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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 15 - Evidence, April 23, 2007


OTTAWA, Monday, April 23, 2007

The Standing Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 10:20 a.m. to examine and report on the national security policy of Canada.

Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the chair.

[English]

The Chairman: This is a meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. Before we begin, I should like to briefly introduce the members of the committee.

On my immediate right is Senator Atkins, from Ontario, the deputy chair of the committee. He came to the Senate with 27 years of experience in the fields of communications. He served as senior adviser to former federal Conservative leader Robert Stanfield, to Premier William Davis of Ontario and to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

To his right is Senator Moore from Halifax. He is a lawyer with a record of community involvement. Senator Moore, who has served for 10 years on the board of governors of Saint Mary's University, also sits on the Standing Senate committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce and on the Standing Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

Beside him is Senator Ringuette from New Brunswick. She was the first francophone woman in New Brunswick to be elected to the Legislative Assembly, in 1987, and to the House of Commons in 1993. Outside of Parliament, she worked as a manager of the international trade development unit for the Canada Post Corporation. She is currently a member the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce and also sits on the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance.

On my left, from Alberta, is Senator Banks, who was called to the Senate following a 50-year career in the entertainment industry. He is chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.

Beside him, also from New Brunswick, is Senator Day. Senator Day is the chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. He is a member of the bars of New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec, a fellow of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada and a former president and CEO of the New Brunswick Forest Products Association.

Colleagues, we have before us today Mr. Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. Mr. Beatty is a corporate executive and former politician. He was elected to the House of Commons as a Progressive Conservative in 1972 and, in 1979, was appointed Minister of State for the Treasury Board. He held six additional portfolios in subsequent Progressive Conservative governments, including National Revenue in 1984, Solicitor General in 1985, National Defence in 1986, Health and Welfare in 1989, Communications in 1991 and Secretary of State for External Affairs in 1993. In 1995, Mr. Beatty was appointed president and CEO of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and held that position until 1999 when he became president and CEO of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, a business association that promotes the interests of Canadian industry and exporters. In January 2002, he became business co-chair of the Canadian Labour and Business Centre. In August 2005, he was appointed to the advisory council on national security.

Mr. Beatty, it is a pleasure to have you here. We look forward to hearing your statement.

Hon. Perrin Beatty, P.C., President and CEO, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters: Thank you very much. I have distributed a copy of my statement, but in the interests of time I shall truncate it slightly. If any member of the committee has questions or comments with regard to any element of what is before them, I would be glad to respond it.

First, let me thank you for the invitation to appear before the committee today. This committee has presented many examples of how the world has changed since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The impact upon institutions and individuals alike has been powerful and only the most naive would believe that we will soon return to how things were before.

In part, governments have responded by substantially increasing the identity requirements for individuals. My purpose here today is to underscore the urgent need for Canada's government to lead in developing sensible policies for secure identification systems that enhance public security, minimize the costs and inconvenience, and protect individual rights. The time for developing such policies is fast running out as jurisdictions on both sides of the border implement plans to establish systems that may meet the narrow requirements of the agency issuing the cards but risk wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and creating serious problems for businesses and citizens alike.

Two specific initiatives in the United States will dramatically change how we do business in travel — namely, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, WHTI, and the Real ID Act. The WHTI will require all travellers entering the United States to carry a passport or other approved secure identification. It is easy to understand and support the desire of the Americans to know who is crossing into their country; however, how this program will be made to work without causing serious problems is unclear.

Somewhere over 40 per cent of Canadians have passports, while only about 27 per cent of Americans have one. As a result, the WHTI has already made convention planners wary of scheduling events for Canada in case Americans will not go the trouble and expense to get documents needed to re-enter the United States.

The U.S. government has decided to allow NEXUS enrollees to present their cards instead of a passport under the program. Additionally, they have announced a stand-alone secure identification. The passport card will be a limited- use passport in card format for travel only via land or water between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.

Whether U.S. citizens will pay for a single-purpose card is at best uncertain as is how to manage these new ID requirements at key land border crossings that are often choked by the volume of vehicles they have to process today with less stringent standards. The Canada Border Services Agency has modelled the impact of these new requirements at a number of border points. To date, they cannot find a way to implement them at Windsor-Detroit without gridlock.

For its part, the Real ID Act will impose federal technological standards and verification processes on state driver's licences and other state-issued ID cards. Once the act comes into force, a federal agency may not accept, for any official purposes, a driver's licence or identification card issued by a state to any person unless the state is meeting the requirements specified in the Real ID Act.

This, for example, Mr. Chairman, would limit people's ability to get on federally regulated aircraft in the United States, even domestic flights, without ID that meets the standards of the Real ID Act.

On March 9, the Department of the Homeland Security estimated an implementation cost to states of $14.6 billion over the next 10 years. There is good reason to believe that estimate may be low.

While states may balk at implementing the new federal standards, both they and several Canadian provinces have drawn up plans for secure driver's licences and other security IDs. These new cards will be in addition to a range of secure cards being developed by airports, ports, government departments and private-sector organizations eager to meet government security requirements.

The direct cost to our two countries' taxpayers for these new systems will be in the billions. The true cost goes well beyond that, however. Individuals and organizations will have to file applications and provide supporting documents and pay processing fees and undergo interviews and security checks to obtain these cards. Without agreed-upon standards, we will see scores of stand-alone systems, each requiring personal data and fees to obtain a card.

Without common standards, organizations will choose technology that may not be compatible with similar systems elsewhere. The threat to personal privacy, the cost and the inconvenience will be enormous. In a few years, the folly of rushing into stand-alone systems may be evident. How many governments will announce that they should not have spent tens of millions of tax dollars on stand-alone systems that they now want to scrap so they can collaborate on something more rational?

The Canadian government has asked the Americans to delay implementing the WHTI to ensure that what is put in place works. Unfortunately, the U.S. response has been only partly positive and consultations with Canada on the requirements for crossing our common border have been inadequate.

Several provinces and states propose incorporating the data required by the WHTI into driver's licences that could be read by the new equipment being installed at the border. Here again, the U.S. has so far refused to implement such a system across the board. Last month, it did at least announce a pilot project in cooperation with Washington State. The U.S. will let Washington residents use an enhanced driver's licence at U.S. land and sea ports.

My concern is that Canada is in a reactive mode, responding to initiatives being taken in the United States, instead of developing a coherent, integrated vision of how we want to proceed. Unless we change course, the inevitable result will be the unchecked proliferation of secure IDs, each requiring its own application fee, its own security check, its own card and its own system for reading the cards. This situation threatens privacy at the same time as it creates enormous inefficiencies. Yet, unless coherent standards are developed, the process will accelerate and will soon be too late to prevent a much serious situation.

Think of a truck driver making deliveries into the United States. That process in itself will require several licences or examinations. If he makes stops in ports in either country or visits government facilities, we may add several more permits, security checks and fees to the process. If the driver is an immigrant, as is increasingly the case, the obstacles may become insuperable.

The U.S. is about to roll out the transportation worker identity credential, TWIC, starting with people who work at ports, including truck drivers. While the Transportation Security Administration has accepted that security checks done under the FAST program or for a U.S. driver to obtain hazardous materials endorsements on his or her licence will suffice for TWIC, transportation workers will still have to obtain a TWIC card at a cost that could reach U.S. $125.

My argument is not that we should lower security standards but that we must understand the impacts on the people and businesses that have to comply with them.

We all need to live in the real world. While privacy concerns may tempt us to oppose the development of any widespread secure ID systems, even if it is voluntary, succumbing to wishful thinking that you can somehow prevent secure IDs would ignore legitimate issues about public safety and cost us the ability to influence how systems are designed. Secure IDs are here today, and there will be more in the future. They offer important advantages for both security and convenience, but they need to be done right. I believe our most basic right to be protected from violence can be enhanced without destroying personal privacy.

Today, five and a half years after 9/11, it is still impossible to be sure that the person sitting next to you on an aircraft is the person he claimed to be when he presented his driver's licence. The Auditor General of Ontario, for example, reported in 2005 that at least one application had used a Costco card as a form of identification when applying for a driver's licence.

Last week, I obtained my NEXUS pass. I had to undergo a security screening, attend an interview and pay a fee, but it will facilitate my ability to cross the border, which is a trade off I consider worthwhile, although others might not make the same choice.

I believe we can develop standards for secure IDs that involve informed consent of individuals and adequate protection of people's personal data, while avoiding mandatory national IDs and the need to carry a wallet full of cards. If you share my view, what is it I hope you will recommend? Here are my suggestions.

First, I would recommend that the federal government designate a lead agency to coordinate policies and standards for secure ID systems at the federal level and work with other institutions considering developing their own secure ID systems.

Second, that development of secure ID systems should, wherever possible, be voluntary in nature, take place only where clearly defined needs and benefits exist, be designed with the protection of individual rights at their core, minimize cost and inconvenience to users and follow common technology and administrative standards to ensure that people who want to use their cards for different but compatible purposes can do so.

Third, it is time for a broad public discussion. Ottawa should convene stakeholders, including federal departments, interested agencies at other levels of government, privacy experts, international institutional users like universities, hospitals and businesses to develop guidelines lines describing when secure ID systems are necessary or desirable, what technologies or standards to employ, what interoperability between systems should exist, how to make such systems voluntary wherever possible, how to protect the security of the systems themselves and the privacy of individuals, and how to minimize the costs and inconvenience to individuals to businesses and to governments. The process should be open and transparent so the public understands what is being considered.

Fourth, we should urgently request the United States to enter into discussions with Canada to establish uniform standards and to delay further implementation of programs like the WHTI until common standards are developed.

Mr. Chairman, I realize these are ambitious goals, particularly given the time pressures under which we are operating. Some may argue that they are ambitious to the point of being unachievable. However, what is the alternative? If we do not act now, these new systems will be implanted without adequate regard for their cost, their effectiveness or their impact on individual rights.

We are playing catch-up. There is no guarantee that, even if we now develop a sense of urgency to put a rational system in place, we will have the time to do so. The only guarantee is that, if we do nothing, the price of our inaction will be severe.

Thank you.

The Chairman: Thank you Mr. Beatty. We will now move to questions.

Senator Banks: Good morning, Mr. Beatty. It is nice to see you again.

To a degree, this committee is guilty of contributing to the problem because we have been arguing for a long time about the necessity of more and clearer identification with biometrics and things that are easily certifiable and that cannot be forged. You are right, you have raised a horror story of people having to walk around with a wad of cards in their pockets in order to get through that door and go into that airplane and go to that country. It is a horror story.

We need to do the things you have recommended, but you have been in government, which I have not, and you know the difficulties. I am going to ask you how achievable they are.

I was on the Canada Council for nine years. One of the things we tried to do, beginning in the late 1980s, was to harmonize at least the first page of a grant application with similar grant applications that were made in the provinces. That still has not been done today.

As you have pointed out, many of these things are issued by provinces. Everyone says, yes, we must do that. However, do we really have a shot, because of the new urgency of getting the provinces — never mind the United States — to agree to sit down and do some sensible thing? If we make those recommendations, do we have a shot. Is there someone who can actually bring it off?

Mr. Beatty: I believe we do. I had the same experience, over my 21 years in Parliament, as you have had about the difficulty of ensuring coherence and coordination and getting the system to move. However, one thing I have found, in being an interested observer of this committee, is you are extremely effective in getting issues on the public agenda. This issue is not on the public agenda today and needs to be.

The starting point is this: The federal government needs to get its own house in order. It should appoint a lead agency or lead individual to take responsibility at the federal level for looking at the plethora of ideas being developed.

As we came into the building today, those of us who are guests were required to provide IDs. The quality of those IDs varied a great deal. I used a driver's licence, which is not a secure ID today. Others would have used other documents.

Federal agencies themselves have a wide range of different requirements, even for their own purposes. As the federal government then deals with the United States in developing identification requirements for crossing borders, as it deals with the private sector in terms of prescribing requirements they might have for security purposes, what we see is a crazy quilt of different standards being developed.

The temptation then, understanding that the IDs we have today are not secure, is to put in place a secure ID system. It is not secure ID cards alone but a whole costly and complex system that goes behind the card that makes it possible. These are being developed on a stovepipe basis, with agencies developing their own without talking to each other.

If the federal government were prepared to lead and designate a lead individual and agency, then I think there is still a chance. However, I am deeply worried that the window is closing on us very quickly, in particular because of the WHTI and the Real ID Act in the United States, which mandate specific timetables for the U.S. to move ahead. The U.S, at this point, has not been as responsive to Canadians concerns as they might be.

Finally, we have seen very good evidence on the part of provinces of their willingness to collaborate. Recently, the premiers of New Brunswick, Manitoba and Ontario were in Washington to meet with American officials, and particularly with state officials, to argue for the use of a driver's licence as a form of secure ID meeting the standards of the WHTI. We could incorporate whatever information was required, put citizenship on to the driver's licence. We have seen a real willingness on the part of provincial governments to find common standards; we now need leadership on the part of the federal government to bring people together.

Senator Banks: All this information that would serve the multiple purposes now can be fairly easily encrypted into my driver's licence, is that right?

Mr. Beatty: Yes.

Senator Banks: If I understood correctly, you said that Canada should proceed forthwith and set a good example. Surely it would not make any sense to do that unless we have the agreement of the United States, for example, that what we are putting into those cards — and the form of those cards — will be acceptable by them for their purposes. They have to be involved in this because of the nature of our two countries, is that correct?

Mr. Beatty: Yes; I would add, though, that we have two issues here. The first is that, domestically, we need to look at who is developing these systems and why. Are they necessary in the first place? If so, what sort of standards will apply, both in term technology and in terms of privacy and other elements?

Even domestically, we should be beginning to inventory the number of systems being developed and look at developing a common approach here. If we are going to use it for border crossing purposes, clearly we need to collaborate with the United States. It makes no sense for the card to be read by technology going one way across the border but not the other way, or where the data contained in the card is acceptable coming north but not going south.

Canada has indicated its willingness to collaborate closely with the United States. We have not had that sort of reciprocal interest being shown on the Americans' part to this point; nor, in my view, have we been sufficiently aggressive in making the case.

My great worry is that once you spend hundreds of millions of dollars on these systems, that window closes. What politician then says, ``That was a dumb thing to have done two years ago, let us rip it out and start again''? The window is closing rapidly.

Senator Banks: Canadians and Americans have a natural built-in antipathy to the idea of a mandatory card. It brings back images of people saying, ``May I see your papers, please,'' in situations that we do not like. However, things have changed. Are we not arguing for something that we have already lost? Do not most Canadians — I am sure there are exceptions — already have things that are required ID cards of one kind or another for one situation or another? Are not we arguing about angels on pins when we object to the idea of a national identity card?

Mr. Beatty: Most do, and most of us do not object to having cards for the purposes for which they are designed. I am arguing for a card that is more ubiquitous than what we have today, but I am one of those who do not like the idea of a mandatory citizen's ID card.

Senator Banks: How can you reconcile that with what you have said before — that we need to have these things?

Mr. Beatty: We need to have cards available. My argument is that it should be with the informed consent of individuals. If the cards are well designed, and they are designed to give a benefit to an individual participating in the program, there will be citizens voluntarily agreeing. People give information to get a driver's licence; they feel the benefit they get is worth the information they are giving.

I mentioned having gone for my NEXUS card, which is a very intrusive process. They will have done a police check on me, they have done iris scans of my eyes, they have fingerprinted me, and that data is now available out of the country to the U.S. government. On balance, it was a concession I was prepared to make for greater facility in crossing the border. Other Canadians would reject that and not feel prepared to do that. If that is so, God bless them. They get in line and take their time, and they cannot participate in the programs.

I am perhaps particularly sensitive on this issue because in my former constituency, when I was first elected to Parliament, we had an order of Mennonites who, for religious reasons, believed deeply that it was an infringement on religious rights and a threat if they were forced to get into a universal numbering system. This posed problems with any government insurance program, but we found ways of getting around that and managing.

In my view, the vast majority of Canadians would say, yes, if the systems are well designed and the benefits are clear, it is a trade-off I am prepared to make. However, the principle should be one of informed consent.

The Chairman: This sounds a little like the sign you see when you are lining up to go through security at the airport, where they say that you do not have to be searched if you do not want to fly on the plane; however, if you choose to fly on the plane, then there is going to be a search. In essence, you are saying that it is that sort of volunteer thing. If someone would prefer to take a train, the individual does not have to be searched; but if the person wants to fly, he or she is volunteering to be searched. Am I interpreting you correctly?

Mr. Beatty: I would phrase it somewhat differently. It is an interesting analogy and there is some validity to that. There will be people who choose not to take the plane simply because they find the system too intrusive or stressful.

In the case I am referring to, there may be people who — literally for religious reasons — believe it would be violating their obligation to God by taking this sort of program, or possibly by taking a train. In those instances, we should allow people the option.

Does the government want to engage in the sort of fight we would be getting into, even if it were desirable — and I would argue it is not — to have mandatory ID cards, citizenship cards for every citizen? Do we want to engage in that that polarizing debate or look for a system we could move on much more quickly and with less contention in the country?

The Chairman: The bottom line is that you want people to sign up because they see an advantage to themselves, rather than because they have to.

Mr. Beatty: That is exactly right.

Senator Day: Perhaps I could begin by asking you to define the two programs — NEXUS and FAST — and to explain how they work.

Mr. Beatty: In essence, these are trusted traveller programs that enable people in institutions who have gone through proper checks in terms of security to receive fast passage across the border. They are based on the correct premise, on which the Canada Border Services Agency has been very progressive and a leader in North America, that the vast majority of border crossings of both cargo and travellers are absolutely legitimate. The threat is not coming from 99 per cent of the crossings but from 1 per cent of the crossings. The issue is determining the best way to find the proverbial needle in the haystack, and the theory on that is to shrink the size of the haystack. If you can identify the certain travellers or certain users of customs and border services that are very low risk because they are prepared to meet stringent standards, then you can take them out of the equation and focus the limited security resources on the areas of high risk. In that way, you dramatically increase your ability to capture people who are genuinely dangerous or to get your hands on dangerous cargo.

This is one area where Canada is ahead of the United States. There are still political pressures in the U.S. Congress to harden the Canada-U.S. border. My concern is that we are in a defensive fight in this sense. We are saying to the Americans that we would like the border to be less difficult, less sticky and less costly than they would like it to be. However, the political incentives in Washington are to throw security resources at the forty-ninth parallel.

During my time in Parliament as Minister of Defence, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Solicitor General and Minister of National Revenue, I was responsible for the border, in one capacity or another, for most of the security agencies in the country. Even a country as rich as the United States does not have all of the security resources that it would like to have. If it spends those resources badly and wastes them, then it does not have the resources available to spend on the areas of highest risk. FAST and NEXUS help to manage risk so that resources can be targeted in those areas.

Senator Day: That would make sense. You said that it is a Canadian initiative more than it is a U.S. buy-in.

Mr. Beatty: On FAST and NEXUS, there is a complete buy-in. I understood last week that senators might want to ask questions more broadly about some of the work that we are doing on the border. As a representative of the business community, I have concern with the debate in the United States where the focus is still very much on the forty- ninth parallel. We need to push out the focus on security to the approaches to North America. We want to know what kind of cargo is entering North America before it reaches our shores and to know about individuals before they arrive here. We need to develop good, collaborative criminal and security intelligence to identify people that pose a threat before they attempt to cross the forty-ninth parallel. I am not arguing for erasing security at the border, but if we spend all of our resources on the one chance that as people cross the line at the forty-ninth parallel we will catch a terrorist, then we are misallocating our resources.

Last fall, there was a proposal by a congressman from Georgia to station 8,000 or 10,000 national guardsmen, I believe, on the Canada-U.S. border. Ask the U.S. chief of the defence staff whether, if 10,000 more soldiers were available to provide for the security of the United States, he would think it best to station them along the border or elsewhere. The incentives in Washington are to harden the border and look after its own security.

Collaboratively, we need to find a new equation that will allow us to provide not only for the common security of America but also a border that is transparent for legitimate travellers and cargo.

Senator Day: Most of this is being driven by the Government of the United States, as opposed to the state governments, in particular those that border Canada along the forty-ninth parallel. A cynic might suggest that the WHTI is a non-tariff barrier and is simply a way for the U.S. government to try to balance its serious trade problem.

I understand that the WHTI is entirely U.S.-driven, that it was not in consultation with Canada or Mexico, but it is impacting strongly on trade at both borders. Do you share the view that there is something more sinister here than just a straight out desire for security?

Mr. Beatty: I do not believe, senator, that it would be the primary motive for bringing these programs in, but it is an ancillary effect for these programs that does not upset some people.

For example, if companies are making an investment decision in North America about where to put a plant and if the customers are in the United States and the company will be functioning on a just-in-time basis to get its goods to the customer, then the investor will have to decide whether it makes sense to locate on the side of the border. If unexpected border delays occur from time to time, which could be very costly, the investor might decide to locate closer to his customer on the other side of the border. Would all people be upset about that? Perhaps they would not be. Do I think that is the primary motivation? No.

