Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 22 - Evidence, September 22, 2003 - Morning meeting


HALIFAX, Monday, September 22, 2003

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 9:15 a.m. to examine and report on the need for a national security policy for Canada.

Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence. I intend to start today's meeting in a slightly different manner than usual, inasmuch as over the course of the summer, the committee lost a trusted aide and friend by the name of Grant Purves. Grant was an analyst with the Library of Parliament for almost 30 years. He worked for this committee in a very dedicated fashion. In particular, he worked for the Subcommittee on Veterans' Affairs, where he was involved in writing numerous reports designed to better the lives of veterans. We would like to take this moment, as a committee, just to pause briefly and reflect on Grant's memory. He was very important to us and served his country well, served the Parliament of Canada well and served this committee very well. So if I may, I would just like to have a brief pause in the memory of Grant Purves.

[Minute of silence]

Thank you.

It is my pleasure to welcome everyone here. My name is Colin Kenny. I am a senator from Ontario and I chair the committee.

On my immediate right is the distinguished member from Nova Scotia, well known to you all, 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 Joint Committee on the Future of the Canadian Armed Forces.

On my far right we have Senator David Smith. Senator Smith is from Ontario. He was a Toronto councillor and Deputy Mayor of the City of Toronto. He has served as a member of the House of Commons and as minister of state in Pierre Elliott Trudeau's government before being appointed to the Senate in 2002. He has had a distinguished legal career and currently serves on the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Senate Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament.

Beside him is Senator Jack Wiebe from Saskatchewan. Senator Wiebe served as Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan and as a member of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly before his appointment to the Senate in 2000. He is very active in the agricultural community — in fact, he has had a good summer on the farm — and in the senate he is Deputy Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry and also sits on the Senate Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament and on our Subcommittee on Veterans' Affairs.

At the far end of the table, at the opposite end, is Senator Tommy Banks from Alberta. He is well known to Canadians as one of our most accomplished and versatile musicians. He was appointed to the Senate in 2000. He is a recipient of a Juno Award, a Gemini Award and the Grand Prix du Disque. Senator Banks is the Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. Currently, that committee is studying nuclear safety and control.

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

Joining us shortly will be Senator Meighen.

Beside me is Senator Jane Cordy from Nova Scotia — Dartmouth, more precisely — an accomplished educator with an extensive background in community involvement before coming to the Senate in 2000. In addition to serving on our committee, she is a member of the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology that recently released a landmark report on health care and is now studying mental health. Earlier this year, she was elected Vice-Chair of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association.

Our committee is the first permanent Senate committee mandated to examine 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.

Then the Senate asked our committee to examine the need for a national security policy. So far, we have released three reports on various aspects of national security: first, ``Defence of North America: A Canadian Responsibility,'' which was released in September 2002; second, ``An Update on Canada's Military Financial Crisis: A View From the Bottom Up,'' which was released in November 2002, and; third, and most recently, ``The Myth of Security at Canada's Airports,'' which was released in January 2003.

The committee is continuing its long-term evaluation of Canada's ability to contribute to the security and defence of North America. As part of this work, the committee has been holding hearings on the federal government's support of men and women who are first responders across the country 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 of September 2002 entitled, ``Defence of North America,'' which found Canadian coastal defence efforts to be largely ad hoc and fragmentary.

Our witnesses this morning are from Maritime Forces Atlantic, known as MARLANT, which is one of the main formations within the Canadian Navy and the largest naval presence in Canada. We have with us Rear-Admiral Glenn Davidson, Commander, Maritime Forces Atlantic. Rear-Admiral Davidson has been serving our country for over 30 years and has commanded MARLANT since 2002.

With him is Commander Paul Earnshaw, Commanding Officer, Joint Ocean Surveillance and Information Centre. Commander Earnshaw most recently served as chief staff officer, operations, for the commander of the task force group in the Arabian Gulf before assuming command of TRINITY, the Joint Ocean Surveillance and Information Centre, in June of this year.

Also with the admiral is Captain Kelly Williams, Director of Maritime Strategy. Captain Williams recently completed a command of HMCS Winnipeg, serving in the Persian Gulf.

Gentlemen, welcome to the committee. If you have a short opening statement to make, you may begin when you are ready.

Rear-Admiral Glenn V. Davidson, Commander, Maritime Forces Atlantic, Department of National Defence: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and may I wish all members of the committee a warm welcome to Halifax and, perhaps more accurately, say welcome home to our distinguished representatives from Nova Scotia.

I will say a few words this morning by way of introduction, and then we have two short presentations, following which we would be happy to explore any of the points that we have raised in more depth. Down here, I wear several hats. As Commander of the Atlantic Search and Rescue Region, I am responsible for almost 5 million square kilometres where we have about 2,000 search and rescue cases per year.

As the Commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic, I am responsible for knowing what goes on in a slightly smaller area, almost 4 million square kilometres, and responding if the security of our country is threatened. I have 18 splendid ships and submarines down here, with about 8,000 people who work for me directly, both military and civilian. We have the best sailors and the best civilian workforce you will find anywhere. We are tremendously proud of what they do and the tremendous job they do for Canada.

My fundamental responsibility is to get ships, submarines and crews ready to go and ready to do whatever the Government of Canada asks them to do whenever and wherever required. This is the first time in almost two years that we do not have a ship deployed overseas on operations. Since October 2001, we have sent eight of the ten major warships that are based in Halifax to the Gulf. Two were unavailable because they were coming out of refit. We have redeployed Iroquois for a second deployment within a year.

Every available ship here has been brought up to high readiness. There has been an incredible effort and wonderful work done by everyone, both ashore and afloat, in the conduct of these duties. Our main focus now is on rebuilding the more general warfare skills and training of the navy, after this tremendous effort in Operation APOLLO, to get ready for the next time, whenever that may be.

Let me offer the committee a few thoughts on the specific issues that we are discussing today. Clearly, the committee is of the same view as I, that maritime security is an incredibly complex business. As we focus this morning on issues related to surveillance and the large-scale maritime surface picture, let me simply say that the obvious challenge associated with maritime security is not simply knowing where people are, it is determining who they are, assessing what they are doing and, lastly, being able to do something about it if you need to.

The committee is well aware of the significance of the Atlantic area and the tremendous activity that takes place here in Canada's ocean waters — the fisheries, the oil and gas industry — and the importance of this area to both Canada and the United States in a strategic sense.

There is also the fact that the main shipping and air routes between Europe and North America lie in the area and immediately adjacent to it.

It is not just the environment that is complex. In MARLANT, we live with the reality of diverse departmental jurisdictions, responsibilities and capabilities within our geographic area and, happily, Halifax is the regional hub for many departments.

This greatly facilitates the network of interdepartmental committees, the working groups, the agreements and the personal contacts that we need and which we use to manage maritime security issues here in the Atlantic. There is a great deal of cooperation and a real willingness to work together and help each other out. I think the briefing that Captain Hickey provided to the committee in June gave a good insight into this.

For the navy's part, we put together, or ``fuse,'' as we say, the most complete surface picture in the region and we share it. Picture compilation is important and I think we do a good job of this. We work together effectively whenever there is an issue that requires us to support other government departments, whether it is intelligence, logistical support or providing a ship in a constabulary role to help another department that has an enforcement mandate.

Now this is an important point, for while the constabulary role is one of the three traditionally accepted roles of any navy, the others being military and diplomatic roles, the military role really is our raison d'être and is what enables us to perform the other two roles.

The message, therefore, that I would like to reinforce with the committee is that our job is really to be ready to go. If there is a security threat here in Canadian waters, we are the only means of providing an armed presence or response at sea. And if ``going'' means going internationally, the navy is the most flexible arm of diplomacy for the Government of Canada. We can leave at short notice, we can stay in a theatre for a long time and we can look after ourselves while we are there.

This offers a huge capability to the government and we have been called upon to respond many times over the past dozen years, whether during the Gulf War in 1990-91, Haiti, Somalia, the Adriatic, East Timor or Operation APOLLO. The navy has been a silver bullet for the Government of Canada.

I welcome the opportunity, therefore, to have this discussion this morning. I also welcome the prospect of broader public awareness of the importance of maritime security that I hope may be generated by this discussion. I would like to think that this may, in due course, help lead us toward discussion of a national maritime strategy for Canada and, in turn, towards a more coordinated and inclusive approach to maritime security.

This morning, Cdr. Paul Earnshaw, the Commanding Officer of TRINITY, will provide you with a detailed look at how we build the surface picture here on the East Coast. Capt. Kelly Williams will share with you his thoughts on boarding operations and some brief insights into jurisdictional issues.

Commander Paul F. Earnshaw, Commanding Officer TRINITY, Joint Ocean Surveillance and Information Centre, Department of National Defence: Mr. Chairman, committee members, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the navy's maritime surveillance efforts off the East Coast of Canada, the intelligence process related to security and how other government departments contribute to these efforts.

The Joint Ocean Surveillance and Information Centre, or TRINITY, was born out of Canada's participation in the United States Navy's Integrated Undersea Surveillance System. Naturally, the end of the Cold War forced a review of undersea surveillance by both nations. Canada's undersea surveillance site concluded operations in December 1998. While the undersea aspect of TRINITY was significantly curtailed, the need for continued surveillance and knowledge of activity off the coast remained paramount. TRINITY was assigned that role.

The current iteration of TRINITY was developed to amalgamate MARLANT surveillance and intelligence efforts into a single centre aimed at streamlining the process to provide more comprehensive and timely information support to both domestic and deployed operations. More recently, TRINITY's focus has been further extended to include liaison and information sharing with other government departments engaged in security and stewardship efforts off our extensive coastlines.

The heart of TRINITY resides in the maritime operations centre located at Maritime Forces Atlantic Headquarters in Halifax. This centre functions on a 24/7 basis with a watch-keeping staff assigned to gather surveillance and intelligence information, to collate all sources of information into what is referred to as a ``recognized maritime picture,'' or RMP, and to disseminate the product to national and international military agencies, fleet units and other government departments.

The MOC is supported by a number of departments in my organization as follows: operations will provide oversight of the picture, quality assurance of the surveillance product and day-to-day liaison with other national and international surveillance organizations; operational intelligence — while the MOC provides the intelligence ``trip- wire'' function for received information, the operational intelligence department conducts the day-to-day background collation, analysis and dissemination of intelligence products as well as critical liaison functions with the variety of intelligence organizations/agencies that TRINITY taps for information and, likewise, provides intelligence to. I will further discuss the process later in my remarks.

I also have a meteorological and oceanographic services section that provides weather and ocean features analysis to both civilian and military users, such as naval vessels at sea.

We have a route survey department located in the Bedford Institute of Oceanography to gather and analyze data from bottom-mapping efforts by the maritime coastal defence vessels and in conjunction with the Canadian Coast Guard and Department of Fisheries and Oceans activities. Through being co-located at Bedford Institute, the route survey team has forged beneficial relationships with both the Coast Guard and DFO. The navy now has regular access to small craft from these departments with which to conduct surveys. Over the past several years, bottom surveys have been completed for 90 per cent of the East Coast harbours and choke points and, more recently, in the St. Lawrence River from Kingston to Montreal this summer. Future efforts will focus on deep-water transit lanes and harbour approaches.

Finally, I have an imagery department that provides photographic and imagery analysis support to all TRINITY departments and MARLANT agencies at large.

Since the attack on the USS Cole and the events of September 11, 2001, the navy has substantially increased the emphasis placed on both surveillance and intelligence aspects necessary to counter the terrorist threat. My remarks today serve as an extension of the comments and information provided by Capt. Hickey when he appeared before the committee this past spring and summer.

My intention is to drill down into the tactical arena, where I shall endeavour to explain how the picture of activity off the East Coast has developed, how intelligence is applied and how allies and other government departments cooperate.

The recognized maritime picture is simply a compilation of surveillance information from a variety of sources fused into a single database and displayed on an American-developed RMP management tool that we refer to as the ``global command and control system — maritime.'' The process employed is a building-block concept whereby we begin with unclassified sources of information on merchant ship movements. We then add NATO and American data along with surveillance information gathered by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. Finally, information from MARLANT ships and aircraft on patrol is added to round out the picture.

RAdm. Davidson: Could I just interrupt and suggest that if you look at slide two in your pack, you will see a representation of the sort of raw information that we get on these.

Cdr. Earnshaw: Surveillance inputs begin with merchant ship identification and positional data derived from unclassified weather reporting from ships at sea. You will see a representation at slide three. Ocean-going vessels provide weather data to Environment Canada that includes the vessel's position and identification. This information is automatically forwarded from Environment Canada via an Internet e-mail link direct to the operations centre, where it is cross-referenced to a shipping database and then injected into the command and control system.

