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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 17 - Evidence - Meeting of June 18, 2007


OTTAWA, Monday, June 18, 2007

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 9:45 a.m. to examine and report upon the national security policy of Canada.

Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the chair.

[English]

The Chairman: I call the meeting to order. This is a meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. My name is Colin Kenny, and I chair the committee.

Before we begin, I would like to briefly introduce the members of the committee. On my immediate right is Senator Wilfred Moore from Halifax. He is a lawyer with an extensive record of community involvement and has served for ten years on the Board of Governors of St. Mary's University. He also sits on the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce and the Standing Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

To his right we have Senator Joseph Day from New Brunswick. He is the chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. He is a member of the bar of New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec, and a fellow of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada. He is also the former president and CEO of the New Brunswick Forest Products Association.

On the far side of Senator Day is Senator Rod Zimmer, from Winnipeg. Senator Zimmer has had a long and distinguished career in business and philanthropy. He has volunteered his services for countless charitable causes and organizations. He sits on the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and also on the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications.

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

Honourable senators, we have before us today, again, Mr. Julian Fantino, Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police. Welcome, Mr. Fantino. Mr. Fantino was appointed to his current position in October of 2006. In this role, he oversees front-line delivery, administrative support services and specialized and multi-jurisdictional investigations throughout the Province of Ontario.

Mr. Fantino has had a long and distinguished career in policing. His appointments include commissioner for emergency management Ontario in March of 2005, chief of the Toronto Police Service in 2000, chief of York Regional Police in 1998, and chief of the London Police Service in 1991.

Mr. Fantino is accompanied today by Detective Staff Sergeant Pat J. Morris, Provincial Anti-Terrorism Section, Ontario Provincial Police.

Julian Fantino, Commissioner, Ontario Provincial Police: Thank you, honourable senators, for the opportunity to come before you to address a significant topic matter which you have been involved with for a long time now, and on which you have reported significant findings in your travels through this whole network of national security and associated issues.

I will briefly give a little bit of information about the Ontario Provincial Police. We operate in an area of some 922,000-plus square kilometres of territory, and about 110,000-plus square kilometres of waterways. Our sworn strength is 5,500 uniformed officers and over 1,700 civilian staff, plus over 800 auxiliary members. We operate in 313 municipalities across the province and, of course, also render services in a number of other contract areas. We respond to almost a million calls for service in 165 detachments located across the province. We are coming up to our one hundredth anniversary in 2009. That is a little bit of history by way of background with regard to much of the specialized areas in which the OPP operates in major investigative areas, but I will get more into the focus of our discussion here today with regard to terrorism and those kinds of issues.

We also, of course, have taken notice over the years of the evolution of the threats that we face, and perhaps I will start by indicating on my documentation here, senators, on page 9. In regard to the relationship, I will discuss the context of change brought about by many factors but primarily by the O'Connor inquiry and the response to it by the federal government, specifically the new governance framework and the resultant national security policy. I will conclude by outlining the nature of change in the national security area and, of course, the point of view of OPP and municipal partners in the anti-terrorism section.

First, it is important to understand that the terrorism threat is real and is very tangible. In Ontario and Canada, it is not a matter of whether terrorists or their supporters will become active; they are, and have been, active for many years. As Thomas Homer Dixon pointed out in his recent book:

Never before has the world faced the determination of five determined men with the ability to paralyze a nation.

Terrorism and the emergence of extremists have made this both a possibility and a reality. The unfortunate reality is that the perpetrators have learned that terrorism works. Terrorism is all about making a statement, and that statement can be made anywhere. As Canadians, we tend to believe that the terrorist threat is far removed from our borders. I do not think I need to assure this committee that this is not the case.

Terrorism is not new to Canada. We have had the tragic events of 1985 — the bombing of the Air India flight over Ireland, killing 329 people — so we have our home-grown terrorism issues and investigations. More recently, there were the allegations made against 18 people out of the greater Toronto area, the GTA, some of them are young offenders as well.

We must look at how Canada, and especially Ontario, represents a target-rich environment. We have the largest and most concentrated population in Canada. We have the largest nuclear jurisdiction in North America. We have more than 50 per cent of Canada's chemical industry in our province. Basically, as I stated, we are a target-rich environment.

The world's second largest bilateral trading partnership exists between Canada and the United States. Even the perception of a porous border is a significant threat to Ontario's economic well-being. You know how the American authorities are watching everything we do very carefully in that regard.

There is also the 5,525 miles of border that we share with the United States, the international border. In addition to the amount of trade that goes back and forth between our two countries, there are also some 200 million people who cross back and forth each year.

Ontario's five key border crossings handle 45 per cent of all of Canada's trade with the United States. One of the key commitments Canada's police leaders have made is working together to enhance the security of our country. This is not new but it has become an ever-increasing reality for us.

At the provincial level, the Ontario Provincial Police is responsible, together with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and all police services, for the protection of Ontarians against the threat of terrorism. In non-contract provinces such as Ontario and Quebec, the provincial police services and municipal agencies are very much part of the struggle to combat terrorism. We must do this, as Justice O'Connor stressed in his second recommendation, in an integrated fashion.

Following the events of September 11, 2001, the government tasked the Ontario Provincial Police with developing a provincial anti-terrorism emergency management plan. The plan we recommended contained measures aimed at strengthening intelligence and policing capabilities right across the province. It recognized the effective use of intelligence collection and its subsequent analysis as essential elements of a concentrated, strategic approach to counterterrorism. A number of those measures have been implemented, including an integrated provincial anti- terrorism section whose primary focus is twofold: proactive, criminal intelligence-gathering in Ontario; and working in concert with other agencies within the intelligence community at the municipal, provincial and national levels. I will talk about this unit in a later comment in my presentation.

The Ontario Provincial Police has also taken an active role in commenting on Canada's counterterrorism legislation, and in helping our members learn as much as possible about the initiatives and measures being put in place federally to counter terrorism. On this topic, I must say that I believe the trepidation regarding the anti-terrorism legislation is ill- founded. The police recognize the exigent threat of terrorism and the legislative requirements to combat it. I think we have acted, and continue to act, responsibly in the application of that legislation. It is for this reason that the investigative means have been rarely used, the charges laid have been few and the arrests even fewer.

If there is one lesson to be learned from the attacks of September 11, it is that instability in one part of the world can be a problem for stable sovereign nations on the other side of the globe. This is especially the case for a multicultural country such as Canada. The events of September 11 have cast new importance on the need to share information and ensure the broadest possible integration among all those responsible for gathering and sharing this information.

Our ability to respond effectively depends on the capabilities and resources housed in many different organizations, on numerous levels of law enforcement and government agencies and on what might once have been considered an extraordinary degree of inter-agency coordination, collaboration and a whole lot of goodwill. It has finally come home to most of us that we face a common threat that requires an integrated response; in essence, we are all in this fight together.

Just noting the diverse organizations in the province of Ontario is an indication of the breadth of the network that is involved in protecting the people we serve. Cooperation within the law enforcement and intelligence communities, from an information sharing context, is not new. Information is a prime commodity in our world and the intelligence- led approach being used to target organized crime and terrorism is a good working example in our province.

The reality is, however, that prior to September 11, the open and proactive sharing of law enforcement information was inconsistent and not as well-coordinated as it could have been. However, the threat of terrorism has changed the world and our attitude forever.

Canada's, and Ontario's, ability to respond to a terrorist incident depends on the capabilities and skills of many different organizations and individuals, numerous levels of law enforcement and government and, to an extraordinary degree, on inter-agency coordination and collaboration — in a word, partnerships everywhere. Serious dialogue is needed to address the challenge of protecting the safety and security of Canadians from the terrorist threat and from the climate that it generates, including the motivation for hate-mongering and hate crimes. That means, of course, ensuring our front line personnel have the resources and training they need to do their job. While some politicians and media critics have criticized the federal government for arming border guards, I have no problem with it as long as due diligence is done before the issuing of weapons and the proper training and accountabilities are there. The bad guys have guns and are not afraid to use them; they would not think twice about capitalizing on any vulnerability. Since we are asking the guards to protect our borders, the least we can do is give them the resources, training and capacity to do so.

The Ontario Provincial Police supports the integration and sharing of information whenever possible with partners and the law enforcement and intelligence communities at a provincial, national and international level. While progress was being made prior to September 11, it has certainly sped up since. The work that this committee has been doing has also created a good deal of leadership in that regard.

Work is well under way in a number of quarters — provincially, nationally and internationally — to put this commitment into place. The focus is on finding ways to enable the kinds of partnerships needed to avoid duplication and ensure the timely delivery of information to the right agencies and organizations.

Some of the key questions that need to be resolved are: How do we integrate effectively at an intra- and inter- organizational level, at a technical level, and at a human relationships level; and how do we link effectively within the parameters of legislated mandates and jurisdictional boundaries?

Today, we are operating in an environment in which information is gathered, analyzed, correlated and disseminated throughout a complex network of agencies with various legislated mandates and jurisdictions. Joint forces operations are a case in point. Through close cooperation, law enforcement can, and does, successfully investigate and prosecute criminals. Despite the complexities, information can be acted upon effectively. Given the current global situation, no single agency — law enforcement, intelligence or government — has the kind of vast technical and human resources needed to take sole responsibility for combating terrorism in any jurisdiction. We will need our partners, including our private sector partners, to be successful in this battle.

Investigations of terrorist organizations are among the most complex of undertakings. They have the potential to last for several years, cross international boundaries and involve individuals who communicate in many different languages under very technical conditions. Therefore we need to ensure that we are leveraging resources. We need integration provincially, nationally and internationally through working partnerships that are, in effect, institutionalized. We need to understand jurisdictional parameters and mandates so that gaps and duplication are avoided and eliminated. Allow me to give you a brief example of what I mean.

The Blue Water Bridge at Point Edward, near Sarnia, is the second busiest commercial crossing in Canada and the only bridge that permits dangerous goods crossing in southwestern Ontario. On busy days, traffic volumes can reach 700 vehicles an hour between noon and 10 p.m. Daily traffic flows westbound to the United States are 8,000 to 10,000 vehicles. Despite those numbers, border crossings have decreased steadily since 2003. Politicians and chambers of commerce on both sides of the border cite border congestion as the reason that traffic is down. With each development issue around the world, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol Agents clamp down and, of course, the borders become even more clogged. This points out again the need for a secure but open border between Canada and the United States.

Meanwhile, due to shortages of resources, the RCMP has had to pull back a number of their people, so that the OPP is now doing much of the work at an international border with regard to not only security but also calls for service to the bridge and the waterways in that location. Point Edward, a community of fewer than 2,000 people, is policed by OPP under contract, so when our officers respond to Point Edward's needs, we pay what amounts to a great price to ensure national security.

I want to also talk briefly about our Provincial Anti-Terrorism Section, or PATS, of the OPP. The OPP-led joint forces operation is one of the important measures taken in Ontario since September 11 to combat terrorism and extremism. Established as part of Ontario's anti-terrorism plan, PATS primary focus is to facilitate multi-jurisdictional strategic intelligence operations. The Provincial Anti-Terrorism Section encompasses 10 police agencies, including the RCMP and CSIS, and has 20 detectives and two analysts, including a seven-member dedicated OPP surveillance team.

PATS operates from a Toronto home office co-located with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and five deployed locations across Ontario: Sault Ste. Marie, Ottawa, Niagara Falls, London and Windsor. Its overall mandate is to work proactively and collaboratively with other OPP units, police and other intelligence agencies to collect, evaluate, analyze and disseminate intelligence information across the province, across the nation and across borders; identify and monitor suspected terrorists, terrorist groups and individuals suspected of providing logistical and financial support for terrorist operations in efforts to anticipate and prevent criminal acts and provide investigative support to police agencies involved in terrorism-related investigations. In short, it focuses on an intelligence-led approach to detect, prevent, disrupt and aid in the prosecution of terrorist activity. It is a very efficient and effective application of both strategic and tactical intelligence. With regard to this last point, the Ontario Provincial Police Anti-terrorism Section operates in a variety of forums to assist front line members and police leaders in Ontario to identify, document and disseminate relevant information pertaining to terrorist and potential threat activities.

I will not speak to some of the more intimate work. Although PATS and the INSETS, the Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams, the RCMP-led unit, have worked closely since 2002, there is a recognized need for change in this relationship. Recent events and much more have formed and increased the way in which we need to approach national security challenges, which also offer opportunities. I am speaking of the recommendations made by Mr. Justice O'Connor following the Arar inquiry and, perhaps, some recommendations that will be mirrored by the Iacobucci inquiry recommendations that we accepted wholeheartedly. There is a framework going forward to adopt those recommendations.

I am speaking primarily to issues related to law enforcement mandates, the grounds upon which investigations or intelligence activity is based, dissemination of classified information domestically and internationally, proper training for national security investigators and the need to formalize MOUs as well as new oversight or review mechanisms being constructed. These steps are necessary changes if we are to ensure effective and efficient national security investigations that maintain the balance between our national security and civil liberties.

The OPP and its Provincial Anti-Terrorism Section accepts that the RCMP has primary responsibility in national security investigations, as cited in the Security Offences Act, and the mandate of CSIS in relation to national security intelligence. Our intention is to move forward in an efficient manner the relationship with both organizations within the criminal intelligence mandate in relation to national security. I would also add that this is a necessary step in a province such as Ontario, which is home to 70 per cent of the national security files in Canada and where the RCMP does not maintain a primary front-line presence.

One of the most difficult challenges for Canadian chiefs of police in relation to national security or terrorism has been to bridge the gap between the uniformed officer on the street and the specialists in order to facilitate an effective two-way flow of information. The OPP is trying to deal with that in a very concerted way. Since the release of the findings of Arar inquiry and the development of policy response that the relationship and efficiencies have improved. The nature of this change can be divided into the three main areas of policy, administration and operations. These new directives are found in the Policy and Governance Framework and the Operational Policy Manual for national security. These two documents have initiated extensive change, but the OPP is completely in step with the nature and direction of this change and arrangements are being made to implement these changes more formally in a Memorandum of Understanding.

In relation to newly established roles and mandates, the OPP recognizes that the mission of the INSETs is to prevent, detect and investigate terrorism, and that the OPP will facilitate this role in the province of Ontario both directly through PATS and through the work of our members. In our specific terrorist-related investigations, we will act within the INSETS umbrella, being cognizant of the new hierarchy whereby all INSETS answer to the RCMP Assistant Commissioner, National Security Investigations, and all investigations are centrally controlled.

From an operational perspective, one area I will address before I finish my comments, honourable senators, is the reality that in a truly holistic effort to detect and prevent acts of terrorism, it is critical for us to appreciate the value of our front-line police officers, who represent a yet to be fully realized first line of defence against terrorism. These officers network at the community level and develop the contacts and sources where most terrorist plans are hatched and even carried out. They have an ear to the ground and their eyes on local goings on. Front-line police officers plugged in at the community level through contacts and relationships represent a well-trained human radar system such that, if properly trained and resourced, can detect and report suspicious persons and activities that might constitute potential terrorist threats.

In my humble view, we need to do much more to fully utilize this resource. The fight — and it is a fight — to counter the threat of terrorism requires a concentrated, two-level approach, prevention and consequence management, and front-line police officers are critical to both. I regret to state, however, that not enough emphasis and resources are expended on our front-line police in our fight against terrorism, and this honourable committee might wish to review or explore that aspect.

It has taken the OPP 98 years to achieve the reputation and respect that it has internationally. Our vision is safe communities in a secure Ontario, and our mission is policing excellence through our people, our work and our relationships.

Honourable senators, I am open to respond to any of your questions.

The Chairman: Thank you, Commissioner Fantino, for a comprehensive presentation. Perhaps you could comment briefly on resources.

The committee is astonished when we find that Canada ranks twenty-sixth out of 28 OECD nations in terms of police per capita. We do not understand why we would rank there. We estimate that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are understaffed by between 5,000 and 7,000 personnel. That is a lot of people, and it is expensive to get those sorts of increases. What is the situation with you? Do you have the resources that you need?

Mr. Fantino: We never do, senator. One of the problems we face is that with the exponential growth in our work, the requirements of the courts and new rulings, the added workload has grown exponentially for us. Right now, we spend an extraordinary amount of time on bureaucratic work that never used to be there. Investigations are much more laboured now. More oversight, higher requirements and the expectations of the public take more time.

In the case of the OPP, we have extraordinary distances to travel. However, we are no different than anybody else; we would like to do more. We are called upon to do more, but we do not have the resources to do it. It all comes down to affordability, senator. It is all about affordability.

The Chairman: When the Commissioner of the RCMP testified here, he advised the committee that he only had the resources to deal with 30 per cent of the organized criminal groups that they are aware of in Canada. Is that the same situation for you?

Mr. Fantino: Yes, it is. We have to develop a hierarchy of priorities, and often we cannot go after the things that we need to pursue, or sustain the things that we need to sustain. We are cherry-picking all the time insofar as what we need to do. We are doing what we can. If you look at some of the successes that we have had, they come about when we can bring our collective resources together. Joint force operations are the way to go now. You saw recently the organized crime investigation that went down with the Hell's Angels. You saw as well the effort that recently took place in the GTA with regard to outside dealing with guns and gangs and that whole business. Those are long, protracted, very labour-intensive investigations. They go on for a year or more. We must do those sorts of operations now to get at the heart and soul of these cases. Taking the profits out of crime has added yet one more tool to our kit, if you will, but then you need forensic accountants and all kinds of new skills and experts, and all of that is very expensive.

The Chairman: You must have reflected on the shortage of police officers more than most people have. Why would we be 26th out of the 28 richest countries in world?

Mr. Fantino: I do not have the answer for that. I can only tell you that it has always been a struggle to get the resources necessary to deploy to do the kinds of work that we are mandated to do, that the public expects us to do, and that we determine should be done. As you know, I have worked in other police departments and it has always been the same. It is always a struggle to get the resources in place. We create efficiencies; we do what we can to work within the envelope. At the end of the day, the bottom line is affordability. To be fair, we compete with health, education and so many other issues when it comes to how the tax dollars will be apportioned.

There was a flurry of activity following 9/11, for instance, when a great deal of money went out to deal with the threat of terrorism and the response to it. You may recall in one of my other appearances before this honourable committee that I thought a good exercise would be to look at where all that money had gone, to whom, for what purpose and for what results. We talk about how much money we spend on this and that, but is it going to the right places? Are we getting the right kinds of outcomes?

I stated in my closing remarks that one of the first lines of defence against terrorism is our front-line police officers. They seem to be the last in the chain of resources for many different reasons. The origin of much of that information about who is doing what is from front-line police officers who hear or are told something, or develop a contact that gets an investigation going. We need to do a lot more work with them.

Senator Banks: This committee has found that there is reticence on the part of governments of all stripes and jurisdictions to invest in the kind of resources that you are talking about. Is that because Canadians do not get it? Is it because we do not understand what the problem is? You have said that terrorism is a real threat in Canada. Most Canadians are not convinced of that. Are you absolutely certain that that is so?

Mr. Fantino: There is always push-back when that issue is raised. There is a different attitude in the United States. My colleagues in the United States are right in line with the notion that the threat is real and tangible, and they are doing what they can on all fronts to deal with that threat. For them, it is not a question of if; it is a question of when. That is the mindset in the United States. That is why, on the American side of the border, you will have the Coast Guard patrolling, complete with weaponry. On our side of the border we may have a boat of sorts. That is the attitude. When you cross the border, you are met by American border people who are peace officers who are trained, armed, equipped and of a different mindset. On this side, we are a little more complacent. A lot of it is denial, and a lot of is: "It can't happen to us.'' We know that Al Qaeda has fingered Canada in its rhetoric as one of the target countries. With the deployment of our troops in Afghanistan, we know for a fact that there is a renewed energy, if you will, in the mindset of terrorists that our people are or should be a target. It is only a matter of time before that target becomes our home territory.

As I stated earlier, terrorism is all about making a statement. That statement can be made anywhere. We have a target-rich environment in this country, and we do know for a fact that for years terrorists, if they are not obviously acting out their terrorist threats here, have certainly been supporting terrorists operating elsewhere.

Senator Banks: Terrorism is not new to our country, as you pointed out, with Air India and the Japan problem. The complacency of Canadians to which you have just referred is ill-placed.

Mr. Fantino: Absolutely, yes it is. We go into shock almost when these things happen. We all were tuned into what happened in the U.K., for instance, and Spain and elsewhere in the world. That can happen here. As you know, we have had investigations, and we do not know how much we have prevented.

Senator Banks: We do not know, but you probably have a better idea than we do.

Mr. Fantino: We have prevented some. The whole idea is to just keep working at this, nationally and internationally. That is the other thing that has happened with terrorism: law enforcement, national security and international security have become one joint effort now. The exchange of information is more global, and we learn from lessons learned elsewhere. Once a terrorist strike happens anywhere in the world, we preoccupy ourselves with finding out all of the information we can to then employ here in our efforts to frustrate any similar efforts going on in this country.

Senator Banks: You talked about the fact that the sharing of information and the integration and reduction of silos and all of those things is getting better. We have had misgivings about that a lot. It is easier, I suppose, in a unitary state where you can say there is one organization that will handle all of this. Is it working?

If a guy riding home on a bus looked at a list of the acronyms of organizations in three orders of government that are all concerned with dealing with the response to whatever the terrorist threat might be, he would be, as we are, nonplussed by it. He would ask how could all of these different organizations within your organization that are subsets be dealing with it? Who is driving the bus here? That is one of our favourite questions here. Are you satisfied that we are moving as quickly as we can, as opposed to what we should be doing in that direction to complete integration?

Mr. Fantino: If I had my way, I would just turn the switch on to make it happen. However, we are dealing with mandates, jurisdictions, laws, policies and all those kinds of issues. Within that entire framework, I can say we have made a quantum leap forward in doing what we are supposed to do: Integrating, sharing and coordinating. That is happening on an ongoing basis. We respect, for instance, that the lead on counterterrorism on a national basis is the RCMP. However, we also have primary responsibility for our constituency in Ontario. That is why the provincial anti- terrorism unit is in place. Those two units work together. We have people in both places and the sharing of information is better than it has ever been. Is it not absolutely perfect, though, and we still have a long way to go.