There is a greater sense of urgency to correct this in Canada because the stakes are higher for Canada than they are for the United States. Canada's trade with the United States is more important to Canada than is U.S. trade with Canada to them. As a result, there is greater urgency for Canada to address this issue and to be the demander to put solutions in place.

Senator Day: Still, it is a major impact on the U.S. because Canada is a trading partner of more than 30 American states.

Mr. Beatty: That is right.

Senator Day: Although you are right that Canada has more to lose than the U.S., many American states have more to lose than others.

Mr. Beatty: Yes. For example, the Coalition for Secure and Trade-Efficient Borders, which I chair, has done a back- of- the-envelope calculation. I stress that this is not a scientific calculation. A North American car will pass across the border in various stages of production six to eight times. Each time it does so, it is attracting compliance costs and delays, all of which add to the retail price of the vehicle. The back-of-the-envelope calculation that we did suggests that the cost could be as high as $800 per vehicle made in North America. In contrast, a vehicle made offshore and shipped to North America on a cargo ship rolls off the ship in North America once and, therefore, attracts these costs only once.

Putting our North American industrial base at such a disadvantage is dumb — there is no other description for it. We need to find a smarter way of doing things. Yet, the way in which we have designed our security system today disadvantages North American industry both in Canada and in the United States and gives advantage to our offshore competitors.

Senator Day: Is this information anecdotal or do have evidence from studies to determine, from the point of view of manufacturers' decisions to locate a plant in Canada or in the United States — do you have hard evidence that this committee could use when talking to our U.S. counterparts about the impact on industry and trade?

Mr. Beatty: Yes. We can give indications that this has had serious impacts in terms of costs for businesses operating in North America. If you were to ask me whether I can prove that an investment that was not made is attributable to this, it would be impossible to prove in the negative. However, having talked to members of the business community, I have heard that when they are making a business investment, they look at their projected total cost. In a just-in-time environment, they want to ensure that where they have a contractual obligation to their customer, they will be there.

Where you put down an automotive assembly plant for one hour, the cost is about $1 million per hour for doing so. You can have, literally, seats coming down one side of the border to be matched with a chassis coming down on the other side.

The issue will not be what the average wait time is but whether you have absolute certainty that there will not be a spike that will catch that particular shipment and cause you to miss your contractual obligations to your partner across the border.

Will it affect investment decisions? Simple logic would say there is no reason to believe it would not. When looking at tens of millions of dollars being at stake potentially, it would be foolish for a company not to consider the potential impacts.

Senator Day: When you talk about increased costs, what about the truckers from Canadian plants going to the U.S. and our immigration policy that might be somewhat more liberal than the U.S. so that some truckers are not able to obtain or have the type of security that U.S. border people want to see? Are we seeing that now?

Mr. Beatty: Yes, we are, very much so. It is a growing issue, particularly with the number of new Canadians joining the trucking industry. There is a serious shortage of truckers today. Increasingly, people in the industry are immigrants to Canada. Often, that causes problems for them in terms of getting permission to enter the U.S.

There are the regulatory issues involving individuals, delays, the drive-up costs as you have a truck as well as a truck driver idling and the plethora of security checks and IDs required, each of which creates an administrative and financial burden for the truckers and the companies that employ them.

Senator Day: Going back to your main thesis that we must be proactive and negotiate with the U.S. in relation to standards, is it logical that we will be able to achieve any type of consensus when at least some of the requirements that they are imposing do not fit in with our immigration policy and our labour force in Canada?

Mr. Beatty: Will there be a degree of stickiness at the border? Yes, there will be. I am not one who argues that we can simply adopt the European system, for example, and have complete mobility in that sense, because we want to maintain separate visa policies in Canada from the United States and decide for ourselves who will be entitled to come to Canada.

There will still be a security presence on the forty-ninth parallel, even under the most optimistic scenario, but can we manage the border in a more intelligent way than we are today? The answer is yes to that as well.

The border as we know it and have conceived it in a seventeenth century conceptualization, namely, as a line on a map, is obsolete. A better description of what constitutes a border is where two sovereignties intersect. That could be in cyber space.

An argument I have made to the Americans is that it was not their border with Canada that was the problem in 9/ 11. It was their border with Frankfurt, Germany, when people got on the planes there. Simply drawing a line along the physical boundaries of the United States is not the best way to deal with that.

There will still be a security presence at the border, as there should be. We will still have separate policies, but we need to find a more intelligent way of managing the border, particularly given the fact that most of the key border crossings are over or under bodies of water and we cannot simply slap on new lanes. The infrastructure we are using dates back to our grandparents' day.

Senator Atkins: Do you agree that one of the problems we are facing, regardless of what system we adopt, is that it takes too long and is too cumbersome?

Mr. Beatty: Yes.

Senator Atkins: Most Canadians do not know a lot about the problems people face in terms of cross-border activity, but they know that it is difficult to get a passport. You are talking about lineups where people must get up in the middle of the night, are at the office for hours and are lucky, when they get through the line, if they walk away with a passport. How in heaven's name can we address those kinds of issues in processing that will be important? If you could address it, people's attitudes about border crossing would change.

Mr. Beatty: That is very much the case. There are no easy answers or else governments would have adopted them already. We need only to look at last January. It was some of the requirements of the WHTI, which is not fully implemented today, that gave us a run in our passport offices and they were simply badly backlogged.

In my case, I wrote to apply for a NEXUS card because I travel enough to the United States for it to make sense to do that. It was almost two months by the time my application came back. I was fortunate to get an interview, and things progressed well last week. It is a slow process. That is the case even without the full requirements of WHTI being in place, and still only a minority of Canadians and Americans have passports today.

It is worth your taking the time to speak to Canada Border Services Agency about it. That agency has a sophisticated model of key border crossings. I may not be current, but when I last spoke to them, they could not find a way of implementing WHTI at Windsor-Detroit without gridlock. The design of the system is important. It is clear the Americans will require higher standards of identification going to the United States. If we attempt to fight that, it is a losing fight. They have a legitimate right to know who is entering their country.

The question is whether the system design will work and how it will process. Even the passport card I talked about will cost money. Will people in the United States pay that money just to get a card because they want to come occasionally to Canada to watch a minor league game? Probably they will not. Will they then likely take an old fashioned passport? If they have one, they probably will. There will be others of us with NEXUS cards or other fast- track procedures, but if you cannot get to the lane because you are behind Aunt Molly taking the three kids down to Disney World, all of them looking for the right ID, then a bottleneck is created that ties everything up.

There are serious privacy issues here. One issue with the WHTI requirements is whether you have to slap the card on a plate as a reader, or can it be read through RFID from a distance. With respect to RFID, have the privacy concerns been properly addressed? My argument is not against secure IDs or against improvements to border securities; my argument is do it right. Let us not put in place systems that make us less secure or are so cumbersome and costly that they are an undue burden on businesses and individuals or systems that simply cause gridlock.

Senator Atkins: You talk about the cost of any system. Do they not pass on the costs to the consumer in these cases? Does that not reduce the overall cost of processing?

Mr. Beatty: Are you referring to businesses here?

Senator Atkins: Yes, I am.

Mr. Beatty: To the extent they can, they do. In the manufacturing sector, manufacturers are under such severe pressure today that they do not have pricing capacity often where they can set market price. They are dealing with having to meet the China price.

What happens if suddenly input costs, whether for stickiness at the border or for new permits or for energy go up in Canada? They still must meet the price that Chinese and other imports will be setting in the market when they get there.

If you try to pass along those costs, you may simply find you have priced yourself out of the market. As I mentioned earlier, having our highly integrated automotive sector pass across the border several times, thereby discriminating against our North American industrial base in favour of imports, is so self-defeating.

Senator Atkins: In terms of manufacturing in Ontario, the auto industry would probably represent 70 per cent, would it not?

Mr. Beatty: It is probably not that high, but certainly it is high in Ontario.

Senator Atkins: It is totally dependent on cross-border traffic, is it not?

Mr. Beatty: Very much so.

Senator Atkins: Therefore, are you telling me that these suppliers are hiring drivers that are probably not Canadian citizens and they are the ones taking these trucks through the borders?

Mr. Beatty: Often. It is the nature of our workforce. By 2010, all of the real growth in our workforce will come from immigration. Increasingly, whether in the trucking industry or in other industries, people staffing our businesses will be new Canadians.

Senator Atkins: How do they deal with that on the American side of the border?

Mr. Beatty: In some cases, the fact is that people who are authorized to drive in Canada cannot get into the United States as a result of immigration requirements. We also have problems under U.S. Department of Defense requirements in terms of who we can employ in Canadian factories working on defence contracts. There is an element of extraterritoriality of U.S. law that is of concern.

Senator Atkins: Is that a new phenomenon?

Mr. Beatty: Yes. To the extent we see it today, it is certainly new, for a couple of reasons. First, there is the growing concern about security in the United States and new requirements being put in place; and second, there is the dramatic change in the nature of our workforce, where increasingly our workforce is comprised of new Canadians. It is an issue of growing concern for Canadian businesses.

Senator Atkins: Out of curiosity, how much did it cost you for a NEXUS card?

Mr. Beatty: That is a very good question. I frankly forget what I paid for that. However, it was worth it. I paid it back in January.

Senator Atkins: Now that you have it, what if you became a bad guy? How do they check you out?

Mr. Beatty: The card disappears very quickly if I do. One of the things they presented me with when I received the NEXUS card, and it was vintage government program, was a list of all of the things that could get my card taken away. They made it clear the card was a privilege. For example, about 3 per cent of the time I will be automatically referred to secondary inspection when coming through. If it is found I have not declared something, even on a minor basis, I would lose my card. Any other infraction would cause me to lose my card. If I did not keep my data up to date, if I were to move and not keep them informed, I could lose the card. In any of these instances where they are aware that there is any issue related to full compliance of the individual, the card would be cancelled.

Senator Atkins: You have to be a good boy.

Mr. Beatty: Yes. I was at a conference put on by the consulate in Atlanta about three weeks ago dealing with border issues. One of the folks there had his NEXUS card; I did not have my card at that point. The irony is that he said he had been referred to secondary inspection more frequently since getting the NEXUS card than he did before. It may simply be coincidence, but he said that that had been the net effect for him.

Senator Atkins: That is my view of what happens when you carry a green passport.

Mr. Beatty: That may be so.

The Chairman: For those watching, a green passport is a special passport as opposed to the blue regular passport.

Senator Ringuette: As a result of our large volume of trade with the U.S., of whom you represent a good portion of Canadian exporters, have you looked at what this will cost to the businesses you represent?

Mr. Beatty: Are you referring to secure ID cards or border management more broadly?

Senator Ringuette: I am looking at the transportation issue that you have to look into. It is the mode of shipping to the U.S.

Mr. Beatty: Yes.

Senator Ringuette: Train traffic will probably have fewer problems. However, the trucking industry will suffer quite a lot.

Mr. Beatty: If I had made a fifth recommendation, it would have been precisely dealing with that. I wanted to keep my recommendations as tightly focused as possible. The fifth recommendation would have been that the Government of Canada commission an economic impact study of the impact of the WHTI on Canada. The Americans are required to look from the American point of view of what the regulatory and the economic impacts are of new regulations. What there is not today is what I believe is good, powerful data indicating serious impact.

The obvious question is: Do the Americans care if costs are being driven up in Canada? Going back to Senator Day's question, if it becomes more costly to do business in Canada is it advantageous to look elsewhere? The competition that Ontario has today for new automotive plants is largely coming from the southern United States. If the southern states are competing for a new automotive plant, will those states be as upset as we will if the border becomes sticky? Maybe not.

I believe it would be very helpful for the Government of Canada to commission a full economic impact analysis of WHTI and of some of these other measures with the credibility the Government of Canada could lend to it. In the private sector, we would collaborate closely to help provide the data. The question then is how to persuade our colleagues on the other side of the border who set the requirements that they should be concerned about the impact in Canada.

Senator Ringuette: What I do not understand are the requirements that they have put in those two acts in regard to Canadians. However, in the last month, the President has vetoed allowing Mexican truck drivers and their loads free access to the U.S. without any security requirements. That has created an entire uproar in some U.S. transportation sectors.

Why are they putting these requirements on us and not on the Mexicans? We are still one of the three partners in NAFTA.

Mr. Beatty: I cannot comment on the southern border other than to say that for the most part this border is easier to cross than the southern border. If the Mexicans were here, they would argue that whatever issues we have in terms of the Canada-U.S. border they have exponentially greater there. However, I cannot comment on that particular element.

What I would point out to you and your colleagues from Atlantic Canada is the way in which your region has been hit by the agricultural inspection fees the Americans unilaterally put in place, without consultation with Canada — I do not believe that was designed to be a protectionist measure but rather a revenue grab. It cuts particularly hard on economies like Atlantic Canada.

Another one they attempted to do, which was through a lack of understanding rather than malice, was when they were initially proposing bioterrorism regulations that required 24-hours notice of agricultural food products going into the United States, a captain leaving Charlottetown to go lobster fishing needing to get his lobster onto the market in the United States within 24 hours could not predict when he left port what he would be having and alert the American authorities of exactly what the catch would be. Here again, we are finding if not the design then the impact of a number of these measures has a protectionist effect going to the U.S. market.

When looking at the trucking issue with Mexico, having just said that I was not really in a position to comment, I think you will find that much of the debate in the United States relates to the trucking industry in the United States and its competition with the trucking industry in Mexico. It is an issue of industrial competition.

Senator Ringuette: One of the pieces of communication I read in regards to this issue is that there are no rigorous or standardized security requirements, whether it is with the driver itself and the standards of training or security or the content of the truckload.

There were no specific requirements in regards to the security. It went even further to look into the equipment being used that is not standard security-wise for the road in the U.S. That is a major issue in itself, because we are looking at competitive arguments tied to security.

I have a question in regards to NEXUS and the FAST card. Who owns and operates those two security programs?

Mr. Beatty: Our two federal governments jointly in Canada and the United States, so they are common standards that are used. It is important to ensure that whatever standards you meet going south work coming north as well, so these are two areas where the programs are well designed and are functioning well. In the case of the NEXUS card, they will need another iteration of that as they start using it for WHTI purposes because, as the card is technologically designed today, it does not meet the technological standards WHTI will mandate, so I will need to get a new card at some point.

Senator Ringuette: You were saying that the diversity of programs being put in place in the different states are all over the field. We see the same situation in Canada, where the Government of Canada is not really assuming a leadership role in regards to having a standard for all Canadian residents. This is twofold. There is the ID situation, which is handled with the Canadian passport nationally; and then there is the security issue, which is not part of the Canadian passport.

Then we have a third way of nationally identifying Canadians, social insurance number, which is different program. As you were saying, I am just wondering if we should not be using that social insurance number in Canada to reach all Canadians and establish a national standard regarding security and identity.

Mr. Beatty: My argument would be that we should not focus so much on what card we are using but the requirements we are using and the protections in place. If biometrics are required, what biometrics? How do they need to be read? For what purposes should any card be used?

There may be an argument that for personal privacy reasons your border crossing card should not be used to contain your medical records for the provincial government, and it might make sense to have two. Let us begin to inventory what purposes we need these cards and what standards need to be met.

As an argument in favour of developing the standards and secure IDs that make sense, let us say you get onto a plane. When you fly back home to New Brunswick, you will see people giving two documents. One is a driver's licence, which is not secure. The other document you will see is a passport being used for domestic travel purposes within Canada. Canadian passports are coveted documents by international terrorists and criminals because they are so widely accepted around the world. Do we want people to be carrying their passports around, documents easily lost out of pockets or purses? For example, kids going into bars to demonstrate that they are of age, is the passport a document we want them carrying to do that? A very strong argument can be made that, for the benefit of our citizens, we need to have good forms of identification they can use to demonstrate their citizenship or age or whatever.

Using passports for internal purposes within Canada is exactly the wrong thing to do, in my view. We need to think these things through. We need to do so in a way that encourages the greatest possible potential integration and make it as user friendly as possible for individuals and businesses.

Again, I would use the example of the truck driver, a driver's licence permit to carry hazardous materials; permits if he is going from port to port, maybe separate stand-alone permits for those; if he is going to federal buildings, maybe having to have separate ones there — all requiring separate checks, often with one agency not accepting the check that was done by another. With the commensurate cost to taxpayers and individuals and the potential threat to privacy, we need to think this through and do it right but with a sense of urgency.

Senator Ringuette: As a university student, I worked for a few summers at a border crossing in Edmunston. A lot of families live across the border. I foresee an economic impact if this is not resolved, for New Brunswickers, for the state of Maine and for all of Atlantic Canada. Most of the stuff being shipped from Atlantic Canada to the U.S. is done through New Brunswick and through the state of Maine. This is very serious, and I want to thank you for your comments.

Senator Moore: Thank you, Mr. Beatty, for being here.

My first question was going to be the one that Senator Atkins asked about the cost of your NEXUS card.

Mr. Beatty: That was the most embarrassing question today.

Senator Moore: Are they not $125? I think they are a bit more expensive than a passport, which is $85, I believe.

Mr. Beatty: The only calculation I remember is thinking that this is a bargain if it can eliminate some of hassles at the border.

Senator Moore: Why did you apply for a NEXUS card? Was it to expedite your passage through the air terminal when crossing borders?

Mr. Beatty: Yes.

Senator Moore: Has that proven helpful?

Mr. Beatty: I just received it last week; but yes, that is precisely why I got it.

Senator Moore: Rather than go in the usual line with your passport?

Mr. Beatty: Yes. In an airport, I will be able to have an iris scan done. The scan will be checked against a database, see that I am the individual approved by the program, and I will be whisked through as a result. It will be particularly helpful, given the unpredictability of security at customs at airports today. We have all been in circumstances where we have been watching our watches closely and seeing the spectre of the plane taking off without us.

Senator Moore: Some of your comments were interesting. They made me think of some work we have done in the past. I am chairman on our Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. I am also active in the Canada-U.S. interparliamentary group, and we started work on this WHTI program in 2005, going to meetings in the U.S., trying to convince the authorities on that side of the border to slow down because of the impact on not just Canadians but also Americans who find themselves in Canada not being able to get back home. It is a huge problem. What do you want us to do with these people? You will have to have them in a second facility until they prove who they say they are before we let them back.

I was at a national meeting last summer of the state government, so they are all state representatives and state senators. Michael Chertoff was a speaker, and he impressed upon them the need for standardization of criteria, for example, in a driver's licence to be issued by each state. It was interesting to watch the process. I was watching American colleagues work on this and they made it clear they would not accept that. The individual states are very autonomous. They revere their individuality, and they said that they were not about to get hooked into another program where the federal government tells them what to put in place. ``The federal government does not put the money up and they expect us to carry the cost of doing all of that.''

I do not know if you will get the cooperation that would be desirable from our neighbours in the south. In Canada, we have our provinces and territories to deal with; the mindset down there is a totally different one. Their country was formed on a different basis. We can sit there at meetings, but cannot tell them what to do; that is for sure. You might even try to suggest the economies that would be gained, but that does not cut it, either. It is just, ``This is our state and this is how we do things. That is the way it will be.'' Do you have a comment on that?

Mr. Beatty: Most of the push back at the state level is against the Real ID Act; I mentioned cost implementing that program. It is a staggering cost, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and that is probably below the estimate that the states have as to what cost would be.

In the case of WHTI, the states cannot prevent the WHTI from coming into effect; that is an area of federal jurisdiction. You are seeing Canadian provinces — the three key ones being New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Ontario most recently down in Washington lobbying; and British Columbia, dealing with its counterpart in Washington State, will probably participate in the program — saying, ``We are prepared to set reasonable standards and to design our driver's licences in a way that they can be used to meet the technological and data requirements under WHTI, if you in the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security will accept that. On the American side, you will find an interest in that, particularly initially on the part of border states participating. That is particularly useful when you look at the automotive sector, for example, where so much the business being done is Ontario-Michigan and Ontario- New York. I would be pragmatic about this. We cannot force the 50 states to participate, nor can we wait for all them to agree to do it. However, with border states in particular, the states whose economies are most directly affected by cross-border traffic will voluntarily show an interest. If Hawaii or Louisiana is slower, that is their choice; let them come in on their own time. Let us deal with the vast volume of traffic that we are dealing with today to accelerate things. I think you would find good collaboration by both Canadian provinces and border states.

Senator Moore: This still relates to your comments. Before the Banking Committee last year, we had officials from the Canadian Border Services Agency. They had been to the U.S. trying to work with their counterparts to get some suggested standard of criteria to be put into a card that would be acceptable, but they could not get cooperation from the U.S. side.

Mr. Beatty: That is accurate.

