Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

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

HALIFAX, Monday, September 22, 2003

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 2:10 p.m. to examine and report on the need for a national security policy for Canada.

Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the Chair.


The Chairman: Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. Today, the committee will hear testimony on coastal defence and on security.

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

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

On my far right, at the end of the table, is Senator Michael Meighen from Ontario, a successful lawyer and businessman. Senator Meighen was 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 the chair of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. He is also a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, which is examining ways to improve corporate governance.

Beside him is Senator David Smith from Ontario. Senator Smith was a Toronto councillor and then deputy mayor of Toronto. He was a member of the House of Commons and a Minister of State in Trudeau's government. He was appointed to the Senate in 2002. Senator Smith has had a distinguished legal career and currently serves on the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee and on the Standing 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 the year 2000. Senator Wiebe is a farmer by profession and serves as deputy chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. He also sits on the Standing Senate Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament and on this committee's Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs.

At the far end, on my far left, is Senator Tommy Banks from Alberta. Senator Banks is well known to all Canadians as one of our most accomplished and versatile musicians and entertainers. 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 Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, which is currently studying nuclear safety and control.

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

Beside him is Senator Jane Cordy from Dartmouth. Senator Cordy is an accomplished educator with an extensive record of community involvement before coming to the Senate in 2000. In addition to serving on our committee, she was a member of the Standing 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 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. ``Canadian Security and Military Preparedness,'' 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,'' in September 2002; second, ``An Update on Canada's Military Financial Crisis: A View From the Bottom Up,'' which was published in November 2002; and third, ``The Myth of Security at Canada's Airports,'' which was published in January 2003.

The committee is continuing its long-term evaluation of Canada's ability to contribute to security and defence in North America. As part of its work, the committee has been holding hearings on the federal government's support of the men and women across the country who respond first to emergencies and disasters.

However, the committee has decided to give priority to an ongoing evaluation of Canada's ability to defend its territorial waters and help police the continental coastline. These hearings update an earlier committee report, ``Defence of North America: A Canadian Responsibility,'' published in September 2002, which found Canada's coastal defence efforts to be largely ad hoc and fragmentary.

Our first witness this afternoon is Chief Superintendent Ian Atkins, Officer in Charge, Criminal Operations Branch, Province of Nova Scotia, Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Chief Superintendent Atkins has been with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for 30 years and was promoted to his current position in 2000.

Chief Superintendent, welcome to the committee. I would ask you to introduce your colleagues, following which, if you have an opening statement, we would certainly like to hear it.

Chief Superintendent Ian Atkins, Officer in Charge, Criminal Operations Branch, Province of Nova Scotia, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It is certainly a pleasure to represent the RCMP before your committee. I am accompanied by two support officers. On my right is Superintendent Craig MacLaughlan. He is the officer in charge of support services for Nova Scotia. On my left is Sgt. Fred Hildebrand, who is Superintendent MacLaughlan's assistant. We hope we will be able to answer the questions your committee may have.

The objective of my presentation today is to describe to the committee the role of the RCMP in Nova Scotia, its federal and provincial policing responsibilities as they relate to marine port security and to the national security of Canada.

I will discuss the operational framework in Nova Scotia, paying particular attention to the resources available to the RCMP through its resource pool and through protocols and MOUs with other government agencies who assist each other and the RCMP in addressing its mandates.

One of the primary strategies employed by the RCMP is that of an integrated policing model partnering with those who provide value and based on an intelligence-led model. This is in conjunction with close working relationships with all levels of government, federal, provincial and municipal. Integration ensures that barriers to communication are reduced and, where possible, partnerships are created and responsibilities shared. Integration ensures a close working relationship so that resources can be leveraged.

From integration flows shared information and intelligence. The RCMP's strategic focus of intelligences allows us to gather and share intelligence with partners and other non-government agencies.

If there is a threat against our national security, the RCMP, with partner agencies, can respond to the event. An example of this was the response to the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York when a large number of international flights were diverted to Halifax.

The daily operations of the RCMP, through strategically located detachments throughout Nova Scotia under our provincial policing contract, allow 1,100 employees throughout the RCMP in Nova Scotia and 4,000 volunteers to work towards holistic solutions. The primary agencies we partner with on a routine basis are Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Halifax Regional Police, and the Department of National Defence. All agencies gather information and intelligence, which is evaluated, analyzed and used to identify targets for police investigation.

The Port of Halifax, for example, has a dedicated intelligence unit comprised of three investigative bodies — the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Halifax Regional Police and Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. Their mandate is coordinated through the national ports strategy program.

Recently, funding was obtained from the maritime security initiative for two additional positions to tactically investigate suspected groups and individuals within the port. This is supported by the federal policing branch in Nova Scotia, who have also deployed four resources to create a unit of six for a national marine enforcement team, NMET.

This team will be supplemented by additional commodity-based investigators — for example, drugs, customs and excise, immigration and passport, depending on the focus of a particular priorized investigation. The long-term objective of the national port strategy program is to enhance border integrity and security by identifying, investigating and interdicting persons and organizations that pose a threat to the national security or who are engaged in organized criminal activity.

A recent successful investigation was ``Operation Haven.'' Based on criminal intelligence, a multi-agency team targeted a criminal organization operating in the Port of Halifax. This resulted in the seizure of drugs, proceeds of crime, and other assets in excess of $12 million. This group was directly linked to organization crime groups in Montreal and Hamilton. These matters have recently concluded in court.

The RCMP is supported by contingency plans. They are in place to deal with specific issues, such as oil spills, migrant smuggling, drug off-loads, catastrophic disasters and other emergency situations. Of the contingency plans, two are significant for this particular presentation. There is the national counterterrorism plan. This is a multi-agency plan that recognizes the broad geographic scope of such activities; it is coordinated from Ottawa. The RCMP ``H'' Division contingency plan is designed to address major incidents requiring a deployment of extraordinary resources within the province of Nova Scotia.

The ``H'' Division contingency plan is supported by the National Mobilization Plan, which allows resources to move between provinces under the provincial policing contract to support any extraordinary requirement.

There are a number of divisional priorities that integrate into our local management team that oversees the direction and management of marine security. This group includes the RCMP, the Halifax Regional Police, and Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. This management team sets the strategic objectives and goals of the national marine enforcement team.

Marine security is addressed in two ways. There is the establishment of the national marine enforcement team, which is the investigative arm dealing with strategic investigations, tactical investigations, and the development of a marine security and enforcement program that will rely on existing partnerships to support the anticipated delivery of an RCMP patrol vessel in May or June of next year.

The RCMP has 13 resources dedicated to marine security. This is leveraged by additional resources from the partner agencies, Halifax Regional Police, Canada Customs and National Defence. The coastal policing by the RCMP is essentially a volunteer-based coastal watch program. The RCMP has two full-time coordinators and utilizes local RCMP detachment personnel to educate the public in helping them to recognize and report unusual coastal occurrences. The RCMP in Nova Scotia also has inland patrol vessels to assist in the paroling of the 7,000-kilometre coastline. In addition, to the marine vessel that will be delivered in early 2004, we also have a 40-foot patrol vessel, a Cape Island-style vessel, that we obtained from the Coast Guard two years ago. That is deployed about six months of the sailing season. We have 12 smaller inland vessels plus access to a high-speed 63-foot catamaran from Newfoundland that has been deployed in Nova Scotia and in New Brunswick as the need is required.

This is supported by some aircraft assets, a fixed-wing Pilatus and a new helicopter that has just been made available to the Atlantic region. It is stationed in Moncton.

We are assisted in our coastal activities by partnering with the Canadian Coast Guard and with DND, as we utilize their platforms for searches and rescue duties as well as training for armed ship boarding. In addition, the RCMP use DFO aircraft for offshore surveillance.

The RCMP in the Atlantic region has 45 members who are emergency-response trained for armed ship boarding. As I indicated, as necessary, this deployment is assisted by Coast Guard and DND.

We identified the impediments to marine security. One of the most significant is the lack of dedicated resources — as I said, 13 RCMP resources for a 7,000-kilometre coastline. We rely on the consent of the public to assist in the identification of unusual activities.

We have also recognized that early intervention is necessary to provide security. This is why we require an excellent intelligence capability, in effect, to extend the borders of Canada to try to locate, identify, threats to Canada from source countries who may be transiting to Canada. So, rather than intercept them as they enter Canada, we try to intercept them before they depart their source countries.

Once the RCMP gets its new high-speed catamaran, there is an absence of dedicated resources to staff the vessel. Our contingency plan is to reallocate existing federal resources in the Maritimes to crew the vessel. We have identified between that 12 and 16 positions are required.

The specific budget allocated towards port security is approximately $1.6 million, including operating and maintenance plus salary dollars for the resources dedicated.

The intelligence sharing is through MOUs with other federal government agencies, those I have previously mentioned, including Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, the RCMP Criminal Intelligence Directorate in Ottawa, Citizenship and Immigration, and the Canadian Coast Guard. We have implemented what we have referred to as a TAG group, a threat assessment group, which acts as a structural decision- making protocol, when the intelligence or information of a threat in Atlantic Canada is identified.

TAG is comprised of RCMP, the Department of National Defence, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and Canada Customs and Revenue Agency personnel. Depending on the threat that is identified and analyzed, other agencies are brought in to respond to the incident — if there is one requiring a response.

In addition to the federal government agencies, the RCMP is also partnered with provincial agencies through the Public Security and Anti-Terrorism Committee, PSAT, who are be making a presentation to the committee tomorrow.

Another committee that is dealing with coastal security issues is the security committee of the Nova Scotia Federal Council, which is comprised of federal government departments having a primary mandate of enforcing laws, including DND and CSIS, and others that I have mentioned previously.

There is also the Eastern Canada interdepartmental marine operations committee, of which the RCMP is a member. It is comprised of federal agencies from the Atlantic region — CSIS, DFO, CCG, including the Quebec region, DND, Transport Canada, and the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness.

The RCMP has adopted the integrated policing model, aligning ourselves with other federal, provincial and municipal agencies. This model primarily relies on the sharing of information and intelligence and an integrated model to respond to a threat that requires a response.

If there is an incident or a threat, we have contingency plans in place to respond fully and completely. We will continue to work for ways to improve our integration efforts, such as enhancing our abilities to share communication systems, both in the response and in intelligence-gathering activities and develop best practices.

Mr. Chairman, that concludes my opening statement. I look forward to any questions honourable senators may have.

Senator Banks: I want to concentrate on ports mainly, but just before we go there, you said that you have adopted the integrated policing model fully. In the circumstances, that is admirable. We have spoken to many police officers in various services across the country, and we are sensitive to the fact that everyone has bailiwicks to protect and mandates and areas of influence and responsibility. However, theoretically, would it not be better with respect to an airport, for example, and probably a port as well, for there to be one police force that did not have to concern itself with sharing information with other police forces, a police force with a clear responsibility for a particular airport or a particular port?

Mr. Atkins: I agree that there is always the potential for information flow to be stymied when dealing with multiple agencies. It is not something that we have necessarily experienced to a great extent here. Clearly, at Halifax International Airport, the RCMP is the primary policing service provider. In the Port of Halifax, the primary service provider is the Halifax Regional Police. In both instances, there is an excellent working relationship. As a matter of fact, the Metro Integrated Intelligence Unit, a division of the Halifax Regional Police, has resources dedicated to port intelligence. It consists of full-time members from the Halifax Regional Police, the RCMP, and Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. There is absolutely no impediment to the exchange of intelligence — I can only speak to that intelligence they learn of; I cannot speak to any intelligence their departments protect. However, I have no reason to suspect they do.

Nationwide, would it be better to have a single policing agency? Hypothetically, perhaps. It would minimize the opportunities for having incompatible intelligence systems.

Senator Banks: Or bailiwick protecting.

Mr. Atkins: Or bailiwick protecting, yes. I often think that it is often attitude that gets in the way of intelligence sharing and not so much information systems. It may be advantageous to have a single law enforcement agency that has responsibility for all ports, airports and seaports, because it would tend to eliminate those barriers that others may suspect exist.

Senator Banks: It would also eliminate, would it not, the necessity of organizations whose specific and sole purpose is to integrate communications, intelligence and cooperation between the various police agencies? There are such things; there are committees whose job it is to make sure that these things work together as best they can.

Mr. Atkins: Yes, and I can advise you, senator, that even the RCMP has committees within the RCMP to make sure that intelligence is shared within. As I say, it is not so much the organization, but rather the personalities; in other words, if there is an impediment, that is usually the root cause.

Senator Banks: Regarding coastal matters, we learned this morning, and you have told us again, that you have the use of the Coast Guard vessel Ferguson for the moment.

Mr. Atkins: Yes.

Senator Banks: Could you just tell us the basis on which you do that? It says beside your note here ``May to September.'' Does that note refer to how long you have use of it, or does it refer to how long the vessel is usable, or both?

Mr. Atkins: The Canadian Coast Guard vessel was actually transferred — an asset was transferred from the Coast Guard to the RCMP.

Senator Banks: Permanently?

Mr. Atkins: Yes. It was surplus to their needs. It was originally loaned to us without any consideration for cost. Unfortunately, shortly after we took possession of it, it required a major refit of the engine. The agreement was that they would transfer the vessel to us, so that, once we disposed of the vessel, we could realize the investment that we put in it.

Senator Banks: Do you plan on disposing of it?

Mr. Atkins: Once we get the new 80-foot catamaran, it may be surplus. It has minimal capabilities. It has a short season because it is a Cape Island-style vessel, intended for the Northumberland Strait. While it can be taken out to 12 miles off the coast, I am not too sure I would want to be in it at that time.

Senator Banks: Speaking of vessels, tell us about the commissioner-class vessels. What are they exactly?

Mr. Atkins: The commissioner-class vessels primarily originated from the Pacific Coast. The police vessel Simmonds, which is in Burin, Newfoundland — the commissioner-class are all named after previous commissioners — is actually a Pacific-style vessel. It is a 63-foot vessel, somewhat short, apparently, I understand, for Atlantic waters, which are different than Pacific waters. The wave characteristics are different.

The vessel style is that of a pontoon, a catamaran, of aluminum construction, a high-speed vessel capable of approximately 35 knots. While they can patrol as much as a hundred miles off coast, they are not designed for that. They are designed for a 12- to 15-mile range of the coast.

Senator Banks: You talked, if I recall correctly, about the commissioner-class vessels being ``on patrol'' or something to that effect. We have heard previously, again, if my recollection is correct, that the commissioner-class vessels, the catamarans, are in effect moving police detachments. A commission-class vessel can be taken into a particular harbour, say, and while it is there it functions as a police detachment.

Mr. Atkins: Yes.

Senator Banks: Is that the kind of patrol that you are talking about, as opposed to being further out in semi-blue water?

Mr. Atkins: No. The mandate for the new commissioner-class vessel is that of a coastal patrol vessel. The old marine section — which was collapsed probably in the late 1960s, early 1970s — they were, in fact, floating detachments. When the marine section was collapsed, the decision was to put land-based detachments in the coastal communities, which is what we have done.

The two primary remits of the patrol vessel would be blue water patrols and to act as a magnet, I suspect, for the Coastal Watch Program. The vessel would go into communities, where it would attract local interest. Coast Guard vessels attract a lot of local interest when they go into port, which, of course, generates the free flow of information as to suspicious activities. Hence, the patrol vessel will act as a catalyst but not as a floating detachment.

The Chairman: When we were here last, Mr. Atkins, the Simmonds was described to us as a floating detachment. Was that an error?

Mr. Atkins: The Simmonds is the vessel that is in Burin, Newfoundland. Its primary responsibility is anti-smuggling between St. Pierre and Miquelon and the mainland. It is not a community-based policing detachment. It is a police office for those people who are onboard because they interdict smugglers, primarily liquor smuggling. To that extent, therefore, it is a self-contained police office. They can do policing from it, but it is not a floating detachment as the marine unit used to be.

Senator Banks: You are talking about its present delineation and use. What it is assigned to do is mainly interdiction of smuggling.

Mr. Atkins: The Simmonds is stationed in Burin, Newfoundland, and its primary mandate is anti-smuggling.

Senator Banks: So it can pursue, stop, interdict, board.

Mr. Atkins: Yes, it can.

Senator Banks: All of the above.

Mr. Atkins: We have borrowed the Simmonds during the fishing disputes of the last two to three years in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. To that extent, it serves as a police office, because it is water-based and is the only mechanism we have.

Senator Banks: Is that the kind of vessel you would like to have more of, if you wanted more vessels? In other words, how successful a design for your purpose is the Simmonds?

Mr. Atkins: It is quite adequate. The Simmonds is a 63-foot vessel. The one we are having built is an 80-foot vessel, hence, more conducive to the Atlantic waters. I would say that two for the Atlantic region should be sufficient for our current mandate.

Senator Banks: Do you have an operations centre, for general operations and coordination of all of them?

Mr. Atkins: Yes, we do. We have a division operation command centre.

Senator Banks: If you are familiar with this committee's previous proceedings and some of our reports, you will know that we have the view that there are too many operation centres.

Mr. Atkins: Yes.

Senator Banks: Everybody has an operation centre — here an operation centre, there an operation centre, everywhere an operation centre.

In a previous report, one of our recommendations was to, in some way, consolidate, so that there would be one place from which everybody could work. Does that make any sense to you?

Mr. Atkins: Yes, it does, senator.

Senator Banks: Who ought to run it?

Mr. Atkins: A committee of those who are —

Senator Banks: A committee, oh no. Should not somebody be its proprietor?