Senator Banks: You have had an opportunity at three different levels to deal with, look at and try to fix this situation. You told us, in fact, when you were here in 2002 that there was a great need to improve all of those things.

Mr. Fantino: Yes.

Senator Banks: You were, at the time, the chief of police of Toronto.

Mr. Fantino: Yes.

Senator Banks: Subsequently you became in charge of security for the province of Ontario. Were you able, in doing that, to bring about some of the improvements in integration that you were talking about when you were chief of police of Toronto?

Mr. Fantino: Yes. It all comes down to dedicating resources to joint forces operations, where we all sit at the same table, we all work on the same issues, we define priorities, we do the analysis and we dedicate the resources to pursue various initiatives. That is happening all the time now to a much greater degree. We still have issues following Mr. Justice O'Connor's inquiry. There are issues about how information is shared and with whom information is shared. There are still things we have to sort out to address the threat in a balanced, reasoned way, along with civil liberties and those kinds of issues.

Senator Banks: Could you give us examples of the ways in which, while you were the Commissioner of Emergency Management in Ontario, you changed things?

Mr. Fantino: As Commissioner of Emergency Management my role was somewhat different from law enforcement. In that role, we were into mitigating and those kinds of issues. We brought together police, fire, EMS, military and other entities to deal with a post-event situation for situation management. That has been a great thing. Now there is training, the collaboration of resources, and a joint response in regard to any tragedy that may happen. Those are the kinds of things we have done.

In policing, it is no different. Now, with PATs, the Provincial Anti-terrorism units, we have 10 different agencies at the table. Anyone and everyone who has a stake in public safety with respect to these issues is at the table.

Senator Banks: Do we need to have those 10 agencies? Would it not be easier if there were five doing the same job?

When you were here in 2002, our late colleague, Senator Wiebe, asked about the efficiency of national policing with respect to security matters and the like, and suggested that there should really be one police force across the country, and you answered that it should be the RCMP. Do you still think that that is so?

Mr. Fantino: When it comes to these issues and talking about national security issues, it would be my wish that it would be one-stop shopping, but one-stop shopping with particular attention given to local issues. There is no one-size- fits-all solution. The Home Office model in the U.K. works well, but they still have many police departments now. However, on policy, integration, and so many of the critical issues there is one unified policing model.

It has always been my view that the fewer barriers there are, the more efficiencies will be acquired. If the ultimate goal is the best possible public safety, then as many barriers as possible must be removed.

Senator Banks: If you had a short list to make, what would be on that list in terms of the challenges that now face the OPP?

Mr. Fantino: Going back to Senator Kenny's question, it all comes down to resources. Everything we do is so labour intensive. If we had dedicated resources with the elevated skill sets and the training to dedicate to more of these high- end, labour-intensive investigations, organized crime and terrorism, we could do more. It is a trade-off with how many people you have answering calls for service or doing highway patrol, traffic safety or whatever else. We had 444 people killed in traffic fatalities last year on OPP-patrolled highways in Ontario. Public safety is a serious issue. It is not cherry-picking; you have to do whatever you can across the board with the resources available. Therefore, there is a trade-off.

Senator Banks: On some things you do have to cherry-pick. I suppose that applies to certain criminal investigations and that might even apply to some terrorism-related threats, although we would all rather that that were not so. Do you think the OPP, over the next 10 years, will be able to move in the right direction so that you will not have to say that there is no time to deal with a particular thing because another thing is more important? That would be practicing triage, in effect.

Mr. Fantino: We are working now on defining exactly what resources we should have in the OPP to do all of these things. That will be a matter that I will need to advance and promote to the policy makers. We are nowhere near where we need to be, however. We are having to look at just what it is that we can and cannot do, and how we must go about deploying our people.

The Chairman: The question that Senator Banks was just putting to you, commissioner, was what I was trying to address as well. That is, the legislature reflects their interpretation of where the people of Ontario are at any given time. That has a huge impact on the funding that is allocated to the OPP. Where is the disconnect between the electorate and the legislature, or between the problem and the electorate?

Mr. Fantino: I do not know that it is a disconnect. It is a matter of trying to address so many wants, asks, demands, and expectations. It is how many dollars are out there and available to dedicate to policing, health, education, and on it goes. That is the issue. These are choices that political people make as to where they will put their money. We operate within an envelope over which we sometimes do not have much say as to what goes in there.

Of course, in the case of the OPP, there are situations that arise virtually overnight with Aboriginal land claims issues, for example, and that propel us into a whole different dynamic where our priorities change overnight. In the case of deploying people to Caledonia, for instance, we have had to bring in people from our 165 detachments all over the province to do service in Caledonia. Caledonia is not a terribly big place, but that is the kind of issue that happens to us and we have to work with it. We get some relief for special needs and special cases, but for the most part we work within the envelope we are given. We certainly try to make a case for why the envelope should be expanded in terms of what we would like to do to safeguard ourselves from terrorism and organized crime.

Organized crime is in all of our pockets. We should do much more in relation to organized crime. However, do you take your people out of their jobs to put them elsewhere when, at the same time, you do not have enough human resources to begin with in those places from where you are taking people? That is why we resorted to joint forces operations. It is a way of creating a critical mass and sustaining investigations that, in the end, over a long period of time, could not be sustained by any one given agency. Going back to your earlier comments, Senator Banks, if nothing else we have been driven to do that more and more. Circumstances, events and economics have forced us to join forces, and we do that very well. Can we do it better? Yes.

Senator Day: Mr. Commissioner and Mr. Morris, thank you for your presentations and for the background material, which will be helpful to us as we review our material. I have a few points of clarification in order that I clearly understand your presentation.

You indicated that there are 1,700 to 2,000 civilian employees within the OPP. Is that primarily support or are some of those investigative, non-uniformed people as well?

Mr. Fantino: They would be mainly support staff. That would include prisoner transportation, secretarial staff, and IT people.

Senator Day: The people in your force who are involved in investigative matters from the point of view of intelligence, are they uniformed or non-uniformed?

Mr. Fantino: There are some non-uniformed analysts. We have a number of people in the investigative area with specialized skills, such as analysts and accountants.

Detective Staff Sergeant Pat J. Morris, Ontario Provincial Police: With regard to our intelligence analysts, we strive for a 50/50 split between uniformed personnel and civilian personnel.

Senator Day: Non-uniformed personnel who are out in the community gathering information, are they part of the 1,700 to 2,000, or do you call them "uniformed'' even though they are not in uniform?

Mr. Fantino: They would be within the infrastructure in a support role. They would not be actively gathering intelligence.

Senator Day: Along the lines that you have been discussing with Senator Kenny and Senator Banks, I would like you to explain a bit more about the "stovepiping,'' the roles of investigation in the RCMP and how you cooperate with the RCMP and CSIS. It seems to me that your provincial anti-terrorism section that you created five years ago is an intelligence-gathering, analytical organization, but that is the same thing that the RCMP and CSIS are doing on a national level, is it not?

Mr. Morris: Many people feel that way. I will discuss the terrorism section to illustrate the fine differences. The provincial anti-terrorism section is primarily engaged in criminal intelligence-gathering. We are looking at a lot of investigations, specialized or not, that are tied to terrorism. I will give you the example of an auto theft investigation run by the OPP-led provincial auto theft team. The criminals involved in that exercise could be doing fundraising for terrorism. We have what we call a predicate offence. It could be narcotics trafficking or importation, ATM frauds, which have a lot to do with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam specifically — those types of fraud or extortions within the GTA. While those investigations such as fraud or auto theft are more mundane criminal investigations, we are looking at those to gather intelligence in order to build what has been called in the national security framework the criminal nexus: the nexus that ties the criminal act for profit to a cause, that is, for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, for Hezbollah, et cetera.

We are primarily mandated with intelligence operations. We are not engaging in fishing expeditions or the gathering of security intelligence, such as CSIS would do. We may have people who provide us with information of that sort and we share it with CSIS, since CSIS is involved in our joint management team. However, we are not gathering security intelligence to advise the government. We recognize that that is the role of CSIS. We are targeting criminal intelligence. The consumer of that criminal intelligence is the RCMP-led INSETS, which is tasked with and primarily engaged in criminal investigations as a result of that information.

Senator Day: Is it easy to differentiate between criminal intelligence and security intelligence? Is that an easy thing to do when you are sitting at your desk reviewing all of this information that is being gathered?

Mr. Morris: It can be difficult. Sometimes it is the same commodity, but the difference is in how it is utilized. We stay away from gathering security intelligence, and we did that prior to the Arar inquiry. First, it is not our mandate. Second, in his first recommendation of the factual inquiry, Justice O'Connor stated that that was the case, for many reasons similar to the Macdonald commission.

Sometimes it is difficult, and when we are provided information that is more strategic in scope and that would be better utilized through public policy, that information is given to CSIS. Some of the information will have a criminal application. For example, for a group such as Jammah Islamiyah, if strategic intelligence was acquired from the community that they were attempting to have more of a presence in Ontario and to engage in criminal activity such as auto theft, there is a strategic application for that situation, and the federal government should be advised so that they can take steps vis-à-vis immigration, et cetera. CSIS can also take steps at the airport for their interviews, as can the Canada Border Services Agency. There is also a criminal intelligence application for to us look at that group and its associates and supporters and how they are engaging in that activity.

Sometimes there is a trade-off: Do we move forward in the intelligence business by utilizing that information strategically with CSIS, or do we move forward in an enforcement capacity to gather criminal intelligence to be utilized by the RCMP-led INSETS?

Senator Day: Are all of these people sitting together so that you can make decisions fairly easily as to whether you should move forward and decide that there is a potential for criminal prosecution here; that this group is doing something on which we can charge them now? Or perhaps you decide that you should wait and see where this is leading, that it may have something to do with national security, so you hold off and see where they are going and where the improperly acquired funds are being sent. How are those decisions being made?

Mr. Fantino: Decisions are made as part of a collaborative effort, with a lot of advice from Crown attorneys, depending on what the issues are. Those decisions are debated back and forth amongst all of the parties.

Mr. Morris: I agree with the commissioner. In relation to your question about improvement and integration, on a weekly basis we have what is called an operating committee on operations within INSETS, at which all of the partners are present. When information comes in, from any of a variety of sources, it is analyzed exactly as you have just described: How is this best applied in terms of the public security interest? Is this something we would like to see proceed? Is there any negative public security impact? Is this something that we should proceed on in an operation led by CSIS or in a criminal enforcement environment?

I have been involved in the terrorism section since 2002, and there has been steady improvement. At one time, the entities were not collocated, and now they are. Collocation can also be a misnomer because you do not have real integration. Recently, for external reasons, such as the Arar inquiry report, integration has become a fait accompli. These matters are discussed every day by the people on the floor.

Senator Day: I am having some trouble with the name of your provincial-led anti-terrorism section. To my mind, anti-terrorism normally should be led by the RCMP or CSIS. Criminal investigation and criminal intelligence is a frontline job for you, and analysis for the OPP. We are into national securities issues and terrorism. You are doing a lot of gathering of criminal intelligence. That is the main purpose of your work, and the type of work that you are doing, namely, to gather the information to prosecute or to help the prosecutor with respect to information leading to a conviction.

Concerning the terrorism aspect of this, how do you tie the criminal activity with the criminal aspect and say, "This is for the small group that is a provincially-led anti-terrorism group''?

Mr. Fantino: I can answer some of that question, senator. Immediately following 9/11, there was a flurry of activity, both at the federal government and provincial government levels, about how we should respond to this very significant threat of terrorism that came about.

In Ontario, the province made a response to it. The PATS unit is that response. We have been pushing to further integrate PATS with the INSETS units. We realize well that the lead in terrorism is the police and CSIS, but we are trying to ensure that the provincial interests are there in a way that we can best integrate with the RCMP and INSETS. I can only tell you that these were responses made at the time. It was determined that that is what the province would do, and we are doing it.

Senator Day: Is the RCMP-led Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, collocated with you?

Mr. Fantino: Yes, in the same building.

Senator Day: When you say you have 10 different agencies within your provincial anti-terrorism group, they are the same people who are taking the lead on anti-terrorism, from an RCMP point of view, under INSETS?

Mr. Fantino: INSETS has their own hierarchy and numbers of partners. They were in there as well, with PATS. However, as I indicated earlier, we still must respect that the province, in the wisdom of the day, made the policy decision that there would be an anti-terrorism unit in the province. As time has gone on, we have tried to bring the two entities together. In fact, when I came into the Ontario Provincial Police, I first wanted us to work even closer. Years ago, we lobbied to have the two units collocated. There are some obstacles that still must be overcome but we are trying to overcome those by putting people in both units, working together, as was indicated earlier. We still have a way to go, senator.

Senator Day: Are they the same people with two hats?

Mr. Fantino: No, they are not.

Senator Day: They are two different groups, people sitting in different offices with a name on the door saying either provincial OPP anti-terrorism or federal government INSETS?

Mr. Fantino: Yes.

The Chairman: When you said you still have a way to go, Commissioner, where do you see it ending up? What is your goal at the end of the day?

Mr. Fantino: I would like to see this as one-stop shopping, senator. That has always been my dream and vision.

The Chairman: The PATS integrated with the INSETS?

Mr. Fantino: Yes, with respect to the particularities and the customizing of certain responses to local issues, being observant of the dynamics that one must deal with. The overarching front on terrorism should be a united front.

The Chairman: What is the road block? What stops that from happening tomorrow?

Mr. Fantino: I guess a lot of it is probably beyond our control. There are legislated authorities that have to be respected, such as who does what, and the will to blend all of this into one shop.

The Chairman: Assistant Commissioner McDonnell will appear next. Will he say the same thing you are saying?

Mr. Fantino: I would suspect that if we were looking at the best united front on the fight against terrorism, it should be a one-stop shopping kind of approach. We should all be working together. There should be no "stovepipes,'' but there must be respect for particularities that would have to be applied with regard to provincial issues, for instance, and all of that. In other words, the problem we would have in Ontario is that we would not want to have someone tell us "No, we will not deal with that issue,'' when we feel it is an important issue. We must have some control over our footprint, if you will. When I say "one-stop shopping,'' there must also be respect for local needs and issues.

The Chairman: When people collocate, our impression is that the different agencies represented tend to pretty quickly develop a common perspective. They have the problem described in a similar way; they have the same fact base. Do you really think there would be concerns that Ontario's interests would not be taken care of?

Mr. Fantino: In the current environment, they would be, because we would not want to go through a lot of bureaucracy to get certain things done. We probably would have a much more expeditious way of doing business and clearing the path for certain investigations to take place than what might happen at the federal level.

The Chairman: You are saying that you feel the problem is in Ottawa at this stage?

Mr. Fantino: I feel the problem is that governments have to come together and develop policy that is homogeneous to one and all, and allow for the application of policy to be customized to some of the local needs — that is, provincial needs. I believe that if someone in high office were to say tomorrow, "This is the way it will be,'' we would certainly fall into line. There is no doubt about it. All we want to do is protect our citizens, be it in Ontario or in Canada, from this threat. If we can do it perfectly, we certainly will embrace it, but we must be respectful of the recommendations and findings of Mr. Justice O'Connor. We have the Iacobucci situation coming on stream. Quite frankly, we are getting kick-started on this situation a great deal. We have had Bill C-36 in the books with a clawback clause in there, and a lot of rhetoric about how authorities cannot have all kinds of unfettered authority because we will abuse it. Well, we do not abuse, normally. We just have to find a better way of doing this work.

Other nations are doing this, by the way. Even if you look at the police chief in New York City, Ray Kelly, he has now put people on the ground in cities all over the world to fight the battle offshore, away from his city. We could do a lot more if we were, for instance, to unite our common effort here across the U.S.-Canada border and look at protecting North America, to try to mirror and match and coordinate our resources, our laws and their application and protect us as the greater border, if you will.

The Chairman: We do that with the IBETs now, the Internation Border Enforcement Teams. You have members in all IBETs in Ontario?

Mr. Fantino: We do. Simply put, it is a matter of willing this to happen. So much happened, if you will recall, senator, after 9/11: new bills, new authorities, and new resources. We could take it to the next step and move forward with this grander vision and create a truly united front on this threat, which is common to all of us. Free democratic societies everywhere face the same threat.

Senator Moore: I have a supplementary question. In your provincial anti-terrorism section you say you have 10 agencies at the table. Is one of those the INSETS? Do they have a representative at the table?

Mr. Fantino: Yes.

Mr. Morris: If I could explain that, yes; the RCMP is present. We literally are right down the hall. We co-mingle and work together every day. The INSETS is a joint force operation. I will let Assistant Commissioner McDonnell talk about that. Almost all of the partners are engaged in both of these joint force operations but there is a different mandate. The provincial anti-terrorism section is engaged in criminal intelligence activity and feeds into INSETS. INSETS has various units under it as well. We are together daily. The RCMP participates in the provincial anti- terrorism section and the OPP participates in INSETS. It is not a competitive situation. Due to our composition, sometimes one entity will have a competition advantage in certain operations, and that is what we discuss.

Senator Day: How many personnel are involved in the provincial anti-terrorist PATS?

Mr. Morris: We have 18 detectives and two analysts, as well as two administrative staff.

Senator Day: In September of 2006, commissioner, you indicated that you had done a lot of thinking about the issues and the outstanding problems. At page 19 of your submission, you provided quite a list of areas in which improvement is needed. That was less than a year ago. Is that still reflective of the areas that need improvement and where we should be going?

Mr. Fantino: Yes, we are working toward some of these goals and objectives.

Senator Day: Finally, you indicate that the governance framework and the operational policy manual for national security are providing guidance to you. Has that come from the federal government, and do you agree that that is the direction in which we should all proceed?

Mr. Fantino: We have received input. We are all in agreement with it and would like to move forward on it.

Senator Zimmer: Commissioner, thank you for your testimony this morning. You have touched on many of the issues we are currently addressing. Senator Banks raised an issue that I want to ask you about.

A culture exists that, despite 9/11, the NIMBY principle comes into play — not in my backyard. We are nice guys; we are Canadians; no-one wants to pick a fight with us; it is not going to happen. They do not believe it. Over the weekend, I saw a survey that shows a shift in public opinion with more people now moving toward the melting pot theory rather than the mosaic. Will it take a catastrophe to make Canadians realize that this is as serious as it is? What role can Canadians play to assist the process and assist your organization?

Mr. Fantino: One would hope that it would not take a disaster or a catastrophe to bring the message home. The message has already been well articulated by the events we have seen transpire around the world, as well as some things we have had to deal with here.

People need to embrace the fact that terrorism is a real threat, that it is not the rhetoric of a commissioner or another official in law enforcement or national security. I believe Jack Hooper appeared before this committee. Mr. Hooper is retired now, but he has his feet on the ground and he sees the big picture. He has articulated clearly that the threat we are facing is real. It is not a figment of anyone's imagination. It is real and tangible, but we in Canada seem not to want to appreciate it.

Regrettably, when something does happen, you will probably see a renewed set of activities on so many fronts, much like we saw after 9/11 — new legislation, new policies, new resources, new this and new that. As time has gone on from 9/11, memories have seemingly faded.

Senator Zimmer: That seems to be a natural progression. Something happens and we cannot sustain it, so we forget about it get on with our lives. We all have a role to play in ensuring that we support the process.

Mr. Fantino: I learned long ago that, if it is predictable, it is preventable. We cannot absolutely prevent so much of what happens of this nature but we cannot ignore the fact that the lessons are there. We must learn from those lessons and adopt every possible strategy to defeat the work of terrorists, because terrorists are working overtime to defeat us on many fronts.

One of the big dangers is complacency. People are in denial and want to avoid having to deal with the threat. That is one of the big obstacles we face.

Senator Zimmer: Your website indicates that the Provincial Emergency Response Team has a chemical-biological- radiological-nuclear consultant, or CBRN, who is a member of the Auxiliary OPP and works full time with the National Defence Department. What does this position entail and what role does national defence play with that position?

Mr. Fantino: One area that the Canadian military now deals with is aid to civil authority. In many of our plans today, including consequence management with the provincial emergency operations centre that is going on in Ontario, we are working with the military on collocating, sharing, and integrating the resources that the military can bring to any situation.

We are utilizing the military in a way that is very much in keeping with General Hillier's focus of aid to civil authority. Consequence management is a big issue. When we exhaust our resources and expertise in law enforcement, we work with the military in many areas where they are the lead, such as on explosives issues.

It is a good news story that the military is now very involved in aid to civil authority, not only in terms of floods and other things we have seen them respond to but also in terms of national security issues such as terrorism. They have high-end expertise in dealing with explosives and CBRN issues. That is what it is all about.

Senator Zimmer: I understand that PERT maintains a working partnership with municipal, provincial and federal responders as well as the Centre for Forensic Sciences in Toronto to ensure a seamless response to incidents. Which responders does the team communicate with? Does the interaction occur on an ad hoc basis as incidents unfold, or is there regular communication among all the entities?

Mr. Fantino: There is regular communication as well as joint training, joint response, compatibility of equipment, and deployment policies and procedures. Those have become the marching orders for us all.

We have different levels of response to CBRN issues. These are strategically located around the province. We work with local fire services, EMS, police and the military in those circumstances. There is now a joint response to all these issues.

For example, last week there was an exercise carried out by HUSA, the Heavy Urban Search and Rescue Unit, of which PERT forms part. They worked at this exercise for 10 days in total, I believe. I visited twice, and what I saw was amazing. There was an amazing amount of coordination. Fire services, EMS, military, the fire marshal's office, the Toronto police and the OPP were all there. We are doing that because we strongly believe that we need to bring our collective resources together to deploy in these circumstances.

We have developed joint deployment procedures for civil unrest where everyone operates under the same rules. Different agencies can be integrated into a response with all working under the same plan.

The Chairman: We are aware of that exercise.

Mr. Fantino: It was awesome.

