all part-time teams in these areas. They have regular jobs. If they are required for some kind of ERT activity they are called out and respond to that.

The Chairman: On behalf of the committee, thank you and your three colleagues for coming. This has been a very useful session for us. We find we learn every time we have a meeting with the members of the RCMP. It has been very helpful not only to have you here, but also to receive the answers to our questions in advance.

The committee continued in camera.