Senator Moore: They would not say even what they intended to do with their PASS card. Perhaps they were afraid of giving up technological information as to how they were implanting it. That seemed to be a real rub. They were not forthcoming, and then we heard there would be two types of PASS card. One was a proximity card, meaning that approaching the border you show the card and it would read it. The other was a vicinity card, which could be shown maybe 100 yards back; the card would be read and you would be permitted to cross the border.

There was then the matter of putting a radio signal into the card, which could be read from great distances. It then became a matter of violation of privacy. You could have friends visiting you in Ontario who would have this card and they could be tracked as to where they were shopping, whether they were shopping or dining or this sort of thing. Have you had any feedback or information on that?

Mr. Beatty: Yes.

Senator Moore: The ambassador said that the violation of privacy is the main concern and their biggest obstacle in trying to achieve some type of card.

Mr. Beatty: Yes, and it goes beyond privacy. For example, if someone bounced a signal off a card, it would advertise the nationality of an individual. Hence, a security issue arises; someone travelling abroad might be looking to kidnap an American or Canadian.

The technology used in these is very important. There are two issues. First are the choke points we are talking about. If you wait before reading a card until someone is up at the booth, you will create a bottleneck that will extend miles back from the border. We must find ways of technology that will read from some distance. The other is the concern for security and privacy. It is technologically possible to have an on-off switch on these cards. Basically, when you are going to use them, you enable them. When you are not going to use them and you do not want them to be read, they can have a cut-off.

The committee might want to look at an excellent facility that I intend to visit, namely, a demonstration and research facility being run for radio frequency ID north of Toronto. I think it is in Markham, unless I am mistaken. IBM, GS1 and others participate in that and they are doing fine work there. You would probably find it worthwhile to familiarize yourselves with the technology that is available, because a range of issues will arise.

Senator Moore: This is technology that would be implanted in a card?

Mr. Beatty: Yes; or in a passport, for that matter. You may have a regular paper-type passport that will include this as well.

This brings us back to my central points: We need secure IDs — in other words, we need to know that people are who they claim to be — but we need to think through the technology, the biometrics, the security, privacy protection, who will have access, what purposes will they be used for, and develop a coherent strategy on an urgent basis so that we are not doing remedial action after the fact and say, ``Why did we not think about the potential threat to security for an individual for privacy here?''

In the preface to your question, you mentioned the difficulty that CBSA was having getting information from the Americans this time last year. One reason for that was that the Americans were preparing and publishing their regulations and their law limits their ability to consult, which was a source of great frustration to Canadians who want to be consulted before the publication. We do have good allies in the United States. My counterpart, Governor John Engler, the former governor of Michigan, is the president of the National Association of Manufacturers. He has been a very strong and articulate voice for having a rational system at the border because he gets it and really understands it.

Senator Moore: One of the witnesses before our Banking Committee was Representative Louise Slaughter from the State of New York. She tabled legislation that would provide for the issuance of an ID card that would have minimal bits of information and would cost $20 and no more. A big part of this is whether or not an American family would spend $80, $90 or $100 for a passport or for a NEXUS card. I know their passports are valid for 10 years, as opposed to ours, which are valid for five years, but whether a family of four would spend $400 to get cards to come to Canada to vacation, for example, in beautiful Nova Scotia — they probably would not.

Do you know anything about that? Do you know the status of her proposal before the House of Representatives?

Mr. Beatty: I do not, but I am very much concerned about the issue of cost to individuals to apply for these things, because you can simply price them out of range. My fear is that the so-called PASS card will simply be too expensive and that most Americans will decide not to get it.

One issue that this committee must and no doubt has been wrestling with in all issues related to security is who pays? It is straightforward for me. Where you can demonstrate that an individual or a specific organization benefits, that individual or that organization should pay. If, on the other hand, there is a broader societal benefit that is coming from this, then it is appropriate that the cost should be spread more widely.

An example of where this has relevance is in regard to airport security charges. If the argument is that the charges are there for the benefit of people getting on aircraft, then it is entirely appropriate to keep all these costs on the travelling public. If, on the other hand, you had family in the World Trade Center on 9/11, you would likely have felt that having adequate security at airports was of a broader advantage to society as a whole and that it should not just be travellers who are carrying the burden.

As we design these cards, we should be asking ourselves whether they are designed for the benefit of the individual or for society more broadly, and then we should spread the cost more widely as well.

Senator Moore: I was interested in your comments to Senator Ringuette with regard to some of the economic impacts on Atlantic Canada as a result of regulations and the more stringent requirements to cross the border into the United States. Has your organization done a study on what the economic impact is or would be on Atlantic Canada?

Mr. Beatty: Not specifically, no. Here again, I would strongly support this committee recommending to the Government of Canada, particularly as it relates to WHTI but on some of these other measures as well, that it should commission a study as to the economic impact on the Canadian economy, including regional.

Senator Moore: I think you mentioned that in the U.S. it is $300 million or $500 million; once you hit that kind of impact, they must do a study, and processing of the proposed legislation has to await the completion of that study.

Mr. Beatty: One complaint that you heard from our officials in the case of the economic impact analysis done of WHTI is that it was too narrowly construed in the United States when they did the analysis, which is all the more reason we need to arm ourselves with good, solid data that we can put before the Americans.

I shall wear my CME hat for a minute. We have a highly integrated North American industrial base. So much of the cross-border traffic that we are doing is within companies themselves, General Motors to General Motors, or to Ford. We are not advantaging one country over the other in North America but discriminating against the North American industrial base in favour of offshore competition.

The argument we need to be able to make to the Americans is that this is bad economic policy. If we are worried about the survival of our industrial base, we must have policies that make sense.

The Chairman: Mr. Beatty, I should like to go back to your four recommendations and work through them. I will start with the fourth recommendation, establishing uniform standards. I really do not understand the RFID issue. I certainly understand the value of a customs booth getting the information ahead of time, but McDonald's solved that a long time ago by installing a microphone and menu three cars back, so they can prepare your order while you are waiting. Cards could be read literally by swiping them a long way back if someone chose to do that. You do not need to broadcast it and get into those sorts of issues.

You are urging uniform standards and suggesting in recommendation 4 that we enter into discussions with the United States on this. Do you really believe that is a fruitful course of action, given the size of the United States and the likelihood of their compromising the domestic trade-offs they have gone through already? Is it not more sensible for us to simply take a look at the system they have put in place and then find a way for a Canadian system to be compatible with it? We may not want to collect the same information; we may have information we need for our own purposes, but we can encode that and make that available to our reader machines and not to theirs.

Bottom line: Is it realistic and will you achieve your objectives in a timely way if one of the principle objectives you are after is starting the negotiations with the Americans on how to address cards?

Mr. Beatty: I believe it is realistic. Is there any guarantee? As I said in my remarks to you, there is no guarantee at all. The only guarantee is that if we do nothing we will find that others will set the standards without our participation.

The Chairman: I am not suggesting we do nothing; I am suggesting we simply take the standards. By ``standards,'' I am talking about the design of the system. We simply take their design of the system and then adapt the information on it to meet our own needs.

Mr. Beatty: When I say ``do nothing,'' I mean do nothing vis-à-vis the Americans. If we accept from the outset that they will prescribe the standard, we will accept whatever they prescribe.

The Chairman: They have done that.

Mr. Beatty: Yes, and we have been fiercely opposing that, but not as effectively as we should.

The Chairman: Very unsuccessfully.

Mr. Beatty: One reason for that is we do not have our own house in order in Canada.

The Chairman: Fair ball. However, we have watched an evolution in Congress. This committee visited with Representative Sensenbrenner when he chaired the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. In 2003, he wanted to consult. His opening position, which was key for us, was this: Let us consult and work out something in common with our allies to the north and elsewhere — the type of biometrics we like and so on.

Events overtook him and momentum built up. At the end of the day, the Americans decided, without consulting anyone. The idea of going back and getting them to push the toothpaste back in the tube seems to me to be challenging.

Which method is faster? How will we achieve the objectives you are proposing better than to say: Look, we want to be consulted as though we were the 51st state. We are as big as California. Make us part of the consultations.

Or will we get there faster by saying: We will accept your system and then we will put on the information that Canadians need to get into the United States, but we will also put on whatever information we want for our own purposes and encode it so that you cannot read it?

Mr. Beatty: It depends where ``there'' is when you ask whether we will ``get there faster.'' If it is simply having a system that is compatible with that of the United States and acceptable to them, the fast way is simply to accept whatever they prescribe. If, on the other hand, we want to shape the nature of the system itself and have something more reflective of Canada's needs or goals, then we must engage them. My argument is for engagement here. Are there any guarantees? No, but it is important that we do that.

The Smart Border accord was the Canadian initiative post-9/11. Thank heaven the Government of Canada had done very good work. One of the key people was George Haynal, who you may know. He had done good work well prior to 9/11, looking at how we might improve border management. It left Canada in the position after 9/11 of being the demandeur, saying to the United States: We have a Canadian solution that makes sense and that will help us to have better security and a more transparent border for legitimate individuals and commerce.

We were also the demandeur in the case of the free trade negotiations. It is a discussion for another day, but my experience in terms of our relationship with the United States is that when we are in reactive mode, we lose. It can be win-win. We win more broadly when we think things through ourselves first, decide what we would like to see that makes sense at the end of the day, and set it the context of presenting a win-win solution that is beneficial for both our countries, and go as the demandeur.

In this instance, my concern is the same as yours. They are under congressionally mandated time frames here and the administration is showing little interest at this point in terms of extending those deadlines. So the window is closing very rapidly.

The fundamental question is this: Is it worth our arguing in favour of having meaningful discussions with the United States to set these standards? My answer is yes, but time is fast escaping us to do it.

The Chairman: That brings me to your third recommendation, which is broad public discussion. It is a bit like the question: If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? Having a broad public discussion about this issue appears to be one of leaders of industry talking about it and being concerned, politicians talking about it and being concerned, but I do not see the public talking about it. The public is not talking about it because the impact has not hit. It is a situation where there is an apprehended emergency coming ahead, an apprehended problem on the borders. Frankly, most Canadians do not seem to care, and probably will not care, until they run into the problem of not getting to the border.

If you operate a casino in Windsor, you are worried about it, but most of the people who live in Windsor have already equipped themselves. It is the people in Detroit who probably have not equipped themselves.

When we talk about a broad public discussion, are we not really talking about an effort by government, and perhaps organizations like yours, to educate Canadians as to what you see and what you anticipate?

Mr. Beatty: Yes.

The Chairman: Does your organization have a budget and a communications program aimed at border communities, saying, ``This is coming at you like a freight train; here are the consequences. Speak to your representatives, speak to your senator.''

Mr. Beatty: It would be nice if we had that sort of budget.

The Chairman: It will cost you one way or the other, Mr. Beatty.

Mr. Beatty: It will cost our members primarily. In the case of CME, we do not have that sort of budget, although a good portion of my time is spent on the road speaking to organizations along the border and raising concerns therein.

You are quite right. There are those most involved in this, including governments, other institutions and businesses, who are, on a day-to-day basis today, concerned about this and must be concerned about the future, what happens a few years down the road. The average member of the public, not surprisingly, is more worried about the NHL playoffs right now as opposed to what is happening to personal privacy down the road.

The Chairman: Do you have a favourite in the playoffs?

Mr. Beatty: I do. I like all senators; otherwise, I would not be here.

The Chairman: Good answer.

Mr. Beatty: Even though we may be the initial interlocutors, because we are more involved and have an obligation to educate and inform Canadians, I promise you that, if the Government of Canada initiated a program for a mandatory ID card system, there would be substantial debate engendered in Canada and very real concerns about personal privacy would be raised.

This is why I think that, to make the progress we would like, it is important the process be as transparent as possible so no one feels there is a hidden agenda or no one is trying to pull a quick one on the public. It will be an educational challenge to make people aware.

We were talking about the technological challenges associated with our RFID. The social impacts of these technologies are complex. There are good and bad impacts — which is why we need to have a thoughtful discussion.

The Chairman: This committee was concerned about the Windsor-Detroit crossing. In one of our reports, we called for a broad communications plan by the federal government to inform border communities, ideally on both sides of the border, about the costs and the nature of the risks involved. We have not seen any government pick-up. Do you have any reason to believe that your contacts with the government are likely to sponsor a communications plan to discuss the benefits, costs and risks of not having effective border crossing tools?

Mr. Beatty: Not spontaneously and not unless they are encouraged by those of us outside of government to do something.

The Chairman: You are frequently talking to members of the government. When you talk to them, is the answer, yes, let us do that or, it will be a frosty Friday? What sort of reaction are you getting?

Mr. Beatty: It is not a question of hostility to the concept. If you talked to most agencies, they would say that, given the budgets with which I am operating, I have other priorities to invest in and other ways to spend my time.

The Chairman: I notice the government has undertaken a study in relation to the costs of Kyoto. What is the likelihood do you think of them undertaking a study of the costs of the border slowing down? The magnitude of the problem would appear to be that it will have a significant impact on government revenues. It is in the government's own interests to ensure this goes ahead.

Mr. Beatty: In my view, that is the case, and thus the plea to this committee to put that on the government's agenda. This committee is very effective as a vehicle for raising issues to the public's attention.

The Chairman: What success have you had from the private sector and have your constituent members had who have a huge impact on the economic well-being of the country? Give us some indication of what response you are getting back from the government when you make the same case to them as you are to us today.

Mr. Beatty: The challenge, if I refer specifically to secure IDs, is that the responsibility for that is so fragmented that you are not sure who to talk to. I have been making representations at a number of different places, arguing that in each instance something needs to be done. It needs to be done coherently and across the government. There is no single focus and no one agency or individual with the responsibility for leading on this.

As a result, people tend to look for somebody else to take the initiative rather than doing so themselves.

The Chairman: Mr. Beatty, you have spent 20 years in Parliament, more than that, more than half as a minister of the Crown. Where do you go when you need to have a lead agency? Who do you turn to?

Mr. Beatty: I turn here to the Senate. I have found, on issues related to the border, that this committee has been particularly effective.

The Chairman: In fairness, the right place for a lead agency is the Privy Council Office.

Mr. Beatty: I had a feeling that is where you were going.

The Chairman: I want to know where you are going on this. You are the person advising this committee and we are here to find out your views. You have come here to us, but in your experience as a cabinet minister if you wanted to get things coordinated within the government, what did you do?

Mr. Beatty: It depended on the specific issue you are looking at as well as the interest of parliamentary interest in the issue you are dealing with.

In a case like this, the challenge is one you have raised earlier. There is not a high degree of public awareness or intense interest at this point. The sense is that things are working fairly well, and we tend to react after the fact when a crisis arises.

The challenge here is to get people to do the right thing before a crisis, and provide proper leadership. Have I made representations at various different agencies within government? I have and will continue to. Do I sense this is a priority for the government today? I would not be here if I did.

Senator Banks: Taking a step back from the process and looking at the overall situation, the two countries, as both you and Senator Moore have talked about, are different in the way they were formed. They are also different in the sense that, as everyone knows, anyone who has had their house been broken has a different attitude the next day in regard to the police, law and order, and sentencing.

The United States has been attacked in a way that we have not. This committee — as well as other committees here — has found that, since that day, on each occasion we have gone to Washington to talk to them about things, to talk about cost and trade problems and the convenience of people going across the border, there is a policy there, one that does not have a name or is not written down — I will call it STE, security trumps everything. In the mind of the United States, this becomes truer as you get closer to the White House. ``Never mind all that other stuff. It does not make a difference. We do not care how much it costs. Our security is our first priority and it trumps everything.'' That should be the first priority of every state, I suppose.

Given that, are the advantages obtained to the businesses you represent on both sides of the border that derive from the integration of those industries great enough that they will be a factor? Will we discover that states will say to investors, ``Do not mess with that stuff; forget it and build your plant here''? Are we in grave, fairly short-term danger in that respect?

Mr. Beatty: In my view, it is doable for us to achieve a better system of border management. Rational people in the United States, as in Canada, looking at our North American economy, will discover it is extremely highly integrated. We stand or fall together. If one part of the economy gets ill in North America, the rest of it gets ill as well. We have a vested interest in ensuring from both the perspective of both of our countries that the border and trade function well.

Senator Banks: That is true. However, they say that, if it came down to that, we do not care.

Mr. Beatty: If it came down to sacrificing security?

Senator Banks: Yes.

Mr. Beatty: That is precisely where I was going. You are absolutely right. One of the mistakes we often make in Canada is that we use the economic argument in dealing with the Americans. Our starting point has to be that we are as concerned as you are vis-à-vis ensuring the security of our own people and ensuring that our country is not used as a staging point against our allies. We are the one country on bin Laden's list that has not been attacked to date. We have no reason to believe we are immune from the threat. We have a strong direct vested interest in protecting our own citizens to ensure that we maintain high standards of security here.

We have a strong direct vested interest in ensuring we are not used as a staging ground against others. That needs to be our starting point, that there is a common cause and a common threat that affects both of us and that we are both stronger by working together than by working in isolation.

The problem is the political dynamic in the United States and in Canada. DFAIT surveyed Canadians after 9/11. By December, according to their surveying, Canadians were saying that what had happened in September was a terrible but let us go back to what we were doing before September 11. The United States was permanently changed in terms of how they saw themselves in the world. We have to understand that and be sensitive to it.

In December of that year, I found myself talking to a congressman involved in the border caucus. I said the following to him: ``I do not want to be rude, but I want to understand the dynamics. Do you think your constituents would accept that any country, however competent or well intentioned, could provide for the security of the United States as well as the United States could?'' His response was that, at the end of the day, was my constituents expect us to look after ourselves. What I read into ``look after ourselves'' is let us draw a line around our geographic boundaries and we will deal with that.

No politician or official will lose his job because of having been too vigilant on security. There will be all sorts of individuals who will lose their jobs if there is another incident and they have not been vigilant enough.

The political dynamic in Washington is the following: We will look after ourselves; Canadians are good people, good allies and friends, but at the end of the day protecting American security is the responsibility of Americans. We need to engage in the discussion in a way that says that the best way for the U.S. to provide for the security of the United States is to collaborate with its partners.

Finally, to make the point, it is not a case of having physical security or economic security. They are two sides of the same coin. If al Qaeda damages us physically, they win. If they damage us economically, they win. We win if we remain strong economically and physically. We can only do that by collaborating with each other.

Senator Moore: Mr. Beatty, the U.S. legislation provided for the implementation of the regulations under WHTI for air travel to the U.S., effective January 23, 2007. That is in place. The land and sea regulations are to be effective June 1, 2009. The legislation does not say that, though. It could be beforehand. I am sensing from what I am reading that there is a push in the United States to have the land and sea implementation date moved up to sometime in 2008 perhaps. Canadian awareness will really come home then, because that is probably how a good number of people daily go back and forth on land or sea, including ferries. I guess ferries are lumped into land access. Do you have any feeling from your counterparts in the U.S. as to whether they see this the implementation date being pushed ahead to sometime in 2008, or will in fact be June 1, 2009? Should we plan for that to happen?

Mr. Beatty: Our embassy could give you current information. My understanding is that the goal of Homeland Security is to declare themselves ready to implement at the earliest possible date. There is indeed a possibility the date could move forward. That adds urgency.

Senator Moore: We are moving along thinking it is 2009. It could be January 1, 2008. Again you go back to sharing information and cooperation. I do not sense it.

Mr. Beatty: That is precisely the concern I have. I felt our government, candidly, was slow in terms of putting the WHTI front and centre in terms of a major issue. They have certainly done that now. I am not satisfied with the response from the other side. Senator Kenny alluded to it. In the administration, there is a feeling they have decided they know what they want to do, they will do it and do it as rapidly as possible. It is a legitimate question that Senator Kenny and others put to me this morning as to whether there will be any disinclination on the part of Americans to be deflected in any way from that. I hope there will, and it is worth our attempting to do it. However, the window for us to do that is tight and closing.

Senator Atkins: You keep talking about the lack of coordination in government with regard to a lot of these issues. Would it not make sense for it all to come under the Department of Public Safety?

Mr. Beatty: I am not fussy about where they put it, as long as they identify a focus, whether it is Treasury Board because of its responsibility for government records and standards of administration, or Public Safety, but choose one department. Give the chosen department the responsibility and tell it that it is an issue of some considerable urgency.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Beatty. This is clearly a topic of critical importance to Canadians. The response you saw from committee here today gives you a sense of how you have engaged us with this issue. I know you initially came with concerns related to identification cards and the systems that go with them. There is a broader issue behind that. Without an understanding of the broader issue on how it can help or hurt both our economy and the American economy, it is hard to focus on the need for fewer identification cards.

You have performed a very valuable service by drawing this to our attention. We are grateful to you for attending here today. On behalf of the committee, thank you very much.

Mr. Beatty: Thank you for your hospitality.

The Chairman: For members of the public, please visit our website at www.sen-sec.ca. We post witness testimony as well as hearing schedules. Otherwise, you may call the clerk of the committee by calling 1-800-267-7362 for further assistance.

