Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Fisheries and Oceans
Issue 13 - Evidence - November 5, 2009
OTTAWA, Thursday, November 5, 2009
The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans met this day at 10:32
a.m. to study issues relating to the federal government's current and evolving
policy framework for managing Canada's fisheries and oceans (topic: matters
related to the Canadian Coast Guard in the Western Arctic).
Senator Bill Rompkey (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Honourable senators, I call the meeting to order. We are
the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. We have been studying the
role and the state of the Canadian Coast Guard.
We have been in the Eastern Arctic and the Western Arctic, and have had some
witnesses here in Ottawa from various branches of government and non-government.
We also have had testimony from Aboriginal peoples.
We are about to conclude our hearings. This morning we have an important
session because we have before us the various departments of government involved
in security and control in Canadian Arctic waters. We will have some questions
that we have developed over the course of our study.
I want to welcome Gary Sidock, Director General, Fleet Directorate, Canadian
Coast Guard, Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Chief Superintendent Russ Mirasty,
Director General, National Aboriginal Policing Services, Royal Canadian Mounted
Police and Chief Superintendent Joe Oliver, Director General, Border Integrity,
Royal Canadian Mounted Police; Philip Whitehorne, Chief of Operations, Inland
Enforcement Section, Intelligence and Enforcement Division, Northern Ontario
Region, Canada Border Services Agency; Donald Roussel, Director General, Marine
Safety, Transport Canada; and Brigadier-General S. Kummel, Director General —
Plans, Strategic Joint Staff, National Defence.
Gary Sidock, Director General, Fleet Directorate, Canadian Coast Guard,
Fisheries and Oceans Canada: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and the committee for
giving me the opportunity to join you today to discuss the Canadian Coast
Guard's role in supporting other government departments with respect to the
application of Canadian sovereignty in the Northwest Passage.
As many members of this committee are aware, as the federal government's
civilian maritime service provider, the Canadian Coast Guard already has a
significant presence in the Arctic, through the annual deployment of its
icebreakers from late June to early November.
The presence of our personnel and assets in the Arctic underscores Canada's
national sovereignty and helps keep our Arctic waterways open, safe, clean and
Coast Guard provides essential Northern services that include escorting
ships, providing SAR services and related radio communications, resupplying
remote communities, deploying, maintaining and recovering fixed and floating
aids to navigation, acting as the primary lead for ship-source pollution
incidents, and providing vessel support to scientists.
Coast Guard has a clear mandate to support the Government's maritime security
priorities through our operationally ready fleet, maritime expertise and vessel
traffic information. We work in Arctic waters supporting our national security
and law enforcement partners, DND, CBSA, RCMP and Transport Canada.
Coast Guard's Marine Communications and Traffic Services, or MCTS, play an
important role in monitoring and supporting vessel traffic operating in the
MCTS centres receive pre-arrival reports from foreign flag vessels 96 hours
before they enter Canadian waters, which include our Arctic waters. This
information, which is required under the Marine Transportation Security Act
Regulations, is passed on to Transport Canada Marine Security Operations for
Once a foreign vessel has been cleared by Canadian authorities to enter our
waters, they are asked to provide our MCTS centres with a vessel safety report
using the Arctic Canada Vessel Traffic System, known as NORDREG.
The objectives of NORDREG are to enhance the safe and efficient movement of
maritime transportation, prevent pollution and strengthen Canada's sovereignty
in Arctic waters.
Our seasonal marine communication and traffic services centres, MCTS, in
Iqaluit and Inuvik receive NORDREG entry reports from vessels 24 hours prior to
entering Canadian waters north of 60 degrees latitude. While NORDREG reporting
is currently voluntary, the majority of vessels do transmit a report to our MCTS
centres. Iqaluit and Inuvik further broadcast weather and important navigational
warnings. Transport Canada is in the process of requesting changes to NORDEG,
which will result in mandatory reporting.
This shared multi-agency approach to maritime security allows each federal
department and agency to focus on existing roles and responsibilities, and to
leverage on existing strengths. It also avoids creating potentially redundant
mandates and provides clarity to specific roles performed by each department in
This approach encourages the effective and efficient use of funding to
achieve federal maritime security objectives through the avoidance of
duplication of effort. The Coast Guard is currently implementing long-range
identification and tracking of ships system, or LRIT, which will further enhance
maritime security and improve maritime domain awareness on Canada's coasts,
including the Arctic.
The Coast Guard is also currently considering the feasibility of expanding
the scope of its Automatic Identification System, AIS, national project to
include Arctic chokepoints.
I want to assure this committee that the Coast Guard works in full
collaboration with the federal community in support of Canada's maritime
priorities, including maritime security. We understand that we have a critical
role to play as on-water responder and as a visible representative of the
federal government in the North supporting Canada's sovereignty and security in
Chief Superintendent Joe Oliver, Director General, Border Integrity, Royal
Canadian Mounted Police: We would like to thank you for the opportunity to
appear before the committee to present the RCMP's position on the Arctic and the
Canadian North. I would like to start by outlining for you the broad
responsibilities assumed by the RCMP in Northern Canada.
This region covers approximately 40 per cent of Canada's total land mass and
includes two thirds of Canada' marine coastline. Within this vast region, the
RCMP has provided long-standing and permanent federal policing services and
general-duty policing services under contract to the three territories. The RCMP
has some 60 detachments and offices distributed between the Yukon Territory,
Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Currently, the RCMP serves a combined
population of about 101,000 in the North with over 400 regular members, 50
civilian members, 60 public service employees and four special constables. These
dedicated individuals are committed to preserving the peace, upholding the law
and providing quality service in partnership with Northern communities. The
Royal Canadian Mounted Police is also responsible for border security between
the ports of entry, including along Canada's northern border with the United
Given that 60 per cent of Canada's total coastline lies within the Arctic
Ocean, its protection from organized criminality and national security threats
is of particular concern to the RCMP. However, it is recognized that northern
maritime border management is a shared responsibility involving federal
departments and agencies because no single agency has the capacity or the
mandate to fully secure the border. Given the RCMP's sustained presence in the
North, and that in some isolated areas we are the only federal presence, the
RCMP also provides enforcement and administrative assistance to Citizenship and
Immigration Canada as well as to the Canada Border Services Agency.
This unique operational environment allows for the development of close
working relationships with the communities we protect. It also provides the
opportunity to receive valuable information directly from those communities in
support of our policing responsibilities and duties. Furthermore, the RCMP is
called upon to act as first responders in other incidents of a non-criminal
nature, such as search and rescue that routinely requires the assistance of
other federal and territorial departments. The area is also served by three
Royal Canadian Mounted Police aircraft based in Whitehorse, Yellowknife and
Iqaluit, which further support our policing operations in the North.
The RCMP has recognized the possible emerging threats to Canada's sovereignty
and national security, and has responded by enhancing operational intelligence
capabilities in the region. For example, marine patrol capabilities have been
enhanced in the Mackenzie River Delta and on the coastal waters of the Beaufort
Sea and around Herschel Island, the chokepoint for vessels transiting the
Northwest Passage. The RCMP is also enhancing intelligence capability and
improving interagency cooperation within the region. As of 2009, a full-time
Arctic intelligence officer has been dedicated to all northern divisions to
identify trends and issues; collect intelligence and information; train members
on the collection of criminal intelligence; and continue to develop partnerships
with the government departments, the private sector, and the communities. In
addition, the RCMP is a participant in the Arctic Security Interdepartmental
Working Group, which was formed with the aim of enhancing the security and
sovereignty of Canada's North through information sharing and cooperation.
Within the Arctic marine environment, the RCMP supports coastal and marine
security by assisting in the detection, assessment and coordinated response to a
marine security event or incident. It does this as a member of the Marine
Security Operation Centres, MSOC, whose primary purpose is to produce
situational awareness and intelligence by concentrating on national security,
organized crime and other criminality; and to communicate the information to the
appropriate jurisdiction in a timely manner. These centres enable marine
security stakeholders and partners to coordinate efforts between various
jurisdictions and mandates. The RCMP also takes part in the annual Operation
NANOOK, which is a joint operation in the Eastern Arctic to reinforce Canada's
sovereignty over its Northern territory. This operation similarly enhances our
partnerships with other federal departments and agencies. The overall success of
the integrated border enforcement team program, which serves the Canada U.S,
border, paved the way for the creation of a scaled-down version in the Yukon
Territory. The RCMP has a successful working relationship with its U.S.
counterparts in Alaska. The IBET model, Integrated Border Enforcement Teams,
enables the involvement of local provincial, state, federal and First Nations
agencies, stakeholders and related government departments on both sides of the
In closing, I would like to state that such cooperation, integration and
consultation involving partners are critical in continuing to secure Canada's
Northern region. They are also important in approaching the changing law
enforcement and security environment in the North as a result of increased
international interest and access to the region.
