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Proceedings of the Special Senate Committee on
Anti-terrorism

Issue 8 - Evidence - Meeting of November 15, 2010


OTTAWA, Monday, November 15, 2010

The Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism met this day at 1 p.m. to examine matters relating to anti- terrorism.

Senator Hugh Segal (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Honourable senators, this is the ninth meeting of the Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism, of the third session of the Fortieth Parliament.

[Translation]

I want to let our witnesses know that we have translation services into English and French, so feel free to use whichever official language you prefer.

[English]

As we await legislation from the House of Commons, we continue our inquiry into the changing nature of the terrorist threat in Canada. Today we have representatives from police forces in three major cities — Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Before we begin, colleagues, I want to point out, as some of you may already know, that the former deputy commissioner of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Jack Hooper, died sadly and tragically of a heart attack at the age of 57. I want the committee's permission, on your behalf, to convey the committee's condolences to the family and our deep and compelling appreciation for the work he did in the defence of Canadians and in support of anti-terrorism activities throughout his distinguished career. If I have your permission, I will proceed accordingly.

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Let me introduce our witnesses for today. From the Vancouver Police Department, we have Inspector Robert Stewart of the criminal intelligence section, CIS. This section focuses intelligence probes on various organized crime groups based on the findings of national, provincial and local threat assessments. In addition to organized crime concerns, CIS works closely with the RCMP and maintains a liaison role with British Columbia Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, E-INSET, in support of their mandate regarding national security investigations. Inspector Stewart joined the Vancouver Police Department in 1977 and is a third-generation Vancouver police officer.

[Translation]

Philippe Pichet, Commander, Montreal Police Force, Counter-terrorism and Emergency Measures Section, Operational Planning Division. Mr. Pichet was born in Montreal and joined the city's police force in 1991. He has a management certificate from the École des hautes études commerciales de Montréal and recently obtained his master's degree from the École nationale d'administration publique.

Robert Chartrand, Chief Inspector, Montreal Police Force. In October 2008, Mr. Chartrand was appointed Chief Inspector and Deputy to the Assistant Director of the Special Investigations Unit of the Montreal Police Force (SPVM). Mr. Chartrand also sits as the SPVM representative on a number of committees, including the provincial committee on the Police Counter-Terrorism Management Structure — Operational Management Cell. He has a master's degree in public administration from ENAP and has received a number of distinctions in the course of his career.

[English]

From the Toronto Police Service, intelligence division, we have Inspector Gordon Sneddon. Inspector Sneddon is a 30-year member of the Toronto Police Service. He has spent the majority of his career in various investigative roles focused on the investigation and management of major criminal investigations. For the past 18 months, he has been seconded to the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, located in Toronto, where he is in charge of operations.

He is accompanied today by Superintendent Tom Fitzgerald, intelligence division. Superintendent Fitzgerald has been a member of the Toronto Police Service for three decades. He has spent the majority of his career in an investigative capacity, primarily in divisional police command. For the past two years, he has been the unit commander of the Toronto Police Service intelligence division.

Gentlemen, we are honoured you made time from your busy schedules to assist us in our deliberations. I will call on our colleagues from Vancouver to make an opening statement.

[Translation]

And we will ask our other colleagues to say a few words before asking questions.

[English]

Robert Stewart, Inspector, Criminal Intelligence Section, Vancouver Police Department: On behalf of the Vancouver Police Department, I thank the committee for the opportunity to speak today about the evolving terrorist threat in Canada and the issues surrounding homegrown violent extremism. Although combating terrorism falls within the prescribed mandates of our national security agencies such as CSIS and the RCMP, I hope to point out the critical role that local law enforcement plays in the overall national security environment.

As I am sure you have heard in previous presentations, the threat environment as it affects Canadians and Canadian interests has evolved over the last 10 years. Although we still need to be concerned about global terrorist cells such as al Qaeda, who has labelled us as one of the crusader countries and thus a viable target, there is growing concern about the possibility of self-radicalized individuals and, in particular, a lone wolf, striking terror from within our borders.

In the former case, where an international terrorist plot requires a high degree of coordination and planning, the chance for interdiction and disruption by authorities has improved greatly over the last few years. In the latter case, this situation may not be the case. The perpetrator of a homegrown terrorist plot may well be a Canadian-born individual with no direct ties to any particular terrorist cell other than to be inspired by their ideology, and due to an inherent understanding of Canadian culture, may remain undetected until the actual attack.

In general, Western societies are aware that the greatest terrorist threat currently stems from violent Islamist extremist ideology, given that most of the attacks since 9/11 have been carried out by young Muslims. The frightening trend is that the perpetrators of these attacks have been citizens or residents of the countries they are targeting, and they are becoming radicalized in their home cities and communities.

There has been much discussion around what causes a seemingly normal member of society to engage in violent extremist behaviour. In February 2009, the RCMP national security criminal investigations community outreach division produced a report called Radicalization — A Guide for the Perplexed. The report discusses, as a probable cause, what it describes as the "single narrative." This is described as the Islamist extremist global message that the world is at war with Islam. One can see then how it may be possible, in the absence of a counter narrative, that disenfranchised youth can develop extremist views that may lead to violent behaviour.

What role does local law enforcement play in keeping our community safe from the evolving threat? One principle of modern day policing goes back to the days of Sir Robert Peel, where he stated that the police are the public and the public are the police. Successful law enforcement agencies adhere to this principle as they strive to attain close ties with the communities they serve.

In the United Kingdom, the British government has developed a national strategy aimed at countering violent extremism. Part of the program is in support of police developing effective relationships with at-risk communities. One philosophy behind the program is a belief that communities themselves will defeat terrorism and that the information needed to uncover and disrupt a terrorist plot will come out of the community through a local police officer.

In Vancouver, we have a number of community-centred programs that are entrenched within our daily deployment. Programs include community policing centres, a hate crimes unit and a domestic violence and criminal harassment unit. We also have direct liaison with the Aboriginal community, the homeless and sex trade workers. Our youth services section is well entrenched within the framework of youth activity in the city and regularly takes a lead in diffusing youth in crisis situations. In addition, we deliver a four-day citizens police academy, where community leaders and business leaders learn about police culture and receive police-related training.

Furthermore, we have a visibly diverse police force that attempts to mirror the communities we serve. Our recruitment efforts are aimed at selecting members from our local communities who bring with them a better understanding of the community issues, which helps foster a healthy relationship with the police.

Regarding the Muslim community specifically, the chief constable has held community leadership meetings that included prominent Muslim leaders from the Metro Vancouver area. Our diversity unit continues to maintain professional relationships with many ethnic and cultural federations and societies. Also, our domestic violence unit delivers presentations on family violence to many ethnic groups, including Muslim women.

Healthy communities have a history of working with the police to keep their communities safe. It is through these partnerships and relationships that we and other government agencies can demonstrate and provide a positive response to the single narrative.

Citizens as a whole have responded well to the number of community police initiatives aimed at protecting their communities. This response is evident by the success of such programs as Block Watch, Citizens' Crime Watch and Crime Stoppers.

We have two programs at the Vancouver Police Department specifically designed to educate the business community on indicators of a terrorist plot: Operation Securus and Project Griffin. The purpose of Operation Securus is to identify, inform and liaise with businesses in the city of Vancouver who provide a service or product that may assist a terrorist or terrorist group in executing an attack. The goal of the program is to protect the critical infrastructure of resources in the city against any terrorist activity.

To that end, identified businesses are approached and asked to participate voluntarily and become partners in our counterterrorism efforts by reporting any suspicious activities or encounters related to their day-to-day operations.

The Chair: Inspector, for example, if someone is in an agriculture supply business and someone purchases a large amount of fertilizer who does not seem to be a normal purchaser of that product, is that the kind of support and advice you are looking for?

Mr. Stewart: That is correct. They know their clientele best. If they spot unusual buying patterns or amounts they find to be suspicious, it probably is suspicious and they would let us know.

Of course, we assist by providing them with information about possible indicators.

Program participants, which are proprietors, operators and their employees, have a wealth of knowledge and experience specific to the business or industry. Right now we currently target eight categories of business: storage facilities, vehicle and craft rentals, hotels, training facilities, chemical labs, bulk fuels, outdoor equipment and supply, and hospitals.

Through Project Griffin, we train private security staff in the business community and reach out to the community as a whole to encourage reporting of any suspicious activity.

In the United States, they are rolling out a national campaign called "If You See Something, Say Something." It was originally implemented by the New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority and is now supported by the Department of Homeland Security. This campaign is billed as a simple and effective program to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats. It emphasizes the importance of reporting suspicious activity to transportation and law enforcement authorities.

In December 1999, the Millennium Bomber Ahmed Ressam stopped in Vancouver where he constructed a bomb that was intended to target the Los Angeles International Airport. Fortunately, Ahmed Ressam was arrested in Washington State as he attempted to enter the United States. Had these types of programs been in place at the time, it can be argued that his plot would have been discovered earlier, given the number of indicators that were evident during his stay at a Vancouver hotel.

Simply put, terrorism is a crime. A terrorist is a criminal and often a murderer. What ultimately sets the terrorist apart from being labelled a criminal lies in the motivation for the crime. A criminal or criminal organization usually commits the crime for personal or financial gains. A terrorist's goal is to bring a strong sense of fear to the community while bringing attention to, and further defending, their cause.

The responsibility of law enforcement at all levels is not only to investigate but, more importantly, to prevent crime to maintain a high level of public safety. The police are required to stop and prevent violent behaviour regardless of the motivation, and assistance from the community is a necessary and valuable tool.

The important role that local law enforcement plays in the national security picture came to light in the commission report by Justice John Major that detailed the findings of the Air India inquiry. At that time, the Air India bombing was the largest act of aviation terrorism in the world prior to 9/11. The report recognized the valuable knowledge that the Vancouver Police Department had in relation to the existence of extremism in the Sikh community. A quote from the report states:

This was particularly true about Sikh extremism in Vancouver, where local police had successfully used a community policing approach to gain access to numerous sources in the Sikh community, from whom they had been able to obtain a wealth of intelligence about Sikh extremist organizations and individuals. . . .

The report also points out that there were challenges and deficiencies with the sharing of information and that there were insufficient networks in place to facilitate the flow of information from frontline officers to the national security entities. The report goes on to suggest that, "had information been officially shared, it might have prevented the destruction of Flight 182."

Today, we continue to work hard at improving the sharing of information among our national security partners. I can attest that Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Michaud is working diligently to ensure that the Vancouver Police Department is kept informed about nationality security issues. However, due to fiscal constraints on the part of the national security program, the ability to pay salary dollars for seconded members to work side by side with the E-INSET personnel is greatly restricted. As a result of our financial situation, our current working relationship is based on a liaison model.

Given that the overarching mandate for national security lies at the federal level, a best practice would be for the federal government to fund a branch office of E-INSET in one of our local facilities to be staffed by both local and federal resources. This branch office would greatly enhance the flow of information between the street and national security criminal investigations. Working closely together helps build the much needed trust that is required to ensure efficient sharing of information that can be vital to a successful multi-agency investigation.