The Chairman: Will you make it a permanent training facility?

Mr. Fantino: They want to dismantle it, so we are working at that. There is an upcoming training exercise, which is more national in scope. Other provinces will be training at that location. I am surprised you knew about that exercise.

The Chairman: We watch your progress.

Senator Zimmer: There is another part to that question. What does the Centre of Forensic Sciences contribute to knowledge for the base and its operations?

Mr. Fantino: That is a very good question. Much of the expertise here comes from the scientific community with respect to the analysis of some of the substances that this particular unit will come in contact with or respond to. That kind of information, plus how to safely handle some of those items, are all part of that partnership. We also deploy now. We deploy in a lot of these circumstances. We have tactical paramedics who actually form part of the police response in some of these situations. However, the scientific knowledge and support must come from the Centre for Forensic Sciences in that case. We do not have that knowledge available in-house.

The beauty of this is that they train together, work together and deploy together. You have people onsite who can provide immediate advice about how to proceed with certain initiatives.

Senator Moore: Thank you for appearing. I will follow along a bit with regard to what Senator Zimmer was asking in terms of the integration. You are talking about sharing information. What happened, pre-Arar?

Mr. Fantino: The parameters were not very clear as to what constituted information and intelligence that could be shared, with whom, formal and informal, those kinds of issues. Now we have the rules defined as to what information is or is not properly to be shared, with whom and under what circumstances.

Senator Moore: Who decides what information is to be shared?

Mr. Morris: Everything was murky, pre-Arar. The definitions of intelligence and the grounds upon which a tactical intelligence operation may be launched were murky. In the factual inquiry, the recommendations created clarity around that question. There were murky rules in the sharing of information. For example, I consider it a major advantage that now there is central coordination and control under the National Security Criminal Operations Branch of the RCMP for all sharing of information. In the past, there was not as much clarity on that question. Other entities may have shared information.

In the past, the provincial anti-terrorism section shared information internationally. I accept as a conclusion of the Arar inquiry report that the RCMP needed to do that because they needed to see from a 30,000-foot level, or the national level, because it has an impact on Canada. There were looser controls before the Arar situation.

Senator Moore: You need one agency, basically speaking, for the national interest. Even though you may have information of that nature, it is now for you to pass it on to the RCMP and have them talk to their international counterparts to avoid an investigative threat. Were you previously accomplishing that yourselves?

Mr. Fantino: I suppose we were doing it more unofficially, whatever seemed to fit the occasion, within the parameters of the law and what was allowed to us.

Mr. Morris: As a quick example, if we were doing an investigation in Toronto in the provincial anti-terrorism section and we wanted to solicit information from the United States or the United Kingdom, we would do that through a request to the National Security Criminal Operations Branch in Ottawa, recognizing that there may be an investigation done at E-division in British Columbia that has an impact on that situation, and that we do not have the full picture. It may also have an impact on Canadian citizens — for example, Maher Arar. Therefore, it is better to be shared from that level and then come back to us.

Mr. Fantino: However, we need fast processes. We are in a lightning-speed kind of a world.

Senator Moore: I appreciate that.

Mr. Fantino: Although these policies, procedures and directives are in place and we are determined to follow them, we need a lightning-fast response to our needs. We cannot sit on these issues.

Senator Moore: In Mr. Morris's example with respect to your request to the National Security Criminal Operations Branch of the RCMP, do you have to provide them with a written document saying "This is what we think; this is why we need this. Would you please make the ask?'' Or can this sort of thing be done quickly, verbally, on the strength of the integrity of the people involved? How does it work?

Mr. Morris: Assistant Commissioner McDonell will be better able to answer that question.

In the new National Security Policy, there is a process that is laid out. It will be written. We would present what we wanted to know from the FBI, for example, and why we need to know it and express the exigency. It needs to be done in writing through headquarters but there are allowances for exigencies, for that to be done verbally.

Senator Moore: How long has this process been in place?

Mr. Morris: It is a very new process.

Senator Moore: Is there any kind of a track record in terms of response time? Is the process working? Can you tell if it is doing what we all hope and what you need in terms of the quickness of acting on certain threats?

Mr. Morris: First, for me as a non-RCMP member and head of the terrorism section, it is a concrete process. The second way in which it is working is via a major improvement in integration. I know that the officer in charge, Inspector Fred Hildebrand of INSETS, will accommodate that request immediately.

What happens on many occasions is that our requests could come from the New York Police Department. They go to the Department of Justice, the FBI, and then down to NYPD. Therefore, it slows the process down. Previously, we would have just called our contact in the NYPD.

Senator Moore: Because the United States is another country, it falls under the international framework, and you now have to go through the RCMP offices?

Mr. Morris: That is correct.

Senator Moore: Commissioner Fantino, is there anything else you wanted to add?

Mr. Fantino: Much of this process is in its infancy, trying to interpret the spirit and intent of the recommendations that followed Mr. Justice O'Connor's findings. We talked earlier about Mr. Justice Iacobucci's findings as well.

For us, dealing with terrorism or the threat of terrorism is a very difficult issue in any event. We just cannot put more roadblocks in place. There has to be, as I indicated earlier, some kind of a trade-off, the need to protect our country and our people and the need to ensure that civil rights are upheld. There is a balance there that must be struck. I do not think the police can do that perfectly all the time.

Senator Moore: I was interested in your remarks as they appear on the last page, Commissioner Fantino: There are certain obstacles to overcome, including the final MOU. The MOU, memorandum of understanding, is between whom?

Mr. Fantino: It is between —

Mr. Morris: There are two types of memorandums of understanding, one for our OPP member in INSETS, the same as any other police service in INSETS. That is no problem.

The memorandum of understanding that we are awaiting now is one between the RCMP and the OPP for the interrelationship of the provincial anti-terrorism section and the INSETS. A lot of issues need to be dealt with. We have different ways of classifying or restricting information as established by the federal government and by the Province of Ontario. We have different policies in relation to how we deal with confidential informants, for example.

Issues arise when we try to push our relationship and make it more viable. We have different issues that came up in the policy review of the Arar situation in terms of discipline and how officers from the Peel Regional Police Service, the OPP or the RCMP would come under scrutiny. Those are some of the issues. We have different policies on dissemination. The MOU will need to establish those ground rules and accommodate the different interests.

Senator Moore: Are we down to a deficiency list of five or six items to clean up, or are we into the real heart of the whole thing where this is an ongoing struggle? Do we see where we can come to a meeting of minds in the best interests of the things you mentioned earlier?

Mr. Fantino: There is no struggle. We are just trying to make sure that the rules of engagement are those that will also address the particularities of different agencies and their policies on many of these issues. The situation will work out fine; it just needs to be talked through. Everyone is of goodwill and of one mind to get it done and get on with it. It will take debate, but it is not a struggle. We all want to go to the same place for the same reasons, and we want to do the same things. It is just customizing things as best we can so that everyone can buy in.

Senator Moore: You mentioned earlier the Caledonia situation. Can you walk us through what happened, how you came to be involved and what it means to you operationally, situations such Caledonia or whatever? You said you had to draw upon people and bring people in from other branches. How does that impact on what the local branch should have been doing?

Mr. Fantino: That situation is all as a result of a land claim issue —

Senator Moore: I understand that.

Mr. Fantino: — between First Nations — in this case, Six Nations people and government. What happened in the end is that it became an occupation. The land was being developed by a builder, who was building a subdivision, to be known as Douglas Creek Estates. It is not a huge piece of property but when the occupation took place, the owners of the property, if you will, sought and received a court injunction. That injunction then had to be dealt with.

Senator Moore: To keep protestors off the land so that they could proceed with their development work?

Mr. Fantino: That is correct. That injunction was acted upon by the OPP.

Senator Moore: You were brought in to enforce the injunction?

Mr. Fantino: Yes, to keep the peace and all of that. Eventually, the injunction was enforced by the OPP and that created more of a conflict and confrontation, the end result of which is that we have been there for over a year, just keeping the peace.

Senator Moore: Are you still there today?

Mr. Fantino: Yes, we are. The other problem we have there, of course, is that the passions are so high and the potential for conflict at any given time is huge. Then we have interlopers who come in from time to time who have seized on this issue.

The problem for us is that we have to be mindful of the Ontario Court of Appeal, which ruled that the tempered, reasoned approach is the way to go in these circumstances; that violence is the last resort, and all of that. We have been taking that as the way to go forward. Now we have the Ipperwash findings as well. All of that has created a significant dynamic for us. We have brought in people from all over the province to maintain the peace in Caledonia, and we are still doing that. That will continue until such time as these land issues are resolved.

It has also flared up in a First Nations community called Tyendinaga in Deseronto, Ontario, east of Toronto, where the CN lines were blocked there for a period of time. We also had another construction site blocked off in Hagersville, down the road from Caledonia.

In other words, we, the police, are sitting on a volatile situation. All along, under accusations of a two-tiered justice system and of not doing our jobs, and being pilloried unfairly and widely, we have been doing our jobs and keeping the peace. In the process, we have had several dozen of our police officers injured. We have enforced every law that has been broken to the extent that we felt was appropriate. We have numerous people charged with all kinds of criminal offences. There are also outstanding arrest warrants for some people. The rhetoric has been such that it has been very difficult for us to deal with because people saw the OPP as the problem as well as the solution. We are neither. We are just trying to keep the peace.

Senator Moore: Do you have within the OPP, officers, men or women, who are trained in mitigation or dealing with Native issues such as this land claims situation in Caledonia?

Mr. Fantino: Yes, senator. We have special teams of First Nations or Aboriginal police officers who have been the link. To be honest about it, with regard to myself, I have inserted myself into this situation as well because I felt that, at the end of the day, I needed to develop relationships and trust with the leadership. We have been doing a lot of that.

Senator Moore: With the leadership of the Native people?

Mr. Fantino: Yes, sir. When we had the situation in Tyendinaga with the CN lines blocked off, I went out and met with the Tyendinaga chief and his band to try and get them to help us resolve this issue. That went on for 30 hours. We do have liaison people. We have been spending a lot of time meeting First Nations leaders, because of the situation coming up on June 29, the national day of action. There are all kinds of activities in the wind across the country, and all we want to do is ensure that we do everything we can to make it peaceful. But we are taking an awful drubbing from those who see the OPP as both the problem and the solution.

In terms of integration, we have had to bring in other agencies to help us in these circumstances as well, especially when these interlopers come into town. It creates angst. People are prone to rise to the potential conflict, on both sides. We have found ourselves facing two sides of an issue where normally you face one. It is difficult for us. We are determined to keep the peace and, in spite of the difficulties, we have been managing, and we will continue doing that.

Senator Banks: I would like to go back to intelligence sharing, which has to do with everything that we have been talking about, and especially the point that Senator Moore raised. I understand that there is yet to be a memorandum of understanding signed in respect of intelligence sharing between the RCMP and the OPP, is that correct?

Mr. Morris: We do not yet have a specific memorandum of understanding between us.

Senator Banks: There are other extant MOUs that do exist. Do those MOUs constitute the system by which you are assured that intelligence that has been gathered by other agencies with whom you are sitting at the table is brought to you? Is that the system that you rely upon to ensure that that happens? When everyone is sitting around the table, as you describe, and all those agencies are there with the same end in mind, they all need to know the same stuff, do they not? Are the MOUs the means by which you are assured of that fact? Is that the system?

Mr. Morris: No, I would not say that that is the system. We do have one-stop shopping, and the terrorist-related intelligence will come to the INSETS. Within the operational policy that I discussed and the RCMP framework, that is stipulated for each of their members that all of these things need to be reported to INSETS. In the province of Ontario, all the terrorist-related information will come, in almost all cases, into INSETS and/or the provincial anti-terrorism section.

The memorandums of understanding are about issues in terms of employment of another entity, such as another police service. I am quite comfortable that the information comes in.

Senator Banks: When you described the situation where you wanted to either give or receive from the NYPD, for example, it sounded as though you were describing a situation in which the present circumstances have made things more difficult than the previous one. Did I understand that?

Mr. Morris: I do not want to be overly critical but, yes, it is onerous sometimes in terms of time. The reason is, as an example very close to the Arar case, if we were to call and ask about individuals who had aroused our suspicions, there could be circumstances that we, as the OPP, or we as the provincial anti-terrorism section, were not aware of. By virtue of our request for information to the NYPD, those individuals could be placed on lists, et cetera, or suffer circumstances that would not be warranted.

The framework and the operational policy that has been devised will work very well. As the commissioner said, it needs to work in a very efficient and quick manner to help the investigations along.

Mr. Fantino: These have been lessons learned following the findings of the Arar inquiry and the allegations that certain information led to certain actions by certain governments. I think that it is in our own best interests that we define rules of engagement. It is not so much about information coming in — we are confident that it comes in — it is how we manage information, by either asking or passing information on, that now has to be — I will even put it bluntly — codified in some way so that we do not get into these difficulties again.

Senator Banks: Are you convinced, when sitting at the INSETS table, that you are hearing everything that you need to hear to be able to do your part of the job?

Mr. Fantino: I am confident, yes.

Senator Banks: When internationally obtained information, for example, is obtained by the Canadian Communication Security Establishment, or CSIS or whatever, are you confident that you are getting that information?

Mr. Fantino: I can answer that in this way: I am convinced that due diligence is done. Whether I get, or we get, everything we want at any given time is a matter for debate. I am convinced that, more and more, the information we collectively need is being shared.

Senator Banks: You know what we are talking about because everyone is human and everyone wants to have a proprietary interest in the information they have obtained on their own. We have come to understand that, in the past, protection of sources was an impediment, or has in the past been an impediment, to the sharing of information that was obtained from those sources. You are convinced that that situation has changed, or is it still on the way to being fixed?

Mr. Fantino: I do not think you can be assured that you get everything you need to know when decisions are being made by humans, human frailties being what they are. I would like to believe that, in the threat climate that we face today, all the information we need to have and to ensure that we fulfill our primary responsibility, which is safety to our nation, our communities and our people, is being shared.

Senator Banks: When CSIS or the RCMP get information on a subject, their use of that information and the way they apply it in Canada is susceptible to review and, in some cases, oversight by federal agencies set up for that specific purpose. Do you think that when that information is given to you at the OPP, your use of that information ought to be susceptible to a federal oversight?

Mr. Fantino: There are proprietary responsibilities that have to be honoured and respected with respect to information. You cannot just pass information on without being mindful of the conditions under which that information is shared, who owns it, all of those issues and what is done with it. We are very mindful of that all of the time. Sometimes you would like to get something but maybe you do not get it because there is some proprietary issue that must be addressed.

The MOU will help us resolve some of those issues but we still have to be respectful and mindful of the proprietary nature of information and who really owns it and what, then, you can do with it.

Senator Banks: Once it is shared, the ownership is different.

Mr. Fantino: It is classified in different ways. There are pieces of information that can only be shared with certain people. Those people, for instance, must have a security clearance. We are very mindful of how and under what circumstances information can be shared.

Certainly, the decision makers, if you will, the people who need to know, they have this high-end security clearance, and they are able to receive information that normally would not be transitioned to other people.

Then there is the proprietary nature of the information. If the information is mine and I am not authorized to share it, then I cannot do it. You cannot offend the proprietary nature that is apportioned to that information.

Senator Banks: Speaking of assessing the information, is the OPP a member of ITAC, the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre? Do you sit at that table?

Mr. Morris: Yes, we do.

Senator Banks: Good. Has that fact benefited the OPP a great deal?

Mr. Fantino: Yes, senator. Any time we can sit together and develop one common cause and sort out the issues, it is a great benefit.

Senator Banks: Based on your membership of ITAC, is there anything, in respect of that operation, that you would like to see improved, and if so, what?

Mr. Morris: No, we receive ITAC products certainly on a weekly basis. They are sent to the INSETS office via secure communications and are immediately distributed

Senator Banks: Are they unrestricted in the sense that you are able to convey those things to the senior provincial authorities, and if so, do those authorities make the use of them that you think would be appropriate?

Mr. Fantino: It depends on the classification of the information. Some of it is for regular consumption. Some of it is not. That of a sensitive nature is channelled to those who need to know, have the clearance and have a responsibility to know as well.

Senator Banks: Even with the best of intentions and goodwill, there will still be silos, and information restricted within those silos?

Mr. Fantino: I do not know if "silos'' is the right connotation. There are required processes and policies.

Senator Banks: Information that will be, in the proprietary sense, kept within one agency and not, in some circumstances, be shared with other agencies?

Mr. Fantino: It could be, yes.

Senator Banks: You have pointed out how significant the proportion of energy-related infrastructure is in Ontario; it is very large. In Alberta, which is the province where I come from, I am proud to say that government is paying a lot of attention to protection of that infrastructure against terrorism and other things because of course if those things went down, we would all be in trouble. The same thing is true in New Brunswick, to a large degree. How is it going in Ontario? Is sufficient attention being paid and resources being directed to the protection of energy-based infrastructure in Ontario?

Mr. Fantino: That is where the partnership comes in between the corporate sector and law enforcement.

Senator Banks: Is that cooperation working?

Mr. Fantino: Absolutely. If you look at the nuclear plants, they have top-drawer security in place with well-equipped and well-trained people. Many of the other infrastructure sectors have employed the same kind of —

Senator Banks: Refineries for example.

Mr. Fantino: Yes. There is a huge amount of work going on now, flat out. I can tell you, during my time as commissioner of emergency management in Ontario, we had a process whereby, according to requirements, every municipality had to have an emergency plan in place, a response plan; all of those issues.

The corporate sector bought into that before we did, having very robust security plans, business continuity plans on how to sustain their business if such and such happens. I would venture to say that the private, corporate sector is well plugged in on the threat. I know that they are doing all kinds of work to safeguard themselves.

Mr. Morris: I wanted to use an example — your example — and what the commissioner said in regard to the critical infrastructure, specifically energy-based, oil and natural gas. I might be slightly off on dates, but at the end of February or the beginning of March, al-Jihad, the voice of al Qaeda, put out a specific threat against the Canadian oil and natural gas industry, as well as Venezuela. To illustrate what the OPP does in terms of front line to work with those entities, the next day a one-page bulletin went out to every one of our uniform officers on what the nature of that threat was and what the indicators of terrorist activity would be in relation to an oil field or a pipeline. Then there was liaison with the detachments, which were primarily in the south-western part of Ontario — the Blue Water Bridge, et cetera — to ask for proactive, directed patrols, problem-oriented policing to look for surveillance and persons of interest that would be engaged in activity that could be perceived as threatening — the precursors to a terrorist act; then we would liaise, at the detachment level, with those entities. That is the way the specialized services try to engage: Take a threat and get it out to the front-line members.

The Chairman: Commissioner, thank you very much. We have kept you beyond the time you agreed to come for. As always, you have been very helpful to the committee and we are grateful to you for it. Thank you for bringing Detective Sergeant Morris with you. We appreciate your assistance and hope we can call on you in the future.

Mr. Fantino: Thank you very much. Good wishes on all your work. It is mission-critical work, as I call it.

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

Our next witness is Mr. Mike McDonell, Assistant Commissioner, National Security Criminal Investigations, Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Mr. McDonell joined the RCMP in 1975. Over the years he has worked in a variety of capacities, including serving with the United Nations CIVPOL mission in the former Yugoslavia. In 1997, he received his Queen's commission to the rank of Inspector as the officer in charge of national security investigations in Toronto.

In 2002, he was promoted to Superintendent and appointed Director of National Ports Strategy, Organized Crime Operations, at national headquarters in Ottawa. He was promoted to Chief Superintendent in 2003 and became the Director General, Border Integrity.

In 2005, he was promoted to Assistant Commissioner and posted to the Criminal Intelligence Directorate. In October 2006, the CID was restructured to allow for a more specific focus on both national security and organized crime. He was named Assistant Commissioner, National Security Criminal Investigations.

Welcome, Assistant Commissioner McDonell. We are pleased to see you before us again. Do you have a brief statement for the committee?

Mike McDonell, Assistant Commissioner, National Security Criminal Investigations, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: I do not have a prepared statement today. I will continue in the same vein of national security criminal investigations from my previous appearance with Assistant Commissioner Souccar and Commissioner Busson.

The Chairman: Where does the document you provided today fit into the discussions?

Mr. McDonell: That fits in to allow me to better explain how criminal evidence evolves from security intelligence and the roles and responsibilities of the National Security Criminal Investigations Section.

The Chairman: Thank you. Senator Zimmer, do you want to lead off the questions?

Senator Zimmer: Assistant Commissioner McDonell, thank you for appearing today. Could you provide the committee with an appreciation of the role of the RCMP within the Canadian security and intelligence community and your understanding of the difference between security intelligence and criminal intelligence?

Mr. McDonell: Yes, senator. I might refer you to the document that you have before you. These are working definitions. As the committee has heard from previous testimony with respect to foreign intelligence and security intelligence, they are defined by legislation. The part that is most relevant to the National Security Criminal Investigations Section is the criminal intelligence that leads us to an investigation of a criminal event with respect to terrorism. We look for something that is specific and producible to the court. Our relationship with security intelligence is the transition from the broader type of intelligence that affects the role and interests of Canada, and CSIS giving advice to the government with respect to the threats to Canada or Canadian interests. From that, there is an overlap, if you will. Some of that information is highly relevant to our criminal investigations, and we work with the service to extract what we require to carry out our criminal investigations. However, we require tangible elements that we can take before the court to give us reasonable and probable grounds to believe.

Senator Zimmer: Can you give us an overview of the evolution of the RCMP and national security responsibilities, starting just prior to September 11 to date?

Mr. McDonell: Yes, senator, I would like to comment on that. There has been a great deal of talk recently that the RCMP are back in the spy game and have created a new entity. The RCMP has been involved in national security criminal investigations since 1920 and has evolved significantly since 2001. I do not think there is a country in the world that was prepared for the scope and enormity of the threat in 2001.

Our work since that time has been sharply focused on the current threat. It has evolved two or three times since 2001, and we have been trying to keep up with that, specifically looking at criminal events that relate to the safety and security of Canada and Canadian interests abroad. I hope that answers your question.

