Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 11 - Evidence - Meeting of February 7, 2011


OTTAWA, Monday, February 7, 2011

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, to which was referred Bill S-13, An Act to implement the Framework Agreement on Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America, met this day at 4 p.m. to give consideration to the bill and to examine and report on the national security and defence policies of Canada (topic: human smuggling).

Senator Pamela Wallin (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back after a bit of a break. We have a busy set of witnesses and committee hearings today. We will be looking specifically at Bill S-13, which is to implement a framework agreement on Integrated Cross-border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations, which means that in shared waterways between Canada and the United States the two countries will cooperate. That bill is now before of us.

In the course of the next few months, we will be also looking at Bill C-49, to prevent human smugglers from abusing Canada's immigration system. We will be taking testimony on that later today from the High Commissioner of Australia to look at that country's experience.

We will then be returning to the proposed Shiprider legislation, Bill S-13, and hear from the Windsor Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police for their perspectives on how this works for local police authorities.

We will begin today with the bigger picture. Dating back to the mid-1990s, we started to experiment with cross-border, shared, cooperative law enforcement agreements. After 9/11, of course, this became the focus for the two countries.

In 2005 the Liberal government of the day and the U.S. government started an experiment called Shiprider, which you will hear referred to. The RCMP and the U.S. Coast Guard were teamed up on boats to enforce law along parts of the Canada-U.S. maritime border. The pilot projects worked well, so our two countries signed a framework agreement to try to make this arrangement permanent.

Today we begin the study of Bill S-13, which implements the framework agreement. We are pleased to welcome, as our first guest, the Honourable Vic Toews, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Safety. He is joined by his officials, Graham Flack, Associate Deputy Minister, Public Safety Canada; and Barry MacKillop, Director General, Law Enforcement and Border Strategies Directorate.

Mr. Minister, welcome; I believe you have some opening comments.

Hon. Vic Toews, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Safety: Thank you very much. I do have some opening comments. I will give you an abbreviated version. I know my time here is limited, and I believe members may have already received my opening remarks. I will proceed with some of my comments and then leave it open for questions.

I am joined by my officials, Mr. Flack and Mr. MacKillop.

Essentially, Bill S-13 is proposed legislation that implements a framework agreement on Integrated Cross-border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations, known as Shiprider. This legislation was first introduced in 2009, and subsequently introduced to the Senate as Bill S-13 last fall.

I would indicate that this is in fact a continuation of a pilot project, as you have mentioned, Madam Chair, that was begun under the prior government in 2005.

What the program does, of course, is give law enforcement agencies the flexibility that they need. Organized crime has never really seen an international border as too much of an impediment to its operations. We are trying to ensure that we can respond effectively to criminal enterprises that use the international borders to sometimes escape responsibility.

Over the years, the smuggling tactics and methods have evolved rapidly. They are using high-tech equipment and various methods of travel, including all-terrain vehicles, small aircraft and marine vessels. The investigations of law enforcement officials sometimes are hindered by legal limitations imposed by national sovereignty and policing jurisdictions.

In an effort to stem the flow of criminal activity, Canadians and Americans have explored new ways of securing the border in recent years, moving beyond traditional cooperation and coordination to focus on integration. This led to the development of the Shiprider program.

Briefly, these officers are authorized to enforce the law on both sides of the international boundary. Their vessels can deal with criminal activity on either side of the border without the limitations of traditional police jurisdictions. The results have been impressive.

I want to stress that when the officers are acting in the course of their law enforcement activities, the officers aboard the Shiprider vessels are both Canadian and American law enforcement officers, specifically designated and trained for the operations. They have the authority to enforce the domestic law of the country where the operations take place. If a Shiprider officer boards a suspected smuggling vessel in American waters, Canadians will have the same authority as their counterparts to enforce the respective domestic laws of the United States. The reverse is true in Canadian waters.

What should also be pointed out is that when these operations take place in one country, for example in Canada, they are conducted under the control and direction of Canadian law enforcement officials and are subject to Canadian laws, policies and procedures. The reverse, of course, is true if it happens in the United States.

This does not in any way compromise our traditional values or our constitutionally protected rights and freedoms. If persons are detained or taken into custody in the course of the Shiprider operations, let us say in Canada, only Canadian laws will apply, and no one can be removed from Canada except in accordance with Canadian laws. Again, the opposite of that is true.

I think the Shiprider program represents the future of law enforcement at our border. It is a departure from traditional approaches to law enforcement, but I think, given the developments in the way criminal organizations operate, it is a necessary departure.

That is a quick summary of my prepared notes, but I am certainly able to answer questions.

The Chair: I think you have touched on some of the key things.

We should say, for the information of those watching, that these test operations, the test runs, have been at Windsor, in British Columbia and in Cornwall. We have also seen these joint operations go on for quite a few years, way back to the Detroit Super Bowl, and we saw them at the Olympics and again at the G20. There is much precedence for this.

We all watched with great interest on Friday as the President and the Prime Minister signed an agreement to move forward on perimeter security. This is, we know, the largest trading relationship in the world, both ways, with millions of individual crossings a year.

Do you start to see some of this as coming together, that we are looking at the broader question of doing joint security between our two countries?

Mr. Toews: We want to ensure that Canadians have full and free access to American markets. I know most of us come from areas of the country that border the United States. In a riding like mine in Southeast Manitoba, 80 per cent of the manufactured goods, cattle and hogs cross that border. It is important that my constituents have access to legitimate goods and other products crossing that border.

In December 2009, with the case of the Detroit bomber, the so-called underwear bomber, on Christmas Day, we saw an immediate clamping down or thickening of the border after that happened. That cost the Canadian taxpayers not only billions of extra dollars in investments made by government, but also, on an individual business basis, a lot of money in the delay that occurred.

When we had the Yemeni situation with the explosives on the cargo plane, I noticed that there was a marked difference in the attitude of the Americans. Within a few minutes of that situation being known to agencies, to our air force and to the defence, the Under Secretary of Homeland Security phoned me to brief me about the issue and to basically assure us that they wanted to work together on this issue. It is my understanding that the same thickening did not occur at the border, because the Americans, I believe, understand that we are serious about their security as well.

The more we integrate in this type of fashion in the Shiprider program, I think the easier it will be for the Americans to trust us, and vice versa. The bottom line, then, is of course that flow of goods and people across the border, without a thickening of the border. This is an important step in the overall relationship that we need to develop.

The Chair: As a trading nation, we most certainly do.

Senator Dallaire: Thank you, Mr. Minister. We are working with a piece of proposed legislation that essentially wants to base itself on what has become known as intelligence-based policing, meaning that we share intelligence information on what is going on, what the threat is, and we react accordingly. Creating joint responses to that, of course, is a most positive step.

The bill does not articulate well the threat. Not having the security classifications, we have not seen the threat assessment that has called for this. We hear about it, but we have not seen it. That is a great disadvantage for us to be able to give you a fair hearing of the bill.

However, to be more specific, you have the Coast Guard, which is a service of the United States forces. You have the RCMP, which is a police service. As one document said, our Coast Guard operations are taxis to this exercise.

Will there be some sort of arrangement, maybe not like NORAD, to guarantee that the threat assessments and the intelligence will be passed on both ways and not just one way, because of the paranoia we often see with our friends to the south about putting their sources at risk?

Mr. Toews: That is a good question. I will let my officials answer that. Perhaps Mr. Flack can answer.

I will point out that we have recently signed agreements to share information in respect of organized crime, for example the seizure of goods and money that occurs on the border. We are conducting joint threat assessments regarding criminal organizations operating along the border. I tell you this because it was a public announcement that I made with the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.

I think your concern is a valid one. We have to move in that direction so that we have the sharing of information. I think we can do this in a manner that is consistent with our constitutional and legal obligations as Canadians.

Graham Flack, Associate Deputy Minister, Public Safety Canada: Senator, your question reflects the evolution of what was originally an Integrated Border Enforcement Team, IBET, concept. This did not come out of Ottawa or Washington; it came out of cooperation between two officers on either side of the border in British Columbia and Washington state. It started as joint intelligence sharing, just information sharing about what they knew was going on and how they could cooperate together.

As the minister indicated, we have now moved to joint threat assessments. That is, we are, in a binational way, assessing threats at the border, including the marine threats that we see in this marine environment. That is part of the basis for moving forward with Shiprider, because that is the third level, which is joint operations, so moving from joint threat assessment to joint operations on the water that allow the interception.

One test we can use for the indication of the threat is how things went with the pilot project. There was a two-month pilot project in 2007 in the St. Lawrence Seaway. For example, about one and a half million cigarettes were seized, and I think there were over 26 arrests related to the joint operations around this. From the limited pilot period where we were testing some of the procedures, the police were seeing operational results in actual arrests and disruption of operations.

In the joint threat assessments, the marine environment is seen as particularly tricky because of the ability of those boats to move across the water as they see law enforcement return and not be able to move in that coordinated way.

These are the three steps that you highlighted, starting with joint information sharing and then joint threat assessment, but this is about joint operational capacity.

Senator Dallaire: This bill does not call for it, but I am seeking that we will have transparent exchange of intelligence information both ways, from all sources, be it satellite or whatever, between the two countries. That is part of the agreements that you have been working on or will work on as a result of this legislation; is that correct?

Mr. Toews: I think that is correct.

Senator Dallaire: The Americans have at least 25 times the security capabilities on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence than we have. There are equipment requirements of significance: FLIRs — forward looking infrared; radar; maybe satellite capability; UAVs — unmanned aerial vehicles; and so forth. Plus many more people would be required, I would think, than the 14 or 15 we have there now.