It is the responsibility of our national security agencies to develop effective international networks to ensure the transmission of intelligence necessary to keep Canadians safe from the global threat. I believe that through partnerships with local law enforcement, these federal agencies can enhance our shared responsibility to keep Canadians safe from the real threat of domestic violent extremism.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

[Translation]

Before I ask the representatives from the Montreal police force to make their opening statement, I want to point out that they submitted a brief to the subcommittee. However, it is in English, even though the charter is bilingual.

Do I have permission to hand out the document for the purposes of our discussion and the presentation? The document came in just five minutes ago.

Senator Joyal: You are putting me in a very difficult position. I think our witnesses are familiar with the requirements of the Official Languages Act. Documents must be submitted in both official languages.

The Chair: There is some text in English and some text in French, but there are not separate presentations in each language. There is only one version of the presentation that incorporates both languages.

Senator Joyal: If the same document incorporates both languages, that is fine.

The Chair: Thank you very much

[English]

I will ask the clerk to distribute the documents to our colleagues in the committee.

[Translation]

I will now ask our witnesses from Montreal to give their presentation.

Robert Chartrand, Chief Inspector, Service de police de la Ville de Montréal: Mr. Chair, I want to begin by outlining the key events that led the force to take action against terrorist attacks in Montreal and Quebec. And I will explain how the Montreal police force works to combat terrorism. You have our presentation in front of you.

On December 6, 2004, a bomb damaged a hydro tower in Coaticook, a small town in the Eastern Townships, just outside of Montreal, following President Bush's visit to Canada on November 30, 2004. The admitted goal of the group responsible was to damage the Radisson-Nicolet-des-Cantons power line, which supplies New England and Boston with power. It was a way for them to express their disapproval of American imperialism.

Two years later, on August 8, 2006, the vehicle of the vice-president of the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute exploded in front of his home. Again, the explosion was purported to be an act of retaliation against the oil cartel and the exploitation of the public.

More recently, this past summer, on July 1, 2010, a federal building in Trois-Rivières was the target of a bombing. Fortunately, no one was injured.

After carrying out various intelligence measures and communicating with partners, we learned a number of things. For the past few years, the Police Counter-Terrorism Management Structure, which brings together Quebec's three main police forces — Sûreté du Québec, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Montreal police force — has been sharing all intelligence. The action plan has three parts.

The first part focuses on the response. In other words, whenever an attack or an event occurs, it is immediately followed by an operational deployment.

Next, an investigation is conducted to determine the reasons behind the incident and, if possible, make arrests.

Since its creation, and in light of these three major events, the Police Counter-Terrorism Management Structure, along with our force, has used every means at its disposal to gain insight into the acts and, above all, to arrest those responsible.

According to our analysis, these three events all seem to point to a reality specific to Montreal. Apparently, a small group of anarchists has formed a close attachment with the student community, enabling the group to find funding and recruit sympathizers. These activities generally take place in settings where students are involved in politics. Political science and social science students are especially targeted by these groups.

These groups make the police's job easier when they choose to protest in the streets. For example, every year since 2005, about 300 to 500 people have gathered in the streets of Montreal to protest against police brutality.

Since then, the Montreal police force has been able to make more than 400 arrests and to gather a significant amount of intelligence from within these groups. That figure says a lot about how diverse those who participate in this event are. The number of participants varies from year to year, which makes our job harder. Nevertheless, the information sharing that goes on between the three major police agencies gives us a lot more insight into this world.

What concerns do we have right now regarding the future and dangerous elements? Obviously, these people have some skill in making explosives. We saw evidence of that during the G20 Summit in Toronto, where people from Quebec, from Montreal, were arrested for having Molotov cocktails in their possession. So they have the capacity to get their message out using violence.

On the island of Montreal, our police vehicles are very often the target of graffiti and vandalism, both inside and out, as are our buildings; so we have put preventative strategies in place, such as cameras and undercover officers. That gives us the ability to get closer to these groups.

Obviously, the various demonstrations organized by groups to protest against police brutality put a drain on police resources. My colleague mentioned it earlier, the more costly and the larger the event, the harder we have to work to control the situation. Once again, partnerships play an important role at the national and provincial levels.

The underlying principle of these groups and coalitions is the rejection of authority in organized society. Under the doctrine of anarchism, the purpose of rejecting all government control is to create a society without domination, where individuals manage themselves through voluntary cooperation.

A great many people on the island subscribe to that philosophy. On June 9, 2010, for instance, a man in his fifties was arrested for an attack aimed at John Abbott College. So whenever a response is required, both the RCMP and Sûreté du Québec are notified, and that way, we are able to develop effective tools to deal with future activities.

As we speak, we are working on a joint management and co-location initiative to coordinate the intelligence efforts of Montreal's three major police agencies. Then we will be even more equipped to further penetrate this world through the collective sharing of key information.

If a terrorist act were to happen in Montreal, or Quebec, the structure would be deployed, making it possible to draw on the resources of the three major agencies.

If something more serious were to occur in Montreal, we also have a structure in place to respond very quickly, both in the heart of the city or on the outskirts. I will let Inspector Pichet explain that to you.

Philippe Pichet, Commander, Service de police de la Ville de Montréal: I am in charge of the response component. My unit determines how to coordinate the efforts of our troops with those of the other first responder groups on the island of Montreal, in terms of how we should proceed to foster a more integrated response and to achieve interoperability with the various organizations involved.

Keep in mind that Bill 19, respecting the organization of police services in Quebec, confers the responsibility of providing the response in the event of a terrorist attack within Quebec's borders to the Montreal police force.

My colleague talked about the Police Counter-Terrorism Management Structure, which is involved in intelligence and investigation, on one hand, and response measures, on the other.

I am going to talk about how we provide that response in Montreal, not only in coordination with the other police forces, but also in partnership with paramedics, firefighters and other stakeholders.

When I use the word "response," I am of course referring to readiness. We have various rules for intervention; we come up with methods to help our officers respond appropriately to a terrorist incident. We focus a great deal on the CBRN dimension.

As you will recall, Tokyo was the target of sarin gas attacks in 1995. In 1998, we received calls regarding a bomb and chemical threat in a Montreal subway station. Large numbers of police officers, firefighters, paramedics and city public health officials were called in. Everyone did their own job on their respective end. Bear in mind, we were not used to dealing with events of that nature. Our explosives technicians are used to handling explosive packages, but they are not equipped to handle chemical threats. Our firefighters have that capability, but they cannot deal with explosive packages.

A few things happened that year, prompting the people in our organizations to come together and form the Montreal counter-terrorism advisory committee, which is covered on the second page of the presentation.

The committee was formed on September 25, 1998, so three years before the 9/11 attacks. At the top, you can see the SPVM and the logos of the various agencies. There are about 11 in all. The committee is headed by the police force because we are talking about criminal acts. To the right, you will see the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Sûreté du Québec and the Canadian Forces, because in terms of capacity, we are still a municipal police force, and the response required to deal with, say, a chemical or radiological attack would quickly exceed our capacity, and we may have to rely on the armed forces.

Further down, you have the fire department, Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal. Earlier, I mentioned chemical, biological and radiological attacks, and these people are the experts; they have teams trained in the management of hazardous materials. So they are involved.

The Chair: Pardon me, but those groups are specially trained in that area?

Mr. Pichet: Hazardous materials, they have haz-mat teams.

Lower down, you have Urgences-santé Québec, the ambulance service that provides paramedical services on the island of Montreal. Next you have the STM. Why is the STM there? We are very aware that public transit is an easy target for terrorists. So since those first events occurred in a subway station, we included the city's transit commission, the Société de transport de Montréal. You should also note that we use buses in our decontamination procedure.

Then you have the city of Montreal's civil protection authority, the Centre de sécurité civile, which is responsible for consequence management. You also have the province's civil protection authority. Finally, you have the city's health and social services agency, the Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal, which is responsible for coordinating all hospitals on the island of Montreal and includes the public health branch, the Direction de la santé publique. So we have doctors on our committee who are specialists in radiological, chemical and biological materials. When it comes time to establish the rules for intervention, having doctors at the table goes a long way. That is the committee, as it was formed in 1998. I will say that it may not have been easy in the beginning, but now that the committee has been around for 12 years, we have built relationships based on trust, and working together is easier. In the event of a terrorist incident, all the stakeholders would deploy resources to advise the commander on the scene.

I mentioned the rules for intervention. The committee established rules for intervention, and they were reviewed this year. We are in the midst of completing the process. In the event of a chemical incident, for instance, all the organizations would be included in the same response protocol. So each organization has a small part to play. Despite having different missions, we all share the same objective in the end: to better respond to the incident in question.

We also put a lot of focus on training, in other words, how to train our people, from the police officers to the first respondents, what equipment we should be buying and so forth. After 2001, considerable amounts of money were available, and a lot of equipment was purchased at that time. But progress is always being made, so we need to make sure that we always have the best equipment at our disposal.

And, of course, we do simulations, tabletop exercises and communications exercises. We carried out a full-fledged deployment exercise, called Métropole 2005, somewhat similar to what they did in Vancouver with TRANSGUARD I just before the Olympic games.

I will come back to that before I move on to the next slide, but essentially, we got to know one another over time. What is important to understand is that each organization has its own mission, and what the committee brought to the table was ensuring that all the organizations were able to carry out their respective missions while working towards the common goal.

I come back to the provincial structure on the next page. You can see there is a synthesis. On one hand, you have the intelligence and investigation component, and on the other, you have the response. The way we, in Montreal, provide that response is through CAAM, the counterterrorism advisory committee of Montreal. That is how we do it, because we feel interoperability is critical from a response standpoint.

The last page shows Montreal's civil protection plan. Quebec has a civil protection act, and those stakeholders are involved in managing the consequences. You have the incident and the scene. The scene itself requires management, but that gives rise to many other challenges, so the civil protection authority, in terms of the emergency response coordination centre, is responsible for managing the consequences in the event of a terrorist incident.

Before I finish, I just want to say that I usually give this presentation in an hour, but I cut it down for the purposes of the committee. Basically, what we are really trying to achieve is interoperability.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

[English]

I will now ask our colleagues from Toronto to give us their overview of the challenge.

Gordon Sneddon, Inspector, Intelligence Division, Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, Toronto Police Service: On behalf of Chief William Blair and the Toronto Police Service, I thank the committee for inviting us to speak and to keep issues related to terrorism on the minds of all Canadians.

You already heard of my background, but I want to reinforce that for the past 18 months I have had the opportunity to work at the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, INSET, within Toronto, where I am the inspector in charge of operations.

Turning to threat environment and radicalization, I echo the sentiment of the previous witnesses from the RCMP and CSIS. The threat of terrorism to Canadians is real, fluid and ever-evolving. Al Qaeda and those inspired by al Qaeda remain a significant threat to Canadians at home and abroad. The conviction of the key members of the Toronto 18 should act as a wakeup call to those who question the extent of al Qaeda's inspiration and the existence of domestic radicalization in our communities. We should never lose sight of the fact that, had this group been successful in their plan, the loss of life and damage to property in Toronto and elsewhere would have been catastrophic.