The RCMP intends to continue working closely with other federal departments
and agencies, as well as with the communities it serves to find ways of
promoting cooperation with an eye to supporting security operations in Canada's
North, to strengthening Canada's sovereignty and to ensuring the safety of
Philip Whitehorne, Chief of Operations, Inland Enforcement Section,
Intelligence and Enforcement Division, Northern Ontario Region, Canada Border
Services Agency: Good morning, Mr. Chair. Thank you for the opportunity to
participate in your hearing. I am Philip Whitehorne, Chief of Operations, Inland
Enforcement Section, Intelligence and Enforcement Division, Northern Ontario
Region, Canada Border Services Agency. Also present is Mr. Darren Frank, Acting
Director of the Port of Entry Operations of the Ottawa District of the Canada
Border Services Agency's Northern Ontario Region.
The Canada Border Services Agency's Northern Ontario Region is responsible
for the territory of Nunavut and has one permanent border services officer
located at the Iqaluit airport. Additional border services officers are
dispatched from Ottawa to assist in the clearance of cruise ships and cargo
vessels during the summer months on a cost recovery basis because there is no
designated marine port of entry in Nunavut.
The movement of citizens from the European Union to Greenland can be a fairly
straightforward and unfettered process. Increasing periods of navigability of
the Arctic waters might make the route from Greenland to Northern Canada a more
viable option for individuals who are not admissible to Canada and, therefore,
wanting to circumvent the customs and immigration systems. In such situations,
the threat would be not only posed by inadmissible persons but also by those
engaged in other illicit activities. I will provide an overview of the
circumstances of the Berserk II file, 2007.
The Berserk II pulled into Halifax Harbour on June 22, 2007, after
spending some time in New York City. At that time, one Norwegian crew member was
determined to be inadmissible to Canada based on his membership in a criminal
organization. Another Norwegian crew member withdrew his application to enter
Canada after it was determined that he would not be permitted to enter based on
his previous convictions outside Canada for drug smuggling and assaulting a
police officer. The ship left Halifax for Newfoundland where it took on a
Norwegian crewmember before continuing to Greenland. Once in Hvalsey, Greenland,
the Berserk II took on two new crewmembers, one an American citizen. It
was later determined that the American had an extensive criminal history and
that he was inadmissible to Canada. The second crew member that boarded in
Greenland was the Norwegian national with the criminal conviction who had been
permitted previously at Halifax to withdraw his application to enter Canada.
Although he had returned to Norway on June 28, 2007, he later flew to Hvalsey,
Greenland, to re-board the vessel. The Berserk II left Greenland
and proceeded to enter Canadian waters. The Berserk II landed at Gjoa
Haven, Nunavut on August 22 and failed to contact the Canada Border Services
Agency or the RCMP. The RCMP has the delegated authority to enforce the
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act as well as the Customs Act in the North
where there is no Canada Border Services Agency presence. The captain of the
Berserk II told the Gjoa Haven RCMP detachment that he thought it was
unnecessary to report to the Canada Border Services Agency or the RCMP claiming
that he had not left Canadian waters.
The Berserk II left Gjoa Haven for Cambridge Bay before information
relating to the criminality of the crewmembers was known. It was, therefore,
before the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were able to take action. The Gjoa
Haven RCMP alerted the Cambridge Bay RCMP detachment to meet the Berserk II
when it arrived.
Prior to docking in Cambridge Bay, the captain gave the two crewmembers
firearms and put them ashore outside of town. This was considered an attempt by
the captain of the Berserk II to shield their presence on the vessel from
Canadian law enforcement, having full knowledge that their criminality would
make them inadmissible to Canada.
On August 24, Cambridge Bay RCMP took the remaining crewmembers into custody
while docking. On August 29, after five days at large, the two armed crew
members were arrested and detained by Cambridge Bay RCMP.
Ultimately, all five were removed from Canada three of the crew under
deportation order relating to their criminality, and two under exclusion orders
for failing to report to the CBSA under the Immigration and Refugee Protection
Act. Charges for failing to report to the Canada Border Services Agency upon
entry to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act were withdrawn
in return for their immediate departure to their countries of origin.
In another case in September 2006, a previously deported Romanian man used an
18-foot fishing boat to travel from Greenland to Grise Fiord on Baffin Island.
This was in an effort to avoid encountering CBSA officials. He was ultimately
bound for Toronto.
In both these cases, a team of CBSA officers from the inland operations unit
in Ottawa travelled to Nunavut. They worked closely with the local RCMP
detachments as well as the Canadian Coast Guard, the Immigration and Refugee
Board, the Department of National Defence and others in the tracking,
apprehension and removal of these individuals.
On behalf of my colleague, Darren Frank, we would like to thank you for the
opportunity to meet with you. We look forward to responding to any questions you
Donald Roussel, Director General, Marine Safety, Transport Canada: Mr.
Chair, thank you for inviting me here today. I am the Director General of Marine
Safety at Transport Canada. I am here today to discuss our activities in the
Arctic, particularly the Northwest Passage which, as we all know, is of great
importance to Canadian sovereignty.
The committee already understands that the oceans are an integral part of
Canada's economic, social, cultural and recreational sectors. Protection of this
vast and unique environment is critical and the Government of Canada takes its
responsibility for environmental protection and enforcement in our Arctic waters
Through the government's Northern Strategy, Transport Canada is undertaking
initiatives to better protect the environment, enhance safety, improve the
framework for increased economic activity, and develop a regime under which
Canada could be seen as having greater and more effective control over marine
activities in the Arctic.
The Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act was amended last spring and came
into force on August 1, 2009. It extends Canada's Arctic shipping pollution
prevention rules to 200 miles offshore, which is the limit of our Exclusive
Economic Zone. This serves to exercise Canada's stewardship over Arctic waters
and enhance protection from pollution, and marks an important step forward in
the government's Integrated Northern Strategy.
Climate change is expected to lengthen the navigation season and increase
access to Arctic areas, rendering navigation a continuing challenge. Despite an
overall decrease, sea-ice levels vary greatly each year. Thicker multi-year ice
will continue to drift into shipping lances, possibly in greater amounts. The
probability of an incident and the associated risk of environmental damage both
rise with more traffic.
In the Canadian Arctic, including the waters known as the Northwest Passage,
vessels of 300 gross tonnage or more report through NORDREG, a voluntary ship
reporting a system intended to facilitate the safety and efficient movement of
maritime traffic, and safeguard the marine environment in Arctic waters. Prior
to entering Canada's NORDREG zone, vessels provide important ship, route and
safety information, and update this information while navigating within the
zone. Despite its current voluntary nature, there is a very high degree of
compliance with NORDREG, which long been part of accepted Canadian Arctic
operational procedures. The proposes Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services
Zone Regulations would formally establish a regulated Vessel Traffic Services
zone for Canada's northern waters with mandatory ship reporting requirements.
These proposed regulations would replace the informal Northern Canada Vessel
Traffic Services zone and voluntary reporting system that currently exists in
Canada's northern waters. Implementing the proposed regulations would enhance
Canada's ability to facilitate the safe and efficient movement of maritime
traffic and help protect the unique and fragile Arctic marine environment. The
proposed regulations would apply to both Canadian and foreign vessels that
intend to enter, and navigate within, the Vessel Traffic Services zone.
Finally, I would like to close by talking about our National Aerial
Surveillance Program, otherwise referred to as NASP. This Program is our primary
tool for detecting ship-source pollution in waters under Canadian jurisdiction.
Evidence gathered by the National Aerial Surveillance Program crews is used by
Transport Canada and Environment Canada to enforce the provisions of all
Canadian legislation applicable to illegal discharges from ships, including the
Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and the Migratory Birds Convention Act.