Senator Zimmer: Thank you, it does. Can you provide us with an overview of the RCMP's national security program?

Mr. McDonell: Our national security program is centrally controlled from headquarters in Ottawa, for which I am responsible. We have four integrated national security enforcement teams, INSETs, in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. That is where the threat today is focused, so we have the main thrust of our critical mass in those areas. The INSETs are integrated with provincial and municipal partners as well as other federal partners. We have small offices for national security investigative sections in Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Quebec City, Fredericton, Halifax, Charlottetown and St. John's, where the threat is not as great, or is deemed not to be as great.

Senator Zimmer: What criteria do you use to judge the level of threat?

Mr. McDonell: We use intelligence and workload. On the number of files that we are carrying, it is fair to say that the centre of gravity for us with respect to today's national security threat is in the Toronto area, so we have a great deal of focus and energy going into the Toronto area.

Senator Zimmer: Perhaps my other colleagues have other questions to ask in that vein. In any event, I will move to another area of questioning, biometrics. Saturday's Ottawa Citizen ran an article entitled, "The rise of the biometric state'', in which it was noted that Canada has a 70-member biometrics working group drawn from 22 federal departments and agencies. This group meets regularly to assess and coordinate biometric initiative. What is the RCMP's role in working with this group? How does it use biometrics in its operations?

Mr. McDonell: Senator, I can take that as notice and get an expert from that field to respond to your question. Basically, they provide support to my area of responsbility. I get the time from them; not how to build the watch. I can take that as notice and get back to the committee through the clerk with respect to that.

Senator Zimmer: All right. In what way is the RCMP collaborating with the private sector entities to ensure the security of Canada's critical infrastructure?

Mr. McDonell: The RCMP is quite heavily involved, specifically my office, in the critical infrastructure/criminal intelligence unit. We work through the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Counterterrorism Committee, of which I am a co-chair, as well as with CSIS and other entities to establish a quick and efficient movement of information back and forth. Recently, we have developed the appropriate model, driven mainly by the thrust given to us through the transportation industry, the work of Transport Canada and the G8 Roma/Lyon group. We are right at the cusp of rolling out this specific information flow. As well, we have been working with the Canadian Bankers Association to ensure that we move that information back and forth. We are not only receiving but also providing good intelligence to private industry.

Senator Moore: Assistant Commissioner McDonell, I noticed that you were sitting in the gallery during the previous witness' testimony. Commissioner Fantino said that the main obstacle to overcome is the final MOU that could be developed between the OPP and the RCMP. Where does that stand? What is the status of that MOU from your side of the desk? I keep hearing about the jurisdictions respecting each other's ground. Where does that fit in?

Mr. McDonell: Although, as defined by section 6(1) of the Security Offences Act, the RCMP has primary responsibility to criminally investigate offences arising out of threats to the security of Canada; no one police service has jurisdiction over terrorism today.

With the OPP, I do not think you will find a better example of mature integration, which has evolved from our work over the years. We continue to work closely with the OPP. The obstacle, if you will, is in defining that relationship.

I believe the relationship defines the MOU, not the other way around. We are working through our experience, through legislation, through recommendations that came from the O'Connor inquiry, through expectations of our international partners, to lay that all out so that the people actually carrying out the work know exactly the parameters.

We have no problem whatsoever in working with the OPP. For example, in the case known as the Toronto 18, the resources that the OPP poured into that investigation were significant, above and beyond. We both recognize, as Commissioner Fantino stated, that our primary responsibility is to protect Canadian citizens and Canadian interests, and security is paramount. We work to ensure that. We have gone from "need to know'' to "need to share.'' When looking at a piece of information, the principle affecting your judgment in the first instance is not the "need to know'' but the "need to share,'' and what do they need to do their job? More specifically, in doing their job, what do we add to the grander picture?

The MOU, I would suggest, follows our behaviour. Certainly, the MOU we just signed last year with CSIS is a reflection of our modified behaviour. Our behaviour did not come from that MOU. It is to define the parameters for the frontline officers and people coming in, and also to set the guideposts for investigations and to put it down on paper. At this point, I believe it to be an exercise in definition.

Senator Moore: You are obviously working together now. It is not as though you are stopping and nobody is doing anything, not talking or integrating, and waiting for this document.

Mr. McDonell: We are working closely together. From my experience in Ontario and my knowledge across Canada, Ontario sets the standard for integration as far as the police services on the criminal front are concerned. Everyone recognizes each other's responsibility and who has the lead responsibility, and we second people back and forth. For example, we have 18 people seconded to the Biker Enforcement Unit and that is under the OPP lead.

Senator Moore: They work under the orders of the OPP officers?

Mr. McDonell: Yes, and we have OPP officers in our organized crimes unit. We are trying not to duplicate. If we are conducting national security criminal investigations and we pick up something that we know is relevant to the OPP, it immediately goes over. Beyond that, people can query from the data banks.

We are cognizant that information must be actionable, shared in a timely manner, and objective. The final principle of the eight principles of sharing is that information must be accessible. I go back to the old school, the eight principles of intelligence. I do not believe these principles ever went away, so I adhere to them.

Senator Moore: Are these an appendix to your pending MOU?

Mr. McDonell: No.

The Chairman: Assistant Commissioner McDonell, when you said Ontario sets the standard, eight of the provinces are contract provinces, so I would think the integration is pretty good there.

Mr. McDonell: I am talking about inter-agency integration.

The Chairman: That only leaves Quebec to contrast with Ontario.

Mr. McDonell: We have municipal partners as well. One can look at the GTA, the large population there, and the number of police forces in the 905 hub alone. I was responsible for RCMP operations in a certain segment there. There is integration of the regional police with Toronto Police Service, OPP, RCMP and CBSA, the Canadian Border Services Agency. We ensure at all times that our efforts are focused in helping one another. If one has a problem, we are all made aware of it. We chip in as we can.

The Chairman: I was referring to your comment that Ontario sets the standard.

Mr. McDonell: Yes.

Senator Banks: It is the only one.

Mr. McDonell: No. We have an integrated homicide unit in the Lower Mainland of B.C, IHIT, or the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. Our other integrated units are robust and are also excellent examples. Integration in Ontario has been going on a lot longer. The special squad at the airport in Toronto was formed pre-1977, and the CFSEU, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit in Ontario, was formed in 1977. These are long-term, joint force operations that are integrated units.

Senator Moore: I want to ask you about a situation of which I became aware recently, Mr. Assistant Commissioner. I think it might fall under your bailiwick. This happened at Halifax International Airport. A Canadian citizen was going through the pre-clearance en route to the United States of America. This person had a conviction many years ago, and was denied entrance into the United States by the border people working in the Halifax International Airport. The border authorities said that, regardless of the fact that the Canadian court had issued a pardon, they would not observe that pardon.

I have spoken to Ambassador Michael Wilson in Washington. He has told me he knows of situations personally as well, where people have been turned back. They have paid their debt to society, they have gone to court and received a pardon, and somehow the record is not cleared. Most Canadians would think that when they have gone through this process, the record is wiped clean. Apparently, it is not. Somehow, the record is there and it can be accessed by the American authorities. I do not think the public knows that. I found this quite disturbing. The person paid his or her debt, did all the right things, went to court, got a pardon, and that is the rule of law. However, the American authorities say they do not recognize our court pardons, that if the individual had a record 25 or 30 years ago, as far as they are concerned he or she still has a record and cannot enter the United States. What can you tell the public about that?

Mr. McDonell: I cannot comment on that particular case. I do not know the facts of the case. I can take the question as notice.

Senator Moore: Aside from that particular case, what is the policy? Is information available? The cross-border sharing of information has existed since 9/11, or perhaps before that; I do not know. How would an American authority even get that information? There must be an agreement between them and the RCMP or the central registry.

Mr. McDonell: The Americans can query our information, much the same as a Canadian police officer can query NCIC, the National Crime Information Centre in the United States. For criminal queries, it is as simple as calling in or marking a box for a Canadian officer to get an American person checked for warrants.

Senator Moore: What happens when a person goes to court and he or she gets a pardon? Is that record then cleared from the Canadian record?

Mr. McDonell: Yes, senator, it is. It is removed.

Senator Moore: It is removed?

Mr. McDonell: Yes.

The Chairman: The challenge, if I may, is that we have no control over what the Americans do. Once the Americans have access to that information, it may be removed from our database but it would not necessarily be removed from their database.

Mr. McDonell: I might suggest that perhaps it had come up prior to the removal and it thus was in the American database. I do not know the particulars.

The Chairman: We also have a similar situation with Mr. Arar, who has gone through a court of inquiry, found to be blameless, yet still is denied access, and the Americans are entitled to deny anyone access that they choose.

Senator Moore: You are confirming that for Canadians who have had a conviction, have gone to court and received a pardon, the record is cleared?

Mr. McDonell: Of that offence, yes. It is off our files. The RCMP maintains the files; that is, the Criminal Number Index, CNIs. When the pardon is granted — not by the courts — that is removed.

The Chairman: Then if there was a query at that point, the answer would come up negative, that there is just nothing there?

Mr. McDonell: If it was a fresh inquiry into our system, it would come out negative.

The Chairman: But if the query had taken place before the pardon was granted, that would be residual in whatever files were in another country?

Mr. McDonell: They could be. I cannot state for sure.

Senator Banks: In the document you provided this morning, you make clear that there is a difference between overseas intelligence and foreign intelligence. We — and I in particular — have been wrestling with some of the definitions with respect to intelligence, security intelligence, criminal intelligence, and so on. Often, they turn out to be one and the same thing. What is the difference between overseas intelligence and foreign intelligence?

Mr. McDonell: You are not alone in wrestling with these issues. I have been at this game for a long time and I find it hard to take specific types of information and put it in one box by itself. My view of the difference is that foreign intelligence can be collected in Canada. We can collect through overt means or through sources. We can collect intelligence that relates to criminal activities that impact Canada that are taking place in another country, whereas overseas intelligence is, in my mind, intelligence that originates overseas and is about foreign governments and states.

Senator Banks: The same piece of information could have been garnered both ways. It is a question of how it has been obtained?

Mr. McDonell: Yes.

Senator Banks: With respect specifically to criminal intelligence matters, you just talked about the cooperation level in Ontario in enforcement. At the Greater Toronto airport, Pearson airport, there are, if I understand it correctly, the Peel Regional Police, and I think the Toronto municipal police have a role there; there is the OPP, which I guess by definition has a role; and the RCMP has a role. There are at least four, if not more, police forces.

If you were the king — and we are talking about efficiency, efficacy and eliminating barriers to criminal matters — would you not say: We should have one police force at that airport dealing with things rather than four, or maybe more? I have not even talked about the Canada Border Services Agency. Would it not be better if there were just one police force there?

Mr. McDonell: If I were the king, senator, I would not be sitting here.

Senator Banks: You never know.

Mr. McDonell: I dislike dealing with hypothetical situations. I have worked at the Toronto airport myself. I do believe that the system there is working quite well, specifically with respect to the special squad that does the criminal intelligence, moving back and forth. In the current structure, the information actually gets back to the force; it serves as a link. It is a conduit through which information moves back and forth. The special squad, in its current format, serves as an excellent conduit out between the airport and either the origin or the target of the information, relationship or commodity, and through the police forces back and forth. In that sense, I see the integrated unit as being most effective.

Senator Banks: How long has it been in place?

Mr. McDonell: Pre-1977.

Senator Banks: We have heard testimony in this committee from police officers there who have said that they have had great difficulty operating in that circumstance. When they found things they would like to have pursued, they were constrained in their pursuit of it by circumstances having to do with the fact that there are a number of different police authorities there.

The Chairman: More specifically, there was a turf war there for a great period of time, Assistant Commissioner McDonell. We are all aware of it. When we took testimony from Inspector Landry there, he sent us back a list of 50 organizations that had security roles at the airport. He gave us a great deal of evidence about how difficult it was to function there.

Mr. McDonell: That was, perhaps, at a level a little lower than the large criminal investigations. It has been my experience with the large criminal investigations that they flow quite freely, and especially with respect to national security.

The Chairman: You never saw a turf war that involved Peel Regional Police and the RCMP?

Mr. McDonell: There were turf wars with respect to the evolution from the RCMP to Peel, and specifically those turf wars were in the uniformed branches.

The Chairman: They have been resolved since?

Mr. McDonell: Yes.

The Chairman: There are MOUs in place and things are running better?

Mr. McDonell: Yes, to my knowledge. I have been focusing on national security, but the turf wars I am aware of deal with the uniformed response, the emergency response team response, and that sort of stuff. At the large investigative level, I have not seen those turf wars in the last 20 years.

Senator Banks: I will have to revisit that. My recollection is that one or two instances were given to us that there were impediments to criminal investigations, not uniform kind of situations.

Mr. McDonell: I would think they would be personality driven for the most part.

Senator Banks: That is precisely the point.

Mr. McDonell: The previous commissioner spoke of the frailty of humans — I go so far as to say the frailty of the human spirit. There are still some that take a proprietary or territorial view to their information and to their work. The majority of police officers are well beyond that today. We realize, specifically in national security, that the threat belongs to all of us, but more so in organized crime. I find a real collegiality, and a real need to share as the primary motivation in meeting with other police officers.

Senator Banks: That is very much to be hoped.

You would have something to do, in one way or another, with the new no-fly list, I would think, because that would sometimes involve folks who might be persons of interest?

Mr. McDonell: Yes.

Senator Banks: How can Canadians find out if they are on the no-fly list? Is it a published thing? Can I go on the Internet and find the no-fly list that says John Smith cannot go there?

Mr. McDonell: Transport Canada has the lead for that file, that initiative. We support them. I do not know how I could get on there and find out if I were on the no-fly list, so I cannot respond. That would be a question that I would suggest be directed to Transport Canada.

Senator Banks: I will so direct it. Thank you.

Going to the very high profile case of Mr. Arar, the Department of State in the United States wrote that tensions that arose as a result of the Arar case had a dampening effect on the willingness of Canada to share intelligence information. I think most Canadians would understand why that is so. Has that been repaired? Are we sufficiently confident that foreign authorities will deal with information that we provide them about Canadians in ways that Canada would regard as proper?

Mr. McDonell: Senator, I can speak to criminal intelligence. I am satisfied that in my dealings with the Federal Bureau of Investigation my information will be protected and that I will be notified and consulted before any action is taken with respect to information that I provide the bureau. I am satisfied that if I said the information could not be used in a certain way, we could work through that.

Senator Banks: Would the same apply in France, Britain and Germany?

Mr. McDonell: The same would apply in Britain.

The Chairman: Is it not inherent in any ongoing relationship that if they do not play by the rules —

Mr. McDonell: That is exactly it, and I have not had criminal dealings with France or Germany. I deal quite regularly with Britain, to the point of ghosting or job shadowing my counterpart's desk, and I deal quite regularly with the United States. Those relationships are founded on complete trust.

The Chairman: There is an understanding that if a caveat on the sharing of information is broken, they should not expect much more information for a while, and vice versa.

Mr. McDonell: That is correct. However, we have to weigh that against human life.

The Chairman: They may get a yellow card rather than a red card?

Mr. McDonell: There is a quick airplane ride by one of the two, and a very frank discussion about it. Again, we are dealing with humans.

Senator Banks: In his report on the Arar situation, Mr. Justice O'Connor made several recommendations affecting the RCMP specifically, and I would think that some of them would have to do with criminal intelligence matters. Has the force implemented those recommendations or is it in the process of implementing them?

Mr. McDonell: Yes. In fact, most are fully implemented. We were well on our way to that before the recommendations came out. Within a couple of hours of the recommendations coming out, I was able to run upstairs to our commissioner and provide him with a matrix of the recommendations, our new state of the union — if I can use that term — and where we need to go to be 100 per cent within those recommendations. We had already touched on every one of those recommendations save the one with respect to caveats.

We had been working for a year previously to reshape national security criminal investigative operations and to come up with a new governance model for centralized control, so we were well placed when the recommendations came out. That is where we were going.

Senator Banks: All in all, can Canadians now feel more confident that they will be dealt with properly by us and by other governments with whom we are cooperating with respect to providing information? Can I feel more confident about that today?

Mr. McDonell: I believe you can.

Senator Banks: There is a thing called the National Security Community Advisory Committee. Is the RCMP a member of it, or is there a relationship there?

Mr. McDonell: I am trying to line that title up with different advisory committees that we have across Canada.

Senator Banks: I know nothing about that one.

Mr. McDonell: In different cities we have outreach programs and advisory committees. In Ottawa, for example, we have an advisory committee that sits with our Integrated National Security Enforcement Team people and provides advice with respect to culture and background, helping us to understand the community with which we work and, more important, helping the community to understand us.

Senator Banks: Could you undertake to check that out and let us know? It is called the National Security Community Advisory Committee. Perhaps you could advise us through a note to the clerk what it is, and whether the RCMP is involved.

Mr. McDonell: It is what I spoke of. However, Toronto may give theirs a different name. I believe that title is the one used in the National Capital Region. The principles followed are identical across Canada.

Senator Banks: You said that there is a rumour that the RCMP is getting back into the spy business, and that you are not. We know that CSIS is being reorganized to do more work overseas, and to gather intelligence from other places, be it foreign intelligence or overseas intelligence. You will surely need to have access to that kind of information. Are you convinced that the system is now in place for the sharing of such information for your purposes?

Mr. McDonell: Yes, I am, and I do not need access to a lot of that. I need access to what is relevant to criminal activity here in Canada, or what affects Canada as per section 83 of the Criminal Code. Again, as is Commissioner Fantino, I am satisfied that due diligence is being applied to the decisions on what I need to know.

We also have a case management index system, which is a new system within the service, through which I am kept fairly well abreast of their investigations and they are kept fully aware of ours. We go back and forth as to when a file might move from being a CSIS investigation "primary lead'' to an RCMP investigation "primary lead.''

Senator Banks: Sometimes RCMP officers are posted outside of Canada to do certain work. Will the forthcoming change in the mandate of CSIS change the way in which the RCMP will operate outside of Canada as well?

Mr. McDonell: Are you referring to the foreign intelligence entity that is being suggested?

Senator Banks: Or, in your case, criminal intelligence that is gathered, as you said, for example, in the United Kingdom.

Mr. McDonell: We are very careful about staying within our mandate and protecting our reputation with our partners around the world. We have an excellent relationship between our liaison officers and CSIS liaison officers. They chat regularly, and their offices are usually side by side.

However, we are careful to stay within our mandate and keep our LOs within our mandate. It is my responsibility to ensure that. The international sharing of national security criminal information and intelligence must go through my office and be sanctioned by me. I am ultimately responsible for that. We are very cognizant of staying within our mandate and keeping that trust with the police community.

With respect to foreign intelligence units, we rely on CSIS to do that, but I will go to the service here in Ottawa to collect or disperse information they may deem relevant in the security intelligence world. In only very limited cases do we interact with foreign security intelligence.

Senator Banks: CSIS is now about to become more active in that area. Will that increase your interest in what they do?

Mr. McDonell: As the amount of intelligence increases, the fruit would proportionately fall on to our plate. It is their system, for the most part, that applies a process of diligence to that and decides what comes over to the RCMP.

Senator Banks: Is most of that fruit as a result of them supplying something that may be of interest to you, or is it as a result of your asking about a particular operation or person?

Mr. McDonell: It is a two-way street, senator. They are aware of where we are going. We have regular meetings in the divisions and here in Ottawa that they are aware of — in fact, we take our strategic priorities from the service. We no longer produce them ourselves.

Senator Banks: Say that again?

Mr. McDonell: We take our strategic national security priorities from the service. We do not produce them. We have gotten out of that strategic intelligence with respect to national security threats.

Senator Banks: When CSIS is looking at a matter of national security and the intelligence that has to do with it, and there are stages at which those things happen that lead from one to the other, how soon — if you can generalize, and I am asking a general question here — in that process are you brought in and made aware of what is going on?

Mr. McDonell: At the start.

Senator Banks: At the start?

Mr. McDonell: Yes. But I may not have a specific interest.

Senator Banks: Because there may not be a criminal involvement.

Mr. McDonell: That is correct.

Senator Banks: In other words, you are not handed a sort of three-quarters baked hot potato, three-quarters of the way up to the point where you have to arrest someone. You have known about that from the beginning and have been informed all along?

Mr. McDonell: Senator, I may be handed a hot potato at the speed in which today's threat moves. I am satisfied that I get the information at the earliest instance from the service. I am satisfied.

Senator Banks: You would have an input, I would presume —

Mr. McDonell: That is what we are working out right now to ensure objectivity is applied to the decision making and that there is a police mind as to when it was switched over. In the past, it was a CSIS decision. Now we are involved from the start. Our regional people must sign off on the file every time they are given an update on it as to whether "It is ours now,'' or "It is not ours now,'' or "It is approaching our threshold.''

Senator Banks: Following that along, would there be a tension from time to time in a case where you would be saying "We have this person dead to rights'' on a criminal matter, between CSIS or someone else wanting to say "No, do not touch him or her, let it go, notwithstanding that there is criminal activity going on because we need to see where that will go and if it will get us higher up in the scheme of things''? Is that tension always happily resolvable?

Mr. McDonell: It has been, in my experience.

Senator Moore: With regard to the National Security Community Advisory Committee that is here in Ottawa, will you send a note to the clerk with regard to its mandate and who is currently on it? I would like to know how they got to be on that committee. Were they appointed, or how does that happen? Are there other such committees in Canada, and if so, where? Are there others planned, and if so, where?

Mr. McDonell: There are other committees where we have INSETs and I believe we are planning on putting them in every city. With respect to your questions as to how do people get on that committee; I will take that question as notice and get back to the committee.

Senator Day: Is that community advisory committee the group that Anne McLellan had indicated when she was minister that she would create and Minister Day came along and implemented? They advised with respect to how the community is reacting to some of this activity, and things like racial profiling and those issues?

Mr. McDonell: I have appeared before that specific committee at least three times. It was a nomenclature with which I was wrestling and I defaulted to the community efforts specific to the RCMP. I will get back to the committee and clarify that.