Have you costed this out, and do you have a capital acquisition plan to meet this proposed legislation, or will that come from either your department budget or an increase in your department budget? Do you have a feel for that?

Mr. Toews: We do. Not only do we have a feel for it, but Mr. Flack has some details in that respect.

Mr. Flack: The pilot projects were done without incremental resources. That is, they were absorbed within the RCMP and its operations. They believed it was appropriate, given the threat assessment they faced, to deploy resources in that direction.

You are right that the resources we have on the water are in no way a match for the U.S. resources. One of the benefits of Shiprider is that we will be a net beneficiary of the greater platform capability that the Americans bring in the Great Lakes, where we can have a Canadian on board, and that vessel will have a capability to operate on both sides in the event that something happens.

This bill does not have funding with it; it provides a legal framework in which we can do this operation. Any incremental funding decisions would have to be taken in a future budget. There are no current budgeted incremental resources for additional vessels or Shiprider operations. That would have to be determined. Any operations that would happen right now would happen with existing RCMP resources, as was done with the three pilot projects.

The Chair: To clarify that, this is just framework legislation. This says, "We want to do it." It does not spell out every detail or attach a budget to it.

Senator Dallaire: Again, you bring in legislation, but you have to know how much it will cost. It is nice to have this operation, but if you cannot afford it, then it is not much better.

I think integration is essential, as well as interoperability, rules of engagement and training. All of that is needed, but if we are going to do it, we have to invest. If the other guy owns the boat and all the equipment and we are the rider, maybe that is not the way we want this operation to be applied when we speak of "joint."

Mr. Toews: That is a good point. However, as Mr. Flack has pointed out, I believe we will be the net beneficiaries of an agreement. I think the Americans certainly want this. They want to have that flexibility along their northern border as well. They have demonstrated that they are willing to make the investments, and this gives them the flexibility. We can provide that flexibility without losing sovereignty, so that we retain control of the operations once they enter into Canadian waters. I believe it will always be the case that the Americans will have more assets and military equipment than we do, but this is a sound way of using that to the best of our national interests.

The Chair: We have seen it function. We spent some time in Windsor. They are more than willing to share, which is always good.

Senator Segal: I want to ask some operational questions about the law, either of you or of your senior advisers. Proposed section 18 deals with the definition of "peace officer" and how peace officers are treated. I will not get into the detail, but I want to be assured that a Canadian peace officer who is operating in U.S. jurisdiction as part of this framework, or his or her counterpart — that is, an American police officer operating in Canada's jurisdiction under this framework — will have the full range of protections that a peace officer of that country would have in that same jurisdiction, namely, national treatment. All the rights and privileges that peace officers have, for example the round of discretion they are allowed and the protections they have in terms of their own due diligence, will exist for both sets of officers in both places without any intervening authority getting in the way of that protection.

Mr. Toews: Mr. MacKillop will answer that. This does not provide any additional protections. The protections that exist already for our officers will also be applicable to American officers. It will not provide American officers with a greater degree of protection or a greater degree of authority.

Senator Segal: If an RCMP offer or Ontario Provincial Police, OPP, officer is involved in an operation on the U.S. side, and, whatever the definitions or whatever transpires in that operation, his or her status as a peace officer is contested by someone or an allegation is made, I want to be assured that that Canadian police officer in U.S. jurisdiction will have the same protections available to him, legally, as an American police officer would have had in that same circumstance, and not fewer.

Mr. Toews: Obviously we cannot provide that in an act of the Parliament of Canada. However, the reciprocal legislation and authorities in the United States can provide that. Mr. MacKillop can help.

Barry MacKillop, Director General, Law Enforcement and Border Strategies Directorate, Public Safety Canada: The short answer is yes. If you are trained and you are designated and working in the context of a Shiprider operation or an Integrated Cross-border Maritime Law Enforcement Operation, then you have peace officer status in both countries.

Senator Segal: If an operation results in someone being arrested and a prosecution then emerges, or in the case of advice to a Crown or state attorney with respect to a potential prosecution, will the jurisdiction where the person was apprehended be the jurisdiction that defines what the process is going forward, or would jurisdiction be somehow affected by where the crime was committed, even though the person was apprehended in a different jurisdiction?

Mr. Toews: As you know, the applicability of the law is somewhat fluid in that respect. It might be that even though someone is apprehended in Canada, the Americans could make an extradition request for that individual to be tried in the United States. Those decisions are made by the Department of Justice on a daily basis, even outside of the context of this particular program.

It does not simply mean that if a person is apprehended in Canada, that is where the trial will take place, or if the person is apprehended in the United States, that is where the trial will take place. I will not get into any particular details, but essentially a joint discussion takes place. For example, in a case where an individual was apprehended in Canada but most of the witnesses and the evidence are in the United States, it would probably be the jurisdiction where the prosecution would take place.

Senator Segal: As the minister and colleagues around the table will know, we have a slightly different interpretation of search and seizure rules than our American friends. Our courts have been conservative about how the right not to be unfairly searched is applied. If there is a reasonable reason for a police officer to look in the trunk of a car or in the hull of a boat, whether he or she has a warrant, if the evidence then found by the peace officer seems to justify an appropriate activity, our courts have ruled by and large that the absence of a warrant does not, in and of itself, liberate the individual from facing the consequences of his or her activity. The U.S. courts have had more of a tendency to say that the absence of a warrant is sufficient defence in that particular case.

How do you imagine this will operate if joint border enforcement teams, and others, are pursuing individuals across a water way? I refer this question to both the minister and the senior advisers. If a Canadian individual is arrested in the U.S., then certain rules with respect to search and seizure may apply, based on court precedence. If an American individual happens to be on the Canadian side, then our rules will apply, which are a slightly different jurisprudence. Do you have any sense about how this will sort itself out?

Mr. Toews: This issue is dealt with on a daily basis, even in cases where there is no integrated authority, such as with the Shiprider program. For example, if we apprehend an American today in Canada, if the trial occurs in Canada, the admissibility of evidence is on the basis of Canadian law. If that individual is extradited and sent back to the United States, it will be dealt with on the basis of American law. They take into account the good faith of officers, and so on, including the fact that there was no warrant.

I am not an expert in this area, but over the last little while I have seen a relaxation of the American insistence on warrants. Even in certain situations where there is the fruit of the poisoned tree, so to speak, the Americans have been deeming that to be admissible.

This specific program ensures that the officers who are working in Shiprider, whatever side of the border they are on, are also mindful of the legal criteria should that case be prosecuted in the other jurisdiction. In some of the cases I am familiar with and have been briefed on, that issue is troubling. However, because both the American and the Canadian authorities are working together, they can anticipate some of the concerns, perhaps, that an American court would raise if an individual were apprehended in Canada but the trial were to take place in the United States.

That is being worked out, even outside of the context of the Shiprider program. In fact, the Shiprider program only enhances our ability to respond to legal objections of the nature that you pointed out.

Mr. MacKillop: In addition, to become Shiprider officers and to participate in the program, officers have to be designated, and they cannot be designated by the authorities until they have gone through an intensive and specific training program that focuses very much on the different pieces of legislation and the different environments in which the law enforcement officers will be working.

Not only are they under the command and control of the host country, but they have been trained in the application of Canadian laws, for example, and how they differ from American laws and vice versa. Only if they can pass that training and understand it would they become designated officers for cross-border maritime law enforcement.

Senator Segal: The Coast Guard is an American military service. The Canadian naval reserve is a military service; the reserve has as its remit aid to the civil power and port safety. Do you anticipate that the reserve and its ships will be part of this exercise, or is it purely about the police?

Mr. MacKillop: It is peace officers.

Senator Plett: Senator Segal already asked one of my questions.

Minister, I fully support this proposed legislation and agree with you that we are the net beneficiary of this type of legislation.

You already referred to your own riding, and I want to touch on that. As you know, that is my riding as well.

Mr. Toews: I am your member of Parliament. I might be reminding you of that in the next few months.

Senator Plett: I appreciate that. You truly have my support, minister.

Mr. Toews: Thank you.

Senator Plett: You mentioned that you have concerns, as I do, about our borders in Southern Manitoba. From my cottage, I can throw a stone into Minnesota or into Ontario, so that is a fairly large body of water. I know it is not as busy as the ones we have done our trial programs on. Would this legislation down the road include all waterways that border the United States? Would we have this same program in Southern Manitoba and other areas?

Mr. Toews: Certainly there is no impediment to establishing a similar kind of unit on the Lake of the Woods you are talking about, in the southeast corner of Manitoba. This provides the legal framework so that it could be right across wherever we have lakes that straddle the border, as we do in the southeast corner of Manitoba and in many areas of Ontario and elsewhere. That is why this is important. It would not simply be a pilot project any longer, but we would have the full authority to implement the program pursuant to the legislation.

Senator Plett: As the program is successful in some areas, the people who want to transport goods across the border will want to find places that are not as heavily patrolled, so I certainly hope that would be the case.

Further to that, I know that once the waterways are secured and this program is successful, the criminal element will find other ways of transporting stuff. Would we need new legislation, or could this proposed legislation be enhanced in such a way that this could also go on land, when they start using snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles to do what they are now doing on water?

Mr. Flack: The bill actually provides that in limited cases of hot pursuit on the water they can continue that hot pursuit into the immediate land area. That is built into the proposed legislation, but it does not provide the broad framework for doing this on basically a land-based Integrated Border Enforcement Team, which is what you are talking about, that would move in a fully operational way. The bill is geared toward Shiprider with some ability to do hot pursuit on a land area that is linked to Shiprider, but not beyond that.

Senator Plett: We would need new legislation or other legislation in order to accomplish that?