An additional concern that increases the threat level has been in the reduction in the length of time or window of opportunity necessary to take an attack from conception to execution. For example, the planning and final execution of the September 11, 2001 attacks took several years. The reality today is that attacks are planned and executed over a much smaller window of time. Recent documents distributed by al Qaeda via the Internet have advocated just that approach and given detailed direction and continued encouragement to those who may be contemplating such actions. This reduced window of opportunity drastically increases the pressure on law enforcement and security officials to prevent, detect and investigate criminal acts of terrorism as early as possible.

Going from global to local, Toronto is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. While this diversity has strengthened the city, it attracts some with loyalties that extend well beyond simply cheering for the soccer team of their birth country. Frequently, what happens a world away has an immediate ripple effect on the streets of Toronto. In fact, many global events have elicited local reactions. As an example, the decimation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, LTTE — an illicit entity in Canada — by the Sri Lankan government resulted in weeks of protest by LTTE supporters, many of whom showed open support of the terrorist group.

Of great concern to us is the current situation in Somalia and the impact of the global call-out for foreign fighters by the terrorist group al-Shabaab. The response by some Somali youth to answer this global call for support has shed light on the existence of radicalization in the U.S., and may offer insight into the extent of radicalization in Canada, particularly within our local Somali community.

The Toronto Police Service, like all municipal police services, provides first response policing services through its community. Our officers are often at the front line in the prevention of, and response to, criminal acts of terrorism. That first response also provides us with the opportunity at an early stage to detect, prevent, interrupt and interdict those who may be inclined to involve themselves, or are thinking of involving themselves, in such activity.

Being intelligence-led allows us to be proactive as opposed to reactive; in the fight against terrorism, being reactive equates to failure. The Toronto Police Service has taken a multifaceted approach to fighting terrorism and other crimes. It is recognized universally throughout the police service that only through the support and trust of the public can the police effectively combat crime, including terrorism.

The notion that the police are the public and the public are the police, espoused by Sir Robert Peel 150 years ago, is as true today as it was then. Every day, all the officers and civilian staff of the Toronto Police Service are engaged in efforts at developing, building and maintaining the public's trust.

Specific efforts I can point you toward are the work of the community mobilization unit, the local divisional community police liaison committees, the chief's advisory council, the chief's youth advisory committee, the work of the community consultative committee serving the needs of many communities within Toronto and the newcomer outreach program.

A focus on the community consultative process allows the Toronto Police Service to create meaningful partnerships with all our communities. The Toronto Police Service is, and continues to make efforts to be, reflective of the community it services and consequently, it actively recruits in areas where there is need to increase representation.

While our work to achieve a diverse workforce continues, we have made considerable strides in achieving that goal. In fact, since 2008, the Toronto Police Service has been selected consistently as one of Canada's best diversity employers.

Increasing our diversity has strengthened our police service while providing another avenue for building trust with our community partners, thus increasing our capacity to fight terrorism.

As I have mentioned, the Toronto Police Service is a contributing partner on the RCMP-led Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, INSET. As you have been told previously by other witnesses, there are four INSETs in Canada located in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa. Through the INSET framework, the Toronto Police Service formed part of the joint management team, actively assisting in the investigation of terrorism-related offences as well as collecting, analyzing and sharing national security-related information and intelligence among its partners.

Specifically related to terrorism, the Toronto Police Service continues to meet with community leaders and members to discuss issues related to terrorism and radicalization. I stress that these discussions on radicalization are in the early stages, but they are actively ongoing.

The conviction of those involved in the Toronto 18 case has brought renewed recognition and acceptance by some in the Muslim community who, prior to the convictions being registered, had expressed a sense of denial or disbelief.

Additionally, the Toronto Police Service has made enhancements and improvements over the past few years to its intelligence-gathering process, placing emphasis on becoming truly intelligence-led in policing and developing a capacity to predict, prevent and interrupt all crimes before they take place, including terrorism.

In the absence of prevention, vigorous enforcement of all laws against those who seek to carry out terrorist acts is an effective way to proceed.

I will identify three areas of concern and consideration for possible legislative change for your consideration. The first concern is the intelligence-to-evidence debate. The Toronto Police Service enjoys an excellent relationship with the RCMP, CSIS and all Canadian law enforcement agencies. However, as a police agency, our ability to make full use of intelligence is limited and conflicted as a result of the obligations of the Crown to make full disclosure in a criminal trial. The obligations of disclosure, when balanced against the need to protect sources, origins and techniques used to obtain that intelligence, present difficulties for the police, and I would suggest, CSIS and the court. The exceptions to the obligation to disclose are limited and, of course, legitimately subject to argument at trial. The Canada Evidence Act provides some measure of comfort, but is subject to argument and the decision of an individual court. Frequently, that argument and decision places CSIS information at risk with the prospect of a CSIS officer testifying in court, which until recently had been an unusual occurrence.

Consideration needs to be given to gathering intelligence from the outset, with the eye on the problem of how to turn information into admissible evidence in court at some point in the future.

CSIS, in its intelligence-gathering role, with increasing frequency shows an interest in people under active criminal investigation. That interest raises the prospect of two domestic agencies — CSIS and the police — gathering information or evidence independently, with the prospect of one of the two agencies not recognizing the significance of a piece of information that one may have that may be crucial to the other. Even with regular de-confliction between CSIS and the police, the potential for a gap to exist is real and unacceptable. This complex area is not unique to Canada and is one that, as a police officer involved in investigations and matters relating to national security, provides me with a strong sense of discomfort.

The second area that warrants a closer look relates to the open display or support of an illicit entity or terrorist group. The current anti-terrorism sections of the Criminal Code do not address this area. While respecting the Charter rights of Canadians, particularly freedom of speech and expression, during the demonstrations held in both Toronto and Ottawa in 2009 many witnessed frequent and open support for the illicit entity terrorist group. It became commonplace to see hundreds of LTTE supporters waving flags and wearing clothing that was supportive of the terrorist group, both on Parliament Hill and on the streets of Toronto. The United Kingdom addresses this issue by creating the offence of belonging to a proscribed group or wearing clothing that arouses suspicion that one is a member or supporter of the proscribed organization.

The final area of concern is when people depart from Canada. Monitoring the movement of Canadians and others as they leave Canada is a contentious issue. However, recent terrorism investigations into people leaving Canada to go overseas and fight with a terrorist group or to receive training in countries that support terrorism have been hampered by our inability to track when and where an individual left Canada. While the Canada Border Services Agency, CBSA, is responsible for managing the access of people and goods to and from Canada, it does not track people exiting Canada as others jurisdictions do.

In conclusion, the Toronto Police Service, along with its law enforcement and security partners, is actively engaged in investigating criminal acts of terrorism. While much work needs to be done with respect to understanding radicalization and the extent to which it occurs in the affected communities, the Toronto Police Service is committed to engaging its citizens on terrorism-related issues and seeks to empower its citizens through education and other consultative processes.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We have several senators who have expressed interest in posing questions. I will invite Senator Joyal from Quebec to pose a question.

Senator Joyal: Welcome, gentlemen. My first question is in relation to an incident that happened less than two weeks ago and one about which the Canadian public was generally informed, namely, the package that was sent to Canada from Yemen. What did you do when you learned about it? Were you privy to that information before President Obama went on air to inform Americans that it was coming? What did you do? Did it trigger reaction on the part of your services or did you say that it did not happen so we were safe that day?

[Translation]

I could have put the question to Mr. Chartrand because the plane was supposed to land in Montreal. What happens in a case like that? I imagine that those watching are probably wondering the same thing. What is the reaction when that kind of news is broadcast and when Canada is exposed not to a risk that emanates from a local anarchist group but to one that comes from outside the country, one that has the potential to cause major damage within the country?

Mr. Chartrand: For years, prior to the attacks on New York, North America, as a whole, never saw itself as the target of an attack. Never did it imagine that a threat could cross the ocean and target it. From that point forward, groups joined forces and became organized. Massive amounts of money were spent on the two airports, especially to control access and entry to the country. Despite all that, we realized that there were still vulnerabilities at the border; groups are at work within our borders. That is very clear.

An area where we were weak, on which we did not really have a solid grasp, was private freight transportation; that was somewhat overlooked in our oversight efforts. Obviously, as a result of that incident, we have taken swift action in terms of agreements and companies that can fall through the cracks. We realized that we still had work to do, that is for sure.

[English]

Senator Joyal: I invite your colleagues to answer also. I have additional questions as well.

Mr. Sneddon: As it relates to the specific response, obviously that happened quickly and came about unexpectedly. No real intelligence led up to it. An active criminal investigation commenced that included all partners conducting their own investigation, including CSIS, for example, liaising with CBSA and Transport Canada to ensure that Canadians were safe; ensuring that appropriate steps were taken for any future packages; and monitoring the sharing of information to ensure that it was taking place broadly with all the government agencies so that those in power to make the decisions could make the right decisions and be fully informed.

Senator Joyal: Perhaps Mr. Stewart can answer as well.

Mr. Stewart: In that case the federal authorities made sure that the correct news releases were in place so that the public knew what was happening in respect to issues involving Canada.

From the police perspective, we received a communiqué from criminal intelligence investigations almost immediately saying that there was nothing directly involved with Canada at that point in terms of any additional information that we needed to be concerned about.

From the local department perspective, first, we looked internally to see if we had any intelligence on our books that might relate to that case. We did not, but, again, it is everyone's responsibility to look at their own databases and what they know about similar modus operandi and if they have something to share about that case.

Senator Joyal: Mr. Chartrand told us that you can coordinate once the incident has happened, but how do you coordinate before the incident happens? I think Inspector Sneddon alluded to that coordination with CSIS. Each entity watches their realm of information. CSIS has information, the RCMP has information, and the Ontario Provincial Police department may have information.

[Translation]

Sûreté du Québec has information. How do you share information to prevent an incident? Are you each more or less left to your own devices before an incident happens? In that case, you are much more likely to react to an incident rather than prevent it. What kind of coordination is there in terms of sharing information to prevent incidents like the ones you described?

[English]

The Chair: I will add to that gathering evidence, gathering intelligence and prosecuting the bad guys. Everyone understands that. However, when there is opportunity for a lawful interruption of an activity before it takes lives — and, I take it that is Senator Joyal's question — that implies a measure of coordination and cooperation on a preventive basis.

Are you able to share from your perspective how you think that coordination and cooperation is operating; whether it is at an optimum level or whether it can be improved? Feel free to comment on the federal agencies and whether they are sharing the information that you need to protect the public on a real-time basis.

[Translation]

They share with you the information you need to protect the public.

Mr. Chartrand: There are no borders when it comes to the flow of information, be it in Europe, Asia or North America. More and more, people are communicating with one another. In this case, specifically, I think a gap originated at the cargo shipping level, and as far as I know, there were no explosives. It opened up an opportunity for use, but there were no explosives. If there had been, would we have been able to counter that shipment? We are asking ourselves that.