The United States Navy provides a series of daily products on the positions of shipping approved for release to the CANUS security level. These reports are received pre-formatted for automatic insertion into the command and control system. Since the same system is also employed at the U.S. Coast Guard's surveillance information centre, they have input into the picture received at our operations centre and they also receive the Canadian surveillance picture on their system.

The NATO RMP is incorporated into the picture via a direct one-way transfer from shipping centres located in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Italy and Norfolk, Virginia. Canadian information releasable to NATO is returned via the global command and control system to NATO's version.

The Canadian Coast Guard shipping information is forwarded from their vessel-tracking system, which is entitled INNAV. If you look at slide six, you will see a representation of that. The Coast Guard provides information extracted from mandatory vessel reporting for ships bound for Canadian ports at the 96- and 24-hour periods prior to entering Canadian waters. The operations centre currently accesses these data on a twice-daily basis; however, a Coast Guard server has been purchased and, once installed, will permit full-time access.

The importance of Coast Guard shipping data will increase substantially with the advent of the automatic identification system, or AIS. This system of transponders installed in fishing and merchant traffic bound for or operating in Canadian waters will, in the near future, permit instantaneous identification/positional data of those vessels equipped with the devices. That is slide seven.

Another source of surveillance data is that acquired from Provincial Airlines on DFO surveillance flights. This company conducts between one and three flights per day on DFO-tasked missions to monitor fishing activity in our areas. The amount of data provided to the MOC on fishing vessel positions and identification is quite substantial and an important component of the RMP. The commercial aircraft equipment fit permits data exchange during flights through an automatic transfer from a DFO server, via e-mail, into the CANMARNET server and, finally, we get the data in MARLANT. These data are then automatically translated and injected into our command and control system.

Finally, military ships and aircraft on patrol provide data into the RMP. Major warships are fitted with the global command and control system and can transmit their data directly into the system. Aurora patrol aircraft link their data to the operations centre in Greenwood, where it is input into the same system.

I should note that in the case of surveillance missions tasked against a specific vessel of interest or when the aircraft crew notices something out of the ordinary, information on the contact would be passed immediately via voice communications direct to the operations centre in Halifax and then manually input into the system by the watch- keeping team.

Several initiatives will enhance RMP information exchange with MPAs, including the installation of a system similar to that used by Provincial Airlines. The Aurora upgrade project will provide enhanced surveillance, communications and data exchange abilities.

In the near future, we expect to have access to the recognized air picture from NORAD. Once available, the air component will be integrated into the command and control system, and combined with our current surface picture, this will then be transmitted to the National Defence Command Centre in Ottawa as the maritime common operating picture.

Perhaps some of the most important surveillance development deals with the high frequency surface wave radar project. In the late 1990s, two experimental sites were constructed at Cape Race and Cape Bonavista to evaluate the radar's potential. Technological advances have been achieved over the past eight years and the concept is now deemed to be viable. In the coming months, the two existing sites will be upgraded.

Additionally, the navy is moving forward with an HFSWR network project aimed at enhancing coverage on both coasts. The project is currently in the options analysis phase and three sites are being investigated to provide continuous coverage of the seaward approaches to the St. Lawrence Seaway.

I understand that $43 million has been allocated from the public security and anti-terrorism reserve contingency fund for establishment of phase one sites. This project is slated to go before the senior review board in October in order to receive expenditure authority for the definition phase, which is slated to begin in March 2004. The Interdepartmental Marine Security Working Group has endorsed the coverage areas for phase one. Phase two of the project will significantly expand coverage and I understand that a site reconnaissance will be conducted in the coming months to assess viability of additional East Coast site locations.

In addition to the high frequency surface wave radar, two other projects are in development that will assist surveillance and intelligence efforts. The first is entitled ``multi-sensor integration in a common operating environment,'' or MUSIC. This project is aimed at development of common databases. A common-network architecture will permit wide-ranging data sharing through the use of commercial software and data-sharing components to dissolve stovepiped information conduits.

In a nutshell, MUSIC will open previously unavailable data streams by providing systems that decode and transfer information between separate systems and domains. MUSIC will also enable TRINITY to better incorporate the data that we receive from the high frequency surface wave radar.

The second project is referred to as the ``maritime ocean surveillance and information centre,'' or MOSIC. This project will link TRINITY and our West Coast cousin, ATHENA, with related facilities in the Canadian military and in other government departments. It will provide an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance library that will contain a number of linked databases, including a geo-spatial information service, a contact database and an intelligence and threat database.

The information transfer in and out of the library will be automated, with the ultimate aim being to dramatically reduce manual operations required to find, collate, correlate and associate information. Moreover, the MOSIC system will produce the recognized maritime picture and permit access at various levels of security to primary military users and secondary users in other government departments. It will incorporate fusion tools capable of handling complicated inputs such as HFSWR. This project is currently in the concept development stage.

Thus far, I have discussed the various inputs into the RMP, and using the needle-in-a-haystack analogy, I would equate this to identifying and locating as many pieces of hay in the stack as possible. In doing so, it stands to reason that the process of finding the needle would be simplified. In this analogy, information on the needle relates to intelligence that would cue the organization to begin the hunt. Clearly, surveillance and intelligence must be joined at the hip to be effective.

Military intelligence is a very interesting array of multilateral and bilateral agreements to share information between internal and external agencies. The crux of these arrangements resides in building and maintaining professional relationships, from the operator to the operational commander level, to ensure that information flows as freely as the agreements allow.

With this in mind, TRINITY maintains close relationships with the United States Navy's Office of Naval Intelligence and the Defense Intelligence Agency. Indeed, in May this year, the Commander of ONI visited MARLANT and TRINITY with a team of intelligence personnel. In October, I will lead a team of personnel to visit the Atlantic fleet staff, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the headquarters for the U.S. Coast Guard, both Atlantic Area and Boston region.

To further cement intelligence relationships, we maintain a Canadian intelligence officer on the ONI staff. I employ an ONI intelligence officer and a chief from the U.S. Navy's undersea surveillance team.

More recently, the integration of Canadian frigates into the American carrier battle groups has resulted in enhanced intelligence relationships by virtue of full-time employment of a Canadian officer in each frigate and linked to the battle group staff.

Information sharing amongst federal government departments has experienced a definite resurgence since the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Most departments have identified liaison officers to maintain open lines of communication between other agencies. In fact, my OGD liaison personnel have near daily contact with CSIS, the RCMP, Customs and Immigration Canada, the Coast Guard and DFO. Other MARLANT offices, such as base operations, our military police and plans and operations staff, maintain equally robust relationships with their related federal, provincial and municipal agencies.

Atlantic region interdepartmental relationships are greatly assisted by the fact that all departments have senior representatives in the city and, thus, personal contact is easy to maintain. On the intelligence side, a threat assessment group has been developed to serve as an information-sharing body and to spearhead interdepartmental intelligence and operational responses when events will cross departmental lines. This group is comprised of representatives from MARLANT, RCMP, CSIS, CCRA and any other additional agency required to assess the event.

The most recent use of the threat assessment group occurred during the Wadi Al Arab anthrax threat. In this situation, the group was convened with the addition of Health Canada representatives to determine the threat, discuss lead agency considerations and to assess operational responses. In the end, the vessel was tracked by MARLANT's operations centre. It was directed by Transport Canada to anchor off Halifax, where a Health Canada team boarded the vessel. The Wadi Al Arab incident certainly proved the validity and effectiveness of the threat assessment concept.

The weakness to date in intelligence cooperation between departments has hinged on secure communications. While the establishment of the Canadian Maritime Network, or CANMARNET, was a step in the right direction, this system only contains unclassified information. It is simply used to exchange limited RMP information and to post minutes of interdepartmental meetings. A new project is aimed at providing a secure Internet or intranet means of communication that will be an important system for interdepartmental cooperation on both the intelligence and operational fronts.

In conclusion, MARLANT has come a long way in the ability to understand daily activity in the CANLANT area of responsibility and beyond. There is no question that the DND has the most comprehensive surveillance capability and that MARLANT is now effectively coordinating inputs from OGDs, international allies and Canadian military sources.

Could this picture be enhanced and improved? Certainly. In this regard, the navy is moving forward with new projects and equipment acquisitions on the books and both the HFSWR and MOSIC projects will add substantially to our RMP and intelligence capabilities. While OGD cooperation steadily improves, we continue to be hampered by the lack of secure systems to communicate between departments.

Captain (N) Kelly Williams, Former Commanding Officer, HMCS Winnipeg, Department of National Defence: Senator Kenny, ladies and gentlemen, I am Kelly Williams, and until recently, I was the Captain of HMCS Winnipeg, a Halifax-class frigate stationed in Esquimalt, British Columbia. I am now the Director of Maritime Strategy in Ottawa.

During the 27 months that I was in command, I was afforded the unique opportunity to lead my ship on two extended operational deployments to the Persian Gulf, accumulating over eight months of front-line maritime interdiction operations in the Gulf region while enforcing the United Nations Security Council resolution, or as part of Canada's contribution to the ongoing war on terrorism.

During this period, the ship conducted in excess of 200 boardings of merchant vessels, including 64 fully-compliant and 7 non-compliant boardings, in support of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 986 and, more recently, over 1,800 interceptions and subsequent hails that led to 136 boardings in support of al-Qaeda/Taliban leadership interdiction operations. There has been no other ship in the Canadian Navy that has done as many boardings as Winnipeg.

The most logical starting point for our discussion today is a very brief explanation of where boardings fit in our overall doctrine, what types of boardings we do, how are they conducted, and the legal basis for their conduct.

At its root, naval boarding operations are a tool that we use in the conduct of effective sea control operations. In this context, sea control is our ability to establish a comprehensive surveillance picture of the operating area as well as our ability to intercept vessels of interest before they penetrate our layered surveillance network or escape out on to the high seas.

To be effective, we need to have a clear and unambiguous picture of not only what ship is in what location and what its destination is, but also what its cargo is. We have a range of sensors and intelligence systems to help us clarify the theatre-wide picture, but in many cases, this information falls short of providing us with a level of confidence or detail that is required in order to ensure that we can succeed in our assigned mission.

In many cases, the only way to gain that level of confidence is to physically visit the vessel, examine its documentation and conduct either a cursory or more detailed search to verify its true activity and intent. As you can imagine, vessels involved in illegal activity, or perhaps engaged in smuggling terrorists, are likely to be significantly less cooperative than vessels engaged in routine trade. Our training and doctrine recognize that all boardings can be considered in two broad categories, opposed and unopposed.

It is important for me to highlight that no naval boarding team in any navy, including ours, conducts ``opposed boardings.'' These types of boardings are assigned to special forces who are trained and equipped specifically for this function. The focus of our efforts is on unopposed boardings of merchant, fishing, pleasure or special-purpose vessels whose crews may or may not cooperate, but who are not expected to offer armed resistance.

Although passive or armed resistance may not be considered likely prior to the team getting on board, it may be encountered or develop as the boarding unfolds; therefore, our teams are trained to deal effectively with resistance should a situation occur at any time during the boarding.

The tactics that we apply to unopposed boardings are entirely dependent upon the level of cooperation that exists between our ship and the vessel of interest. Generally, there are three distinct types of unopposed boarding situations, cooperative, uncooperative and obstructed boardings.

The first two are what we refer to as ``fully compliant'' boardings and are the most frequent type of boardings that we conduct. In these cases, our teams are not exposed or threatened with any resistance, passive or active, and the master and crew of the vessels fully cooperate with our directions. We have, on occasion, found ourselves confronting a combative or belligerent master who attempts to use delaying tactics to disrupt the conduct of the boarding to test our resolve. These boardings are considered uncooperative, and although they do occur from time to time, often the delays can be attributed to simple language barriers.

The most challenging, and the one that exposes the ship and the boarding team to the greatest level of risk, is the obstructed boarding. This is when the master of a vessel refuses to allow the boarding team to embark or fails to respond to any of the directions that I have ordered to facilitate the insertion of my boarding team.

In these situations, the vessel is considered to be non-compliant and the only way to execute the boarding is to gain access to the vessel and literally take control of it. In order to ensure that I am not about to place my boarding team in a situation that is beyond their ability to control or assign them to a mission that they are not trained for, it is imperative that I assure myself that the ship is not carrying any firearms and that there are no indications that the crew will put up active resistance to repel the team members as they arrive. The team members are well trained to handle themselves once on board, but they are exposed and vulnerable until they actually climb over the side of the ship.