Mr. Toews: I think that is correct. I am very excited about the document that the Prime Minister and President Obama have signed. It creates that framework for discussions. Depending on the success of one of these programs, and I think we have already demonstrated a good measure of success, to see it operate on a program basis will then provide us with additional information as to whether it should be extended to other venues, such as land.

The Chair: Just to clarify, hot pursuit is included in this? If they are chasing a bad guy on a boat, and he docks on the Canadian side and leaps onto the dock, they would be allowed to do that?

Mr. Flack: Yes.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Toews: Remember, there is always a Canadian officer with him. In that sense, I do not see any impediment to the Canadian officer's being assisted.

The Chair: Both could go if they wanted to jump off the boat?

Mr. Toews: That is my understanding.

Senator Marshall: Minister, could you give us more information on the results of the pilot? From what you were saying earlier, no additional resources were provided. One thing we will have to look at in the future is how much the program will cost. I had understood that intensive training will also have to be provided to individuals participating in the program.

What other issues came out of the evaluation? Could you give us an idea of both positive and negative issues?

Mr. Toews: When I became Minister of Public Safety, one of the first things I was briefed on was the Olympics and the extension of that pilot project to the Olympic situation. The flexibility and additional resources it provided us in terms of protecting sites in Canada were certainly welcome, given where the games were situated. I think the Americans, too, in working closely with us gained a familiarity with our operations and an understanding of the way we conduct business. That building of trust is one of the most significant things I can point to; we are not competing jurisdictions, but we have a common interest in terms of threats, whether they are traditional criminal threats or modern-day terrorist threats.

Perhaps Mr. Flack or Mr. MacKillop has something to add.

Mr. Flack: I will give some specific examples from the actual pilot, to give you a sense of what they caught in the two-month pilot in actual operational terms. This was specifically the pilot in the St. Lawrence area. The initial pilot that was done in the Windsor-Detroit area picked up limited criminality and in part was a pretest for the Super Bowl, as was indicated in terms of the joint operations.

The more robust pilot was the one done on the St. Lawrence Seaway. The indications from the RCMP were that the operations contributed to 41 arrests. An abducted child was recovered; there were seizures of about 1.4 million cigarettes, 215 pounds of marijuana, cocaine as well, and vessels and vehicles associated with them. The sense was that in the Windsor pilot they got many of the logistical elements right in figuring out how to work that. In the St. Lawrence Seaway test they had a two-month opportunity to see how it worked. The sense from the operational side was that it was money well invested. I believe the RCMP invested in the order of $400,000 or $450,000 in costs in the operation. The idea would be that going forward it would again be an intelligence-based, threat-assessment-based deployment of resources. Their sense was that the pilot had a high success rate. I understand they were also seeing some diversionary activity, as indicated by one of the senators, where people were then deploying to the land frontier because the waterfront frontier was becoming more difficult, and that resulted in increased seizures on the land as well.

Senator Marshall: What would be the plan into the future? That was a pilot, and it was evaluated. When the program goes live, how periodic will the evaluations be? Is anything envisioned for that?

Mr. Flack: The RCMP did that first pilot with internal resources. Given the results, we expect the RCMP would likely continue to deploy some internal resources when the full legal framework is in place.

In terms of an overall plan — and this gets to Senator Dallaire's question about whether supplemental resources will put in place, both the acquisition of capital and the deployment of additional officers to the program — that would be a decision that would have to be taken in a budgetary context.

Senator Day: Minister, your answers to our questions are very helpful to us as we start to comprehend what is contemplated by this proposed legislation. I may be asking questions that are very similar to questions that have been asked, but I want to clarify these in my own mind.

The first point is that many people saw the Prime Minister and the President of the United States meeting just recently, and in your comments you talked about the long border between Canada and the U.S., but it is very clear that this particular bill deals with maritime water borders and not with the other aspects at this time. Senator Dallaire asked whether there is a plan to deal with land and other IBETs at land crossings. At this stage, you are telling us there is not any specific plan in that regard, notwithstanding the Prime Minister's meeting with the President. Is that right?

Mr. Toews: I think the Prime Minister's meeting with the President is very important in order for these discussions to continue. It was made clear to me in my discussions with the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, that they simply did not want one-offs, a pilot project here and a pilot project there; they wanted a commitment as allies on where we are going. Are we serious about American security? I certainly had a sense from talking with members not only of the administration but also in both houses that the security was essential in order for the trade relationship to continue in a flexible and efficient manner.

That discussion between the President and the Prime Minister was important for putting the framework in place so that specifics can then be discussed, whether it involves future legislation or other types of agreements. This particular piece of proposed legislation, in my opinion, fits in well with the overall thrust of what the Americans were asking and what we were prepared to do, because we certainly saw a benefit in doing this. I saw it personally from the Olympic context, where the Americans were able to provide us with resources that we simply could not afford; nor did we have the expertise. Whether it was Americans helping us or British or others, it was welcomed. That goes back to Senator Dallaire's comment about the integration of the intelligence, and that was very important.

The Chair: Senator Day, if I might, and Mr. MacKillop might be able to speak to this, there are other experimental programs like NEXUS and other things that are there. This is very narrow; this happens to be Shiprider, but there are other programs long under way.

Mr. Toews: I want to be sure we understand that this is not somehow extraneous to the overall discussions. It is very consistent with the nature of the discussions I hope will occur as a result of the President and the Prime Minister's meeting on Friday.

Senator Day: You mentioned the Olympics. In the Olympics, the U.S. Navy and the Canadian Navy were involved. Is it contemplated that in certain instances that would be part of this Shiprider activity, or was that just a special situation? Of course that would be in addition to the Coast Guard and the RCMP, which have been our focus on this so far.

Mr. Toews: I will let Mr. MacKillop answer. However, let us also not forget that we should not segment our resources so that we stop sharing information between other law enforcement agencies and officers. It is important inside of Canada to share that information, and that has been a real impediment to law enforcement activities inside Canada or inside the United States. The steps we are taking to integrate information across Canada and the law enforcement agencies, we are also now looking at sharing in appropriate circumstances and in the appropriate legal context with our international allies.

Mr. MacKillop: In the context of the Olympics, the partnerships and the leveraging of the expertise of our Armed Forces and other partners within the U.S. was unique to the Olympics. Within the context of the Integrated Cross-border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations, the Shiprider program, it would be peace officers on both sides, from at this point the U.S. Coast Guard and the RCMP. It might include other provincial and municipal police officers, providing, of course, that they go through the training and are designated by the authorities in Canada and in the U.S.

Senator Day: Let me take you to a border crossing that is a river and a bridge. This committee looked into that kind of situation in the past, where there was sharing of information back and forth. I do not know whether there is someone who runs the gate, and you can go in pursuit. That kind of issue raises the same question of designating someone from another country as a peace officer for hot pursuit. We talked about building one border crossing facility building for both Canada and the U.S. on the St. Croix River in St. Stephen and Calais, for example in the Passamaquoddy Bay area. This legislation does not touch that kind of situation. What I have just described to you is not covered by this proposed legislation; is that right?

Mr. MacKillop: That is correct. This bill is limited to integrated cross-border maritime law enforcement, so it is on or in shared waterways — Canada and the U.S. working together under the control of each other in each other's country.

Senator Day: Must a vessel be involved?

Mr. MacKillop: There is a vessel involved. You would have Canadian and U.S. law enforcement on the vessel. We still have our Integrated Border Enforcement Teams, so the law enforcement teams that work together now on the intelligence side would continue, and the existing partnerships as well would continue.

Senator Day: If a U.S. Coast Guard officer, for example, completes the training and becomes a designated officer and becomes a peace officer under Canadian law, does that allow that person to continue to be a peace officer even if there is no Canadian on the vessel, and is that person a peace officer if he or she sees something happening that turns out to be on Canadian water?

Mr. MacKillop: No, sir. Within the context of Shiprider, it is Canada and U.S. together, because if they are in Canada they must be under the command and control of a Canadian police officer. If they are in the U.S., our Canadian police officers are under the command and control of the U.S. In this particular instance, I would assume and hope that the U.S. officer would contact Canada as per usual and share that information so that we could proceed with an intervention, if required, with the person committing the crime.

Senator Day: The interesting situation is where there is pursuit and they cross the border. How is command and control passed over from one to the other on a vessel with designated officers that crosses the border?

Mr. MacKillop: I am sure the RCMP could inform you more on that. I have not been on the vessels, but I understand there are advanced discussions, and Canada and U.S. would talk to each other; they would try to coordinate the pushing of another into the right place to be captured if required. Yes, it is a challenge, similar to how the absence of protocols would make it difficult crossing the Ottawa-Gatineau bridges, for instance. If Ottawa could not call the Gatineau police, we would have similar issues there around sharing that information and coordinating a response. We do that on a daily basis, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective.

Senator Day: My final question is quite brief. It is to the ministry. This proposed legislation started in the House of Commons as another bill that died on the Order Paper presumably because of one of our prorogations, and now we have the proposed legislation coming back in the Senate. Is it the same bill? Is there anything we should know regarding why it started in the Senate the second time and in the House of Commons the first time?

Mr. Toews: I believe it was just a housekeeping decision more than anything. I do not know of any substantive or technical difference between the old bill and this one.

Mr. MacKillop: This bill incorporates references to Bill C-38, which is the oversight bill before Parliament right now. That is the big difference. It was initially under Bill C-60, and it was not there in the same way. Bill C-38 is now tabled in the house. We have incorporated all the references to Bill C-38 in here.

Senator Day: Apart from that, is it basically the same proposed legislation started in the other house?

Mr. Toews: Substantively, in terms of the program, it is the same.