The coordination of intelligence happened both domestically and abroad; Interpol was involved, as were various sources of information on different continents. So in that respect, as soon as you have a threat, the information is communicated and shared. Our lines of communication are very viable and functional.

In this case, specifically, the private transportation of cargo is an area we have not examined. Fortunately, there was no explosion. Of course, each time ill intentions manifest in some unique way, we, too, continue to learn about new approaches, as we did with the New York attacks. In this case, we were not able to anticipate the incident, but that is less and less frequent.

Senator Joyal: As for my second question, how do you share information to prevent potential incidents if you do not have access to information on certain groups or individuals that CISIS, for example, is monitoring, or if the RCMP does not share with you how it can manage information it has obtained through Internet communications and so forth?

How can you be effective under those circumstances?

[English]

As Inspector Sneddon has said, they want to protect their source because they are afraid that if they go to court, they will be compelled to disclose; and with that fear, there is a tendency to keep the information for oneself. In my opinion, unless I am badly informed, I think this point is where we are weak in the exchange of information that you described in your chart as being from one to the other.

[Translation]

Mr. Chartrand: It is also important not to discount the public's participation in terms of groups or individuals who decide to rent an apartment or space that seems unusual. A lot of information that police forces have comes from the public. Obviously, between when an arrest is made and when there is an obligation to identify a complainant or the person providing the information, the important thing for us is still to forestall the potential for violence. Not everyone is charged. But one thing is certain: there are a lot more interventions than what you read about in the paper. So there is no doubt that the public provides information that is highly useful and that often goes unmeasured in terms of the percentage it represents. That is another way that we obtain important intelligence.

[English]

The Chair: I know Senator Tkachuk wants to ask a small supplementary question.

Senator Tkachuk: Senator Joyal asked an interesting question and I am not sure if we have an answer to it yet.

When they were searching that airplane in the United States and there was a suspicion that there were explosives on board, what were the Canadian police forces doing? They did not have any information ahead of time either; it was a big surprise to them. Was any action taken directly by the Canadian Forces that day or night with the packaging coming in from Yemen, the United Arab Emirates or other Middle East countries?

[Translation]

Mr. Pichet: I understand your question. If you look at the sheet we handed out, the biggest one, you will see a box in the top right corner referring to the strategic cooperation intelligence committee. A lot of intelligence goes through them. In this particular case, my intelligence division is responsible for gathering that information, which it receives from our federal and provincial partners. Sûreté du Québec also works with people in the U.S. If a specific intervention had been necessary that day, at the Montréal-Trudeau airport, for example — which was not the case because there was no real threat to Canada — the intelligence would have been covered by our provincial structure.

An intelligence committee brings together the three intelligence divisions of Montreal, the RCMP and Sûreté du Québec. If the information comes from Montreal, we share it with our colleagues. If it comes from our colleagues, they share it with us. And if we need to use that information or intelligence to carry out specific interventions in terms of prevention, the intelligence component communicates with the response component, so we can take tangible action, such as searching more passengers or tightening up security by posting more police officers. But everything is communicated under that structure.

We also work with the RCMP in terms of a program to report suspicious incidents, and we notify partners through an information-sharing mechanism. If a transport company, such as the Société de transport de Montréal, notices something suspicious anywhere on its premises, it communicates that information, which will make its way to the appropriate police authority, so not just the Montreal police force, but also the RCMP and Sûreté du Québec. That is how the committee, which meets regularly, shares information.

That brings me back to suspicious UPS or FedEx packages. As soon as that kind of incident happens, the media pick it up and give it widespread coverage. That, in turn, makes our partners insecure and they want information. The intelligence division gives me information, which I can then use to reassure my partners if nothing materializes.

But if action is necessary, we will all intervene together. If prevention measures are needed, we will take them. But information flows much better than it did before because it is no longer isolated in the hands of a particular organization and can be found in the same place. So information sharing happens more easily.

Senator Joyal: Is there a connection between organized crime and individuals or groups who, in your opinion, pose a threat to Canadians in terms of possible terrorist initiatives?

Mr. Chartrand: We see more and more criminal activities such as fraud and data retrieval via the Internet being used to obtain funding for terrorist activities, and that is extremely detrimental. That is clear.

[English]

The Chair: Can I ask our colleagues from Vancouver and Toronto whether they care to respond to the question about the link between terrorist organizations and traditional organized crime? I know there have been concerns on the contraband tobacco side, for example, about investing from some of these terrorist organizations. Is there any light you care to shed for us on that question from Senator Joyal?

Mr. Stewart: Is there a link? I think there definitely can be, because organized crime is in the business to make money. That is what organized crime is all about, whether it is the drug trade, fraud, counterfeit products or whatever. There is a lot of money to be made. In every investigation into organized crime, it is prudent to make that probe to see where the money is going, whether it is financing terrorism overseas or around the country.

Without going into specific situations, we have seen this happen before, to varying degrees. All I suggest is that when you target organized crime, the investigators would be prudent to continue to monitor where those funds go. Organized crime is a huge source of money that any organization would not overlook in terms of a viable way to fund an operation, including a terrorist cell.

Mr. Sneddon: I agree. The Toronto experience has been in relation particularly to the LTTE; the amount of fraudulent activity committed by supporters of that particular terrorist group, and then the funnelling of those funds back to Sri Lanka. Of course, that is where we run into difficulty, because we have no way of establishing what the end product is, where the money goes and what the money is used for. Ultimately, that is what a court must determine, and that is where the difficulty arises in the evidence collection process.

The amount of money funnelled through that community is enormous. We are all well aware of previous investigations where large amounts of money have been funnelled to support the terrorist group. It would be naive to think that there are not elements of organized crime from within that community who are doing that, almost like a split ideology, where so much of the money goes to support the terrorist group and the rest goes to line their pockets.

The Chair: You made a recommendation about possible statutory activity that we might undertake around not having any association with terrorist groups. We now have legislation, as colleagues know, with regard to motorcycle gangs. Not only can they not be a member of any of those designated gangs, but they cannot be their accountant or rent space to them. Those associations are all potential criminal violations.

Are you suggesting essentially that we would be wise to consider, relative to the named terrorist groups on the official list, a similar criminal interdiction about any association demonstrating on behalf of those groups or wearing clothes that identify them, as the British have done?

In your view, are you saying that your preventive job would be easier if we had a specific criminal interdiction for that kind of activity?

Mr. Sneddon: That is exactly what I am saying.

The Chair: Thank you.

Senator Furey: Thank you, gentlemen, for coming today.

Inspector Stewart, you talked about cooperation. If we put aside the issue of evidence gathering, or information gathering and the information becoming evidence, is there willingness among organizations like CSIS, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, provincial police forces and municipal police forces to share information?

Mr. Stewart: I will say yes there is. What stands in the way, though, is there is often not a proper structure in place to make the information sharing happen. There can be policy issues from each agency that make it difficult to share information.

A structure needs to be put in place to facilitate the sharing of information. In my experience as a police officer over the years, I can remember in the 1980s and 1990s where I might have said "no" to that question. However, today there is a huge willingness to share information, but we struggle with how to share it and make it efficient and effective.

The Chair: With respect to Vancouver and the remarkable job all the police forces, supported by the Armed Forces and others, performed on that security operation for the Olympics, was there a horizontal body where the senior officers for the various groups in theatre, in situ, shared data on a real-time, situation-room basis so you all felt you had the data necessary, day by day, to react as constructively as you did?

Mr. Stewart: Yes, it was called the Joint Intelligence Group. We had the Joint Intelligence Group operations centre that was staffed with all those agencies — the RCMP, CSIS, military, local agencies — in an operational centre that was running 24/7. Anything that happened, or any request for information, was immediate and the response was immediate, and it was shared amongst everyone in that centre. It worked well because, again, that structure was in place to make that sharing happen.

The Chair: Are you saying, in answer to Senator Furey's question, that operational coherence and intelligence sharing does not now exist, in the absence of a special event of some sort, for which people are preparing?

Mr. Stewart: I do not say it does not exist, but it certainly can be improved upon. We know, for example, in Vancouver, as was mentioned earlier, we have the liaison position with our intelligence unit to work with the RCMP INSET. We are invited to a weekly briefing in that sense.

To share intelligence, however, a critical piece is trust between the agencies. I do not believe we can build that trust unless we are working side by side on a regular basis. When the event occurs, if we do not have the trust, we are behind the eight ball. We need it ahead of time, we need the structure in place, and we need to build that trust and be working side by side on a variety of issues. When intelligence comes in or needs to be shared efficiently, effectively and immediately, that structure and trust is in place and we can move forward. I think there is willingness in the police community in this country to share information. It is a matter of building the right types of units and centres, if you will, or operational centres, whatever it takes. It will take more study to ensure we find the best way to do it, but we need to build the structure of sharing information.

Senator Jaffer: You have spoken about structures. You said the Olympics worked because — if I understood you correctly — there was a structure in place. Are you talking about a structure like the one used in the Olympics, where you work together on a regular basis? Also, do you look at this structure as being a structure set by the federal government?

Mr. Stewart: Leadership from the federal government, especially in terms of national security, is paramount and must happen. The federal government must show that type of leadership and make it happen.

In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security is providing that structure by developing 72 fusion centres throughout the country. The idea of those centres is to bring local, state, national and tribal police forces and agencies together into one area to share information. With each person they have the database of that person's agency, which is critically important. That structure is now in place to share.

Again, at the end of the day, it depends on how well the groups get along, but that is where that trust needs to be built. That is what I am talking about, the structure in place where we have the people with their databases in place in a common environment to build an intelligence-sharing environment.

Senator Furey: I am interested in your views, gentlemen, on the Internet. The vast majority of witnesses who came before us, when asked about the Internet, expressed concern about it being used as a communications tool, a tool for disseminating information, a tool for proselytizing new recruits.

When asked about it being used as a tool for wreaking havoc, for disrupting governments, institutions, like hospitals and banking institutions, et cetera, they did not see the Internet as a way that terrorists can create a lot of havoc in society. Do you think they are missing the boat here or do you think there should be more concern about the use of the Internet as a terrorist instrument?

Mr. Sneddon: I think cybercrime in particular is something we have to be concerned about and pay strong attention to. Not to speak on their behalf, but the leader in that regard is probably CSIS. That is the first point of contact to look for elements of that cybercrime happening, either in Canada or abroad, and taking steps to interrupt it.

It is a concern, because the point you raise of someone being able to access the networks of a government, banking institution or a large corporation could have a devastating effect on the country.

Mr. Stewart: In addition to those types of institutions, major critical infrastructure is controlled electronically. Our dam system, hydroelectricity and all that, if someone hacks into those systems it will cause disruption to the security of the country by shutting down the power grid and things like that. That can be done through hackers and destroying the critical infrastructure controls. There is a concern with that too.

Senator Furey: Commander Pichet, looking at your chart — and I am glad to hear you have had simulation exercises — how does it work? The protocol in terms of who is in charge, do all the agencies fall into line in terms of who calls the shots, and does the protocol work well?