We have before us now Brigadier-General A.J. Howard, Director General Operations, Strategic Joint Staff, National Defence Headquarters. He is a regular visitor to this committee, so much so that we think he is an honorary member. We have had the benefit of him updating us on Afghanistan a number of times previously.

Brigadier-General Howard joined the Canadian Forces in 1978. He was commissioned to the army as an artillery officer. He has commanded from troop to brigade group level. He spent over 15 years either serving on operations or in the field, and has served internationally in Lahr, Cyprus, Yugoslavia and Washington.

More recently, he was promoted to Commanding Officer, 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery and Commander, 2nd Mechanized Brigade Group. Brigadier-General Howard was appointed Director General of Operations, Strategic Joint Staff at National Defence Headquarters in the summer of 2006. We understand that you have a new appointment coming up shortly, where you will be commanding the Ontario region. Is that correct?

Brigadier-General A.J. Howard, Director General Operations, Strategic Joint Staff, National Defence: Yes, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman: This may be one of your last appearances before the committee. I suspect we can probably work in two or three more hearings before you take your new appointment.

Brigadier-General Howard, please proceed with your opening statement.

BGen. Howard: Honourable senators, I have a short operations update to be shown on 12 PowerPoint slides. I am happy to appear before the committee once again and will provide you with a short update on the operations in Afghanistan. My presentation will be focused on the current ongoing operations.

[Translation]

As you know, Canada is in Afghanistan at the request of the Afghan government. While the three lines of operations of the NATO-led and UN-mandated ISAF mission are interconnected, I will focus mainly on the security component, the aim of which is to provide support to and enhance the other two lines with a view to building Afghan capacity in order to overcome problems and assist with the rebuilding effort.

[English]

There are challenges and problems that confront even the most determined soldiers in Afghanistan. However, in many areas of the country, life is improving, which is not well known to many. Canadian soldiers see it and try to contribute to this improvement daily. They are motivated by statements from humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF Canada. Mr. Nigel Fisher, head of UNICEF Canada, recently underlined the very positive effect that the soldiers are having on helping to improve the lives of Afghans.

This gets lost at times, but Canadian soldiers continue to make significant contributions, as we all know. For example, there are the 8,000 kilometres of new and refurbished roads in Afghanistan. The Canadian Forces provided security for one small part of that along the route summit to allow the Zhari-Panjwayi area to connect with Kandahar city and other major centres to permit easy travel and, hopefully, improve commerce. Some Canadian soldiers gave their lives during the construction of these roads. Canadian soldiers are making a difference.

Since I was last before the committee, Joint Task Force Afghanistan has undergone a successful rotation cycle in February and March that has seen the tactical elements from Rotation 2, such as the battle group and the PRT. The supporting element, which was predominantly generated out of Petawawa and Edmonton, has been replaced by similar elements coming from the Atlantic region, known as Joint Task Force Afghanistan Rotation 3, or JTF Afg Roto 3.

I point to the accomplishments of Joint Task Force Afghanistan Rotation 2 on the next slide. On the first point, reinforced NATO resolve to support the Afghan government during Operation Medusa, the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, sent a powerful message to Operation Medusa last September that the Taliban were unwelcome in the Zhari-Panjwayi region west of Kandahar city. Canadians led the operation to dislodge the Taliban from their fortified positions and demonstrated to all that ISAF was serious in its resolve to help Afghans.

Listening to senior commanders talk about Operation Medusa months later, one can hear that message reinforced each time we see operations being conducted in Afghanistan. The Taliban have never concentrated like that again in one area. It has made a positive impact on Afghans in demonstrating their resolve and it has allowed Canadian soldiers to conduct and undertake current operations. Our current operations aimed at improving the security throughout the region have been much easier because of the results achieved by the 1st Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group. The group deserves great credit for their success in this endeavour as they dealt insurgents a significant blow. Unlike before, many Afghan families have returned to the region. If you walked through that area in the fall, you would not have not seen many people in the Zhari-Panjwayi area. There were no lights and no markets; there was nothing happening there.

Once Operation Medusa was complete, and for the last several months, we have seen a steady flow of families come back into the area. In certain positions, you can see lights shining at night and the markets are flourishing. Perhaps the most important aspect is that individual Afghans are approaching the soldiers to communicate with them on where there might be arms caches. In that way, they are trying to take on a bit of responsibility for their own security. That is a small but tangible step. I would not want to suggest to senators that all of the problems are resolved, but, certainly, Operation Medusa has had a positive outcome.

The entire Rotation 2 team worked hard post-Op Medusa and continues to work hard to establish a more secure framework within the Zhari-Panjwayi region by overlaying a rudimentary framework of Afghan security forces. Roto 2 witnessed the growth of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police within Kandahar province. That went from almost negligible numbers to between 1,000-2,000. It was quite an accomplishment to set that up, and we have watched the growth continue, although we need many more.

Blood, sweat, tears and lives were given to construct a Route Summit. Much of the paving of that route is finished, although we have a small bridge over the Arghandbad River to finish. That has been a major accomplishment of Canadian soldiers and it has the potential to increase the economics of the region.

[Translation]

The Provincial Reconstruction Team has continued to perform well. The addition last fall of an infantry company to assist with PRT security has allowed the team to carry out twice as many protected meetings and location patrols as was previously possible.

[English]

That infantry company and the extra capacity that it brought has allowed us to double our work output in the PRT. During the Roto 2 tour, the PRT managed about 300 separate patrols in Kandahar province to help connect Afghans with senior aid officials; nine village medical outreach patrols were conducted, which had a positive influence over 2,500 patients; 16 schools were repaired; two schools were opened; and two school playgrounds were repaired. These were all great accomplishments for Roto 2. You will be happy to know that Roto 2 will parade in Petawawa this coming Thursday, April 27, 2007, when a number of medals and citations will be awarded to members. Canadians are justifiably proud of what this group has accomplished.

Next, I will provide an update of what has occurred since the departure of Roto 2. The slide shows the four country boxes. Regional Command South remains a high-tempo area in which to operate. The rest of Afghanistan is relatively quiet, but things are certainly active in RCS. The focus of this region's operational activity from an ISAF perspective over the last several weeks has continued to be the provision of security in the region by disrupting the Taliban and by setting the conditions for future development, in particular in the Kandahar-Afghan Development Zone.

The Dutch headquarters has commenced its transition to United Kingdom lead. On May 1, British Major General Jacko Page will assume command of Regional Command South. He will be backed by a very capable Canadian general, Marc Hainse, recently commander of 5 Brigade and Chief of Staff, Canada Command, who will act as his Deputy Commander. Approximately 40 Canadians will work at that headquarters with staff from many other nations, with the U.K. having the lead. I will come back to that in a minute.

[Translation]

In Task Force Uruzgan, the main focus is to maintain security in the vicinity of Dehrawudd and Tirin Kot. In Task Force Zabul, the main focus is on security operations along Highway 1, security in the Afghan development zone and disruption operations in the Mizan district.

[English]

In Task Force Kandahar, our main effort is on security, reconstruction and development in the Zhari-Panjwayi area. To follow through on the great work Roto 2 did, we continue to have our main effort in that particular area.

Finally, looking at Task Force Helmand in the Helmand province, the concentration of effort with operations has been in the vicinity of the Sangin valley. The task force has maintained normal patrol patterns in the Afghan development zones and along Highway 1 to provide security and allow reconstruction projects to continue.

Afghan National Security Forces and U.K. forces have worked in partnership to improve and refurbish the Kajaki Dam and continue operations aimed at establishing the necessary security around that dam.

I should like to describe on the next slide what has been going on in Helmand province. On March 5, Operation Achilles, a Regional Command South mission and operation, commenced in Helmand province. It is a U.K. and Afghan National Security Forces-led operation. There are many troops from different nations, but there are over 5,000 Afghan soldiers involved in this mission and thousands of ISAF troops. It is one of the biggest operations undertaken in Afghanistan to date under the ISAF mission, and it is focused on Helmand province.

Its aim is to disrupt operations in the Sangin River valley, which is just over the border between Helmand and Kandahar, thereby creating the conditions that will provide long-term support to the Kajaki Dam. Joint Task Force Afghanistan participation had included a supporting effort, conducting interdiction and disruption message tasks in the Maywand district. It is a district right along the border between Helmand and Kandahar on the Kandahar side. We deployed soldiers in support of operation Achilles up until April 11.

The Kajaki Dam, located in northern Helmand province, is the largest in Afghanistan. It encapsulates the essence of a comprehensive approach, with security, reconstruction and development working hand in hand to deliver the promise of significant economic benefits. The project aims to increase its electrical power output over a two-year period from 12 to 21 megawatts. The project includes the laying of 87 kilometres of metal road, a tripling of irrigation capacity and the promise of economic regeneration with thousands of jobs in the southern region on the balance.

There remains a need for substantial multi-layered security, both a fixed and mobile presence in that area to accomplish this. The aim is to replace ISAF forces, once this mission is complete, with Afghan army, police and militia to maintain a permanent presence there.

Due to ISAF efforts to secure the Kajaki Dam, the electrical supply to Kandahar city has been sustained. It was wavering earlier in the fall and in early spring because of poor output and disgruntlement by local Afghans working there. Once we will be able to secure that, it will have a direct impact on our province. It is a military operation with an outcome based on reconstruction and economic reason for doing it.

Regarding operational challenges, I shall address some of the challenges that NATO allies and our partners in Regional Command South have faced over the last several weeks. Overall, Helmand province continues to suffer the brunt of Taliban activity. That is where the bulk of the insurgents' activities has been. That is due in part to a continuous and ongoing aggressive U.K. and ANSF operation that I just spoke of in Helmand province, which pose a direct threat to the Taliban's main lines of communication in Regional Command South.

In simple terms, we have NATO troops that are in and have arrived in areas that have not seen ISAF forces before in the Taliban areas. That is why we see the Taliban so active, because ISAF forces have not been in those areas before.

The most recent operation in the Sangin district centre has affected Taliban capabilities in the area, forcing them to flee the district's centre to the towns in the north. As we make our way to secure from Highway 1 through the Sangin valley up to the Kajaki Dam, certainly, the Taliban have not stayed. They have fled the area somewhat.

In Kandahar province, things have been relatively quiet compared to Helmand province. While the Taliban have to reassert themselves within the province after operational successes we achieved in the Zhari-Panjwayi regions as I described earlier in the briefing, we still are having a fairly positive influence throughout that area. The Taliban have proven incapable of confronting our forces as they did last fall and have proved unable to surge in any significant way. They have resorted and resolved themselves to terrorizing all of us, local Afghans and the soldiers, with indiscriminate use of mines and improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

As you are aware, on April 8, a light armoured vehicle struck an improvised explosive device, killing six Canadian soldiers and wounding four. On April 11, two more soldiers were killed and two were wounded when their Coyote reconnaissance vehicle struck mines. Finally, on April 17, a remote control explosive device was detonated in Kandahar city as a UN road convoy was passing by. The blast claimed the lives of an Afghan driver and four Nepalese guards working for the UN office for project services.

It is clear the Taliban are trying to disrupt the international community's efforts to bring aid and reconstruction into the region. Sadly, the people most impacted by it are the Afghans themselves, who definitely want a better life for their children but are terrorized by the Taliban who attack the soldiers and aid workers who are trying to help.

Within the Canadian contingent, there has been and is a heartfelt respect for the Canadian families, all of them that have lost family members, certainly, those that have lost them recently. Their continued resolve to press ahead is what our fallen comrades would want, and that is certainly the theme within the contingent as I speak.

The ongoing initiatives to provide our troops with the best equipment to help protect them and Afghans are essential. The troops will tell you that they can see progress and they see that every day on the ground. This time last year, you could not have conducted a foot patrol through the Zhari-Panjwayi area; it would not have been safe to do. Our soldiers are able to do that now every day. They are able to get out of the forward operating bases and intermingle in the Zhari-Panjwayi area. That is a positive sign for a soldier when he is able to dismount, leave the FOB and walk around on foot. That is a positive sign amongst the families that have returned to that particular region.

The new tanks recently announced will provide the troops with better protection and will ensure our troops will continue to operate in setting the conditions for meaningful improvements to governance and reconstruction that Afghans need and want.

The final portion of my brief is aimed at highlighting the activities our troops have undertaken over the last several weeks.

On the right-hand side, the green oval on your slide points to the Zhari-Panjwayi area where our main effort of providing security to support reconstruction and development is occurring. Our activities have included security patrols with our Afghan partners to reassure local inhabitants of our commitment to help and our commitment to stay. We engage in such simple things as conversations with local Afghans and interacting with their key leaders to start mapping the tribal framework in the area and develop a detailed assessment of pattern of life so that we can set the conditions to help the villagers, to perhaps help in school reconstruction and a whole host of issues.

We have assisted the Afghan army and police in this area to establish vehicle checkpoints. For example, our engineers have installed wiring, lighting and additional security fencing at six checkpoints over the last week. All of this activity is aimed at helping Afghans take control of their towns and villages in this area.

It is a work in progress but even the small steps mean a lot. For example, on April 8, despite that day being a tough one for Canadians, over 100 young Kandaharis participated in the Kandahar fun run. I brought a picture of that run. Again, the step is a small, measured one. The thought of local inhabitants being able to conduct what we would take as a normal Saturday activity here in Ottawa is heartening to see: to see kids running and to see folks running in shorts. The Taliban never would have allowed that. This run was successfully accomplished with no violence and it shows the potential in the region for normal patterns of life.

While this run was well-presented and distributed by the local media, we did not achieve that coverage on the international stage, so I thought I would bring that information to you. It is a powerful message and it motivates people on the ground.

I will go then to the following slide where I want to talk about the green oval on the right. That oval points to the Maywand District in Kandahar Province where our Canadian troops have conducted patrols along the border region, as I previously described, interacting and meeting with local leaders. I did not encounter many insurgents through there, although we did have the horrific strike by an improvised explosive device, IED, within that particular area. Our presence has allowed the Helmand Task Force to accomplish their mission by ensuring that nothing from the flank interferes with their missions.

I will move now to the Provincial Reconstruction Team. Their main effort is as wide as you would recall when you were over there talking to the PRT team. They have made significant progress in Kandahar since January 2007, accelerating the process of projects under the Afghan Government National Area Based Development Program. This progress is a direct reflection of the leadership of the Governor of Kandahar and the continued support of the international community. There is traction. The governor has been an active player in the province and it is good to see all these signs. The situation is not perfect. There are problems. I do not suggest for a minute that those problems have gone away, but I believe they are trending in the right way.

The implementation of a national solidarity program is taking hold within the province and we see the evolution of many development communities at the local level, with Afghans helping themselves to become coordinated. Many activities have occurred, such as that one, under the PRT over the last six months.

At the tactical level, a number of accomplishments can be seen on my next slide. I will not go through each one, but they mean a lot to the folks on the grounds. What I find heartening is the continuing emphasis of improvement when it comes to reconstruction projects within the province. For example, most recently, Minister Zia, who is the reconstruction development minister in the Afghan government, announced 34 projects within the Kandahar province worth almost $2 million U.S. being funded by the Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA. Those projects will provide a combined total of 49,000 labour days and will benefit some 74,000 people in the Kandahar province. For example, projects that include the solar power initiative will bring light to 800 households which have not had light before. A whole slew of positive activities and initiatives are underway in Kandahar province.

That brings me to the end of my formal presentation, Mr. Chairman. I am happy to address any questions.

The Chairman: Thank you, general. The committee received the impression that something was different in terms of the approach of the Canadian Forces between Operation Medusa and Operation Baaz Tsuka, and those two operations bracketed our visit to Afghanistan. Our impression was that feeling was growing amongst the command in the south that the impact of military operations themselves had a negative impact on local residents, and that perhaps a slightly different set of terms of engagement were put in place in Op Baaz Tsuka that I heard described as a more gentle approach, or perhaps a more careful approach, in terms of how operations were conducted. Is this so, and did the approach prove to be more effective, in your estimate, in the long term in winning over hearts and minds of locals in the south?

BGen. Howard: From my vantage point, our preference has always been, in Afghanistan, not to conduct combat. We would prefer not to fire a single round. I would say that Op Medusa set the conditions to allow Op Baaz Tsuka to be successful. In conducting Operation Medusa, the same sorts of ideas were presented to the Taliban, essentially a request to leave: ``We will enter this area, we want to help the local Afghans and we want you to leave.'' Their response was to build fortified positions similar to those built in World War I: trench lines, heavy concentrations of troops, anti- tank weapons and the like. When faced with that type of enemy, to remove them from that area was the difficult endeavour.

As I have described before, removing them took combat action. For Operation Baaz Tsuka, which followed Operation Medusa, the Taliban knew we were serious and if they decided to terrorize the locals again and set up defensive positions, we would not tolerate that activity. However, it was clear that once we let them know we were coming, so to speak, they quickly melted away. After the fact, as our troops advanced through that area prepared to do exactly what we had done in Operation Medusa, we did not encounter any Taliban in the numbers or strength that we encountered before.

I believe Op Medusa set the conditions. Op Baaz Tsuka is a great model by which we can conduct security operations. Each situation is always different. I do not think it points to a new way of doing things, but goes back to the premise that Canadian troops would prefer not to be engaged in combat there. We want to provide security. However, if someone wants to take us on, we have the expertise and wherewithal to set the conditions for that stable and secure environment.

The Chairman: What approach applies to the current operation?

BGen. Howard: Currently, we are in the Zhari Panjwayi area. We are at what I would describe as the back end of Operation Baaz Tsuka, which is a chance to consolidate in the region and attempt to overlay a secure environment. We are trying to bring in our Afghan partners there — Afghan National Police and others — to take responsibility for their own security and key leader engagements, to facilitate the movement of aid and reconstruction into that zone, and to make sure that the Taliban do not re-infiltrate in large numbers. We will continue to maintain a presence. Our presence is what is maintains the security and stability in that region.

To do that everywhere in Afghanistan would be particularly tough. Many troops would be needed. However, if there is success, and others see that success, then in subsequent months perhaps we can go to other regions and make them secure and stable as well. It is a work in progress and will be for several months ahead.

The Chairman: When you were last here, a major issue was insufficient support in the south from other NATO countries. Has that been resolved?

BGen. Howard: Partners in the southern region have worked together. We have grouped the nations there to conduct big operations together. That is one thing that I think has worked out well. We certainly encourage our nations to join us in the south. This endeavour is NATO-lead. The individual arrangements they make with other countries are negotiated at that particular level. Additional U.S. battalions are available to Regional Command South. The U.K. has increased their number of soldiers in theatre. We increased ours in the fall, and I hope over the months ahead, we will see other partners join us in the south.

The Chairman: You are here representing the Chief of the Defence Staff, correct?

BGen. Howard: I am.

The Chairman: Is he satisfied with the NATO participation as it stands now?

BGen. Howard: We have enough troops to conduct the missions underway in Regional Command South. We do the best we can with what we have. General Hillier would tell you we would love to have more people in the south to help us, but if we do not have large numbers, then it takes longer to do things.

The Chairman: General, you are hedging. Is he satisfied with the number of troops there now from NATO?

BGen. Howard: I cannot speak specifically because I have not asked him that question in the last several weeks. I would have to ask him.

The Chairman: What was his response the last time you asked?

BGen. Howard: I have given you my response. The last time I asked him about troops in regional command south, he said, ``We will take as many as we can get and we will sequence our operations to conduct operations with the troops we have. It simply means it takes longer.''

The Chairman: Is the government looking for more participation from NATO or not?

BGen. Howard: I cannot answer that question. I do not know. I have not asked recently.

The Chairman: Can you get that answer for the committee please?

BGen. Howard: Certainly.

The Chairman: Thank you.

Senator Moore: Nice to see you again, Brigadier-General Howard. Thank you for being here. I want to start by asking questions with regard to the Afghan National Police and the auxiliary police. We heard comments in the past that we are training the auxiliary because the police were corrupt and, as such, we needed an auxiliary force with only 10 to 14 days training, which I think is minimal.

What were the goals of the total establishment of the police force and the auxiliary force, and what have we achieved in numbers in training these people? We were looking for so many trained police, and I want know where we are now. Do you have that information? If not, perhaps you could get it, and the same applies with regard to the auxiliary police.

BGen. Howard: As we have discussed before, the police is a work in progress. Canadian Forces is focused on the Afghan National Army, ANA, and is involved in their training in Kabul. Some 20,000 Afghans have gone through the training there. On the policing side, a U.S.-led security command headquarters is responsible for the efforts relating to the Afghan National Police and the Afghan National Auxiliary Police, and their endeavour is to train them better. To create them is a work in progress but it lags behind the ANA.

As far as targets go, I would need to research the specific numbers because they are not readily available at my fingers, but within Kandahar province, as I mentioned, we have gone from negligible numbers this time last year to hundreds, if not almost 1,000, when it comes to police and soldiers that operate within our area.