The Chair: If this passes before Bill C-38 passes, then there would have to be some technical inclusion of that to say that now Bill C-38 applies?

Mr. Toews: Correct.

Senator Munson: I am visiting many committees as a whip. That is just a message to other Liberal senators.

There is a perception in the United States that terrorists are pouring into the U.S. from Canada. Did any of the Shiprider pilot projects have an impact on the murky world of terrorism?

Mr. Toews: I will not talk about operational issues. This is a discussion we continually have with the Americans. Part of building a trust relationship with the Americans is showing them that we are as serious about their security as we are about our own. This program allows us to demonstrate that in a tangible fashion.

I am not aware of the operational details of whether any terrorists have been picked up through the Shiprider program.

Mr. MacKillop: The RCMP has shared no information with me about intercepting terrorists, although there have been many boardings. The presence, the boardings and the communication would certainly play a preventive role with respect to anything happening on the water.

Mr. Toews: I can say generally that the terrorist threat is part of the mandate of the Shiprider program. For example, in the context of the Vancouver Olympics, terrorism was a significant concern of the individuals who participated in the Shiprider program. The training and intelligence focused on terrorist-related activities.

Senator Munson: Do you think it would satisfy Senator Lieberman with regard to his flippant remark?

Mr. Toews: I had a chance to speak to Senator Lieberman about the Shiprider program, and he was quite interested in it. Members of Parliament and senators speaking to their counterparts in the United States about what we are doing has a beneficial educational effect on American congressmen and senators.

The security issue is almost non-partisan in the United States. For Senator Leiberman, who I understand is still an independent, Republicans and Democrats alike, the primary concern expressed in all my meetings, including with the administration, was security. It became very clear to me that if we do not address the security issue, we will falter in strengthening our trade relationship.

Senator Munson: Do you anticipate Shiprider operations in those regions of the Arctic that are no longer in dispute?

Mr. Toews: That is a good question. I do not see any limitations inside the bill that would prohibit that type of cooperation.

Senator Munson: Thank you.

Mr. Toews: The committee might want to look at that, but I am not aware of any limitations.

The Chair: I think it has to do with whether they are disputed waters.

Mr. Toews: The question that nags me is whether it applies to frozen water.

The Chair: That is right up there with the snowmobile question.

Mr. Toews: That is what twigged me to it. Can you have a Shiprider program on a snowmobile crossing the water?

The Chair: It depends on whether the temperature is above freezing.

Senator Munson, an RCMP assessment was done of how the Shiprider program worked. They experienced an incident where a bad guy in a boat decided to move from the American side of the water to the Canadian side of the water, thinking that he would be home free, not understanding that Shiprider was in place, and they got him. It is about educating that element as well.

Minister Toews, Mr. Flack and Mr. MacKillop, thank you very much for your time and for being so frank, direct and concise. We truly appreciate it, and we will continue to study this.

We will continue our hearings with a small shift in focus, although it is not completely unrelated. Minister Toews, from whom we just heard today, as recently as last month was talking about the urgency of the proposed legislation that is being considered now by the House of Commons, a bill entitled Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act. We will be looking at that over the next few months.

We wanted to go to those folks who seemed to be ahead of the game in the sense of having tried different approaches to this issue of human smuggling. It is a worldwide criminal activity. For a fee, human smugglers help — and "help" may not be the right word, but maybe "con" sometimes — individuals to migrate illegally to another country, often on risky voyages that lead to sickness and death. Canada is all too familiar with human smuggling, including most recently when the MV Sun Sea showed up on our West Coast with 492 migrants aboard.

Australia has had even more experience with human smuggling. Today we are pleased to welcome Australia's High Commissioner to Canada, His Excellency Mr. Justin Brown. He has officials with him, Mr. Bruce Soar, Deputy High Commissioner of Australia, and Ms. Dot Harvey, Principal Migration Officer, to help us look at this proposed legislation.

I want to say to you, on behalf of all Canadians, that you have our heartfelt sympathy. Our hearts and concerns are with you, knowing what you are going through. We think Mother Nature is pretty brutal in this country, but you have been having a tough time with her of late. You are in our thoughts and hearts.

Welcome, Mr. Brown. We have had the opportunity to talk about this issue informally, which is what inspired me to invite you here so that we could talk about it more formally. I know you have some opening remarks, so please go ahead.

His Excellency Justin Brown, High Commissioner of Australia, Australian High Commission: Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you also for your kind remarks about the bush fires and floods in Australia. Let me make some opening remarks, and then we will be at your disposal for discussion and to take questions.

Australia has a strong track record of providing a humanitarian response to refugees, and we are continuing to work intensively to improve the situation of displaced populations.

Australia is one of around ten countries that operate well-established refugee resettlement programs, and we remain, alongside Canada and the U.S., in the top three resettlement countries. We are firmly committed to meeting our obligations under the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and to contributing to the international protection system.

Australia helped to draft the convention in 1951. Since 1945, nearly 750,000 refugees and others in humanitarian need have been resettled in Australia. In 2010-11, Australia will accept 13,750 people through our humanitarian program, following an increase of 500 places in 2008-09 and a further increase of 250 places in 2009-10.

Australia provides a substantial amount of support to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR; the International Organization for Migration, IOM; and other international organizations and non-governmental organizations, NGOs, to assist displaced persons throughout our displaced persons program. We provided funding to the UNHCR of AUS $50.5 million in 2010. We also undertake capacity building activities to assist source and transit countries to develop and implement effective regimes to manage displaced persons and counter people smuggling.

Irregular migration poses challenges across the world, challenges that require a coordinated international response. The issue is particularly acute in the Asia-Pacific region, where many risk their lives by using the services of people smugglers. In many respects, the way we see it is that people smugglers are deciding who gets access to long-term protection regimes and where it is provided.

Australia has established close operational-level cooperation with a number of regional partners, and we consider that these efforts are delivering some significant results.

Our cooperation with Indonesia, for example, which is a key transit country for irregular maritime arrivals to Australia, is particularly strong. Since September 2008, 190 people smuggling ventures involving approximately 4,753 people have been successfully disrupted by Indonesian authorities, and 117 alleged people smuggling-related arrests have been made. Australia's provision of training, funding, equipment and intelligence to Indonesia contributes to these operational successes.

You may have seen that in March 2010, Australia and Indonesia concluded an Implementation Framework for Cooperation to Combat People Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons, and that document underpins our bilateral cooperation.

Australia has also maintained a positive relationship with Malaysia on people smuggling issues. Together we have established the Malaysia-Australia Working Group on People Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons. That was established in 2009, and it enhances our cooperation, including through intelligence sharing, legal cooperation and capacity building activities. As a result of that process, law enforcement and intelligence agencies enjoy close working relationships.

In relation to Sri Lanka, Australia's bilateral cooperation arrangements have been particularly effective. In 2009, Australia and Sri Lanka signed a memorandum of understanding on legal cooperation against people smuggling, and that has increased opportunities for investigating and prosecuting people smugglers and seizing the proceeds of their criminal activity. It has also strengthened procedures for extradition and mutual legal assistance and has provided for capacity building measures, including training and technical assistance. Australia is assisting in supporting and stabilizing vulnerable displaced populations in Sri Lanka, with approximately AUS $100 million in development assistance in the 2009-11 period.

From Australia's experience, people smugglers are resourceful, and they adapt their practices to changing circumstances. As a result of our successes, we are increasingly seeing countries like Thailand become transit or staging points for maritime ventures. We are working closely with Thailand, and we appreciate and welcome the cooperation we have built with Canada in recent times in combating people smuggling in Southeast Asia.

Afghans comprise nearly 50 per cent of Australia's irregular maritime arrival caseload; as a result we have increased our engagement with the Afghan government. Recently we concluded a memorandum of understanding with Afghanistan and the UNHCR on migration and humanitarian cooperation. It covers humanitarian migration of Afghans to Australia under our special humanitarian programs, the provision of assistance to Afghanistan to build capacity in its government ministries, and the sustainable return of Afghans found not to be owed protection by Australia.

Currently, irregular migrants are treated inconsistently throughout the Asia-Pacific region, and the need for a region-wide approach is widely recognized in the region. Officials have been discussing this for some time within the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, a process that is co-chaired by Australia and Indonesia.

We believe that building a sustainable regional framework to better manage irregular migration is the most effective way to break the people smuggling model. A cooperative approach that provides for the development and application of consistent standards for protection, resettlement and repatriation of irregular migrants is essential if we are to remove the incentive for secondary movement through the region and undermine the people smuggler's business model.

Australia is focused not only on putting an end to the activities of people smuggling but also on ensuring that people are treated in accordance with the relevant international standards, particularly the 1951 convention.

We believe that an effective regional framework involves the development of a comprehensive approach to the management of irregular migration through cooperation with source, transit and destination countries, as well as relevant UN agencies and international organizations.

In developing this framework, we envisage that participating countries would be guided by the following core principles: that asylum seekers should have access to consistent assessment processes, whether through a set of harmonized arrangements or through the establishment of a regional assessment centre or centres; that persons found to be refugees under those assessment processes should be provided with durable solutions, including resettlement and in-country solutions where appropriate; that persons found not to be owed protection should be returned to their countries of origin in safety and with dignity, and returns should be sustainable and states should look to maximize opportunities for greater cooperation; that refugees and persons seeking asylum should not be refouled; that arrangements should reflect the principles of burden sharing and collective responsibility, while respecting sovereignty and the national security of concerned states; that arrangements should seek to address the root causes of irregular movement and promote population stabilization wherever possible; and that people smuggling enterprises should be targeted through both law enforcement activity and disincentives for human trafficking and smuggling.