[Translation]

Mr. Pichet: In fact, the Montreal police force is responsible for the committee. It meets twice a month to share information on what is happening. Everyone is kept informed of what is happening, and tendencies are studied. There is a member of our organization who looks at what is happening around the world and analyzes the various practices.

We meet twice a month, and if you are talking about a chemical intervention, health experts, firefighters and a police officer are in attendance, and they are responsible for adapting a chemical intervention protocol.

In terms of each member's specific expertise, keep in mind that the goal is to develop protocols that target interoperability. Just like the health experts and police, firefighters are very involved, and they serve as experts, as explosives technicians, and as forensic technicians.

At the beginning of each year, the committee outlines a work plan for the entire year. Once again, the committee meets twice a month under statutory requirements. Two years ago, we did a capacity study. At the federal level, the CBRN Research and Technology Initiative imported a DHS model.

We used the model to carry out a capacity study on our level of readiness. We were able to assess the situation and establish a work plan for the years ahead. And we carry out our activities in accordance with that plan.

Developments in terms of terrorist activities happen very quickly, and that is why the committee must continue its work and remain active.

[English]

Senator Furey: However, in a crisis situation, a committee cannot be making decisions. Someone has to take charge. What is your protocol? Who is the boss, who calls the shots, who deploys the various agencies in terms of an assessment of what is going wrong?

[Translation]

Mr. Pichet: We have an operating procedure at the Montreal police force. If something happens, be it an envelope containing suspicious powder or a larger scale terrorist incident, I am the commander on the scene. I am deployed to the scene, in the capacity of joint commander, and the committee advises me. However, I agree with you in that the committee cannot make the decisions. When an incident or a crisis occurs, you need someone in charge. I am the scene commander, of course, supported by our command centre. There is a higher authority calling the shots at the headquarters level, but I am in charge of operations on the scene.

Senator Joyal: When the incident happened involving the package from Yemen, did you call on someone in your team to determine whether there were other countries on the same track as Yemen? In other words, countries where terrorist activities are on the rise? Should we not be trying to figure out whether there are planes from other countries that could also be carrying similar packages, packages that could do considerable harm, in terms of either passengers or crew members, or even when the plane lands? In other words, have you rung the bell to bring everyone together in an effort to figure out where we stand in terms of similar risks from other countries?

Mr. Pichet: Again, it all comes back to this: I rely heavily on what my intelligence people tell me. When I say intelligence people, I mean people on the inside, on the Montreal team, and those in our provincial structure. As far as the response goes, I am quick to communicate with the person in charge at the airport because the incident involved aircraft carrying cargo. I am in contact with the people at the airport. Our commander in charge at the airport is in contact with airport security, as well as carriers. In this instance, there was no reason to step up our efforts or proceed differently. The intelligence did not suggest that we should consider Montreal a potential target for other packages. If that had been the case, communication with the airport would have been established quickly. If it had been necessary, in Montreal, we would have kept planes on the tarmac and inspected packages one by one; we would have done that because we were already in contact with those in charge. What do I do? I call the person in my force who is responsible at the airport, who in turn is in contact with the airport employees involved in that kind of situation.

The Chair: If I recall correctly, the Canadian Forces escorted an aircraft from the region through Canadian airspace until it entered U.S. airspace, at which point the American air force was waiting to help with the aircraft. I would imagine that you were aware of that incident, and that it was handled as you described.

Mr. Pichet: We were aware, but it is important to bear in mind the speed at which information travels nowadays. As soon as the information is received — or sometimes shortly afterward — it is available on the Internet or on television. It is extremely fast.

[English]

Senator Marshall: I will start with a question for Inspector Stewart because he mentioned community involvement in his opening remarks but I am interested in hearing the views of all witnesses. You were talking about how you cannot fight terrorism on your own. You do have to depend on the community, and you spoke about outreach programs and approaching different groups. You also mentioned that certain suppliers have been identified that are considered high risk and how they are asked to report suspicious activities. Can you speak about your experience with regard to the uptake by the community and whether there is a general receptiveness or reluctance to working with the police? How successful has the interaction with the community been?

Mr. Stewart: Our experience in Vancouver and probably in all major cities across Canada generally speaking is very good, very healthy. It is by exception that we have these issues that we are talking about today. The communities understand that the police are there to protect them. They understand there needs to be a positive working relationship. As I mentioned earlier, the programs we have in place are healthy, like Block Watch, which is a program where we train a block captain on how to take care of their neighbourhood. They enlist people in that block to help them report on suspicious things, and we inform them of activity that could come to their neighbourhood. They see a great benefit to that. It has been healthy.

In terms of visible minorities, our department hires visible minorities as well. I think 20 per cent of our department is classified as visible minorities; 25 per cent of our department is female. We look like the community itself, and so interacting with the community is what we do. It is facilitated by looking like the community.

They understand that, in terms of public safety issues, we will inform them if there is a public safety issue. We recently had gang shootings in Vancouver that we were concerned about, gang activity on a certain weekend, so we made a public statement about it. It was risky to make that statement; it might raise the level of fear in some people, but it was something we needed to do. The community responded well to it.

Senator Marshall: Is there much reluctance to becoming involved? Do they not want to become involved or sense a risk if they do?

Mr. Stewart: Generally speaking, people will always be a little reluctant to give evidence in court, which is why Crime Stoppers is such a valuable program. We receive lots of information through Crime Stoppers; it is anonymous.

For much of our information, they will not necessarily be required to give evidence in court. In making contacts with the community, I am not talking about developing sources, a clandestine picture. I am talking about knowing the shop owners and the people who work in the community, the people who come to our community for entertainment purposes, people who tell us about things that are happening with the people around them. They might know someone. We take that information and look into it and see if there is anything to it.

The risk of helping is not always there in terms of witnessing maybe a violent crime where they may have to give evidence and perhaps the suspects in the crime are organized crime figures. Yes, there can be a risk I suppose, but it is not always like that, and generally speaking, the public is receptive to the outreach programs that we have.

The Chair: I want to come back to Crime Stoppers. Do we have the equivalent of Crime Stoppers across our large cities operating in languages other than English and French for the communities where we have an interest in ensuring that as much information as possible that might come from those communities to assist us in our preventive activities is easily accessible? Can people in those communities make the same anonymous calls to assist us as other folks can in English and French about more normative criminal activity, as opposed to terrorist kinds of activity? Are you comfortable in your cities that Crime Stoppers or its equivalent exists in that kind of diversity so that if someone, let us say in the Tamil community, a lawful member of the Tamil community, heard about precisely the kind of concern that Inspector Sneddon shared with us, that person would have a place to call in confidence to give information to assist police in their work?

[Translation]

In Montreal, in the large North African community.

[English]

Are you comfortable that those capacities are now there for citizens who want to help?

Mr. Fitzgerald: In Toronto, during some of the Tamil demonstrations, the large ones, in cooperation with our partners in INSET, we produced business cards instructing the Tamil community that the Crime Stoppers program was an option if they had information they wished to share with police. When someone phones Toronto Crime Stoppers, and I am sure it is similar in the other large jurisdictions, a translation service is available immediately over the telephone. It very much has been considered and is active.

[Translation]

Mr. Chartrand: In Montreal as well, the communities provide police with an opportunity to sit down and have a dialogue. In some communities, we often see people with problems adapting from one generation to the next. Encouraging people to get involved, either through crime stoppers telephone programs or neighbourhood watch programs, helps both sides gain insight into their respective realities. You will recall the incident in north Montreal, which taught us to adjust our approach and to understand the realities in certain communities.

Without necessarily getting into racial profiling, this helps police understand certain racial differences, to get out of their vehicles and to meet with people on the street. We are getting back to basics. Unfortunately, it takes these kinds of events for things to change. We learn from different situations.

Just like my counterparts in large municipalities, I would imagine, it is increasingly necessary for police to have close ties with the community, to try their best to form ties at the street level, if you will, without prejudice on either side.

It is also important to teach communities about our role, which is more than just arresting people, but protecting them as well. I think big cities, at least, work very hard to do that.

[English]

Senator Marshall: Earlier you talked about protocol like keeping all the police forces, the army and the ambulance in the same loop, so there must be in each jurisdiction a protocol set up to receive public input, public complaints or reports from the public. Do I understand that correctly?

[Translation]

Mr. Chartrand: Absolutely. In Quebec, the police ethics committee gives the public an opportunity to denounce police attitudes, but before things reach that level, there are watch committees that meet regularly to establish positive relationships. Very often, minor issues can be settled during those discussions, without necessarily having to fill out a form or file a complaint. I think we have been successful over the years in terms of fostering encouragement and closer ties.

[English]

Senator Marshall: Is the same true in Vancouver, Inspector Stewart? There is a formal protocol for community involvement, a standard structure and involvement is not ad hoc?

Mr. Stewart: Formal in the sense — I am not sure I understand the question. There are a number of outreach programs. For example, outreach starts at school age with the school liaison officers in all the major schools and elementary schools. They interact. Our schools are diverse because we have a diverse city. From an early age, they interact with the police and understand the police role in the community. There is a lot of reporting and a lot of back and forth information- sharing with the children in the schools. As they move through the schools and grow up in the community, they have this relationship, and that is the goal of the outreach.

I think I saw a statistic the other day that said with our youth services program and because of the other programs we have, such as a social worker in a car who attends to domestic violent calls, and through the teachers we have partnerships with in the city of Vancouver, we reach 25 per cent of the population of the city with a message. We teach them how to approach the police and how to talk to the police. It is all part of the outreach.

I do not know if your question related to the 911 service as well.

Senator Marshall: Yes, it related mostly to the 911 service and how that kicks in; if there is a standard protocol, system or process.

Mr. Stewart: Vancouver is unique because we have something called E-Comm, which is basically a 911 service. It services the city of Vancouver but also all other outlying jurisdictions. If you know the layout in Vancouver, it is not like a metropolitan police force. There are a number of other police forces and many contract RCMP forces, so the calls come into a central dispatch.

Senator Marshall: Then they are handled. Is Toronto the same, Inspector Sneddon?

Mr. Sneddon: Yes, it is. The calls come into the communications bureau and are disseminated from there, not only to the police services jurisdiction but to any other policing agency that needs to know what the information is.

Senator Jaffer: It is interesting that you spoke about the public as the police and the police as the public. Inspector Stewart, I am biased; I come from your area and was involved in the Vancouver Police Department many years ago with building a multicultural police force.

I want to know what exists in Toronto. Does your police force reflect the community that exists presently in Toronto, especially in leadership roles? I have the same question for Montreal.

Mr. Sneddon: Absolutely; if you look at the structure of the Toronto Police Service and how that structure has changed, particularly over the past 10 years, you will notice there is a significant change and opportunity for people, whether they are female or minority, to be placed in positions of authority. That has been the position for some time.

If you look at the past three years in Toronto, in particular with hiring practices, 50 per cent of the classes have been either minority-based or female. The police service is working hard to achieve that structure.