Senator Day: You suggested that that is an Ottawa committee. I thought it was of national scope.

Mr. McDonell: There is the larger government committee that is very broad. I was speaking to RCMP efforts, the title with which I was wrestling.

Senator Day: You were here earlier when Commissioner Fantino talked about — and I wrote down here — the National Security Criminal Operations Branch of the RCMP. Should that be national security criminal investigations or are there two different things here?

Mr. McDonell: The National Security Criminal Operations Branch reports to me. It is one of the four directorates that I have reporting to me.

Senator Day: How does that fit in with what we have been talking about today? What do they do?

Mr. McDonell: That is the pointy end of the stick. They are looking after the investigations.

Senator Day: Criminal operations look after investigations. The RCMP national security criminal investigations are the overall?

Mr. McDonell: That is my title, and I have four different directorates under it.

Senator Day: When we talked about the national security investigations section, the smaller ones, you said there were four INSETs in the larger areas.

Mr. McDonell: That is correct.

Senator Day: Are they an integrated group like the integrated national security enforcement groups? Are they national security investigations sections? Are they an integrated group with other police forces involved?

Mr. McDonell: No, senator, they are not.

Senator Day: Talking in terms of jurisdiction, we are all trying to get our minds around this question. You indicated that the Security Offences Act, section 6.1, gives the RCMP primary responsibility to investigate. Is that with respect to security offences?

Mr. McDonell: That is correct, in relation to threats to the security of Canada.

Senator Day: If it can be defined as a threat to the security of Canada, then that is an RCMP role?

Mr. McDonell: The prime minister will hold us accountable.

Senator Day: And you —

Mr. McDonell: And the people of Canada will, also.

Senator Day: You gave us this one-page document here.

Mr. McDonell: Yes.

Senator Day: I was looking at the RCMP program responsibilities for criminal investigations. Then there are threats to the security of Canada as defined by the CSIS Act.

Mr. McDonell: Yes.

Senator Day: Is that another area in addition to section 6 of the Security Offences Act? Do we also need to go to the CSIS Act to find jurisdiction for you?

Mr. McDonell: The definition within the Security Offences Act comes from section 2 of the CSIS Act. That is the definition that we use to describe threats to the security of Canada, and follows it into the Security Offences Act.

Senator Day: Do you have a lawyer sitting beside you all the time here to determine whether you should or should not be doing something?

Mr. McDonell: I have five books open on my desk at all times.

Senator Day: You probably have studied law along the way.

Mr. McDonell: At a very basic level.

Senator Day: I am wondering if there is a time, and I suspect this happens, and I want to know if this is a seamless transition, where there is a criminal investigation going on that evolves into a criminal investigation that has national security implications to it and then it would have to be transferred to your group of people.

Mr. McDonell: That is correct. I refer you to the same document where it speaks to other program areas impacting national security criminal investigations. There are instances where that takes place on a regular basis where the integrated border enforcement team will come across information that has national security implication and at that point, by ministerial directive and by RCMP policy, it defaults right into my section and we become ultimately responsible for it, giving direction as required.

Senator Day: When your group is looking at a file that indicates there is some national security aspect to it, could it be as remote or removed from something happening here, as some funds being raised here that will probably be used in a group outside of Canada? Would that be a part of —

Mr. McDonell: That is part of our terrorist financing investigations, yes.

Senator Day: Even though the infrastructure or the impact of the activity might take place somewhere else in the world?

Mr. McDonell: That is the backbone or the thrust of our investigations.

Senator Day: Do you have RCMP officers in various places around the world who are liaison-type officers?

Mr. McDonell: Yes, we do. I believe we have 34 or 35 offices.

Senator Day: Are they gathering information and intelligence that is fed to you?

Mr. McDonell: They are pretty busy responding to requests from the host country and other countries for which they are responsible. Our requests are very case-oriented, for the most part.

Senator Day: If money were gathered in Canada and being sent to an organization which we have defined as a terrorist organization operating elsewhere in the world, what role, if any, would your RCMP foreign liaison officers have in relation to that activity?

Mr. McDonell: They would broker the exchange of information between our investigators and police investigators at the other end. For the most part, because of continuity of evidence, if you are not adding any value, you step away. They facilitate the meetings and exchange of information, and we try to keep the number of people involved down to a minimum. However, because of fiscal realities, sometimes it is easier and more financially prudent for them to pick up the information, but we weigh that against the fact that they will have to come back for court.

They facilitate the exchange of information — ensure it is moving back and forth — and know, when our investigators are asking a question, where they can go to get the answers. For the most part, they put those people together; the link is made and they monitor it to make sure that there are no short circuits.

Senator Day: It is not inconceivable that you might be concerned about a collection activity going on here for funds, and when you investigate that in another foreign country, you find that the funds are being used to build a school. Therefore, it is not a criminal activity; it is not a threat to any national security issue or interest of Canada?

Mr. McDonell: That is entirely within the realm of possibilities.

Senator Day: Your liaison officer would be instrumental in feeding that information back to you?

Mr. McDonell: It is a case-by-case situation. It could come from the liaison officer; it could come from the investigators doing their own research; it could come from information we pick up from another police agency. Basically, they are scouring all the time.

Senator Day: You indicate that you have a budget of about $40 million. Is that just the RCMP's NSCI program that has $40 million per year?

Mr. McDonell: Yes, that is correct.

Senator Day: That is the National Security Criminal Investigations program, and that is inclusive of these foreign —

Mr. McDonell: No. Federal and International Operations fall under the ambit of Assistant Commissioner Souccar.

Senator Day: You have the $40 million for the four departments?

Mr. McDonell: In Canada.

Senator Day: If you had $80 million, would you do a much better job?

Mr. McDonell: I do not think there is a police officer in Canada who would not say they could do a better job with more funds or more resources.

Senator Day: What do you need? Do you need more equipment or personnel?

Mr. McDonell: Presently, we are very short of personnel. I am bringing in people from other sections all the time; we are on a continuous draw from our federal and international operations program. There is no risk-taking in national security criminal investigations and it must be done in an effective and timely manner. We stay on top of it. If we see a gap, I march into Assistant Commissioner Souccar's office and ask for resources. Presently, I have well over 100 of his resources working for me.

Senator Day: The RCMP is going through a major recruitment process now but that is coming in the front door. Presumably there is a lot of training. What specific type of training would you have to offer, and how long would that take for your personnel to be trained so that they could operate in this national security criminal investigations side?

Mr. McDonell: To begin with, we require mature police officers who have a few years of basic police experience. We need to see if they have the investigative capability — if I can use the term, the "moxie'' — to handle investigations. They have come up through the system and then we talent-spot, if you will; we bring them into the program.

Now we have just redesigned our whole training program to ensure that they are getting the proper training. There is a continuum of training exercises that we are working through. I would state that we are doing that with the service so that in the final segment of every training package, the intelligence officer who is new to the service and investigators who are new to us spend the last part of that training together. The mystique as to who does what and who is whom in the zoo is removed and we start that team approach.

Our training package is being worked concurrently with the service. Again, it is involved in removing that duplication and getting the timely movement of information — who needs what and what the roles are. I believe we are on our fourth or fifth iteration of that course, and we are continuously working on it.

Senator Day: Do you have a special need for language facility and ethnic background, like CSIS does?

Mr. McDonell: Yes, we do.

Senator Day: That is another challenge for you.

Mr. McDonell: Yes, it is.

Senator Zimmer: I asked the previous witness, Commissioner Fantino, a similar question. To what degree is the RCMP trying to engage the private sector to ensure the security of Canada's critical infrastructure? I am not saying everyone gets a gun and a horse and out they go. What can we do in the public sector to ensure and help the security and the infrastructure of our country?

Mr. McDonell: The RCMP is not alone in responding to this question. Our first effort, which we are putting forward through the CACP program, is to engage the 62,000 sets of eyes and ears that are front-line police officers who are key to engaging the public and private industry. We should have a training package ready to roll out across Canada to all police forces by August of this year — roll call presentations.

Today's threat lives within the community. Nobody knows that community better than the front-line police officers. We need their input and their eyes and ears, and the information flow has to be back and forth. We are working on a training package for the front-line police officers. After that, those packages or reports will be quarterly and as need be, whatever the threat is.

The detective sergeant who appeared prior to myself mentioned how the OPP responded to the al Qaeda threat to Canada's gas industry. We will be ensuring that that sort of thing is reported on continuously, but as a police community. We in the CACP are taking ownership for that. For the RCMP, we see our responsibility there to get that information out.

That speaks to the front-line officers, who are critical. Specifically, we are using the transportation industry as the one of the 10 segments of the critical infrastructure to get this information architecture and flow of information going back and forth. We are at the cusp of actually flicking the switch and making that go. Then we will roll it out to the other nine aspects of our critical infrastructure and move it forward.

I believe it is fair to say that we have moved the yardstick significantly in the last year, from just talking about it to actually having something tangible and the network in place and on up from there. The last critical point in this architecture is that of the front-line officer and the police force of jurisdiction.

The Chairman: Thank you, assistant commissioner. We are grateful to you for coming back and completing the testimony that we started earlier. We appreciate your assistance to the committee, and we look forward to having you back again sometime in the future.

Mr. McDonell: Thank you, honourable senators. I appreciate your work very much.

The Chairman: Honourable senators, we have before us today Ms. Susan Pollak, Executive Director, Security Intelligence Review Committee. Ms. Pollak began her career in public service at the Communications Security Establishment of the Department of National Defence in 1973. From there, she was seconded to the Privy Council Office in 1984, and three years later she accepted a position as principal adviser to the Deputy Clerk of Security and Intelligence, and Counsel. Since then, she has held several senior management positions with the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Natural Resources Canada. She was appointed to her current position on November 15, 1999.

Ms. Pollak is accompanied today by Mr. Tim Farr, Associate Executive Director; and Ms. Marian McGrath, Senior Counsel.

Susan Pollak, Executive Director, Security Intelligence Review Committee: Honourable senators, I would like to begin by extending greetings from the Chairman of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, Mr. Gary Filmon, who could not be here with you today. As SIRC's executive director, I will be speaking on the committee's behalf. It is a great privilege to be here to address you, and I thank you for this opportunity.

The last time that SIRC appeared before the Senate was on April 18, 2005, when I was testifying before a special committee reviewing the Anti-terrorism Act. A lot has happened in the past two years, so I want to use this opportunity to remind you briefly about SIRC's role and responsibilities and to discuss with you some of the current challenges that we face. Then I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

As I am sure you are aware, SIRC came into being at the same time that Canada created its civilian security intelligence service, also known as CSIS. With the passage of the CSIS Act in 1984, Canada became one of the first democratic governments anywhere in the world to establish a statutory mandate for its security service. Equally significant, the CSIS Act created a framework to keep those powers in check, a framework that, by and large, has stood the test of time.

Specifically, the CSIS Act defines the mandate and limits of state power to conduct security intelligence. It also spells out how the service's work is to be monitored through a rigorous system of political and judicial controls, including two review bodies — each with a distinct mandate — to watch over this agency. I will not describe in detail the role of the Inspector General for CSIS, but I will simply say that this is an internal body that provides the Minister of Public Safety with a knowledgeable set of eyes and ears on CSIS operations. SIRC, on the other hand, is an external review mechanism that does not report to any minister but, rather, directly to Parliament and, therefore, ultimately to all Canadians.

SIRC's role is relatively easy to describe, if rather complex at times to execute. The committee has two basic functions: first, to conduct reviews into CSIS operations; and second, to investigate complaints against CSIS. SIRC has, in law, the absolute authority to examine all of the service's activities and has full access to all of its files, no matter how highly classified the information may be. The sole exception to this is cabinet confidences.

Our reviews are done by assessing the service's activities and operations against several instruments, which together form the legislative and policy framework for the service. These are the CSIS Act, ministerial direction, national requirements for security intelligence, as established by cabinet, and CSIS operational policies.

In each of its reviews, the committee examined several essential questions, such as: Did CSIS have reasonable grounds to suspect a threat to the security of Canada? Was the level of investigation proportionate to the seriousness of the threat? Did exchanges of information between CSIS and domestic and foreign partners comply with the agreements and the caveats that govern information sharing in each case? Last but not least, did the service's investigation respect the rights of individuals who were involved in lawful activities such as protest or dissent?

Normally, our reviews take several months to complete and involve extensive briefings and discussions with CSIS, as well as the examination of thousands of pages of documents. Once a review is completed, copies are sent to the Director of CSIS and to the Inspector General. In some special cases, we do send our reviews directly to the Minister of Public Safety. Declassified summaries, with any national security and privacy concerns removed, are included in SIRC's Annual Report to Parliament. Since its creation, SIRC has completed 168 reviews containing 383 recommendations.

Although SIRC's Annual Report is our main communications vehicle for informing Parliament and Canadians about our work, SIRC has implemented a modest communications program. The chair has given media interviews and made several public presentations, and committee members and senior staff do some outreach and liaison, such as attending international symposia or addressing university seminars.

Moving now to the subject of complaints. You are no doubt aware that SIRC does investigate complaints about CSIS brought by individuals or groups. These complaints can be about "any act or thing done by the service,'' which is fairly broad; denials of security clearances to federal government employees and contractors; referrals from the Canadian Human Rights Commission in cases where the complaint relates to events that may touch on the security of Canada; and, very infrequently, Minister's reports in respect of the Citizenship Act.

When SIRC accepts jurisdiction, the complaint is investigated through a quasi-judicial hearing presided over by one or more committee members, whose role is similar to that of a judge. At the conclusion of the investigation, SIRC issues reports containing findings and recommendations to the Minister, the Director of CSIS and, in some cases, the Deputy Head of the government department involved. We also provide a declassified report on our investigation to the complainant. To date, SIRC has issued 125 written complaints reports.

As far as SIRC is concerned, having review and complaints under one body has proven advantageous. Our reviews give us the expertise to evaluate and investigate complaints more fully; at the same time, complaints give us another "window'' on CSIS operations, particularly their impact on the lives of ordinary Canadians. In some jurisdictions, these functions are kept separate; but Canada's experience suggests that there are real benefits in having them under one roof.

Whether we are speaking about reviews or complaints, SIRC's recommendations are non-binding. The scheme that Parliament created was not meant to have SIRC substitute for either the Director of CSIS, who is accountable to the Minister, or for the Minister, who is answerable to Parliament. Nevertheless, CSIS has implemented the majority of SIRC's recommendations and has publicly acknowledged that SIRC has made it a better organization over the years. In late 2003, then-CSIS Director Ward Elcock said at a major public conference:

Twenty years of constant review activity have resulted in many recommendations on how we could run things differently, and many of these recommendations have mirrored adjustments that have made been to the service's management procedures. SIRC's comments have extended into the heart of how the organization is run, including matters of source-handling, investigative methods, targeting decisions and other core functions . . .

Do we always share SIRC's views? No in some cases, yes in some . . . but that is not the point. The point is that the review process remains an ongoing debate on ways to ensure that the principles of the legislation are sustained as we evolve and adapt to new threats. That is what the legislators intended.

Having given you a brief overview of SIRC, I would like to take a few more minutes and describe some of the major challenges we are facing. A great deal has happened over the past two years and I want to identify some of the issues which are preoccupying the committee members and myself.

First, looking to the future, the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar could have a significant impact on SIRC's work. In September 2006, Mr. Justice O'Connor released his report on the events relating to Maher Arar. This seminal report contained 23 recommendations on various aspects of the RCMP's and other agencies' national security activities, such as investigative interaction with countries that have questionable human rights records and the treatment of Canadians detained abroad. I am pleased to note that Mr. Justice O'Connor's findings concerning CSIS' activities with respect to Mr. Arar were consistent with SIRC's, following our own exhaustive examination of this matter.

Three months later, Mr. Justice O'Connor released a companion report summarizing the work of his policy review. Although nine of its 13 recommendations dealt with an independent, arm's length review mechanism for the RCMP's national security activities, it also proposed that independent review and complaints investigations be extended to encompass the same aspects of the Canada Border Services Agency, Citizenship and Immigration, Transport, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, and Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Mr. Justice O'Connor concluded that SIRC was the logical body to review the national security activities of the later four entities.

It is now up to the government to respond to Mr. Justice O'Connor's recommendations. SIRC has stated that it would be ready to assume an expanded role, subject to a full assessment of the mandate, workload and resource implications.

The committee is also anxious to learn more about the government's proposal to establish a committee of parliamentarians on national security. Although the Minister of Public Safety has stated that his government intends to pursue this initiative, it remains unclear what the new committee's mandate and powers would be. SIRC, therefore, has questions about its relationship with the proposed committee and, in particular, concerns about its continuing independence and effectiveness, and the potential for overlap and duplication.

In addition, SIRC's members have concerns about how they would respond to parliamentary requests for classified information, as these could conflict with their oaths of secrecy and certain provisions of the CSIS Act.

Another subject which SIRC is following with interest, and of course so is this committee, is the government's intention to expand CSIS' role in foreign intelligence gathering, which is currently restricted to collection only within Canada. The expansion would see collection abroad. Such an expansion of CSIS' role will have implications for SIRC as it will introduce an entirely new type of activity for SIRC to monitor.

As are you no doubt aware, in May 2006 the government appointed Mr. Justice Major to lead an independent judicial inquiry into certain aspects of the 1985 Air India bombing. Seven months later, in response to the findings of the O'Connor commission, the government announced a second internal inquiry under former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci to examine allegations made by three Canadian citizens that information provided by Canadian officials resulted in their detention and torture abroad. Both inquiries have the potential to affect SIRC's work in two distinct ways.

First, the internal resources allocated by CSIS to respond to these inquiries are the same resources used by SIRC, and so the inquiries could have an adverse effect on CSIS' capacity to respond in a timely fashion to SIRC's requirements for information. Second, if SIRC were officially contacted by either inquiry — as did happen with the O'Connor commission — it would unhesitatingly offer its full cooperation. However, depending on the workload and owing to SIRC's small size, this could have an impact on our capacity to deliver our own programs.

Finally, I should add that SIRC's complaints program could be significantly affected by what is envisaged in Mr. Justice O'Connor's policy review. For example, if "review'' were to include recourse mechanism for Canadians identified on Transport Canada's no-fly or passenger protect list, this would have huge implications for the volume of complaints that SIRC currently handles. Furthermore, if SIRC were asked to investigate complaints against the other agencies identified, we would need to acquire in-depth knowledge and expertise concerning the national security activities and governing legislation of Citizenship and Immigration, Transport, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre and Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

I will conclude by saying that for over twenty-three years, SIRC has striven to approach its work in an objective, fair and balanced way. The state has a clear obligation to protect its citizens from harm and to counter threats to public safety and security, the most significant today being terrorism. However, at the same time, we must uphold the principles of accountability, fairness and absolute adherence to the rule of law. I will admit that this task has become more challenging since 9/11, as allegations of human rights abuses in the name of fighting terrorism have surfaced in many countries. Canada has not been immune to such controversy. The case of Maher Arar, which SIRC reviewed before the government appointed a separate commission of inquiry, serves as a case in point.

The committee and SIRC staff take great pride in the fact that Canada's accountability mechanisms have helped to make CSIS a more professional organization. This objective has become even more important since 9/11, as we strive to preserve our free and open society while defending ourselves against threats to our society.

I thank you for your attention and look forward to answering any questions that you may have.

The Chairman: Thank you very much. Senator Moore?

Senator Moore: Thank you, and I thank everyone for being here. I have a general question here. Given that CSIS is only one part of Canada's security intelligence community, is it possible for you to have a full and complete picture of what is happening without having access to information held by other departments and agencies? Maybe that is what Mr. Justice O'Connor was thinking of. How do you know that you have everything you should have before you when you are reviewing the activities?

Ms. Pollak: The short answer is: We cannot have a full and complete picture of the entire regime of security and intelligence activities and organizations across the board. What we do have access to, by virtue of our unfettered access to all CSIS information, is any information that is shared with the service by its partner agencies in its investigative activities. No, we cannot follow the ball over the fence and look inside, for example, the RCMP or Canada Border Services Agency. That is not within our mandate.

Senator Moore: But for any information that has come to CSIS from any of those other agencies, you are privy to all of that information?

Ms. Pollak: Yes.

Senator Moore: Toward the end of your remarks, you mentioned something that I was thinking about earlier today. We were told by a witness earlier today, and I did not realize this, that the so-called no-fly list is administered by Transport Canada and not by one of our security agencies.

You do not have access to Transport Canada information?

Ms. Pollak: No, we do not. Let me pose a scenario to you, though. This subject was being discussed on the radio this morning. An official from the Transport Canada department has been explaining that much of the information that they would use in compiling the list would come from CSIS or the RCMP, or both, as well as partners, meaning foreign governments. To the extent that CSIS information was used in compiling the list and an individual believed that they were on the list because of CSIS' role in this exercise, then they could make a complaint to us. We would only be able to examine what CSIS' input or contribution had been.

Senator Moore: Do you have the review of all the information pertaining to how a name got on such a list, and do you have any role in the oversight of a delisting of a name? Who is in charge of that?

Ms. Pollak: None of this has been spelled out.

Senator Moore: Is not today the day the list is effective?

Ms. Pollak: Yes.

Senator Moore: None of it has been spelled out?

Ms. Pollak: Not that we are aware of. It is Transport Canada's responsibility, and I believe it is an administrative process.

Senator Moore: What do you mean by that?

Ms. Pollak: I have not seen anything in the CSIS Act referring to this type of document, so it is not linked directly to the statute of which we are part.

The Chairman: Except that they have said they will be depending upon information that comes from CSIS.

Ms. Pollak: Yes.

The Chairman: If they are relying on that, it does not need to be in the CSIS Act, does it?

Ms. Pollak: No. I am saying the CSIS Act has not identified SIRC or any other body as a body to examine these things or to delist individuals. I am not sure how it would work.

The Chairman: Are you feeling confident in the system, Senator Moore?

Senator Moore: Given the fact that today is the first day, maybe Department of Transport has made some type of public pronouncement so that people know. Canadians should know how a name gets on a list and how a name gets off a list.