Transport Canada has recently completed the modernization of its three
maritime surveillance aircraft, which has enhanced its ability to detect,
classify and track all targets of potential interest and marine oil spills. In
total, 188 pollution patrol hours were flown in the Arctic this past summer by
this modernized Dash 7. These surveillance patrols enhance Canada's protection
of the Arctic's fragile marine ecosystem by deterring marine polluters, while at
the same time increasing Canada's maritime domain awareness.
And with the surveillance aircraft patrolling over the waters within the
Arctic archipelago, Canada will also be exercising its sovereignty over the
region. Aerial surveillance has proven successful in combating ship-sourced
marine pollution. After all, Canada has the longest coastline of any single
country in the world. We see the movement of approximately 20,000 oil tankers
carrying 9.9 million tons of crude oil and 9.2 million tons of fuel each year.
Canada is committed to providing good stewardship over the unique and fragile
Brigadier-General S. Kummel, Director General, Plans, Strategic Joint
Staff, National Defence: Mr. Chair, it is my privilege to participate in
your study and to speak with you today.
The Canadian Forces are proud to contribute to the defence and security of
Canda's Arctic in very close cooperation with our other security partners. Other
government departments and agencies retain the lead for dealing with most
security issues in the North.
However, the Canadian Forces have a critical role to play in supporting them
and providing assistance to Canadian citizens, namely the conduct of
surveillance, sovereignty and search-and-rescue operations.
Interdepartmental cooperation is crucial to our operations in the Arctic as
each department brings specific mandates supported by particular capabilities,
which are often complementary. This cooperation is achieved through different
mechanisms, such as joint planning of our operations with our partners. This is
illustrated by the current close planning efforts with the Canadian Coast Guard,
the RCMP and Public Safety Canada for operations like NANOOK and NUNAKPUT.
Operation NANOOK is a surveillance scenario-driven operation conducted in the
Eastern Arctic that practices join and integrated planning. In particular, the
whole of government exercise portion of Operation NANOOK practices crisis
response with all the safety and security partners, from the municipal to the
Operation NUNAKPUT is the Canadian Forces' contribution to a Canadian Coast
Guard- and RCMP-led surveillance operation in the Western Arctic to monitor
activities in the Beaufort Sea and the western entry of the Northwest Passage.
In addition to these close-planning efforts, cooperation with the security
partners is also enhanced through the Arctic Security Interdepartmental Working
Group, of which the RCMP, Canadian Forces and the Canadian Coast Guard are
The very close relationship between the Canadian Forces and the Canadian
Coast Guard in the Arctic is a reflection of the complementary nature of our two
organizations in Arctic waters. The Canadian Forces' success in the Arctic
hinges in part on its close collaborative relations with other government
departments. This interdepartmental cooperation is achieved through joint
planning efforts and the whole of government participation in the Arctic
Security Interdepartmental Working Group.
These mechanisms and relationships will continue to ensure the safety and
security of the Canadian public. Thank you for your attention, and I look
forward to your questions.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Senators, we will go to questions. I just want to remind you we have been
looking at security and control in the Arctic. Therefore, we want to get at what
the reporting system is, who reports to whom, who has to report, and at what
time. We need those details.
Second, we also need to be sure about monitoring and surveillance. How do we
know what is up there and what do we do about it once we find out?
Third is the enforcement system. How is our sovereignty in the Arctic
enforced? These are Canadian waters. The Prime Minister has enjoined us to "use
it or lose it". He is quite right. We want to get at how we are using it at the
present time; what is the Canadian presence there and is it effective?
I think we particularly want to get at the incident of the Berserk II.
That encapsulates and makes immediate the whole system. We have had testimony
from Canada Border Services Agency on that, but we particularly want to focus in
on that and see what happened to the Berserk II: How she was apprehended,
how she might have been apprehended in a different way, if it worked, whether it
is good enough and whether there are changes we need to make.
Senator Dallaire: General Kummel, the briefings you have given us are
briefings of essentially what we are doing and some near-term capability
increases. However, this does not reflect the concept of operations of security
for the new border that the Arctic will become. It will not be the new frontier,
which has been the history of how we have moved assets up there and how
individual departments have taken on responsibilities. It has been one very much
of looking at it as a frontier with "frontiersmen" concepts with
personality-driven efforts, attempting to bring into process, procedures of
coordination and maybe even collaboration.
However, if we are looking into the future, which is the aim of the exercise,
and knowing the lead times needed for capabilities to be brought online, what is
the integration plan? What is the overarching concept that is driving the whole
scenario of security and meeting our security needs in the North?
I ask that question because no one has given me the impression that someone
is leading that, nor am I given the impression that it might be a specific aim
of any of the departments, apart from feeding into an amalgamation of other
You have fleets of aircraft with no compatibility between them. We have six
patrol vessels; it is not eight; we have been told there will only be six. Are
they coming with helicopters, specifically acquired to be able to function in
the Arctic area? Why are the Canadian Rangers not a permanent force instead of
being an ad hoc, on-call capability? The Coast Guard, from everything I have
been able to read, is rusting out.
What substantive capabilities, apart from one icebreaker that is coming
online, are we looking at in the future?
I will conclude this by saying 2020 used to be a long way away when we were
looking at the Arctic in the year 1999- 2000.
Who is leading and who is bringing about the integrated capabilities of the
overarching strategy of Canadian security for the new border that will be
extensively used into the future?
The Chair: Who would like to begin?
Senator Dallaire: That will tell me who might want to take the lead on
finding that exact concept.
The Chair: No one wants to lead.
Senator Dallaire: Let me help you. Mr. Sidock, why does not the Coast
Guard become the fourth service of the Canadian Forces to achieve its aims on
the coasts of Canada?
Mr. Sidock: Thank you very much for that question. Really, I cannot
speak to questions of policy that are the purview of the government. However, I
can focus on the concept of how we work together in the Arctic and, certainly,
how the Coast Guard supports that role.
First, I will respond to your question on Arctic enforcement, concept of
operations and strategy. The driving directive behind that remains the National
Security Policy, which defines how all the security organizations — really, five
— that touch security will manage the security file in Canada, including the
Arctic. That is really a reflection. Our operations are driven by the direction
of that policy, which is still in force.
In terms of the Canadian Coast Guard and how it supports that mix, first, as
you are aware, based on your interest, research, time and presence in the
Arctic, presence really counts in all respects. The Coast Guard is very much
about presence. It is a service entity. We are there as Canada's primary
maritime service provider in the Arctic. We have communications and traffic
services, pollution response and other facilities on the ground. Given the
totality of the Arctic, it is somewhat limited.
However, our role in the context of security is very much a support role. We
support the mandated enforcement agencies. That brings complexity to the table,
admittedly. The regulatory environment is quite a bit different for my colleague
from Canada Border Services Agency than it is for the RCMP and Criminal Code
enforcement. Transport Canada is on the regulatory side, in addition to the
suite of responsibilities for DND.
I do not have an easy answer for you as a non-mandated enforcement agency.
However, as an enforcement support organization, we support all the enforcement
players, including the local authorities, using the framework of the National
Senator Dallaire: If I am not mistaken, that National Security Policy
has not articulated a long-term strategy for the security of the Arctic.
Mr. Sidock: That is my understanding, yes. Detailed discussions on the
strategy and where it is headed would probably be best addressed from my
colleagues at Public Safety, but it does not really strategically speak to
towards an end state, at least not in a robust way.
Senator Dallaire: Nor a date into the future when it should be
effective in meeting the future challenges we have up there, correct?
Mr. Sidock: Those questions would best be addressed by Public Safety.
That said, that is my understanding; that is correct.
Senator Dallaire: If I speak to General Kummel and to the RCMP and so
on regarding the capabilities you have deployed and those you are attempting to
deploy, is there any synergy between expressing your requirements to meet the
challenges, which are still not well articulated, and acquiring the resources to
meet those challenges?
Are you getting to replace the Auroras or even to move your patrol vessels?
Are you getting support from other government departments, or even funding
generated by different departments in order to meet the strategy of what the
various departments and agencies up there need to bring that about? Has there
been any methodology or synergy involved in acquiring that funding and
articulating your requirements in any way, shape or form?