A regional framework and any regional assessment centre established under such a framework would be premised on compatibility with the refugees convention, support for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration, and acceptance by all regional countries.

In our view, a regional assessment centre would promote consistency in the processing of asylum seekers by providing a fair and orderly process for assessing claims and resettlement and would act as a deterrent to people-smuggling by sea.

Australia is discussing these ideas with a number of key partner countries and relevant international organizations, and we look forward to further detailed negotiations bilaterally and through the Bali Process in the coming months. We welcome Canada's ongoing interest in engaging on these issues, and I would note that Prime Ministers Gillard and Harper have discussed this initiative in brief.

In conclusion, the integrity of Australia's migration program and continued community and political support for the program rely on orderly migration. Increasing levels of irregular migration damage this support. The regional framework is not a quick fix. These issues are complex; nonetheless, we are committed to working bilaterally and multilaterally with regional partners to find sustainable solutions.

The Chair: Thank you very much for your remarks. I think we both share the view that we want to deal compassionately with legitimate refugees and stop the queue jumpers and the illegal migrants who have come for economic or illegal reasons.

I do not know whether you are familiar with the proposed legislation we have pending with Bill C-49 that toughens up some of the penalties for smugglers. Are we catching up with you or ahead of you on that? Do you have actual legislation that deals with this in Australia?

Mr. Brown: We have several pieces of legislation. People smuggling has been outlawed. It has been a criminal offence in Australia for some years. Much of that legislation has been amended over time. We have had several waves of irregular migration arrivals, and we are currently experiencing a particularly high rate of arrivals.

Last year the government made more legislative amendments to increase penalties for particular offences and to define some new offences. With my rudimentary knowledge of your bill, it is difficult for me to give you a clear and concise answer as to whether you are catching up, but I would say we have had considerable experience in this area. Our legislative framework is by now, we think, quite sophisticated, as far as it can be sophisticated in an area like this.

The Chair: Are you currently dealing with illegal migrants offshore, or are you dealing with them onshore? When you intercept a ship or whatever it might be, do you take them to Australia or to a third place?

Mr. Brown: The way our system works is that, some years ago, we excised certain offshore islands from the Australian territory for the purposes of the Migration Act. People who arrive at Ashmore Reef and Christmas Island, for the purposes of our migration arrival system, are treated differently.

What happens now is that, for boats that are intercepted, the passengers are taken to Christmas Island, where they are processed. A number of individuals are accommodated there while their claims are being assessed, and a number are accommodated in Australia at different centres around the country for the same purposes.

I could probably give some numbers. For example, on Christmas Island at the moment we have about two and a half thousand people who are accommodated there while their claims are being assessed. In other locations in Australia we have over three and a half thousand in different centres and states.

The Chair: When those people are on Christmas Island, or even on shore, do Australian laws apply at that moment, or are those people in a holding area where that is undetermined?

Mr. Brown: Their claims are being assessed; that is how I would answer that question. We do not have a charter of rights, so we have a slightly different legal situation than you do.

The ability of these individuals to access all the rights a normal Australian citizen would access is much more constrained during this period.

Senator Dallaire: This is the first time in 16 years that I have been able to mention to an Australian high official the courage and commitment of Australians in reinforcing my mission in Africa. They did outstanding work. I do not think they received full recognition for what they were able to do for tens of thousands of Rwandans.

With respect to unaccompanied children, does your process take unaccompanied children and move them through a different evaluation of their suitability to remain? How are they processed to remain, or are they also subject to possible return?

Mr. Brown: Obviously child welfare is a very high priority for us in the way our system operates.

Our basic policy is that individuals remain in detention while their claims are being assessed. That applies to families and unaccompanied minors as well.

Having said that, we do seek, as far as possible, to ensure that vulnerable groups, particularly unaccompanied minors, are put in the least restrictive detention arrangements possible. Our policy to date has been to try to place unaccompanied minors in community-based detention facilities. We have some practical constraints, which means that it is not always possible to achieve that 100 per cent of the time, but that is our strong preference. That reflects the high importance we attach to ensuring that child welfare considerations are respected. At present we have a little over 1,000 minors in detention. Not all of them were unaccompanied; some of them are there as part of family groups, of which about 300 are on Christmas Island.

Senator Dallaire: The word "detention" has a pejorative tone. From some of the things I have read, they seem to be transient homes and things like that. Is the term "detention" used in a legal sense, or is it a facility that has minimum security or that recognizes that these people have likely gone through traumatic experiences? Do they have psychiatric support and so forth?

Mr. Brown: I guess it is a legal term we are using here. I am not trying to create the impression that these are prisons or quasi prisons. They vary, depending on the nature of the centre.

The Australian government deliberately uses the word "detention centre," and that is part of our information campaign to try to deter people from smuggling. I will be happy to brief you on the information campaigns we are unrolling in the region, which we think are an important part of our overall effort to try to deal with this problem.

Dot Harvey, Principal Migration Officer, Australian High Commission: I will just add that we work closely with the Red Cross in relation to unaccompanied minors and their placement in community detention arrangements.

Senator Dallaire: As well as national NGOs?

Ms. Harvey: Yes.

Senator Dallaire: With regard to smuggling for the sex trade, in one year in this country, over 200 Romanian women were brought in, all blond and blue-eyed. Once they hit the ground, they sort of disappeared, to be found in places where they were held prisoner. Their passports, or whatever they had as documentation, were withheld, and they could not even go to sessions at which they could be assessed and then processed.

Are you noticing any significant activity, or do you have a different process for human smuggling in the sex trade?

Mr. Brown: If you do not mind, we might take that question as notice. We do not have any briefing on that particular dimension of the issue. As I said earlier, we have made a number of changes to our legislation, including last year, in finding new offences under people smuggling. One of those new offences did involve particular exploitation, but I do not think it involved sex trafficking. I would be happy to check up and provide a more comprehensive response.

The Chair: That is great. We are focused on the other questions. Thank you.

[Translation]

Senator Pépin: Why does Australia attract so many irregular migrants? How is it that so many irregular migrants choose this location?

Senator Day: It is a lovely country!

Senator Pépin: Yes, I know. When we read your presentation, we get a sense of where these irregular migrants are coming from. But are there any specific reasons?

Mr. Brown: Thank you very much for your question.

[English]

Australia's annual intake of irregular maritime arrivals is a little over 6,000, which is quite large for a country like Australia. However, in terms of global trends, it is probably not as significant as, for example, some European countries that attract large numbers of irregular arrivals, some by air and some by sea.

Why do they come to Australia? I think because it is the Western country that is closest to them, and for some it is quite easy to move down the Southeast Asian land mass and across the Indonesian archipelago and make a relatively short ocean trip to land in Australia. That is the attraction, I think. Of course, there is also the obvious appeal of the way of life, that the economic and social opportunities are much greater for those individuals in Australia than would in many cases be conceivable for them in their home country.

[Translation]

Senator Pépin: In your presentation, you talk about developing and implementing practical arrangements. You say that these arrangements should target the root causes of irregular migration and promote stability. Can you elaborate a bit on the root causes of this irregular migration?

[English]

Mr. Brown: Every case is different, of course. I mentioned that Australia's irregular maritime caseload involves individuals from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Burma. Many different circumstances are driving those individuals to leave their homes to come to Australia. I am hesitant to generalize about the root causes. I think in each case the root causes are a little bit different.

For example, for some time, as a result of the conflict within Sri Lanka, Australia had large numbers of Sri Lankans coming to us as irregular arrivals. However, in the last 12 months or so, I do not think we have had any irregular arrivals from Sri Lanka at all.

The reasons for that are complex, but I would highlight that Australia has been very active in working with the Sri Lankan government to try to promote reconciliation and reconstruction of that country following the war between the government and the Tamil Tigers. I think we would argue that our efforts have made a modest but important contribution to improving the capacity of the Sri Lankan government to deal with people smuggling domestically. It is also, we think, a step towards a more peaceful and prosperous country in the long term. We think that overall that is the best solution to people smuggling that we can hope for in the near term.

Afghanistan is a different case, of course. There, the timetable for achieving that kind of outcome is perhaps longer. With Iraq, perhaps we can hope for greater progress in the near term.

There is much that needs to be done, beyond interception and disruption, to help these countries and to provide technical assistance and capacity building for these countries to deal with their internal governance arrangements and other arrangements that deter people smuggling and provide people with some hope for their longer-term economic and social good.

Senator Segal: Your Excellency, I wonder if you would "blue-sky" with us a bit on how you see this regional assessment centre perhaps being managed. Would you see it as a UNHCR operation in which there would be Australian, Canadian and other regional partners in support of a humane assessment process in that part of the world? Do you see it as an operation that would have two or three countries managing it under the terms and rules established by the UNHCR?

I know we have a long history on consular issues around the world of Australian high commissions and embassies being of great assistance to Canadians, and vice versa. Because we share a common interest here and a whole bunch of other common historical and other attributes, do you see this as something the two countries should be considering together? What do you think would make the best sense for moving this project ahead as quickly as possible?

Mr. Brown: Thank you for the question.

At this stage, my government has spelled out our vision for what a regional framework would look like, what we are seeking to achieve, and the idea of a regional processing centre is a part of that overall framework — an integral part, but nonetheless just one part.

We have not been prescriptive yet about the operation of the centre, primarily because we do not want to pre-empt or prejudge the views of regional countries, or of international organizations, for that matter. As I said in my statement, for this concept to work, it must have the support of all regional countries, be consistent with the UNHCR, and have buy-in from the international organizations that are involved in this area. We are actively discussing the concept with all of those players, including Canada, but particularly the countries in Southeast Asia, to develop the concept collectively.