While all boardings contain a measure of risk to both the boarding team and the ship, generally, the level of risk associated with the boarding is diametrically opposed to the level of cooperation being displayed by the vessel of interest. Our approach to each of these types of boardings is to force compliance by the vessel, thereby reducing the level of risk to which the team is exposed. We try to do this, first, through dialogue, using diplomacy, and then through coercion, and finally, only after all else has failed and the rules of engagement clearly authorize it, through the threat and subsequent use of armed force.

I included in your briefing package a media account of what was quite possibly the most difficult obstructed boarding ever completed in the history of the Canadian Navy. In the closing days of our first deployment to the Persian Gulf, Winnipeg successfully took down the motor vessel Hassan, a very experienced and cunning smuggler in the northern reaches of the Arabian Gulf.

What is not captured in what you may have read is the level of effort that is required to support the conduct of boarding operations. Boarding operations are a very complex undertaking and what we call ``whole ship'' activities. What I mean by this is that although our actual boarding team is comprised of two 10-man/woman waves, the infrastructure that needs to be put into place to deploy and support the team results in the boarding being the focus of the ship while that activity is underway. Just about every aspect of the ship's organization is involved in supporting the conduct of safe and successful boardings.

In many ways, what you may have read is the culmination of over 10 years of capability development. It has taken us that long to get the training right, to sort out minor capital acquisitions, acquire the requisite practical experience and, more significantly, learn hard-fought lessons, to evolve our capability to where it is today.

I must stress that the skills required to maintain and sustain this capability are highly perishable. Without continued emphasis and a dedicated training program, the risk to personnel would rise quickly and very dramatically. Although all of Winnipeg's recent boarding experiences stem from international operations, it is important to highlight that our capability and capacity to support other government departments in the execution of their domestic responsibility is equally robust. There are, however, a number of significant jurisdictional differences between the two.

In the Persian Gulf, interdiction operations were conducted under the auspices of the ``Right of Visit and Approach''; however, the navy has no legal mandate to conduct boardings inside our exclusive economic zone, contiguous zone or territorial waters, as these areas are governed by Canadian domestic law and the mandate for enforcement of Canadian law in these areas rests exclusively with the civilian law enforcement authorities — the RCMP, DFO and Customs and Immigration Canada.

Within our 12 nautical mile territorial seas, they are mandated to enforce all Canadian laws. Within the 24 nautical mile contiguous zone, only Canadian immigration and environmental laws may be enforced. Within the 200 nautical mile economic zone, Canadian economic laws — mining of minerals, fisheries — may be enforced.

This relationship between the navy's role and law enforcement is similar to that of each of our allies, in that no Western democracy tasks their armed forces with the primary mandate for law enforcement. We are, however, mandated to provide support to civilian law enforcement agencies where it is in the nation's interest and the support requested is beyond the capacity of the agency.

Outside of our 12 nautical mile territorial seas and international waters, only the flag state exercises exclusive jurisdiction over its ships and can limit the ships' freedom of navigation. Here, it is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as well as the specific United Nations Security Council resolutions that shape our legal mandate or authority to conduct boardings.

Senator Forrestall: I appreciated very much your remarks and those of Cdr. Earnshaw, and particularly Capt. Kelly, because you are sort of the last and the first and the best. You talk about your exposure. The only Canadian vessel to have more TV time than the Winnipeg, of course, was the Iroquois over here in Dartmouth, with a helicopter hanging from the side of the deck. I welcome you particularly.

Admiral, could I start out by asking you if you might expand on the pause that you have afforded Canada's navy in recent months. I think we would be curious as to how it has worked and whether it is achieving its desired ends. The force will be better when it goes back, obviously, but how much better and in what ways?

As you may recall, if you glanced at some of our reports, we had suggested that we should be doing this as well for our land forces. Is there a lesson in what you have done that could be passed along to your colleagues in land forces and, indeed, the air force as well, but in perhaps a different way?

Could you perhaps, after that, give us some indication of the state of our infrastructure within the Atlantic, and the Pacific as well? Are our buildings in good shape? Are the wharves in good shape? Do we have sufficient fleet maintenance capabilities to carry us through at least the useful life of our existing fleet?

Finally, this is not a very privileged platform, but on the other hand, I must ask you to what degree, if any — it may not have bothered you at all — does the absence of a reliable, operational helicopter affect your capacity to do what is a very dangerous piece of work?

RAdm. Davidson: Senator, thank you very much for that three-part series of questions. I will address them in turn, if I may.

First, the operational pause: Let me be very clear that what we are doing is regenerating capability and we have not put the fleet alongside. The ships are underway as we speak. We have ships out on the Grand Banks doing routine operations and surveillance. We have ships that will deploy in a month's time for quite extensive training opportunities off the Virginia Capes with the United States. We have afforded ships that have just returned from training an opportunity to take a ``bring-the-navy-to-Canadians'' cruise up in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence.

Right now we are regrouping from deployed operations. Interestingly, over the course of our concentration on Operation APOLLO, we were obliged to put our energies into getting ships ready to go, and when they were deployed on station, as they were in some cases for up to 75 days at a stretch between going into port, typically the length of deployments was seven months. They were not made extensively with our allies, and, in the early stages, with our own task group. These were essentially dispersed operations covering a substantial amount of territory.

We found that there were skills that we need to preserve and to work on that over the course of such a deployment actually declined. It is a paradox that where a ship is in, potentially, a theatre where hostilities and the threat could change and could evolve at very short notice, it was very difficult to preserve overall fleet warfare capabilities when your main focus is on building a surface picture and interdicting shipping.

Our concentration now is on enhancing this overall level of ``fleet combat readiness,'' as we call it, and we are making strenuous efforts towards that. Therefore, the fleet is going to sea, we are doing things and we are continuing to be active. We have a program for that through this year and next.

We will engage with the Standing Naval Force Atlantic over the coming year and the precise nature and timing of that is dependent on several factors, including the changes that are coming within the organizational structure of the maritime side of the NATO alliance itself.

I would say that our approach to this is a uniquely naval issue and the circumstances of how we train, what we do and how we deploy are germane to our organizational construct and our role. I would wish to extrapolate that to anybody else, because we are busy, we are engaged and so on.

You asked next, senator, about infrastructure, about buildings, the wharves and the fleet maintenance facility. We have a huge infrastructure here in Halifax and part of my responsibility entails a total of 41 sites in the eastern two- thirds of Nova Scotia, so I am the landlord for the army and the air force at Shearwater, for example, in addition to the 20-odd sites that we have here in the Halifax area.

There is a progressive plan for us to move ahead and address this. One of the things that I was most struck by when I returned to Halifax last summer, having been away since 1984, was the extraordinary degree of investment that has been made in renewal of the infrastructure down here over that time. We see, through the dockyard and through the base at Stadacona, buildings that have, in some cases, preserved their appearance on the outside but which were completed gutted on the inside and renewed.

Perhaps the most striking example of this is the trainer facilities in the base at Stadacona. The old navigation and operations team trainer facilities have been completely updated, and we now have a capability that is unique in the world, with two entire frigate operations rooms and bridges associated with that. You can train the entire operations bridge team for two ships simultaneously, have them linked together and do remarkably thorough preparation training for ships to deploy. That side of things is hugely important for us and we have invested in it steadily in that time.

We have a plan that we are approaching strategically in the navy for investment in jetty facilities. There are some wood piling jetties in Halifax that date from the second war and those are scheduled for replacement — the last two of those. We have invested pretty steadily in the maintenance facility itself. We just opened, of course, the new building for combat systems support this past spring. There is always more to be done.

One of the ongoing challenges each year as we manage our resources is how much ongoing maintenance we can sustain.

Senator Forrestall: Is the jetty at Shearwater fully maintained, and is it adequate from a security and service point of view?

RAdm. Davidson: The jetty is in the midst of renewal right now.

Senator Forrestall: Oh, it is.

RAdm. Davidson: It is. Yes. It had degraded substantially. It was built to support the carrier, of course, and it had substantially degraded. It is up to speed right now, and yes, when we do have visiting vessels there, which is one of its primary uses, there are very robust security arrangements in place in which I am completely confident.

Senator Forrestall: Are you sufficiently compensated? You do not want to give away any more of Shearwater than has already been let off?

RAdm. Davidson: We are moving well away from maritime security, of course, senator.

Senator Forrestall: You will be surprised. You wait until I mention the Halifax Rifles and where they will be located.

RAdm. Davidson: The continuing availability of the jetty at Shearwater is very important to us. If I could just touch on your last point, helicopter operations.

Senator Forrestall: You would not say ``very, very important,'' would you?

RAdm. Davidson: I would say it is essential for us, senator, yes.

Senator Forrestall: Coward!

RAdm. Davidson: Senator, your fourth question dealt with the helicopter operations. Clearly, every ship that is deployed from Halifax is deployed with the Sea King helicopter and an air department embarked. Every single one went.

We look forward to the replacement of the helicopter, but I would say what has been said many times before, that I give great credit to, and I place great trust and confidence in, the work of those young men and women who maintain and fly those helicopters. I fly in them myself. My brother is a pilot and I have the greatest confidence and trust in what young men and women do.

We have a brilliant helicopter now that our search and rescue people are using to good effect and which is a tremendous asset for us. In those two areas of my responsibility, the helicopter that is now in service both in Gander and in Greenwood for search and rescue is magnificent, doing a wonderful job of looking after life saving and safety at sea, and our folks are doing their jobs in keeping the current helicopter fleet operational and serviceable.

Senator Forrestall: How many are on-line now and functional?

RAdm. Davidson: Twenty-eight, I think.

Senator Forrestall: Could I put that same question to Capt. Williams, on the function of a reliable helicopter? If you care to respond to it, I would appreciate it.

Capt. Williams: I was lucky enough to deploy on both occasions with a fully serviceable helicopter that was supported out of Pat Bay out on the West Coast. In both cases, although we had some difficulty with maintenance, which is not surprising for an aircraft that is 35 years old, the helicopter flew well in excess of over 500 hours in support of maritime interdiction operations, and in support of the leadership interdiction operations the second time.

The helicopter has a number of operational deficiencies. It is not optimized for night activities. In the first deployment, when we were hunting up in the northern reaches of the Gulf, that became a limiting factor, which has been recognized in the statement of operational requirements for the replacement project. As the admiral said, we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new capability for the Canadian Forces, one that will come in due course.

The helicopter was an integral part and an integral capability of the ship and the team performed yeoman service in keeping the aircraft operational. It is a 35-year-old aircraft that has some operational limitations that are well recognized.

Senator Cordy: I would like to, first of all, commend you on the high quality of the military that we have encountered in bases across the country. Being a Nova Scotian and living in Halifax Regional Municipality, I would like to particularly comment on the job that the service men and women in the Halifax region have done, over the past number of years particularly. We have had the Gulf War, and certainly they have been very active in the war against terrorism.

Like my colleague, while Shearwater lands and helicopters are really a little off topic, when one lives in this area, one cannot help but be concerned to be reassured that the lands in Shearwater are not going to be used for condominium development, and, certainly, about the Sea King helicopters. I have been assured over and over again that they are safe and I commend the people who have worked on them, because indeed they have shown that they are. Admiral, I think your comment was very diplomatic and we would all agree that we look forward to their replacement.

Cdr. Earnshaw, you spoke about liaison and information sharing, and while nobody wanted September 11 to happen, certainly I think that a good side effect of it is that government departments are actually talking to one another, because we had certainly heard over and over again that this was not happening. How is it working? How is the communication working? You said that departments have set up liaison arrangements, but could you take us through how the communication between government departments for security purposes is actually happening?

RAdm. Davidson: If I could, I will start and then ask Cdr. Earnshaw to follow up. There are several levels of cooperation and engagement here in Halifax specifically, and Atlantic Canada, starting at my level, where I have quite close ties with other members of the federal government and the local authorities and we engage as required, as issues come up. These involve, for example, the RCMP and CSIS specifically, the port authority here in Halifax and so on.

When there are issues that arise from my level on down, we meet either informally, or we meet, for example, in the context of the Nova Scotia Federal Council, which is the director general level body that brings together all of the departments in the area. Within that, there are both formal and informal committees that deal with either general issues or specific happenings. The commander mentioned the threat assessment group, a fairly recent development, which brings people together to address specific issues. There is a security subcommittee of the federal council that meets at the director level, the captain level here. There is also an Eastern Canada interdepartmental maritime operations committee, which brings together many of the departments. Chairmanship of this rotates. At present, we are chairing that.

This has done some excellent consultative work and I think they are on their fifth draft, approximately, of a document that will try to pull together many of the functional threads for cooperation and security issues in Eastern Canada.

Cdr. Earnshaw, perhaps you would like to talk in more detail about some of the working-level consultation that goes on.