Brig.-Gen. Kummel: I cannot speak so much to the funding as to the
requirements. We have undertaken work for a national surveillance plan. Air
platforms would be part of that, looking at the types of needs from other
space-based sensors and using the technology we have within our defence research
and other establishments in Canada to investigate ways of monitoring activities
in the North.
Operation NANOOK and exercises like that are an excellent forum to look at
the types of interoperability issues and the collective capabilities along
surveillance lines to afford us a better idea of each capability. As new ones
come online, we are looking at how we can leverage each other's competencies.
Operation NANOOK is also expanding in its scope. We are looking at more
intergovernmental, and perhaps some more central U.S. participation in that type
of exercise as well, all of this to put a broader perspective on how we can work
together in our collective mutual benefits for Canada-U.S. as well as
Senator Dallaire: I will not use this time to ask whether Canada
Command is looking at giving the Navy Seals capability for potential use in the
Arctic in boarding and the like. However, I am concerned about the command and
control up there when things go bad in a significant way, where you could have a
series of incidents, as you have much more traffic, capabilities, resources,
tourists and available waterways.
Are the Marine Operational Security Centres, MOSC, which were spoken of,
permanent headquarters? Is that a series of headquarters? Is the Northern
Command, which used to have headquarters in Yellowknife, part of that? Are all
your radios compatible in order to communicate? Who mans those headquarters; how
many people do it and on what basis?
Mr. Oliver: In terms of the MSOCs, three centres have been
established, two on the coasts and one that is being stood up in the Great
Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway.
In terms of the partners at the table, the coastal MSOCs are led by DND. The
RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, Transport Canada and Canadian Coast Guard
are present in these centres. They represent an opportunity for us to collect
information of an identified threat and even proactively identify threats, and
then to work with the lead agency in coordinating a response.
An example of that is the event that recently took place on Canada's West
Coast, where the RCMP had the lead. Through the Marine Security Operation
Centre, we developed a coordinated response, and engaged the capability of our
colleagues at Canadian Forces to support a ship boarding by the RCMP on the
migrant vessel that was approaching the coast.
At the same time, here in Ottawa, to ensure that we had national
coordination, we implemented the marine event response protocol, ensuring that
all departments were involved in coordinating a response — at the local level
tactically and more at a strategic level here — to ensure everyone was working
together in departments.
I cannot speak to an event happening in the North, other than our exercises.
However, in terms of real events happening, I can speak to what recently
occurred on the West Coast. From our perspective, things went very well.
Senator Dallaire: Are these permanent headquarters?
Mr. Oliver: Yes, they are.
Senator Dallaire: How many people are in them?
Mr. Oliver: They vary in size. They are in the area of dozens, 70 or
so people. I do not have the precise number.
Senator Dallaire: Regarding communications in the North, are you
interoperable within all the different departments and forces and so on? Are
your communications interoperable in regard to being able to talk to each other
from his planes to your planes to your ships to the ground stations, et cetera?
Is that seen as a requirement for meeting the challenges of the future?
Mr. Sidock: That is a very good question. I can speak to that. The
answer is no, not completely. Part of that is because the terrestrial domain
evolved over time; the maritime domain evolved over time through IMO, the
International Maritime Organization; the military domain evolved differently;
and the aviation domain evolved, through mostly ICAO, International Civil
Aviation Organization, quite a bit definitely. It is a challenge.
Having said that, the centres are very interoperable. All of the operation
centres for each department have very good interoperability with the Marine
Security Operation Centres. In terms of the flow of information for decision
makers, that is all very good and it is all very much tied in with the
government operation centres.
However, there are issues with tactical communications. There are some
projects funded by Public Safety and Anti- terrorism funding. One project is
IMIC3, which is an integrated communication system and the other is for secure
tactical radios. We are getting there but we are not there yet.
There are and probably always will be issues between tactical communications
with vehicles, ships and aircraft. We are moving in that direction; but the
communications between centres, particularly with respect to operational control
and support and intelligence, is very good.
Senator Robichaud: Since undertaking its study on the Arctic, the
committee has been examining the issue of sovereignty. Much has been said about
NORDREG. If memory serves me well, Transport Canada is responsible for NORDREG.
Correct? We have heard how the system is currently voluntary, but we were also
told that by order in council, it could be declared mandatory. Can we expect
that to happen? You mentioned that a system is currently being developed to
replace NORDREG and that compliance would be mandatory. Correct?
Mr. Roussel: I was referring to NORDREG. We are holding consultations
and we expect that the regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette,
most probably by year's end or early in the new year. Subsequently, they will be
published in the Canada Gazette II and that is when we can expect an
order in council to come out of Treasury Board meetings. Our objective is to
have in place a mandatory system for vessels navigating in the Arctic for the
2010 shipping season.
Senator Robichaud: How will a new mandatory system change operations
in the Arctic?
Mr. Roussel: Vessels that currently navigate in Arctic waters are not
required to report their position. Under the new regulations they will be
required to do so. We have encountered cases in the past of vessels that were
unwilling to report their position. Now, reporting will be mandatory.
Senator Robichaud: And if they fail to comply?
Mr. Roussel: Mandatory reporting provisions will be in place and
violators would be subject to prosecution under the Arctic Waters Act. The ship
owner could face sanctions.
Senator Robichaud: The ship owner could face sanctions. The provisions
will target all vessels.
Mr. Roussel: All vessels approximately thirty metres in length and
weighing over 300 tons.
Senator Robichaud: Once NORDREG is in place, could we witness the same
series of events as in the case of the Berserk II? That vessel entered a
Canadian port, exited Canadian waters and then returned. Could the proposed
regulations prevent something like that from happening? At first glance, the
prospects do not look very good.
Mr. Roussel: The Berserk II was a small vessel, a pleasure
boat. NORDREG does not apply to such small vessels. The Berserk II
weighed less than 300 tons. We could still see incidents like that.
Senator Robichaud: What steps can be taken to avoid a recurrence of
such an incident? From an immigration and security standpoint, the same thing
Mr. Roussel: That is question that you should put to my colleagues. We
are concerned with commercial vessels, with pollution prevention, with ship
location, with ensuring that these vessels are monitored and that mechanisms are
in place to address the problem of ship-source pollution in Arctic waters.
Senator Robichaud: Who is responsible for alerting authorities when a
situation like the one involving the Berserk II occurs?
Mr. Oliver: Even with existing resources, it is a matter of working
smarter, not harder. In our enforcement environment, we employ the strategy of
leveraging intelligence within our partnerships. The best tool we have for
prevention is prior knowledge of an event. We work through the Marine Security
Operation Centres and with the communities that we serve. There is no better
knowledge of the environment than those people who live in the community every
day. The RCMP in the North has a very strong relationship with the communities
and has become a part of the fabric of communities. It is through those
situations that we are able to identify threats and try to prevent them as soon
as we receive information. We also have relationships with our international
partners from whom we receive intelligence on potential threats to Canada.
Senator Robichaud: You depend to a large extent on the people who live
there. Is that right?
Mr. Oliver: Yes. When members of the community identify something that
is out of the norm, they contact the local police. That is part of our community
outreach relationship. We work with our other partners, who might have tidbits
of information as well. We then pull together all of the information from our
various sources to develop a better picture of a potential threat. We work with
the international community.
Senator Robichaud: Who pulls all of that information together?
Mr. Oliver: The Marine Security Operations Centre, the public security
agencies, Transport Canada, the Coast Guard, the RCMP, Canadian Forces and the
Canada Border Services Agency share information on a daily basis. Through that
information sharing and our contacts in the communities, we are able to identify
potential threats and then take action.
Senator Robichaud: Do you have any idea what the response time is for
passing on information from the community?
Mr. Oliver: That would depend on where the potential threat is
identified and what capabilities we have at the time. For example, recently
something approached the coast and, working closely with our partners, we were
able to prepare a response and board the vessel before or at the time it entered
In other situations when the RCMP does not have the assets to undertake an
interdiction, we rely on our colleagues in other departments to provide
operational support. It depends on the circumstances and on our capabililty at
The Chair: I have a comment on the adequacy of information sharing.