You mentioned the long relationship and partnership between Australia and Canada in consular affairs. It goes beyond that, actually, into many other areas, which I will not go into now. I do think there is an important role for Canada in this field, in the sense that Canada is an important resettlement country, as I said in my statement. It has a long-standing tradition of the highest level in respect of humanitarian resettlement and programs of that nature. We think Canada's involvement would send a positive signal to all of the countries in the region that need to be involved in this exercise that it has a high degree of international support and that it is a workable concept.

As I said in my statement, I think the problem we face at the moment is that there are myriad forms of treatment of people smuggling by regional countries. In fact, some countries do not see people smuggling as a criminal offence; they have no domestic laws against such offences. Others categorize it as an offence but do not have the resources to implement or execute those laws. We are trying first to establish agreement on the principle of a region-wide approach and then to build partnerships with all the countries that see merit in the idea to develop it so that it is viable.

For Canada and Australia, two big resettlement countries and countries being targeted by people smugglers, we think if we are at the centre of the debate of that development process, then others will see it as a credible and important process that they should also be involved in.

That is probably not "blue-skying" it very much, but I am cautious about getting into too much speculation about how the thing would work. My Prime Minister has suggested East Timor as a site for a processing centre. We are discussing with the East Timorese government whether it is prepared to accept that.

Senator Marshall: I want to make sure I got the numbers right. Did you say there are 2,500 individuals on Christmas Island now? Did I understand that correctly?

Mr. Brown: I will give you the exact number. As of earlier this month, there were 2,690 irregular maritime arrivals accommodated on Christmas Island. At other locations around Australia, the number is 3,642.

Senator Marshall: There are irregular migrants also in Australia, not just at Christmas Island. Is that right?

Mr. Brown: That is right.

Senator Marshall: How do you house and accommodate that many people on Christmas Island? What sort of accommodations do you have? Could you elaborate and indicate what the usual outcome is when these people are processed?

Mr. Brown: We are not experts in this field, so we are not 100 per cent au fait with the exact nature of the accommodation on Christmas Island. There are a range of different accommodations at Christmas Island, and individuals are housed in those. That is about as much as I can offer you.

As I said, on shore, the different centres depend on the nature of the individuals. For families, for example, the centres are a lot more liberal than they are for single men. It is a diverse range of accommodation options. It is hard for me to give you an exact description of them.

Senator Marshall: In the late 1980s, my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador experienced quite an influx of refugees from Bulgaria. There were quite a few; in the thousands. We are a small province, and it was quite a challenge. I was looking for some insight as to how you overcame that challenge.

Mr. Brown: I can assure you it is a major challenge. We are experiencing quite severe capacity constraints in some of these centres.

Senator Marshall: I would think so. What would be the outcome? What happens to most of these people? Do you have any information? Are most of them returned to their home country? What is the usual outcome? How long would they be waiting to be processed?

Mr. Brown: If I could answer the last part of your question first, the average processing time from arrival to settlement is about 177 days. The average processing time from arrival to voluntary return is 114 days. The average processing time from arrival to involuntary return is significantly longer than that, but I do not have a number, I am afraid.

We have had some removals in recent years, but it has been a relatively small number. For example, over the period 2008 to 2011, 189 people were removed, some to Sri Lanka. As I mentioned in my statement, we have recently concluded a memorandum of understanding with Afghanistan that provides for returns to that country as well.

As you can see from the large numbers that we receive and the relatively small number of returns, many of these individuals are ultimately resettled in Australia.

Senator Marshall: Right, but in the meantime, I think it would be the taxpayers of Australia that would fund it. I am just trying to think of the process and the cost.

Mr. Brown: A very high cost is involved, yes.

Senator Marshall: Thank you.

Senator Plett: Thank you, Your Excellency. You just finished answering my second question about how you deal with returning people, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Thank you for that.

Senator Marshall touched on my other question a bit. Clearly, you have not built a resort island at Christmas Island; it is not intended to attract people. I appreciate that. Earlier in your remarks, you specifically and intentionally used the term "detention centre." I understand why you would do that. Obviously, the message of what you are doing, that is, the message about the accommodations at Christmas Island, must be getting back to the countries that some of these people come from.

How successful has your program been? Have some of the boat loads slowed down as a result of what you are doing in not making it nice and luxurious for them? What is the success there?

Mr. Brown: I think we have had mixed results, to be quite honest. For example, since July 2008, we have had a little over 10,000 irregular arrivals in Australia; more than 200 ships have arrived. That is similar to the previous wave that I mentioned, which was in 1999 to 2001. We had a period between 2001 and 2008 where the numbers were significantly down, and now we are at a different wave.

How successful have we been? We think the numbers would be a lot higher if we did not have the arrangements in place. In my statement, I did not talk a lot about the operational arrangements that we have to intercept boats coming to Australia, nor did I talk about the intelligence that we have in the field to try to detect and disrupt these sorts of adventurers. However, they are a big part of our effort to deal with this problem. Our argument would be that although the numbers are still quite high, they would be a lot worse if we were not devoting this kind of effort to it.

We have seen some success, particularly in relation to Sri Lanka; as I mentioned, we had large inflows from that country that have pretty much stopped. We are continuing to receive inflows from the countries that I mentioned, particularly Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. There is significant instability in those countries, and the push factor from those countries is a serious problem. There is only so much we can do to disrupt that.

The regional processing framework concept is an attempt to signal that we need a long-term, sustainable solution that cuts off the smuggling at the source rather than deals with it once it is on the foot.

Senator Plett: Further to intercepting the ships, I am sure in Australia you, as we do here, that these ships are coming from wherever they are coming from, so you are well prepared. You obviously have some form of coast guard, or whatever terminology you use in Australia, to intercept the ship and board it. How do you decide where to take the people, whether to one of the islands or to your mainland? Who makes that determination? Is it made on the ship?

Mr. Brown: My colleagues might correct me if I am wrong, but the decision for all the commanders of the vessels that are patrolling our northwest coast is that the passengers on any vessels intercepted are automatically transferred to Christmas Island, where the initial assessment is undertaken. The individuals then are either accommodated on Christmas Island while their claims are being assessed or transferred to one of the centres on the mainland, also while their claims are being assessed. The basic rule of thumb is that any interceptions are immediately transferred to Christmas Island.

We intercept 90 per cent to 95 per cent of vessels, in our estimate. You might have seen the media coverage just before Christmas of the tragic case of a boat that was washed up onto the shores of Christmas Island. That was among of the 5 per cent of vessels that we did not detect before they got into the waters around Christmas Island, and the consequences of that were obviously tragic.

We do have quite a sophisticated range of maritime assets in that region that we use to detect the trade, but we do not have the capacity to detect everything at the moment.

Senator Plett: You take the entire boatload to Christmas Island, and someone there determines whether they stay there or get transferred. Would we be correct in assuming that possibly the less desirables are left on the island and the rest are taken off the island?

Mr. Brown: I do not have that information in front of me.

Senator Plett: You do not need to send it.

Mr. Brown: As I said in response to Senator Dallaire's question, with particularly vulnerable populations, and where child welfare considerations are prominent, we try to move them to community-based centres, which are all on the mainland rather than on Christmas Island.

The Chair: Does it also have something to do with whether or not you intend to prosecute on Australian soil as opposed to sending them back to the country of origin?

Mr. Brown: I do not think so. It is usually for much more prosaic reasons, such as where there is space and which space suits the family or the individual's particular needs. That is how it works. The legal issues apply regardless of where they are being held.

The Chair: It is the same issue here as well.

Senator Day: Most Canadians have become aware of the idea of diverting the ship of refugees to one of the islands. That was presumably in the past because, as you indicated in your remarks, High Commissioner, those territories were excised from some of the immigration laws that you had that made it easier and quicker to process.

Our briefing note indicates that in November of last year a court decision set that whole concept aside. Is that still up in the air, or is that concept now gone?

Mr. Brown: You are correct. A High Court of Australia decision last November did find that there were some problems in terms of the procedural fairness and the procedures that were in place to assess individuals in the first instance. In response to that ruling, the government is introducing a new determination process, which will take effect on March 1. We believe that will enable irregular maritime arrivals to present their claims more quickly and to be dealt with in a more timely and orderly fashion.

The High Court's ruling does not affect the fundamental elements of the system, but it did find that there were issues of unfairness in a procedural sense with the way the system was working in relation to initial assessment. The government is moving to deal with that.

Senator Day: In the future, as of March 1, will there still be the need for some islands off the mainland that have different rules?

Mr. Brown: Yes.

Senator Day: That need will still exist?

Mr. Brown: There is nothing in the High Court decision that found any legal issues in relation to those particular arrangements. It is purely within the procedural aspects of the initial determination.

Senator Day: As I understand it, one of the major advantages to the process you had set up is avoiding the various levels of appeal that went on and on for years. We experience that here. It is very difficult for us in certain instances, especially where those who have quite a bit of money can use the system to avoid the process.

The other question I have is with respect to the Bali Process negotiations and process. Is that an attempt to set up the same rules of assessment for all countries? Here in Canada, one of the major claims being made by refugees is that if they go back, they fear for their life, or they will be tortured. As soon as that claim is made, that stops the process. We cannot extradite if there is any possibility of that. Will that be part of the Bali Process? Will you have that kind of restriction to sending someone back?