Mr. Atkins: Yes. As to who, it probably does not matter. The RCMP uses its division emergency operation centre just for policing issues, but there are other issues.

Senator Banks: But they would bump into other things from time to time, would they not?

Mr. Atkins: Yes, they do. For example, in our response to September 11, where our command centre was not sufficient, we had to open two or three other command centres in the Halifax area alone. The one that can best integrate the resources is in Dartmouth, at the Spicer Building, which is co-located with the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and the provincial Emergency Measures Organization. It is a large facility and can serve very well as a joint command centre for most emergencies in Nova Scotia.

Senator Banks: That seems practical.

Mr. Atkins: Yes, it does. Also, senator, the Coast Guard has proposed to us, and are looking for our support, to create a maritime-based command centre near the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. The centre would provide a multiple agency-response capability. We support that as a concept and would be willing to invest in it.

Senator Banks: That seems to make sense. What is the federal policing branch.

Mr. Atkins: The RCMP provides policing in Nova Scotia under two business lines. The contract policing branch — we are actually the provincial police force in Nova Scotia.

Senator Banks: Oh, I see, the municipal contract for police.

Mr. Atkins: And the federal portion, yes.

Senator Banks: I have a long list of other questions, Mr. Chairman, but I will defer. Just before I do, however, tell us about the threat assessment group. We heard this morning that it met last week, which we were happy to hear, because heard earlier that the last time it met was during the anthrax event. Does it meet regularly?

Mr. Atkins: All of the constituents in the TAG are also the constituents of the security committee of the federal council, which meets every two months. The TAG matrix protocol may or may not be an agenda item, unless adjustments to the protocol are addressed.

Now the anthrax issue that you spoke of, I believe, was the Wadi Al Arab.

Senator Banks: Yes, Wadi Al Arab.

Mr. Atkins: Which was in July of this summer. That was the last time this was exercised in a real situation. The TAG is really an information and decision-making protocol.

Senator Banks: So it is responsive to a specific event.

Mr. Atkins: Yes, it is. I can certainly discuss it if you wish in more detail, if that is what the committee would like.

Senator Banks: Well, I think we would like to know about it.

Mr. Atkins: I have distributed to the committee a copy of the flowchart. This was something that was developed by the RCMP. There are two elements to the TAG. There is an intelligence and information management component, which is actually the threat assessment group, and then there is the incident management group. Essentially, the threat assessment group is composed of four federal government departments that have full-time intelligence capabilities — that is, CSIS, DND, the RCMP and CCRA. It is called the TAG plus 1, and the ``plus 1'' is any other federal government department that, based on the initial information, would assume to have an interest in the Wadi Al Arab patrol vessel or ship. The threat in that instance was a suspected anthrax death in Brazil, and in that particular case Health Canada was the plus 1.

The purpose of the TAG group is to assess the information flow, to determine whether, in fact, there is an incident that needs management. The TAG group came out of an incident that was somewhat disorganized — perhaps one government department had not known what a previous decision had been made. Hence, we perceived a need to develop a protocol and structure a decision-making and information process, and consequently the TAG was developed.

If the TAG assesses that there is an incident that, in fact, needs management, then the bottom half of the flow chart comes into place. Then other agencies, either federal, provincial or municipal, are brought in to deal with the incident. The threat assessment group continually monitors the information to see if the threat changes throughout.

The incident management group identifies the lead agency — and the lead agency could, in fact, change several times throughout the management of the incident. If a ship were out at sea and a decision were to be made to determine whether it comes into Canadian waters, for example, that is made by Transport Canada. As it comes closer into the shore, the lead agency may pass to Canada Customs and Revenue Agency or to local port authority. The identification of the lead agency to deal with the incident is identified by the management group.

Essentially, this is what the threat assessment flowchart looks like. It looks more complicated than it actually is, but you have to make sure that when you have a protocol like this that there is no opportunity for misinterpreting.

Everybody knows everybody else's role. Everybody who is involved in the management of the incident can go back to one of the TAG individuals and determine what information they are acting on.

Senator Banks: When you explain it, it does make it a little less impenetrable. When you said 13 resources were dedicated, you meant 13 people.

Mr. Atkins: Thirteen RCMP.

Senator Banks: RCMP officers?

Mr. Atkins: Yes, that is correct.

Senator Banks: You have $1.6 million for port security. Is that enough? Does it do the job, do you think?

Mr. Atkins: We spend it all. No, it is not enough, quite frankly. We have a national marine enforcement team, which currently consists of two relocated integrated border enforcement resources — two new resources funded through the national marine strategy plus two CCRA resources. So we stole four resources from existing resources or from existing programs and added two news ones.

Our policy centre in Ottawa has promised two additional resources, which would bring us up to eight. I would suspect that the budget will increase marginally.

Senator Banks: You asked for 24.

Mr. Atkins: The RCMP asked for 24, and we got eight, I believe, nationwide. I believe Treasury Board's decision was to only support the eight resources that were identified for the Port of Montreal. When the resources were actually allocated to the RCMP, the RCMP determined to split the resources between the three major ports and asked us to supplement the resources from existing resources.

Senator Banks: So if you were addressing my favourite character, the guy that is sitting on the subway in Edmonton going to work, and explained to him that there are eight persons dealing with the question of security, including organized crime in the Port of Halifax, and he turned pale, would he be right?

Mr. Atkins: Well, no, not exactly, senator. I think the eight were new resources, post-September 11th resources. We had resources working on the port, although they were not dedicated to the port. We had resources working on port activities, because it was one of our highest risks in policing in Nova Scotia. The additional two — we got two of the eight resources in Nova Scotia; they augmented existing resources. Hence, I think it is fair to say that the eight resources were that came out of integrated marine management program in Ottawa were brand new. Obviously, the policy centre that put forward the memorandum to cabinet did not get Treasury Board support to support the full funding request.

The Chairman: Following up on that, I spent time with the security group in the Port of Rotterdam this summer. It is a significantly larger port than Halifax. They have in excess of 350 permanently dedicated police officials working there, and they have coastal police of well over a 1,000 in addition to them.

If my math is correct, and I am really putting this forward to get you to correct my math, the last time we were here the Halifax Regional Police told us that they had eight officers dedicated to the port for 24/7 coverage. You are telling us you have eight, as well, and then you have other officers who are involved in specific tasks that come in from time to time to function in the port.

Now is my math off and, if so, by what order of magnitude?

Mr. Atkins: No, senator, your math is very accurate. The primary remit of the Halifax Regional Police is to provide police security to the port. They investigate the Criminal Code offences of theft and assaults. They are not primarily designed to respond to national security; that is the responsibility of the RCMP.

So the RCMP's resources plus the Halifax Regional Police resources, the full-time dedicated resources probably number less than 20. The Chief of Police of the Rotterdam Port's police actually gave a presentation in Halifax; and we were envious of the resources that they had at their disposal.

The Chairman: My impression was they also had some very interesting techniques of policing, techniques that are different than we might see in North America.

Mr. Atkins: Yes. I do not know, though, senator, if, in fact, their remit included that which is done by CCRA. I have not included them in the numbers, in the 20. So the 20 would be actually sworn police officers plus whatever CCRA support there is.

The Chairman: But their 350 figure does not include customs.

Mr. Atkins: It does not.

Senator Forrestall: Do you think the RCMP marine division should be reconstituted, perhaps not the same as earlier, but in some way?

Mr. Atkins: My opinion is that the RCMP needs marine platforms from which to assist in the defence or in the enforcement of laws off Canada's coast. That may mean that we have to invest millions in providing vessels, even though vessels already exist within the Department of Fisheries, Canadian Coast Guard and National Defence. What we do need is an arrangement with those other government agencies that have the floating platforms to dedicate time to assisting the RCMP in its enforcement activities.

We do have MOUs dealing with drug surveillance, both aerial and sea-based, and that is done under Department of National Defence funding.

The Canadian Coast Guard assist the RCMP in its armed ship-boarding training exercises, and they usually do not cost back the cost of fuel. At times, when we have used the Coast Guard in actual operations, they have costed back the use of fuel up to $45,000.

If, in fact, the federal government saw its way to fund the Coast Guard to support RCMP operations and DND, they could provide suitable platforms and would not necessitate the RCMP fleeting up, other than its first-response capabilities for the catamaran.

Senator Forrestall: It is an interesting question. I wish we had time to pursue it in some depth.

In your estimation, how serious is the problem of organized crime in the Ports of Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax? Are these the three areas of prime concern, or are you evidencing incidents of growing crime in some of the smaller ports in Canada? If so, which ones if you might identify them.

Mr. Atkins: I would respond by saying that the primary risks are Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax, based upon the tonnage of container traffic.

Senator Forrestall: That is ranked by tonnage, is it?

Mr. Atkins: I am not sure whether Montreal or Vancouver is the busiest by times. I think Vancouver is, then Montreal, then Halifax, I think that is the order, but certainly they represent the largest risk, based upon the container traffic.

Also, those who want to use the ports to facilitate criminal activity must be feeling some pressure because there have been a number of successful operations launched against port targets, including the one in Halifax that culminated in court proceedings a couple of weeks ago.

Knowing the nature of criminal activity, they will try to displace to other locations. We are focusing some attention on the Port of Shelburne, not necessarily because there is criminal activity there, but there is a small number of containers that are directly shipped in through Shelburne, about 5,000. There are other ports in New Brunswick, the Port of Saint John, the Port of Belledune.

CCRA has some enforcement activity or some surveillance activity at the Port of Saint John. The Port of Belledune in northern New Brunswick is likely to be a threat once direct container traffic is shipped from Cornerbrook, I believe, direct to Belledune, so there is potential.

We have had historical drug offloads in Aulds Cove, up Port Hawkesbury way, so anybody who wants to facilitate criminal activity will find a port to do so. Hence, it is not fair to say that any criminal activity is restricted to the three ports mentioned - Halifax, Montreal and Vancouver. There is evidence that others can be used.

Senator Forrestall: We just ship now to airports.

Mr. Atkins: Yes.

Senator Forrestall: The committee did a bit of a review with respect to airports. We are trying to grasp what type of resources you really need to make you feel comfortable in your day-to-day operations.

Mr. Atkins: With respect to the transshipment of illegal commodities through airports, there is no evidence that there are as large transshipments as there are in containers. However, I would think that it reasonably fair to say that the majority of illegal drugs that enter Canada probably do so through the airports.

The RCMP in Halifax has a response capability at the airport there. We have a jetway program that runs at the airport, which is constituted by four dedicated members plus a newly installed dog at the airport. That program is supplemented by six uniform resources required by Transport Canada for five-minute response policing to the entry passenger gate.

So, generally speaking, we have to consider our airports as a possible threat both of criminal activity and terrorist activity, as evidenced by 9/11. Both the seaports and the airports are managed by airport authorities under Transport Canada regulations, and they respond to Transport regulation requirements. Halifax seaport, I believe, is the only port in Canada that has a dedicated police force providing it security. The other ports have security guards, I think.

Halifax International Airport is primarily policed by a private security agency supplemented by RCMP resources. As to whether there is a need, I would suspect that, once Transport Canada determines that there is a need and requires the airport authorities and port authorities to increase security, they will follow suit.

Senator Forrestall: But there is a need for more.

Mr. Atkins: Yes. I do not think any of us at this table would have the confidence to say that we interdict all illegal activity out of either the seaport or the airport.

Senator Forrestall: I do not like ranking things. It is something like profiling, and I am not sure I like that terribly. However, every Canadian who reads newspapers were deeply interested in the events that flowed from the seizures made here in the Port of Halifax and the value of these indicted drugs.

Is there an argument as to why CCRA, the RCMP and other agencies involved should not have access to, if not all, a significant portion, say 50, 75 per cent, of that money to facilitate the improvement of our capacity to police? Is there an argument against that? Why have we not done it? Why has it not happened?

Mr. Atkins: I can only speculate, senator, that we have not shared in the proceeds of crime — nobody in government has explained this to me. Perhaps there is a perception that the police should not benefit from its crime enforcement.

Senator Forrestall: Who the hell are we protecting?

Mr. Atkins: I am just speculating, senator, that that is the reason. Some of the municipal agencies do share in proceeds distributions through the provinces, but the RCMP is not one of those recipients. I know in the United States through the RICO legislation that the police agencies do benefit from the proceeds distribution and actually use assets that are seized appending disposition.

The Chairman: If there were such a policy in place, Mr. Atkins, would you see an improvement in the services you could provide?

Mr. Atkins: I would see an increase in resources and, consequently, an increase in services, yes.

Senator Forrestall: Would those resources be human resources?

Mr. Atkins: Both human and technical.

Senator Forrestall: We have heard of some difficulty with respect to training people to an adequate operational level on equipment we already have, with the result that the equipment is sitting idle or certainly underutilized. It is things like that that keep in the front of my mind the sharing of the rewards of crime, if you will.

Mr. Atkins: Yes, I can assure you, senator, that we would certainly put the proceeds to good use, including, as you say, to bridge training deficiencies. We certainly experience that from time to time.

Senator Forrestall: How serious is the training inefficiency?

Mr. Atkins: I think we can state with some comfort that mandatory training is completed. So anything that is mandated by the Canada Labour Code, for example, where we have no discretion but to train, I think our training record is sound. It is in the other areas where more training could be done.

Senator Forrestall: I just want to wind up by expressing my personal congratulations on the work that is done, work done by humans and dogs, in interdiction, in exposure, and in bringing these matters to fruition through the courts. I would extend my congratulations on that and ask you whether or not the RCMP has any ongoing or current studies with respect to the needs, the human resources needs particularly, of the force and your allied agencies to combat the force of drugs?

Mr. Atkins: First of all, thank you for your compliments. Often it is compliments like that that keep our members going. They do not always achieve success in the courts, which sometimes is not attributable, necessarily, to the way they investigate. So the appreciation of the Canadian public and of you, senator, is very much appreciated.

The RCMP is actually undertaking two threat assessments, one of which is termed project salve, which is an assessment of the three major ports that we spoke of earlier. Based on the national intelligence model, they want to assess the threat and the risk. Their assessment takes in whether current resources deployed towards that activity are sufficient.

We are expecting project salve to be completed in the next month. I do not want to guess how long it will take before the report is released, but the project is ongoing, and has been for quite awhile. It is encouraging to see that they are winding that down.

There is a second review being conducted, this one on the integrated border enforcement team program, to determine whether the resources are adequate and properly located.

Senator Forrestall: Are these in-house or contracted out?

Mr. Atkins: I believe project salve is being conducted by the criminal intelligence directorate of the RCMP, so that is internal. They are massaging the intelligence that is in the system.

Senator Cordy: Thank you very much for appearing before us this afternoon. I know in our previous report you were most helpful, so we appreciate you taking the time to attend before us again.

I want to congratulate you very much on Operation Haven. Certainly, when you get drugs and proceeds of crime of $12 million, it is a major operation. What difference has that successful operation made to the Port of Halifax? What difference does it make in the good running of the port?

Mr. Atkins: It is hard to isolate that particular case from the ongoing security increases that were coming about as a result of September 11, because there was an enhanced security package. I guess, officially, the Port of Halifax has increased its security partly because of new Transport Canada regulations, partly because the criminal activity that was going on in the port has now been confirmed. From discussions I have had with those in the know, the gentleman that was charged in Halifax was suspected of being involved in criminal activity and there was, I think, some relief from that community that he was finally successfully investigated.

Now the increased security that has occurred at Halifax includes additional surveillance camera installations, increased fencing, increased personal security measures such as identification cards for employees, an agreement from the International Longshoremen's Association to agree to these security measures, including criminal records checks for new employees. So all of these have enhanced security at the port, some of which is attributable, as I say, to new security regulations. Others are attributable to the confirmation of criminal activity.

I suspect that the most immediate impact upon the successful interdiction of that group was a realization that crime does occur at the port and that it may be more pervasive than some originally thought. It is difficult to isolate one particular aspect as to whether the port activities have changed.

Senator Cordy: Everybody has been made aware that there was crime going on in the port, so now they are being a little bit more watchful.

Mr. Atkins: I suspect they knew it was going on, anyway, but I think it confirmed that they could be caught, as well.

Senator Cordy: You said that the success was based on intelligence and a multi-agency team.

Mr. Atkins: That is correct.

Senator Cordy: Is that multi-agency team still in place or was that put in place for this particular operation?

Mr. Atkins: The team was put in place for that operation, but out of that came a dedicated intelligence group. The RCMP has a group dedicated to collecting intelligence. When that intelligence indicates that there is a tactical target that needs to be identified, another team is created to respond to that tactical targeting. The intelligence team then continues to gather its intelligence.

The integrated response teams, other than the integrated marine enforcement team, will be put together depending on the commodity that requires to be interdicted. If it is, in fact, drugs, the team will be comprised largely of drug section members. If it deals with counterfeit software, for example, or firearms, then an appropriate team will be assembled. However, we would expect the same partners to participate, CCRA, Halifax Regional Police, the RCMP, the primary stakeholders at the port.

Senator Cordy: You talked about the marine enforcement team. Was there additional funding given to set that team up?

Mr. Atkins: Yes, there was. Actually, I think I can be specific enough to give you the numbers for that. I do not have it broken down, but it would have been equivalent to two federally funded full-time equivalents, which are approximately $120,000 apiece, which provides not only the salary dollars but also all the police vehicles, the office and secretarial support, plus some operating and maintenance. I am guessing that that would be about $40,000 to $50,000 in addition, so approximately $300,000.