The Afghans themselves have set a lofty goal to create a military of 40,000, and that is well under way. I would need to research the specific numbers of police. When Minister Day was recently in theatre, he announced more RCMP officers will be deployed to the PRT. This trend is a positive. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, DFAIT, leads on the policing aspects, and they would have better information for you.

Senator Moore: Of the 20,000 Afghans that went through the training, were there any women or were they all men?

BGen. Howard: I would say, predominantly men.

Senator Moore: Of those 20,000 who went through training, how many have stayed?

BGen. Howard: In general terms, attrition was a problem as we began. As they professionalize, the trend line for attrition rate is lowering due to positioning these soldiers in their home districts, as opposed to scattering them in different districts, and giving them better pay.

Senator Moore: Can you give us numbers? Are half or three quarters staying?

BGen. Howard: No, I do not know that.

Senator Moore: That would be interesting to know as well.

The Chairman: Can you provide the clerk with answers in writing to both these questions and my earlier question?

BGen. Howard: Certainly.

Senator Moore: The chair asked about NATO. You mentioned the work being done at the Kajaki dam. Is this dam the one the Americans are working on? Are they primarily doing the work on the reconstruction of this dam?

BGen. Howard: This endeavour would be international. I am not sure of the specific nations that will be the contractors, for example, but no work has been done on the dam. That is the problem. We need to secure the area around the dam.

Senator Moore: Nothing has happened yet?

BGen. Howard: Little things have happened to maintain the minor electrical generation that occurs there, but the serious improvement has not yet occurred.

Senator Moore: We heard that Afghans were stealing the cable that was used in some of the reconstruction work to remove the copper, and that set things back. Do you know about that?

BGen. Howard: I cannot comment on that. I know the problem is not so much at the dam itself, but the security required to get there. The Taliban are trying to prevent all the convoys and the like that we would take to do this sort of reconstruction, and we need to secure that part, so the problem is the entire environment around there. Local Afghans are trying to survive as well, and their conditions of work and the like need to be improved as well, but I think once we can provide the security, pay the local Afghans properly and rehabilitate the dam, we are on the right road.

Senator Moore: You mentioned in your remarks that you would go from the production of 12 megawatts to 21 megawatts over two years. Will it take two years to have this dam properly functioning and generating?

BGen. Howard: Yes: a lot of work needs to be done. I am not an expert on power dams, but I think things will need to be brought to a halt to do the refurbishment. Thirty years of neglect needs to be corrected.

Senator Moore: When we were there, we were told that Kandahar City has two hours of electricity per day. Is that supply still the same, to the best of your knowledge?

BGen. Howard: In the early new year of 2007, we were concerned there would be no power at all. Minimal power is going towards Kandahar City.

Senator Moore: This is a city of 600,000 people.

BGen. Howard: Yes: There was some threat that without improved wages there would be no power, so that situation needed to be dealt with. There is a continuous flow but I am not aware of the number of hours per day.

Senator Moore: You mentioned it is important that the workers at the Kajaki Dam project be paid properly. Who pays them?

BGen. Howard: Who pays the Afghans?

Senator Moore: Yes, who pays the workers? Are they paid by the state or by companies doing the work?

BGen. Howard: In this particular case for that dam, their wages are taken care of through local Afghan means, as I understand it. It is not an international organization paying for their wages.

Senator Moore: What do you mean by ``local means''? Do you mean the money is paid by some local elder, by an erstwhile warlord, or by whom?

BGen. Howard: Probably by the governor. Money flows from the national level to the governor's level to them.

Senator Moore: It is interesting that you mentioned Mr. Zhia. I do not know if you are aware, but an article about him is in today's edition of The Toronto Star. He is the minister of rural rehabilitation and development. A quote about NGOs working in Afghanistan attributed to him states:

Many of these NGOs have failed to realize the grand reality of Afghanistan today — that we have a duly and democratically elected government with the responsibility of making decisions best for us. Instead, the NGOs seem very much in competition with the government.

Why? Because business as usual suits them very well.

It is a ringing indictment of the work of the NGOs. When you were here last time, we talked about CIDA not being able to put funding onto the ground to help people. As a result, we saw funding for our forces increase from $1.9 to $4 billion so they would have more direct access to help people.

What do you think about Mr. Zhia's comments with regard to the NGOs? He does not seem to be happy that they are there. Maybe everything is supposed to go through him. I do not know how this aid is structured. We are not together on this issue but how is that impacting on the Canadian efforts?

BGen. Howard: The issues or the comments of the minister are not for me to comment on as a military officer concerned with operations of Canadian Forces, but I could comment from my own personal experience in previous missions. When you go into a nation that requires assistance, there is great energy and enthusiasm for all to help.

Senator Moore: Is that energy from the NGOs?

BGen. Howard: It is from everyone: from the military, from other government departments here in Canada, to NGOs and international organizations. One difficulty is trying to tie all that together. I am a military man. I like a hierarchy. When I tell someone to do something, they do it. That works well for me in the military, but when I ask an NGO to participate in that, they do not necessarily see it the same way. I am not criticizing NGOs. The coordination, though, of their activities is a mammoth task. We could go into any experience we have had and that coordination is one of the key challenges. I hate to see anyone criticized for what everyone is trying to do in Afghanistan. My reading of this presentation is that the minister is saying we need to be better coordinated so we are all on the same page. That is certainly a purpose of the provincial reconstruction teams, for example, to try to bring people together to work together.

I want to correct one thing in this article. I never said that CIDA had funding on hold. I simply said it would take time to move money into these funded projects. CIDA deserves great credit for what has been accomplished over the last several months. Those folks working in CIDA headquarters are working hard to help Afghans.

Senator Moore: We appreciate that. You did not say that your last time here, I know that. For the record, I am glad you cleared that up.

At the same time, when we were there, only one person from CIDA was on the ground. When we were there, there was one person.

The Chairman: Yes, and for the first three months of year, no one was there.

Senator Moore: I do not want to put you on the spot of criticizing CIDA. We saw what we saw and we made our report. It stands and the record has been proven correct.

The Chairman: Before we leave this subject, can you tell us how many NGO groups are active in Kandahar currently?

BGen. Howard: The security situation is perilous in Kandahar province. Certain the UN is the leading agency working there. I am not aware of any NGOs working independently of the UN in Kandahar: it is difficult. You would find them in other provinces or sectors. That is what I do not know.

The Chairman: We are interested in the turf that Canadians are responsible for. You say that presently there are no NGOs.

BGen. Howard: For example, the UN is there. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, operates through there with displaced refugees, and the World Food Programme is there. The UN is certainly present in Kandahar city. The number of NGOs with which they are working in parallel is not at my fingertips: I do not know.

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

BGen. Howard: Certainly.

The Chairman: Can you also provide the committee more detail on what the UN is doing in Kandahar province?

BGen. Howard: I could but that subject is better addressed by CIDA. They are the ones who work closely with the UN. You might receive a better answer from CIDA on what UNHCR is doing than from a military organization.

The Chairman: We are asking you, but we will ask both.

BGen. Howard: We will ask CIDA and I will ask them to provide an answer.

The Chairman: Thank you.

Senator Day: General, thank you for being here and thank you for the briefing on Kandahar and Afghanistan. I will resist the temptation to ask a lot of follow-up questions on that aspect of your presentation because, as the chair has indicated, you will leave your position as Director General Operations soon. I want to ask a few more questions about the Strategic Joint Staff organization, if I could, and your observations in that regard.

First, thank you for giving us a photo of the Kandahar 10K Race for Peace. I think that event is excellent. Obviously, one benefit is the orange caps that they were all given. I see many of them in the photograph. It would be extremely symbolic if that race were on the new highway that was constructed.

BGen. Howard: I will put that suggestion forward. That is a good idea.

Senator Moore: As a runner, you may want one of those hats.

Senator Day: I only make suggestions about noticing these things.

Can we go to the block diagram of the Strategic Joint Staff organization that you provided to us? Perhaps we could fill in some names. You are the Director General Operations?

BGen. Howard: Yes.

Senator Day: Who is the Director of Staff?

B.Gen. Howard: Rear-Admiral Dan Murphy.

Senator Day: And the Director General of Plans?

B.Gen. Howard: Brigadier-General André Viens.

Senator Day: Is the Strategic Joint Staff organization now a permanent part of the new organization or is this organization an interim, evolving type of concept?

B.Gen. Howard: The Strategic Joint Staff was formed to provide staff support to the Chief of the Defence Staff on operational matters at the strategic level. We work with and for the Chief of the Defence Staff.

The Strategic Joint Staff is not designed to conduct a structuring or defence strategy — that remains with the Chief of Force Development — but is purely focused on operations. It is a coordinating body to assist the commanders, the Chief of the Defence Staff and his subordinate commanders in Canada Command, Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, the other two commands and Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron, to ensure there is horizontal coordination for operations, which is essential.

Our daily remit to the Chief of the Defence Staff is to apprise the CDS of events that have occurred within the Canadian Forces to bring the CDS immediate awareness of events going on here in Canada and in Afghanistan and to provide staff support for when the CDS wishes to provide direction to subordinate commanders. We also deal with other government departments on larger strategic issues of operating, both here in Canada and in Afghanistan.

Senator Day: You list ongoing activities in your block diagram, such as lessons learned and operational requirements. I presume you are conducting these activities in conjunction with the various commanders as well as the force generators. Are these activities joint activities?

B.Gen. Howard: Right now, in the particular areas of training and lessons learned, principally all we are able to achieve is to provide a strategic framework for the chief to inform his subordinate commanders on the mechanisms that we, the Canadian Forces, want to achieve under training and lessons learned. We also give direction to the environmental command structures, ECSs, and operational commanders on the importance of lessons learned, because we want to be a learning institution.

While we cannot be involved in the massive detail that would arise from such activity, the aim here is to have the framework to provide that, and the consultation between the commanders.

The lessons learned and training cell is composed of two or three officers. It is small. They will work on the policy and strategic precepts. The actual execution of moving a lesson from the battlefield of Afghanistan or from the airfield here in Canada up through the system and to others is what we are trying to achieve.

Senator Day: There must be people thinking about, and working on, lessons learned, especially the staff of the Canadian Expeditionary Force commander, as well as the various force generators, such as the commander of land staff, air staff and maritime staff.

B.Gen. Howard: Most definitely: After any serious incident anywhere, there is a quick analysis to try to learn what has happened and to see if we can improve our procedures or buy a new piece of equipment, for example. That process goes on every day.

The Chairman: Does the chief do this analysis or is it done someplace else?

B.Gen. Howard: The idea is still emerging. As it sits now, the function is within the Strategic Joint Staff. Will the function move to the Chief of Force Development at some point? Perhaps it will. The debate is ongoing. This function is to take lessons from the field and ensure that immediate action is taken. If the action is longer term, such as equipment-based, clearly, the Chief of Force Development needs to be involved, as does the Assistant Deputy Minister of Materiel. A wide matrix of people would be involved.

The Chairman: I had dinner with the Chief of Doctrine the other night and he seemed to describe his work as, principally, lessons learned.

B.Gen. Howard: Who is the Chief of Doctrine?

The Chairman: It is Major-General Beare.

B.Gen. Howard: General Stuart Beare heads up the land forces section of doctrine. This section is sitting across the Canadian Forces, to provide a strategic framework. There are multiple levels where lessons are being learned, and little ones are applied. From a Strategic Joint Staff perspective, we want to have the framework. If there is a big lesson that has an impact on the Canadian Forces, having a look at it and delivering the idea to senior decision makers is a function there. It happens at multiple levels and is not in a stovepipe, necessarily.

The Chairman: I think where Senator Day is going, and what I am interested in, is how your role relates to the other commands that we see. How many people do we have here? Are they doing the same job that other people are doing? The committee is confused when we see an organization chart like this with so many boxes. We wonder how much of their turf you are moving into.

B.Gen. Howard: Lessons learned, for example, is an activity that occurs at every level. If you are to be a learning organization, you have to do it at every level. For example, within every platoon operating on the Afghanistan battlefield, after each activity is conducted, there will be an after-action review. There is a lessons-learned activity going on there in terms of how we could have done that better.

As the activity rolls all the way up, at the platoon level, they say, ``We can fix that; we only need to go around the corner better,'' or whatever the activity was. They fix it on the spot. They might communicate to others that they had this problem and they fixed it.

Senator Day: Is it not equally important to communicate this information to others so others do not make the same mistake the next time around?

B.Gen. Howard: Yes: At every level of the military, people are thinking about what occurred and what lessons were learned. If the local organization can deal with the problem and fix it, they will. If not, they obviously need to pass it higher. If the troops said the vehicle they had is no good, they cannot fix that particular problem at that level. Therefore, that problem makes its way all the way up through the military.

Certainly at this level, the Chief of the Defence Staff and others within National Defence Headquarters have a mechanism by which lessons learned are looked at holistically. Those problems that cannot be solved below are brought forward and those issues are dealt with here.

The two or three officers working in this lessons-learned centre are not necessarily operating and thinking about the activity that occurred at a platoon level that was solved. Too much information would be coming forward.

For example, if we had a serious mine strike and we needed to make an equipment fix, they would certainly be aware as this information flows up and that structure would help to coordinate that information across the department.

Senator Day: Can you explain to us how that information flows on its way up from the platoon level and the operations in the field? Does it come through the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command or through one of the environmental force generators? How does it flow to the Strategic Joint Staff?

B.Gen. Howard: The lessons learned in Afghanistan, for example, flow from the field to CEFCOM. We demand a report within 96 hours after serious incident. A small cell looks at lessons learned. We look for whether there is something we could do better, and whether there is a lesson to be learned.

The flow of information will go from theatre, through the commander of CEFCOM, back into National Defence Headquarters and into the army, where there is a collaborative effort to determine a way ahead.

Senator Day: Therefore, it goes back into the army, the Chief of the Land Staff. At the same time, I look at the second page of your block diagram, and the Chief of the Land Staff receives the information, but it also filters its way down through the Strategic Joint Staff who look at a repetition of things and for a broader application of doctrine and lessons learned that could help in future operations. Am I getting it correct?

B.Gen. Howard: We are more concerned about making sure the information flows, as opposed to solving the matter. For example, in this particular cell, we created the mechanism to ensure the information arrives back quickly. We received strategic direction, drafted for the CDS. We want the lessons learned to move in a rapid fashion along this belt. The job of that ``lessons learned'' centre, first and foremost, is to ensure the information is flowing, and to do what we said we would do. Solving the problem and learning the lesson we take to subject matter experts. For example, if we have a vehicle problem, we send it to the vehicle guys. It is more a job of steering the information and making sure it is indeed flowing. It is a dynamic process.

After the IED and mine strike of two weeks ago, the Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff personally became involved with CEFCOM and the Chief of the Land Staff, CLS, to overlay on top of this to ensure we are learning the lessons. With the flow of information coming from theatre back into the headquarters, ADM of Materiels is interested in the impact of two vehicles, the Chief of the Land Staff is interested in techniques and procedures and the vice-chief wants to ensure there is coherence. That is an example of a little framework these guys put together that has allowed this horizontal collaboration, and the layout of mechanisms by which it is to happen.

They are not manned to do the lesson learned, to do the analysis on the report. That is not their function. Their function is to provide broadly the strategic framework.

Senator Day: Are you satisfied that this whole organization that reports directly to the Chief of the Defence Staff, called the Strategic Joint Staff, is not duplicating effort, and is not another silo that will create a problem of different people making decisions who are not communicating? Are you satisfied those two problems are not there?

B.Gen. Howard: I live this everyday. My personal opinion is that the Strategic Joint Staff has a key role to play for the CDS in allowing him, with staff support, to provide coherence among the Canadian Forces. All commanders have a staff, as CEFCOM has a staff, to help with the subordinate formations.

I do not want to be involved in areas well looked after by the ECSs and the operational commands. We want to tie things together the way the chief wants, but there is no independent activity occurring there that supports the Chief of the Defence Staff in his command of the Canadian Forces. Our work is the chief's work. If he wishes to issue direction to the subordinate commanders, we draft that for him. It is not an independent organization working on its own.

I see no duplication. The chief needs operational staff, and we are it.

Senator Day: The term ECS, is that environmental command structure?

B.Gen. Howard: Yes: It is the Chief of the Land Staff, maritime and air staff.

Senator Day: Does that include military police?

B.Gen. Howard: That is Chief of Military Personnel. The position used to be an ADM and was reduced to a chief.

Senator Day: How many, in total, would work in the Strategic Joint Staff at the present time?

B.Gen. Howard: Our numbers are in the neighbourhood of 200. There are 50 staff officers working in the three directorates, but I have responsibility for the National Defence Command Centre. Within that, there are well over 150 people, including the shift workers and the staff that provide support to the operational commands, our integrators and the like. It sounds like a lot, 200, but actually 50 staff officers are working the issues for the chief. Within one silo, the defence command centre, we have a fair number of staff, but they support all levels of operational centres.

Senator Day: What do you feel the steady state is likely to be? Are you still building or are you there now?

B.Gen. Howard: We are still building. Having done the transformation, it is still a work in progress. After a year, I think we need to assess where we are and determine if we have the functionality right. It is not perfect. Where are the gaps and overlaps to tie that together? That was a fundamental shift in the command control arrangement. In my opinion, it was a positive one to have two commanders: one here in North America and one overseas, especially with a high tempo.

Having done that, do we have the right number of people at each level, and have the functions been squared away? Do we have coherence with the other level ones? Are they satisfied? All those issues need to be addressed. Over time, this process will evolve. We are nowhere near an end-state on, for example, the Strategic Joint Staff.

Senator Day: When you say ``having completed the transformation,'' we are still in the process? We have begun the process?

B.Gen. Howard: Yes, it is a work in progress.

The Chairman: How many people did the previous CDS have on his immediate staff?

B.Gen. Howard: He had the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff group, which numbered in the hundreds. You will recall that we broke away from the DCDS and created the four operational commands. Hundreds of staff were involved in that.

The Chairman: The DCDS group has been divided into four commands now, and presumably they are doing that work.

B.Gen. Howard: There is still a strategic function to communicate with PCO, and to provide CDS with staff so that strategic directions can still be issued. We have operational commanders, but they must still report to the CDS and there still needs to be interaction back into the rest of government: ministerial briefings, for example.

We need a small staff effort at that level, but it is a lot smaller than it was.

The Chairman: Are you telling us that if you took the number of senior officers, lieutenant colonels and above, we have fewer of them managing things now when we look at four new commands plus the Strategic Joint Staff organization? When we do the math, are you telling us there are fewer than when we had a Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff?

B.Gen. Howard: We can look at numbers, but what is effective? We are trying to build an effective system, and numbers need to be looked at. There is no end-state arrived at. The vice chief is looking at this subject.

I am not running the full analysis. You would have to ask him overall. I know within my little lane here on the SJS, those officers work long and hard hours each and every day to pick up the strategic pieces that have always been required at the operational level. Having done this exercise for several months, a bit of analysis on where we are at is a good thing.

The Chairman: Can you provide us with the numbers you have in the Strategic Joint Staff organization?

B.Gen. Howard: We can provide that information.

Senator Banks: I will move to a different area and talk about something you brought up last time, November 20. You stated that:

The keys to the future in Afghanistan . . . is to get at effective governance. We need and want to take prompt action against corruption.

Nobody could possibly disagree with that. Everybody understands the nature and extent of the problem in Afghanistan. Corruption has been the normal state of affairs for probably centuries.

We have been told that we can take great pride in the work being done by the Strategic Advisory Team in Kabul. Can you tell us how that is going? They have, as we understand it, for all intents and purposes, formed the staff of the President of Afghanistan. You talked earlier about wages to workers being processed through the governor. One concern we have is money from Canada and other places being put on the top of this giant hopper and the money is hard to follow. It is harder to the extent it is being processed by the government of Afghanistan. The government of Afghanistan is, of course, the object of all of this money: to make a situation in which there is a government in Afghanistan. I understand the Strategic Advisory Team is directly concerned with that. How is that going?

B.Gen. Howard: The strategic advisory team, made up of military officers and one CIDA officer, if you would allow me to digress, is almost complete. They go for a year, so they will come up shortly for rotation and will change this summer.

The purpose of the team is to work with local Afghan ministries. Team members do not work for the President. The team is within the bureaucracy. Their purpose is to teach, show and assist the bureaucracy in planning. We suggest that they organize a strategic framework to address this or that particular issue. You would be surprised by the wide variety of subjects in which they become involved.

Senator Banks: We would not be surprised at all.

B.Gen. Howard: The team is more to provide assistance on how to organize something from a bureaucratic point of view. You may ask yourself, why are military officers doing that? Many of these officers have special qualifications, such as being a lawyer or a communications expert. We try to have a wide variety of qualifications.

Our role is to fill a void, which is what it was in Afghanistan, such as give us a hand and show us how. One of the things missing is an understanding of how to organize things and run a bureaucracy. We have stepped up to the plate to fill that void. Perhaps the team needs to evolve over time to involve other government officials. It will be a test of time to see where that team needs to evolve.