Mr. Brown: The Bali Process has been in existence for some time. As I mentioned, it is chaired by Australia and Indonesia. The membership includes source countries, transit countries and destination countries. The basic objective is to improve the consistency and the degree, if you like, of comprehensiveness of the measures individual member countries take to deal with this problem. I mentioned earlier that some countries do not have domestic laws that recognize people smuggling as a criminal offence, so part of it is trying to improve the legal framework in the region; part of it is to facilitate operational-type collaboration between law enforcement agencies, for example. We would also like the Bali Process to move in the direction you have just flagged, toward a region-wide common regime that deals with all aspects of this problem, including the issue you just mentioned, which is how to deal with these particular allegations that individuals might make, that their return raises particular human rights concerns.

We have proposed the regional processing centre concept as part of a regional framework to deal with these inconsistencies and different approaches to the problem that make the current handling of this trafficking very difficult for individual countries on their own. That is the rationale.

Senator Day: Our concern is that there are legitimate refugees, and we want to help them, but we also recognize that there are others taking advantage of the system. It surprises me that you have not found very many who are taking advantage of the system in Australia, and therefore you are not sending many back. That is probably the reason you have so many coming, because the message of those who return is, "You had better have a legitimate claim or you will be back." If there are very few coming back, it seems to encourage the process.

Mr. Brown: You are right that the settlement rate is relatively high, but I think that part of the issue up to this point has been that we have not had the governance arrangements in place to facilitate returns. We are working on those. We have concluded an arrangement with Sri Lanka and now with Afghanistan, so I think returns will increase. Some countries, such as the U.K., have a large number of returns taking place, some voluntary, many involuntary. I think Australia will move in that direction.

You are right, of course, that if people see a high settlement rate, they will keep coming. Our concern is with maritime arrivals. No one in Australia is saying we should not accept legitimate refugees. We are saying we should not accept people who use this particular mode of arrival to try to get access to our systems and our programs in ways that will disadvantage others who are maybe even more worthy of this kind of protection.

We are focusing carefully here on our regular maritime arrivals. I hope there is no confusion. We are not saying from Australia's viewpoint that we are trying to crack down or limit or somehow or other constrain our overall humanitarian programs; we are not. It is purely to try to deal with this problem of maritime arrivals.

Senator Day: Do those maritime arrivals that you decide to allow have a legitimate claim? Or is it that you cannot determine that it is an illegitimate claim, so therefore they are staying? What status do they have, and how do they compare to those who have been applying for years to go to Australia through the immigration laws? What status do the refugees have in relation to those immigrants who come in under the normal process? What I am looking for is whether or not they jump the queue.

Ms. Harvey: Their status is the same. Once a person has been granted settlement in Australia, he or she is a permanent resident the same as any other permanent resident who may come to the country in any way.

On the question about queue jumping, we would like to carefully manage the program. We have a certain number of people we resettle under the refugee part of the program. We have another percentage that we resettle under the humanitarian part of the program. They are slightly different. We manage those program numbers carefully. The large number of illegal maritime arrivals does put pressure on that program.

The Chair: I have just a quick point here because we are out of time. Who pays the cost of returns? Is it the Government of Australia?

Mr. Brown: Yes.

The Chair: Senator Dallaire has a quick point.

Senator Dallaire: If a youth is identified as having been part of an armed group as a child soldier — and there has been a lot of that in that part of the world, as you know — is that an automatic no-go into your country, or is there a process whereby you acknowledge the background of a youth who has been used as a child soldier?

Mr. Brown: I am afraid I will have to take that question on notice as well. There is a sophisticated character reference process that individuals go through as part of the assessment. With respect to child soldiers, I am not sure how minors are handled under that process and with that particular background. I would need to check with our people. I will do that and I will provide a response as soon as I can.

Senator Dallaire: If you would, I would appreciate it. Some countries will deny those youth entry just because they used weapons, even though they were child soldiers. That is against the spirit of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. I would appreciate that answer.

The Chair: Thank you very much. I want to thank you on behalf of everyone for taking this time and setting the stage. This is legislation we are considering here. We will talk to our own Canadian Special Advisor on Human Smuggling and Illegal Migration we hope soon, but we appreciate your laying out the issue for us and giving a heads up for everyone that we need to deal with this question internationally and together as nations around the world, especially the popular ones like Australia and Canada.

Mr. Brown: The two best ones.

The Chair: Thank you very much, High Commissioner, and also Mr. Soar and Ms. Harvey. We appreciate your being here.

We began our discussion today focused on what the committee is now studying, Bill S-13, known as the Shiprider bill. This is a framework agreement between Canada and the United States that will allow joint operations on shared water maritime borders. We heard from the minister on this and have read our extensive briefing notes.

We are now pleased to welcome the police forces who understand this from an on-the-ground, or on-the-water, point of view and who were involved with the pilot projects.

From the Windsor Police Service we have Deputy Chief Jerome Brannagan and Superintendant Vince Power; and from the Ontario Provincial Police we are joined by Chief Superintendant Brian Deevy, Commander, Field Support Bureau; and Staff Sergeant Brad R. Schlorff, Field Support Bureau, Emergency Management Section.

Chief Superintendant Deevy, you are not part of this proposed legislation, but you have experience with it because you have worked with the Integrated Border Enforcement Teams.

Chief Superintendant Brian Deevy, Commander, Field Support Bureau, Ontario Provincial Police: We have been involved in many joint forces operations in Ontario with our federal and national police partners.

It is my pleasure to appear before you this evening to provide some comments on Bill S-13 from a provincial policing perspective. As you are aware, in Ontario, right from Manitoba to Quebec, it is impossible to travel to or from the United States without crossing a body of water, although there is the odd spot where a decent golfer could hit a golf ball across the border. This proximity has been exploited criminally since our two countries were established, a boat often being the tool for that exploitation.

I have provided a brief handout with details of police of criminal jurisdiction along the Ontario-United States border. Over 90 per cent of that area is policed by the Ontario Provincial Police, OPP, with the remainder by 18 municipal police services, including my friends from Windsor, who are designated with marine policing responsibilities. There are some 396,000 bodies of water in Ontario, of which about 95 per cent are in OPP jurisdiction.

Waterways policing is safety-driven. Our officers enforce federal and provincial legislation that is intended to keep people safe from injury and death. A large component of our work is the provision of search and rescue. The police goal is to reduce injury and loss of life. Statistically, over the past 10 years we have made great strides in that regard. These efforts are delivered at the front line detachment level. Across the province we have about 144 OPP boats of various sizes and approximately 350 officers assigned to marine duties. Much of our work takes place at detachments located along the border, which is where the majority of our boating takes place.

Provision of marine policing is just one of a number of tasks that detachment commanders must juggle as they face their day-to-day triaging of applying limited resources to often competing calls for service. The OPP officer who drives our boat one day is the same officer who does traffic enforcement the next, shows up at the downtown bar fight, and responds when someone is trying to break into your house.

Providing service as the police service of criminal jurisdiction along the border, be it at or between ports of entry, entails not only a front-line uniform presence but also the provision of significant investigative resources. Border crime has caused us to develop specialized investigative units that are heavily invested in partnerships with both Canadian and U.S. law enforcement agencies. Cross-border fraud investigations, multinational pornography investigations, and indeed our provincial anti-terrorism unit are dependent on similar relationships.

We engage in leveraging daily. It really adds up to sharing with our neighbours. We leverage resources with our municipal and RCMP partners in nearly everything we do. We also enjoy very solid relationships with our U.S. colleagues, including the U.S. Coast Guard, particularly at the local detachment level where our front-line officers interact across the border daily with their American peers. Effective interaction is relationship-based and relies on informal ways to work things out.

To come back to that uniformed officer in the patrol vessel working the border water, in a typical season, OPP members spend more than 55,000 hours engaged in marine law enforcement activities. We have leveraged every possible Canadian partnership to keep our boats out on the water, routinely partnering with our municipal colleagues, RCMP officers, conservation officers, et cetera, to maximize our presence. If we were able to expand that network of partners across the border, a meaningful increase in presence and effectiveness would result.

While the OPP has not been involved in formal discussions regarding Shiprider, we have been very much engaged with the RCMP, both corporately and at the front line, in other marine security initiatives, so we have paid attention to the evolution of Shiprider. In no uncertain terms, we strongly believe it is the way to go to mitigate the challenge of an invisible line in the water representing the international border, which only the good guys respect.

Shiprider is not a panacea, but it certainly could go a long way toward to making how we do our work more effective and efficient. We are particularly interested in the potential opportunity for engagement suggested by clause 7(1)(b) of the bill and would wholeheartedly welcome discussions toward OPP officers being included as cross-border maritime law enforcement officers.

Deputy Chief Jerome Brannagan, Windsor Police Service: Honourable senators, the mission of the Windsor Police Service is to prevent and investigate crime, to provide support and to enforce the law in partnership with the community.

The great nations of Canada and the United States of America are separated by a body of water that is 1 kilometre wide and 22 kilometres long between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan.

The Detroit River passes over the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, linking the centres of both cities. It also passes under the Ambassador Bridge, linking the NAFTA highway from Mexico to the St. Lawrence Seaway. These two crossings play host to the busiest border crossing in North America. In terms of security and economics, these crossings have an immense impact on the well-being of both countries.

The waterway plays host to one of the busiest pleasure boat areas in North America. Over 400,000 recreational boats from both countries travel the Detroit River during boating season. The river also supports constant freighter traffic from the Atlantic Ocean throughout the Great Lakes water system. Over 1,700 commercial or ocean-going ships docked in Windsor in 2010, while over 3,000 more passed through the Detroit River.