Senator Cordy: This is long-term funding?

Mr. Atkins: Yes, it is.

Senator Cordy: Good.

Mr. Atkins: I can find out specifically and report back if you wish. I do not have the numbers at my fingertips, unless my colleagues know.

The Chairman: Could we get the information, please? I had the impression that it was a one-shot deal. You are saying this is part of your base budget now?

Mr. Atkins: Yes, it is. I will confirm that and report back.

Senator Meighen: In response to a question by Senator Forrestall, you said that as your success levels rise in places like the Port of Halifax criminal elements may aim to go to smaller centres. I do not know if my information is correct, but I have heard that, particularly in smaller centres and given the ongoing scarcity of resources, the force has — and I see nothing wrong with it, incidentally — resorted to hiring on a contract basis retired members of the force in a small centre. Is my information correct and, if so, is it a successful practice for you in getting additional resources without spending the amount of money that you would otherwise spend if you hired them or another person on?

Mr. Atkins: I shall answer, senator, from two perspectives. First of all, I am not personally aware of retired members being hired back on contract specifically at or near a port to keep an eye on displaced port activity. However, in Nova Scotia, we certainly do hire retired members back.

As a matter of fact, the gentleman who is the captain of the Ferguson is a retired member who we have hired back on a six-month contract. The ship is in the water for six months, so it works to both of our conveniences. He is an experienced ship captain. As well, he enjoys the job and enjoys being out in the surf and the sun. So, yes, it is less costly for us to do it that way and quite within this individual's work requirements, as well. So, certainly, we do it.

We do not confine ourselves just to those areas, either. We hire retired members back on contract to do recruit investigations and a number of similar types of activities, not active law enforcement, necessarily, but ancillary activities like operating boats and interviewing.

Senator Meighen: It did seem to me to be a good way of enhancing the force's presence in smaller communities, because, in many cases, people have retired from the force to those smaller communities.

Mr. Atkins: Yes, that is correct.

Senator Meighen: Given their training, they could provide even better eyes and ears than Senator Forrestall's beloved Halifax Rifles.

The Chairman: Where organized crime exists in ports and airports, does that, in your view, increase the risk to national security?

Mr. Atkins: Recognizing that organized crime takes many forms, including migrant smuggling, firearms smuggling, the line between national security and criminal activity is not always clear. So, certainly, I think it is fair to say that none of us at this table, as I have indicated before, is confident that we interdict all criminal activity at the port. If that is the case, one can assume, I think, make the leap that there may be some national security issues that escape our attention, as well. Given its nature, most organized crime groups will revert to any activity that makes them a dollar. If there is a dollar to be made smuggling in dirty weapons or whatever, I am sure they will take advantage of that. So, yes, there is not a direct connection but an indirect connection between the level of organized criminal activity and the national security risk to some extent.

The Chairman: Thank you, sir. On behalf of the committee, I should like to thank you and your colleagues very much for appearing before us. Your testimony has been most helpful. We would ask, if we could, to come back to you. In the coming weeks if we have further questions, we would be most grateful if we could get back to you with them.

We have also noted that you have undertaken to come back to us with some information, in any event.

Mr. Atkins: Yes, senator. I will do that. I am certainly available.

The Chairman: Our next witnesses are from the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and from Citizenship and Immigration Canada. They are Mr. Robert Russell, Assistant Commissioner, Atlantic Region, Mr. Mark Connolly, Director General, Contraband and Intelligence Services Directorate, Ms. Diane Griffin-Boudreau, Acting Director General, Atlantic Region, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and Mr. Ron Heisler, Director of Operations, Immigration Centre, Halifax.

Ms. Diane Giffin-Boudreau, Acting Director General, Atlantic Region, Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada: Mr. Chairman and honourable senators, I am the Director of Programs for Citizenship and Immigration, Acting Director General this week. With me is Ron Heisler, who is responsible for direct delivery of immigration programs both in Nova Scotia and in PEI. It is our pleasure to appear before you to share with you the work that Citizenship and Immigration is undertaking to enhance security in Canada's marine ports here in the Atlantic Region.

As you are aware, Canada has long and vulnerable coastlines. In January 2003, the Government of Canada announced a number of marine security initiatives with a view to addressing some of these vulnerabilities. These initiatives are designed to increase our capacity not only to prevent but also to detect and manage security risks in our marine ports. The initiatives are being managed cooperatively by a number of federal departments and agencies, as you would have heard through the course of your hearings today.

Today, I should like to highlight two initiatives that are announced for Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The first is the visa imposition for seafarers; the second is the passenger and crew screening initiative.

In May 2003, the Treasury Board minister approved the funding requirements for these two initiatives. Our department will receive approximately $16.5 million over a five-year period in order to assist us in that implementation.

As of June 11, 2003, seafarers joining ships as crew members in Canada will have to have a passport and a temporary resident visa. The same is true for any foreign national seeking to visit Canada, with the exception of those who come from visa-exempt countries. This represents a new security enhancement for Canada. The temporary resident visa is an effective way to protect the integrity of our immigration and refugee protection programs because it allows us to screen travellers before they arrive in Canada.

The passenger and crew screening initiative will enhance our ability to screen marine crew and passengers on board vessels, in order to intercept migrant smugglers as well as terrorist or other criminals that have managed to arrive at our ports. The Atlantic region is one of three that will play a key role in implementing the passenger and crew screening initiative for Citizenship and Immigration Canada. We will benefit here in the Atlantic region by the addition of eight full-time employees: one marine intelligence officer and seven marine security officers, located in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland/Labrador. These resources will be fully operational this year. We are currently in the staffing process.

The marine intelligence officer will develop and maintain strong networks of contacts — regionally, nationally and internationally — with our partners and will be responsible for gathering, collating and analyzing the information. The information will then be shared with the seven marine security officers. They will use this in conjunction with our counterparts at CCRA in order to identify and board vessels of particular interest. This facilitates the examination of crew and passengers with the objective of, of course, intercepting criminal groups, terrorists and illegal migrants.

Beyond these operational initiatives, of course, we maintain a number of contacts and, through a number of mechanisms, share information and exchange best practices in order to be able to basically collaborate and cooperate on our operational activities. You would have heard about some of those in the last presentation — the security committee that works under the auspices of the federal council and the threat assessment group. Although we do not sit on TAG on an ongoing basis, we would be called in whenever an immigration situation were occurring.

There are other existing groups within the Atlantic region that assist in coastal defence. One of those is the Eastern Canada interdepartmental marine operations committee. It has membership from all departments and agencies that have a role to play in the marine environment. This group actually brings together the departmental mandates, identifies the assets that are available, areas of responsibility, legislative responsibilities and ongoing activities, so that we can benefit from knowledge of each other and look for the opportunities to partner and to broaden our successes through those partnerships.

These are just a few examples of the activities that we are directly involved in, from a program perspective and from a relationship- building perspective, in order to coordinate and collaborate both on intelligence gathering and program delivery. They enable us to jointly plan operations and to respond quickly and effectively to crises.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to just give you a brief overview of what is ongoing in Citizenship and Immigration at the present time.

Mr. Robert A. Russell, Assistant Commissioner, Atlantic Region, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency: Thank you, honourable senators. It is my pleasure to be here before you to present some information on the activities of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency in the scope of your investigations and deliberation.

In my position, I am responsible for the operational aspects of all of our customs and taxation administration activities in the Atlantic region.

I am pleased to be accompanied today by Mr. Mark Connolly, Director General of our Contraband and Intelligence Services Directorate. He has appeared before you in the past. Mr. Connolly is responsible, among other things, for the development of new systems and national direction to those of us in the field who are doing the operational delivery. He is here and available to answer questions of a national scope as we continue.

Since Mr. Brian Grandy appeared before you in January 2002, CCRA has made a number of significant changes to the way our customs inspectors work to protect Canadians from criminals, smugglers and terrorists. I should like to expand on those briefly and explain what we are doing in the Atlantic region.

Our initiatives fall into two main categories: first, improving the way we use our human resources and technology to support their work; and second, improving the way we exchange information and work with our partners. I shall provide some additional comments at the end on partnerships and how we are working with other agencies — which I know you have heard about already today.

On the technology side, in the last year, CCRA has invested about $3.5 million in new technology here in the Port of Halifax alone. We are also investing approximately $2 million in technology to enhance our capacity at the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick, which will also be beneficial in our work along the Maine-New Brunswick border.

With this investment, we have equipped both the Port of Halifax and the Port of Saint John with a state-of-the-art gamma ray mobile inspection system. It is called a vehicle and cargo inspection system, or VACIS, which is the terminology I will use as I go along. This unit enables us to scan a whole container, both quickly and safely. It has been on site here in Halifax since January and in the Port of Saint John since July, in both cases, of this year.

From January to June of this year here in Halifax, we have inspected almost 9,000 containers, which includes over 5,000 being scanned by the VACIS units. This translates into an overall inspection rate in Halifax of over 8 per cent of traffic entering the port or 8 per cent of containers entering the port. That is about three times the total inspection rate we were achieving prior to the introduction of the VACIS units. The combined rate is a little over 8 per cent. That includes VACIS as well as the traditional methods we were using in the past. So that is in combination with the more intrusive kinds of inspections such as the full offload or a tail-end examination on the dockside.

The Chairman: If I could just interrupt, sir, just so that I am clear. Our understanding was that the figure, when we were here last, was something just under 2 per cent back-ending or de-stuffing.

Mr. Russell: That is correct.

The Chairman: Are you telling us now that you are still doing something just under 2 per cent of back-ending and de-stuffing plus another 8 per cent with gamma ray?

Mr. Russell: That is close. Not quite. We have actually increased the full de-stuff and the tail-end examination on the dock, but we have added to that approximately the 5000 units of VACIS inspection, which brings the total inspection rate up to something over eight per cent. By doing the VACIS inspections, we see, in some cases, anomalies that cause us to want to inspect containers that we might not have otherwise wanted to inspect. So we are increasing in all areas.

The Chairman: And since I have interrupted you, could you tell us if these figures would extend nationwide, or are they unique to the Halifax port area?

Mr. Russell: I do not have the national figures. I am not sure whether or not Mr. Connolly does.

Mr. Mark Connolly, Director General, Contraband and Intelligence Services Directorate, Customs Branch, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency: We are increasing our examinations nationwide, using de-stuffs, back-end examinations and the non-intrusive technology. The challenge for us now is to get the right balance of those examinations. We are definitely increasing our examination rates across the country. I do not have a percentage for each port, per se.

The Chairman: Could you provide the committee with that percentage?

Mr. Connolly: I will get that information for you.

The Chairman: Could you also provide information to the committee as to whether your success rate has gone up commensurate with the increase in inspection?

Mr. Russell: Since the VACIS unit was introduced here, we have shown its effectiveness already. Shortly after it was brought into use, there was a very large seizure on a container that we had targeted; as well, when we scanned the container with the VACIS unit, we saw anomalies at that time, as well. The VACIS unit in the Port of Saint John is going to be used at the major border crossings in New Brunswick and Maine. It is truck-mounted and mobile, so we will be able to use it there, as well, for containers or truckloads of product entering Canada.

Additional technology includes a new scan trailer mobile X-ray system, which will increase our ability to conduct non-intrusive inspection at various sites away from the port, including airports, freight terminals, land border crossings. We have one of those in Nova Scotia and one in New Brunswick. We have added a new baggage X-ray system at the Halifax airport, mainly for passenger baggage inspection, and a new ion mobility spectrometer for trace detection of narcotics and explosives. We have equipped staff with electronic dosimeters to identify and protect against radiation exposure, and a new stationary gamma-ray system is to be installed at our major container inspection facility, which, in this case, is Burnside, in Dartmouth. It will allow us to do X-ray inspections of full pallet loads at a time rather than having to break it down box by box. So that will accelerate our ability to do more rapid inspections.

In addition, the Atlantic region is pleased to be the site for a three-phase trial of new detection systems intended to provide early warning where radioactive materials are present in marine containers. These field tests are a partnership between CCRA, the Halifax Port Authority, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and Transport Canada.

The first phase in January included the field-testing of a car-borne system. This system involves a ski-box, containing radiation detection equipment, mounted to the top of a vehicle. The mobility and ease of use were identified as positive aspects of that system. That vehicle can move about on the waterfront, driving by containers and, if present, detecting radiation.

We have recently completed a second phase, involving a portal system. Essentially, the system, essentially a gateway, is installed at a transportation bottleneck. In this case, we used the rail line leaving the container terminal at Halterm at the south end of Halifax. Containers onboard a passing train were scanned with the radiation detection device, to check for the presence of abnormal levels of radioactivity and hence to proceed with further examination. A similar system could be used for trucks.

The third phase began in August and is ongoing. This phase involves the testing of a crane or a gantry-mounted system to allow containers to be scanned as they are being offloaded from the ship. Following that testing, Mr. Connolly's people will analyze the effectiveness and the benefits, pros and cons, of those three systems and make recommendations on how we should proceed to implement.

I should like to talk about targeting for a minute. We continue to put a lot of emphasis on our targeting program in Halifax. We have trained targeters whose task it is to identify high-risk containers in vessels that require a physical search and the nature and extent of that search. In addition, we have two inspectors from U.S. customs based here; they are co-located with our targeters and are involved in the day-to-day work of targeting in-transit containers, particularly the ones destined for the United States. There are a lot of containers coming through here that are train loaded and then onward travelling to the U.S.

Targeters examine all information available on ships, crew and cargo, and use that information to make their recommendations for containers that should be examined. In the targeting centre, our targeters are working side by side with the inspectors from U.S. customs. That started in March in the Atlantic region. We have got a strong working relationship, and have had for many years, with the Americans, thereby facilitating the exchange of information and intelligence. The U.S. officers working alongside our people have brought their systems with them, enabling information to be shared for better targeting.

As an example of that cooperation, a variation of a U.S. system, called ATS-1 — Automated Targeting System, I believe, but I will defer to Mark on the exact meaning of that acronym — will allow our CCRA marine targeters to use an automated system to sort incoming data and apply a risk score to every imported cargo, enabling identification of containers that require further analysis by the targeter, themselves. The ATS primary screening will automatically query for terrorists, security and other high-risk lookouts in the system. Targeters will then filter that information to check the freight remaining onboard vessels and may further query import data from other ports. Any referrals for examination will be based upon risk determination made by the targeters, who must still risk assess with the systems available to them after that primary screening activity has been done. It is a tool to help manage a large amount of information and allow them to focus their time on the areas where there appears to be anomaly or risk.

On the human resources side, since 2001, customs has invested about $1.3 million in additional staff in our Halifax marine program alone. This has allowed us to staff additional inspectors to increase the level of vigilance and inspection of cargo and vessels. We have also increased our inspections outside the Port of Halifax.

As well, by April of this year, all of our inspectors and superintendents in the Atlantic region received special training on chemical, biological, nuclear and explosive materials. This training includes the threat and effects of various types of agents and devices, the indicators targeters use to identify high-risk shipments. and the steps to take when a threat arises.

Moving on to collaboration, while we have always tried to maintain excellent working relationships and cooperation with partners, both domestic and international, that has been a higher priority since 2001. We are working more cooperatively with other agencies all the time and that takes many forms.

The threat assessment group has been referred to, as well. There, we work with DND, the RCMP and CSIS to try ensure that intelligence about any threat is immediately and fully shared with all partners. Risks are assessed and agencies of interest are called in, and a lead organization is identified at the earliest possible moment. That was tested in actual practice during a recent incident involving a possible anthrax threat aboard a visiting ship; it was determined that Health Canada should be the appropriate lead agency to deal with that one.

Customs has also joined with the RCMP as part of an integrated border enforcement team, IBET, of which I believe you have already heard. We are also part of a broader coalition known as the Eastern Canada Interdepartmental Marine Operations Committee, or ECIMOC, and that includes DND, Fisheries and Oceans, CCG, Immigration, CSIS, OCIPEP, as well as Transport Canada. This group is trying to ensure the best possible cooperation among the agencies involved in marine operations and infrastructure, and exchange of information. Through inter-agency cooperation, the members work and share information as well as the access to resources, including training facilities and information.

Customs also works well with our private-sector partners. We have signed major Partners in Protection agreements with the Halifax Port Authority, as well as Belledune Port Authority and Saint John Port Authority. We have also signed agreements with some of the major carriers in this region, including Irving Transportation, ACL Container Lines, and Global Forwarding, which is the largest Nova Scotia-owned trucking firm. In entering into these agreements, our partners agree to contribute to the security of our ports by exchanging information with us and by working with us for the purpose of identifying possible risks.

Those are some of the things that have engaged us over the past year and a half, since we last met.

Mr. Connolly and I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

Senator Atkins: We have heard a lot about the major ports in Atlantic Canada — Halifax and Saint John. I am pleased to hear that you are bringing in a new policy for people who work on ships to have passports or visas before they can land. Let us take a small port and tell me how you handle it. Let us take as an example Campbellton, New Brunswick. What does CCRA and Immigration do there?

Mr. Ron Heisler, Director of Operations, Canada Immigration Centre, Halifax, Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada: They certainly have more resources in more ports in Atlantic Canada than what we do. If a ship is destined to a particular area, the agent that is acting on behalf of that company has to notify us the ship is coming in and provide us with a crew list in advance. We look at that to see if there are any areas of concern for us, either from a customs perspective or from an immigration perspective.

Senator Atkins: What if they are not crew, but passengers, on some form of vessel that comes into Campbellton? How are those people processed when they land?