Cdr. Earnshaw: Being an educator, ma'am, you will be shocked to hear this, but intelligence is simply plagiarism. We use, borrow or steal whatever we can, information from any agency that will provide it. Therefore we start, first and foremost, with our own intelligence people, who begin to paint a picture. We consult American sources. There are a variety of bilateral agreements. The Americans control the information that way because they do not like third parties involved. They will enter into a bilateral agreement with Canada. We call that ``CANUS.'' They will provide information to us that we cannot talk to the United Kingdom about, but the Americans will be talking to them about the same thing.

They control information, certainly, but they are also the biggest intelligence provider. We have gone to great lengths to improve our relationships with American intelligence communities, with the intelligence communities of all of the allies, so that information sharing goes beyond the agreements. We have all signed agreements to say that we will share this and that, but if you do not trust the person at the other end of the telephone or the security of the communications device, then you will not release the information. Therefore we are doing that, and certainly it has paid some dividends.

We have seen the same kind of thing among other government departments. I am sure that four or five years ago, there was very few meetings or get-togethers of agencies to talk about threats to Canada's maritime security. That is no longer the case. My staff members talk daily to CSIS, the RCMP and the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, and certainly weekly with some other agencies. We just had a meeting of the threat assessment group. Due to the summer posting period, new people are involved, so we got together to get to know each other so that we can ensure that the information, when it does come to the forefront, will be shared equally amongst the departments. That has been a great stride forward for the intelligence community.

Could we do better? Always. This is something that we will never be 100 per cent. It will never be the ultimate. We have to continue to work those relationships to make sure that the information is available and that it is discussed amongst the other government departments. If there is a threat, the threat assessment group meets. We then provide what intelligence we have on that situation, event or circumstance.

We then go back to our own departments and say, ``Here is the situation. Here is what we have. We think there is a threat,'' and then the operational people will begin working up a response. We will then continue to delve into the intelligence to see if this is one in a series or something else is going to occur.

In conclusion on this subject, we have seen an enhancement in intelligence sharing, not only with our allies but also with other departments, and even internally in the military. Everybody realizes that we have to share the information if we are to discover something that needs to go to the operational people for a response.

RAdm. Davidson: Perhaps I could just add one parenthetical note. In addition to the process of engaging with each other, there is also a very practical, hands-on liaison and we have liaison staff that work quite closely and intimately with a range of other departments.

Senator Cordy: Where is the information that you gather? Is it available to every government department? Is it available to the Department of Customs and Immigration, in addition to your policing agencies?

Cdr. Earnshaw: If there were a threat to security, it would be. We discussed this at the threat assessment group last week. Canada Customs and Revenue Agency gets a massive number of what we would call ``intelligence tippers.'' Some of these are very vague. They do not immediately share all the vague information because it becomes overwhelming. However, if they get something tangible that they think will cause a threat or would be of interest to another government department, they will certainly arrange a meeting or get on a phone and have a discussion so that the information is shared.

Senator Cordy: Who determines whether or not it should be shared and with whom? Is that the threat assessment group?

Cdr. Earnshaw: The threat assessment group would convene if there were a piece of intelligence that suggests we have a problem off the East Coast of Canada. We do not convene every week to discuss intelligence. That is all done at the staffing levels. There are people who talk daily on the phone and exchange information. Something that is of concern or crosses departmental lines would be exchanged at that level. If it became a concern, it would come to me and then go to the admiral and the operational staff as soon as we could get it.

Senator Cordy: You have given us some examples of pictures that you have taken of traffic in the maritime region. Is the navy using satellite surveillance?

Cdr. Earnshaw: We have the ability to use RADARSAT but it is not particularly ideal as a surveillance tool because of the passes of the satellite, the revisit times and the time lag between individual passes. We would usually incorporate that data if we were actually on the hunt for a vessel; for instance, something crossing the Trans-Atlantic. It is not particularly responsive to changing requirements.

In other words, you cannot just call the agency that controls it and say that we need a picture for here, here and here at these exact times. If the pass is not occurring over that swathe of the ocean, there is nothing they can do about that. We do use satellite information in an intelligence environment, but I would be remiss if I discussed that any further because it is classified. I realize you have heard about that often, but it is a classified environment and it would be dangerous for me to go down that path.

Senator Cordy: Capt. Williams, I am interested in your experiences in terms of boarding ships. I did not realize until this morning that the navy had no legal mandate to conduct boardings inside our economic zone. You talked about special forces on the ships. I assume most of your boardings would be unopposed, but if you get one that would be difficult, would the special forces be on the ship or would you have to radio for additional forces if you were going to board a ship that you felt could pose a danger?

Capt. Williams: The essence of your question is really one of positioning and one of reaction. In an operation where we were confronted with an opposed situation, intelligence would be a fundamental driving factor. We would leverage the intelligence that was provided to us to give us sufficient warning in order to position our response on the ship such that we would have a special forces capability.

Canada has a very robust capability in counter-terrorism response teams and we would, at national imperative, seek that capability such that it was co-located with the ship and in position to respond accordingly.

Senator Cordy: They would not normally be members of the ship's crew. They would be brought in specifically because you had intelligence to determine that this may be a dangerous situation.

Capt. Williams: That is correct.

Senator Wiebe: My question is a follow-up to Senator Cordy's. I realized that there were some restrictions on our Canadian Navy using its expertise and abilities in our own waters, but I never realized to what extent until this morning.

Can you outline for me the scenario, for example, the skills were used, in an international role — and I guess we are a Department of Defence — but on an offensive position? Are you telling me that, from a defence point of view, there are too many bells and whistles for our navy to have to go through in order to board a ship that may be heading for our shores and could cause damage?

Could you explain what bells and whistles you would have to go through to enable you to board that ship and, if not you, who would do the boarding?

Capt. Williams: Senator, it might seem rather complicated, but in fact it is really quite simple. Boarding operations involving the navy inside of our economic zone or inside our territorial limits are simply a matter of national imperative. The Canadian Navy possesses the capability to conduct boardings anywhere and there is really no legal imperative to prevent us from conducting them other than domestic law. In the event of a national crisis or evolving terrorist activity, the mandate would be given to the captains of the ships that were tasked to conduct boardings.

A corollary would be, if you think back to 9/11, that we had F-18 pilots conducting combat air patrols over the major cities of the country under the necessary rules of engagement, which is the necessary response to a national crisis.

The same thing would apply in the navy context. We are trained, we are ready and we are capable. As the rheostat is turned up, the transfer of all the national mandates would occur, the national jurisdiction to respond would go with it and the navy would respond.

RAdm. Davidson: Senator, if I could just expand on that a little, as Capt. Williams has said, there are issues of domestic law and the enforcement function. We provide support to the other departments. If there is an issue that could involve putting RCMP officers or fisheries department officers on board other ships, we do support this. Obviously, we have arrangements in place for us to, for example, provide on this coast up to 125 ship days per year for support of the fisheries department in the Atlantic. Ships go out, the coastal defence vessels and the frigates, the major units, go out, in part, with fisheries department officers. We provide the means, the platform — we provide the boats to enable the fisheries department officer to go on board.

Senator Wiebe: My second question then: Are the maritime coastal defence vessels, the MCDVs, capable of carrying boarding parties similar to the ones that were used internationally?

RAdm. Davidson: The boarding parties that are deployed from the frigates are 2 waves of 10, so 20 personnel altogether, trained in this. They have a comprehensive, rigorous training regime that involves everything from rappelling and scaling piles of containers to inspection, small arms training and so on. That is a skill that involves a big ship's company. Therefore, the full-scale boarding of that nature, which Capt. Williams has described, is really a function of the bigger ships.

Smaller ships have a crew of less than 50, and they can certainly go on board, assist other government departments, for example, if that is required, but it is not the same scale of activity that the coastal defence vessels could undertake.

Senator Wiebe: Why is there that difference? Why is there that requirement then, if there are only 2 teams of 10 each, which is 20 personnel? Is it the firepower of the vessel? Is it the speed of the vessel? Maybe you could answer on those two bases.

Capt. Williams: Senator, until this point in time, the committee's discussions about boardings have been focused almost exclusively on the teams that actually go away. You can see and touch them and you get a very good appreciation of what they do. However, in fact the enabling capabilities of the boarding teams that are on the frigates are the frigates themselves.

The responsiveness and the way the ship has been designed give you a level of manoeuvrability and speed. That is the starting point for the conduct of these operations. Some of these vessels that we are boarding are large. They are huge. They are the size of the vessels that you see running in and out of Halifax Harbour here on an ongoing basis.

I had a situation where one of these turned to cross my bow at 100 yards and I had to back down with all of the ship's power to get out of the way and prevent a collision. All of the boardings that we have talked about and that your committee has been exposed to until now have been more administrative in nature.

When you get into tactical boardings, where the master of the vessel is not cooperating and you are trying to demonstrate national resolve, speed, manoeuvrability, the capability of a large ship to get you in close, force compliance and get you out of the way in the event that something happens are critical enablers.

Off both the East and West coasts we have some rather interesting environmental conditions that, once again, demand a certain size of ship just for simple sea-keeping matters that will allow you to be in a position to conduct boardings. There is a whole range of factors that dictate the size of the ship and the capability of the boarding teams.

Senator Wiebe: Do we, as a country, maintain at all times at least one frigate on each coast to ensure that if there is such a huge ship approaching our shore that needs interdiction, that that can be done, or have we ever put ourselves in the situation where one ship has been in dry dock and the rest of them have been out serving?

RAdm. Davidson: There is a ship on each coast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year that is designated as the ready-duty ship, and it is alongside and on eight hours' notice. It is ready to go within that time, at the maximum. We use both the coastal defence vessels and the frigates for this. A ready-duty ship is predominantly a frigate/destroyer function. If a coastal defence vessel is designated, then there is a frigate on standby to back that up.

Senator Wiebe: My final question is completely out of the blue, but I would like your view on it. Should the Canadian Coast Guard be amalgamated with the Canadian Navy to provide one agency responsible for our coastal defence?

RAdm. Davidson: I think the subsequent speaker from the Coast Guard, since that is his parish, will be the person to talk to.

Senator Wiebe: I want to get the navy's view on this.

RAdm. Davidson: The navy's view, senator, is that we have complementary tasks. We have clear roles and responsibilities that the Government of Canada has given us.

I could see circumstances in which it would be useful for us to have the opportunity to exercise a centralized command and control force for specific operations. That is not ownership. We do not see any circumstance in which it would be advantageous to have those maritime branches of the government merged into one.

Senator Wiebe: If asked to, I am sure that you could do it, but would the navy personnel be happy to do it?

RAdm. Davidson: We are not in the expansion business, senator. We have a job to do. We have a mandate and we have tools. We are not seeking to take over anybody else right now.

Capt. Williams: Senator, if I could just add, the Coast Guard provides for maritime safety. Your navy provides for your freedom.

Senator Wiebe: Just explain that to me.

RAdm. Davidson: Safety and freedom?

Senator Wiebe: Yes.

RAdm. Davidson: That is like asking, ``What is justice?''

The Chairman: I have a feeling, colleagues, that we are heading down a long road that has too many ash cans on it.

Senator Forrestall: Mighty interesting, mind you.

Senator Wiebe: That is part of our problem.

The Chairman: You are quite right.

Senator Smith: I would like to thank our panel for their collective overview. It is very helpful in giving us some background on what the navy is all about.

Now I do not have any first-hand military experience, other than my notorious Bosnia training. Perhaps it is because of my legal background that when I am looking at anything, I like to understand the basics. Let me give you some insights on my perspective and my thinking.

In a nutshell, I think that today's existing military establishments were historically created, maintained and developed to deal with traditional military threats. By that, I mean other military forces. That is logical. Why would it be otherwise?

Therefore, you have an organization that was developed in recent years for us to play our role in the Cold War. Then in the early 1990s, almost overnight, something happened that was unthinkable to us when we were growing up. The Cold War evaporates. There is almost a contest between all these former Warsaw Pact countries to see which one can get into NATO first.

I think perhaps the biggest challenge of military establishments in general, including Canada, and in NATO countries mainly, is whether whatever money we have to spend on the military is being spent in the most strategic way to address our current military challenges. Whatever the amount is, we generally hear pleas for more help in particular areas, and that is normal. It is normal for all areas of government.

What are those challenges right now? It is not the Cold War. It is not conventional, traditional military forces.

In addition to the Cold War scenario, Canada — and Canada is somewhat unique here — has had this peacekeeping role that goes back half a century. It is a role of which I as a Canadian feel very proud and want to see us maintain.

Also, I think Canadians expect the military, wherever it is logical and useful and practical, to play some role in the new war on terrorism in general.

Here we are in Halifax. Here we are with the navy. When I, a simple Toronto fellow not familiar with all this, think of the navy, I think first of Halifax. I think of Esquimalt. Halifax is sort of the heart. Let me give an example.