Mr. Fitzgerald: It carries on right through the staff development processes so people from visible minorities in our communities as well as women are receiving opportunities to develop their policing skills. It has made it easier for us to transition people into higher ranks who are fully prepared to assume those responsibilities.

[Translation]

Mr. Chartrand: I would say the same thing, but I also want to mention the hiring of young police officers of Asian origin in Chinatown, for example. Their role slightly resembles that of a police ambassador in terms of speaking to the public with more ease. The same applies to the Haitian community in north Montreal or the Jamaican community in the Côte-des-Neiges district. It helps foster a better relationship.

Senator Jaffer: Is that also the case with the North African community?

Mr. Chartrand: Yes, them too.

[English]

Senator Jaffer: One of my preoccupations is the radicalization of homegrown terrorists, especially young people who are born here. One wonders what happens to them that they become radicalized.

Do you have national coordination between the police forces where information is shared on what is happening in different parts of the country? We know that, for example, in Toronto they may have a large Tamil community, whereas in Vancouver we do not have as large a community. I am talking about the Muslim issue. Do you have coordination? Is there cultural sensitivity — perhaps not cultural sensitivity but knowing the language of radicalization? Are you reaching those young people and finding a way to deradicalize them?

Mr. Sneddon: The whole radicalization process is something we are still learning about. I do not think there is any argument, whether you talk to the New York City Police Department that has published articles on radicalization — they have done a lot of work in that regard — or whoever on what their experience has been.

If you talk to policing agencies across the country and across the world, everyone is striving to get a handle on radicalization. No one seems to be able to do that. The ability to interrupt the process, and know or recognize the signs when someone is headed down a path where they are becoming more dissociated from their friends and perhaps starting to dress a different way, become more religious, that type of thing, are those possible indicators of radicalization? Possibly, but it can be due to other interests. It is something we are more aware of, but it is something we have much work to do to catch up on. There is a long way to go there.

The difficulty is exacerbated when we look at the communications over the Internet among groups like al Qaeda, which are focused on the individual and encouraging individuals to commit terrorist acts. They recognize that difficulty too, and they are astute enough to target those individuals and those people with a view to say, this is what you should do, and not only that, but this is how you should do it.

Senator Jaffer: I asked many questions and I want others to answer, but especially with the Toronto 18, have there been any programs to deradicalize them? I know in the U.K., they have programs with the police where they are deradicalizing youth that have been radicalized. Do we have programs like those in our country?

Mr. Sneddon: The issue is being studied. There is an ongoing study devoted to that issue on how these people became the way they are. That study is being completed by a professor from the University of Waterloo. It is ongoing now. Do we have all these things in place now? No, we do not.

Mr. Stewart: I do not believe we do. That is an area we obviously need to look at.

I was studying the British situation, and one of the issues about Islamic radicalization was not so much that the local communities were helping to radicalize the youth. It was that they were not helping with the counter narrative. They felt more dialogue was needed in the community about the opposite of that single narrative I spoke about earlier, namely, that the world is not at war with Islam; there are other issues. Part of the de-radicalization or the counter radicalization process would have that type of dialogue in those communities, or a counter narrative to what was said over the Internet or in coffee shops where particular individuals hang out and discuss those things.

Senator Jaffer: What is the situation in Montreal?

[Translation]

Mr. Chartrand: The anarchist movement is a rejection of all power structures. As far as police organizations go, it is difficult to open up communication or build a relationship. There is some apprehension there. The issue is not so much willingness on the part of police, but more so on the part of students and fringe groups. There are a slew of social and economic realities that govern police agencies. Despite the desire to help, and to understand and penetrate this world, we always encounter some form of resistance. First of all, you need to locate these people, which can be difficult given that they are on the fringes of society and belong to a number of splinter groups that we do not have access to. The first gateway is through student groups.

We try to give as many talks as possible on the subject. We patrol and try to have a presence in big institutions. The unfortunate events at both Dawson College and the École Polytechnique de Montréal were perpetrated by students who were feeling some level of frustration. So we try to penetrate and integrate into these institutions, both in and out of uniform. It is not a matter of simply gathering intelligence, but also having a presence. We sometimes organize soccer games or sports activities with students to encourage them to approach us and to show them that police officers are accessible and human.

Anarchists in Quebec are concentrated exclusively in Montreal. So the movement is not limited to just immigrants. In some immigrant groups, it is hard to change the way police are perceived. Despite our best efforts, cultural barriers lead to a negative perception of the police as a result of the corruption in some countries.

It can also be difficult to hire members of certain ethnic groups. We encourage the hiring of people from these ethnic communities. Some cultures, however, make that impossible to achieve. We put a lot of energy into that. We spend more and more time out in the field. It is still hard for certain communities to be receptive to us.

[English]

Senator Jaffer: Is there coordination across the country on radicalization? Inspector Stewart talked about coordination on different issues. Is there a group set up to share information across the country on how the youth are radicalized?

Mr. Stewart: I am not aware of a particular group, but we share information in publications, reports and hypotheses in reports that are generated by Public Safety Canada and by the police. We share information, but there is no particular group that I am aware of that coordinates that sharing.

Senator Smith: On the subject of radicalization, Senator Jaffer referred to the Toronto 18 and the fact that a number of them were born and raised in this country. One good thing about it is that the majority of them pleaded guilty and did not deny it. We had a witness about three weeks ago from a group within the Muslim community that has a program, and we should provide you with a transcript of that evidence.

To what extent are your forces making a conscious effort to recruit people from these communities where some of the young people are vulnerable? You have officers that, over the long run, have some rapport, and, where there is a language benefit, that as well. Are you making an effort to recruit from those communities where there is a kind of chemistry such that they might listen to someone from their own community, whereas they are not so open-minded about outsiders like us. To what extent is there a conscious effort to develop people within your forces who have an advantage when it comes to trying to de-radicalize?

[Translation]

Mr. Chartrand: Members of the Montreal police force are increasingly representative of the city's population. Approximately one in two Montrealers belongs to an ethnic group. Thanks to the force's representativeness, we have the human resources to send members out to visit schools and to give talks to spark the interest of fellow members of their ethnic communities. Nevertheless, the audience still has to be open and receptive to that message. We deploy many efforts on that front.

[English]

Mr. Fitzgerald: Toronto is robust in trying to recruit from all our diverse communities. A considerable amount of effort and resources come through our committee work, which Inspector Sneddon touched upon, both at the chief's level with the consultative committees available to the chief, and at the grassroots in each of our divisions. As well, there are community policing liaison committees where people from all ethnicities, cultures and religions from around the world are invited to be part of those committees. These committees assist the division, and that is where the rapport is built with the frontline officers and where the trust begins. Through those efforts we have opportunities for recruitment and hiring people, not only in civilian and uniform positions but also in auxiliary positions and other volunteer capacities within the service. A considerable amount of effort goes into recruiting from those communities so that we are more reflective of those whom we serve, but recruiting from those communities has an operational benefit as well, which is what you are touching upon, senator.

Senator Plett: Inspector Sneddon, I read your presentation with interest last night, specifically, the comments about open displays of support for terrorist groups. Inspector Stewart in his opening comments said that terrorism is a crime, pure and simple, and I support that view.

Promoting hatred is a crime, and people go to jail for promoting hatred. I equate promoting terrorism with promoting hatred. Is there a gap in our law there? Clearly, to be a terrorist is illegal. What many of these people are doing is unconscionable, for example, giving money to terrorist organizations, as you referred to, and there seems to be nothing we can do about it.

I find that strange. If I stand on Parliament's steps and I promote hatred against a minority group, I will go to jail. Why do I not go to jail for promoting hatred against my country?

Mr. Sneddon: You are speaking about a section of the Criminal Code that does not relate to terrorism provisions. I know what you are talking about when you say the wilful promotion of hatred, advocating genocide and all the provisions in the Criminal Code. We actively make use of those provisions.

Where the gap exists is that for someone to facilitate the activities of a terrorist group, for example, raising money on behalf of, or in support of, a terrorist group is one issue. However, for someone to show open display of support for a terrorist group or for someone to be a member of a terrorist group is not an offence.

Senator Plett: To be a member of the group is not an offence, and yet to perform the act is an offence.

Mr. Sneddon: That is exactly right.

The Chair: I think it is fair to say that when we raise this kind of issue, the response we tend to receive from the Department of Justice is that the Criminal Code is complex enough. This issue came up when there was a specific proposal from Senator Grafstein for a specific Criminal Code prohibition on suicide bombing, not because we can do much to the suicide bomber after he or she has committed the deed, but because conspiracy to commit a crime is a crime. Hence, if people are circulating plans for bombs on the Internet, if people are counselling others on how to become a suicide bomber, we give the police more instruments with which to work.

What the Department of Justice has tended to say to both governments of different affiliations — so the civil servants have the same advice — is that any time we add more complexity to the Criminal Code, we make the job of the police and the Crown attorney tougher, not easier. What I heard Mr. Sneddon say is that in this specific case, with respect to showing support for a terrorist organization or being a member of a terrorist organization, that specificity in the Criminal Code would be of assistance to police, as opposed to causing more complexity and other difficulties. Do I understand that correctly?

Mr. Sneddon: That is correct. We have to look at the effect of allowing people to show that support. If we allow people to display support openly for a terrorist group in our major cities and on Parliament Hill, but at the same time we have already said it is a terrorist group, a prohibited entity, at this time within Canada, that situation is contradictory in my mind. The group is a prohibited entity but it is okay to support it openly.

The concern I have is that when we have people who openly support a terrorist group, it starts to dilute what the real message should be, which is that there is a reason why Parliament said these entities or terrorist groups were illicit. Anything that takes away from that message diminishes that reality.

[Translation]

The Chair: Now I want to ask the representatives from Montreal. Do you agree? Would it be helpful to introduce a specificity in the Criminal Code stating that being a member of a terrorist organization is a crime and cause for intervention?

Mr. Chartrand: Absolutely. We are moving in the right direction with the provision against organized crime, which has helped us immensely. Obviously, these matters require extremely lengthy and expensive investigations; but the provision is nonetheless effective in thwarting associations with criminal groups. We should use that initiative as a model going forward with respect to terrorism, which has become the focus for the next decade.

[English]

Senator Plett: Thank you for clarifying some of that issue. I want to support that view because, in my opinion, counselling someone to commit murder is a crime and the person can be put in jail for that act. Counselling people to blow themselves up as a suicide bomb is committing a crime. Terrorism is clearly there to commit crimes; therefore, counselling someone to commit terrorism should be the same.

I appreciate your comments and want to, again, commend you for the tremendous work you are doing. I am a substitute on this committee but I appreciate some of the challenges you face. Thank you for the work you are doing.

Senator Joyal: I want to come back to that concept of Inspector Stewart, which is to offer a counter narrative.

[Translation]

I want to illustrate my example for Inspector Chartrand with something I heard on the weekend, related to the events involving Mr. Rizzuto. Reporters were asking people about their reaction to the murder. I was shocked by the number of people who said that it was not serious, that they killed within their organizations so it was okay to let them peg each other off, that when so much rivalry exists between groups, they end up killing each other off.