Mr. Heisler: Again, it would depend. We do not have an Immigration presence in Campbellton, New Brunswick.

I am not sure whether that is one of Mr. Russell's staffed ports.

Mr. Russell: The closest would be in Bathurst.

Mr. Heisler: I am not sure if I understand your question correctly, senator. If it is a ship that would be dealing with a shipping agent, customs is notified. If there are passengers onboard, they identify on the list who is a passenger, who is a crew member, and so on.

Senator Atkins: I am asking because I have heard that there is a tremendous amount of illegal immigration coming through the Port of Campbellton. Do you have any information that would lead to that kind of conclusion?

Mr. Heisler: I certainly would not have any information leading to that conclusion. I know that in Atlantic Canada, since the year 2000, we have had 134 reported stowaways. Of those, approximately 120 were reported through the Port of Halifax.

Senator Atkins: I am told that a lot of this is managed through Montreal. I am told that when these vessels come into Campbellton there will be cars bearing Quebec licence plates waiting there to pick up people who are coming off these vessels and to take them somewhere in Canada.

Ms. Giffin-Boudreau: As Mr. Heisler has indicated, we have not had the type of intelligence that would suggest that that is a major port for illegal migrants, but as we do with all pieces of information, we certainly will take that into consideration. In the normal process of events, we are notified as to where vessel movements are taking place, which ports they are landing in. It gives us opportunity to deal with it from a customs perspective for goods and whatnot and from a people perspective. We certainly respond to situations where there is notification and, certainly, where there is any indication that there would be illegal activity onboard the vessels.

The issue I spoke of was the idea of seafarers coming to Canada who are joining ships as crew members and sometimes changing crews partway through the vessel's activity. At one time, they could arrive with just their seafarers' books. Today, they have to have a passport and a temporary resident visa like any other visitor to Canada, because those individuals could arrive, in effect, at any port or airport in Canada and find their way to the ship in whatever appropriate means they wanted to. They are screened in the same way as any other traveller coming to Canada. Hence, our ability to track individuals who are coming to board vessels is increased.

Senator Atkins: It seems apparent that an organization in the practice of illegal activity is going to target areas they believe are not being actively targeted by CCRA and Immigration.

Mr. Russell: The vessels entering are obliged to inform us. We do not have the you are speaking about in terms of Campbellton. If we had that concern, we would invite our colleagues at Immigration to join with us in pursuing that.

What is always helpful to us is for those people who are aware that there may be problems to provide us with as specific information as possible, and we will actively move on it. A lot of our business, and I am speaking both with respect to tax and the customs side, comes from people suggesting that we might want to look into something.

So I will leave that with you. You have raised this with us.

Senator Atkins: I will not disclose my source, but I have been told that, if I were to go to Campbellton and park a vehicle and watch what is happening, it would be obvious to me.

Mr. Russell: There are other possible explanations, as well. The vessel may have already cleared somewhere else in Canada. There may be people picking up people who are planning to be off there legally. To someone who did not know, it might look unusual.

You have raised the issue with us, and we have noted it.

Senator Forrestall: I want to come back, if I may, to changing practice with respect to passports as opposed to continuous certificates of discharge. Do I understand correctly that Canadians are now exempt, — or did I misunderstand you — from having to have a passport and a temporary visa to go into the United States to join a vessel?

Ms. Giffin-Boudreau: No. The rules have changed for people who are coming to Canada who are not Canadian or not from visa-exempt countries. So seafarers from another country who want to come to Canada to join a vessel that is from their country as a crew member would have to have a temporary resident visa.

Senator Forrestall: Does this include the United States?

Ms. Giffin-Boudreau: The United States would be a visa-exempt country, United States citizens.

Senator Forrestall: Is Canada a user-exempt country vis-à-vis similar posturing in the United States?

Ms. Giffin-Boudreau: It depends on the current circumstance.

Senator Forrestall: Are they going to require it of our seamen?

Mr. Heisler: Currently, a U.S. seaman joining a vessel in Canada would not require a visa, because the individual is from a visa-exempt country. Normally, when we impose a visa requirement on a country, there is a reciprocal back on us. So I would have to answer that question as no.

Senator Forrestall: No. All right. We have heard in the last two or three weeks that the United States is tightening up and that we can expect further restrictions. Do you have any reason to believe that that might extend to mean or to include, or whatever you want, the exempt position we now enjoy?

Ms. Giffin-Boudreau: I do not know that I want to try to second guess where the United States would go on their new policies, but there is no doubt that the U.S., as most countries, after September 11 is tightening up its security means.

Senator Forrestall: They have gone to something very specific. They are going to tighten up even further. You have not run across that?

Ms. Giffin-Boudreau: We have not been advised that our particular citizens or our seafarers would be required to have a visa where they would not have had the day before.

Senator Forrestall: Have either of you noticed that in the press clippings?

Mr. Heisler: I have noticed that the U.S. in the past has talked about different methods of controlling its borders. Normally, whenever they come up with a measure, they announce it as pertaining to everyone. I do not know if I should use this term or not, but in a moment of sober second thought, they look at Canada differently, because of the amount of trade that goes on between the two countries. I know that we have very close and ongoing discussions with the U.S consulate here in Halifax.

Senator Forrestall: I have a deep and abiding affection for my friends to the South, but I will be more than a little put off if I find them changing the rules any further or tightening them any more. It is difficult enough to move around this part of the world as it is.

So, for the time being, a Canadian joining a Canadian ship in the United States can go to the United States with his or her usual travel documents and join that vessel, correct?

Mr. Heisler: As I am aware of it, yes, that is correct. Generally, senator, when people ask me question about admission to the United States, I do not answer, because I have enough difficulty with the admission requirements to Canada. I tend to deflect those questions over to the U.S. consulate.

However, I am not aware of any changes regarding visa imposition towards Canadians joining vessels.

Senator Forrestall: You will understand what I am coming to then, will you not? Give me an example in the Arab world of a non-exempt country.

Mr. Heisler: An individual coming from almost any Arabic country — Egypt, Lebanon, Syria — and joining a ship would now require a visa. In the past, the individual only his or her seaman's book, in terms of travel documentation, and a letter that he or she was joining the vessel. These individuals are now being subjected to the usual screening process, the same process an ordinary citizen from those countries coming to visit Canada would face.

Senator Forrestall: What about an individual from, say, Lebanon on a cruise ship, for example, in transit to Alaska out of the Port of Vancouver? That person is allowed to come into Canada with his or her usual travel documents. We always called it a certificate of continuous discharge. That would be enough to get him or her into the country and onboard the ship.

Mr. Heisler: Not anymore.

Senator Forrestall: Are we leaving ourselves open or exposed to the charge of making it easier, or thwarting the attempts of our American friends who tighten up?

Mr. Heisler: Travel agents and travel companies know that with respect to an individual transiting through Canada and requiring a visa, the company is required to have that as part of their normal course of selling a ticket. It is the same in the air industry. If an airline is selling a ticket to Canada, it has to ensure that the purchaser has a visa.

Hence, if a company knew a ship were stopping in Canada, it knows that the traveller would require a visa to come here. In other words, an individual could not a passage to the United States to try to get to Canada on a stopover on the way, without having a visa for admission here.

Senator Forrestall: No, but they can do it to Canada. An individual might fly from the Middle East to Vancouver over the Pole and take his kitbag, trot down to the port and walk onboard and show the mate his boarding certificate, whereupon the individual will be told where to go to bed and get to work. Is that not what would happen now?

Mr. Heisler: No. Currently, an individual coming from one of those countries to Canada would require a visa even to travel here.

Senator Forrestall: Well, what if you had a visa to Canada?

Mr. Heisler: If a traveller had a visa to Canada and was destined to the States, then it is either the agent's responsibility, if he is a crew member, or the shipping cruise line's responsibility, if we are talking about a passenger, to ensure that the individual has the proper documentation to get into the United States; otherwise, the U.S. will deal with the individual according to its laws.

Senator Forrestall: Even if we are talking about a U.S.-registered vessel docked somewhere in Canada.

Mr. Heisler: I do not think where the vessel is registered is as important as where it is actually going. So if it were heading to Alaska —

Senator Forrestall: Suppose a ship is going from Vancouver back to the United States, to Alaska, then from there to Seattle.

I just do not want us getting into trouble.

Mr. Heisler: No, no. We are very careful. If a person is coming to Canada, it is not a simple case of a traveller just coming to Vancouver. It is, ``Where are you going from there?'' Hence, if it is determined that the individual is travelling on to a U.S. port, the agent would have to be satisfied that the individual had admissibility into the U.S., as well, as part of our decision-making process overseas.

Senator Forrestall: What happens to the continuous certificate of discharge?

Mr. Heisler: I am not too familiar with that.

Senator Forrestall: For our purposes, that is no longer a document of any consequence or identification.

Mr. Heisler: Our primary documentation in the past was always the seaman's handbook. That still exists, but there is also a requirement to obtain visas from individuals coming from visa-requiring countries, which is the newly imposed requirement.

Senator Atkins: If our imaginary traveller steps on Canadian soil, is he or she not protected by the Charter?

Mr. Heisler: Anybody who steps on Canadian soil is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, yes.

Senator Atkins: What is done with an individual who is on a ship and not allowed to step on Canadian soil?

Mr. Heisler: When somebody is on a ship and there is an immigration issue at hand, the officers would interview that individual and determine his or her reasons for wanting to get off the ship. We have provisions under our legislation that if the individual is just here for economic reasons, with no fear of danger of return to his or her former country, we can issue an exclusion order on that person and direct the master of the vessel to keep the individual onboard and detained until the vessel leaves Canadian waters. If there is any indication that the individual in question might face any kind of danger, or fear of danger, then we would take the person off and put him or her through the refugee determination process.

Senator Atkins: Does the immigration officer interview the individual onboard the ship?

Mr. Heisler: Onboard the ship, yes.

Senator Forrestall: We have heard a couple of times during recent days that there are some pieces of technical machinery that are underutilized because there are insufficient resources to train the numbers of operators required to keep the machinery fully employed. Can you comment on that?

Mr. Russell: I know there was some controversy earlier around the adequacy of staffing for these new VACIS units that I spoke about. I can really only speak operationally for the region I am in here, the Atlantic region, and we have fully staffed and are fully using those units. As I indicated, we have done over 5,000 inspections with the VACIS units, and we have the staff complement we need to use them.

Senator Forrestall: In other words, when we buy a piece of equipment we have the people to train the operators; we are not buying equipment to leave it sit idle.

Mr. Russell: Yes, that is correct. No, we are not.

The Chairman: Just to be more specific on that, Mr. Russell, are you saying that the VACIS equipment is being used 24/7 in the port?

Mr. Russell: No. It is currently being used in this port 16 hours a day, which corresponds to our staffing for regular customs activity. If there are arrivals outside those hours, the material is held in bond until cleared by us. It can prove a little more difficult to do inspections later. The most opportune time to inspect materials is when they are first coming off; it is just physically easier to do it then. However, they are still inspected.

We are not running a full shift through the quiet hours. There are not that many arrivals, and it would not be cost effective for us to do that.

The Chairman: Are they running seven days a week?

Mr. Russell: Yes.

The Chairman: Would it be possible for you to obtain information for the committee regarding the rest of Canada? We recognize you are only responsible for this region, but I believe the press report referred to more than the VACIS units. I think it also concerned X-ray equipment at the Lansdowne Port.

Mr. Russell: Certainly.

Mr. Connolly: We have trained a number of people right across Canada to use all our equipment. The equipment we purchased was phased-in over time, and when there was media attention given to the situation at Lansdowne we were in the process of training officers. Lansdowne only received their machine in August, the same time the newspaper article came out. We have trained our officers. We have people ready to operate the VACIS units and the gamma X- ray machine, as well as all the other equipment that we have purchased.

Resources came with the equipment and have been allocated to the regions. Additional resources will be allocated as we step up the amount of usage on each machine. As Mr. Russell has stated, not all ports operate 24 hours a day and, in fact, ships arrive at different times during the day but not every day of the week, and in some ports there are idle hours, obviously.

The Chairman: This information is very helpful, Mr. Connolly. The reason the committee is particularly interested in this news report is that we visited Lansdowne, where we saw a truck being de-stuffed and the X-ray equipment being used. The demonstration was put on for us more than a year ago. I think we concluded from the news report that the X-ray equipment that we saw no longer had sufficient staff to use it.

If I understand you correctly, you are telling us that the X-ray equipment that we saw still has sufficient staff to use it, but there is new and additional equipment at Lansdowne that you are training staff to use and it has just arrived recently.

Mr. Connolly: I am not sure what you saw over a year ago. It may have been another piece of equipment that we were testing, a potassium-based system used to detect organic material. We have subsequently shared that technology with the provinces. It was primarily located there, that technology, looking for organic materials such as marijuana, tobacco products, things of that nature. That equipment was moved quite some time ago.

The gamma X-ray machine that is in Lansdowne today, the new one that has been purchased — there was no other gamma X-ray unit there previously, unless it was a passing one that we might have been testing at Montreal or something.

The Chairman: We were looking at a load of diapers at the time. The shipper prior to that did not have a good record and, therefore, had been singled out as being a potential target.

Mr. Connolly: This is, in fact, senator, the first gamma X-ray that has been allocated to what is considered to be the Northern Ontario region, which Lansdowne forms a part of. This is their first machine, and they got it in August of this year.

The Chairman: Are you saying that it was just an issue of bad luck that the media arrived a week or so after the equipment arrived? Now the equipment is up and functioning, and there are staff to operate it on a regular basis. It was a start-up anomaly that was covered in the press as opposed to a continuing problem. Is that what you are saying?

Mr. Connolly: Mr. Chairman, as I am sure you are aware, we are presently in negotiations with our unions. There may have been some statements made that may not have been totally accurate, but having said that, I believe you said you were there over a year ago. As such, you would have seen a different piece of equipment.

The equipment is in place now at Lansdowne, people are trained to operate it and it is being used. The machine that is at Lansdowne is not exclusively for Lansdowne. It is a mobile gamma X-ray machine that will be used at other ports within the Northern Ontario region, such as Cornwall, Prescott and other ports along the St. Lawrence.

Senator Cordy: We talked about the visa imposition. With respect to the passenger- and crew-screening initiatives that have just recently been put in place, are they similar to the airlines' advance passenger information, or how does it compare?

Ms. Giffin-Boudreau: Basically, what occurs for us is that we receive information about four days in advance of ships arriving in ports. The information comes via CCRA, where there is appropriate need for Immigration to work with CCRA to go onboard and interview crew and passengers to determine their backgrounds and whether their papers are in order and that type of information. We have now been staffed and resourced to be able to do that here in the Atlantic region with Immigration officers.

Previous to the eight new resources, we had no dedicated marine security resources here in this region, so this is quite an increase for us.

Senator Cordy: So you would get a passenger list and a crew list?

Ms. Giffin-Boudreau: And a crew list, yes.

Senator Cordy: Would any information be given to you about the passengers or the crew, or just their names?

Mr. Heisler: The information that has come in in the past always included the name, type of document travelled on, position onboard the ship, if a crew member, and date of birth. From that, we run that against our existing databases, to determine whether any problems exist.

In answer to your original question, it is very much a similar type of concept, in that it provides us with the opportunity for some advance screening.

Senator Cordy: The cruise ship industry is certainly getting bigger and bigger in Halifax, which is wonderful for the economy. How many CCRA people would board a ship to check it out?

Mr. Russell: It would depend on the size of the ship; however, we would not normally board all cruise ships. We would be on the arrival gate, clearing passengers as they come off. We would also deal with the cruise ship companies ahead of time because they have strict security procedures before they put people onboard the vessels. We may choose to go aboard and do a search, a vessel rummage, as we call it, on a cruise ship, as we may on any other ship, but we would not always do that with a cruise ship.

Senator Cordy: So anyone on a cruise ship who is from a country requiring a visa to Canada would, in fact, need a visa to stop over in Halifax, for example; is that correct?

Mr. Russell: Yes, that is correct.

Senator Cordy: How often would you do a check of luggage? Before an individual boards a cruise ship, is his or her luggage checked?

Mr. Russell: The cruise ships typically have procedures similar to airports, before they put people onboard the vessel. Obviously, they want to process the people as quickly as possible. Our targeting suggests that the vast majority of cruise ship passengers are, in fact, low-risk travellers, and we want to expedite their entry into the local community because they are only here for a short time.

If you see an individual coming down the gangplank for a six-hour stay in Halifax who is carrying two large big duffle bags, the customs inspector may use his discretion in that case to examine the contents of the bag. In that sense, as people are disembarking, judgment needs to be exercised.

Senator Cordy: When we spoke to you at an earlier date, we were told that 2 per cent were back-ended or fully checked. You now have X-ray scanners and are able to do a higher percentage, up to about 8 per cent. How do you decide what to scan? Is it done on a random basis, or as a result of intelligence gathering? What do you base your decision on?

Mr. Russell: No. I referred in my remarks to our targeting unit. We have a joint targeting unit; we have two Americans working with us. In total, we have about eight people and a superintendent doing targeting work.

They are accessing databases in the same way that passenger information tells you who they are, what their passport number is, et cetera. You saw the diapers being examined. Our targeters would be looking at information about the product — where it is coming from, who the shipper is, the importer, how well we know the carrier. Our targeters would also look at the stops the vessel in question made en route to Canada. The factors would all be taken into account, with a view to identifying those containers that pose more risk than others. Those would be the containers we would examine.

