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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mr. Fantino: There are some non-uniformed analysts. We have a number
of people in the investigative area with specialized skills, such as analysts
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
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
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
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
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
The Chairman: What is the road block? What stops that from happening
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
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
The Chairman: You are saying that you feel the problem is in Ottawa at
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
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
Mr. Morris: We have 18 detectives and two analysts, as well as two
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mr. Morris: That is correct.
Senator Moore: Commissioner Fantino, is there anything else you wanted
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Ms. Pollak: We have never seen that.
The Chairman: How do you look for that? What would your tests be to
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
The Chairman: Do you know that the minister is aware of the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 Chairman: In many respects, the job would be easier, is that
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Analytical reports are circulated within the intelligence and policy
community, subject to classification restrictions.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Mr. Fyffe: We have about 40 people who are in a roughly defined
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
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
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
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
Mr. Fyffe: It is always classified.
Senator Banks: Is that true, whether it came from an open source or
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
Mr. Fyffe: In particular that would be CSIS, ITAC, CSE, and DND to
Senator Banks: To what degree do you think your products affect
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 adjourned.