When we were on board the Sir Wilfrid Laurier off Cambridge Bay, the
Berserk II approached the Sir Wilfrid Laurier and was allowed to
proceed again. Whether that was on the transit into Canadian waters or out of
Canadian waters, I am not sure. It was clear that the Berserk II visited
the Sir Wilfrid Laurier but whether the Sir Wilfrid Laurier was
aware of previous incidents or the previous itinerary of the Berserk II,
I do not know. It was clear to us that there was some lack of sharing of
information because not every Canadian service agency in the area knew what was
going on with that ship.
Senator Cochrane: Mr. Whitehorne, in your presentation, you said that
the Berserk II left Gjoa Haven for Cambridge Bay before the criminal
history of the crewmembers could be communicated. I would like to know more.
Mr. Whitehorne: With respect to that case, allow me to explain the
circumstances. When they arrived at Gjoa Haven, they indicated to the RCMP
officer that they had not left Canadian waters. They misled the RCMP into
believing that they were already in Canada. At the immigration hearing, it was
determined that they had never entered that point because they were not
forthcoming with the information. If the information had been different, a full
examination would have led to further questioning by that RCMP officer.
It is my understanding that when they left Gjoa Haven, there was another ship
in the location. The people on the Berserk II stated to the other ship
that they had been deported and were arriving into Canada. The Canadian Coast
Guard received that information and then contacted the RCMP. The RCMP then
contacted the CBSA's intelligence officer. We worked together and before the
ship arrived at Cambridge Bay, we knew the full circumstances of the people on
the boat and took enforcement action.
Senator Cochrane: How long was the crew in Gjoa Haven?
Mr. Whitehorne: I do not know precisely but it was not a long time. It
might have been a number of days. I would have to get that information for you.
Senator Cochrane: What is the normal process for communicating this
kind of information? How long does it take the communication to be received by
those who then send out instructions? What is the process of communication?
Mr. Whitehorne: We have streamlined our communication point within
Canada Border Services Agency. We have two communication points. Our National
Risk Assessment Centre, located in Ottawa, looks at advance passenger
information on all vessels and aircraft coming into Canada and if that contact
point is called, they have our local contact numbers. In such a case, we are
dispatched immediately to work with the RCMP. We conduct interviews under the
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act by phone once the people arrive in Canada
and conduct interviews. We have another dedicated intelligence officer who works
with various committees, the RCMP and the Coast Guard. He is our contact point
for any incoming information.
We will dispatch our particular unit within Canada Border Services Agency.
There are a number of different units. For example, we have port of entry and
immigration inland enforcement — which is my responsibility for Canada's North.
That is for people in Canada who failed to report to Canada Customs. Once a
regional intelligence officer receives that information, he will dispatch the
appropriate unit in a timely manner.
Senator Cochrane: While on our trip to the North, people told us that
at one point, the Berserk II encountered a Coast Guard vessel. I think
the vessel was the Sir Wilfrid Laurier. The Coast Guard did not have any
information that this was a vessel of interest. They simply waved them on. How
could this have happened?
Mr. Whitehorne: In that particular case, it was not until the Coast
Guard provided the information to the RCMP. A link was made to the occurrence
when they arrived in Halifax, and we took action from that point. The chain of
events started with the Coast Guard informing the RCMP. The Coast Guard does not
have access to immigration systems. We have to work with the RCMP to advise them
of case histories. That is where we work in partnership. As the RCMP mentioned,
information and tips come not only from other government departments, but also
from community members and stores, for example.
Senator Cochrane: This seems haphazard to me.
What will happen in the future? We know the Northwest Passage is opening and
we will likely be receiving many foreign vessels. We do not know if those
vessels are safe or pose a threat. We have to be ready. We cannot wait hours and
days. This is my point.
You say that you depend on people in the community. Is it an organized group?
Mr. Whitehorne: We could receive information from anyone. We assess
the information once we receive it.
The obligation is on the person arriving in Canada to report to the Canada
Border Services Agency or the RCMP. Laws are in place that if they fail to
report, there are consequences.
Senator Patterson: We know that the Canadian Forces are acquiring six
Arctic offshore patrol ships, AOPS. We had a detailed presentation about that
recently. They will be conducting armed seaborne surveillance of Canada's Arctic
and providing situational awareness.
The Government of Canada sees a need for enforcement requiring armed naval
vessels. We know that the AOPS will not be operational until 2015. What happens
in the meantime?
I do not believe the RCMP has marine capability in the North. I may be
corrected on that. There may be coastal patrol vessels, but with limited
capability. Does the navy send armed vessels to northern waters during the
The Coast Guard is our main capability. Have Coast Guard vessels served as
support platforms for enforcement? Could armaments be placed on Coast Guard
icebreakers until 2015 while the new naval vessels are being built? Could Coast
Guard crew be trained for armed boarding?
Brig.-Gen. Kummel: Regarding your question on the frequency or
presence of naval vessels in the North, they go primarily to participate in
operations, like NANOOK in the Far North. They also do patrols from time to time
on the approaches.
Given the duration of the season and demands on their time, I would not say
the vessels are there with any sort of persistence. It is part of the overall
plan to increase our presence in the North. The AOPS are a stretch goal and will
change the equation substantially.
Mr. Sidock: In terms of the Coast Guard's capability to support
enforcement, it is and has been in place for many years. To be clear, the
Canadian Coast Guard has always been available to support enforcement officers
and their armed capability. We have worked with the RCMP on a joint, armed
patrol program on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway for several years.
We are in the process of contracting the construction of mid-shore patrol
vessels, four of which will be dedicated to the joint Coast Guard-RCMP armed
patrol program for those same areas. We have supported armed DFO conservation,
protection and enforcement operations for many years.
We have supported a wide variety of contingency operations for law
enforcement. A prime example would be our support in the Farley Mowat
interdiction. The boarding was conducted by the RCMP from a Coast Guard vessel
in support of enforcing both a Transport Canada regulatory infraction and DFO
regulatory infractions. We have been doing this in support of officers with duty
weapons for many years.
With respect to your question on armament, we do not have a security mandate.
All of our vessels — big and small — support enforcement officers today with
light duty weapons. In terms of deck weaponry, those are naval considerations.
You asked whether Canadian Coast Guard ships could be modified. The physical
requirement is the least problematic requirement of the discussion. We speak to
questions of mandate, training, systems support and those types of issues.
Overall, we have been supporting on-water security operations for many years.
Mr. Oliver: I speak proudly of the support that the RCMP receives from
both the Canadian Coast Guard and from our colleagues at the Canadian Forces
when it comes time for some platform from which to launch law enforcement
In fact, colocated at RCMP headquarters is a unit that involves RCMP officers
as well as two secondee's from Canada Command. This provides us with the
capability to request military support in support of civilian operations,
through the National Defence Act, minister to minister. We have that capability.
Another example was the recent West Coast boarding. That unit was responsible
for arranging the capability with the Canadian frigate HMCS Regina from
which we launched an emergency response team of the RCMP to board the vessel
within Canadian waters. We rely on each other very much, and we get exceptional
service from our colleagues at DND and the Coast Guard when it comes to those
types of operations.
Senator Patterson: I am interested in learning more details about the
planned construction of mid-shore patrol vessels. Could you give me details on
the time frame and how they will complement the AOPS vessels?
Mr. Sidock: We are proud to be in contract now for the delivery of our
nine mid-shore patrol vessels. They are small vessels in the order of 43 metres,
which will provide littoral and response capability in southern waters. They
will not be ice strengthened. They are small patrol vessels and are the first
wave of fleet renewal, the first 17 vessels of which have been funded. However,
we have a lot of work to do in that regard.
We are in contract as we speak. Our expectation is that the first mid-shore
patrol vessel will be delivered in late 2011 and the ninth vessel will be
delivered some two years later.
The first four of those vessels will go to support the joint Coast Guard-RCMP
armed patrol program. Three vessels will be on the Great Lakes and one in Quebec
on the St. Lawrence Seaway. The other five vessels will be used to support DFO,
conservation and protection, surveillance, control and enforcement operations in
support of the Fisheries Act. Again, that will be in all regions of the Coast
Guard, which include the Pacific, Quebec and the Maritimes, but in support of
southern operations. They are very small and not ice strengthened and therefore,
they would only have a very peripheral relationship with the AOPS. They will not
be involved in any Arctic operations. They are not designed for operations in
ice-infested waters and their interaction would only be on the secondary role
for AOPS, which would be coastal patrol, when they are not in the Arctic. Their
interoperability is limited because they are different platforms.
