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.

[English]

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 secure.

[Translation]

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 north.

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 analysis.

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.

[English]

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 maritime security.

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 the Arctic.

[Translation]

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.

[English]

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 States.

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 border.

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.

[Translation]

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 Canadians.

[English]

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 may have.

[Translation]

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 seriously.

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 Arctic environment.

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.

[English]

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 federal level.

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 members.

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 capabilities.

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 Security Policy.

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 intergovernmental viewpoints.

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.

[Translation]

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 could happen.

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?

[English]

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 Canadian waters.

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 time.

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 navigation season?

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 operations.

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 challenge.

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 system, availability.

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 regulatory authority.

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 problematic.

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 Arctic.

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 things.

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 our capability.

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 waters.

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 lines.

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 workforce.

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 same person.

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 many years.

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 many.

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 correct?

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 Services Agency.

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 report.

(The committee adjourned.)