The Chairman: Just to follow up on one of Senator Cordy's questions. The information you require from cruise ship passengers appears to be less than that which is required from aircraft passengers. Why is it not the same?

Mr. Connolly: I do not think it is different.

The Chairman: It was our understanding that information was collected as to how tickets were purchased, who people travelled with previously, whether they ate different meals, et cetera. Is it exactly the same if you are coming by air or by sea?

Mr. Connolly: Mr. Chairman, we do not have an advance passenger information system, or personal name — in other words, an automated system — at marine terminals for passenger cruise ships. We are working with the cruise ship industry to realize that in the future. We do get some advanced information from them, depending on the origin of the vessel.

Many vessels come from the United States. In that country, officials conduct extensive checks of passengers and cruise ships prior to people boarding. There is X-ray of baggage prior to people boarding ships in the United States. Hence, for those ships that are coming up, we do get the crews list. As well, if we so desire, we get access to passenger lists. We are provided with some advanced information.

As I said, we are working with the cruise ship industry to realize a similar system in that mode of transport to what we have in the air mode. What concerns us primarily in the air mode are those aircraft coming from off North America, not transborder flights — those that are originating elsewhere.

The Chairman: Mr. Connolly, it was our understanding that a flight originating in Boston, landing in Halifax, was required to provide that information. I must tell you that the committee has been puzzled as to how you could process that information within the time of the flight.

Mr. Connolly: Yes, Mr. Chairman. That information does come, and it runs against automated databases. It is done automatically, for that information that is forwarded in electronic format, which will be a requirement for all airlines to meet by April 1 of next year. It will be run electronically, automatically, against the database. It will be a rules- driven database that will have selection criteria and other criteria to identify those that pose a high risk, at which time we will then go further. If any names pop up of the initial persons that we run from advanced passenger information, we will then look at the personal name record data, which is basically the reservation system, and run that information against rule-based data and then any other additional databases, if we determined a risk. We will then target those individuals and intercept them, when they arrive, for further examination.

The Chairman: Do I understand you correctly to say that your objective is to have exactly the same examination of passengers, whether they are arriving by ship or air, in the near future?

Mr. Connolly: We are working with industry now to try to realize that. It is a different clientele. A transborder air flight is not a high-risk air flight — that is, those airplanes coming from the United States. Hopefully, we will have the data from the marine group. They have different challenges in providing us that particular data, and we are working with them to try to realize that.

However, I cannot give you a date as to when we can expect to have that advance passenger information. It is hoped that there will be some progress by this time next year.

The Chairman: You have not even told us whether it is an objective or not.

Mr. Connolly: It is definitely an objective to get as full information as possible on individuals travelling to Canada, yes, sir.

The Chairman: Let me be more precise. Is it the department's policy to have the same information on air travellers and cruise ship travellers in the near future?

Mr. Connolly: The short answer is yes. However, we get that information today, senator, when they do arrive. The only thing advance passenger information allows you to do is to run it against databases prior to people arriving. If we do not get it in advance, we get it when people arrive, the same information that we would get through API, through questioning or a primary interview.

Yes, senator, our goal is to get that same information.

The Chairman: Perhaps I am confused, then. My understanding was that the information went so far as to determine whether the ticket was bought with a credit card or by cash, whether the person had travelled the same route frequently before, whether the person was travelling with the same people they had travelled with in the past, a great deal of information that might be quite difficult to get if you were just interviewing a person.

Mr. Connolly: We get that information, and that is the purpose of us accessing the personal name record data, yes, senator.

Will we get that same information vis-à-vis persons that are travelling on cruise ships? We will certainly get some of it. The clientele, or the people that use cruise ships, those passengers that take cruises, are different than everyday travellers, who travel basically from point A to point B, not necessarily on vacation, but for business or other reasons.

Certainly our goal is to get enough information to ensure that we can appropriately target those individuals who will pose a high risk to Canada and Canadians.

Senator Banks: Just a couple of points of confirmation, Ms. Giffin-Boudreau. When you were speaking to us, you talked about a marine security officer of CIC. Is that a peace officer?

Ms. Giffin-Boudreau: These are officers that will be concentrated in the marine environment, but they will have the full authority of our normal enforcement staff, yes.

Senator Banks: Could they arrest someone?

Mr. Heisler: When they are enforcing the Immigration Act, they have the same powers as a peace officer.

Senator Banks: I am assuming that, at the moment, at least, you are not planning to arm them.

Mr. Heisler: We have no plans to arm them right now. What we have currently is a passive system. The officers have body armour, pepper spray and a baton, purely for defence of a disengagement.

Senator Banks: They would call for police assistance if that became necessary; is that right?

Mr. Heisler: Yes, in a lot of cases when we go on a vessel, especially if we have been informed that there may be a difficulty with somebody, we work very closely with our partners in the RCMP, the immigration and passport section. We would bring them along as backup and support.

Senator Banks: Has that cooperation always, and in every case, worked to the benefit and safety of your officers?

Mr. Heisler: I would say, yes, it has. We take a lot of advice from them when it comes to security, because they are experts in that field. We have learned a lot from them over the years.

Senator Banks: Mr. Russell, do you have officers who have the authority of peace officers in some cases?

Mr. Russell: Our customs officers are appointed and can be given officers' powers. In designated ports, they have powers to detain people who they believe are entering the country and should be detained for reasons such as drunk driving.

Senator Banks: And other things, I presume.

Mr. Russell: Yes.

Senator Banks: Since we have been pursuing these areas, we have heard many times from many people who regard themselves as ``on the front line,'' however it is expressed. Customs is the first line. Some of them believe that, from time to time, they have been placed in danger; as well, some of them at least believe they should be armed. In our first report of February 2002, we recommended against that.

Have you considered that recommendation? What is the CCRA response to that recommendation, if any?

Mr. Russell: That is a national policy matter. We continue to believe that our officers do not need to be armed. We have the support of the RCMP in that, in a fairly detailed job hazard analysis that we undertook.

Mr. Connolly: Senator, first of all, customs officers are peace officers. They are named in the Criminal Code as peace officers for the purposes of administering customs legislation. Certain designated officers have police authorities under the Criminal Code, where they can arrest and detain persons for Criminal Code offences. In fact, particularly with respect to our land border, we undertake a number of those responsibilities — breathalyzers, things of that nature.

With respect to arming of officers, I think Mr. Russell is correct. It is departmental policy that we do not intend to arm our customs officers. There has been an extensive job-hazard analysis done, and the results of that analysis indicate that there is not a requirement to arm our customs officers at this time or into the future.

Senator Banks: Since that was our recommendation, I guess I would say, ``Good.''

I am sure you have heard the arguments about arrest powers at land border crossings, the fact that the officers there are asked to perform functions as police officers, but not having the equipment, in their view, to properly discharge that. I am assuming that you have considered that sufficiently carefully. If one of those officers said that to you, what would be the official response to it?

Mr. Connolly: Well, we have done a job-hazard analysis, as I have stated, senator. Our officers are equipped with pepper spray and batons. They have handcuffs and soft body armour. They have extensive training. They are given use-of-force training. They are taught techniques on how to protect themselves and how to arrest people, how to compel people to comply who do not necessarily want to comply.

We have never had, in my understanding certainly, an incident that would have required a customs officer to use a firearm as a self-defence tool.

Senator Banks: Mr. Russell, you talked about the mobile radiation-detection equipment. At what speed does that unit travel? How slowly must it travel, to determine whether radiation exists; as well, how much territory can it cover in a day, for example, driving between rows of containers, to cover a field full of containers such as sometimes are sitting there?

Mr. Russell: The unit that is mounted on a car can move at a speed, certainly, to more than cover the dock space that we have here. The portal designed to deal with rail cars or truckloads can scan them as they pass by, moving at a normal speed out of port.

Senator Banks: Given that, and given that they are now deployed, if I understand correctly —

Mr. Russell: No, they are not yet deployed.

Senator Banks: Not yet?

Mr. Russell: The gantry-crane technique is being tested now. Mr. Connolly's people will be evaluating the three types of technology, to determine the proper mix and most effective way to use that technology.

Senator Banks: Do you have a timeline in mind?

Mr. Connolly: Within the next two weeks, the gantry-crane tests here in Halifax should be completed. We will undertake our evaluations at that time. Preliminary indications are that all of the technology has worked well so far. There are some challenges with the gantry-crane system. We will know better once we do further evaluation.

Senator Banks: A gantry crane allows containers to be scanned for radiation as they are coming off a ship, is that right?

Mr. Connolly: That is correct. They are hooked up to an expandable arm that lifts up the container. A reading is then taken of both neutron and gamma radiation. We are using certain wireless remote technologies to read the results, and then we compare that to other information we are in possession of.

We are learning a lot during these tests, senator.

Senator Banks: Once you are in a position to determine which of those formats to use, and once the technologies are put in place, we should be able to scan every container in a port for radiation purposes; is that correct?

Mr. Connolly: Obviously, senator, we would have to buy a sufficient number of them, but certainly the principle is there, if they work. With the appropriate training for our officers, in understanding how to read them — and we will make sure that that happens — then, yes, we will be able to screen containers as they came off ships, or when they are in a yard, et cetera.

What we will not be able to screen are containers that stay on a ship, that move on to another port. We will need other mechanisms to do that.

In April of next year, for example, we will introduce the 24-hour rule, which will require all persons shipping goods to Canada by marine container to notify us 24 hours before those containers are loaded on ships in foreign ports. At that time, we will do our targeting through a number of systems, including new systems that we are building now. If we make a determination that there is a risk, we can, if we so desire, and we probably will, make no-load decisions here in Canada. In other words, we will tell the foreign shipping company they cannot put the container on the ship before it departs for Canada.

Senator Banks: Do you have in mind a time at which the radiation detection format, whatever you choose, will actually be in place in the major ports in Canada? As well, how many people are we planning to put in Rotterdam and Singapore, to help with that targeting in the loading ports?

Mr. Connolly: With respect to your question about radiation-detection equipment, we hope to have our evaluation done by the end of this calendar year. At that time, we will be in a position to make a decision on the equipment that we wish to acquire and put in place. We hope that that that will happen at the end of the fiscal year, or early into the new fiscal year next year.

We have acquired resources for the purchase of our radiation-detection equipment, so it is not a question of having dollars to buy the equipment. It is a question of determining the right mix of equipment, because in my estimation we will use more than one type of equipment, and we will probably use more than one type of equipment at a location, or particularly, a marine location.

With respect to putting officers abroad, we have not made any decisions to put officers abroad, although it has been suggested to us to do that. We are exploring opportunities with foreign countries with respect to having examinations done on our behalf should agreements be signed with those countries based on no-load decisions.

Otherwise, if a no-load decision is made, it will be a no-load decision, and that particular container will not get on. There has been no decision whatsoever, by anyone, to put officers abroad.

Senator Banks: When that radiation-detection equipment gets into place, and given the increased percentages of rear-ending and de-stuffing, as well as other means of non-intrusive examination, it sounds as though we will be ahead of the game, in comparison with other ports, particularly in North America; correct? And if so, is not what we are talking about not only good safety, but also very good business? Will not that make our ports very attractive to legitimate shippers?

Mr. Connolly: I am glad you raised that, senator, because that is one of the important things for our ports and, in fact, is the reason they are partnering with us. We are not doing this on our own and forcing our solutions on the ports. In fact, we are working with the Port of Halifax, in this case, on a pilot test because, if their port is secure, they want to be part of that solution. They want their port secured because it will attract new business.

The Americans are, in fact, starting to test certain equipment in their ports as well. Radiation-detection equipment is just that — it is for the detection of radiation. Radiation occurs naturally everywhere, so we have to make sure people have the right training and the right tools. If we can get that in place, it will be a large step in securing our ports. It will be a huge step forward in ensuring that our land borders and trade between Canada and the United States remain intact.

The Chairman: Just to follow up on one of Senator Banks' questions, Mr. Connolly, you said that we did not have targeters overseas, I believe.

Mr. Connolly: We have not made a decision to place targeters outside of North America. I guess I should have qualified that: We do have targeters in the United States, at Newark and at Seattle/Tacoma.

The Chairman: I knew that. It seems bizarre to me that we have targeters in those two locations, rather than in, say, Rotterdam and Singapore, inasmuch as if terrorists were trying to penetrate North America and had already made it to the United States it is unlikely that they would, in turn, try to ship to Canada.

It is perhaps not the best allocation of resources if we are sending people overseas, to send them to the United States, that perhaps we should be sending them some place else?

Mr. Connolly: Last year, when we decided to put our resources in the United States — and it has been well over a year now that they have had their resources here. The decision to do that was based on the fact that we did not have automated systems to talk to each other in order to identify those in-transit shipments and provide targeting data back to the port that was receiving the goods. In other words, if a container were to arrive in Halifax destined for the U.S. mid-west somewhere, Chicago, let us say, we did not have the information necessarily on the importers or consignees in the United States. That information was in a U.S. database somewhere. What we had was the information on who was carrying it, where it came from, and who was going to transit it through Canada.

By allowing the Americans to come here, and of course, us to go to the United States, basically, we took our databases with us, which allowed us to share that information in order to complete the targeting picture of a container that was moving in transit. As we moved towards making those systems now talk, and having common systems where in-transit data is available in the same database to both countries, then of course there is a lesser need, obviously, to have the targeters here in Canada, or in the United States.

Overseas poses a different problem. Obviously, if you sent customs inspectors to 20 countries, or 15 countries, it does not really matter, to electronically hook them up in those 15 or 20 countries, to have all the data that would be available there, to get the appropriate agreements in place to get them there, is a larger challenge.

Where we think that by having foreign like-minded customs services that are also interested in security and the protection of their countries as well, do the examinations on our behalf, on a reciprocal basis, it may be as effective. Hence, we are exploring all options.

However, when I say that there has not been a decision to put people overseas, there has not. The CCRA is looking at a number of options, the preferred one being exchange of information, and not exchange of officers — in other words, having the other countries' officers perform the exams on our behalf while we, in fact, perform examinations on their behalf here in Canada.

Senator Wiebe: We appear to be putting a lot of emphasis on visas, and this has now been extended to people onboard ship. Just for my own information, and maybe that of other members, how does someone from Russia, for example, go about obtaining a visa to come to Canada?

Mr. Heisler: The individual would have to apply to our visa office in Moscow and in doing so would have to state the purpose of the trip. The determination would be made overseas, by our immigration staff in those particular posts.

Senator Wiebe: Are the immigration staff in those immigration posts Canadians?

Mr. Heisler: In some cases, they are Canadians, but in other cases they are locally engaged staff who are trained in the requirements.

Senator Wiebe: How well are they trained?

Mr. Heisler: That is outside of my area. I have never worked in a visa post, so I cannot comment, I am sorry.

Senator Wiebe: There has been a fair amount in the papers the last couple of days about problems with visas from Hong Kong — and it concerned someone who was not Canadian. Are we doing anything extra special to ensure that the individual who actually does grant a visa to Canada is someone that is well trained? And personally, I would prefer the individual to be a Canadian rather than a citizen of the country in question who was trained to do the job.

Mr. Heisler: There are a couple of things to consider here. In some cases, there are reciprocal agreements with countries about how many actual staff can work in posts abroad versus how many have to be locally engaged staff.

For example, the U.S. consulate here employs about 11 or 12 people. There are only two U.S.-based officers here; the rest are all locally engaged Canadian staff. Another consideration is that it is extremely resource-intensive to have Canadians overseas as well. Keep in mind that we do train and do follow up any question regarding the integrity of the service they are delivering.

Senator Wiebe: It is also extremely resource-intensive if someone gets a visa and comes to our country and does not go back home.

Mr. Heisler: There is no perfect solution. I do know that in a lot of cases they do interdict and detect things before they come over. There is no perfect answer as to how you are going to catch everybody.

Ms. Giffin-Boudreau: I would add two things. First of all, local knowledge and knowledge of the local language, of course, is advantageous for us in posts abroad. That is one of the reasons the focus is on some local people, as opposed to having all Canadian citizens travel to a foreign post.

This is outside of both Mr. Heisler's and my area of expertise, given that it involves training procedures for international region. We can get the training procedures people are required to go through to be immigration officers for the purposes of visa applications overseas, if that suits the committee.

The Chairman: Please provide that information to the clerk; thank you.

Senator Meighen: Mr. Connolly, you mentioned that in the spring of next year forwarders and ocean carriers will be expected to submit details pertaining to the ship, the crew and the cargo 24 hours before loading. Am I correct in that?

Mr. Connolly: Yes, the advance cargo information system is being introduced next April. The people who are shipping the goods in foreign countries will be required, 24 hours before it is loaded on the vessel, to give us that data. Today, we already get information on cargo, sometimes as long as 24 hours before it is loaded. Other times, we get it in less time. Right now, the requirement is that 96 hours in advance we get the list of ships coming to Canada, including names of crews and passengers, if any, the cargo being carried, the name of the ship and the details on the ship. With respect to cargo, as of April 1 there will be a 24-hour requirement.

Senator Meighen: Do you get now, or are you hoping to get, the routing as well, and is there any way of verifying it?

Mr. Connolly: We get that information now, senator.

Senator Meighen: Can you verify it now? In other words, how do you know whether the ship stopped off somewhere else on the way?

Mr. Connolly: Normally, the routing of a ship is not very difficult to get. That is not so much the problem, not necessarily always. What is more important is the cargo information, where the containers have been prior to being loaded on the ship. Quite often, a container could move overland through Europe, change identity a couple of times and, by the time it gets to the ship, have an entirely different identity than when it originated in a country. That is obviously one way contraband smugglers move contraband through Europe or through other countries in the world to come to Canada, or to North America, in general.