Senator Patterson: Thank you. That is useful information. However, it
does not address the issue about Arctic control.
If we had had rogue ship that took a run through the Northwest Passage, could
the Navy or the Coast Guard stop it? I am talking about this happening in a
period prior to 2015. Do we have the capability to do that now?
Mr. Sidock: In terms of the physical capability, as you are aware, the
Coast Guard has two heavy icebreakers, four medium icebreakers, one light
icebreaker and three other small vessels.
Every summer in the Arctic, they deliver a wide variety of services. During
the summer, they are an operationally ready fleet and that full capacity could
be mustered within the limits of the geography and capability. There are huge
challenges in the Arctic, given the scope and size of Canada and the limited
resources we have to apply to it. Appropriate resources would be mustered in
support of the best enforcement response available. However, there are
limitations, given the size of the fleet. I think the big challenge, though —
and it is a challenge we all face — refers to something mentioned earlier, which
is maritime domain awareness. Situational awareness in the Arctic is a huge
Earlier this morning, I made a list of elements that would support and inform
what we call the recognized maritime picture of the Arctic, and those elements
are huge. The purpose of the marine security operation centres, MSOCs, is to
bring them all together. However, putting that picture together is a challenge
for other countries and for us.
I look at all the elements of the information that we need to muster and then
analyze it to find out what it really means and whether aspects of it are of
consequence. Aside from the information, of course, the analysis is really the
critical element and then the information sharing amongst the players.
The list includes the NORDREG reporting, which is for larger vessels above
300 gross tonnes. We have the long- range information tracking system, which
will be fully operational by March and will apply to large ships and will give
us real time information every 15 minutes on those large SOLAS vessels.
By the way, Canada is really the world's leader in LRIT. We chair the
International Maritime Organization Technical Committee and Policy Committee. We
provide funding support to other countries to give this information, to join the
system. We currently track about 500 vessels a day in LRIT, and we anticipate
1,000 a day when it is fully operational in March. We have the pre-arrival and
information reports, PAIRs, through the Marine Communications and Traffic
Centres on behalf of Transport Canada. We have AIS, the automated information
We have a huge number of other sources from the intelligence and military
communities like Polar Epsilon and RADARSAT-2 data. We have over-flights,
limited as they are; DFO conservation and protection; Environment Canada ice
aircraft; Transport Canada pollution aircraft; DND over-flights for sovereignty
and patrol purpose; Coast Guard aircraft onboard all of our icebreakers except
one; and intelligence from local communities.
We have a lot of information out there, but it is not enough. Putting it all
together is a huge challenge and it is one we all face. We must work toward the
integration role of the MSOCs. I know it is a long answer but I hope it helps
frame an answer to your question.
The Chair: Could you tell us what SOLAS means?
Mr. Sidock: It is the International Convention for the Safety of Life
at Sea. It is the international governing framework for large vessels above 300
gross tonnes. It is led by Transport Canada. That determines lifesaving,
reporting and security.
Senator Hubley: Mr. Sidock the RCMP told us about their involvement
with the communities in the North and my question is around that same area. The
Coast Guard's role in the North is very important and the communities are very
aware of it.
What is your relationship with those communities and how do you maintain that
relationship? How do you use the communities to assist you in your work?
Second, you indicate that you were the primary lead for ship-source pollution
incidents. What is your capacity to address any sort of an environmental oil
spill in the North, and how is that reported to you? How do you respond?
Mr. Sidock: Thank you very much for that question.
To answer the last part first, we are the response organization, so we
coordinate and operate the on-water response on behalf of Transport Canada, the
In terms of pollution and pollution response capability in the Arctic in
ice-infested waters, the risk is a challenge for everyone and certainly for us.
It is about capacity, ability to respond and massive logistics. Responding to
and cleaning up an oil spill in the Arctic is challenging for all of us and it
is something we are very much aware of.
To that end, when we speak of things like interdepartmental cooperation —
Operation NANOOK, for example — in almost every case, there is an environmental
response component. When we were on joint exercises last year and the year
before with the Danes, it included an environmental response component, but it
has a vulnerability.
We have done a risk analysis. Yes, of course, a large ship in a major oil
spill will have potentially significant consequences. Certainly, most of the
Arctic is one of the world's most fragile and sensitive ecosystems. That is
In terms of regular pollution through the course of a regular year, probably
the greatest risk rests at the community level when they are resupplied. That
has been our focus. Through our Arctic response strategy, we have a number of
pollution depots at a number of sites in the Arctic that have a capability,
albeit somewhat limited, to manage probably the greatest risk, which is the
transshipment of oil cargoes as they are resupplying the community — many by
hoses in water. That speaks to the pollution side. We exercise with the United
States and with our partners, but it is very much a vulnerability for us.
In terms of our involvement with the communities, the Coast Guard's presence
in the Arctic has been ongoing for 60 years. We want to do more but we have
limits in our capability. Some of the things we do will come as a surprise to
many Canadians. It is about being there and how the government operates in the
Very often, it is the same person in the same local community who is a member
of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary in that Arctic community, who is a
Canadian Ranger, perhaps supporting the emergency management organization of the
community and maybe working for the town as well. In the Arctic, it is all about
logistics, almost breaking down those interdepartmental barriers and doing those
Aside from the ship support that we deliver to commercial vessels — aids to
navigation, limited as they are — the communications services, in terms of our
real involvement with the communities, are pretty extensive and we always want
to do more.
We have two marine communication traffic centres, one in Iqaluit and one in
Inuvik. People live there during the operational season.
We spoke to our support to the pollution depots, but we do other things as
well. For example, we run the beach master services in Iqaluit, which is the
control mechanism for the vast majority of the cargo going to resupply the
Eastern Arctic. There are no roads in the Eastern Arctic. This is about food,
bringing in construction material and new schools and hospitals. We provide that
throughput service because it is something that is needed, the coordination, and
it is something we are good at.
Another thing people are not aware of is our support to a community like
Kugaaruk; its old name was Pelly Bay. It is very much ice infested. It is
difficult for commercial ships to get in there. With the support from the
Government of Nunavut, we deliver oil and bulk; we had four voyages this year.
We transshipp from Nanisivik to Kugaaruk to resupply the community with many
things. Otherwise, the community might not be viable.
Our beach master services support those activities. They are limited, but
they are diverse and kind of all over. We want to do more but we have limits on
Senator Hubley: If there was a major oil spill in the North, what
would your role be?
Mr. Sidock: Our role would be to do the response and to be the leader.
We would cascade all available resources we have. We have deployable packs from
the South; we have community packs in the communities; we have capabilities on
board the ship; and we have a very large barge in the Arctic, an Arctic class 2
barge, which we would use to store the contaminants. However, I will not mislead
you; response and effective prosecution of oil spills in ice-infested waters is
problematic for everyone, including us.
Senator Hubley: On the Berserk II and the chronological order
of events we have in front of us — was that information obtained after the fact
or were you tracking the Berserk II from the time it arrived in Halifax
to Cambridge Bay?
Mr. Whitehorne: When it arrived in Halifax, it reported to CBSA. It
technically reported into Canada and from that point, the Canada Border Services
Agency did not continue to track it because it was considered to be in Canada
Senator Hubley: Do you know the ultimate destination of the Berserk
II? Also, did you suspect that there was criminal activity taking place
because of where it had been and how it seemed to be avoiding some things?
I understand that there were no charges laid or there were no penalties; is
that correct? In addition, all five crewmembers were removed from Canada; did
they leave on board the Berserk II?
Mr. Whitehorne: I can answer those questions. Did we suspect criminal
activity? We deported a person that had an association to Hells Angels in
Halifax. He returned directly to Norway. The other person had some criminal
activity; and we remove people with criminal activity because they pose a risk
to Canadian society. He was removed to Norway.
Were charges laid? We have the option of laying charges for failing to report
under the Customs Act. We did not proceed with those criminal charges because we
wanted to remove them back to their countries of origin. A deportation order is
a lifetime ban from ever returning to Canada; and we wanted to effectively
remove them from Canada and not have a criminal process hold them here for
another 30 days, for example. We wanted to get them out immediately.