Here we are this morning. We have not heard one word about something that occurred in recent years about which I have wondered a fair amount, and that is the acquisition of these submarines.

Now surely those submarines were designed for a Cold War era. The British chose to mothball them, presumably for valid reasons. I am familiar with the official reasons. We never heard anything about them here this morning.

Let us just use the submarines as a litmus paper test of whether the navy thinks whatever amount of money they receive is being strategically spent on Canada's current military challenges. We have not heard anything. Are they relevant to a post-9/11 world? I mean on the peacekeeping side.

Give me a comfort level that there is some relevance to spending money on submarines in this new era that none of us would have anticipated when we were growing up.

RAdm. Davidson: Let me answer your submarine-specific question in a broader context. Let me begin with a very short anecdote.

Thirteen years ago I was the captain of HMCS Kootenay in the Pacific. I was part of a group of four ships that went to visit the Russian port city of Vladivostok.

In 1990, Vladivostok, within the then Soviet Union, was still a closed city. No Western warship had visited that city since 1936. Canada was the first nation to break that prohibition and send naval ships there.

It was, without any exaggeration, the most extraordinary event of my professional career — the sense of sailing into that harbour through huge Russian ships lined with their crews and flags up, going in with a chart that had one line of soundings and nothing on the shore and so on, and to experience the welcome that we received from that city. There were thousands and thousands of visitors and the way that Russian officers opened up their ships was extraordinary. It was evident to every person in that task group that the world order had changed.

Equally, I will never forget Canada Day, 1990, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with all my crew on the upper deck and sailors coming up to me and say, ``Boss, are we going to have a job later on? The Cold War, as we knew it, is over and the world order has changed. Will we still have a job?''

We returned home later in July and went on leave, these questions dangling over many of us. Ten days later the Iraqis invaded Kuwait. Eleven days later the people on board my ship started to remove equipment to send it to the East Coast for installation in Terra Nova.

The purpose of this little anecdote is simply to illustrate that more changed in 1990-91 than just a wall coming down. The whole world order changed. We find that we are not necessarily dealing with nation states that have their own intrinsically developed weapons and capabilities.

We are dealing with countries or organizations that have access to substantial financial resources. There are a great many countries around the world with very successful and profitable arms sale industries or industries that sell extremely sophisticated equipment. We find ourselves deploying in areas where the threat to your ship may be from aircraft, from missiles based ashore or from mines that have been produced by erstwhile friends.

The threat environment in which we work is different. It is no less real than that in which we were trained to operate during the Cold War.

This is one of the realities that we face when we deploy ships overseas. Circumstances will change in the course of an extended deployment. We sent a task group in October 2001 to deal with the threat of an exodus — choose your numbers — of the real possibility that the Taliban/al-Qaeda leadership could be trying to escape by sea or that there would be infractions of the embargoes that were in place in the Gulf.

While the ships were there, tensions rose, as they do periodically, between India and Pakistan. Again, this is purely illustrative. We found ourselves on the periphery of, if not a region of conflict, at least a region in which tensions were dramatically rising.

A submarine transited the area during that time. It was our ships that followed it, tracked it and kept its progress clearly known to the rest of the coalition.

The submarine capability that we are reintroducing to Canada now is an integral part of a balanced fleet capability. What you see right here in Halifax now, what you see on the West Coast, is not the result of an accidental accumulation. You have a task group that is self-supporting, can go anywhere the government wants and is not dependent on another country to provide its air defence or anti-submarine defence. We can go anywhere, and do anything, the government asks of us, stay there for a long time and be self-supporting. We can take a large part of Canadian diplomacy and deploy it abroad.

Submarines are part of a balanced capability. They are not Cold War relics. We have used them in the past for intelligence gathering. There is nothing quite as effective as a periscope popping up beside a fishing vessel on Georges Bank or on the tail of the Bank to demonstrate that we know exactly where you are and what you are doing. If we do not like it we will put the fisheries department officers on board.

The submarine capability is important for us in a couple of other areas. It is a tool that we can bring to future coalition operations. Various allies used conventional submarines to great effect: for intelligence gathering, in support operations in the Adriatic, when the operations against former Yugoslavia were taking place and a range of other areas.

There is a potential in the future for us to put special forces aboard. They are also a niche component. Our American and British allies no longer have conventional submarines. Yet there are all kinds of countries in the world — 45 of them — that operate submarines. We always say that if you want to sink a big ship, the best way to do it is to put water in the bottom and not let air out the top. A submarine is a hugely powerful and capable asset.

For the Americans and the British, who no longer have conventional submarines, the possibility of working in areas in which there are hostile submarines is frankly very real. This is a capability that we can bring to the table as an important part of our potential coalition contributions.

Therefore, my sense is that this is a different world. It is not a less dangerous or less complex world than that of the early 1990s.

Senator Smith: It is a very thorough answer and I appreciate it. What I am trying to get at, and I do not argue with any of the things you are saying, is does the amount of cash they require equate with their rank as a spending priority? Maybe it is not fair to ask you that question, but I will anyway.

RAdm. Davidson: Let me give you a straight, simple sailor's answer to a simple Toronto question. We got a tremendous deal with these submarines, senator, do not let anybody tell you differently. We essentially got four boats for probably less than the cost of building one new one, had we generated a brand-new construction program.

They have been upgraded and brought back into service in the U.K. The last one is nearing completion right now. We are employing them when they come back here. One is going to sea later this week for training of qualified submariners. Then we put the Mark 48 torpedo system and various other Canadian improvements in them.

They will be a platform that will be of great service to Canada. They were a very cost effective way of acquiring that.

Senator Atkins: I would like to pursue the submarine question further. Are you telling us that at this moment, three out of the four submarines are operational?

RAdm. Davidson: No, senator, they are not. We are currently moving through the planned, programmed conversion and reactivation process. We have three of the boats here in Canada now.

HMCS Victoria left Halifax at the end of June. She completed an 8,000-mile trip through the Panama Canal and all the way up the West Coast. She did not lose one day through malfunction or delay due to mechanical difficulty.

She is in Victoria right now. She is in a work period and will be conducting operations as we get ready for the weapons certification program later this year.

We have HMCS Windsor, which is nearing the end of her Canadianization program. She is in the dockyard here and we will commission her on October 4 in Halifax. She is due to complete her work period in November and then start the trials program that will bring her to operational capability next year.

HMCS Cornerbrook was commissioned on June 30 in Newfoundland, the same day the Victoria sailed. She has been employed for several months now in getting young men and women trained up and qualified for service in submarines. She will be the next one to go into the modernization program.

That is the status of the boats right now. We will declare them operational later in 2004 when we have completed the weapons firing program. That is going in accordance with the schedule that we set.

Senator Atkins: We have been told that the total cost of upgrading the submarines would be over a billion dollars. When you add between $11 billion and $12 billion to the budget for the Department of National Defence, that is a substantial investment in that equipment.

RAdm. Davidson: That is an inaccurate comparison and bad math, if I may be very direct.

Senator Atkins: Which is the bad math — the budget for the Department of National Defence?

RAdm. Davidson: Senator, with all respect, the way you are presenting it is not accurate. This does not come out of our annual operating funds. This was a procurement program over a number of years. The money that you quoted includes the procurement cost, a substantial part of which was traded off in kind against British Army costs for training in Western Canada.

So no, this is not one-twelfth of the annual operating budget. I have heard figures that suggest that other countries that have engaged in slightly larger submarine procurement programs have in fact expended the equivalent of over $5 billion to generate a new program.

Dollars out for procurement and total program costs, modest in comparison with the total cost of other options for procuring this capability, do not represent one-twelfth of the year's operating budget for DND.

Senator Atkins: Well I accept the fact that it can be amortized over two or three years. Ultimately, what is the cost of upgrading these submarines?

RAdm. Davidson: I will have to defer to the budget figures. I simply cannot tell you off the top of my head what project costs have been incurred and I would be inaccurate if I attempted to give you our package on that. I can obtain that from the project staff and would be happy to share that with you.

Senator Atkins: Cdr. Earnshaw, you have stated that interdepartmental communication has improved, yet you suggest that, if I may paraphrase, although the will is now there, there are limited secure communications between the various government departments involved in national maritime security.

We have heard of a project called MIMDEX, which is supposed to improve secure communications among Canadian government departments. Can you provide the committee with some information on this project, its status and possible implementation?

Cdr. Earnshaw: I do not have the exact dates when MIMDEX will be implemented. I understand that it is to be in the next few years. What I will do is hunt down those data and provide them to the committee.

We do not expect to see anything on the secure communications side and that particular type of equipment for the next few years. However, a CSIS system has currently been installed in the four departments that have intelligence organizations, those being DND, RCMP, CSIS and CCRA.

We now have the ability to do secure file transfers, so it is a step in the right direction. We do not have instantaneous e-mail access or the ability to conduct discussions over secure communications. We can transfer a file to the appropriate operations centre. That is a big leap forward because it enables us to do this from individual operations centres instead of having to always get together to discuss the situation.

MIMDEX will add a more substantial capability in the future that will permit a more broad exchange of information in the intelligence field with OGDs.

Senator Atkins: Capt. Williams, would you have any suggestions as to what changes might be made to domestic law that would increase the mandate of the navy to secure our coast?

Capt. Williams: I am not a lawyer and my experience with the law is confined to projecting Canadian values and our commitment to the international rule of law.

Senator Atkins: You are a practitioner.

Capt. Williams: I have tried to explain the context for my understanding of the application of Canadian law in a crisis circumstance. I can tell you what I believe to be the requirement, but I am not sure of it because of my limited understanding of domestic law. It is simply not my forte.

The requirement is quite simple, that if a crisis evolves off either coast or in our Arctic, the Canadian Navy simply needs to use the national imperative that is given to us to execute the task. That is the simple answer.

Largely, that boils down to a national imperative and a political imperative. Like anything else, the navy will be ready to respond at fairly short notice, at immediate notice, in some cases, to protect Canadian interests and Canadian citizens, both in our adjacent ocean areas and outside of our ocean frontiers.

That is the requirement. Is the mechanism in place to do so? I am not sure. I think so. Our actions in the past, I think, have reinforced that. We are ready to go when the government calls on us to execute a task.

Senator Atkins: I am sure that is the case. Thank you.

Senator Forrestall: Do you carry a legal expert with you? How do you handle these questions?

RAdm. Davidson: We try to do as much ahead of time as we can. When we send a ship off for operations in which there could be a potential for us to face either an issue with a vessel from another nation or some other complex situation, we have a process by which the ship is given very clear instructions for controlled use of force and engagement, which we call the ``rules of engagement.''

Legal advice is central as that process is reviewed. That is part of the staff functions in my headquarters and up through to the chain of command in Ottawa.

In some circumstances, a staff commander at sea may have a legal officer embarked on the spot.

Capt. Williams: Senator, if I can add to that, during my first operational tour in the Persian Gulf I had legal staff on board, a lawyer who was working directly for me and challenging me at every opportunity to make sure that I understood exactly the laws within the context and the environment in which I was operating. He was on board for about three weeks.

During my second deployment in the Gulf I had access to legal staff with Cdr. Earnshaw, and I asked for them to come over for the first week after I arrived back in the theatre, once again just to challenge me to make sure that I was operating within the right mindset and framework.

Senator Banks: I know that you do not bump into things, but within Canadian waters, in either of those layered approaches that you were talking about, if you are the captain of a ship, which you recently were, do you have the freedom to take action when you see or understand that something is wrong? Do you need to get, as you have described it, an imperative? Is that an order or permission from somebody? Can you act on the spot now? Do you have that discretion?

Capt. Williams: The short answer is ``No, I do not,'' and I think that in any Western democracy, that is the way you want to have it. If I am operating off the East Coast or the West Coast and I observe an act that I believe to be illegal under either Canadian domestic law or international law, then it is my responsibility to report that to the appropriate authorities. That would be the first step in the overall governmental response.

Ultimately, perhaps, I might be tasked to stand by to embark an RCMP emergency team, a Department of Customs and Immigration team or an environmental team that would be flown out to me to enhance my ability to respond. The short answer is ``No, I wait for direction from my command authorities.''

Senator Banks: This may be unfair and maybe it is a wrong analogy, but if a policeman sees something wrong he does not have to phone somebody to get permission to do something about it.

RAdm. Davidson: There are two levels that I would apply to this. The context of what we have been discussing here involves cases where there are strictly laid out jurisdictional areas and responsibilities within Canadian law.

Our Canadian Forces officers are not empowered as peace officers. Those responsibilities lie in other areas.