Through intelligence and through cooperation and sharing of information with our partners, law enforcement other customs' administrations, we try to prevent that.

Senator Meighen: Given that we cannot check every container or cannot de-stuff every container, how do we know, other than thorough spot checks, that forwarder X or shipper Y is telling us exactly what they did load or propose to load on the ship?

Mr. Connolly: Well, again, we work with our partners to gather intelligence on a number of people, goods and so forth. We do have a program called Partners in Protection, where we sign up carriers, importers, and others to partner with us to prevent smuggling of contraband or other illegal goods into Canada. Those partnerships exist around the world.

There is a private-sector version of it called the business anti-smuggling coalition, which is supported by the World Customs Organization. It is almost what I would call an ISO-9000-type of thing for industry, where there are standards they have to meet.

As a result of these partnerships, we are provided with information regarding a company's principles and those employees that can be verified in order to see if there are any security lapses within their country. They do that in order to be good corporate partners with government, in order to facilitate, obviously, the movement of their goods into Canada, or any other country in the world.

There are a number of things of that nature. The U.S. Customs Service has the C-TPAT program — the customs trade partnership against terrorism. C-TPAT works on the same principle as our Partners in Protection program. In fact, we have developed common standards and criteria together, for people to join, and common standards for verification. We are trying to work with industry as much as possible.

Outside of that, intelligence is important, dealing with other customs administrations that have experience with shippers and trade forwarders to try to identify those that may not be up to our standards or those that may be engaged in illegal activity.

Mr. Russell: A large volume of trade is routine. It is the same companies sending in products that we know and recognize all the time, both incoming and outgoing, and in the same way that the question was raised earlier about the port and the port authorities, and how they are cooperating with us. Security is very essential to them.

It is the same way for any large reputable company that is involved in import-export; they want to have a clean record with us. They want to be able to do everything they possibly can to make sure their record is intact, so that they can say to their customers, ``Our record is good, and we are well regarded; we have signed a Partners in Protection Agreement with the CCRA,'' those kinds of things. That enables us to focus on areas where we do not have that kind of longevity of track record, of dealing with the shipper or the importer, or any partner in the chain actually.

Senator Meighen: You four may not be the best people for me ask this question, but if I were to walk down the Port of Halifax right now what uniformed law enforcement or quasi-law enforcement personnel might I see? Would I see a Halifax policeman?

Mr. Russell: You could see customs personnel. You could see the Halifax Regional Police. The port has a contract with the Halifax Regional Police to maintain policing on the site; it is dedicated. The port had their own police force at one time; they now contract that to the Halifax Regional Police.

You also would not be able to get inside the port directly; it has all been fenced off. It used to be possible to walk along the port and look at the cruise ships and whatnot, but that has all been closed off now.

Senator Meighen: Are your personnel in uniform?

Mr. Russell: Yes.

Senator Meighen: I presume, whether it is police or yourselves, there are people in your employ who are non- uniformed?

Mr. Russell: Yes, there are.

The Chairman: Mr. Russell, how many police did you say there were 24/7 here in the Halifax port?

Mr. Russell: I do not know the answer to that question.

The Chairman: The answer to that is eight. We are astonished that to know that there is a grand total of eight police on a 24/7 basis. That is eight covering 24/7, which means barely one police officer at a time.

I do not think that is very many police, to take care of the Halifax port, but your answer gave us the impression that there were.

Mr. Russell: No, I think what I said was that the police are contracted by the port. They have assessed what they believe to be their risk and the level of policing they need.

The Chairman: And the level they have determined is they need eight.

Mr. Russell: I would leave it to the port to make that judgment and to explain that to you. I would not try to speak for them.

The Chairman: Is there fencing on the waterside? Could an individual come up in a motorboat and walk into the port.

Mr. Russell: An individual could come in from waterside, yes. You would need to be able to come in from water — the ships have to come in.

The Chairman: I understand that, but so can anyone else.

Mr. Russell: Yes.

The Chairman: You mentioned earlier that airports now had baggage X-ray equipment coming in here in Halifax. What percentage of the bags coming in are you able to X-ray?

Mr. Russell: I am not sure I can give you a number on that at this time; I would have to get that for you. I do not know the number right off.

The Chairman: Can you give us an order of magnitude? Is it 2 per cent, 10 per cent, 80 per cent?

Mr. Russell: No, I cannot give you a number.

The Chairman: Can you provide the clerk with that information?

Mr. Russell: I certainly can.

The Chairman: I want to talk about outgoing inspections for a moment. There has been some discussion of that and logically, from our point of view, the farther away the problem is solved the happier we are. If we are going to get other people to cooperate with us, that means we are going to inspect material going out.

At this point, what percentage of material is inspected that is leaving the Port of Halifax rather than coming into the Port of Halifax?

Mr. Russell: To my knowledge, we are not inspecting outgoing materials.

The Chairman: Do you anticipate inspecting outgoing material?

Mr. Connolly: Yes, we do inspections on outgoing material, normally based on intelligence. We have to do that. We have commitments with respect to certain agreements that Canada has made, particularly on certain controlled goods. We also have requirements under other legislation to do outbound examinations. We do them.

We also have waterfront teams looking for things such as stolen vehicles on the docks and things of that nature. Those are enforcement teams that are using intelligence and targeting in order to do those examinations.

There are some changes coming in the offing with respect to export regulations, in order to ensure that we have the appropriate information prior to ships leaving Canada.

We were not geared up to do outbound checks for a number of years, even though we were doing outbound checks, always on controlled goods. We do them at the land borders and airports as well, today. The export program has now changed as a result of other initiatives and changes post-September 11.

There will be some changes in legislation, and we will be doing more outbound checks. Obviously, if we get into reciprocal agreements with other countries, that would become a requisite, and there may be a shift in the mix of examinations, the numbers between inbound and outbound basically, depending on what agreements are in place.

The Chairman: Would it be fair to say that in the future there will be more reciprocal arrangements and that, in fact, we will be inspecting far more of what we export in order to receive the benefits of what is coming in?

Mr. Connolly: If everything works the way it is supposed to work, Mr. Chairman, perhaps. It is a very difficult question to answer because we are starting out slowly in this particular area right now. I would suspect that, yes, export exams will increase in the future. There will be a requirement because of reciprocal agreements — if we can, in fact, make those agreements and that is the preferred way Canada chooses to move forward on advance cargo information and on our customs controls that we want to put in place on goods coming both into Canada and going out of Canada.

The Chairman: We understand the logic of trying to develop relationships with trusted shippers, or shippers who you have a knowledge of. Having said that, no containers are packed in a port; containers are packed someplace else and are moved to the port. You described a situation in Europe where a container could move from a number of places and be changed and disguised and get to you.

What sort of audit program do you have in place to verify that trusted shippers or trusted freight-forwarders, in fact, are trusted? We have heard from other countries that they have doubts about just how candid some of the forwarders and shippers are. They do not like to admit when they lose containers or that their companies are not entirely foolproof in terms of their security.

What is the audit program, and how often would a trusted shipper be checked?

Mr. Connolly: Mr. Chairman, everything is based on risk, and everything is based on the information that you have at your disposal when you have to make the decision, whether related to a container, a ship, a vessel, an aircraft or a passenger. We have to verify our partnerships from time to time.

Because you have a partnership with us, it does not mean you have a free pass. We are well aware that good, reputable businesses, good, reputable companies and good, reputable shipping lines and carriers are used in criminal conspiracies. That can happen on the air mode, and we know that.

We recently broke up a ring at Pearson International Airport, where there were internal conspiracies involving people working at the airport and people working in foreign airports, where goods were being sent through, drugs in particular. That happens in any mode.

Quite often, a marine container will have a duffle bag full of cocaine in the back of it — and we are talking here about a reliable, Class A company whose product you may buy at the grocery store tomorrow. I will not name any names, but that is the kind I am talking about, where someone has put a bag of cocaine in the back for a dockworker or someone else to take off. There must be constant vigilance. Not everyone can be checked all the time. There are just not enough people to do it, not enough hours to do it in.

Hence, you have to be vigilant, you have to continue to share information, and you still do the targeting and make those decisions based on the information you have. There are no free passes. There are no free passes for any of the companies that sign Partners in Protection, PIP, with us, or C-TPAT in the United States, or the FAST companies. Most of these companies are doing their best to open their books to us, in order that we can make a good determination. For the most part, they are legitimate.

However, you are absolutely right, there are those working within certain companies that may try to exploit the situation. To be honest with you, we are not going to get everybody; however, we it is hoped that by having these agreements and by doing the checks and the follow-ups when necessary, we will get as many as we can. We will get most of them, which is important.

The Chairman: I appreciate everything you have said. My question was to enlighten us in a general sense as to the audit process.

Mr. Connolly: We have a number of audit programs. You have heard of FAST.

I will ask Mr. Russell if he wants to speak to FAST.

Mr. Russell: FAST — free and secure trade — is a program whereby importers, carriers and registered drivers are pre-approved and thereby cleared more quickly. We examine every link in the chain, not just the product and the exporter. It includes things like the driver of the vehicle. We are trying to deal with all the risks. We will re-visit the pre- approved periodically, to ascertain that everything is still in order.

With respect to the Partners in Protection program, there is more involved than just signing an agreement with us. We develop, jointly, a plan to work with them, to ensure that the security procedures we want to see put in place and they want to see put in place, are promulgated and understood by their staff and communicated to them on a regular and ongoing basis. We try to engage the company as well in the ongoing audit of whether they are complying.

Periodically, we will do what we call stints or reviews. In other words, we choose a particular port or a particular product or commodity and examine the results in that, even for people that are in the programs.

The Chairman: On behalf of the committee, I should like to thank both groups for attending here. I, for one, have the impression that both the agency and the department are making significant progress, which is good to see. We hope you will keep us engaged as new programs come forward, and keep us apprised of the your results.

We look forward to receiving the information you undertook to provide us.

Our next witnesses are from the principal unions of the Canadian Coast Guard. We have with us Mr. Michael Wing, National President, Union of Canadian Transport Employees, which represents Coast Guard crew; Mr. John Fox, Regional Representative, Nova Scotia, Union of Canadian Transport Employees; Mr. Lawrence Dempsey, National Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Merchant Service Guild, which represents Coast Guard officers.

Gentlemen, welcome to the committee. We understand you have a brief statement you would like to make. We also understand you may have some comments on the testimony we heard earlier from officials from the Coast Guard, and we would be pleased to hear those as well.

Mr. Lawrence Dempsey, National Secretary-Treasurer, Canadian Merchant Service Guild: Before I start, I would like to offer the apologies of the guild's national president, Captain Maury R. Sjoquist, who could not be here today due to other meetings that he had to attend. He could not re-book them in order to be here with you today.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank the committee for this opportunity to make comments and answer your questions as to our members' role in the Canadian Coast Guard.

I will begin with an outline of our organization and who we represent. We believe we are unique relative to other federal bargaining agents as the Canadian Merchant Service Guild was originally incorporated by an act of Parliament in 1919, which was amended and re-incorporated by an act of Parliament in 1980 as Senate Bill S-12.

The objects of the guild are to promote the economic, cultural, educational and material interests of ships masters, chief engineers, officers and pilots. We represent the vast majority of masters, mates, marine pilots and engineers employed in the Canadian shipping industry. The guild is also certified as a bargaining agent by the Public Service Staff Relations Board to represent ships' officers employed with the Canadian Coast Guard and the Department of National Defence civilian vessels, as well as the marine instructors at the Canadian Coast Guard College.

The total membership is comprised of approximately 4,300 members, nationally. The majority of our membership is covered by collective agreements, but a sizeable minority is managerial excluded masters and entrepreneurial marine pilots. The federal government ships' officers' collective agreement with the Treasury Board covering approximately 900 members is our largest.

The members of the guild employed on Canadian Coast Guard ships are responsible for the safe operation of the ships to carry out the mandate of the Canadian Coast Guard. These duties include search and rescue, boating safety, ice breaking and route assistance, aids to navigation, environmental protection, and fishery conservation and enforcement. The Coast Guard is not a federal government department or agency. It operates as part of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

There is no doubt that the Canadian Coast Guard provides a deterrent to terrorists as a visible symbol of Canadian sovereignty, but other than offshore fishery regulations enforcement, the Coast Guard is not involved in armed defence in any way. In fact, it must be clearly understood that, with the exception of a small number of Fisheries enforcement vessels, all Coast Guard vessels are inadequate for such a purpose. You will note that attached to this presentation are the clauses of our collective agreement that stipulate the allowances for Fishery enforcement and armed boarding.

The cultural regime of the Canadian Coast Guard was developed as part of the Department of Transport through the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. A decision was taken by the federal government in the early 1990s to merge the marine operation of DFO and Transport Canada, with the exception of ship safety, into DFO. The combining of the fleets resulted in a drastic reduction in vessels by almost one-half. The responsibilities, duties and objectives of the merged fleets were so different that culture shock was inevitable. Even to this day, we are struggling with some aspects of this cultural merger.

Nevertheless, we can state unequivocally that there never has been a military culture in either of the merged fleets, and attempts to impose such, would be unacceptable to most of management and staff of the Coast Guard. The armament of the fleet and/or part thereof could be undertaken, but it would take considerable time to develop. Such a measure would also require additional intensive training of existing employees and would have to become an extensive new part of the syllabus at the Coast Guard College.

In consideration of the foregoing, as well, there would be the requirement of an additional massive infusion of financial resources for the acquisition of or building of proper vessels. The costs could be prohibitive. The literal fact is that the Canadian Coast Guard is presently financially starved and hard pressed, if not incapable, of carrying out its present mandate. The existing financial resources have been mainly allotted to the building of new 47-foot search and rescue vessels, and the maintenance of present vessels. In both cases, these vessels are inappropriate and insufficient for armed intervention purposes.

Our reason for enunciating these facts is our concern for the maintenance and development of the present Coast Guard so it can adhere to its existing mandate. We understand that this committee has been informed that our collective agreement prohibits the arming of Coast Guard vessels. This is not correct, as evidenced by the negotiated special allowances already in effect. Literally, this is possible, but it would likely require wage classification amendments and the negotiation of special allowances. The aforementioned problems, including the culture of the Coast Guard fleets, are monumental items to overcome before imposing such a regime.

Again, Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank the committee for this opportunity, and I would be pleased to answer any questions.

Mr. Michael Wing, National President, Union of Canadian Transportation Employees: Mr. Chairman and honourable senators, I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you. With me today is Mr. John Fox, who is the local president of our Dartmouth Coast Guard local. He is Health, Safety and Security Officer, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and he is currently on a leave from the department to work with the union. He is my technical advisor, and I will be relying upon him heavily during the questions.

Today's Coast Guard is the result of a transfer of Coast Guard to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans from the Department of Transport in 1995. The mistaken rationale for this merger was that both departments dealt with maritime issues. It was expected that cost savings would occur if vessels from both departments were multi-tasked to various duties, and by combining offices and ships on both the East and West Coasts. Unfortunately, the expected cost savings of $55-million per year never materialized. In fact, scant savings were achieved by combining the fleets, since most vessels in each fleet are specialized vessels. For example, we have science vessels for Fisheries and deep water patrol vessels for Coast Guard.

Refitting either class of vessel would necessarily negate any potential cost savings. What the majority of Canadians did not realize at the time was that the cost cutting was about to happen regardless, since the program review for both departments was forthcoming.

Unfortunately, the term ``Coast Guard'' is a misnomer when used to describe our current services. The Canadian Coast Guard has been identified through numerous audits and parliamentary reviews to be woefully lacking in its ability. In the 22nd report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, when considering the report of the Auditor General, Mr. Desautels wrote that he was concerned about the number and seriousness of the issues that had been found, and stated:

...the need for action is urgent and well-recognized. The services provided by the Canadian Coast Guard are of no small significance to Canada and the safety and security of its citizens and other travelling through its waters. Failure to resolve deficiencies is beyond contemplation.

The Swissair Flight 111 tragedy brought home the seriousness of the cuts to Coast Guard and our inability to respond to large scale marine disasters. Commander Gallagher, in his report on the incident stated, ``The Coast Guard is poised on the brink of an abyss.'' This is due to many deficiencies resulting from underfunding. Issues such as contracting out of essential services and the lay-up of ships due to a lack of funding were identified as major concerns and recommendations for change were put forward.

A study was commissioned by the then President of Treasury Board, the Honourable Robert de Cotret in May of 1990. The Commission did recommend progressive consolidation under the Coast Guard of all civil marine patrol and law enforcement activities to the extent that this could be done without detriment to efficiency and morale. This never happened. Instead, the Coast Guard became, as one deputy minister said, ``...just one of 17 other programs that I have to administer.''

While many of the support aspects such as Arctic re-supply, most maintenance and supply support, can be and are met by commercial contracts, it is self-evident that the core safety, security and research activities that serve the broad public interest are best met by using government resources. This is consistent with practice in most maritime countries.

Since 1995, the Coast Guard has seen its budget slashed repeatedly every year. Human resource cuts during the mid to late 1990s have been in the order of 40 per cent with respect to staffing levels in some departments. Recapitalization investment in Coast Guard infrastructure is approximately 25 per cent of the amount required for appropriate renewal levels. Mr. John Adams, Coast Guard Commissioner, has indicated that the Coast Guard should be investing 4 per cent for the renewal of the asset base, which translates to $140 million to $150 million of capital funding annually. Yet, annual budgets over the past 10 years have reflected only $30 million to $40 million in the area of renewal.