To tie that back to the cargo parcel bombs, I get the sense that when incidents of this nature occur, the public pays a lot of attention to what the police says. No matter what, it is up to you the police, not the politicians, to intervene.

I would have liked the Montreal police to call a press conference to explain to people that what happened was extremely serious. This was not some western shootout where the good guy wins in the end.

The public does not understand just how complex the mafia, organized crime, is nowadays. We heard from witnesses who told us that it was at the point where organized criminals had even managed to infiltrate the judicial system and perhaps even the police. So this is not just some fight where the bad guys get rid of one another.

In the case of the cargo parcel, the public's attention and all media coverage was totally focused on the incident for a few hours. You had a captive, receptive audience, and you should have used that opportunity to send a message: You need to be cautious, you should know that, and so forth. Then people would believe you.

[English]

The timing, the psychological moment, is there. I feel, as a citizen, it is missing. You conduct the right investigation, I am not questioning that. However, the privileged moment where you can pass the message to the citizens — because they are aware, they are watching everything that takes place — is, to me, something important.

This morning was the funeral. I watched the news at 12 after the funeral. It was as if the funeral was for an honest citizen who had been unfortunately killed. I am sorry, but this is not what is happening there. It is a serious element.

The policemen who answered questions said only that we are doing this and we are doing that on the investigation, but this information is peripheral to the message that we should deliver that day. Of course, that is what would happen in any other city in Canada, be it Toronto or Vancouver. It seems to me when there is an incident like this one, we have a privileged moment to call on the interest and attention of citizens to say, this is where they have a role.

As you said and as you answered to other senators, you can try to appear nice to some communities and I totally support that; there is nothing more credible to a community than someone coming from that community. There are challenges there, but you have responsibility for the whole citizenry. The values of a society to be receptive to fighting terrorism and to fighting organized crime is not something that the citizens can say the police are taking care of it and I can go my own way. People in their own milieu have a responsibility. That is what we have been told around this table.

[Translation]

I wonder whether you are not missing golden opportunities here. You have a window for a few hours, or even two or three days, when you can get a message out. But what the public hears is inspectors or investigators measuring the bullet's trajectory, size and so forth. That is secondary to what is happening right then in society. I think you should rethink your approach. You should not be afraid of speaking to the media during those times.

[English]

The Chair: I believe the deputy chair will permit me to say that it strikes me that my colleague is adding to the mission beyond protecting the public, which is complex; beyond gathering evidence for lawful prosecution under the Constitution, which is complex; and beyond lawful interruption of events before they happen to protect the public, which is complex. He asks a fascinating question, which is the public education opportunity that people in uniform have in a fashion that the rest of us around this table never have. Politicians are open to a certain kind of public view that police officers, thank goodness, are not subjected to for all the right reasons.

The question may be a tough one to reflect on, but your advice will be of immense value to us. Part of the goal of the committee in taking a look at anti-terrorism activities is that of public education. Therefore, we will benefit from your advice. Even if there are qualifications or sensitivities that prohibit you from being engaged as fully as Senator Joyal suggests, we will be happy to hear about those, as well.

[Translation]

Mr. Chartrand: With respect to the murder of Vito Rizzuto, around 5 p.m. on Wednesday, when the police force was informed that an individual had been shot through the window of his home, the head of the gang squad took part in a media scrum in an effort to reassure the public.

The first role of the police force is to reassure the public. Of course, there are situations beyond our control, but in the flurry of activity that has surrounded Italian-based mob crime for the past year, the police has questioned some high-ranking gang members.

Information gathered in the course of the investigation suggested that certain other members could be targeted. That is why we had met with Mr. Rizzuto. Our role was precisely to reassure the public by explaining the circumstances and the situation to the extent possible, because, as was mentioned earlier, there are indeed some pieces of evidence that we cannot disclose.

What interests the media and forms the public's connection to the event? Obviously, it is the calibre of the gun, the length of the barrel, but also the facts, what happened, the circumstances of the murder. We have often tried to provide an explanation or to describe the facts, but there are times when people simply choose not to listen.

When the commander closes his remarks by saying that the incident occurred just three hours ago and that investigators are only starting to understand what happened, the media turns to so-called experts to speculate on what happened, which shifts people away from the facts and the focus. The voice the public hears is that of the media, and citizens cannot use the same channels of information.

Nevertheless, the media tries to obtain information to understand what happened. We are not trying to minimize the opportunity it presents or to hide so as not to disclose information, but very often the media will steer the conversation where they want it to go. And I do not think that is in the public's best interest.

I will tell you that we strive to communicate basic information and to pinpoint areas of concern, but there is always some information that is uncertain, depending on the circumstances or the event in question.

[English]

The Chair: Do witnesses from Vancouver or Toronto wish to engage on the issue?

Mr. Stewart: The senator has a good point and we often miss an opportunity to do exactly that. Police departments have to be careful in messaging in terms of what that message is when it comes to public safety because, although we have to inform, we do not want to incite fear when fear should not be there. We have to be careful.

In saying that, our department, and likely other departments as well, have a media relations office where we consider exactly that and how we will put the message out in relation to that crime or event. The message is carefully thought out. What we are talking about today can be added into the mix and considered from time to time. I agree it makes good sense to look at the event as a good opportunity to send out that message.

Mr. Fitzgerald: I will echo those comments. In the early stages of any of these serious cases, such as the murder of Mr. Rizzuto, the role of the initial responding police is to preserve the integrity of that case and be careful about not misinforming the public or other police agencies who may be engaged in supporting that effort.

At the same time, if we are to release this type of information, we want to provide some form of messaging to the community about public safety, and reassure them the community is safe and that the incident is an isolated one or that it likely will not impact ordinary folk minding their own business in that neighbourhood.

There is a need for the police to speak openly about the impact of organized crime and terrorism in our communities. Sometimes in trying to preserve the integrity of that case, we sometimes miss those opportunities in the short windows we spoke of. Our public affairs folks will remind investigating officers that they should speak to this need as well while they deliver the nuts and bolts of the investigation that they are prepared to release to the public, not to the detriment of the integrity of the investigation as a whole.

Your point is well taken and there could be many more press conferences or news conferences to raise Canadians' awareness of the dangers of organized crime in our communities.

Mr. Sneddon: I want to add to that. What we do raises an interesting and valid point. I want to bring you up to speed as to where we are in addressing it. Having a whole media strategy, having open dialogue with the media and being more up front with the media is very much on the forefront from the perspective of our own Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, INSET, from an RCMP-led perspective, and for Gilles Michaud, Assistant Commissioner for National Security at the national headquarters in Ottawa.

To give you an example, earlier this year, immediately prior to the G20, 3,300 pounds of ammonium nitrate were obtained fraudulently from a grower supply warehouse. It was of explosive grade, so it is a type of material that can be easily developed into an explosive device.

The thought process around that event was twofold: To send the message out to the public to see if we could locate the product to recover it as quickly as possible, but we also wanted to educate the public at the same time: This product is dangerous product and can be misdirected and directed for other purposes. We were fortunate in that regard.

As far as engaging the public through the media, within 20 minutes of the press conference, we had all the information we needed. Going back to your initial point, there was a strong focus on enhanced media engagement in a manner in which you have described.

Senator Joyal: Thank you. May I have another question?

This is an issue related to each of your presentations, and that is the Air India report. One major recommendation in that report was the appointment of a national security advisor who would have the responsibility to arbitrate between you, the RCMP, CSIS, DND sometimes and other services that might be involved in case there is a "problem of communication" between the various agencies to ensure all the agencies continue to play together.

I do not ask you to tell us the story of problems you might have had. I understand there have been problems in the past, and we have been told about them. However, do you favour the kind of proposal that was in the report, and do you see a real role for an arbitrator such as a national security advisor? Do you think it would be helpful in the performance of your duties?

[Translation]

Inspector Chartrand, despite the solid understanding that seems to exist, according to Inspector Pichet, would it be helpful to have that person support you in your role, given that you still need to rely on the various other agencies to achieve security objectives?

Mr. Chartrand: I would say the important thing is to act as a lever. There is no hiding that every police organization has its own philosophy and attitude.

And as is often the case with integrated teams, the tendency is toward joint management, co-location, where being on the same floor finally brings people together under a shared ideology.

Unfortunately, certain ideologies still clash, and organizations will share information but leave out little bits along the way because they each have their own boss, their own jurisdiction, and that is normal. Something we still need to improve on is knocking down the barriers. I am certain that it can only help to cement our ties and strengthen our information sharing.

[English]

Senator Joyal: May I have feedback from the other inspectors we have had the pleasure of hearing from today?

Mr. Sneddon: I will be happy to respond. It is essential because, within the national security environment primarily but not exclusively, the RCMP collect information and evidence to one database. CSIS, another domestic agency in the same country, collects intelligence in a separate database. Those two databases do not link. The information flow from the police to the intelligence service is robust, and moves back and forth in an open and frank way. For a number of reasons, the information coming back that way cannot be as direct. That situation creates the potential for a piece of information or a piece of evidence that could be the solution to a particular crime or to advance an investigation, whether that be a criminal investigation or an intelligence probe, to sit in either of these databases without anyone knowing it exists. In the absence of knowing it is there, we are stuck.

In terms of your thinking of a national security advisor, I hope that the person has the appropriate number of staff because that person could be busy. I see an opportunity to have a person or an electronic system that monitors both databases to ensure that information is linked and pointed in the right direction.

The Chair: We have seen interesting developments in the United States, where their security czar has had difficulty because of existing interagency battles. The United States has a larger, more robust bureaucracy so those tensions are understandable with 18 or 19 national security agencies competing with each other in some fashion, which we do not have.

You said that you hope a national security advisor will have staff. Would you not need a statutory base for information sharing? What else could force a CSIS investigation to share data with a national security advisor who, as we speak today, is another deputy minister like all other deputy ministers appointed to the Privy Council Office?

We assume good faith and that people cooperate, share, work together and understand the imperatives of doing so, but without statutory requirement there might always be a reason not to work together, either because we do not want to see the intelligence operation fouled up by an evidence-gathering operation or vice versa, or because we do not want to get in the way of gathering evidence by sharing information in the wrong way, which might place an investigation in a difficult spot.

Do you agree that we need a statutory basis to force that sharing? Would that basis be resented at some level? For example, our friends in the Ontario Provincial Police operate under the same Criminal Code but in another jurisdiction. Another example is our friends from the Sûreté du Québec that have another jurisdiction.

I probe a little because you folks at the table here today have the operational experience at the highest level to help us understand what will make the most constructive difference to assist with the task.

Mr. Sneddon: The desire exists to share that information or to have the capacity to share it. Everyone is working as best they can, given the tools they have. Going back to your point of whether there should be legislation stating what these agencies must do, that legislation would be required absolutely. Candidly, I see legislation as a good way of keeping everyone honest and as a clear way of ensuring that nothing is missed. I am certain our greatest concern is missing something because no one wants to see anything missed because one miss is potentially disastrous.