What we are talking about here, and if I understand correctly the sense of your questioning, is if we see a violation of a fisheries dispute, pollution or some other transgression within our waters, can we do something about that. Capt. Williams has laid out the limitations of our activity, as you know.

There are obviously other areas where you would and should expect the navy to act very decisively — if there are emergency circumstances at sea requiring assistance. We periodically transit through areas where piracy, believe it or not, is a real threat.

In circumstances where ships' captains are forced to deal with issues that involve life and limb and so on, it is part of their mandate and part of their responsibility to act decisively and on the spot.

Senator Banks: Just so that we are clear, the jurisdictional difficulty here is not as between, for example, a province and the federal government or between one nation and another nation. It is between agencies of the federal government.

The Chairman: Obviously, admiral, this is an area that is of interest to us. We will pursue it further. If I understood correctly, you will provide the committee with more information regarding the cost of the submarine fleet. Commander, you will provide us with further information regarding MIMDEX. We look forward to receiving that. We would like to thank you, admiral, and the officers who accompanied you today to the hearing. We appreciate your information very much.

I would like to take this occasion to say that we as a committee, and as members of the Parliament of Canada, want to convey to you our pride in and respect for the work that you and the men and women who work for you are doing. We think it is outstanding. We think that that message is not delivered frequently enough and we would like to deliver it to you personally in the hopes that you will convey it to those who work for you. Thank you very much, sir.

RAdm. Davidson: Thank you, senator, and members of the committee.

The Chairman: Colleagues, I introduced everyone earlier. We are joined by Senator Michael Meighen from Ontario, a successful lawyer and businessman appointed to the Senate in 1990. He is an active member of the community, serving as Chancellor of the University of King's College and as past chair of the Stratford Festival. He has a strong background in defence matters and is Chair of the Subcommittee on Veterans' Affairs. He is also a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce that is examining ways to improve corporate governance.

Our next witness this morning is Mr. Larry Wilson, Regional Director, Canadian Coast Guard. Mr. Wilson graduated from the Canadian Coast Guard College in Sydney in 1975 and has been in his current position since late 1998.

Mr. Wilson, welcome to the committee. If you have a short opening statement, you may commence whenever you are ready.

Mr. Larry Wilson, Regional Director, Maritimes, Canadian Coast Guard: Honourable senators, it is my intent today to briefly reiterate the Coast Guard's mandate and role with respect to maritime security, as you have already received much of that information in previous testimony from Coast Guard representatives.

I will then outline how the Coast Guard, Maritimes Region, contributes to Canada's maritime security through its programs and services as well as our participation in numerous security-related initiatives on the East Coast.

As you are already aware, the Coast Guard is a national institution providing service in maritime safety, protection of the marine and freshwater environments, facilitating maritime commerce, supporting marine scientific excellence and supporting Canada's maritime priorities.

We provide a visible sign of Canadian sovereignty through the presence of our ships and aircraft. There are four principal acts that provide the government with the power to legislate and the Coast Guard with its regulatory mandates for its programs and services.

You have already been provided with details on Coast Guard programs and I will briefly list some of the key activities. They are: search and rescue, boating safety, ice breaking and route assistance, communications and traffic services, aids to navigation, environmental protection and response, navigable waters protection, shipping channel safety, support to conservation and protection and ocean science, and support to other government programs and departments.

The Canadian Coast Guard, Maritimes Region, is comprised of approximately 1,160 employees and 747 Coast Guard auxiliary volunteers. We have three bases of operations, three marine communications and traffic services centres, one regional operations centre, one joint rescue coordination centre and four environmental response depots.

There are approximately 236 lighthouses in the Maritimes, of which 42 are what we would consider major light stations, and over 4,800 fixed and floating aids to navigation.

The Maritimes region has eight large and 20 small vessels, nine search and rescue bases, six seasonal inshore rescue boats and seven helicopters. We also operate and maintain Canso Canal.

In the package that was presented to you, there should be a slide with a map of the Maritimes region on which the various bases, locations of the search and rescue facilities and so on are depicted.

I would like to talk a little now about the fleet, because as I have mentioned previously, we have eight large vessels, two of which are major icebreakers, the CCGS Louis St. Laurent and CCGS Terry Fox. Both are deployed in the Arctic during summer operations and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence during winter operations.

In addition, we have two light icebreakers or major navaids tenders. These are multi-mission-capable vessels of significant size, the CCGS Edward Cornwallis and Sir William Alexander.

We also have one medium navaids tender light icebreaker, the CCGS Earl Grey, and also one offshore research and survey vessel, The Hudson, which operates out of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, along with one coastal research and survey vessel, The Matthew, and one offshore fisheries research vessel, the CCGS Alfred Needler, which recently suffered a fire on board and is no longer in service at the moment. We are assessing the damage to that particular vessel.

That makes up the complement of large vessels in the Maritimes region fleet. In addition to the large vessel fleet, we have a number of small vessels, including one small navaids tender. We have seven multi-task high endurance lifeboats strategically stationed around the Maritimes region. That will be increased to nine, with one spare vessel, in the next year.

We have three multi-task lifeboats that are currently filling in until the three new vessels arrive in the next year. We have three inshore fisheries research vessels and also one multi-task fisheries cutter operating out of Grand Manan, the CCGS Camilla.

In addition, we have a number of other small fisheries patrol vessels that we operate for fisheries enforcement. They are strategically located throughout the Maritimes region.

Our fleet of helicopters includes five MBB 105s, one Bell 212 and one Bell Long Ranger.

As you have heard from a number of previous witnesses, the Coast Guard's contribution to maritime security is limited by a number of factors, the first of which is our mandate. We are not a paramilitary organization. We do not have either peacekeeping powers or enforcement authority.

We do not have the authority to stop or board vessels caught in the performance of illegal acts at sea except for the authority granted to us under the pollution prevention officer powers by Transport Canada.

The Coast Guard does not have the capability to perceive inshore/near-shore security gaps and we have no mandate for surveillance of Canada's economic zone. Port security is a Transport Canada port authority responsibility. That is our first limitation.

The second, of course, is the fleet. The current fleet is already over-tasked. There is no untapped capacity within the Coast Guard fleet in the Maritimes region. We can barely meet the current safety service requirement that is our mandate.

The current fleet is not designed for a weapons fit. There are issues regarding the speed of the vessels and their capability and endurance that limit its effectiveness in support of security operations.

In the area of personnel, our crews are not trained as peace officers, nor are they trained to use weapons. There are Canada Labour Code and international safety management issues with respect to putting civil servants in harm's way. It would take decades to create a U.S. Coast Guard type of service, requiring significant investment and, in effect, creating a second navy.

That being said, the Coast Guard can and does add value to marine security in a supporting role. We have the organization, the operational readiness culture and communication and information systems to support marine security requirements.

Previous Coast Guard representatives at this committee have discussed the four categories of marine security activities related to coastal defence that are used to classify initiatives within the Interdepartmental Marine Security Working Group, of which the Coast Guard is part.

I would like to discuss these categories in turn and explain to you the Coast Guard, Maritimes Region's, contribution to each of these.

The first category is domain awareness, which speaks to surveillance and situational awareness. The information the Coast Guard gathers from vessel pre-arrival reports required under our Eastern Canada vessel traffic services zone regulations, commonly referred to as ECAREG — and I will attempt to avoid acronyms as much as possible, senator — as well as from other areas like AIS, or automated information systems, and vessel traffic systems contribute to the recognized maritime picture that is compiled and fused at the navy's joint operations surveillance and information centre here in Halifax, as was discussed by my colleagues a short time ago.

This information is shared with other intelligence agencies. Coast Guard vessels and aircraft can provide positive identification of high interest vessels and track their progress. We support the Canadian Forces and the RCMP Coastal Watch Program by observing, recording and reporting vessel contacts.

Along with Provincial Airlines, as was pointed out earlier, and other resources we have in the region such as our own helicopter flights, we support the enforcement community with surveillance information. We also are preparing for participation in upcoming intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance exercises in 2004.

In the responsiveness category, the most recent example of Coast Guard platform support to other government departments in the Maritimes region is the Wadi Al Arab incident, where a Coast Guard cutter transported officers from the RCMP and Health Canada to a ship that had a potential anthrax situation on board and was quarantined at anchor outside Halifax Harbour. Communications with the Wadi Al Arab were conducted through the Coast Guard communications and traffic centre in Dartmouth. A 1,000-meter exclusion zone was established around the ship and monitored by a Coast Guard vessel.

The Coast Guard is currently negotiating with the RCMP for an opportunity to provide them with life-cycle management of their new catamaran vessel currently under construction. It is one of the Commissioner-class vessels.

Furthermore, the Coast Guard also provided the RCMP with a surplus vessel that is being used for their Coastal Watch Program as well as a patrol vessel. This was the CCGS Ferguson.

These are some of the areas where we have demonstrated our responsiveness to the needs of our colleagues in other departments and agencies.

With respect to the third area of safeguarding and denying access to Canada in the marine transportation system, our communications and traffic services centre in Dartmouth receives pre-arrival reports 96 hours and 24 hours prior to vessel entry into Canadian waters. We will notify the appropriate agencies of any high interest vessels or special interest vessels requesting clearance.

In particular, if any of these agencies send us a notice asking us to alert them immediately if a vessel that they are interested in should request clearance, we will make sure that happens.

The Maritimes region fleet provides a deterrent to terrorist or criminal acts through a clearly identifiable federal presence and a visible symbol of Canadian sovereignty within the economic zone and the Arctic.

On the fourth area, of collaboration, the Coast Guard is strongly supportive of the current interdepartmental approach to maritime security. The Maritimes region, in particular, has played a very active role in various initiatives to improve the flow of marine security information and intelligence.

We are members of the federal council security committees in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, which meet on a semi-official basis to discuss security issues.

The Nova Scotia committee sponsored the Atlantic series of interdepartmental security exercises that were held in May, September and November of 2002, with another exercise to be held in October of this year.

The threat assessment group, which was mentioned previously this morning, known as the TAG, is an RCMP-led initiative consisting of four key departments, the RCMP, CSIS, DND and CCRA.

This particular group is sometimes known as TAG-plus-one. When they meet to assess a threat, if they need to call on an agency like the Coast Guard for support, we will make ourselves available, either to transport a member of the team or to assist in any investigation.

TAG meets upon notification of a potential threat or incident, determines which other departments and agencies should be involved and develops the appropriate response plan. We ensure that the TAG has the appropriate contact information for the Canadian Coast Guard and will liaise with the group as required.

The Eastern Canada interdepartmental marine operations committee was revitalized under the chairmanship of the Coast Guard, Maritimes Region, and has now established links with the Interdepartmental Marine Security Working Group and the Pacific interdepartmental marine operations committee.

With representation from eight federal departments and agencies in all four Atlantic provinces, this particular committee meets three times per year to discuss and improve aspects of regional interdepartmental marine operations related to vessel usage, training, facilities, exercises, communications and information sharing.

One of the initiatives of this committee is to examine, at the Coast Guard's suggestion, the development of an interdepartmental ``lessons-learned'' system to provide for more efficient tracking and implementation of recommended improvements to interdepartmental cooperation and collaboration, based on the knowledge gained from various exercises as well as real-life operations.

The Coast Guard, Maritimes Region, provides the chair of the regional interdepartmental concept of marine operations subcommittee of this particular committee. The intent is to produce by October of this year a concept of operations that will provide the required guidance and framework for interdepartmental marine operations in the Atlantic region and will serve as a reference document for the threat assessment group.

The Maritimes region joint operations centre, a Coast Guard, Maritimes Region, initiative, recognizes the value of interdepartmental cooperation and collaboration and builds these principles into a proposal for a new joint regional operations centre envisaged as part of the new Government of Canada building being looked at for the BIO complex.

Again, in March 2001 we brought all of the departments and agencies together to take a look at the value of a joint operations centre as part of this new Government of Canada building. Certainly everyone recognized the value of doing that, in particular for dealing with situations like emergency response.

You heard previous presenters talk this morning about CANMARNET. We are a major contributor to the information available on CANMARNET and a member of the users group, another subcommittee of the Eastern Canada interdepartmental maritime operations committee.

Questions were posed this morning to my colleagues in the military with respect to MIMDEX. We participated in the Interdepartmental Maritime Security Working Group-sponsored study on MIMDEX, known as the maritime information management and data exchange system, with a view to improving the conductivity, the quality and the timeliness of information shared with other departments.

We provide continued input and receive updates on the issue through a number of fora.

On June 19, the Coast Guard, Maritimes Region, participated in a surveillance workshop hosted by DND that was followed immediately by senior Coast Guard representation and participation in the Seapower Conference, which is held annually at Dalhousie University. This year's conference focused on continental security in Canada/U.S. relations and, in particular, examined the maritime perspectives, challenges and opportunities in this area.