Currently, each and everyday, as I look through the work, and I have had the chance to chat with them when I was over recently with the Governor General, I think of them as staff support, but in a macro sense. These executives can help minor officials put a plan together. For example, if we want to do some agricultural stuff in this particular province, we need to think through the problem and the aim, help facilitate the visit, draw up a plan and take that plan through the chief of staff, up to the President.

This role is not us running government. We are helping bureaucrats at a lower level by teaching them and showing them how to put a plan together.

Senator Banks: We understood that, although I am surprised because my understanding was that those 14 or 15 people were working directly with the President. You said they are not. I do not think it is inappropriate that the military should do this work, as the military is best equipped in that country to do it.

What success is that group of people having in changing the nature of the culture of governance, or establishing a culture of governance in Afghanistan? Are we making any progress? To use your point about distributing wages to workers through the governor, there was a point where people on the ground did not have confidence that the distribution was done properly.

Do they have more confidence now? Are we making progress in changing that culture of governance?

B.Gen. Howard: It would be easy for me to say yes. I encourage the committee to invite Don Dickson and the team, when they return, to talk on the specifics. That will give you a good sense of where they are. I was enthused in talking to Fred Aubin and Don Dixon on what they have achieved. It is a large amount of work that, unfortunately, is measured in small steps. It will take time. Afghans are learning from Canadians on how to do this sort of thing. I am sorry I do not have more detail. Talking to them specifically when they return would help on this particular subject.

Senator Ringuette: It is my pleasure to meet you, brigadier general. This is my first time on this committee, although I am interested in the issues. I may have a few naive questions for you.

B.Gen. Howard: I do not think there are any naive questions on Afghanistan.

Senator Ringuette: With regard to your responsibility, what is your line of communication with the UN?

B.Gen. Howard: This mission is a United Nations sanctioned mission that has given NATO the umbrella under which to operate within Afghanistan.

Interaction, then, occurs between the NATO and UN level. The name of the committee escapes me, but a central body tries to coordinate activities. The UN is present in Afghanistan to look at a number of issues. NATO has the lead currently in trying to establish this secure and stable environment.

Senator Ringuette: Who is our person at NATO that relays information to you?

B.Gen. Howard: We have a Canadian delegation headed by Vice-Admiral Davidson, who works this particular issue day after day, and Ambassador Juneau. From a Canadian perspective, interacting with NATO is done on a day-to- day, hour to hour, basis of communication.

Senator Ringuette: Who in NATO or the UN establishes the strategic planning for Afghanistan?

B.Gen. Howard: The Afghan Compact was a multinational plan.

Senator Ringuette: NATO or UN?

B.Gen. Howard: Both: This is the international community's effort in Afghanistan.

Senator Ringuette: With regard to your responsibility, would you have in your hands a UN- NATO strategic plan in regard to Afghanistan?

B.Gen. Howard: UN Security Council resolutions have been written on the mission.

Senator Ringuette: The resolutions are one thing. I am asking if you have a UN-NATO strategic plan that you, as being responsible for operations, can implement. Do you have a plan?

B.Gen. Howard: There is an Afghan Compact, which is the plan that governs the international community's endeavours in Afghanistan. The Canadian government has issued Canadian Forces a campaign plan. That plan is what steers us, the Canadian Forces, the Chief of the Defence Staff's direction that he has received from government.

Senator Ringuette: We are talking about a lot of different entities here. You said that the Canadian government is directing your strategic planning on the ground in Afghanistan. That is what you said. You take your orders from the Canadian government.

B.Gen. Howard: I am responsible for operations in the Canadian Forces. You are talking about diplomatic and national interaction with NATO. That is DFAIT responsibility.

Senator Ringuette: What I am asking you is not a naive question but a basic, fundamental responsibility question. Do you have a plan in regard to your responsibility and the responsibility of the international community in Afghanistan that comes from the UN or NATO, or this new entity that you call the ``Afghan compact,'' which I did not know had any international recognition whatsoever. Who is in charge here and do you have a plan?

BGen. Howard: You are asking some questions that obviously are policy and politically related. I can brief you on operations in the Canadian Forces, but I am not comfortable that I have the policy background to address this particular issue.

Senator Ringuette: This is not a question of policy, brigadier-general. This is a question of knowing where we are going in Afghanistan. If we do not have a plan, then we do not know where we are going.

BGen. Howard: We have a plan.

Senator Ringuette: Who has supplied this plan to you — the UN, NATO or this new entity called the compact?

BGen. Howard: Our plan in the Canadian Forces is guided by the Canadian Forces Campaign Plan. That plan is designed by senior officials in the department, and signed off by the minister and the Chief of the Defence Staff.

The Chairman: I think the senator is asking where NATO fits in with the London compact? What are the different lines of control that NATO has, and that Canada has, in terms of the functioning of its forces in Afghanistan?

BGen. Howard: As I have said, I can address the issues of operations in Canadian Forces.

The Chairman: Senator Ringuette is not asking for policy; she is asking only for the framework.

BGen. Howard: I can address the issues of operations in the Canadian Forces, but I do not think I am able today to satisfy your specific questions here. In my opinion, they are policy based and outside of my lane.

Senator Banks: The Canadian Forces are operating, in terms of the plan you talked about, as part of a NATO force. That NATO force is commanded by an officer who is named from time to time by NATO. Does that officer operate under a strategic plan — a plan of applying military force in Afghanistan — that is a NATO plan of which the Canadian plan is a part?

BGen. Howard: I understand the question, but I am not the expert on this subject. I am not the right guy to address this issue.

The Chairman: Fair ball.

BGen. Howard: I will not make it up as I go along. I know what we are doing within the Canadian Forces; I am the Director General of Operations in the Canadian Forces. However, you are asking questions about NATO and the like, on their higher framework. I do not have the answer at my fingertips. I am sorry and I apologize, but I do not have the answer.

The Chairman: If you cannot provide an answer, can you arrange for an answer in writing to come to the committee, please?

BGen. Howard: I certainly will pass the question back to NDHQ and find the officer who is responsible.

Senator Ringuette: You have indicated on page 6 of your presentation:

Helmand River Valley is a key line of communication for insurgents and narco-smugglers.

By ``narco-smugglers,'' were you referring to opium farmers and the opium economy there?

BGen. Howard: There is not much more I can say about the Taliban in an unclassified forum such as this.

The Chairman: Senator Ringuette asked you if these people were smuggling opium. What is classified about that? The world knows that opium is a primary crop. What is happening?

BGen. Howard: I have said what I did on the slides there. We have to be careful because we are in an unclassified forum here.

The Chairman: There might be someone who knows that opium is a product that is grown in Afghanistan: is that it?

Senator Ringuette: I would not have brought it up if your slide had not referred to insurgents and narco-smugglers. What are they smuggling?

BGen. Howard: They are obviously smuggling drugs, right?

Senator Ringuette: That is a start. I do not know, in regard to your general operations, what kind of influence you could have in regard to economic recovery and economic development for Afghanistan. However, I hope that people in higher policy development in regard to Afghanistan are looking at the fact that if opium is the primary source of income for that population, and nothing is done except for poor thinking that making a farmer switch from growing opium to carrots will bring economic prosperity to that country, then we need a big dose of reality.

The Chairman: What is the question?

Senator Ringuette: What are we doing in regard to economic recovery and economic development — real and sustainable economic development for these people — except rebuild highways that we destroyed?

BGen. Howard: I think a great program is under way within the country: The international community has poured in some $10 billion. Per capita income has doubled in Afghanistan and the Afghan economy has tripled. For example, some 4 million women have been vaccinated against tetanus. Children and women can go to school, where they were not allowed to under the Taliban. The subject is extremely wide. A number of activities are under way throughout Afghanistan to improve the lives of local Afghans.

Senator Ringuette: You have indicated, in response to questions from Senator Moore regarding police training, that the U.S. is leading training for security command — there was another word but I did not catch it.

BGen. Howard: There is a U.S.-led security training command that looks to improve all aspects of security within Afghanistan. Multinational partners are involved, but the U.S. predominantly has the lead in this area.

Senator Ringuette: Is this an NGO or a for-profit business?

BGen. Howard: No, this is the military.

Senator Ringuette: Is it the U.S. military?

BGen. Howard: Yes: Of the military officers, Canadians have a brigadier-general and a staff of 10 assigned to this command.

Senator Ringuette: Are they assigned to the security command or to the it to the training or the security command?

BGen. Howard: What I have described is one headquarters — security training headquarters.

Senator Ringuette: In regard to this national security command headquarters that we are also involved in — although you have indicated it is U.S.-led — what is our relationship to the entity called the National Directorate of Security?

BGen. Howard: I do not know specifically. I do not know the intricacies of that particular organization. Are you referring to the NDS?

Senator Ringuette: Yes.

BGen. Howard: I am not sure. I do not know.

Senator Ringuette: They must be under the umbrella of the security command.

BGen. Howard: I do not know that.

Senator Ringuette: Do you know what our operations or relationships are with the Afghan National Security Forces, which is another entity?

BGen. Howard: The Afghan national security forces are our partners in the field. They are divided into many categories. Simply, there is the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police with whom we work each day in the field. Canadian soldiers in Kabul are involved in a multinational effort to train the Afghan National Army. RCMP officers on the provincial reconstruction teams are involved with the training of the Afghan National Police and are helping to mentor them. The Afghan National Security Force is a moniker, writ large, of all Afghans in uniform — police and army personnel — and our interaction with them is on a daily basis.

Senator Ringuette: They are under the direction of the security command.

BGen. Howard: No: The ANSF report to the Afghan government, which has security forces and a police force, as Canada has. The training command assists the Government of Afghanistan to grow the capacity of the police and the army. It provides assistance, training and money, to grow those capacities.

Senator Ringuette: To ensure that I understood, the security command at the national level is U.S. led and Canada participates in it. They work with the Afghan government, which is responsible for policing and the National Directorate of Security.

BGen. Howard: I am sorry that I do not know what the relationship is with the NDS.

Senator Ringuette: Yet, we trained them.

BGen. Howard: I do not know about the NDS. I am sorry.

Senator Ringuette: I want to go to the issue of farmers that are being held by Canadians and then turned over to one of the entities that you described. It seems that one of those entities is the NDS and another is the Afghan police that we train. Human rights are being violated by Afghan police, whom we train. I know that you will tell me that we have an agreement and so forth, but enough of that. If we train the Afghan police, then surely we can train them to observe human rights, which is our hallmark around the world. What kind of training in respect to human rights are we providing to the Afghan police?

BGen. Howard: I share your sentiment, senator, as a military officer. We want all Afghans to be treated with respect and treated humanely. We are trying to encourage Afghans to model their behaviour on the kind of behaviour we have in Canada. However, it is a work in progress and it requires rudimentary steps. In respect of detainees, the Canadian Forces has well laid out procedures to care for them. As a soldier, I would want them treated in the same humane manner as if I were being held, and I will use that as my standard.

The handoff to Afghan authorities clearly needs to be looked at. We need to do a better job in that area but higher authorities will look at the process. I agree with your sentiment that we need to treat detainees humanely.

Mr. Chairman, I am over time by 15 minutes and need to take my leave because I have other responsibilities to attend to.

Senator Ringuette: As we have responsibilities, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman: An agreement was entered into with Brigadier-General Howard that he would be allowed to leave at 1:30; and we have an obligation to him. Perhaps you could conclude with one question.

Senator Ringuette: Perhaps I will comment rather than question. If the Canadian government is not able to renegotiate that agreement in respect of Afghan detainees, are you willing to hold those detainees within your line of responsibility until the time that we know human rights will be observed when they are given over to the authority of the Afghan police?

BGen. Howard: I return to my earlier comment. We want to see the Taliban treated humanely when they are in detention. The next steps are being discussed. It is not for me to say what the government policy should be on this issue. It is a serious matter that needs to be looked at, and it will be over the next several days.

Senator Ringuette: This matter has been a public issue for the last 10 months.

The Chairman: Brigadier-General Howard, thank you, and we apologize for keeping you. The committee appreciates the testimony that you provided.

We have before us Craig Oldham, Director of Operations, Government Operations Centre, Public Safety Canada. He spent 27 years in the army, starting as a private soldier, and served in command positions. He served on operations in North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Following his experience overseas, he became a member of Canada's counterterrorism and special operations unit, Joint Task Force 2, where he commanded a squadron specializing in maritime counterterrorism operations, as well as explosives, technical operations and sniping. He also served in the Directorate of Counter Terrorism and Special Operations at National Defence Headquarters where he was responsible for out-of-country strategic contingency for the coordination of overseas special operations.

In April 2004, he assumed the duties of Director of Government Operations Centre at Public Safety Canada. The centre provides a strategic level of coordination and direction on behalf of the Government of Canada in response to an emerging or an occurring event affecting the national interest.

He is accompanied by Suki Wong, Director, Critical Infrastructure Protection Policy, Government Public Safety Canada and Mr. Jacques Talbot, Legal Counsel.

Craig Oldham, Director, Government Operations Centre, Public Safety Canada: Thank you for inviting me and my colleagues. I intend to limit my opening comments to the Government Operations Centre proper, of which I am the director. The role of the Government Operations Centre, GOC, is to provide a strategic level of coordination on behalf of the Government of Canada in response to an emerging or occurring event affecting the national interest.

To achieve this goal, the Government Operations Centre is, in fact, a number of divisions, not only my own. For those of you with military backgrounds, Government Operations Centre is similar in structure to a brigade headquarters and follows a mix of military continental staff system as well as a civilian incident command system, which, of course, is also based on military structure.

The Government Operations Centre consists of a situational awareness risk assessment unit, a plans division, an operations division, the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre and is supported by an in-house administrative staff. Our role statement is carefully considered, and it draws on the policy outlined in the national security policy, current legislation and other policies. We provide our services at the strategic or national level, as opposed to the tactical level where first responders and municipalities have responsibility.

We also do not provide services at the operational level where the provinces, territories and the federal departments and agencies have responsibility.

We provide management of Canada's collective response efforts under the National Emergency Response System. I would say that 90 per cent of our work is coordination or management of events, but we also provide direction to federal entities as required. That direction comes from the decision-making structure within the federal government and is implemented through the Government Operations Centre.

The Government Operations Centre, though housed in Public Safety Canada, provides its support to all departments and agencies responding based on whoever is the lead minister. We are truly Canada's Government Operations Centre.

The Government Operations Centre is a proactive organization, and our role statement says that we are responsible for both emerging and occurring events. That responsibility means assessment of emerging potential threats, preplanning to meet those threats and proactive response to prevent or mitigate, if possible. Previously, most plans in governments were reactive, and we knew, well before Hurricane Katrina, that response is not good enough.

We focus on events that have the potential to affect national interest, both domestically and internationally. That focus does not mean that the Government Operations Centre performs duties that are legislatively mandated to other departments and agencies. Rather, we provide management from a strategic vantage point to bring to bear the full capabilities of the Government of Canada to respond to an event.

Last year, we actively managed 93 events that were deemed to be in the national interest, we provided a reporting to the Privy Council Office, PCO, and others on 202 other events, and, over the course of the year, we monitored and estimated 4,300 incidents across Canada and internationally.

We are more than happy to answer any questions to the best of our capabilities today.

Senator Day: Thank you for appearing today. I think I understood your comments, but you went through them quickly. Can you take more time, particularly in explaining the role of an operations centre, as opposed to planning? You said you actively managed 93 events, you reported on 202 events and what was the reference to 4,300?

Mr. Oldham: Forty-three hundred is what we call incidents.

Senator Day: They are not events but incidents?

Mr. Oldham: They have not escalated to the point where we would call them an event. They may be weather generated, national security or cyber incidents. These things all potentially emerge when we receive reporting from intelligence organizations, the media, our allies and the provinces and territories. These events are all ones we are looking at and doing an initial assessment to determine whether we need to be proactive in responding to that event.

For example, there are a great number of white powder incidents or bomb threats across the country on a daily basis. We look at some of those to assess if they meet certain criteria and whether they are potential incidents or only background noise.

Senator Day: When something happens, what is your role?

Mr. Oldham: Our role is to provide a whole-of-government response to that event and support the department or agency that may be the lead for that event.

In many cases, domestically, we are talking about support directly to the Minister of Public Safety who has the biggest mandate for these sorts of things. We could potentially support another department or agency.

For example, for an outbreak of bird flu somewhere in Canada, we may provide a strategic level of services to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Senator Day: Are you and your organization involved in man-made events and incidents as well as natural happenings?

Mr. Oldham: One fundamental tenet of the way we do business is to have an all-hazards response approach. We do not deal with a national security event any differently than a cyber event or a natural or man-made hazard. The systematic approach to deal with that event remains unchanged. The actions we take may be different, but we do not have a separate system for each of these events.

We have realized over time that no emergencies are simple. All emergencies are complex. For example, a national security event will undoubtedly have a traditional consequence management aspect. It is better to take that into account from the beginning, and plan and prepare in that manner rather than wait until some point in the emergency and suddenly wake up the emergency preparedness people and tell them to move. We do the whole thing as totally integrated from the beginning.

Senator Day: Are you tapped into all the security intelligence monitoring in Canada?

Mr. Oldham: Yes, we are. We are not an intelligence organization. We do not gather intelligence. We do not actively seek it out in the way the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre, ITAC, or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS, would. We are consumers of intelligence and intelligence products, and we take from all sources. The government operations centre operates up to the top secret level, and we have access to all that material. If we did not, we could not do our job.

Senator Day: Can you do an analysis of the information and intelligence coming in? Do you apply a different type of analysis than might be done somewhere else?

Mr. Oldham: In a way we do, for two reasons. First, we operate at the strategic level, and we have different considerations than the operational or tactical levels.

Second, we always attempt to view the situation from a whole-of-government vantage point rather than the viewpoint of a department agency or level of government, which are obviously focused on their own responsibilities. We look at the bigger picture to see how one piece matches up with another. Is there a connection? Is there a cumulative effect? What is the overall assessment of the threat at the national strategic level?

Senator Day: I am trying to sort out the difference between tactical and strategic levels when you say you manage 93 events. To me, manage suggests tactical. It suggests something happening now and you are in there managing somehow. You say your role is strategic in that regard?

Mr. Oldham: That is correct. There is a difference in operations among those three levels: tactical, operational and strategic. For instance, I am not concerned about looking at a camera showing me what is happening at Portage and Main in Winnipeg. I am concerned about whether the first responders and the operational level have the tools, support and assets they need to manage that emergency.

If I focused on what colour the fire trucks were or that kind of thing, I would not be doing my job. My job is to stand back and take a broader view of the emergency, and respond to that.

Senator Day: Since you have taken us out west, there is flooding in Saskatchewan right now. Are you involved in that kind of situation? If so, explain your role.

Mr. Oldham: Natural hazards such as flooding, forest fires, and to a lesser degree, ice storms or hurricanes all have an element of predictability, to a point.

What we started to do early, as we did this year, was to scan the environment and make an assessment based on the reporting we receive from the different departments and agencies such as Environment Canada, and also directly from the provinces that are linked into their municipalities. What are the soil conditions, what is the ice like and what are the meteorological conditions that perhaps will lead to certain types of flooding conditions? Based on that information, we prepare a contingency plan at the strategic level. As the event roles out, we implement and adjust that strategic plan. A plan is in place right now for British Columbia.

Today, for Saskatchewan we are simply monitoring that situation. The situation has not triggered our systematic approach yet, other than the monitoring part. We know there will be floods in Saskatchewan, the same way we know there will be floods in Manitoba and B.C. The science and art is to asses how big the situation will be and what we can do to mitigate or prevent the event from happening. We cannot prevent flooding, but we may be able to mitigate some of the effects.

Senator Day: What triggered you to prepare a plan and study for British Columbia but not Manitoba or Saskatchewan?

Mr. Oldham: I did not say we did not prepare plans for them as well. It is a matter of degree. In B.C., there are a number of things from the activity of the pine beetle, to deforestation, soil conditions, the unusual amount of snow they have had and the rapidly warming weather conditions this year.

We do not isolate our view province by province. We try to look at the event across the big picture. Right now, the biggest threat is in the British Columbia area. That does not mean we expect any kind of big disaster. We are simply prudent in always making assessments and plans. That process is continuous and ongoing in the same way that shortly we will look at hurricane season.

Senator Day: Can you explain how you would coordinate your efforts in Saskatchewan with what emergency measures must be doing right now and what the operations centre for Environment Canada might be doing, with respect to these same events?

Mr. Oldham: We are connected to all the provincial emergency management organizations, as well as the national security or policing side of whatever organization is in place within that province. We are also connected to all the departments and agencies.

When we talk about things such as our assessment and plans, we prepare assessments and plans hand in hand with other federal departments and agencies, and with the provinces. We do not prepare a plan only within the Government Operations Centre, and not speak with anybody else about it.