We deported them to Edmonton. From there, they were returned to the United
States and to Norway through Pearson International Airport.
Senator Hubley: What became of the Berserk II?
Mr. Whitehorne: From my understanding, new crewmembers boarded
and continued to Alaska.
Senator Watt: I was not here when some of you put your presentations
forward; however, I will try to zero in on the requirement for better security
in the communities.
I think I heard one of you pointing out the fact that the community is one of
the most important components if there is going to be success in the North, for
whatever activities that might happen in the Arctic, now and in the future.
My question concerns the Canadian Rangers. Those people are very proud to be
rangers, and I consider them as being on the front line. They require upgrading
in terms of their facilities, equipment and training. If I remember correctly,
our government has indicated that there will be training facilities somewhere in
the Arctic, but there is no idea of when that will take place.
There are some facilities that already exist that were leftovers of the
military's activities in the past — like in Goose Bay, for example. I believe we
have indicated that subject matter in our report.
We are talking about readiness. I do not think we will be able to meet some
of the challenges that we are facing. That is my opinion. I am from the Arctic.
I hope I know what I am talking about. I would like some indication from you as
to whether a clear mandate was given to you to consider the fact that we have
people up there who have a certain amount of training, however, the equipment
needs to be updated. The RCMP indicated that community input is one of the most
important elements to be taken into account, and I fully agree. I would like
clarification on that.
What can this committee do to move that forward? Do you have any
recommendations for the committee? Is there a message that we could send to the
government to increase the focus in this area?
Brig.-Gen. Kummel: Thank you for the question, senator. As you know,
the Canadian Rangers are a critical capability for us in the North. We have
looked to expand to the Junior Canadian Rangers program as well. Under the
Canada First Defence Strategy, we look at how the Canadian Forces can best
postured for response, presence and persistence in the North. The presence in
the communities is extremely important to give us a sense of regional issues and
capabilities. In some of our longer range plans, we look at citing locations and
the kinds of capabilities brought to us with the introduction of new platforms,
such as the medium-lift foxtrot model of Chinook helicopters. We determine where
we would best position those platforms to better respond and how we would
network to what is described as the intelligence networks and whether there
would be queuing. Often that would be initiated at community-level awareness or
triggers. From there, we work with other government departments to determine how
best to respond on a security basis or on a defence basis and to complement each
other with our various capabilities for an appropriate reaction, all the way
from regulatory safety security through to defence. From the Canadian Forces
perspective, we always look at how we could provide that assistance.
The community-based ears and eyes on the ground are critical. We continually
look at how to best leverage that and equip those various communities and their
leaders, who are often affiliated with the Ranger program, to better allow us to
advance that type of approach.
Senator Dallaire: Everyone else working up there is full-time. Why are
not the Canadian Rangers a full-time force if they are so significant to our
requirement? Could we not give them the resources to be full-time, send them
through the processes of selection, if necessary, and enhance their training and
equipment capability so that they could be a much more effective force? It would
provide assurances to them, as peoples of the North, to know that Canada wants
them to be fully committed.
Do you have an RCMP group of Inuit employed in that area? Given that they are
so significant to the work, how much have we pushed the envelope to engage them
in full-time employment to do the job? Everyone else is full-time.
Brig.-Gen. Kummel: I cannot speak to the policy aspects of making them
a permanent force. I recognize your points very well. As we talk about
persistence in the North, how to have that sort of presence and whether it is a
career field attractive to local citizens, it obviously would be germane as we
try to implement the Canada First Defence Strategy. We would look at doing that
even from the southern-focus of the Canadian Forces. AOPS is a significant step
forward with our ice-hardened naval capacity to go up North. When we go through
our operations and look at the interoperability between other government
departments and how we can leverage local knowledge from the communities, be
they Rangers or others, it gives us greater insight. While I cannot say there is
a policy or a direct line to making the rangers a permanent force, I would
suggest that it is a consideration to be looked at in the longer term.
On the earlier question about an Arctic training centre and some kind of
military facility up North, we are looking at how that would allow us to have a
presence and to operate in the Far North. I would suggest that this would not be
a new military base but more likely something that we would like to leverage
with other government departments. In that way, there is mutual benefit of using
such a location for everything from environmental patrols to a security
presence, to sovereignty operations, and any combinations thereof. That is the
approach that we are taking toward the Canada First Defence Strategy.
Senator Watt: I asked whether any directive has been given to the
militaries to improve what exists and to bring them into the full-fledged
security community for Canada. If you have not received any directives from the
government, what do you think we should do if you think they have to be engaged
in activity now because of their knowledge and presence in those communities?
Brig.-Gen. Kummel: We are not the security lead so we would be looking
for what our presence and abilities would be to support the RCMP along those
Senator Watt: How do the RCMP and the Coast Guard feel about having
direct input at the community level, not just for token purposes but for their
knowledge? They know their backgrounds better than anyone else. I would even say
that perhaps there is a need to consider seriously integrating the Canadian
Rangers with the Canadian Coast Guard. That might make much more sense. I would
like your comments and ideas.
Where do you stand on engaging the rangers for security purposes, including
security of the environment. That factor truly worries me because we are not
ready should a disaster occur in the North. We do not have the necessary
infrastructure and equipment to be able to combat a huge oil spill in the
Arctic. We will pay for it one day because surely one will happen.
Chief Superintendent Russ Mirasty, Director General, National Aboriginal
Policing Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: I can respond in terms of
the RCMP and our view that an integral part of the service delivery in the North
is the engagement of local people. There is absolutely no question in terms of
their value. History tells us, to be blunt, that the RCMP would not have
survived in the North without the assistance of local people. Over the years, we
have recruited a number of people from the North to become part of the regular
force. Historically, we called them special constables. If you have been in the
North, that term is familiar to you.
Currently, we make efforts to engage northern people into the regular stream
of the RCMP. We have been fairly successful. Although it is certainly not at the
level it could be or should be considering the growth in the North and the
challenges we face across Northern Canada. Our numbers are fairly good now. We
value the participation of northern people into the RCMP in the delivery of
police service and responding at the community level for all the reasons you
already talked about. We need to work a little harder at it and recruit more.
Mr. Sidock: From the Coast Guard perspective, I would probably mirror
the RCMP's statement. The Coast Guard is recruiting for operational positions
for targeted seagoing and shore-based positions. Through our strategic human
resource plan, we are focusing on northerners and other under-represented
populations. The Coast Guard is very much in the process of rejuvenating its
There is also a focus on other components such as increasing the Coast Guard
Auxiliary in the Arctic, who are all volunteers. A response — search and rescue
or pollution — will typically be initiated as a local response. Often, it is the
Like the RCMP, we have to continue to focus on this and target community
engagement at a better level. It is a resource we simply cannot do without. It
is also particularly important in general situational awareness and
understanding. The Arctic is a special place with a unique knowledge base that
we need to improve collectively.
Senator Watt: My other concern is that I have been hearing bits and
pieces of information that work is being carried out from people that have
first-hand information who appear at committee meeting such as this. There are
pieces of information out there. How are you bringing them together to develop
policy, in a sense, that the government would adopt for the Arctic?
I believe that does not really exist. In order to pull something like this
together, you need at least one person leading, directing and formulating
certain objectives and policies and so on. Is there something missing in dealing
with the situation that is about to be?
The situation might reverse, but the information we have is that the ice will
disappear. A lot of us may think differently, but that is the mindset of people
today. Could you give me your feelings on not having a strong enough ability to
pull all that information together to make it work?
Mr. Oliver: Certainly, coordinating information sharing and operations
between a wide variety of departments is challenging. However, there are a
number of coordinating bodies that currently exist to help bring together
information and to identify gaps and strategies to bring forward for
consideration. For instance, the Arctic Security Interdepartmental Working Group
is in the North. In Ottawa, Transport Canada is the lead for the
Interdepartmental Marine Security Working Group.
Currently, as part of the Interdepartmental Marine Security Working Group, we
are developing a threat assessment within the public safety and marine security
communities to identify any gaps and vulnerabilities. We will then take those
and identify the possible options we have to address and close some of those
gaps, and the strategies and mitigation efforts we might put forward.