You have mentioned that, since its creation, SIRC has completed 168 reviews containing 383 recommendations. Later, you said that CSIS has implemented the majority of those recommendations. Of the 383, what is the majority: Half plus one or is it much more?

Ms. Pollak: It is closer to two-thirds, to 70 per cent; in that range.

Senator Moore: You said the recommendations that they do not implement are nonbinding. Does CSIS come back to you and say, "Look, Madam Director, we have looked at this.'' Is there any further discussion, or do they just do not do it?

Ms. Pollak: We have a rolling check-off system with them regarding our recommendations. On an annual basis, we go back with the recommendations we have made in the previous year and we say, "What have you done or not done in respect of this recommendation?'' We get a written response, and usually such responses are quite lengthy. If they do not agree, they explain why. It can be something along the lines of, "We believe that the systems we have in place or the policies we already have do address the issue. We do not feel the need to introduce new mechanisms.'' The explanation tends to be fairly complete. Sometimes we simply agree to disagree.

Senator Moore: What happens then? Your organization is there to provide the oversight. You have looked at all kinds of situations so I expect you would have a pretty good feeling as to what is right and wrong and what could be improved.

Ms. Pollak: In the overall scheme of things, we would say we are reasonably well satisfied with the level of take-up of our recommendations. Even if they do not fully implement a recommendation, quite regularly they will partially implement a recommendation. It goes to the question of who, at the end of the day, is responsible for actually managing CSIS. It is the director. The director has to explain, in my view, to the minister why a recommendation may or may not have been implemented.

Senator Moore: When you were discussing the comments of Mr. Justice O'Connor with respect to reviews of other agencies, you said "owing to SIRC's small size.'' How many people are on your staff?

Ms. Pollak: We have a complement of 21.

Senator Moore: There are three of you. What are the SIRC officers like? Are they trained in a certain way? You are there to review. Are they lawyers? What is the nature of the officers?

Ms. Pollak: We have three lawyers on staff; Marian is number one. We have a paralegal as well to support the quasi- judicial aspect of their work. On the side of reviews, we have eight researchers and one research manager. Tim Farr has been responsible for that side of the program. We have four administrative staff who keep the trains running and the paperwork flowing and accord it the proper protections. That covers it.

As far as professional qualifications go, most of our research people come from backgrounds of having studied international affairs, history, sometimes criminology. Virtually all of them have at least one graduate degree; several of them have doctorates. They are highly educated. We have brought many people in from Martin Rudner's school, the Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies. We do train them in-house and they also receive training at CSIS in terms of manipulating the database, learning how to use it and read the documentation that is there, since it is unique.

Senator Moore: Are any of your staff former intelligence officers?

Ms. Pollak: No, they are not.

Senator Moore: Is that by design? Is it because you do not want to have people with old habits, or you want to train your own to be analysts and have a fair but more objective view?

Ms. Pollak: In principle, I would not have any difficulty bringing in someone with an intelligence background, as long as it was not from CSIS itself. It would be problematic to bring in a former CSIS officer into SIRC, but there are other agencies involved in this area. There are other possibilities, and I had a career at CSE, which has been helpful to me. Ms. McGrath worked in the legal services shop in CSE as well. Some knowledge of the intelligence world and how the various actors work is useful.

Senator Moore: It sets a framework for you to know what to ask. I do not know what you are looking for.

Ms. Pollak: The problem with having someone who had worked at CSIS working at SIRC is that we are a reviewing agency looking back, and they might have been involved in something we were examining. It would be unhelpful.

Senator Zimmer: I understand that because of its small size in relation to CSIS, SIRC operates on the basis of risk management. Your website indicates that one of the factors that influences the committee's decision about which issues to examine shifts in relation to the nature of the threat environment. Given its role in reviewing the operation of CSIS, in reporting to Parliament SIRC would maintain a certain healthy distance from CSIS.

Based on that, I would like to know how SIRC keeps itself apprised of changes in the threat environment while, at the same time, trying to keep that same distance. There is a bit of a conflict there.

Ms. Pollak: First, there is a lot of open-source information about the external threat environment. I would like to think, and I do believe that our staff are, on a daily basis, reading a great deal of reporting from respected international newspapers and journals so that they are well informed of what is happening in the world.

We are also in receipt of the PCO threat assessments and other intelligence assessments that come out of that shop. We do get an integrated view of the threat environment from that source. We are in receipt of the Jane's Intelligence Digest and brief. These are all sources of information that are not specifically CSIS documents or CSIS' own products. However, we do read CSIS' threat assessments as well on a constant basis. Taken together, that allows us to have a fairly broad perspective on what is happening. Of course, world events are such that really you cannot get away from it.

Senator Zimmer: Is there any other consideration for expanding SIRC's mandate from reviewing past operations of CSIS to also provide oversight of current CSIS activities?

Ms. Pollak: None that I am aware of. I am fairly certain that that would be a significant change. I do not think you can have both together. It is either oversight or review. Review has allowed us to come at our work with clean hands, so to speak. We are not implicated in any of the policy or operational decisions which are taken with the service vis-à- vis their ongoing investigations, so we can assess their propriety and compliance with the law without feeling that we have been implicated in any of the decisions leading up to how those things were conducted.

Senator Zimmer: In light of the sensitive nature of many CSIS operations, do you consider oversight a viable option for your or any other organization?

Ms. Pollak: It would be much closer to the American system. Governments can choose to do it in any way they wish, I suppose, but review provides you with a clearer perspective, perhaps. It is less politically charged. We are very independent because we are a review body and not involved in directing the service in any way. My own view is that it works.

The Chairman: Ms. Pollak, you have not talked to us about the members of the committee itself. You have talked about the background of your staff. How often does the committee meet?

Ms. Pollak: The committee has regularly scheduled meetings nine times a year, nine months of each year.

The Chairman: For how many hours, roughly?

Ms. Pollak: I would say six or seven hours.

The Chairman: It is a day?

Ms. Pollak: It is a day. They usually come in the day before, so they can do some reading prior to the meeting starting. As you can appreciate, the nature of the work is such that we cannot mail all this stuff out to them ahead of time.

The Chairman: What sort of training would they receive?

Ms. Pollak: I would not describe it as training. They have a lot of contact with us, the senior executive in the body itself, but they do not have formal training in the field of intelligence.

The Chairman: Do they just apply a smell test to what you have to say? There is a language that the intelligence community has and uses that probably requires a glossary, or at least someone who is willing to explain things to them.

Ms. Pollak: Maybe I should tell the members of this committee who the members of our committee are. The Honourable Gary Filmon is the chair. In descending order of longevity we have Ray Speaker, a former Reform Party MP and provincial cabinet minister from the Province of Alberta; the Honourable Baljit S. Chadha, a businessman from Montreal; the Honourable Roy Romanow; and the Honourable Aldéa Landry, who was deputy premier of the Province of New Brunswick. Taken together, this is a pretty impressive crowd. They are eminent and respected Canadians who represent a cross-section of political, regional and linguistic perspectives, and so forth, in the country.

You are right that there is a certain element of a sniff test, but because they tend to serve at least five years, and sometimes a second term, as is the case with Mr. Speaker, they develop a lot of knowledge about how CSIS works just from reading our stuff and meeting with the director of the service and his senior managers from time to time, which does happen two to three times a year.

The Chairman: How long do you think it takes someone to get up to speed? If Senator Zimmer was to be the next appointee after he leaves the Senate, how long would it take him?

Ms. Pollak: That is probably not a fair question to ask me because I am not one of them. I would guess about a year, just to see the cycle completed and to see the range of review activities we would complete in a year.

Senator Zimmer: When they are chosen, their backgrounds are looked at, and I went to university with Mr. Romanow and I know Mr. Filmon. There are some criteria that the appointers are looking for. Are they looking for a broad range of experience? Is there specific criteria based on the backgrounds of CSIS and SIRC?

Ms. Pollak: This question belongs with the PMO or the senior personnel secretary to PCO. I do not know what they look for.

The Chairman: From what you are telling us, you have never been consulted as to what you are missing in terms of a skill set on the committee?

Ms. Pollak: No. I want to amplify my answer to your query about how often they meet. The committee members are the presiding members in complaints cases. They meet to preside over complaints for several days of every year, depending on the workload they take on. Those nine formal meetings are just meetings of the committee to review the studies and research that has taken place. The complaints process is altogether separate.

Senator Moore: If there is a complaint by a citizen in Saskatchewan, do you have the meeting in Saskatchewan?

Ms. Pollak: We do go to the cities where the complaints arise.

Senator Moore: You do that?

Ms. Pollak: Yes.

The Chairman: You have described the committee members as eminent people with a good geographic spread. By and large, they are known to the public before they are appointed. You have not, however, described them as having any knowledge about the matter they are overseeing.

Ms. Pollak: I was not trying to suggest that they do not have any knowledge, but I would say that their knowledge evolves during their tenure on the committee. They do not necessarily come to the committee with prior expertise in the field of intelligence and security. This may be a good thing because they would come without prejudice about how things ought to be done.

The Chairman: You do not give them a one-week primer when they arrive?

Ms. Pollak: I usually spend a day or two with new members, talking to them about how things function and the kinds of issues we are dealing with.

The Chairman: You were talking earlier with Senator Moore about the difference between oversight and review, and you commented on the oversight process that the Americans have, which differs from most Westminster-type systems. The other members of the Five Eyes all have review systems?

Ms. Pollak: Yes.

The Chairman: Is that fair?

Ms. Pollak: Yes, with varying degrees of ability to probe.

The Chairman: Would you have a view on whether someone operating in a congressional system, where they have oversight and control of the purse strings, has more capacity to ensure that they are getting accurate reporting than someone who has no influence over the purse strings and is involved in reviewing after the fact?

Ms. Pollak: I can only speak about my experience at SIRC and how it has operated within our own organization. The legislation under which we and the service operates gives us such full and unfettered access, with the minor exception of cabinet papers, that we have no qualms about our ability to get to the bottom of matters. I am not sure that having access to the purse strings would have an influence.

The Chairman: What about confirming a director? Would that not provide you some input?

Ms. Pollak: Yes, if that were added to our responsibilities.

The Chairman: That is not what I asked. I was asking you to compare to the U.S. Senate. An appointment to head a major intelligence agency in the United States requires the advice and consent of the Senate. That seems to me to have some real clout. That is something that SIRC does not have, correct?

Ms. Pollak: That is right.

The Chairman: I am trying to establish whether you think that the American system provides an opportunity for more candour.

Ms. Pollak: That is very hard for me to say.

The Chairman: There is some method to our madness. We came back from Washington two weeks ago, where we met with most of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and with the chair and the ranking member of that committee. They expressed great frustration at the information they were getting from the intelligence community.

We asked the question that I will now ask you: How do you know you are getting the straight goods? How do you know you are getting candid answers?

Ms. Pollak: I will describe how a research project evolves. We establish the broad outline, what we are inquiring into and why, and then we establish a time frame. Then we launch a very formal, written process which allows us to identify to the service exactly what kinds of documents we are looking for through this inquiry. First, we ask them to provide us with a briefing so that we have some sense of the field of play, but then we will ask them for all of the information related to the targeting decisions that were taken, the sources that were utilized and the scope of the investigation. We have full access to their electronic database, which is known as BRS.

The reason I feel very confident that we get to the bottom of things is that once you start having access to the operational database, as we do, everything is connected. It would be difficult for us to miss anything, and certainly I would say impossible for them to hide anything, even if they were so inclined, which I doubt, because everything is cross-referenced and interjoined.

Therefore, this often leads us in new directions. As we are doing a review, when we write to them, we say "This does not preclude us going further than we have identified in this formal document.'' Often, in fact, that is what we do because we find things in our preliminary review of their operational information that lead us in new directions.

I do not think it is a plausible scenario, given how we work and given our powers, which are well understood and accepted in CSIS.

The Chairman: How does SIRC ensure that the Canadian system does not get politicized and that intelligence is not selected for the political convenience of the government of the day?

Ms. Pollak: That is a question relating to the integrity of the director of CSIS. The service is there to provide advice and warnings on potential threats to the security of Canada, not to pick and choose. I believe it is a seminal position, and it must be fulfilled in a very responsible fashion.

The Chairman: Your answer, if I heard you correctly, was that it depends on the integrity of the director. What is SIRC's role in ensuring that that does not happen?

Ms. Pollak: When we look at the assessments that have been written or the advice that has been provided, we go backwards and make sure that the facts in the operational files support what has been said. If we see this at this end, then we go backwards and look through all of the supporting documentation and information.

The Chairman: At the end of the day, will it not be someone's judgment? Someone must interpret the information and come to a conclusion?

Ms. Pollak: Yes, you are right. More weight may be given to some matters than to others.

The Chairman: What happens if it appeared to be fitting someone's political agenda?

Ms. Pollak: We have never seen that.

The Chairman: How do you look for that? What would your tests be to spot it?

Ms. Pollak: I would have to invent a scenario. Let us imagine that the director had provided an assessment to the Prime Minister saying that this or that was becoming a major threat. If we went back, looked in their files and found that that did not seem terribly credible, then we would question it. That has not happened. That is the only way I can imagine such a thing happening.

The Chairman: When you disagree with CSIS, you said earlier in your testimony that you assumed or you knew, I was not sure which, that the director then justified the disagreement to the minister. Do you know that that, in fact, does happen? The director goes through in a systematic way and justifies the disagreements that you may have had, and the minister then deals with them one way or another?

Ms. Pollak: No, I do not know that. I am not privy to that. I do not know that the director sits down with the minister and walks through the recommendations.

The Chairman: Do you know that the minister is aware of the disagreements?

Ms. Pollak: The minister would only be aware of the recommendations. It would be for the minister's department and the staff who work there to decide whether they want to institute a process to track these recommendations with the service on behalf of the minister.

The Chairman: Does the committee have the capacity to communicate directly to the minister?

Ms. Pollak: We do.

The Chairman: When you have a disagreement, does the chair send a letter to the minister that says, "Dear minister, we do not agree with the director on these three items and we want you to be conscious of that''?

Ms. Pollak: It is not beyond possibility that it could happen, but in point of fact it has not happened vis-à-vis a recommendation, no.

The Chairman: Has it not happened because you are satisfied that the minister is made aware of it in another way?

Ms. Pollak: It has not happened because we recognize that we are not going to win every argument and that sometimes we will not agree on our recommendations to the service. We do not insist that they implement everything; we do not have any means to do that. We hold them to account by tracking the implementation, but we have a 70 per cent implementation rate, and if nothing that is extraordinarily important seems to be being ignored, then we are prepared work on that basis and go back from time to time to revisit the questions that remain on the table.

The Chairman: Obviously, if you are disagreeing you are not doing it for frivolous reasons. You are disagreeing because you have good cause to disagree and the members of the committee have contemplated the matter, and if they did not think it was important they would not have disagreed.

Ms. Pollak: The recommendations do range from fairly small pieces to bigger ones and I believe the committee simply takes on board what they are told by us about what has been implemented and what has not, and then they decide for themselves whether or not they want to pursue anything that is still outstanding.

The Chairman: You seem to be describing that you were relying on the discussion between the minister and the director —

Ms. Pollak: No, we are relying on the report by the service as to what they have implemented of our recommendations.

The Chairman: I did not finish the question, actually.

Ms. Pollak: I am sorry.

The Chairman: It seems to me you are relying on the discussion between the minister and the director to deal with the differences that exist. If I recall what you said — I do not have the blues here — I thought I heard you say that where there is a difference, the director will be answerable to the minister and that that would satisfy the committee. The committee would at least know that the minister had the director before him and asked, "Well, why are you ignoring SIRC? They are here for a purpose and what is your rationale for not agreeing with them?''

Ms. Pollak: I may not have been clear. I am not privy to whether or not the minister and the director meet to review the implementation of our recommendations. I do not know if that process takes place. I do know that our recommendations are all available to the minister's own department. What they do to ensure whether or not the director has implemented them, I do not know.

Senator Moore: With regard to the review process, does your staff review a complaint or the ongoing work of CSIS and then present a brief or summary to the committee members when they come in for one of their meetings? Does one person on your staff take a file and see it through? How do you do your review? What is the process internally?

Tim Farr, Associate Executive Director, Security Intelligence Review Committee: Every year we prepare an annual research plan which goes to the committee and we will identify a number of topics and subject matters. It could be a particular service investigation or activity that they do.

Senator Moore: Who is "they''?

Mr. Farr: The service.

Senator Moore: CSIS does this?

Mr. Farr: Correct. The committee decides which of those topics or subject matters it would like to undertake. We typically do eight to 10 a year. Once we have a decision on that, as Ms. Pollak was explaining, we prepare a work plan. It is almost like a formal contract with the service. We tell them what we want to look at, what are the types of issues we want to explore and what is the time frame because we are a review agency. We then assign staff to that project. You are talking about an exercise that might take three or four months to complete.

Senator Moore: I can see that.

Mr. Farr: They literally review thousands of pages of electronic and hard copy documentation, they get briefings from the service face to face, and they pose written questions when they are not sure they understand an issue.

Senator Moore: Is there a team assigned to each of these eight to 10 topics, or is one person spearheading the review of that particular topic?

Mr. Farr: That is correct. Typically, it is a team of two people. The continuity would remain; they would be on that project for the life of the project.

Senator Moore: Then what happens?

Mr. Farr: We prepare a draft. The draft is presented to the committee at one of their meetings. The committee may have questions for the researchers and there will be a discussion at the meeting. They may send them back with further questions because they are not satisfied that something was properly explored. Only when they have approved the findings and recommendations will we then send a draft over to the service and ask for them to comment on its factual accuracy. We will review their comments and then finalize it.

Senator Moore: Why do you do the last part? You have already looked at all of this and you have the documents.

Mr. Farr: It could be something like did we correctly cite the file number in one of the footnotes, or do we have the dates right, and it is simply a check to make sure that we have the best possible product.

Senator Moore: Then they come back with a response and you submit your report in final form to the committee. Is that what happens?

Mr. Farr: If there was any suggestion to change either a recommendation or a finding, it would go back to the committee. If it is something like my example of an incorrect file number, we would make that change ourselves. When the report is finalized, a copy is sent to the director of the service, the inspector general, who is the minister's eyes and ears, and in some cases we do what is called a section 54 report. Those go directly to the Minister of Public Safety.

Senator Moore: Who is the inspector general?

Ms. Pollak: Eva Plunkett.

Senator Moore: Where is this person?

Ms. Pollak: She works inside the public safety ministry.

Senator Banks: Mr. Farr, what are the criteria that identify the eight to 10 investigations that you will do in a year? They are investigations into what? I know they are into what CSIS did, but what else?

Mr. Farr: You were talking earlier about risk management, and SIRC is very small in comparison to the service, so we must pick and choose what we will look at. One of the things we are hoping to do is look at each generic aspect of the service's operations without letting too much time elapse; for example, looking at a counterterrorism operation fairly frequently because that is a priority.

Senator Banks: In order to determine what?

Mr. Farr: Do you mean the objective of the review?

Senator Banks: Yes.

Mr. Farr: It is compliance. We hold them up against their operational policies, the CSIS Act, and ministerial direction. It is to ensure that what they have done respects the law.

Senator Banks: That is the main thrust of those eight to ten investigations in a year. They are to ensure that nothing was overstepped, and that CSIS operated within its mandate and within the bounds of the law?

Mr. Farr: That is accurate.

Senator Banks: I have understood that, but I want to make sure that it is true. You have said that SIRC's second objective is to investigate complaints against CSIS, but the first is to conduct reviews into CSIS' operations. Would any of the criteria that you would use to identify an investigation into what CSIS has done be, "We understand that there is this situation happening in Venezuela, and we need to be sure that that has been looked at,'' or in Leduc, perhaps? In other words, I know you are making sure that nobody broke the law or stepped over their bounds. Are you making sure that the job is being done?

Ms. Pollak: Yes, absolutely. I would draw to your attention the fact that, in the year after 9/11, our principal review concerned itself with extremism and CSIS' investigation of that form of extremism. Yes, we certainly do try to ensure that it is a topical kind of investigation that we undertake. We do not just say, "Well, we will do a counter-terrorism or a counter-intelligence investigation.'' We say, "What are the kinds of terrorist activities that are taking place in the world today, or in Canada in particular, that we believe the service ought to be on top of and that we ought to inform ourselves about?'' Then we measure it against the instruments that Mr. Farr has described to you.

Senator Banks: Among the things about which SIRC would report is the efficacy of the operations of CSIS as opposed to the question of whether CSIS has done those things within its mandate and within the law?

Ms. Pollak: Let us put it this way: If we were to go to CSIS and say that we wanted to do a major study this year on their investigation of something that we knew full well was an issue that they ought to be extremely concerned about, and we found them saying that they had not looked at it, or "We only have two people assigned to look at it,'' then we would be asking questions about efficacy. In that sense, the answer is yes.

Senator Banks: Does that happen?

Ms. Pollak: It has not happened, no.

Senator Banks: To this point, in the main, SIRC has not examined questions of efficacy. It has, rather, used the criteria that Mr. Farr put out, making sure that what it did was within proper bounds. Is that right?

Ms. Pollak: I would say that the question of efficacy would come into play if we were to learn that the service simply was ignoring or incapable of investigating a threat that seemed very real and pertinent, but it just has not happened.

Senator Banks: That has not happened?

Ms. Pollak: No.

Senator Banks: The review is, in the main, of things that CSIS has done as opposed to things that CSIS perhaps ought to have done, and did not?

Ms. Pollak: That is right.

Senator Banks: You mentioned that there was a prior bill before Parliament to establish parliamentary — I do not know if it was called oversight. Perhaps it was a committee of parliamentarians to look at matters having to do with security intelligence. There is another new bill, a private member's bill from Mr. Derek Lee, who was the chair of the all-party committee of both houses that examined questions of parliamentary oversight of security intelligence at the behest of the government, of which two members of this committee were members. We travelled to Washington, London and Canberra to find out how the system works elsewhere. The chair has referred to that.