Mr. Stewart: From our perspective, I most definitely agree with that point. I do not know how the NSA position would be mandated, but if it could be done in a statutory way, that would be great. If the position were created to develop the structure and framework that would hold everyone accountable, it would work well. It is not so much the fact that the willingness is not there, but rather that there is no system in place to ensure that it is done.

The Chair: There is no formal obligation.

[Translation]

Do our colleagues from Quebec have anything to add?

Mr. Chartrand: What I can tell you is that right now, in the country, we have SARC, an automated criminal intelligence system.

[English]

It was supposed to be a national system. I am not sure that all organizations follow that direction.

[Translation]

I think that if everyone contributes, the system is there and it works; it is just a matter of being willing to use it. There are still some major investigations that have been completed and that have yet to be inputted into SARC, the provincial SARC of Quebec, Sûreté du Québec-Montréal. There is already a system in place that the RCMP can use to access our data; the same goes for Sûreté du Québec.

Now, does every office make sure that its people contribute to the system correctly, inputting the most detailed and timely information? That remains to be seen.

[English]

Senator Jaffer: Mr. Sneddon, you said something about disclosure. You are a person seasoned in the court system, and disclosure is at the heart of the Canadian court system. Can you explain what you mean by not disclosing everything so as to protect sources? How do you test the material when you do not have full disclosure?

Mr. Sneddon: That is the balance we have to achieve. I said that it was a complex issue, but I did not say I had all the answers. I will explain it this way: CSIS in particular is happy with its sources of information and with how the information is collected. CSIS would be happy to convey the information provided there was some level of comfort that its source was not about to be compromised. I will give an example. On the policing side, a confidential source has a privilege. That privilege is well enshrined in law. The source holds the privilege and only the source can waive the privilege, except for a couple of circumstances. However, a CSIS source does not have that privilege because no legislation addresses that aspect; and that is where I see a gap. Cases will come through the courts in the near future where that gap will create an issue. That is an example of the kind of thing that can be adjusted and tweaked with a view to making it work better for everyone.

Senator Jaffer: We are aware of cases coming up and we will watch what happens. I will prod you a little more on that issue. Do you see the information being given to the judge? We have challenges in some of our current hearings where the judge and a court advocate can see the information. What were you thinking about how the information is to be conveyed, because it has to be conveyed to someone, whether a judge or a special advocate? How do you see the system being set up?

Mr. Sneddon: Without question, the judge needs to see it. Of course, there is the issue of whether the accused has the right to see it. That issue brings in this whole notion of special advocates. That step is positive. I do not propose to have all the answers that flow from that notion. A step in the right direction is having an independent counsel who represents the court and advises the judge as to what is contained within the material. The judge then is able to make a decision.

The Chair: It is deemed to be trusted by the Crown for the exercise of that activity.

Mr. Sneddon: Correct: That step is in the right direction, but it is only a step. It is a question of how far that goes.

Senator Jaffer: On the other end, how the information was obtained and where the information was obtained are issues because we have seen challenges there as well.

Mr. Sneddon: That is right, and there are two other sections in the Canada Evidence Act that allow the Crown to make application to protect information that may be deemed injurious to Canada, whether that be information that has come from a foreign government or intelligence information. There are many unknowns, and the unknowns are what create discomfort and cause consternation on the part of people regarding information as it relates to the prosecution of these types of cases and the ability to share information adequately.

Senator Jaffer: Terrorism is a global issue. We have to share information with other countries and so we have to find ways, creative ways, of protecting information if we are to protect our public. We will have to keep looking at this issue of how we protect information. I am sure our committee at some stage will look at this issue.

The Chair: Thank you very much. Before I go back to Senator Joyal, I have a brief general question.

I think the average Canadian citizen would be of the view that all the police forces represented here today with respect to the normative criminal activity issues — drugs, prostitution, murder, immigration fraud and all the rest — would maintain whatever resources were appropriate with a view to your constraints relative to undercover activity to assist in the normative criminal intelligence work that you need to perform your tasks.

Should Canadians be confident, based on what we all know and accepting that there are never enough resources to do everything as well as we would like, that on the anti-terrorism and homegrown terrorism front those similar covert resources, which may be necessary from time to time, are reasonably available to you and that you are able to deploy them in a fashion that you are comfortable assists you in doing your job, or is there a serious deficiency either because of lack of language skills or community integration that we should be thinking about regarding how to make recommendations that assist our police forces in that respect?

Mr. Stewart: Are you talking about undercover operations in terms of investigating terrorist plots?

The Chair: It was a general question. I know that police officers do not comment on operations. I am not asking you to do that. It was a general question about resources.

Mr. Stewart: Everything we talk about is related to a crime, so that means if we have intelligence and it is criminal intelligence and there is a nexus to a crime, we prioritize our resources based on the magnitude of that crime. Therefore, yes, I think people can rest assured that we will make that right prioritization and obtain the resources we need to infiltrate, if need be, and interdict.

The Chair: You would be able to sort out the data sets you need?

Mr. Stewart: Yes.

[Translation]

Mr. Chartrand: I would say that there is always some loss of resources, obviously. But I think we need to have confidence in the police's management of those resources because the police are increasingly skilled at allocating them properly.

[English]

Mr. Sneddon: The key to proper resourcing for these types of investigations is that the effort is not individual. One policing agency does not have ownership or jurisdiction but we take the collective approach, and if we have all players on the team going in the same direction, then we have a better chance of having the right result. We take that approach and continue to take it in these types of areas. Do I feel we have adequate resources to allow us to do what we do? Yes; sometimes I would like more language skills in particular areas, but that is something that will take time to achieve and we are working towards it.

[Translation]

Senator Joyal: I want to come back to Commander Pichet's table. You mentioned, at the bottom of the second table — which lists the different security agencies involved in counterterrorism efforts — the three police stakeholders: the RCMP, Sûréte du Québec and National Defence. Then you have the fire department, the emergency health agency, Urgences-santé, and the transit commission, STM.

[English]

There are many more public agencies. You referred to Hydro-Quebec towers and other colleagues mentioned the electrical dam — I think Inspector Stewart mentioned it. Those infrastructures are public, and there is also private infrastructure that is even more critical to a point than some of the public infrastructure. How do you involve the representatives of private infrastructure to ensure that they are responsive and pass on information to you if they have tips or if they feel they are exposed to a greater risk than they were before?

[Translation]

I will give you time to think about it. You rightly talked about the STM, which manages Montreal's subway and public transit system, but what about the equally important railway service or road transportation such as buses? Targeting a jam-packed bus on a Friday afternoon could do just as much damage as a subway train. So there are also major risks involving private infrastructure that provides public or semi public services. How do those organizations fit into your counterterrorism plan?

[English]

I ask the same question to you in Vancouver and Toronto. I feel that the challenge is the same.

Mr. Stewart: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is rolling out a program called suspicious incident reporting, and that is exactly what they are trying to do. They are working with security, either private or public, of critical infrastructure and working out a program where they are trying to obtain security clearances for their main security personnel in those agencies or utilities, if you will, to be able to share information back and forth with the RCMP, and in turn, they train their people to look for suspicious incidents and report them.

Another piece of that puzzle is that if the suspicious incident occurred within the city of Vancouver, then we would be in the loop with what they were seeing. I cannot comment on where that program is at right now, but it is being rolled out and is something they are working on it at a national level. It is called Suspicious Incident Reporting, SIR.

[Translation]

Mr. Pichet: That is an excellent question. Over the years, a lot of agencies and organizations have tried to be a part of this committee, but we have to choose our members. There are 12 to 15 of us on the committee already, and if we gave everyone a place, we would quickly turn into a very large and less effective committee. The larger a committee is, the harder it is to manage.

I would also point out another reason why the STM has a place on the committee: it supplies equipment. Wherever we need to intervene on the island of Montreal, the STM supplies us with buses, not just for decontamination but also for the transportation of the wounded. It was not an easy decision. No doubt, administrators at the Montréal-Trudeau airport, the Montreal harbour, the eastern region of Montreal, the energy sector and so forth would like to be on the committee, as well. So we continue to maintain ties with my unit, while relying on subcommittees to incorporate those stakeholders.

At the airport, for example, there may be certain issues we need to address jointly, and the airport structure includes members of our police force, airport security, the Canada Revenue Agency, as well as the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority. Further to formal requests, we make sure that we keep people in the loop, but through the participation of subcommittees. That is how we are able to maintain ties with the stakeholders. If their infrastructure was the target of an incident, all of our members would participate in the response, in addition to the owners of the targeted infrastructure.

The same goes for the Port of Montreal. It recently acquired radiation detection equipment, like Halifax, I believe, so all import containers pass through a radiation detection portal. Our committee sat down with the port authority and the federal government in Ottawa to work out a user protocol specific to this portal. The first alert results in internal checks. On the second alert, first responders are called to the scene. Our committee was involved in that.

We will be conducting a simulation the day after tomorrow. An exercise to implement that procedure will be carried out at the Montreal harbour. I will be the person responsible on the scene, but I will be calling on everyone to do their jobs, and the port authority, as the site of the event, will play a complementary role. A spot on the committee is in high demand. First, there are the services: the people on the ground, police, paramedics and firefighters. Then, there are our police counterparts in other forces and the Canadian Forces, the people who can provide support in a chemical, biological or radiological situation, and the STM in terms of equipment. We still get stakeholders asking to join the committee. This is the way we have always managed the committee, which still looks like it did in 1998.

[English]

The Chair: Did colleagues from other jurisdictions want to comment?

Mr. Fitzgerald: Toronto has programs similar to what has been described here. The SIR program by the RCMP is very much in play in the Toronto area. The people from the various sectors you described — energy, transportation, et cetera — know that if they have a suspicion about an incident that occurs in their area, they phone the number for national security in Ottawa and alert the RCMP INSET folks to become engaged.

Toronto Police Service is also reaching out to our security professionals in the Toronto area through a program called Toronto Association of Police and Private Security, TAPPS, which is well established in the downtown core. We are looking to expand that program with other private security partners trusted by the police that have a reputation for sharing information and being reliable in the information that is shared with them. Finding the mechanism to expand that program is a bit of a challenge, but to be honest, I believe our private sector partners will be helpful in that regard.

The Chair: Colleagues, on your behalf, I want to express our profound appreciation to the senior police officers, inspectors, who have come from Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto to share their perceptions on this issue with us. It has been a constructive working session. It has been helpful to us.

So no one takes this issue for granted, none of us on this committee — and I think we speak for all Canadians — underestimate the complexity of your task, the intensity of your commitment to it or the challenge of keeping an open and free democracy safe from anti-terrorist activity, specifically one as diverse as ours.

[Translation]

On behalf of committee members, I want to thank you for the work you do.

[English]

Thank you especially for the time you gave us today to assist us in our deliberations.

I remind colleagues and those viewing this hearing that on November 22 the committee will benefit from the presence of advisers to the British Government on the issue of radicalization. Dr. Tobias Feakin from the Royal United Services Institute and Professor Andrew Silke from the University of East London will share their information and insights with us.

(The committee adjourned.)