A revised joint Canada/U.S. agreement was signed in May 2003. This agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard, on a joint response to environmental incidents affecting both countries, has been in existence for quite some time. This allows border agencies or regions of both the U.S. Coast Guard and our Coast Guard that share or border on our waterways an opportunity to look at ways and means of responding to an environmental incident that threatens each other's jurisdiction.

Another example of collaborative approaches in the region is the Atlantic regional security symposium, which was hosted by the Land Forces Atlantic Headquarters at its militia training centre in Aldershot, Nova Scotia. Over 100 representatives from government departments and agencies with security roles attended. The symposium addressed security issues of mutual concern within Atlantic Canada in order to enhance the collective ability to anticipate, prevent and effectively react to crises.

One of the recommendations of the symposium that has been effectively implemented is the Atlantic series of interdepartmental marine security exercises I just spoke about. We have had three and we have one coming up in October.

Coast Guard, Maritimes Region, has been and will continue to be an integral participant in these exercises.

We also provide an additional area of collaboration through our training support to other government departments. We have over the past 10 years provided fast rescue craft training to numerous other government departments and agencies such as the RCMP, DND, Environment Canada and Parks Canada, as well as municipal police and fire departments. As far away as Peel, Ontario, for example, we have provided training to some of the municipal police forces in the use of fast rescue craft. DND, the RCMP and CCRA have also used Coast Guard ships in support of their maritime-security-related training requirements.

This, Mr. Chairman, concludes my presentation and I will be pleased to answer any of your questions.

Senator Cordy: Thank you very much, Mr. Wilson, for appearing before our committee today in Nova Scotia. My first couple of questions are simply for information gathering. You mentioned that you have 747 Coast Guard volunteers. What type of work would a volunteer do with the Coast Guard?

Mr. Wilson: These are auxiliary members. They are not public servants or civil servants. They are volunteers and very well organized across Canada. Every Coast Guard region has its group of volunteers, managed by a board of directors. They have a national president. They are primarily used for search and rescue response. Most of the volunteers in the Maritimes region are fishermen, which stands to reason, since they have very capable vessels, for the most part, understand the environment in which they operate and are capable of responding to search and rescue incidents.

The way the system works is that as soon as the rescue coordination centre in Halifax officially calls upon them, they are reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses. That is the only funding that they get. Their vessels, as well as they themselves, are insured in the event that something should happen to them or their personal property while they are conducting a search and rescue response.

Senator Cordy: These would be the fishermen who worked, for example, on the Swissair disaster, that type of thing?

Mr. Wilson: That is correct.

Senator Cordy: Do they apply to be volunteers, is that how it would work?

Mr. Wilson: They have a recruitment system in place through their own organization and their board of directors. They also have zone directors. For example, the region is broken up into a number of auxiliary zones, each having its own director and committee structure reporting to a regional board of directors, and then a national board of directors. They are very independent and a quite effectively and professionally managed organization.

Occasionally, in consultation with the rescue coordination centre and Coast Guard management in the region, we will assess gaps in coverage. In other words, if we see a particular area of the coastline that we feel is not adequately covered by auxiliary members, we will try to encourage recruitment through the auxiliary to fill that gap, because they are quite an effective search and rescue response organization.

Senator Cordy: Would you also have to go through a security check to become a volunteer?

Mr. Wilson: Not to my knowledge. They certainly have to demonstrate that they meet very stringent requirements pertaining to vessel equipment and certification. They also go through a series of training exercises through their organization. They conduct exercises on a regular basis, and we have had them do so with military aircraft, with our own search and rescue vessels, just to ensure that they are well trained and capable of responding.

I am not aware of any system of security clearance.

Senator Cordy: Just another question for my personal information, please. I have driven over the Canso Causeway many times, but I did not realize the Coast Guard was in charge of the Canso Canal. What exactly is the responsibility?

Mr. Wilson: We actually operate and maintain the canal. As vessels go through the canal system, the operators on duty are Coast Guard employees. They operate the gates, allow the ships to go through and collect the statistics on the transits through the canal system.

Senator Cordy: You keep track of the traffic, essentially.

Mr. Wilson: Yes.

Senator Cordy: You said that the Canadian Coast Guard provides a visible presence and acts as a deterrent to terrorists and criminal activity. Is a visible presence enough to deter terrorists? Since you are not armed, is just the presence of the Coast Guard ship enough?

Mr. Wilson: Certainly from my personal observation, I would have to say that having a very large red and white vessel conducting activities along the coastline or in the Canadian Arctic certainly adds to Canada's sovereignty role.

Would vessels approaching Canada see that as a deterrent? I would expect they would.

Senator Cordy: You also talk about the significant contribution that the Coast Guard makes to the recognized maritime picture and the very active role that you play in an interdepartmental group.

We had the military here earlier, and they have liaison personnel to communicate with various government agencies. How do you liaise with other government agencies, or do you just provide your information to one body? How does it work?

Mr. Wilson: As was pointed out this morning, we certainly liaise in a number of ways at the very senior levels of the government agencies, and in my position in particular. I sit on the Federal council security committee. I am in regular contact with my colleagues at senior levels in the various agencies. That is certainly one area.

From an operations point of view, we have operational staff people in the regional operational centre who liaise with the maritime operations centre. We have DND personnel who operate out of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography and have been involved in oceanographic survey work on board our vessels, as was pointed out this morning.

I do have a liaison officer who happens to be part of the military reserve, but who also works quite effectively on my staff as a liaison officer with other government departments and agencies and also as a liaison person within our own department on issues of conservation and protection.

We do have a number of levels of cooperation. We share information that contributes to the overall maritime picture with the military and with any other agency that requires that information.

Senator Cordy: If a Coast Guard ship were to spot what they considered a vessel of interest, what would their first step be? What would they do first? Whom would they contact?

Mr. Wilson: Again, it very much depends on the circumstances surrounding that particular incident. You could have various scenarios. When you say ``of special interest,'' it has been determined that they were conducting illegal activities? If that were the case, I would expect that that information would go immediately to the RCMP.

Senator Cordy: Do you see a change in the mandate of the Coast Guard? We have heard a lot of discussion in our hearings from people who feel that perhaps the Coast Guard should be changing. You clearly gave us the mandate in your presentation this morning.

Mr. Wilson: Certainly the Coast Guard has a long tradition of being involved in maritime safety. I think that that is an extremely important mandate for the government and for the Coast Guard and that we contribute significantly to Canada's economy and our maritime trade. Those particular programs and services that we provide are extremely valuable.

If you questioned the various port authorities and agencies that are involved in the transport of goods or safety of mariners, I think they would certainly attest to the fact that the Coast Guard's role in maritime safety is a very important one.

Should our mandate be changed and should we look at a different role? We have significant challenges at the moment in meeting our current safety mandate. It is not for me to predict what our future role might be. I am here simply to deliver, as best I can, on the existing mandate — and that is a challenge.

Senator Cordy: That is a ``No comment,'' is it not?

Senator Forrestall: How is the move to Bedford Institute going?

Mr. Wilson: It is coming along slowly but surely. There are changes taking place with various parts of the operation, particularly with the technical group.

Senator Forrestall: Are you behind schedule or was there ever a hard and fast schedule for the move?

Mr. Wilson: A lot of the move was predicated on the Government of Canada building, because we do have a number of employees both at Marine House and at the Dartmouth Coast Guard base who will have to be accommodated somewhere in the metro area. The delays to date have been in the area of moving forward on a building or accommodations for us. When that is approved and constructed, then, of course, we will be in a better position, but at this time we are still at the Dartmouth base and at the regional headquarters at Marine House.

Senator Forrestall: Have you positioned any vessels at the Bedford Institute?

Mr. Wilson: The traditional vessels that were under the operational management of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, such as the science vessels and fisheries vessels, are still at BIO. The traditional vessels that were part of the Coast Guard operations are currently at the Dartmouth base.

Senator Forrestall: The status, then, of the helicopter establishment remains unchanged?

Mr. Wilson: In what context, sir?

Senator Forrestall: If you move up to the other side of the bridge with a couple of thousand acres in your backyard, will you let the base stay where it is now, at Shearwater, or will you move it back onto or in proximity to the base?

Mr. Wilson: The intent would be to remain at Shearwater.

Senator Forrestall: Permanently?

Mr. Wilson: We never intended to move the helicopter operations out of Shearwater.

Senator Forrestall: Some people thought differently.

Mr. Wilson: I was not aware of that.

Senator Forrestall: That is what I wondered.

Mr. Wilson: No.

Senator Forrestall: Could I ask about the over-tasking and the underfunding? Is that partly caused by the absence of a fleet replacement program?

Mr. Wilson: I think it is common knowledge that the existing Coast Guard fleet is quite old. The Louis St. Laurent is 34 years old, and some of what would be considered the newer fleet, like the 1100 class, Edward Cornwallis, Sir William Alexander, is about 17, 18 years old now.

Our largest oceans research vessel, blue water research vessel, The Hudson, is 40 years old. That does tax the dollars because we do have challenges with maintaining this aging equipment. It does contribute.

Senator Forrestall: Could you provide the clerk of our committee with the ages of your various vessels?

Mr. Wilson: I can provide them right now, if you like.

Senator Forrestall: If you have them, I will see you afterwards.

Mr. Wilson: There are only eight of them. For the large fleet, The Louis St. Laurent is 34.

The Chairman: Let's not run through it now. We will have it afterwards, please.

Mr. Wilson: Perfect. I will do that.

Senator Forrestall: The helicopter fleet is relatively new, up to date and running smoothly, or is it?

Mr. Wilson: Our helicopter fleet is operating very well.

Senator Forrestall: Do you have enough and a proper mix of size?

Mr. Wilson: We certainly have enough helicopters to deliver our programs, yes.

Senator Forrestall: The other area that I wondered about was the general morale of the employees of the Canadian Coast Guard. As you will be aware, they have made forceful representations to Ottawa for more funding. I do not think that resulted in much activity. The fact that they saw fit to do that suggests a very serious situation. Could you tell us something, against that kind of background, about the morale of the present employees?

Mr. Wilson: I think any organization that goes through ongoing change will have morale problems. I have been with the Coast Guard for 32 years and I have seen a lot of change. We went through the program review in the early 1990s. We went through a merger with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in 1995. We are currently looking at our programs and services to determine whether or not we can deliver on those in a more cost-effective way.

Certainly, technology today allows us opportunities to do things differently and we have an obligation to the public to make sure that we do these types of things.

You will always have morale problems in a climate of change, or people who are not satisfied and would rather see the status quo.

Senator Forrestall: Some very dedicated public servants can attest to that. I think you are aware of that. Are you disturbed by this? Perhaps I should not put it that way. Perhaps I should ask you, is the Department of Fisheries and Oceans the best administrative body for the Coast Guard, or could you function better on your own or in some other arrangement, for example, with the Department of National Defence, but at arm's length?

Mr. Wilson: As I have said, I have been around a long time and I think there are a lot of benefits to being with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. We provide them with ships and expertise in manning vessels to conduct a lot of ocean science that is very important to this country. I think that we, and our employees on board ship, are well suited and well trained to do that.

We are also well suited to providing vessel support for fisheries department interdiction and support of their programs. I think the fact that we have one organization that manages both fleets, the old fleet and the new fleet, which is now part of the Coast Guard, that manages the life cycle of that fleet and looks at its replacement, is important to Canadians, in that there is no duplication of service in those areas.

There is a lot of benefit to being in an organization where we have like operations. I am talking about managing civilian ships. I think that that is where we bring a lot to the table.

Senator Forrestall: There must be dozens and dozens of well-thought-out scientific programs that have to be tested at sea. It seems to me that over the years I have watched governments, not just one particular kind, we frequently do not have enough ships, so someone says, ``Let's do this and then it will seem as if we have enough vessels,'' but the projects never get to sea.

Are you doing more institution work now — mapping, temperature work, fisheries research — as opposed to, say, 15 years ago? Are you doing much of that as a part of your daily routine?

Mr. Wilson: We do provide the vessels and the support for those types of operations. Generally speaking, if it is a scientific mission where samples are collected or an oceanographic survey mission, then the technical staff from those particular sectors within our department will board our vessels and conduct those types of operations. In other words, we run the ships for them and we provide the mariner-type of expertise that is required.

I would hasten to say that if you asked my colleagues in science and hydrography whether they have enough ship time to effectively do all of the work that they want to do, they would probably say no. I am sure they would always want to do more, but it is a matter of balancing their work requirements with the safety requirements of traditional Coast Guard programs.