We prepare it interdepartmentally and intergovernmentally at the time. We take that approach to ensure that everyone is involved and playing. We cannot pretend to be the experts within our operation centre on all kinds of emergencies, but we can be experts at managing events and bringing a disciplined approach to how we deal with them.

Senator Day: If there is a problem, such as a flood or pandemic-type situation, your operation centre is ready to go. However, if the problem is a pandemic-type situation, avian flu or whatever it might be, there will be a Health Canada operation centre on the go?

Mr. Oldham: Yes, that is because Health Canada has a legislative mandate to look after certain aspects of that pandemic. No pandemic is ever a purely Health Canada event either. There will be economic impact, potential national security impacts, et cetera. Our job is to bring in all the players involved, and ensure we approach the emergency in a holistic way.

We do not need to activate our centre, because our centre runs 24/7, 365 days a year. There is no setting up the computers and that sort of thing. The centre is up and running all the time, and monitoring the environment constantly.

As we spin up through a pandemic or any other kind of emergency that requires more and more effort, the connections to other operations centres become more robust. Most operation centres within the Government of Canada and at the provincial level are not 24/7 operations. They must activate and start to respond. As they do, that connection between them and us becomes more firm.

In addition, people from those departments and agencies deploy into our facility, so they are working hand-in-hand with us at the time of the emergency.

Senator Day: Would your office trigger another government department to look at a situation because it will spill over into their side of things?

Mr. Oldham: We do communicate that way through a wide variety of means. We do not have the authority to tell other departments to start doing something, but also we are not required to do that. Every department has its roles and responsibilities and they are conscious of what those are. However, it is not unusual for the government operations centre to warn another department, agency or level of government of something what is emerging so they can focus on it. Then they feed information back to us and we feed it out to everyone else involved.

Senator Day: Is there anyone that you direct?

Mr. Oldham: We do not have authority within the government operations centre to tell anyone to do anything directly in the military way you suggest. Ninety per cent of what we do is cooperative.

We found through exercises and real operations that within the Government of Canada there is more than sufficient mandate and legislative authority to do almost anything that needs to be done. The problem in the past has been that departments and agencies tried to deal with things by themselves, and any one department or agency does not have all the tools to do the job. However, when everyone is around the table, and everyone's piece is brought to the centre, we can achieve almost anything.

Where we do not have authority to do something and we need a decision, we go up through the committee structure to obtain that decision. We go up through the assistant deputy minister level, deputy minister level, cabinet, and to the Prime Minister if we have to.

By and large, the Government of Canada does not need a whole lot in terms of emergency response from those higher levels. Often, the authority is unique, such as during Hurricane Katrina, when we needed to move a portion of the national emergency stockpile from Ottawa to the United States. There was no authority to move that stockpile outside the country. In that case, we had to obtain that authority.

Once we had the authority, the government operations centre was empowered to implement that decision.

Senator Day: If it was deemed important to communicate to the public to reassure the public things were in hand, is that the responsibility of your office or is that the responsibility of the agency or department that is involved directly?

Mr. Oldham: Public communications is not the responsibility of the Government Operations Centre. We do not have any public interface. We do not have a number for people to call. Our job is to coordinate government, government agencies and levels of government.

The public communications responsibility lies with the lead department, normally public safety. I am not the expert in this area so I will limit my comments, but public safety has an organization in place that coordinates public messaging with the other departments and agencies, in a similar manner to what we do.

Senator Day: You are in public safety?

Mr. Oldham: Yes.

Senator Day: This other group is within public safety?

Mr. Oldham: That is correct. It is the public communications part of public safety.

The ground truth as to what is happening and what the event is that feeds to our public communications people comes from the Government Operations Centre.

Senator Day: Are they not part of your operations centre to provide an overview of the event?

Mr. Oldham: Yes: Public communications plays two roles within the Government Operations Centre. They provide a watch officer to the Government Operations Centre to assist us with media monitoring. It is not unusual for CNN, CTV or someone else to have the first bit of information on something that has happened. They help us with that.

They also help coordinate the flow of public communications, media lines, et cetera. The reason they are in the Government Operations Centre is to ensure that wrong information is not passed out based on erroneous reporting. We saw some of that problem during the blackout a few years ago, where different people stood up and talked about an event, and the information they relayed was completely inaccurate.

Senator Day: I could continue asking questions because you have given us helpful information. I will pass to my colleagues and I may have further questions on the second round, if there is time for one.

Senator Banks: I will continue along Senator Day's line of questioning.

You have partly explained this process, but when you become aware of something you make an assessment, and that surely must be made by people who are there on the spot. If I went to your centre at 2:30 tomorrow morning, how many people would I find there?

Mr. Oldham: Depending on the shifts, you could find between four and seven people on duty at that time.

Senator Banks: Those folks make the first initial assessment: Something has happened, boom, and who do they phone? Tell us, in a microcosmic way, what happens next. Who decides what? Who calls whom? How quickly does it happen?

Mr. Oldham: It all can happen quickly indeed. What we call the watch centre, the people who are there right now if you went to have a look —

Senator Banks: Can I?

Mr. Oldham: Certainly: It takes me off subject a bit, but I am happy to have you all over, depending on what operation we are conducting at the time, and I will personally provide you with that tour.

Senator Banks: It is probably best if we come when you are not conducting an operation.

Mr. Oldham: Perhaps: It depends on the nature of the operation, but we are always doing something.

Those people in that centre right now are looking for trouble. They are monitoring the environment and what is going on. As an event emerges, it is passed to the senior watch officer. The senior watch officer performs an operation similar to when you walk into an emergency room at a hospital: The officer does triage on the event. The officer continues to monitor the event to see where it is going, or perhaps the officer discounts it but continues to monitor, or the officer escalate the event.

When officers escalate it, they pick up the phone and talk to a senior operations officer, my second-in-command or me. They say, this is what we have. Right away, that connection is made to the next senior level.

From there, the senior person makes a rapid assessment of the event by looking at all the pieces coming in. The other people are shift workers, so they do not have access to all the current intelligence picture. Then, we make a determination as to where we think the event is going.

We have standard operating procedures, SOPs, in place, we have responses in place, and we follow those. If something does not fit within that norm, we continue to respond, but we also bump it up another level to the director general. We have the ability within the Government Operations Centre to go directly to the deputy minister if we need to. We would rarely do that. We try to go up through the steps so we can obtain sober second looks all the way through.

Senator Banks: Sober second is a phrase that is familiar to us on this committee.

If you went to the deputy minister, which would be one person if the event was a flood, another person if it was a pandemic and someone else if it was something even worse than that, would that deputy minister understand the nature of the room from which you are calling, and understand what is happening there? Has that deputy minister likely been in the physical plant that you operate? Has the minister been in the facility, and has the Prime Minister been in the facility? As we all know, and as you know by direct experience, exercises and understanding a thing on a piece of paper is nice. However, when the event happens, plans do not work well if someone has not been there and they walk in and do not know where the ketchup is.

Mr. Oldham: I will try to handle that question on several tracks. The Prime Minister has not been to the facility. Most ministers and deputy ministers have not been to the facility. Having said that, they all are aware of what the facility is and what the facility does.

The facility is not designed to house them, and it is not designed to have them in it while we are running emergencies. That would not be effective for us. We need to have ministers and senior officials stand off at a distance from a place like ours. Why? It is human nature that they will focus on what is happening in that centre, and that is not where we need them to focus. We need them to focus on the bigger decisions to be made, and that cannot happen in a facility like ours.

It is common. If you look at other operations centres in other countries, they have exactly the same arrangement as we do. We do not have the deputy minister, the minister or the Prime Minister within the government operations centre. We provide information and decision briefs to them.

Senator Banks: In the event of the worst happening, is there a place that the Prime Minister and ministers would go that is secure, safe, protectable and has hard communications between your place and their place?

Mr. Oldham: You are outside my area now. I am responsible only for the Government Operations Centre. I communicate with the Privy Council Office, PCO, and they are responsible for communication with the Prime Minister's Office. There is facility within public safety to house officials and to do those kinds of things, but I am not aware of what the Prime Minister has in place or what PCO has in place outside the facilities they have currently.

Senator Banks: Do they have such a facility?

Mr. Oldham: I do not know.

The Chairman: How about PCO? Answer the same question, if you would, please, with respect to PCO. Do you have secure communications with them that is 24/7, and do you know who you are dealing with in PCO on any given day?

Mr. Oldham: Yes, we have secure communications with PCO, but 24/7, if you are talking about an operation centre in PCO that runs 24/7, they do not.

The Chairman: Let us say that Kevin Lynch, Clerk of PCO, needs to be apprised of something. Do you know where the clerk is all the time?

Mr. Oldham: We do not know where the clerk is all the time, but PCO knows where the clerk is, and we have guaranteed communications with PCO through duty officers and also through direct communications with senior officials in PCO.

The Chairman: What if Mr. Lynch is not available?

Mr. Oldham: We would be in contact with the National Security Advisor.

The Chairman: What if the National Security Advisor is not available?

Mr. Oldham: Then we are connected to the duty officer who is on call, as well as the head of S&I at PCO.

The Chairman: What is S&I?

Mr. Oldham: Security and Intelligence. They have their own internal duty roster and internal communication systems. I do not know, on a day-to-day basis, exactly where everyone is within PCO, but I do know that I have reliable numbers and reliable communications to reach people within PCO if I need to. In three years, I have never had an experience where I could not reach who I needed to reach in PCO in a short period of time.

The Chairman: What is a short period of time?

Mr. Oldham: Within 10 minutes.

The Chairman: I will give you two examples. I have had ministers of the Crown, in fairness, not in this government, but in a previous government, describe that they were the acting Prime Minister. They were the Prime Minister while the Prime Minister was elsewhere. In this case, they were probably the seventeenth down the list of seniority. They were contacted and consulted as to how to behave in a certain incident that related to interdicting and vessels bringing drugs into the country. You would not talk to someone who is communicating with the Prime Minister of the day. You would not talk directly to the minister. You would talk to someone who had talked to the minister. Do I have that right?

Mr. Oldham: That is normally correct. The minister responsible would talk to the Prime Minister. The deputy ministers responsible to that minister would speak to the minister. We may brief cabinet. We may brief at the deputy minister level, either for information purposes or for decision purposes. No, I would not pick up the phone and speak directly to a minister, in most cases.

The Chairman: If we picked a more dramatic situation, such as a hijacking of an airliner that looked like it was heading towards a city, would the operations centre deal with that?

Mr. Oldham: Yes.

The Chairman: How many people would you need to talk to before you reached someone who could decide whether the airliner was to be shot down?

Mr. Oldham: I need to be careful on this subject, because Canada's response in those circumstances is sensitive. We exercise this scenario frequently with the Department of National Defence. I imagine you have probably spoken to them as well. We do not have difficulty reaching decision-makers up to the Chief of the Defence Staff equivalent. I do not know what exercises DND conducts within their own department up to the ministerial level. I cannot answer that question, as I am not aware of it. Every other aspect of an aircraft hijacking, with the exception of that particular slice, if you like, is managed through the Government Operations Centre, and it is not uncommon for us to deal with that.

The Chairman: Who should we talk to for a picture of the entire chain? Is it the Prime Minister's National Security Advisor, Margaret Bloodworth? Who is the best person to say, ``From incident to decision, I can describe to you each step of the way?''

Mr. Oldham: I can describe that step to you. My concern is about discussing the details and how it works at a certain point in a public forum. I am happy to say that, in terms of all aspects of the response, with the exception of the issue you are talking about — that is a Department of Public Safety and RCMP responsibility, and we know exactly how that works — we practice it, and we do it on live events. The other portion you are talking about is the responsibility of the Minister of National Defence, and that department is best placed to respond to how they deal with their legislated responsibilities in that particular event for that particular aspect.

These two things are not isolated. They operate concurrently. The normal policing and Public Security part go with any aviation emergency such as that, which is a Public Security matter, and concurrently, the responsibilities of Department of National Defence are operating. Our challenge, and it is an interesting exercise, is to keep the two responsibilities on track, to manage the two and to ensure the information flows back and forth between both departments at the same time, and to ensure that we have not only an appropriate response from the Department of Public Security or the Department of National Defence but that the departments also think about the consequence management aspect of anything that may occur, whether it is an aircraft crash or something else.

Senator Banks: We would not presume to ask what the decision would be. The question is only, what is the chain? What is the means by which whoever is in charge of your place reaches the necessary people to make whatever decision needs to be made?

Mr. Oldham: We establish the communications through a conference call. It is the fastest and most efficient way to do it. When we are in one of these events, a series of conference calls happen as we coordinate the various mandates. Obviously, we need to talk to the Americans at the same time. There is a NORAD aspect. There is potentially a U.S. aspect. There can be an international aspect depending on which air carrier it is. All those conference calls are up and going within a matter of minutes. The actual activation at the senior level of the decision makers also happens rapidly. We and DND keep track of the people who have authority for making decisions in that scenario you are talking about.

Senator Banks: You said communications is not your direct responsibility. However, if something happens, the release of something from an overturned train car and you need to reach a large number of people in the shortest possible space of time, there are different means from province to province, and sometimes from county to county as to how that is done. Sometimes it is reverse 9-1-1, sometimes it is radio broadcast and sometimes it is interrupt. This committee has referred to an emergency warning system that exists in Alberta in which one button is pushed, broadcast entities are immediately interrupted and the message goes out, which is done on a voluntary basis.

We have recommended in our previous report that such a thing should be made a condition of broadcast licensing in Canada and should be universal in the country. Do you think that system would be a good idea?

Mr. Oldham: I cannot really say without looking at exactly how their system works and what the implications would be.

Senator Banks: It works perfectly.

Mr. Oldham: Few things do.

Is it a good idea to warn people publicly: of course. As you say, different jurisdictions do it in different ways. For instance, British Columbia is adept at warnings related to tsunamis. Therefore it depends on the province or territory, but it is not our responsibility to alert the public. That is not within our mandate. We do governmental warning and governmental alerting. Does that mean we will reach out and tell a province that something is happening: absolutely.

Senator Banks: Are the relationships with the respective provincial counterparts good?

Mr. Oldham: They are good, yes.

The Chairman: Mr. Oldham, you mentioned warnings for tsunamis. Have you checked that warning system and do you know that for a fact? Have you been in British Columbia on the seashore in a place where a tsunami might come?

Mr. Oldham: No.

The Chairman: Have you had anyone go on your behalf?

Mr. Oldham: No, I have not.

The Chairman: Can you describe how someone standing on the edge of the ocean would learn that a tsunami was coming towards them?

Mr. Oldham: I can explain up to a point where it becomes a provincial responsibility.

The Chairman: Perhaps I can save you some time. When you said there was a good warning system in British Columbia regarding tsunamis, when the committee was in British Columbia we asked the question: How do you actually communicate a warning to someone who is sitting on the dock? The best answer we received was that it is the responsibility of the municipality.

We do not know of municipalities that have sirens or warning systems of the sort that we see up and down the coast of Florida, for example, warning people every kilometre or so that a hurricane is coming and they must evacuate the island. We are concerned about whether people would be well warned in the event of a tsunami. Have you satisfied yourself that if something was coming the warning system would work and the folks on the beach would be safe?

Mr. Oldham: Perhaps I should revise my comments. I am relaying the message I received from the Province of British Columbia that they think they have a good system in place. If you are asking me if I know that personally, as a fact, the answer is no, I do not.

Senator Atkins: You referred to the operations centre as sort of the same line and staff as the brigade. Is that because of the leadership that put it together, or is that because it is the most practical way of implementing your responsibilities?

Mr. Oldham: Obviously, I have a bias. That is natural enough. However, my boss is not a military officer. My boss is a former RCMP officer. Few of the people who worked together to put in the system we have now were military people. We looked at the military model because it works. It has worked effectively for a long time under severe stress. We were also conscious of the Incident Command System, which basically functions almost universally across the country and throughout North America.

One reason we modeled on the Incident Command System is because it is already in play and in use within municipalities and provinces. We did not want to come up with a system that worked against what was already in place. Because the Incident Command System is based on the military model, it allows us to have good understanding, communications and interaction between us and our military, between our two militaries, Canada and the U.S., and between the Department of Homeland Security and ourselves, which is also organized under the same basic structure.

It is a system that works and there was not a whole lot of point in reinventing the wheel. Why not use something that was proven? Therefore, we took the best parts of the military system and the best parts of the civilian system and melded them together in an all-hazards approach.

Senator Atkins: Who is your boss?

Mr. Oldham: My boss is Robert Lesser, who is the Director General of Operations. Operations is a directorate within Public Safety Canada.

Senator Atkins: How many human resources are in this office?

Mr. Oldham: Currently, our establishment is 122 persons. In addition, when we have a large-scale emergency, people from other departments, agencies and from Public Safety Canada come in and augment that number even further, as required.

Senator Atkins: Can we take an example of how you would handle something, such as the CN situation in the last two or three days?

Mr. Oldham: I apologize because I have been on second language training for the past four weeks, so I am not sure what you refer to in terms of CN.

Senator Atkins: I refer to the blockade by the First Nations people.

Mr. Oldham: I am not aware of the details but I have a general idea of that event.

The Chairman: Why not give the example of a case where a group of Indians decide to block a railroad.

Senator Atkins: That information would come to you. Is there anything you would do in your situation room to deal with this question?

Mr. Oldham: We have a well-established process of looking at events and making determinations of their potential impact. Something such as that situation, of course, at that point, is not any kind of emergency that needs to be dealt with.

Senator Atkins: It could be a national emergency.

Mr. Oldham: There is a difference between a national emergency and something that may be of interest nationally. That situation is not necessarily an emergency, if you follow what I mean. No lives are at threat or anything like that. Some people would suggest the problem is political.

However, in the first flush of that situation, it is not the responsibility of the federal government to be involved in a rail blockade. That does not mean the Government Operations Centre is not actively monitoring that situation; likely it is. I am sure if I called back to the office they would tell me they were, and they may be looking at a number of other things. They are probably chasing 10 to 12 events, as we speak.

Senator Atkins: Are there any situations where you would have a direct connection with the Prime Minister?

Mr. Oldham: No, there are not.

Senator Atkins: Does your immediate boss have a direct connection?

Mr. Oldham: No, it is unlikely that would happen. We may brief ministers directly, but I think it would be unusual for us to brief the Prime Minister directly. That is the role and responsibility of PCO.

Senator Atkins: You described that you might have a situation at Portage and Main. You may draw a conclusion that the resources to deal with that situation are limited. What action would you take?

Mr. Oldham: At that point it comes down to identifying what resources are required, where we can source them from and, as importantly, where we can replace them.

In a hypothetical situation — and this example may help explain how we do our business — if we look at forest fires over the coming season, and assess the potential for forest fires, where we think they will burn, et cetera, we can start to lay critical infrastructure over that potential and look at it. As we go through that process, we may identify, for example, communications nodes that may be affected by a fire. At that point, we do not sit back and wait for the fire to burn through the communications node. We could identify mobile resources for communications that we could earmark for that particular task and pre-deploy into the region to mitigate that event.

We do not have the authority to tell that department or agency to pick up its stuff and move it. We do not have to do that, either, because as soon as we identify to them that something like that needs to be done, they do it proactively in a co-operative manner.

It is the same thing with Hurricane Katrina. When we moved the national emergency stockpile, I think, to Texas, we needed to replace the resource we consumed. Because we are a strategic level and we are talking about strategic-level assets as part of the entire planning process, we need to ask where to recreate a disaster assistance response team, DART, or a national emergency stockpile. If I move a heavy urban search and rescue team to a major structural collapse in Edmonton, do I then move a heavy urban search and rescue team to another site so we balance that out resource across the country to be ready for another event. Those decisions are strategic operations.

Senator Atkins: Using a forest fire example in New Brunswick, and you draw the conclusion that the fire is getting out of hand, would you recommend the New Brunswick government call in the military perhaps if you thought it was necessary to deal with that kind of situation?

Mr. Oldham: We would not make an assessment and decision like that by ourselves. We would make that assessment hand in hand with the Province of New Brunswick who is a strong partner with us. We do a lot of things with them, including things on the technology side.

We would not make a recommendation like that by ourselves. It would be something we would do in concert with New Brunswick as well as with DND and all the other departments and agencies that have the potential to play in that.

There is a tendency during any kind of emergency to push the red button and say, bring in the army. The army is not necessarily the best way to deal with most events. They are not trained or equipped for it.

Often, when all the departments and agencies are sitting around the table, you find out quickly there are a bunch of resources out there people never imagined existed. For example, Correctional Service Canada has some ability to fight fires through the prison population. The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs has stockpiles of firefighting equipment. Many native communities have fully-trained professional, deployable fire-fighting teams that are begging to be used. We do not necessarily need to go to the military right away. One of the advantages of a GOC is that we would look at something as a whole, as opposed to a department looking at it in isolation and not recognizing the big picture.

Senator Atkins: Are there any other examples where a province might request the military to intervene.