One question that has come up in determining what the report of that committee recommended to the government was that there should be some kind of parliamentary oversight of security intelligence. This is the only country in which that is not so, of any significance, I think. Is that right?

Ms. Pollak: I think most countries have a parliamentary committee.

Senator Banks: As well, it probably ought to contain within its purview examinations of things that might involve CSIS, such as questions that had to do with my previous question to you, looking at things that perhaps CSIS ought to have looked at and did not, or ought to have looked at more thoroughly or deeply than it might have done. That would imply, I suppose theoretically, almost a review of SIRC, would it not?

Ms. Pollak: In what sense, senator?

Senator Banks: It is not proposed to be a committee of Parliament. It is proposed to be a committee of parliamentarians. There is a significant difference. It is not merely a nicety in that respect. If its mandate is to look at and to review questions having to do with security intelligence, would that, do you think, properly involve a review of what SIRC has looked at?

Ms. Pollak: It could, if that is what the legislation established.

Senator Banks: I guess it is a theoretical question. It does not name the agencies in particular, I do not think, but it talks about security intelligence in the largest sense.

When you said that you have complete, unfettered access to everything except cabinet documents, does that mean that anything that is in a cabinet document that has not otherwise come to your attention is obscured from that unfettered access?

Ms. Pollak: Yes, that is what it would mean, unless it had somehow been translated into some other policy paper or operational directive.

Senator Banks: That you would otherwise have got.

Ms. Pollak: Yes.

Senator Banks: If someone was being Machiavellian and wanted to make sure that SIRC did not have access, unfettered or otherwise, to a piece of information, all they would have to do is put it in a cabinet document, and then you would not have access to it at all?

Ms. Pollak: That would presuppose that the information did not exist in some other place to which we do have access. It is theoretically possible. If it relates to an investigation by the service, that is hard to imagine.

Senator Banks: If you had not found out about it otherwise or previously, and if it were a piece of information that did not appear elsewhere, and if I wanted to make sure that you did not have access to it, I would simply put it in a cabinet document, and then you would not have access to it, right?

Ms. Pollak: Yes.

Senator Banks: I have a final curiosity question, chair. Looking at the membership of SIRC, I would guess that Mr. Chadha was made a Privy Councillor by virtue of being named to SIRC and that the other current four members were already Privy Councillors before being named to SIRC. Am I right?

Ms. Pollak: No.

Senator Moore: Premiers are not.

Senator Banks: They ought to be.

Senator Moore: I think colleagues should be also. Catherine Callbeck is not.

Senator Banks: One final question: Does the chair of SIRC, to your knowledge, meet as a matter of course, or at all, with either the minister or with the Prime Minister in respect of SIRC's reports?

Ms. Pollak: Not to my knowledge, but my knowledge may not be complete.

Senator Banks: It is not a novel matter, of course.

Ms. Pollak: It is not a standard part of the process, no.

The Chairman: The Minister of Public Safety announced that the government had the intention to expand CSIS' role with the collection of foreign intelligence outside of Canada. What impact will that have on your review process?

Ms. Pollak: As I said in my introductory comments, it would introduce a very new and potentially quite large, new field of study for us. I would have to assume that there would be legislative amendments to the CSIS Act and that new operating rules would be established for that type of activity. We would have to start examining that activity, if it were to take place, against whatever the standards or the legislation stated were the operational framework for it.

The Chairman: When you look at section 16 of the CSIS Act, is there anything there that would lead you to believe that it would be better to have a separate agency doing that kind of work rather than have it done in CSIS?

Ms. Pollak: It is really a policy issue that needs to be decided by the government. You have all heard the various discussions about how other countries do these things; I believe there are only two that have both combined in one agency. Traditionally, in places like the U.K. and the United States, which are our primary partners, they have been kept separate; and there are reasons why that has been the case.

I really would not want to say that there is anything in section 16 that leads me to think it should be separated out or kept in, one way or the other. The investigative techniques at play for a domestic security service would often be the same. However, it is really for the government to decide whether it wants to have them all under one roof or not.

The Chairman: Leaving aside section 16, are there any other reasons? Did you highlight, in your last answer, whether there are other reservations you have about one agency or two?

Ms. Pollak: Right now, as we have explained, we assess CSIS' compliance with the law. The law includes a lot of things; it is primarily the CSIS Act, but it also includes the Charter, for example. If you are to have human operations overseas, of necessity there will be law-breaking going on. The measure of whether or not these are effective or compliant to whatever standards are established by the government will be quite different from what is happening when you are looking at investigations taking place within Canada and within the framework of the CSIS Act. That would be the issue. You will not have judicial warrants, for example, for activities taking place overseas, which is a very key part of the control that is placed on the service here in Canada. It will not be the case.

The Chairman: In many respects, the job would be easier, is that right?

Ms. Pollak: Here or there?

The Chairman: There.

Ms. Pollak: For whom?

The Chairman: Presumably, you will see strictures on CSIS against doing certain things. For example, it is conceivable that the government might decide that assassination would not be an appropriate activity for CSIS.

Ms. Pollak: Yes.

The Chairman: One assumes that. There would be a list, perhaps, of a number of types of activities that the government would choose not to have its foreign intelligence service involved in. They then would be incorporated into what you would be reviewing. Obviously, other things you would review now would not be part of it. Am I seeing it the way you are seeing it?

Ms. Pollak: Yes, I think that is a fair representation. The other danger that others have flagged to you is that if people operate in a certain fashion overseas and come back and are reintegrated into a domestic operation, they may have acquired habits or outlooks that will make it more difficult for them to readjust to the strictures that apply to a domestic agency.

The Chairman: You have the capacity to determine now whether or not people are complying, do you not?

Ms. Pollak: Yes.

The Chairman: Therefore, you presumably would still have that capacity; and it would become fairly obvious to you if people's bad habits were slopping over back home.

Ms. Pollak: I would have to assume, too, that there might even be more difficulty reporting to the public on what we learn. Our annual report is, of necessity — it is in the law — a very stripped-down version of what we have examined throughout the course of the year. It is a significant distillation because it has to be a public report. It is questionable, in my mind, how much we could ever say about foreign human operations overseas.

The Chairman: Having raised the report, can you describe to the committee the process that you go through to write two separate reports?

Ms. Pollak: We complete our cycle of work generally in the month of May. Sometimes it extends into June; by that, I mean the individual studies and all of the complaints investigations that have been completed by June. Then they start to be rewritten as unclassified summaries of the investigations into complaints and the reviews that have been done.

We work with the committee also to assist them in writing a statement at the beginning of each annual report. We also go back to the service with a series of very lengthy and exhaustive questions about their internal workings during the year — any reorganizations that have taken place, et cetera. A lot of statistical detail is outlined in the report as well concerning, for example, warrants. Then we sit down with the committee, both in June and in August, with drafts of the annual report as we project it for the following cycle. That report must be tabled in the Houses of Parliament, I think within 15 sitting days of September 30. It goes to the minister by September 30 and he is the conduit for the tabling. However, the committee does have two full meetings in which it deals with nothing but our annual report — the draft we have prepared.

The Chairman: Can you describe the dynamics that go on in preparing the report? Who is the advocate for more disclosure and who is the advocate for more secrecy? How does that work?

Ms. Pollak: We try to disclose as much as we can. We are obliged to show the draft of the report to CSIS. It has always been done, and we are required to do it. Usually, they will come back and suggest that a few more things be deleted or revised or shaded so that there is no concern for them about national security. Sometimes we go back and forth on it a few times. I am finding, over the years that I have been with SIRC, that this is less and less of an issue. We are hitting more or less the right note in our initial attempt.

The Chairman: Are you saying it is not an adversarial approach?

Ms. Pollak: Not particularly, no.

The Chairman: Are you suggesting that your and CSIS' seeing things the same way is a good thing?

Ms. Pollak: No. I am suggesting that in our ability to find the right balance between disclosure of national security information and our requirement to inform the public, I think we are hitting the right stride.

The Chairman: Should Canadians be uncomfortable when the watchdog and the agency being watched are of the same mind? Should CSIS not always be a little unhappy with you or a lot unhappy with you?

Ms. Pollak: You would have to talk to CSIS, but my guess is that they are unhappy with us as a matter of course from time to time.

The Chairman: When they say nice things in public, that is just to lull you into a sense of —

Ms. Pollak: We are not airing our dirty laundry, I guess. I was really talking about the annual report process. It is not a particularly contentious process in which we engage with the service. I was simply suggesting that I think we are reasonably mature now in our understanding of what we can and cannot say, and we come to a meeting of minds fairly readily. That is not to say that they are always thrilled with the findings and the recommendations in our reviews or in our complaints decisions.

The Chairman: How would one ever know?

Ms. Pollak: How would you know?

Marian McGrath, Senior Counsel, Security Intelligence Review Committee: Mr. Chairman, probably the better illustration of where there is a certain amount of tension comes with the complaints. The complaints are clearly an adversarial process and we act as a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal. One of the members presides over the investigation, as a judge would.

Once we have determined the jurisdiction, we request access to their documents. They are under an obligation to produce those documents to the committee. As we follow this quasi-judicial process, and the committee has all the powers of a Superior Court of record, then we can compel witnesses and have exhibits produced. Clearly, both sides will have an opportunity to present. A member of the public will give evidence in testimony before the committee and CSIS, as the complainant, will respond. The committee will find and recommend based on that evidence. Historically, we have found that complaints against CSIS have been sustained. The process gives confidence to members of the public such that it is balanced and based on principles of procedural fairness that illustrate the tension between the committee and CSIS. The clarity is in the fact that a member of the public has an opportunity to see and participate in the process, and have confidence in the members presiding over the investigation.

The procedure differs from the review process because the process is adversarial. We have access to the same number of documents, except for cabinet confidences, and we have undertakings from counsel for CSIS when we want to have documents produced. If we do not have documents produced on a timely basis, or for some reason they are not disclosed to the committee, that will be reflected in the report.

There is an impetus on counsel for CSIS to cooperate and to ensure that there is full disclosure, that we, members of the public and parliamentarians, can be satisfied that the committee is doing a diligent job in its investigation. In that way, the public can be assured of confidence in the procedure, in someone with access to classified information having all the classified information and, when secrecy is required, in a disinterested third party having access to determine the issues presented to us.

The Chairman: Going back to Senator Banks' comment about cabinet confidences, once the matter is dealt with in a cabinet document does that then subsume other references to it? That is what Senator Banks was trying to get at, not just the specifics of the document. Once the subject matter is in a cabinet document, does that then limit your capacity to address it elsewhere?

Ms. Pollak: Not in our experience, no. Information appears in cabinet documents that we know is reflected, more or less in the same form, in other papers also, and we have access to those.

The Chairman: How do you know that?

Ms. Pollak: I refer here to the terrorist entity listing process. I cannot say with absolute certainty that the reports and the advice that we have seen provided by CSIS absolutely have not been changed in any way before they hit the cabinet table. I would be very surprised if their view of the entity that they are proposing be listed is presented any differently to cabinet ministers than it is presented in the papers leading up to that gateway.

The Chairman: You are saying to the committee that you do not have someone from CSIS saying, "I cannot go there because that is dealt with in a cabinet document''?

Ms. Pollak: We cannot see the cabinet document but we do see all of the other steps in the process and the final report prepared by CSIS on the individual entity. An element of trust must be present. I have to trust that the director and his staff are not altering the report that we see before it is presented to cabinet ministers. That is all I can say about it because I do not see the cabinet paper.

The Chairman: Are there other areas that you cannot verify independently?

Ms. Pollak: No, cabinet papers are the only things off-limits to us.

Senator Moore: Toward the end of your presentation, Ms. Pollak, you mentioned that since 9/11, allegations of human rights abuses in the name of fighting terrorism have surfaced in many countries. Canada is not immune in the case of Maher Arar, which SIRC reviewed before the government. When you reviewed that case, how long was it before Justice O'Connor was appointed to the inquiry? Was it about one year? I was not on this committee then.

Ms. Pollak: In December 2003, SIRC announced its review of the matter vis-à-vis CSIS' involvement. It was limited to that. We started it in October and made it public in December. Then, the government appointed Justice O'Connor in January of 2004. We were several months into the process by that time and we completed our review a few months later in May of 2004. We provided our study in its entirety to the then minister of public safety and said that we would have no difficulty if she, Minister McLellan, were to provide it to the commission of inquiry to assist them in their inquiry.

Senator Moore: When you completed your report in May 2004, what were your findings?

Ms. Pollak: They were consistent with the findings of Justice O'Connor. We could not look at everything, obviously, but in terms of the degree, the nature and the legitimacy of CSIS' involvement, we came to all of the same conclusions.

Senator Moore: You completed your report. Was it made public or did it go only to the minister?

Ms. Pollak: No. We summarized it in our annual report the following year. There is always a bit of a lag.

I should clarify that we are also subject to the Access to Information and Privacy Act, ATIP. Anyone who wants access to our reports can request them under access to information legislation. This does happen quite regularly.

Senator Moore: When you review a case such as the Maher Arar case, you do not report until the annual report, is that correct?

Ms. Pollak: As a rule, no, but if some astute reporter wants to put in an access to information request, they might get it a little faster.

Senator Moore: Yes. Otherwise, it is an annual report, which is not large enough to contain everything in the individual reports on this matter.

Ms. Pollak: That is right. It has to be an unclassified paper.

Senator Moore: Interesting.

The Chairman: What relations do you have with other review committees or organizations?

Ms. McGrath: There is a forum, which began about nine or ten years ago, called the International Review Agencies Conference. It meets every two years. It began with the core U.K., U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as the six founding countries. At the time, South Africa was just becoming a fully fledged democracy, so they were very interested in putting similar mechanisms in place in their own government. It has been a bit of a fluid membership that continues to meet every two years on a rotational basis in different countries. That is one forum.

SIRC launched an interesting symposium two years ago that has been followed recently by the Dutch. Ours was about national security and keeping intelligence agencies accountable, and recently they did one on national security and respecting human rights: Finding the right equilibrium between those two matters.

Some of you might be aware that a conference was held last week in Ottawa that was co-sponsored by Carleton University and the Federal Court on adjudication of national security matters. We participate in all of these, which are international in nature. We have many opportunities to exchange views on issues with our counterparts in other countries.

There is no country just like Canada. This is a model that is unique. It is viewed with great respect and great interest by everyone who knows of us. Other countries have chosen to do other things, but in any event we enjoy the exposure. Over the years we have had quite a few, what I would call emerging democracies come through our doors and talk to us about how we do this work. We have had the Czech Republic. Who else?

Ms. Pollak: Australia, although they are not really too emerging.

Ms. McGrath: We have had Poland and quite a few other Eastern European countries over the years.

The Chairman: In your time with SIRC, have you ever had the government inquire of you as to how your legislation could be improved or how you could do a better job?

Ms. Pollak: Not while I have been with SIRC, no. It may have come up during the five-year review of the CSIS Act in 1989.

The Chairman: When you think of the size of CSIS and your organization and the fact that you have — it is not even fair to call them part-timers if they are only meeting — you said nine times a year?

Ms. Pollak: There are nine formal meetings a year.

The Chairman: That is clearly a challenge.

Ms. Pollak: Yes, and it is even more of a challenge these days because SIRC is a public agency and, of necessity, we have to abide by all of the same reporting mechanisms that others do, but I can tell you that between the management accountability framework and the management of information technology strategy and the program activity architecture, there is this burgeoning group of reporting mechanisms coming at us fast and furiously; it is no different for us than the Department of National Defence. It is taking a lot of our time. We were not funded to deal with quite as much as is in play today.

The Chairman: Do you publish how much of your resources are allocated to meeting these reporting requirements?

Ms. Pollak: We have not, to date, tried to parse it out, but we may have to do that at some point. It falls under the general rubric of administration.

The Chairman: Thank you very much. On behalf of the committee, we appreciate your appearing here. Your testimony has been helpful to us and we are grateful to you for taking the time to run through these issues for us.

Honourable senators, we have before us Mr. Gregory Fyffe, executive director of the International Assessment Staff, Privy Counsel Office. Mr. Fyffe has been in his current position since April of 2007.

He has served previously as assistant deputy minister of policy and citizenship at Immigration Canada; as a faculty member of the Canada School of Public Service; as Executive Director of the Immigration and Refugee Board; and as Assistant Deputy Solicitor General, Corrections.

Mr. Fyffe, welcome to the committee.

Gregory Fyffe, Executive Director, International Assessment Staff, Privy Council Office: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize if the note that came to you said that I started in April of 2007. I started in 2000.

The Chairman: The error is ours, so thank you for correcting us.

Mr. Fyffe: Honourable senators, thank you for the opportunity to appear before the committee. I understand from the invitation conveyed by the clerk that you were particularly interested in three areas: The roles and responsibilities of the International Assessment Staff; our interdepartmental coordinating role; and our relationships with assessment agencies outside of Canada.

The International Assessment Staff is located in the Privy Council office and reports to the Prime Minister's foreign and defence policy adviser. The IAS is comprised of approximately 40 people who have analytical roles of one kind or another, including directors and those who prepare intelligence summaries. Additionally, we have staff responsible for liaison, technical support, editing and formatting and distribution. Two graphic artists prepare the maps which accompany many of our papers. There are five subject divisions: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Western Hemisphere, Asia, and Global. Our mandate is to prepare policy-neutral, all-source intelligence assessments on subjects of direct interest to those working on foreign policy issues. We do not write assessments on exclusively domestic intelligence and security issues. IAS papers are distributed across the intelligence and foreign policy communities. Our briefing role within government is almost exclusively carried out through written, prepared intelligence memorandums and intelligence summaries. We do few formal oral briefings.

The IAS is an all-source organization because the analysis incorporates open source material and diplomatic reporting as well as covert intelligence collected by Canadian agencies or by Canada's allies. Assessments are strategic rather than tactical. That is, they look at broad questions of national direction, circumstances, intent or capability.

Reports are typically two to four pages, and usually conclude with a view of possible future developments and the implications for Canada. Reports do not deal with policy options or choices but are designed to be relevant to policy discussions by providing analysis of what is happening and what might happen next.

[Translation]

The term "intelligence assessment'' is a description of our basic function in two senses. First, the covert intelligence has to be considered together with open and diplomatic sources so that the judgments we make are well-informed, balanced, and sensitive to the quality of the evidence. This requires detailed knowledge of a region or subject matter, but also a willingness to challenge the assumptions and evidence to produce robust conclusions. Sources do not always agree and sometimes the discrepancies are critical.

Second, specific terms of intelligence have to be evaluated for their credibility, reliability, and relevance. This requires an expertise on the part of the analyst on different kinds of intelligence, their strengths and weaknesses, and the clues that the sources, source descriptions, and the intelligence itself, give to the weight that can be placed on individual intelligence reports.

[English]

We do not discuss IAS intelligence assessments in public. This is an essential condition for the preservation of our neutral analytical role. Access to information requests are sometimes made for our material and the parts based on open sources can usually be released. Although we report to the Prime Minister's foreign and defence policy advisor and encourage all those who can make use of our reports to task us with specific analytical requests, our judgments are independent and are signed off by me as executive director.

We currently prepare just over 200 intelligence memoranda per year. About one-third of these are directly requested. The others respond to issues that we know are developing and may be proposed by analysts, directors, the deputy executive or by myself.

Directors liaise closely with the policy communities to determine where analysis may be needed, even if there is no specific request. We also perform a warning function in the choice of analytical topics signalling important developments at an early stage.

In preparing assessments, IAS analysts consult widely within the intelligence community with appropriate DFAIT officers in Canada and abroad, and on occasion with allies to ensure that our papers reflect a broad knowledge and assessment base, and sometimes competing views of the significance of events. Unless the papers are specifically intended as cross-community assessments, however, the analysis and judgments in them remain those of the International Assessment Staff. The IAS also prepares a daily intelligence summary which is distributed across the intelligence community.

To turn to the coordination role, it includes a number of elements. The IAS chairs the Intelligence Assessment Coordinating Committee. This committee replaced the former Intelligence Assessment Committee, which focused almost entirely on the discussion of community assessments. The IACC focuses much more on community coordination issues, although I expect the number of community assessments will gradually increase in keeping with our own experience and with allied experience.

As part of the IACC structure, there are subject matter committees comprised of analytical experts from across the community. These committees are often, but not always, chaired by an IAS director or analyst and are a means of bringing the collective knowledge of the community into the preparation of assessments.

On behalf of the IACC community, and with its support, the IAS has set up a training course for new intelligence assessment analysts. We are planning to increase the number and nature of training courses for analysts. Our objective is to ensure that there are common professional standards across the assessment community.

[Translation]

Analytical reports are circulated within the intelligence and policy community, subject to classification restrictions.

[English]

To turn now to international assessment linkages, the IAS benefits from the close intelligence-sharing relationship that the Canada has with the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. This "Four Eyes'' community shares many assessments. Analysts are in contact through various visits and forums, and assessment organization heads meet to discuss common issues. The "Five Eyes'' relationship includes New Zealand. Canada also exchanges some assessments with other allied countries, particularly Germany and Spain.

[Translation]

We initiated and co-chair the Canadian Association of Professional Intelligence Analysts, which brings together current intelligence analysts for professional discussions and work-related networking.

Finally, we help coordinate the visits of analysts from other countries to Canada, and we frequently arrange colloquiums with these visitors, inviting participants from across the intelligence and policy communities. We have also increasingly been asked by others in the community to help coordinate outgoing visits of representatives from several Canadian departments or agencies.

[English]

The sharing of intelligence among allies is governed in part by the degree of common interest in an evaluation subject, complementary strengths, the degree to which papers may refer to domestic considerations, and the sources of the intelligence in the papers. If the intelligence in a paper has only been shared bilaterally, then it cannot be included in an assessment outside that bilateral relationship.

As noted above, relationships with allied assessment agencies frequently include discussions among partners and visits by analysts and managers to their counterparts. Because of the multilateral nature of many of today's issues, multilateral discussions are increasing in frequency. These discussions often include professional issues such as training, community coordination, common challenges and lessons learned.