Senator Forrestall: What I was after, Chair, is part of the reason for your observation that the Canadian Coast Guard is somewhat overtaxed because of the demands such as this and other demands, plus the failure to actively renew resources, which is the case with the work of the institute.

It failed at a time when we were world leaders in ongoing research programs and useful work. It was one of the best in the world, in my opinion, better than Woods Hole, for example. Although they did slightly different work, it was generally comparable.

I always found that to be a loss and I have always regretted it. Would that be part of picking up some of that load? Would that be part of the problem of being overtaxed? If it is not, what is?

Mr. Wilson: That is true when you look at the size and the age of the fleet today, the fact that we have experienced mechanical problems over time and the program demands that exist and continue to grow, in some cases. Obviously there is a need for scientific information, for hydrographic survey work, for enforcement, for icebreaker services in the Arctic and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and it continues to grow. In that sense, it is part of the overtaxing of our existing resource base and the fleet.

We are looking at ways and means to reduce that pressure on our resources by finding alternative ways of delivering traditional programs. I think we have a responsibility to the taxpayers to do that. We have a responsibility to the public to look at alternative ways, where it makes sense.

We are doing that in an effort to reduce some of that burden on the existing fleet, and through prioritization, we are able to deal with some of the programs and services that are of a higher importance and to which we are better suited.

Senator Forrestall: Just one final question: Is the fleet in St. John's engaged in extracurricular activity? Are they out doing work for the fisheries department? Are they doing hydrographic work?

Mr. Wilson: Most of the regions also have program responsibilities related to either science or fisheries department enforcement. I cannot think of any region that is not engaged in those types of activities.

Senator Forrestall: They are really multi-tasking.

Mr. Wilson: Very much so, yes.

Senator Forrestall: Be careful not to nickel-and-dime yourselves to death. Good luck with it.

Mr. Wilson:Thank you very much, sir.

Senator Meighen: Thank you for coming. I confess that my primary area of interest is maritime security. Before I ask you a couple of questions about that, you mentioned that you have a responsibility for the Canso Canal. Does the Coast Guard have responsibility for other canals in this country, such as the Welland Canal?

Mr. Wilson: No. In fact it is the only place in Canada that I am aware of where the Coast Guard operates a canal system.

Senator Meighen: Therefore, if you were seeking to redeploy your resources in a more efficient manner and focus on what is important, might it not be helpful to get rid of that responsibility?

Mr. Wilson: That is an area that probably warrants looking at.

Senator Meighen: Secondly, can you give me an idea, in very broad figures, because I am not much of a budget person, of your budgets, both capital and operations, over the past five years, let us say? Have they gone up, down or sideways?

Mr. Wilson: We received an injection of capital funding in the past year, so I cannot give you the exact numbers, but I can give you figures from an operational perspective. Do you want the amount of money we get on the operational side or just the breakdown?

Senator Meighen: If you told me you got a 25-per-cent increase in your capital budget, I would be quite impressed, but if you told me you had a 0.001 increase, I would not think that terribly significant.

Mr. Wilson: This recent increase in our capital budget will help us significantly in dealing with our infrastructure problems.

Senator Meighen: Would that mean new ships?

Mr. Wilson: No. This was to address the maintenance requirements. To my knowledge, we have not been granted any capital dollars for rebuilds.

Senator Meighen: Well, I will not ask you about the ratio of repair time to time at sea as compared to the Sea Kings, but it sounds to me as if it may be reaching the same level, of 1 to 30. I did get a little lost in the three pages on interdepartmental committees. You must be attending more meetings than any other human being, and I congratulate you on your perseverance and patience.

In our September 2002 report, we did recommend the establishment of multi-departmental operations centres in Halifax and Esquimalt, and I am quoting here, ``capable of collecting and analyzing shipping intelligence to provide a combined operational picture for all government agencies that deal with incoming vessels.''

You mentioned in your remarks the Maritimes region joint operations centre concept of operations. Is that anything close to what we recommended, or have we made any steps towards a coordinating centre capable of making reasonably rapid decisions and implementing them?

Mr. Wilson: The concept of operations that I described in here actually came about in 2001. We were discussing, as a result of a number of emergencies that had happened over the years, the benefits of having an operations centre run by the Coast Guard where a desk, a work area, would be available to those other agencies so that in the event of an incident, they could be brought in and work closely with the operations centre staff.

I think the concept of operations that you are talking about, dealing with maritime security and the data-fusion centres that were discussed for Halifax and Esquimalt, deal more with intelligence gathering and security information than security threats.

What we envisaged was the day-to-day dealing with an emergency operation, such as an incident with a tanker or a major ship casualty.

Senator Meighen: I do not necessarily quarrel with your argument, as I understood it, that you do not have the wherewithal to even contemplate a move towards a Coast Guard of a nature similar to that in the United States, and, I read between the lines, nor do you think it is necessarily a good idea.

However, correctly or incorrectly, I get the feeling there might be something of a gap, particularly within the 200- mile limit. You are out there with your ships, to the extent possible. Would there not, in your view, be an advantage in moving at least one or two steps toward the American model, but not by any means all the way, so that you have on board your ships at least one person who is a peace officer, at least one person who is armed and capable of dealing directly with either a minor incident or a major threat?

You mentioned taxpayers' dollars, and if Coast Guard personnel are out there anyway, would it not make sense to provide them with the ability to become involved in the security area other than just reporting something they see? You yourself say that the fleet provides a visible presence and acts as a deterrent to terrorist and criminal acts.

I confess I am not quite sure how it acts as a deterrent to terrorist and criminal acts, since it cannot do anything, if it observes one, other than report it. Could we not raise the bar a little and provide you with the ability to do something more than just report?

Mr. Wilson: I suppose anything is possible if you put enough money into it, but what would be required for the necessary training and equipment for armed boarding parties and the weapons-fit required on the vessels to be able to do this? These are significant cost factors.

As I said in the presentation, we can certainly provide the platforms, the vessel support, to other agencies and departments at their request. If the military or the RCMP request it, we are prepared to put on board a fully equipped emergency response team capable of armed boarding and carry them out there. We are a visible presence in doing so.

However, in comparison with the U.S. Coast Guard model, when I look at the capabilities of our existing fleet and what it was designed for, it does not lend itself to an enforcement role. For example, the speed and size of an icebreaker, and the size of the crew, do not lend themselves to an enforcement role, nor to a weapons fit to do that kind of interdiction at sea.

You would have to acquire something far more sophisticated, similar to the 382-foot high-endurance cutters the U.S. Coast Guard has, which carry significant costs for crewing, operations and training. I feel the Coast Guard should focus its resources on the existing role and mandate and the importance of the safety services that we currently provide.

Senator Meighen: What if we accept that we are here with the present mandate? Within that context, what is your greatest need? Everybody needs money, but in what area do you need it?

Mr. Wilson: Ship replacement.

Senator Meighen: Ship replacement. Would that be the same type of ships, only more modern, or a different type?

Mr. Wilson: Certainly we need to look at multi-mission-capable vessels, because obviously, our mandate does stretch in a number of different directions, from ice breaking to search and rescue to ocean science and so on. I do not believe you can build a ship that meets all program requirements.

What you need is the right mix of vessels. There certainly is room for a number of classes of vessels within the Coast Guard fleet that will address the various program needs. We need to modernize the Coast Guard fleet.

Senator Smith: I have one question related to an article in this morning's National Post — ``Forces Need Intelligence Czar — Report.'' I have not had a chance to read this entire article, but the gist seems to be that to the extent that the military have intelligence, it should get in and out. It is not done in the most effective way. It refers not just to the military but also to other government agencies.

What is your experience with intelligence from the various branches of the military? Do you have any reaction to this article and the idea of a single intelligence czar with a clearly mandated role in what to do with intelligence that might be useful to various government agencies?

Mr. Wilson: I have not read the article, but I certainly will, senator. Looking at my needs within our existing mandate, the types of intelligence that I would be looking for would be, for example, if, under Port State Control, Transport Canada is aware of a vessel that may have deficiencies coming into Canadian waters that could lead to a pollution incident or situation that would require the Coast Guard to respond. That would be the type of information that I would expect my colleagues at Transport Canada, through the Port State Control System, to provide to me.

Other examples might be where my colleagues at the immigration department or the RCMP are aware of some criminal activity involving a ship coming into Canadian waters and they want to give me a heads-up on the need for ship support or access to some of the ship reporting information that would be coming in through the ECAREG.

We provide ship information to the various agencies. It is more that we provide them with information we have rather than us requiring intelligence.

Senator Smith: Do you send it to all the agencies, or is there a central source?

Mr. Wilson: Through the Maritime Operations Centre at TRINITY, they have access to all of the information that we get through our ECAREG system.

As was pointed out this morning, they get a download twice a day and now they are looking at putting in place a server system to access the information on a real-time basis. That is one step.

Secondly, the current study underway with respect to MIMDEX, which you heard about this morning, will address not only departments and agencies providing information to that system, but also hopefully the issue of access protocols, so that agencies can access that information based on a need to know.

Obviously there will be some information in that system that I do not need to access and nor should I be capable of accessing it. However, there may be other information in there for which I would require some kind of access code. That is the type of thing being looked at with MIMDEX, according to my understanding of it.

Senator Smith: I am not asking for chapter and verse, but have there been instances, in your experience, where some branch of the Canadian government, whether the military or Transport Canada or whoever, had information that would help you carry out your mandate that you discovered was not passed on?

Mr. Wilson:Not to my knowledge, and probably it is even less likely now, if it ever did happen. Today, because of the existing cooperation between senior levels of the various agencies through the Federal council, we are discussing issues more frequently and are on a first name basis with the various department heads. If there is a perceived need for us to be aware of an incident in advance, then we are made aware of it.

Certainly the Wadi Al Arab incident is a good indication of the cooperation between the RCMP and Health Canada, and the Coast Guard supported those agencies in a very important way. We had the resources there and provided a security perimeter around the vessel.

We transported the RCMP and Health Canada officials in support of their mandates and we were there for them through our communications centre, which shows the level of cooperation and collaboration between the various agencies in this region.

We have numerous examples. That is only one.

Senator Smith: That is good to hear.

Senator Banks: I know nothing is as simple as it seems and that there are many times when we ask questions and express views that are probably naive. However, some of us are becoming increasingly frustrated about the gap to which Senator Meighen referred, to which all of us have been perhaps obliquely referring and which Senator Cordy addressed first thing this morning.

As far as we can see — and I am exaggerating for effect — there is an endless ``after you, Alphonse, after you, Gaston'' routine going on between agencies of the Government of Canada that are supposed to be doing the same thing.

If we took all of the money, and I am saying this only half frivolously, that we spend on committees and organizations that are aiming at and discussing ways of increasing the communications capability between the various departments, which have this piece of information and need to get that piece of information over there, we could buy you new ships.

There are those among us who are unconvinced that those issues are being addressed as quickly as they should be. I am only mentioning that to give you some context for my question to you. We are concerned about national security. We believe that there are layers of national security, and that the further away from our shores or ports that we keep a problem, whatever it might be, the better.

We have certain resources that could be better utilized in that effort. You have mentioned that you need new ships. We will to have to design new ships. Of course, you cannot design a ship that will be a submarine and an aircraft carrier and a buoy tender as well, but we will design new ships.

My question is very simple, although it is very long, but it only requires a ``yes'' or ``no'' answer. If money were not the problem and bailiwicks were not the problem and protecting the interests of empires were not the problem — and yours certainly is not — are you opposed as a matter of principle to the idea of the Coast Guard taking on additional, what some of us would regard as practical, duties? Or are you mainly opposed to it because, given the money and resources that you have, it just is not doable?

I accept the latter point. If that were not a problem and the resources and time to do it properly could be found, would you then think that a possible change in the mandate of the Coast Guard, which Senator Cordy asked you about, would be a practical thing?

Mr. Wilson: I suppose you have to put it in the context of what you just stated. If I hear you correctly, resources are not a problem. Time is not a problem, sufficient time for the transition. Training resources are not a problem. Philosophically, personally, I would not be opposed; however, I would want to qualify that.

The qualification that I would put on that statement is simply this: The Coast Guard plays a very important role for Canadians with respect to its safety mandate. I would not want to see that safety mandate watered down at this time because I think it is critical.

I also think the Coast Guard has a role to play in support of ocean science and fisheries department enforcement.

Senator Banks: Therefore, in short, while it might be okay to add to it, it would not be okay to detract from it.

Mr. Wilson: Correct.

The Chairman: Mr. Wilson, thank you very much for coming before us. Your testimony has been very helpful and constructive. We have appreciated hearing your views. We may get back to you with further questions in writing and would hope to hear from you further.

The committee adjourned.