A number of departments are involved in addition to Transport Canada,
including the Department of National Defence, Public Safety, RCMP, Canada Border
Services Agency and Coast Guard. The entire marine security community is
involved in these discussions.
Senator Watt: Are Inuit involved in every sector of those agencies?
Mr. Oliver: I do not believe they are within the Interdepartmental
Marine Security Working Group. I have to turn to my colleagues in the Canadian
Forces with respect to the Arctic Security Working Group. I suspect there is
some engagement, but I cannot speak to the level of that.
Senator MacDonald: This is a very intriguing subject. I think all
Canadians are interested in terms of sovereignty in the North becoming more of
an issue. I will not belabour the story of the Berserk II, but it is
quite a saga. It is a small illustration of what happens. I chuckled when I saw
the makeup of the crew when it was in Cambridge Bay and they were going to the
Pacific. I assumed they may be headed for Botany Bay. I think the government and
officials handled it as well as they could.
You speak a lot about the Northwest Passage, but there is also what used to
be known as the Northeast Passage. It is now more commonly referred to as the
northern sea route. This fall, two German-owned freighters, the Beluga
Fraternity and the Beluga Foresight became the first non-Russian
commercial vehicles to transit successfully this Northeast Passage. They
reportedly sailed from Vladivostok to Rotterdam.
I am sure the Russians have a reporting, surveillance and enforcement
mechanism. What can any of you tell us about their system's strengths,
weaknesses or deficiencies compared to ours?
Mr. Sidock: I can probably answer most of your questions, senator. I
am a mariner by training. We have been involved in many Arctic activities for
The Canadian Coast Guard has a relationship with Russian border guards and
the Federal Security Service as part of our North Pacific Coast Guard Forum and
North Atlantic Coast Guard Forum meetings. We also have a relationship simply as
an Arctic participant.
It is important to understand that the northern sea route is a very different
dynamic. It is the purview of border guards. Again, the Federal Security Service
— former-KGB — is very much a controlled functionality.
There are few islands and the northern sea route has been typically much more
open than the Canadian archipelago for navigation. However, there is a very
different dynamic. The Russians want transits. They have many icebreakers — many
of them nuclear — operated by their ministry of transport through a Crown
corporation, which charge for that service. It is very much a vehicle for the
collection of hard currency. They have been actively promoting that activity,
but it is a controlled function as well. They have lots of resources, frankly,
looking for a program. Therefore, their dynamic is very different. Their
physical dynamic is very different in that the northern sea route has always
been much more open than the Canadian Arctic.
If you are interested in more detailed analyses, perhaps Foreign Affairs
would be best place to raise that question. However, politically, operationally,
and physically in terms of ice, it is a very different situation.
Senator MacDonald: I would assume there would not be a large
population around that northern sea route.
Mr. Roussel: I can answer on this particular issue of the Northwest
Passage. We brought the committee the Arctic Council Marine Shipping Assessment
Report 2009. That is a report Canada participated in with Finland, Norway,
Russia and the United States. It is a thorough assessment in terms of safety and
protection of the environment.
For all your questions regarding routing in the future, ice melting, this is
the most concise document when it comes to the general aspect of the Arctic and
circumnavigation purposes. We are leaving it for you and you will have many of
your questions answered, senators, specifically on that subject. It is based
mainly on safety and environment, not necessarily environment regarding
sovereignty and protection.
Senator Dallaire: What are the rank levels sitting on the Arctic
Security Intergovernmental Working Group?
Mr. Oliver: I think it is director equivalence.
Senator Dallaire: Whom do they report to?
Brig.-Gen. Kummel: On the military side, the Commander of Joint Task
Force North, General Miller with some other participants from Canada Command. He
reports to Canada Command from the deliberations of the Arctic Security
Intergovernmental Working Group.
Senator Dallaire: What direction has it been receiving, apart from the
security and the National Security Strategy, which is not necessarily reflective
of the future right now?
Brig.-Gen. Kummel: On the military side, the direction is one of
collaboration and mutual information sharing. As we mentioned before, there is
also some intelligence queuing and best practices for managing that type of
information. As you know, the agendas change year-over-year, so it can be shaped
by agendas, as well.
Senator Dallaire: Regarding the circumpolar scenario, I am glad to see
we used to want to upgrade the sea models to function in the North and I am glad
we will see Chinooks deployed in the North, particularly the F models.
In the circumpolar scenario, there was discussion in the 1980s about
establishing links with the Russians to work with their extraordinary Arctic
capabilities. Now, there is the possibility of buying time on those
nuclear-powered icebreakers to help us in our work. Is that being entertained in
any of the strategies in regards to meeting our requirements in the North?
Mr. Sidock: The Canadian Coast Guard's approach will be the complete
renewal of a more robust and more capable Canadian Coast Guard fleet of ships,
built in Canada by Canadians for Canadians. From the Canadian Coast Guard
perspective, we are not pursuing any of those angles.
Senator Dallaire: Your first ship might come out in 2017?
Mr. Sidock: Yes, it will come out in 2017. It will be the first of
Senator Robichaud: The reporting system that will be put in place is
for merchant marine ships and other vessels. What about ships from various other
states? Let us say the United States wants to have an icebreaker go through that
area. Will they have to report? I ask because I have been told that we cannot
find in any regulations we have looked at that those ships would have to report.
Mr. Roussel: Thank you, senator. The NORDREG will be applicable for
commercial vessels. When it comes for a vessel of state, it is usually under the
Department of Foreign Affairs.
Senator Robichaud: Can you say that again please?
Mr. Roussel: It is usually with Foreign Affairs. Those vessels would
be military vessels, vessels from another country — owned by the government.
Senator Robichaud: Yes, I understand, but how will Foreign Affairs
know they are out there if they do not have to report?
Mr. Roussel: We will find out that they are out there, that is for
sure. There is sufficient intelligence to find out that they are out there.
Senator Robichaud: However, they will not have to report, is that
Mr. Roussel: They will not have to report. Then we will have to do
diplomatic exchange and so forth. In other words, go through the regular
channels for those cases.
Mr. Sidock: You specifically mentioned American icebreakers.
Senator Robichaud: Or any other ships —
Mr. Sidock: We have a special protocol in place for the Americans,
which is a non-prejudice protocol. The last two summers we have had complete
joint operations with the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healey and the
Canadian Coast Guard ship Louis S. St-Laurent, collecting our United
Nations Law of the Sea data in a joint operation which allows us, collectively,
to collect more data than ever.
Typically, when vessels like the Healey transit the Arctic, they have
a Canadian Coast Guard officer on board. We have a protocol that does not impugn
their position on the internal waters, commonly referred to as the Canadian
Northwest Passage. They are fully compliant with it and we are tremendous
partners in that regard.
With respect to marine science being conducted by any other country, there is
a special protocol put in place for permission and the sharing of that
information, which is led by Foreign Affairs. However, those are only for those
two specific types of vessels.
Senator Watt: Is there a formal structure that exists today concerning
working relationships between Canada and the United States on this particular
subject matter, such as the Northwest Passage or whatever the nature of the
issue might be?
Mr. Sidock: Senator, that is actually a very complicated subject
because it touches so many areas. I would be far more comfortable if you would
refer that to Foreign Affairs.
Senator Watt: Thank you.
The Chair: You talked about the reporting and you mentioned NORDREG
will be compulsory, and that would apply to ships of 300 tonnes and more.
However, what about the smaller ones? The Berserk II presumed it could
come through again and we would not necessarily know about it or be able to do
anything about it. Is that correct?
Mr. Whitehorne: There is a reporting requirement under the Canadian
Customs Act that they are required to report to CBSA or the RCMP.
The Chair: When they come ashore, but not on the water.
Mr. Whitehorne: That is correct.
The Chair: A ship can come through, on the water, under 300 tonnes and
not report to anyone and transit the Northwest Passage, is that right?
Mr. Whitehorne: That is correct, as far as it goes for Canada Border
The Chair: We may or may not know she is there but, even if we do know
she is there, she does not have to report.
Mr. Roussel: That is correct.
The Chair: That brings us to the end of our questioning and we have
just gone past 12:30. Thank you very much for coming. This is likely the last
session we will have on the Arctic. We do appreciate your coming and being as
frank with us as you can be. We will pursue the matter and deliberate on our