I would be happy to elaborate on these comments in response to questions.

Senator Banks: I know that I am often nonplussed by the number of agencies, sub-agencies, committees, subcommittees, groups, subgroups, et cetera, that deal with the single issue of security intelligence. I suspect that other of my colleagues here are sometimes, although perhaps not so much, in the same boat. I once made a list of the agencies and the acronyms that represent them, and it is quite mind-boggling. You have told us of a new one today: The Intelligence Assessment Coordination Committee. That is a new one on me. I will add it to the list.

Would it not be more efficient and effective if there were fewer layers going on before it got to whoever was making the decision? That is a question that has been asked from time to time about a lot things, including security intelligence.

By way of specific example, you made reference to the Four Eyes. The U.K., while it may be easier in a unitary state, has pretty well put all of their information and intelligence analysts into one place that serves everyone looking for the processing on that information.

If you had the capacity, in the stroke of a pen, to do things, would you eliminate some of the alphaghetti bowl we are continually trying to find our way through with so many people dealing with this information, or are we just imagining this? Is it all okay? Is it all going as quickly as it should to the right place?

Mr. Fyffe: The challenge is not so much to reduce the number of committees but to ensure that the linkages between them are working properly. There are analysts in Britain and in different places, although you are quite right to point out that the Joint Intelligence Committee Secretariat is a central organization and it is quite compact. There is also JTAC, the defence intelligence organization and so on.

I would want to separate in my answer to you the question of organization versus the pathway an assessment travels to get to its customers. We have in place a consultation process that is internal to the IAS. It is our process.

Senator Banks: Does it have an acronym?

Mr. Fyffe: I apologize, but there is no acronym for it. What we try to do with our papers, focusing on our responsibility, we circulate them to other analysts within the community to get their views. We do have, as I referred to in my statement, a committee of analysts to which these papers often go before for comment. These committees are valued by our analysts. It gives them an opportunity to have the perspectives of others within the community.

We do, in fact, send our papers for comment to relevant embassies abroad and to the Department of Foreign Affairs. We are ultimately trying to ensure that we have not missed something, and that we have a good perspective.

The paper itself, when it is ready to go out, comes up from the director into our production department and is formatted. Frequently, if a paper is on my desk late in the morning for a signature, it is distributed to the community by late afternoon. We have quite an efficient process for putting it out.

The process gets more complicated if we are trying to put out a community assessment. One of the things that we did in changing our committee structure and giving you a new acronym to work with is that we temporarily moved away from the old Intelligence Assessment Committee, which was totally preoccupied with community assessments for which there was a fairly long turnaround period. We are focusing more on issues of coordination across the community, such as how we teach analysts, how we react with visitors coming to Canada or how we improve our trade-craft. That can be a very long process.

That particular committee is focused on assessments for the assessment community. There are other committees on the security side that we have nothing to do with. The number of committees we actually need to be concerned with is relatively small. The number of committees that an individual analyst would have to deal with is relatively small.

Senator Banks: I take some comfort from the example of speed that you provided. We have heard examples from the other end of the stick, but I am sure those things are being gradually addressed. You said there are 40 people working there?

Mr. Fyffe: We have about 40 people who are in a roughly defined analytical role.

Senator Banks: Are these partly coordinative roles?

Mr. Fyffe: No. When I say "roughly defined,'' it also includes people who prepare summaries. Most of those people are devoted to a country, a subject or another subject. Some of them are directors, and some of them are doing intelligence summaries. The liaison function would be others in addition to that 40.

Senator Banks: Synthesizing things from various areas?

Mr. Fyffe: That is correct.

Senator Banks: Do you provide direction and tasking to Canada's security-gathering apparatus and community, or do they simply tell you something they think you ought to know? Is it a one-way, two-way or three-way street?

Mr. Fyffe: We have some input into discussions around priorities. When Rennie Marcoux was before the committee, Ms. Bloodworth alluded to the process that is run from the Security and Intelligence Secretariat, which works on the priority process and has a role in tasking.

We can make suggestions along the way in that process, and we can sometimes make suggestions directly to one of the intelligence agencies. However, their response depends on how much flexibility they have. If we asked for a piece of information that they do not immediately have but they have the means in place to get quickly, they might be able to get it for us. If that means pointing some part of their apparatus in a different direction, that is a higher level decision.

We get intelligence that we use in our assessments from many sources. We get it from the Canadian agencies, but we benefit greatly from the intelligence-sharing arrangements that Canada has with its allies.

It is not just intelligence that goes into an intelligence assessment. We have a great array of diplomatic reporting to work with. We have all of the open source material, which I am sure one witness or another has told you often represents about 90 per cent of what is known about a particular subject.

Senator Banks: More than it used to.

Mr. Fyffe: That is a fair statement. There is so much out in the media of different kinds and in academic studies, and it is available so quickly that it is an important part. In many cases, open source material is more immediate and valuable than intelligence material because intelligence material is reported through its own processes. It may be reported in more depth, but it is certainly slower unless it is something that is visibly urgent. We often have a great deal of material to work with at our disposal for an assessment.

Senator Banks: Which departments and agencies do you, as a matter of course, deal with?

Mr. Fyffe: On the collection or distribution of our material?

Senator Banks: Both.

Mr. Fyffe: For material that we would use in our assessments, it would certainly come from the intelligence agencies. It would come from CSE and from CSIS. We would have diplomatic reporting from Foreign Affairs and we would have some intelligence material from DND. I say some intelligence from DND. It is not that there is not a lot of intelligence, but a lot of it is in greater tactical detail than we can use in our assessments. They have a lot of valuable expertise that we also draw on.

To a lesser extent, we use material from the border agency and from the RCMP, and that would depend on the subject. If we were touching on something like organized crime it would be very valuable, but a lot of their material is not directly relevant to what we are doing.

We would see material from other agencies, such as Transport, and clearly from ITAC. A lot of material comes in through the pipeline from ITAC.

Senator Banks: For the benefit of viewers, what is ITAC?

Mr. Fyffe: I have to stop and think. It is the terrorist assessment agency, the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre. They are a pipeline, not only for their own material but for a lot of allied material.

Senator Banks: Is the distribution list different from that?

Mr. Fyffe: Our distribution list includes people who have asked to get everything we produce. It includes many people only interested in a particular geographic area or a particular subject. Probably the number of departments that we go out to is slightly larger than the number that we regularly collect from because all elements of the intelligence community share with each other, and they look at each other's material, which has varying relevance. You may skim someone else's material just to see what is there. Our analysts, in particular, look in more depth than I would personally be able to look because of the volume of material.

Senator Banks: When you are distributing the material that you have processed, is it in the main classified and going to the intelligence components of all of those distribution recipients, or is it public information at that point?

Mr. Fyffe: It is always classified.

Senator Banks: Is that true, whether it came from an open source or not?

Mr. Fyffe: We would not put out a report that was totally unclassified. It would always have some element of classification, even if the classification was just of the judgments at the end. Some papers would have a relatively high content of open source material but the judgments would be classified. That is the difference between a paper that can be released under access and one that cannot, the amount of material from open sources.

The lists are basically built up on people signalling to us what they are interested in. Someone might only want reports from the Middle East. Most of those people would have very high security classifications, but if, for example, someone wanted material on a particular topic and they were only cleared to "secret,'' then that is the material they would get, and they would not receive material that was above that classification.

Senator Banks: You talked about one of your sources as being material or covert intelligence collected by Canadian agencies. If I were to ask you what those agencies are, I think you have already answered that question, have you not?

Mr. Fyffe: In particular that would be CSIS, ITAC, CSE, and DND to some extent.

Senator Banks: To what degree do you think your products affect government decisions?

Mr. Fyffe: That is a difficult question for any assessment agency to answer. I believe it has an impact but I cannot give you numerical values. We have a sense sometimes when a paper goes out, from the comments we get back, that it was welcomed, that it provided insight useful to the policy makers. That would only be one element of the impact, though. There are many things that go into an assessment; many things that go into a policy decision and often the real impact of an assessment might be somewhere down the road. It has some facts in it that someone stores away, and then they remember it later on and call us back for another copy of the paper.

Gradually, the impact of assessments as an element of decision-making has been growing, but I cannot give you a quantitative measure of that.

Senator Banks: You talked about a one-third, two-third relationship as between things for which you are tasked and things you provide because you think someone ought to know it. Would that be the same proportion if it applied to things which you send to the PCO, per se? That is to say, does the government ask for about a third of what you send them?

Mr. Fyffe: When I say we have been tasked, I mean by all the people in government with whom we would deal. Most of the assigned tasks would come from the Department of Foreign Affairs, a proportion of them from the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat in the Privy Council Office and a scattering that might come from outside that group.

Senator Banks: I believe you said that you form the secretariat to the Intelligence Assessment Coordinating Committee?

Mr. Fyffe: That is right.

Senator Banks: What is the composition of the IACC? How often does it meet and what does it do?

Mr. Fyffe: The IACC is comprised of 12 different agencies that have a connection with intelligence and it meets mostly on a monthly basis. I say "mostly'' because sometimes we miss, and we do not meet during the summer.

Senator Banks: Is that at the director level?

Mr. Fyffe: Approximately, but it varies. There are a couple of representatives who are higher and a couple who are lower. It is mostly at the director level, plus or minus. It does vary, and we have accepted over the years that the people who will come and participate regularly will be at different levels.

Senator Banks: You report, if I remember correctly, to the foreign and defence policy adviser?

Mr. Fyffe: Yes, that is Susan Cartwright.

Senator Banks: To what degree does she provide direction to what you do?

Mr. Fyffe: There is certainly administrative direction and she has the capacity to ask for, and has on occasion asked for, a specific paper. By and large, the decision on the papers that we write come either from the people who are our regular clients and task us, or is generated by our own staff because they are attending meetings and seeing what the policy files are. For example, our directors keep in close touch with their counterparts in the Department of Foreign Affairs. On some occasions they may be asked to do a paper on X, on another occasion they might come back and say "This is becoming an increasingly important topic. It would be helpful if we developed a paper on this subject to further their discussions.''

Senator Banks: As a matter of course, are there things that you generate that you know someone ought to look also sent in that direction?

Mr. Fyffe: Yes. We hope that most of our papers, if not all of our papers, are directed towards an active policy file. Some will be general background because a situation is developing, but we really do not want to produce very many papers that are not of direct interest to someone. An exception might be some of the more long-term issues people should be thinking about as we get closer to them. Most of them are fairly urgently directed towards policy files that are active files.

Senator Zimmer: In relation to the foreign and defence policy adviser, what is the frequency of your meetings with this individual?

Mr. Fyffe: We have a regular bilateral meeting every three to four weeks. On top of that I would see her when I need to. As well, she also has a regular meeting with her senior staff, which I can attend.

Senator Zimmer: The Minister of Public Safety has indicated that the government's intention is to expand the mandate of CSIS to include the collection of foreign intelligence outside Canada. To what extent did you or the work of the IAS influence the government's decision? Do you think intelligence gaps exist and if so, can these only be addressed through expansion of the CSIS mandate? Do you think we need to expand?

Mr. Fyffe: I know that when Ms. Bloodworth appeared before you, she referred to the fact that this was an area in which officials were giving advice to the government, so I can only answer your question to a limited degree. I would say first that there are always gaps in intelligence. Even the United States, which has enormous machinery for intelligence, has gaps in its coverage.

As an assessment agency, we would always welcome more information that is collected by a Canadian agency, whatever the means. Aside from that, all I can say is that you have had a number of witnesses who exhaustively outlined some of the considerations that go into the development of the different kinds of options, and I do not think it would be appropriate for me to go beyond that.

Senator Zimmer: Are you of the opinion that Canada's foreign intelligence requirements would be appropriately served by changes to the CSIS Act, or do you think a separate and distinct foreign intelligence service is required?

Mr. Fyffe: That is exactly the point that I do not think it would be appropriate for me to comment on.

Senator Zimmer: Does the IAS maintain relationships with foreign security and intelligence agencies?

Mr. Fyffe: The broad answer to that would be no, but I will qualify that. We maintain vigorous relationships with other assessment agencies. We see our counterparts in the United States, Australia, Britain, and New Zealand quite frequently. We have a lot of exchange back and forth. As I said in my statement, we do exchange assessments on a regular basis. There is a regular machinery set up for doing that.

We do have contact at times with representatives of other parts of the allied intelligence machinery. For example, I was recently visiting counterparts in Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, my deputy executive director visited Canberra and talked to some of the people in the intelligence community in Australia, and both of us visited counterparts in New Zealand. However, we do not have regular relationships with those agencies in the same way that we do with the assessment agencies in those countries.

Senator Banks: This is sort of the same question in terms of the gathering and processing that Senator Zimmer has talked about. There is an argument about that some of our good friends have been given, and have made decisions based upon wrong intelligence, sort of purposefully wrong, if I can put it that way. It is less likely to happen here, or just as likely to happen here?

Mr. Fyffe: That is such a broad question; I have trouble answering it as a supplementary.

Senator Banks: I can be specific.

Mr. Fyffe: There is a rigorous process that every analyst has to go through when looking at intelligence and there are some challenges built in that are not always easy to deal with. In looking at a piece of intelligence, we would look at the context, general credibility in terms of other things that we know; we would look at the originating agency and the source descriptions themselves, which would tell us what the relationship of the agency was with whoever produced the intelligence.

There is often a dilemma in intelligence. As almost a cliché, people say that you do not go with a single source, but often the most important intelligence is a single source. Therefore you have a dilemma if an important piece of intelligence that would make a difference in your assessment is single source. You have to look at where it came from, what we know about it, how sure we are with all of the tools we have at our disposal. That is really the bottom line in intelligence assessment: Can you take a particular piece of intelligence and properly decide what credibility should be given to it?

Senator Banks: I am not talking about just a mere error.

Mr. Fyffe: You are talking about intelligence that is deliberately wrong.

Senator Banks: In the layers between you and the decision makers, the intelligence that I am referring to was wrong almost by the omission or the telling of half-truths or the suppression of things otherwise known. Could that happen in this country or are we assured that the decision makers in this country are getting the straight goods? In other instances we know that our friends have not received the straight goods.

Mr. Fyffe: I am speaking for our own organization, but we all face the same challenge, which is to make sure that what goes up is complete and accurate and that we have properly evaluated the intelligence which goes into it. If intelligence that is wrong goes up, a number of things have to go wrong. Not only does the intelligence have to be fabricated or misapplied, or whatever, but the people who process the intelligence, that is the people who take it when it initially comes in and write the source descriptions on it, have to be only partial in fulfilling their responsibilities. If a piece of intelligence comes to us and it says "This comes from an untried source with no reporting record,'' that is a flashing red light. It is the job of the processing agency to make sure that a judgment — a source description like that — is included. If that piece of intelligence comes to us, and even though it should have been a flashing red light, it says it is a normally reliable source who has been accurate in the past, and that is an agency that we normally would trust implicitly, that is where we would have a problem.

I think one of the lessons that was learned as a result, and I think you are referring to various things around Iraq, was that the intelligence agencies in question devoted extra energy to making sure that that processing step took place.

It is not that we would never want to see a doubtful piece of intelligence, but we would want to have a proper description of that intelligence so that we would know we should handle it with care. Sometimes those dots or threads might be important and this new untried source may be on to something that we would have to pay attention to. It is very important that we have, between us and the originator, professionals who can properly evaluate how we should think about that piece of intelligence.

Senator Banks: Assuming you are being 100 per cent objective in that respect — this is the last part of the question, chair — are you convinced that once it leaves you and you have said "This is our best shot at this,'' are you comfortable that that is the information that will get to the decision makers; that it will not be over-vetted between the time it leaves you and the time it gets into the Prime Minister's ear?

Mr. Fyffe: Our reports are our reports. They go forward as our reports. If someone reads one of our reports, it will not be altered in any way from when I signed it off. Someone preparing a report using a whole lot of information might use one of our reports as a source, and they might choose to give more weight to some other source. That is their privilege, and they may very well be right, but our reports go forward as our reports.

Senator Banks: Thank you.

Senator Zimmer: Just one last question, piggybacking on what Senator Banks has said about maintaining relationships with foreign security intelligence agencies, given the relationships that CSIS and CSE have outside of Canada, are we assured that our efforts are not being duplicated elsewhere?

Mr. Fyffe: Yes, I think I can say that our efforts are not being duplicated. CSE's relationships are with other SIGINT agencies, agencies involved with signals intelligence. They meet to talk about SIGINT issues. CSIS is concerned with the collection of foreign intelligence or domestic intelligence and some other issues. We keep ourselves to issues of assessment with the partners we trade assessments with, and we do not get into the issues that the other agencies get into. I will not say there is never any overlap in what we are interested in pursuing but I think we have distinct interests in our partnership with agencies abroad, and like deals with like, if you will. Then we need to integrate at this end so that we have a collective sense of relationship with agencies of other countries. The overlap is not significant in that sense.

Senator Moore: Thank you, Mr. Fyffe, for being here. Does your office collect foreign intelligence abroad?

Mr. Fyffe: No.

Senator Moore: You do not?

Mr. Fyffe: No.

Senator Moore: You assess information from the various sources that you have named?

Mr. Fyffe: That is correct.

Senator Moore: With the recommendation that CSIS be expanded to do foreign intelligence work, would they then do what you are doing?

Mr. Fyffe: No.

Senator Moore: You would not disappear in that instance?

Mr. Fyffe: No, CSIS has, and has had for a long time, an assessment group but, as I understand the way their current mandate functions, that assessment group is focused on things we do not do, such as internal security issues. It is focused on helping CSIS, as a collector, direct its collection efforts. Therefore it is not really a direct competitor with us. I do not say there is never any overlap but we have distinct, perhaps even complementary, roles and when we have an interdepartmental experts group, we have them there.

Senator Banks: For the viewer, please tell them what SIGINT is.

Mr. Fyffe: It is signals intelligence.

Senator Moore: Did you say that you have been the executive director since April 2000?

Mr. Fyffe: That is correct.

Senator Moore: How long has the International Assessment Service been in existence?

Mr. Fyffe: In approximately its current form, it has been in existence since 1993. Before that, it really was only a secretariat to a cross-community committee and it had very little research capacity of its own. As of 1993, it started to grow an independent assessment capacity. That is, it had researchers and writers of its own.

Senator Moore: Who oversees the IAS?

Mr. Fyffe: There is no oversight function, in the sense that Susan Pollak would provide for CSIS, for us as an assessment agency. We report within the PCO structure. Assessment organizations often do not have oversight in the same sense because we are not collectors, we do not write about individuals within Canada, so we do not raise a lot of the same issues that raise oversight concerns with other types of agencies.

Senator Moore: You do not write about individuals in Canada?

Mr. Fyffe: Yes.

Senator Moore: All of your reports deal with situations, organizations, individuals, outside of Canada?

Mr. Fyffe: Yes, but let me underline a rare exception. By individuals in Canada, I mean we do not do intelligence reports on individuals, per se, but if we were doing a paper on organized crime, we might mention a connection in Canada. However, that is fairly rare.

Senator Moore: On June 29 of this year, there will be a native people's march, or demonstration day. Would you do a paper on that?

Mr. Fyffe: No.

Senator Moore: You would not?

Mr. Fyffe: No.

Senator Moore: This goes back to my other question. With regard to the papers that you produce, how does the recipient of them know the truth and the value of their contents?

Mr. Fyffe: One way that they know is simply by our reputation. They get used to us after a while and know whether they can trust us, and I do not say that lightly because it is an important part of the base of trust. When we receive comments back, we have an exchange with our customers on where we got something. We do not put precise intelligence footnotes in our reports when they go out but we are prepared to discuss with our customers where something came from. If they come back and ask where the information came from, provided we have the proper secure channels, we will discuss our assessment basis.

If it is a piece of intelligence, we might be able to discuss it with them but if it is an opinion only, as happens at times and our analyst has a view of an issue and they do not, we will listen carefully to them. We receive detailed comments, especially from posts abroad. When a paper is being planned, our divisions will send out a note that we are planning a paper on a particular country and on the following aspects, and we will ask whether they have any preliminary comments. When the paper is prepared in draft form, it will go out to the embassy in addition to others. They will sometimes come back with detailed comments, which are often of the nature of, "Generally, we liked the paper but we think you should develop this a little more. We are not sure we agree with you on this. You should put in more about that.'' Our analysts will consider all of that. Our analysts know that I am reading this traffic and that I will sign off the final paper. I expect that they will take these views into account. Ultimately, the opinions expressed are ours. We might disagree with the post for whatever reason but we pay very close attention to their comments.

Senator Moore: You mentioned that if intelligence in a paper has been shared bilaterally only, then it cannot be included in an assessment outside that bilateral relationship. Of the 200-odd papers that you prepare each year, what percentage of those would be bilateral and therefore not shareable?

Mr. Fyffe: It is almost impossible to answer that question directly. The initial version of a paper might not be shareable but we might find that if we remove a particular piece of intelligence from it, then we can share it. Some of our papers go out in "Canadian Eyes Only'' format and some go out in a bilateral format. Often, they go out in as many as three formats: Canadian eyes only, Four Eyes and confidential level with some of our other allies. There are multiple versions of papers.

Senator Moore: When you issue a paper each day, do four versions of it go out each day?

Mr. Fyffe: They might do so. I do not make that decision most of the time. The director looks at the paper with the analyst to determine how much of it they can share. Since we receive material from our allies, we want to share as much as we can with them. However, if a paper is originally CEO, then some things will come out of it so that it can be shared with the Four Eyes community.

Senator Moore: Who is the director who makes that decision?

Mr. Fyffe: It is the director of one of our five divisions — people who report to me. Multiple versions go out because we want to ensure that if something will be useful to our allies, even if some piece of intelligence has come out of it, that we will be able to share it. They have their own sources of intelligence and might be more interested in our viewpoint rather than in the actual intelligence.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Fyffe. This has been instructive and we appreciate your coming to share your expertise with us.

Mr. Fyffe: Thank you for the opportunity, Mr. Chairman.

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

The committee adjourned.