The DFO Director General has stated in testimony to the House of Commons Committee on Fisheries and Oceans that the Coast Guard would need $350 million in capital expenditures to renew its aging fleet, and $160 million in increased spending annually just to bring its current programs up to operational efficiency. Training funds have been slashed significantly. There is an ever-growing need to meet the international and occupational health and safety standards with regard to certification and training.

Demands to reduce fleet operating budgets have required some vessels to be held in a state of lay-up, in some cases due to a lack of funding for fuel. Vessels are non-operational for a great portion of the year. Crewing of these vessels for short periods of high demand is difficult at best. Smaller class vessels that are not even capable of handling all floating navigational aids are de-commissioned in an attempt to cut costs. This causes delays in the annual servicing and correction of navigational aids.

In the wake of September 11, 2001, security concerns were at an all-time high. Additional resources that had not been anticipated were added to Coast Guard's increasing costs. One year later, security audits at CCG facilities continued to call for maintaining sound security measures, but budget allocations were simply not there, even though they had been requested. Canadian Coast Guard centres faced reducing their security measures purely as a cost- reduction exercises.

For fiscal year 2001-2002, Coast Guard received $2 million and approximately $5 million for fiscal year 2002-2003 for additional patrol days. This funding has not been continued for fiscal year 2003-2004. The money received in 2002 was a pittance that allowed the Coast Guard to send out vessels that had been tied up as part of cost-saving measures. During the same period, the United States Coast Guard saw their budgets increase from $5.7 billion in fiscal year 2002 to $7.3 billion in fiscal year 2003.

Three years prior to the 2003 budget, Coast Guard management stated that $160 million a year is needed just to provide the bare minimum of services. In the most current budget, Coast Guard was allocated $94 million over the next two years for capital expenditures. While things look bleak, they do get worse. Coast Guard was not allocated any new monies for operations. This service has been saddled with the requirement of meeting the federal government's demand for departmental cuts totalling $1 billion. Once again, Coast Guard has received money, only to see it be taken away.

UCTE believes that the committee must take into serious consideration the culture of the Canadian Coast Guard before effecting any changes. The Coast Guard is a safety and marine security service. The services of search and rescue, pollution prevention, navigational aids, maritime programs, ice-breaking and navigable waters protection are all steeped in serving the general maritime public and the merchant marine community. It has always been this way since before the formal creation of the Coast Guard in the early 1960s. The history of the Coast Guard is one of service to these groups, as well as maintaining our Arctic sovereignty with re-supply missions, all without any military connection.

The role of the Canadian Coast Guard is one of safety and general maritime security as Canada's civilian fleet. DFO's mission has never dealt with safety or security. The rationale behind the 1995 merger was, and continues to be, fundamentally flawed, and continues to have a serious effect on the morale within the Coast Guard.

Now, while we are discussing enhancing the security role of Canada's civilian fleet, combining the Coast Guard with the Department of Defence would result in a worse situation than we have now. We cannot put the civilian fleet culture that goes along with this role into a military environment.

If modifying the mandate of the Coast Guard to include the arming of vessels and crews, there are a few items the committee must take into consideration.

The largest issue by far is one of adequate and consistent funding. To arm the Coast Guard, as matters stand today, would necessitate a huge cash infusion and maintenance of this infusion for the life of the project. Coast Guard cannot meet its current mandate. It would be more than hard-pressed to take on any additional duties without appropriate additional funding. Furthermore, job classifications and descriptions would need to be modified accordingly. Also, there would need to be a retrofit of CCG's current fleet, if not an outright replacement. Training of crews would need to be adopted to the new enforcement duties and responsibilities. Again, the main stumbling block to these types of initiatives is the lack of consistent funding levels from the federal government.

Demonstrating sovereignty in all our waters is of major concern. The identification and the protection of undersea resources in light of new international territorial water extensions is a key issue in this century as more exploration continues.

Since men have sailed the seas, the only way to demonstrate and ensure coastal security is to have a strong physical presence to detect and deter those who would enter our waters to smuggle contraband and people. Air patrols, radar and satellite coverage will still demand interception by a ship to protect Canada's interests.

Currently, our ocean access is open to anyone with criminal intent. There are no patrols and no random inspections of the vessels that sail our waters. One only has to look at the number of illegal aliens that have been caught on our shores, mostly by chance, or when they are practically on our shores, and the admission by the RCMP that they intercept less than 5 per cent of all illegal drugs landing to realize that we have little to no coastal security.

The main focus of security has been on commercial activity in our ports, while thousands of miles of isolated small coves and estuaries remain open for landings. Our own fishing fleet goes out daily into international waters and returns without any random security inspections. Commercial and recreational vessels sail our intercoastal waters daily without challenge.

The United States, in its war on drugs, has proven that a strong Coast Guard in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean has significantly reduced smugglings of all types. This service is now an integral part of their security network.

The Coast Guard is strategically placed throughout Canada to deliver a strong security presence. The Coast Guard can deliver operational platforms to other government departments as the primary civilian government fleet as it has always done since its inception. It should be significantly and fully multi-tasked to absorb unmet demands, and to more effectively and fully use their existing vessel capacities.

CCG should be assigned additional responsibilities for in-shore/coastal/near-shore patrol, including support for environmental surveillance, on the water administration of maritime regulations and support to meet the needs of other government departments, particularly the present unmet demand for security.

Last, during a meeting in St. John's, John Butler, Regional Director Newfoundland Region for the Coast Guard, stated that, despite the 30 per cent reduction in budget, the Coast Guard was working ``better and more effectively than before.'' From the conference location, participants could clearly see two blocks away across the harbour, three Coast Guard vessels tied to the wharf, and not out patrolling.

Last week, Jane's Defence Weekly gave a frightening account of the situation currently faced by the Canadian Armed Forces. However, many of the observations can be applied to the current situation of the Coast Guard. The Canadian Coast Guard is stretched, stressed and insolvent. That is the good news. The bad news is that DFO is mortgaging the Coast Guard's future to pay for its present.

We would ask that this committee have the courage to stand up and confront the deluded senior managers of DFO who continue to claim that all is well, while those in the front lines know this not to be true. Chronic underfunding, over-commitment and government neglect is causing irreversible damage to the Coast Guard. The service is poised on the brink of a downward slope towards irrelevancy, if someone does not step in and say, enough is enough. We ask you to give serious consideration to re-building the Canadian Coast Guard to its once proud level, and that it be given a major position in ensuring the marine security of Canada.

Mr. John Fox, Regional Representative, Nova Scotia, Union of Canadian Transportation Employees: There are a few discrepancies in the document, ``Safety First, Service Always,'' which was given to you this morning. The first is that, under the Maritimes Region, there are three bases listed. Currently, two of those bases are scheduled for closure. I will leave you with the ``Maritimes Region Canadian Coast Guard Plan To Restore Financial Stability,'' which outlines the direction of the cuts that are being taken in this region.

Although four environmental response stations are outlined, in fact, they are not all workable stations. For example, Mulgrave has three employees and is incapable of responding to any major spill in the Canso area.

The report states that we have a system of 4,800 fixed floating aids. In fact, that number has been reduced, and a significant number of them have been contracted out. We are opposed to the contracting out of these aids, for safety and security reasons. As you can well imagine, misplaced aids or poorly attended aids can have a significant impact on mariners in Atlantic waters.

Listed here is the fact that we have eight large and 20 small base fleet vessels, which would lead you to believe that those vessels are in operation all the time. I would ask you to go and look at these bases and see the ships that are tied up. Many of those ships have been decommissioned. The Provo Wallis, the coastal patrol vessel, and the Cygnus at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, BIO, have been mothballed now for several months. Every one of our larger vessels is forced into a mandatory lay-up each year of at least three months. Even though you say you have eight ships, 30 per cent of the time they are not in operation. There is also mention of the one small multi-task cutter. That cutter has been mothballed. It is tied to the wharf at BIO.

Understanding what is going on with these vessels and these assets, I believe, is important for this committee. I would ask that, if you visit any of these bases, you look into this matter.

I strongly suggest that you talk to some of our people, some of our crew, preferably on their own, and I am sure they will tell you what the state of affairs is in Coast Guard and about how many in the technical groups now are doing nothing. They are not going out on the road because there is no money to send them out on the road. There is no overtime.

As to the situation regarding the Vessel Traffic Service Centre or MCTS, there was an article in the press, I believe last week, about the fact that there is no maintenance, because there is no money for overtime to maintain the systems. It is tragic at best, and I would ask that you give that aspect some consideration.

Senator Smith: I like to deal with the basics and, in that respect, I have three questions. I will ask the questions and then I will give you my reaction to the report. I might say it is pretty melancholy, if not a downright depressing, report.

First, do you believe that the Coast Guard's role should be changed so as to have some degree of both vessels and crew being armed?

Second, what are your recommendations as to whose jurisdiction you should be under? It is pretty clear you do not like DFO and it sounds like you think the Department of National Defence would be worse. Where do you want to wind up and why?

Third, like every other branch of government, you better assume you are not getting a blank cheque for everything you raise in your report. How would you rate what you think the Coast Guard's priorities should be if some additional funding could be found?

Now let me just chat a bit about the report. In the report you outline many basic activities that you do not perform, such as there being no patrols, no random inspections and no boardings of suspicious vessels, so I am sitting here asking, ``What is it they do do?''

I am familiar with your Search and Rescue function. I understand it because I personally experience it once on Lake Ontario. I was appreciative of that. It was not a life-threatening situation, but I was appreciative of the assistance. I also understand the pollution enforcement function, but I find it hard to believe that it would take up a good percentage of your time. I also understand your ice-breaking job but, again, I do not think that would take up a great percentage of your time, overall.

I was intrigued by the reference 2 to the ``enforcement component.'' There is an enforcement component to the mandate that is purely an observational role, and that sounds to me as if you just watch. What is the point, if you do not do anything about it? Perhaps you could expand on that a bit

With regard to whether or not you enforce the Canadian exclusive fishing zone, it is not clear whether you board. There is almost no reference to that in there. That seems to me to be the whole rationale behind you ending up in Fisheries in the first place.

On page 6, you say, ``Post-9-11, security concerns were at an all-time high, and additional resources that had not been anticipated were added to the Coast Guard's increasing costs.'' I certainly do not know what they are, because you do not patrol, you do not do random inspections, you do not board, and you tell us most of the boats are tied up, so I do not know what these additional costs are.

Then there is the reference to the culture of the Coast Guard. Mr. Dempsey you also refer to this in your report. The armed route is foreign to your culture. It would be a whole new world. However, you might think about doing that if the money to do it is made available.

I was reminded of the Bible story of Job, covered in boils, sitting in a pile of ashes and feeling sorry for himself.

We need your view on the basic questions, so let us start with the first one. Do you believe that the mandate of the Coast Guard should be modified so as to have some degree of armed vessels and armed staff?

Mr. Wing: Senator, we have no problem with the mandate of the Coast Guard being changed to take on those additional responsibilities, and that includes the arming of vessels.

Senator Smith: We understand there would be cost ramifications, but they would not be prohibitive. Are you all right with that?

Mr. Wing: Yes.

Senator Smith: Under whose jurisdiction do you think you should fall? It is pretty clear that you are not too happy with Fisheries and Oceans. That is not to pick on them, it is just to say that that is not what you are all about, except for, perhaps, enforcing the Canadian exclusive fishing zone. You seem to think that being under the Department of National Defence would be worse. Do you want to go back to Transport? Where do you want your home to be?

Mr. Wing: Senator, that is a difficult question. I think Coast Guard should be a priority within a department so that it is not lost amongst the other priorities within a department and so that its funding can be tracked. Transport may be a possibility. I would have no problem with that.

Senator Smith: That would be the most logical candidate.

Mr. Wing: There is some logic to being in Transport. Security legislation is part of the responsibility of the Minister of Transport.

There is also the possibility of it being an operating agency unto itself.

Senator Smith: You would still have to report to a minister, at a bare minimum.

Mr. Wing: Yes, absolutely.

Senator Smith: Let me repeat the preamble. I am not aware of any government department that does not feel that they should not get more funding and each can give very heart-rending reasons as to what that should be so.

Assuming you are not going to get everything, how would you rate your priorities if some additional funding were available? Do you have a clear view on that?

Mr. Wing: I will defer to my colleague.

Mr. Fox: As the Coast Guard is managed right now, it delivers a platform to whoever the users are within its own department. If the science component wants a vessel, it goes to Coast Guard. Funds come from the science side to the Coast Guard to send that vessel out. Different programs support the vessels. We have no clear mandate for security for fisheries enforcement for any of the security needs.

If it were the choice of the government of the day to give that mandate to Coast Guard, I would say that we are the most strategically placed to deliver that service. Our number of vessels has been reduced from 180 to less than 100, but we still have the capability to deliver a security service.

If you take an onionskin approach, for any vessels coming to our coastal waters, we could be the first point of contact for recreational, commercial and any other traffic entering our inshore coastal waters.

We have the small vessels to do random or courtesy inspections, and security inspections. We could be doing that. Currently nobody is doing that. We do it if we are asked to do it, and only if we take an RCMP officer with us, somebody with an enforcement capability. You could enhance our security profile.

Senator Smith: I was intrigued when you raised the subject of there being no security checks of fishing vessels. I do not know if there is a major problem in that regard. However, I doubt that they would be too keen on it.

Mr. Fox: I live in a small fishing community on the eastern shore and our friends repeatedly go out 100 miles offshore and back. They are out there for two days. Nobody checks them.

Senator Smith: You mean check them to see if they are all right?

Mr. Fox: Checking them for whatever they could be bringing in from meeting somebody out there.

Senator Smith: Do you have reason to believe that hanky-panky is going on?

Mr. Fox: People have been caught smuggling from other vessels, bringing it in. Several years ago we caught a small freighter, over 100 feet long, washed up on the beach. We never did discover what the cargo was or who had been on board.

I read the presentation of the RCMP and, certainly, yes, there is an intelligence network. Primarily, it is dedicated to commercial traffic and occasionally to some other types of suspicious vessels. If you do not want to report coming into Canadian waters, you can come in and do whatever you want and leave.

Senator Smith: You are part of Fisheries now. Do you have any guesstimate as to what percentage of your time you spend on Fisheries matters overall? Is it a significant percentage, or is it pretty small?

Mr. Fox: Today it is a lot smaller than it was because Fisheries has changed its profile to some degree. A lot of their inshore fisheries work now is done by the trailer vessels. They take small rigid-hulled or inflatable vessels to the site, launch the boat, go out with a three-man crew and check fishermen. The large offshore type of activity on the perimeter of our boundaries is very limited now.

Senator Smith: It is a minimal role vis-à-vis fishing.

Mr. Fox: It costs more money for us to go there to randomly check or inspect. There is now some black-box technology for fishers whereby cameras can be mounted on the deck of vessels.

A lot of forensic auditing goes on now for fish landings. They can check the books of the buyers, et cetera, and they can track people who are illegally fishing.

Senator Smith: What do you do that relates to fishing?

Mr. Fox: We take Fisheries officers out and patrol when required.

Senator Smith: You say, ``when required,'' but is that requirement minimal?

Mr. Fox: Yes, minimal.

Senator Forrestall: My understanding is that the men would like to have their autonomy back because they believe that they are not always understood. They had clear-cut work to do, and that work was divided. They did aids to navigation, ice-breaking, and different types of functions in the Great Lakes and, to a certain degree, on the West Coast. It was clear and straightforward, and they relied on the Department of Transport for their administration and other support. It worked well for 100 years. Why is it not working today? That is a fairly serious question.

I understand Senator Smith's questions about where you would prefer to be, but in difficult times, where would you turn? I have some ideas about that. However, I would say that I did not even like the joining of Fisheries and Oceans. I thought the Oceans had a good mandate and were doing great work.

The Bedford Institute of Oceanography was built a long time ago when we had a small but very good working fleet, and we established a worldwide reputation. In many respects, we were doing more new work than most of the similar institutions around the world, including the United States. The United States had several, and we only had one or two.

Fisheries was the one that was floundering. There was always great resistance against giving them too many vessels and crew. What led to all of that, I do not know, but we are back to square one.

When I was in the House of Commons I had proposed, and I do not mind resurrecting it again, to the then Minister of Transport and his Parliamentary Secretary that we explore the establishment in Canada of a Canadian search and rescue group along the lines of the legislation that established the RCMP. It would have autonomy and be responsible for its own budgets. The mandate would come from government, and the group would simply report back to government, probably through the Minister of Transport. However, for all other purposes, the group would be separate and apart from the other department. It would then have something to build on, something to fight for.

The leaders would have clear-cut mandates at budget time. If they fought the good fight and lost, then they would recognize that the whole pie does not belong to any one of us. It has to be divided efficiently.

I suspect that there are many answers to the question of what can be done. What is happening now, as I view it from our community centre across the way, is not healthy. The morale of families is low. There is no fleet renewal.

If you want, I could tell you how long the buoy has been out of position in four or five ports along the eastern shore of Nova Scotia. However, I am sure Mr. Fox knows that himself. When fishermen tell you that they no longer rely on the bells in order to get into harbour in thick fog, then you know something is wrong.

The buoys are only repositioned in the spring when the ice has gone, and they are quickly repositioned. However, by that time you have lost a major portion of your good spring fishery. It is as simple as that. That is the economics of it.