Mr. Oldham: I assume you mean outside of snowstorms in Toronto. I think forest fires tend to be the big one, as well as flooding. If we had a major earthquake, would we look at military resources? Undoubtedly we would. Public Security Canada, under certain circumstances and conditions, would also be included. It is a valuable resource and we have a good and tight relationship with Canada Command.

When I am not on second language training, for example, I have a conference call every morning at 7:15 with my counterpart at Canada Command.

Senator Atkins: Is the reorganization of the military a good thing?

Mr. Oldham: It is not my place to say, but it has been useful for me to have a dedicated organization that is responsible for domestic operations and is focused on them.

Senator Atkins: Is there anything you deal with, in relation to the Internet, which is becoming a more serious problem all the time?

Mr. Oldham: The Internet is interesting. We make use of the Internet for communications, obviously. It is robust. That is part of the reason it was developed in the first place.

In terms of threats that emerge in that area, that is the federal responsibility of the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre, CCIRC, which is housed within the Government Operations Centre. I am no expert on the Internet. I know how to type in web addresses. That is probably the extent of my Internet experience.

There are people within CCIRC who do what we do for everything else, but focus on the Internet. Obviously, there is a potential for national security events resulting from the Internet, and events happening within the Internet may be an indicator of something else. That is another thing we monitor.

Senator Atkins: Of the five to seven people on duty, one of them would deal with the Internet?

Mr. Oldham: You are correct. There is a cyber incident response centre watch officer as well.

Senator Moore: You say that somebody monitors the Internet, yet you say you do not engage in operational tactics, you operate at a strategic level. How do you rationalize those two things? You do more than only strategy.

Mr. Oldham: It is interesting that you picked up on that because it is probably the one exception we have within the Government Operations Centre. The Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre responds in a more operational way than any other part of our organization.

CCIRC existed before the Government Operations Centre was established. It pre-existed. It was a good and effective organization. For intrusions into federal systems, et cetera, they would be involved in helping to manage that event with the departments and agencies affected, the intelligence organizations affected and with police. It is our one exception where we do not operate at the tactical level. We do things at the operational and strategic level when it comes to the cyber centre.

Senator Moore: Is this unit the only one operating in Canada?

Mr. Oldham: No, every agency and department has responsibility for —

Senator Moore: Monitoring the Internet?

Mr. Oldham: We need to be careful what we say about monitoring. When I talk about monitoring, I am not talking about the content of the Internet, what goes on or what people say in chat rooms, et cetera. I am talking about things that affect the stability of the Internet, overall. I am talking about hackers, viruses and those sorts of things. I am talking about intrusions into government systems. I am not talking about monitoring.

Senator Moore: Are those things that could upset the national or international system?

Mr. Oldham: Yes.

The Chairman: Would Research in Motion, RIM, going down last week be an example?

Mr. Oldham: Yes: I will speculate again as I was away at that time. I know our incident response centre would have talked to the company to find out what went on and why their network was down: ``Is there another nexus here that we are missing or did you have a power blackout?''

The Chairman: You mentioned the national emergency stockpile. What does that stockpile include? Does it include food and clothing?

Mr. Oldham: I refer you to the Public Health Agency of Canada for the exact breakdown of what is in the stockpile and what is in regional depots. At that particular time, we were looking for certain parts of the stockpile.

Senator Moore: Is this when you were sent to Louisiana?

Mr. Oldham: That is right. We were looking for blankets, cots and certain specific commodities.

The Americans were overwhelmed with assistance from other countries. Part of the challenge, of course, and the Department of Foreign Affairs was a great partner in this challenge, was not to send the Americans more things than they needed. Everybody on the planet offered them rations, for example, because rations are the easiest thing to move. We ensured that we provided our neighbours things they actually wanted.

Senator Moore: You said you needed authority to transport the things you wanted from Canada to another country, in this case the United States. Who did you receive that authority from?

Mr. Oldham: I believe we obtained it at the deputy minister level.

Senator Moore: What department was that?

Mr. Oldham: It was the Public Health Agency, which is Health Canada.

The issue was the authority to deploy outside the country. The ability to pick it up, move it or arrange that movement was not an issue. Authority was needed to deploy something internationally that was earmarked to be used domestically.

Senator Moore: Are you involved in the security planning for the Vancouver Olympics at Whistler?

Mr. Oldham: I am not personally involved but our planning organization within the Government Operations Centre is, yes.

Senator Moore: That security is a little more than strategic.

Mr. Oldham: We are looking at it from the strategic point of view. What happens tactically at the venue site is not our responsibility: rather responsibility is at the provincial level. The RCMP has responsibility for those things within the province. We are looking at the bigger picture in terms of preparation.

Senator Moore: Where is the GOC located?

Mr. Oldham: It is currently in the downtown core. I am not able to discuss publicly exactly where it is located.

Senator Moore: Ms. Wong, is the national critical infrastructure protection strategy document completed?

Suki Wong, Director, Critical Infrastructure Protection Policy, Public Safety Canada: We are currently finalizing the document. A draft document has been created. Once it is finalized, we will be able to circulate the document.

Senator Moore: What is the time frame for completion?

Ms. Wong: We are near finishing. We need to do our consultations. Those steps are next. We hope to finalize it in early fall.

Senator Moore: Do consultations go through ministries, and when the document is finished, is it a public document?

Ms. Wong: Yes.

Senator Moore: Do you expect all of that to be completed by the fall of 2007?

Ms. Wong: Critical infrastructure protection is an ongoing process. We cannot be complacent. We cannot say that once a strategy is developed we are happy with the strategy. Critical infrastructure is evolving and we must adjust our planning, do more consultations, and collaborate with the provinces, territories and the private sector.

Senator Moore: Will the ongoing process end in the fall?

Ms. Wong: The guiding principle —

Senator Moore: It sounds like it will continue to go on. Is there an end date?

Ms. Wong: Yes, the principles for critical infrastructure protection, such as risk management, information sharing, and partnerships with industry — those foundation pieces — will be done, consulted on and agreed to by all partners.

In terms of ongoing planning — how we protect our critical infrastructure and what information needs to be shared — that is something we do and renew on an ongoing basis.

Senator Moore: I think we discussed this sort of thing when we were out west. Will you speak to people, for example, gas pipeline concerns in Alberta? Would you speak to these types of companies and individuals, to set the plan in place?

Ms. Wong: They are one of our important stakeholders and we have spoken to them.

Senator Moore: I would think so. Thank you.

The Chairman: Redundancy, do you have a second office?

Mr. Oldham: We have a second facility although it does not meet my level of satisfaction at this point. It is on a separate power grid. It is physically located in a different area, but it is not the same kind of facility as the one we have in our principal location. That difference is a matter of time and money.

Our ultimate goal is to leave the facility we are currently in because, as I will explain, the facility is not completely adequate to our needs.

The concept is to develop, if possible, a unique centre that has sufficient redundancy and survivability that we would not need to redeploy to a secondary site. A secondary site for this kind of facility would be expensive and totally underused. If we build it right, except in situations where we are talking about the continuity of the constitutional government, the GOC should not need to relocate.

The Chairman: You will go to North Bay and use the old hole there.

Mr. Oldham: I sure hope not.

The Chairman: Have you worked the backup centre? Have you said to everybody, next Tuesday we will all go there for a day?

Mr. Oldham: Yes, we conduct tests in the centre. It is in the facility that belongs to another government department. We do not necessarily tell the staff, but we attempt to coordinate that a little bit. The problem with the alternate location is that we must establish it. That means pulling out the computers, plugging them in, connecting phones and things like that. It is not a standing facility.

The Chairman: You do not have redundancy unless it is all plugged in.

Mr. Oldham: It depends on the kind of redundancy you are talking about. For instance, if you are talking about redundant power at our current sites, we have that. We have redundant communications systems.

The Chairman: The purpose of redundancy is if, for some reason, your system goes down, you have a place that you can go to immediately.

Mr. Oldham: I am not worried about any of our systems going down because we have backups to our systems. I am concerned about something happening to the physical building we are in.

The Chairman: If you have a fire in the building, you must go elsewhere.

Mr. Oldham: Exactly, if we have a fire, earthquake, et cetera, then we have a major problem.

The Chairman: You need a place to go to right away.

Mr. Oldham: Yes: The other problem, of course, is the people. We may have a second facility, but if we do not have a second complete group of people, and we lose our people in that building, a second site will make no difference. That is why we are looking at the other approach, which is to build a robust survivable facility so we do not have that problem.

The Chairman: What is the optimum or maximum number of events you can manage at one time?

Mr. Oldham: Our structure is designed so we can deal with three events consecutively.

The Chairman: Is that consecutively or simultaneously?

Mr. Oldham: Sorry, that is simultaneously. I would say that all three events would not be huge major ones. Often exercises are designed to look like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and their whole families have arrived. In reality, that does not happen. However, we need to be able to deal with a major event, and at least a couple of other events at any given time. When you see the facility, you will see we are physically set up to do that.

The Chairman: Do you have an organization chart, together with a descriptor, that you can make available to the committee?

Mr. Oldham: I need to check on the classification to see whether I can release it.

The Chairman: Can you advise the clerk, please?

Mr. Oldham: Yes.

The Chairman: Senator Moore talked with Ms. Wong a moment ago about the inventory of critical infrastructure. How did you collect your inventory of assets and capabilities across the country? How do you assess it and how do you maintain it?

Mr. Oldham: We have taken a different approach. We have not taken the approach that we build a list and then maintain it because we never seem to finish. We finish one jurisdiction and before we are ready to start the next one, we must go back and redo our list again because it is not current. The list is almost impossible to maintain.

Instead, we have gone to people who have responsibilities for certain sectors — Transport Canada, for instance, for transportation, and Industry Canada, for oil. When talking to provinces and territories, many, such as Alberta, have a robust system where they know what their critical infrastructure is.

We have taken the approach of looking at our connections and our ability to reach out and assess critical infrastructure against the threat or event at the moment because the environment is constantly changing. It goes back to the example of the forest fire. Here is what is going on: What do we overlay and where do we obtain the information to overlay it on?

If we have the ability to connect directly with the people who are responsible for maintaining those lists and pieces, we have the thing licked. If we try to build and maintain our own list internal, we cannot do it.

We have a robust geomatics organization within our organization, which focuses on exactly that for every event we run through. We immediately start pulling out the pieces from Natural Resources Canada, industry, environment, provinces and territories, and map those pieces directly onto that event because what may be critical today in that condition is not critical tomorrow under a separate type of threat.

The Chairman: Geomatics is a 25-cent word. Is there a 5-cent word for geomatics?

Mr. Oldham: Geomatics takes geographical information, overlays layers of different types of intelligence and applies it to the map — whether it is infrastructure or weather and all those sorts of things. We build that map in a multi-layer way and then look at the impacts that fall out.

The Chairman: I am having difficulty with what you are describing. You described the operations centre as a core with a body of knowledge, and that you can provide an all-governments approach to natural and man-made disasters by utilizing the different assets that exist in governments, plural, and, beyond that, in the private sector when you talked about fire departments that were for hire. How do you know the assets are there if you have not developed a list, or you have not completed an inventory?

Mr. Oldham: We do that in two basic ways. One is through our contingency planning process, where I talked about identifying potential threats and going into the planning process. When we bring all those people around the table and look at the contingency plan that results from that process, we see assets identified. This is where we learned things in the first year about what is out there to fight forest fires. We assess that situation every year because the resources that departments, agencies, provinces and even the military have to fight forest fires changes every year.

The other way we do it is through that good connection. When an event starts to emerge, we go out to everybody and ask them what they have today.

The Chairman: Does this approach include drills where you work through an event and you talk to somebody in the province, and the province talks to somebody in the city, and the federal minister is plugged in here, and the provincial minister is plugged in there?

Mr. Oldham: A lot of exercises go on. We try to participate in as many as we can. It is difficult to participate in all of them because everybody wants to interact with the Government Operations Centre. Combine that demand with the number of events we run, which are the best kinds of exercises.

At the same time, we have drills every month with other departments and agencies. We have exercises with provinces and territories. We have the big exercises such as the Top Officials, TOPOFF, series. Another one is coming up this fall where interaction will take place all the way down to the municipal level, I believe. We need to refer back to our exercise division within Public Safety Canada to obtain the details of what exactly is planned for TOPOFF 4.

We have drills and exercises to practice, as well having the actual live events.

The Chairman: How many potential lead ministers are there — six or seven?

Mr. Oldham: I do not think it is necessarily that high. In any kind of complex emergency, the lead minister is clearly the Minister of Public Safety. I believe the proposed emergency management act, which Ms. Wong is far more expert in than I am, reinforces the concept that during any kind of emergency domestically, the Minister of Public Safety will be the lead minister, or the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Chairman: When, for some reason, neither of them is reachable, who is next on the food chain?

Mr. Oldham: The responsibility still lies within that department, so it follows whatever structure that department has in place.

The Chairman: The department is responsible only so far. At some point, political direction and a political decision is required. The department can advise, caution, counsel and do all sorts of things, but there are some things that a politician needs to say yes to. Who replaces the Minister of Public Safety or the Minister of Foreign Affairs if one of them, for some reason, cannot be reached in a timely fashion?

Mr. Oldham: PCO manages that for us. I do not interface with the ministers directly.

The Chairman: For the political piece of the puzzle, PCO is responsible.

Mr. Oldham: That is correct. PCO is part of the group that deploys to the Government Operations Centre during a crisis.

The Chairman: Do you have offices in every province?

Mr. Oldham: I believe the Department of Public Safety has a regional office in every province, as well as the territories, which have been augmented recently as well.

The Chairman: The National Security Policy of 2004 said there would be operation centres in every province and territory, and there would be an effort to co-locate them with provincial and territorial operational centres. Is that the case?

Mr. Oldham: That is the case but it has not happened yet. That is the goal. They are working toward it, jurisdiction by jurisdiction. For instance, I know they are co-located in Nova Scotia.

The Chairman: Nova Scotia is the one we are sure of. Are there others?

Mr. Oldham: I believe New Brunswick is in the process of co-locating operational centres as we speak. Our co- ordination directorate within Public Safety has the responsibility for the regional offices. I know the effort is ongoing in British Columbia and, I think, in Alberta as well. I believe, in British Columbia, they are at the point of talking about facilities, but I would have to check that fact.

Senator Ringuette: A few weeks ago, Minister Day was in Halifax supposedly to make a surprise arrest of 150 stowaways in containers. Who would provide the department with that information and who would verify it?

Mr. Oldham: I was not around for that operation.

Senator Ringuette: I should have asked my question in French.

Mr. Oldham: I still would not have been around. However, I can say that intelligence is intelligence and it does not always turn out to be exactly what we think it is. I am not privy to the details of that particular event or the intelligence at the time because I was not there. However, I would speculate that intelligence of that kind would come from a number of different agencies and departments, and would be fed in centrally. There is no doubt in my mind that work would have been done within the Government Operations Centre to collate the intelligence and come up with a collective response on behalf of the Government of Canada to that event. I am sure that it was not only one department or agency involved in that stowaway event. Rather, a number of departments or agencies would have been involved. I can think of half a dozen or so off the top of my head, such as the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency and Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The whole response to that potential threat would have been coordinated within the Government Operations Centre, and then coordinated regionally as well.

Senator Ringuette: The GOC would have verified the information?

Mr. Oldham: Yes, the GOC would have worked on the verification. The problem is that we can never be 100-per- cent certain of a particular event. Even though I was not there, I would say that a proactive response in an attempt to mitigate something is better than sitting back and waiting for the absolutely perfect intelligence picture that guarantees something will happen, and then responding to it. I would rather be proactive.

Senator Ringuette: I can understand the need to be proactive in the name of security. Would you send your minister there without being 100-per-cent accurate?

Mr. Oldham: Obviously, that call is not for the Government Operations Centre to make. I assume the responsibility lies with the PMO and the PCO to decide those kinds of things. Where ministers make statements on one event or another, that is clearly outside the mandate of the Government Operations Centre.

Senator Ringuette: Another concern of mine on safety and security is with all the activity in the Great Canadian North. We have heard stories of submarines, for example, plying the northern waters. Is the GOC looking into this matter? Do you have information on such activities? Would you make any kind of recommendation in respect of sovereignty in the North? What is your responsibility, and where would you intervene?

Mr. Oldham: Our responsibility is limited to emergency response. The GOC does not deal with the policy issues that surround those kinds of activities. There is no emergency in the North and the Government Operations Centre is in place to manage emergencies.

When the British nuclear submarine had the accident on board about five weeks ago, it was not within Canadian waters. However, the GOC focussed on it to determine whether they needed help because the accident created an emergency.

Senator Ringuette: It is nuclear equipment.

Mr. Oldham: That is right. The GOC must determine the impact on Canada when there is an emergency. In such a case, we are responsive but the other issues are outside the purview of emergency response and, therefore, are not looked at by the GOC.

Senator Ringuette: Thank you.

Senator Banks: I have the temerity to try to change your mind, Mr. Oldham, about redundancy. In your business, it seems that the normal considerations that would be given to the cost-benefit analysis of something based on risk assessment do not apply, and that you must be prepared for the worst possible scenario. In the event of an incident that would render the GOC and its staff inoperable, for whatever reason and by whatever means, an answer given after the fact to Canadians that, having looked at an alternate location, the GOC determined it was not worth the cost, would not be a good answer. I hope that you would reconsider your plans with respect to redundancy.

Mr. Oldham: Perhaps I should provide some clarification. I am not saying that we should not have an alternate location to set up the GOC. We do not have such a facility established at the same level of robustness as the current facility. It has taken us a lot of time to build what we have. One reason you have not been to the facility sooner is that we have been renovating so that it is up to speed. Now, we are on to the next piece. I agree with your approach. We have not had the ability to develop any further than we have developed, to date.

Senator Moore: Senator Atkins mentioned the blockade of the railroad in Ontario last week. Would the GOC log that kind of incident? Would that incident be reported? You said it was not an event, so which category would that blockade fit into?

Mr. Oldham: I am speculating because I was not there last week. That incident would be categorized as one that the GOC would monitor, among the other 4,300 incidents. Let us talk about what occurred in Caledonia, for example, one year ago. That kind of activity would be reported on by the GOC.

Senator Moore: Tell us about the British nuclear submarine incident. When and where did it take place?

Mr. Oldham: I do not know the exact date and I do not have it with me.

Senator Moore: Was it on the East or West Coast?

Mr. Oldham: Off the West Coast of Alaska, a British nuclear submarine had an explosion or fire in one of its oxygen tanks. One crew member was lost and a number of others were wounded. We received information on that quickly through our allies, after which we started to look at the event to determine the possible impacts. The first one was saving lives and the second was the environmental and other impacts of the event, not knowing in the initial seconds what had happened. We plan for, watch for and respond to that kind of activity, although it is impossible to plan for every possibility. That is our daily work.

Senator Ringuette: I have a follow-up question because we want to know more about the issue. Mr. Oldham, you said that your counterpart would have advised you of the event. Does the U.K. have a similar security safety headquarters that would be in communication with the GOC?

Mr. Oldham: Each country organizes itself somewhat differently to perform our kind of work. In Canada, we are unique with our Government Operations Centre that has such a broad mandate and is focused in such a way. Many countries are split between national security policing and traditional consequence management, and they do not talk to each other a great deal. We are fortunate to have the GOC in Canada.

We have tight relationships in communications between our principal allies and through the military. The initial reporting of a submarine accident, or similar accident, would be classified information and would not be known to most people initially. We receive that information as it happens because GOC has that kind of relationship with the Canadian military, with NORAD and with our allies.

Senator Ringuette: For instance, in this incident, you would have had information from two entities: their national security or safety organization and our national defence department.

Mr. Oldham: I cannot recall exactly how it flowed in, but your concept is correct. I believe, in this case, we did not receive the information directly from the British. However, to address your point that we receive information from a number of different places on the same event, if I receive four reports on the same event, I am a happy guy. That means I have the redundant communications and I have good lines of communications. I am receiving different viewpoints from different departments, organizations, et cetera. I do not mind having to sort out what is happening. The question is whether I receive all the information right away.

Then the challenge is to feed that information back out to everyone else who needs to know so we can build what we call a common operating environment: one national picture of what is going on.

The Chairman: Mr. Oldham, thank you very much to you and your colleagues for appearing before us. The committee has found the information instructive. We have generated more information that we would like to think about, and we will probably invite you back for another round. We are grateful to you for coming today and for the clarity of your testimony. It was delivered in a helpful manner.

Mr. Oldham: Thank you, senator and the committee. I personally invite you to visit. I would be happy to conduct the tour myself and take you through our Government Operations Centre and show you what we have achieved. We are proud of what we have done in a few short years, and would be happy to show you.

The Chairman: For members of the public viewing this program, if you have any questions or comments please visit our website at www.sen-sec.ca. We post witness testimony as well as confirmed hearing schedules. Otherwise you may contact the clerk of the committee by calling 1-800-267-7362 for further information or assistance in contacting members of the committee.

The committee continued in camera.