As to the safety and security issues, I do not know how those should be approached. I think that there is a role for the Coast Guard, but I do not believe you have any vessels on which you could mount more than a .50-calibre machine gun. Mind you, that is a pretty vicious weapon. Perhaps the more realistic approach is having one or two personnel carrying personal protective sidearms. I do not think the objective is to blow vessels out of the water, and I do not think it is necessary.

As you were responding to Senator Smith's questions, I was trying to find out what direction you wanted to take and then ask you about that. Would any of you care to comment? Can you justify your responses?

You have a good program, it is rational and it makes sense, and you could certainly justify it. As you know, we are your friend, not your enemy.

Mr. Dempsey: As Senator Smith pointed out earlier, there are no blank cheques to be had out there. We know that, and we would not expect them.

The submission from the Canadian Merchant Service Guild was put together to instil with this committee the importance of the problems that we see happening in the Canadian Coast Guard today.

Those problems will still arise whether a decision is made to move the Coast Guard to Transport Canada or to move to a special operating agency. The fact of the matter is that the events of September 11, 2001, are an issue today. They must be addressed today.

The Canadian Merchant Service Guild supports the initiatives that would come government to make the Canadian Coast Guard an entity with which people who wanted to come to this country would have to reckon. The Canadian Coast Guard is an entity. Today people do not consider that. They see Coast Guard vessels as vessels that do a job that is mandated under the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

As far as I am concerned, it can stay with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. If the intention is that it should be a special operating agency, that should have taken place years ago. There certainly was plenty of talk about the possibility of it becoming an SOA. That will probably not happen today. We do not have that blank cheque. The government can no longer write those kinds of cheques. We have to deal with the reality of today.

The Canadian Coast Guard is part of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Leadership comes from the top down. The members that I represent and Mr. Wing represent are out there doing the best goddamned job that they can do with the funds that are allocated to each and every one of those individual vessels that do those jobs. They are doing the job.

If you add the safety and security function, they will do that job. With some training, and with some budget dollars to finance that, they will do the best job that you will ever see in Canada. Thank you.

Mr. Fox: When we were with Transport, we were part of the air-surface-marine transportation safety and security network. I joined the Coast Guard when we were with Transport. The Treasury Board study on fleets in 1990 was pointing in the right direction for many of the Coast Guard services.

We took that hard left turn in 1995, and we have been paying for it ever since. We were nothing but a cash cow to DFO. Major monies, $200 million, I believe, in 1997 or 1998, were diverted to DFO programs. That is what happens today. We are merely a trucking service.

We do have one major vessel east and west. We are supposed to do search and rescue. We are multi-tasked. We do perform, as I tried to explain to Mr. Smith, those many functions as they come up. A vessel can be doing navigational aids and be called to do search and rescue. It could be called to a pollution incident. It could be called to help the RCMP out of Sydney. Those vessels are there. That is how we work, and we are proud of it. We have done a good job.

We are under-resourced now. We cannot handle any major catastrophes. Swissair proved that to us. We have problems. What we are saying is we can do; just give us the attention that we need, and give us the focus.

We believe that we should be back with an organization that has similar security interests; if that is the role we are going to play. Transport Canada, I think, is an organization that would help to provide that mandate.

Senator Banks: Mr. Fox, you and Mr. Dempsey mentioned earlier that the Swissair event demonstrated a certain incapacity or shortfall as far as the Coast Guard is concerned. I am ignorant of why that is so. Would you give us a thumbnail sketch of what went wrong? None of the news reports that I recall from that horrible event pointed out to me that we were insufficient in our response in any respect. What ought we to have been able to do that we did not do in the Swissair event?

Mr. Fox: I will leave with you the Swissair report by Captain Jack Gallagher which outlined the shortfalls. One of the considerations was having vessels in lay-up status, a fleet that is mothballed because it cannot function. You cannot take a ship that has been tied up for three months and put it back in service tomorrow. They do not work like that.

Senator Banks: Did the Coast Guard not respond to the Swissair event?

Mr. Fox: Yes, they responded, but it was an inter-departmental effort. Many agencies were involved. It quickly put a major strain on the number of crew available. We were bringing in crew from across the country, people to help out with this disaster.

We realized that there were a number of problems: with the crew, with the training, and with the resources to adequately respond. They are all outlined in the report we will leave with you.

Senator Banks: Thank you for bringing us that report. We will read it with interest, or I certainly will.

Mr. Dempsey, earlier you used the phrase, ``armed defence.'' Nobody is talking about defence work. I think the questions that we are asking have to do not with defence in the normal, traditional sense of the word, they have to do with the enforcement of Canadian law, which is quite a different matter.

Mr. Wing has answered the question with respect to whether his members would object — given proper funding and proper training which, I presume, Mr. Wing would mean consideration of pay scales among other things — to a change in the mandate of the Coast Guard. I am keeping in mind that he is a union guy, so am I. His members and his union would not object to an increase in the mandate of the Coast Guard. That is to say, we do not want the Coast Guard to give up ice-breaking, buoy-tending or maintenance of navigational aids of any kind. I am talking about an additional enforcement capability.

What would your members, who are the officers involved, think of such a proposal? I am bearing in mind that the members of your union are already contemplated as being able and will be paid for taking part in armed boarding parties. Have I got that right?

Mr. Dempsey: Yes, sir, you do have that right.

Senator Banks: The Coast Guard now already does, in some senses, contemplate its members, its officers, functioning as armed members of a boarding party.

Mr. Dempsey: That is correct. During the infamous let me call it ``cod wars,'' armed boarding parties were put together. The Canadian Merchant Service Guild sat down and negotiated with the Treasury Board and the Department an allowance which you have in the paperwork that we supplied to you — an allowance for an armed boarding.

A number of criteria had to be met in order for that armed boarding allowance to be paid. Nevertheless, training took place at RCMP headquarters in the Prairie provinces. The officers went through some fairly extensive training, and became part of a boarding party. When the word came down from Ottawa — and believe me this all had to be done through channels — that a vessel was to be boarded, the Canadian Merchant Service Guild members and ships crew were part of that armed boarding party and did, in fact, board a number of vessels. It is not something that happens every day.

Senator Banks: If we did this, it would not be a virgin that we were talking about here.

Mr. Dempsey: No, by no chance.

Senator Banks: I did not know that until very recently.

Mr. Fox: Just to clarify that, Senator, the people with the guns who went in were Fisheries officers. They do carry sidearms.

Fisheries did have a .50-calibre mounted on one of their vessels. A few years ago we had the incident on Georges Bank, which was probably not handled in the best fashion. We are not talking about war ships here. We are talking about lightly-armed people to board a yacht or whatever.

Senator Banks: We are talking about a situation where, as I understand it, unless the person is a really stupid criminal or a badly-informed terrorist, the sight of a Coast Guard ship would only cause that person to say, ``It is all right. They cannot stop me at the moment.''

As Senator Smith suggested a .50-calibre machine gun does not have to be there all the time but if need be, you could mount one on the bow of a ship so that when you ask a ship to stop it will stop, unless it is a warship from some other country. That is the nature of at least my thinking.

You are right, we are not talking about building small destroyers with cannons mounted on the deck and turrets. We are talking about the capability of arming some appropriate vessels that may be built or that exist to allow them, in certain circumstances, to have the capability of obliging a ship, the further away from Canada the better, to stop to have a look at it. Does that fit with what we are talking about, Mr. Dempsey?

Mr. Dempsey: Senator, you must understand that this is not something that can happen on a once- or twice-a-year basis. If you are going to put .50-calibre machine guns on ships or if you are going to put pistols in the hand of ship's officers or ship's crew, it must always be remembered that you might need those services tomorrow.

These people must undergo a training program and maintain that training, and they must always be ready for whatever comes up. It is not simply a matter of putting the .50-calibre on the bow of the vessel so that somebody can see it and, therefore, have to deal with it.

The Canadian Coast Guard has to be known throughout the world as an entity that has to be dealt with in this country. Believe me, it would not take long before every country would know that Canada has the capability, and probably never use it, of defending the border.

Senator Banks: Now it sounds to me like you are arguing in favour of a, not military, but a police function as a normal part of the mandate of the Canadian Coast Guard.

Mr. Dempsey: I am. That is correct.

Senator Banks: Out of curiosity, because I had not heard this phrase before, can you tell me what a ``DND civilian vessel'' is? That sounds like an oxymoron.

Mr. Dempsey: Here on the East Coast, as well as on the West Coast, at Esquimault, the civilian vessels at DND are tugs and also provision vessels that are operated by civilians. They provide a service unique and specific to the Department of National Defence in taking the HMCS Iroquois or vessels like that, as well as submarines, on and off the dock.

I do not want to minimize the duties that they perform, but it is like a tug service. If something were to happen today, right now, they are able to call on their vessels to do those kinds of operations.

Senator Banks: They would mostly be within a dockyard.

Mr. Dempsey: That is correct, and probably within the harbour area.

Senator Meighen: I believe Mr. Fox and Mr. Wing said that one should not be overly impressed by the list of vessels of the Canadian Coast Guard because a good number of them have been mothballed, laid-up, or whatever. Is that because the vessels themselves are unseaworthy, out-of-date, or is it because we do not have the crews and the resources to pay the crews to man them or both?

Mr. Fox: The two vessels that are tied up currently, the Provo Walis at Dartmouth base, and the Cygnus at BIO, just went through significant mid-life refits. We spent a considerable amount of dollars on those vessels. It is not that they are incapable of functioning, the fact is they do not have the money to operate those vessels. That is why they are tied up.

Senator Meighen: Does that also apply to the comment you made, Mr. Wing when you said that, in St. John's, from the conference location, participants could clearly see two blocks away across the harbour three Coast Guard vessels tied to the wharf and not out patrolling? Why were they not out patrolling?

Mr. Dempsey: If I may, those vessels were not tied up. Those vessels were in a respond mode. You have to understand the difference between respond and patrol.

Many years ago the Canadian Coast Guard made the decision that, rather than being out and patrolling where you could be at the far end of a patrol district and get a search and rescue call at another end of the patrol district, it would be better to have them based at a certain location and then respond to wherever that they had to go.

Those vessels that we saw in Newfoundland two weeks ago, for all intents and purposes, were in a respond mode. I, personally, did not go down and board the vessels. They could have been doing a refit, or they could have been getting ready to go out to sea on a patrol. I cannot tell you that they were tied up because they did not have the resources to operate.

Senator Meighen: As I read the thrust of Mr. Wing's presentation, it was that the regional director says that, despite a 30 per cent reduction in budget, the Coast Guard is working better and more efficiently than before. Nevertheless, there were three vessels tied up to the wharf.

From what you say, Mr. Dempsey, it does not sound so stupid to have a respond mode rather than have the vessel out at the far end of an area patrolling and find out that the need was at the other end.

I would be interested in your views. I think what I am hearing on the other side of it is that clearly we do have vessels that are mothballed, non-operational, because of crewing deficiencies or funding deficiencies. Am I right?

Mr. Fox: If they are tied to the wall, there is no presence on the sea.

Senator Meighen: Yes, I understand that.

Mr. Fox: You do not have a Coast Guard. As Senator Banks said, people will adopt the attitude that it is ``just'' the Coast Guard, so there is no need to worry, and they will go full speed ahead. You do not have a presence. You do not have a mandate either. If the vessels are not even there, then you have nothing.

Senator Meighen: Why are they not out there?

Mr. Fox: They are not out generally because there is no funding. We can provide you with documentation where it is clearly stated that the vessels are not sailing because there is no money for fuel.

Senator Meighen: I may be wrong, but I believe I detected approval in Mr. Dempsey's voice. Perhaps it is wise to have the vessels tied up to a wharf, but ready to sail at a moment's notice if, as and when an emergency arises. Am I wrong on that? Do you subscribe to Mr. Fox's view that the vessels should be sailing around in circles and providing a presence?

Mr. Dempsey: I think he was just clarifying the point that the vessels were in a ready mode, not necessarily in a code lay-up mode. Code lay-up means that it is, shut down. Nothing is hot and running.

Senator Meighen: If the Coast Guard has a patrol area of 500 miles to look after and a small vessel happens to get into trouble and the Coast Guard is called for assistance, it would be very nice if the Coast Guard vessel happened to be in the vicinity of the small vessel.

Then again, perhaps the call could come from a vessel near the harbour at Saint John River where a Coast Guard vessel is located and it could respond. I can understand that there is no definitive answer as to the best way to do it.

However, if you are talking about the safety and security of this country, then the patrol mode is what you want. You want people to be able to see the red and white out there patrolling the waters of Canada, because you will not get a telephone call from a terrorist saying, ``Hey, I am on my way in.'' What should happen is that a Coast Guard vessel on patrol should be able to locate that vessel and start asking questions. If they are tied to the dock, they cannot do that, but if they are on patrol, they can, especially if they have a clear mandate to do that. That can only come from gentlemen such as yourselves.

Mr. Fox: The audit report on fleet management outlines the exact nature of the problem with the vessels here when they were posted east and west. Now, instead of being out patrolling, they are tied to the dock. How can you provide an effective SAR service if the vessel is tied up and not close to where it is needed or possibly needed?

As to deterrents, I guess it is like deterring speeding on the 401. If you have a police presence, the speed limit will come down because people know there is a consequence. Here, we have no consequence. There are no cops on the water.

I read the RCMP report where they I talk about a new catamaran. Off Sable Island in heavy seas, I do not think that would be adequate. It might be able to do some minor intelligence work along the shore, but not major operations on the ocean.

Senator Atkins: How much does new technology affect the role of your membership?

Mr. Fox: New technology in regards to surveillance?

Senator Atkins: The refitting of ships, training, and all of that.

Mr. Fox: Currently, we have no fleet renewal program. That is another problem with the Auditor General's report. That has to come with a renewed mandate. Whatever the future of the Coast Guard is going to be, we need to design a fleet that will meet all of the needs of this century.

As far as technology is concerned, that is, radar systems, satellite surveillance or whatever, they are certainly beneficial, but it has been proven time and time again by numerous coast guards around the world, that you still need that on-scene command. You still need a vessel of some sort to intercept and do physical searches or whatever is required.

Senator Banks: Mr. Chairman, I just have to observe for the record that today in Halifax, somebody has led us down a garden path.

The Chairman: Not just today, senator. I think we were led down the garden path a couple of months ago, as well.

I would like to put a couple of quick questions to our witnesses.

It seems clear to everyone that there are real funding problems with the organization. We heard earlier today from the officials that your new ships are 18 years old and your old ships are 35 to 40 years old. You have no disagreement with the fact that you need funding and you need new ships, to attend buoys, to do search and rescue, and to perform the functions that you perform today; is that fair? Are all three of you agreed on that?

As to the structure of the Coast Guard or its proper place, I would just comment that we heard from representatives of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, which is an independent agency with its own Minister. It reports to Parliament through that Minister.

I get the impression that you do not like the navy because it has a military culture. You do not like DFO because you think they are taking your dough. Maybe I am over-simplifying what I have been hearing, but is that generally your view?

Mr. Fox: DFO does not have a good rapport with its own client base, the fishers, enforcement, whatever. However, we had incidents where Coast Guard people were harassed going to wharves to do nav-aids work because they had a DFO insignia on the vessel. We had to change vessel insignia. That is the type of thing that happened.

We were a well-respected organization amongst the people who depend on us. That cultural change hurt us.

The Chairman: If you had a constabulary role, you would want to have proper training and proper equipment. There is also the compensation factor. As I understand it, you do your training in Regina at ``Depot'' Division, which I am sure warms the cockles of Senator Wiebe's heart. You also have a Coast Guard academy here in Cape Breton that could conduct courses of that nature and incorporate those as part of the training that you are required to take in any event.

Mr. Dempsey: Not when it comes to .50-calibre guns.

The Chairman: No, fair enough. However, the academy has a syllabus and it could be part of the course in question.

Mr. Dempsey: It could be, yes.

The Chairman: Whether the course is delivered in the Prairies or here, it could be delivered. The same people would probably do the training.

If you had a structure where you charged back to Fisheries for work you did for them, you could charge back to Environment for work you did for them.

Mr. Fox: We did that before the merger in 1995. That is exactly how we responded to other federal departments.

The Chairman: There is nothing new.

Mr. Fox: It would be nothing new.

The Chairman: If you had funding from Parliament for national security work and for your infrastructure, and you had your own headquarters, just like the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency has, would you have any problem with being tasked by the navy in the event of a national security issue? You may get a call out of Esquimault or Halifax saying that a national security problem has arisen and they may ask you to investigate a vessel.

Mr. Fox: We have had joint exercises with DND in the past for drugs and that type of thing. I do not see it as being a problem. From a security perspective, small-arms fire and boarding is one issue, but if you are talking about dealing with heavy-calibre weapons, that is the navy's job.

The Chairman: That is the navy's job.

Mr. Fox: Yes, but I do not see that as being a problem. We have already integrated on some of those issues on the West Coast.

Mr. Dempsey: I, for one, would fully agree. That is already taking place today. The navy and the Canadian Coast Guard are probably working a lot closer together, especially since 9/11, than they ever did in the past. I do not see a problem with that.

I would have a problem, however, if people started talking about making the Canadian Coast Guard a fully military type of operation. Then you would hear me squealing like a stuck pig. I do not see that happening, and I do not think that is what anybody is talking about here.

The Chairman: Nobody has suggested that here.

Thank you very much. It has been instructive. We appreciate you being here and talking to us today. If you have further material, we would be grateful if you would give it to the clerk.

The committee adjourned.