All three options for passage from one country to the other afford opportunities for willing criminals to engage in moving illicit commodities across international borders. Criminal organizations have for years taken full advantage of the lack of ability of law enforcement agencies to work together effectively at the Canada-United States border. These illegal opportunities pose a direct threat to the citizens of Windsor and the Province of Ontario, as well as the country, by way of the illegal importation of prohibited commodities such as firearms, drugs and illegal aliens. The high value in these commodities is increased due to the high risk involved in crossing international boundaries for criminal gain, by land or by water.

The primary obligation of the Windsor Police Service is the safety and security of the citizens and guests of the City of Windsor. We are the front line, the primary responders to any event that threatens that safety, even if that event has provincial or national implications.

I point this out because, although our municipal police service's mandate is to the City of Windsor, we fully understand that our response could be to a matter having a great affect on the region, province or country. We do not police from a national or provincial strategy, but we do accept our responsibility as first responders for any such event that may occur in our jurisdiction.

The Windsor Police Service has a long history of partnerships with other law enforcement agencies. On a regular basis, we have partnered with the Department of National Defence, DND; the Canada Border Services Agency, CBSA; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, RCMP; the Ontario Provincial Police, OPP; and numerous law enforcement agencies from the United States.

In October 2009, the Windsor Police Service was provided a unique opportunity to enter a pilot project known as BEST, Border Enforcement Security Task Force. This was a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security initiative directed to border areas between Canada and the United States. BEST is the creation of multiple law enforcement agencies from both Canada and the United States working together as teams to enhance cross-border investigations involving criminal activity. The BEST arrangement has many similarities to Shiprider. We have found great advantage to having Windsor officers working on the American side of the river. The greatest advantage is access to real-time information and intelligence that affects my city, province and country.

Much like our friends at the OPP, Windsor officers working the waterways with numerous vessels from both countries never fail to support any another agency in need. This often is through moral obligation as opposed to legal authority. Marine officers of the Windsor Police Service work on the water with their American counterparts daily. Shiprider provides the legal authority to support our law enforcement officers' mandate, which is to keep our citizens safe from harm.

The Windsor Police Service supports Shiprider, and we are grateful for the opportunity to provide you with our viewpoint. I look forward to any questions.

The Chair: It is wonderful and rare to sit in Canada and listen to police forces from different jurisdictions say, "Come on in and help us solve this problem," instead of, "Not in my backyard." Thank you very much for that. A bit later, I would like to have you draw the comparisons between BEST and Shiprider and others.

Senator Dallaire: I sat as the chairman of the National Police Services advisory board, and we have a panoply of different jurisdictions meeting each other on the water. My question is about the exchange of information, as you were telling us, and particularly intelligence, in regards to the protection of sources and dissemination, plus the responsibility for collating that information for you to be able to use. Who is really running that? How do you actually do that? It is not verbal. Do you have secure nets that you use to provide that information to each other?

Mr. Brannagan: From the standpoint of the Windsor Police Service, information is the critical lifeline. There is great difficulty in exchanging that information through communications systems that are secure. We do not have them. That is certainly a downfall. However, the information that we do acquire through our BEST enforcement officer in the United States is secure because he brings it back to our country with him. That is how we deal with the cross-border information from a BEST standpoint. On the water, it is open channels.

Mr. Deevy: We have an intelligence bureau in the Ontario Provincial Police that has a well-established process for gathering, analyzing and sharing information. There has been a lot to learn since the Arar inquiry, and that has changed the way we do business. We make sure we follow those new rules. It makes the sharing of intelligence more difficult, but it ensures that it is more appropriate than it was in the past. We are very cognizant of that.

The strength of Shiprider is potentially that we will have Canadian law enforcement and American law enforcement on the same vessels working together simultaneously, so there will be no need to pass intelligence back and forth. They are both together. They can both see what is happening. If it is on the American side of the border, the Americans can take the lead, and, if it is on the Canadian side of the border, the Canadians can take the lead.

Senator Dallaire: We are talking about intelligence-based policing, which means preventative. You have both used that term extensively. You need the information beforehand, and it has to be disseminated. My question is about the complexity of disseminating information in a secure and timely fashion. There is no national network established to be able to permit that, and although we are looking at the water area here, that applies throughout the capability. Am I correct with that?

Mr. Deevy: There are secure networks for sharing information. Internally, within the OPP, we have ways of encrypting messages so that we can share them within the organization. I believe that extends to other police services, but I am not an expert in that area. My area oversees emergency management and emergency response. We have an investigation of organized crime area that would be able to give you an answer to that question. I may have to go back to get that answer.

Superintendant Vince Power, Investigations, Windsor Police Service: I can add to that. There are two issues here. There are long-standing interoperability issues with respect to communications between the Americans and Canadians. However, from the intelligence standpoint, we are much like the OPP. There is a provincial intelligence database, the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, CISO, which houses real-time information that can be disseminated. From our perspective in Windsor, certainly with an officer that we have stationed in Detroit, we can get real-time intelligence information through the American counterparts.

Senator Dallaire: We are working here with a rather sophisticated partner that is a national service, the Coast Guard. They are working from a whole different set of parameters in regard to dissemination of information and protection of sources. You have no fear that that information will be readily made available to you for you to accomplish your mission on the water area?

Mr. Brannagan: My marine people indicate that over the years they have noticed different qualifiers on what information will be provided to our front-line people, and that is realistic. Sometimes national security issues are involved, and we understand that.

I have been told by my people that it is not infrequent that the Coast Guard, which my people work with every single day, is in possession of certain information from the United States that is not downloaded even to their people on the boats in the municipalities; everyone is determining who will disseminate what information and how far down the line it will go. Most frequently, that information does not seem to reach the front-line people, whether they are on the water or in the patrol cars.

Senator Dallaire: I am most keen on your concepts of operations on the water, because I do not get the feeling that there are that many vessels in your possession, all of you together, to be bumping into each other at night. What night capabilities do you have deployable on the water?

Mr. Brannagan: In Windsor, we do deploy in the evening as well as days and afternoons. We have two vessels from our unit, and I can tell you, as a personal private boater myself who is on the water all the time, that there is an incredible increase in the American presence on the Detroit River, and they are out 24-7. I live on the water myself and have the opportunity to watch them day and night, and they were out a week ago with an ice vessel. They are out all the time, significantly more than we see on the Canadian side.

As far as night operations, they work nights, and we work nights as well. The Detroit River is a busy shipping channel, so boaters are alert on the water at night because the freighters come and go frequently.

Mr. Deevy: The same would apply to the OPP. We have 144 vessels that work day and night, working when they need to work, but that is not many vessels when you consider the length of the border and the amount of water to be patrolled. It comes down to gathering information intelligence and applying the resources where they will have the maximum benefit. Working collaboratively with our partners, be it our municipal police services or across the border, allows us to get a bigger bang for the buck, and Shiprider would be or could be potentially an extension of that.

Senator Dallaire: The introduction of UAVs and FLIRs and night vision systems is yet to be fully deployed, certainly on the Canadian side. Would that be right?

Mr. Brannagan: Yes, and they are on the American side.

Senator Dallaire: Did we have to arm our border guards?

Mr. Brannagan: Did we have to? We flew from Windsor today with a CBSA intelligence officer, and we had that conversation. We did say that the culture for doing that will take years to become ingrained in all, because most of those people joined that organization when it was an unarmed organization, and they had no intention of being armed in their career. The challenge has been for many of them to engage in that career, and 5, 10, 15 or 20 years down the road they are now being expected to be armed.

In the Windsor area we have two border crossings, as I mentioned, and a significant number of employees at CBSA are still not excited about the responsibility of carrying firearms.

Senator Dallaire: It cost $1 billion just to arm our border guards.

Mr. Brannagan: I understand. That is a lot of money.

Senator Dallaire: You can imagine what we are trying to implement here.

Senator Plett: Money well spent.

The Chair: From a policing point of view, presumably this is a plus.

Mr. Brannagan: Yes. We are in the crime-prevention business, and I have great respect for the CBSA. Its officers are trained very differently than police officers are, however, and their responsibilities are very different. In the big picture we are all doing the same thing, but our responsibilities are different in the way we meet our individual challenges, whether police or CBSA border guards.

Mr. Deevy: The threat dictates whether they need firearms. They have made a case that there is a significant threat and that they need to be armed.

Going back to the intelligence question, Staff Sergeant Schlorff raised the Marine Security Operations Centre, which is an intelligence fusion centre that you may or may not be aware of.

Senator Dallaire: Where is it?

The Chair: He will not tell us, but some members of this committee did visit it.

Staff Sergeant Brad R. Schlorff, Field Support Bureau, Emergency Management Section, Ontario Provincial Police: It is in the vicinity of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Senator Dallaire: DND runs the ones on the coast, but you guys run the one there?

Mr. Schlorff: The RCMP has the lead in Great Lakes Marine Security Operations Centre, but DND is present as well.

Senator Day: Let us talk about the OPP and the number of cooperative efforts that you have already been engaged with. Is this just part of your normal budget, or does some federal money come to you to help you expand that activity?

Mr. Deevy: Provincial funding is made available on occasion, depending on what the initiative is. In some cases we are partners in federally led joint force operations, but we are on the hook for that. It is not funded by the RCMP.

I do not have all the ins and outs of each individual joint force that we participate in, so I could not give you a comprehensive answer on that. I do know that the Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit announced two or three years ago, maybe more than that, was a provincially funded, OPP-led unit that municipal and federal partners joined in. Also the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, ATF, on the American side is a major partner in the Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit. Normally, we are on the hook for the initiatives that we participate in.

Senator Day: You indicated support for this bill that we are taking under consideration, Bill S-13. You specifically mentioned clause 7(1). You are looking forward to being designated under that clause, presumably.

Do you anticipate that there will be an exchange of funds from the federal government to the provincial government or to the OPP directly for those activities?

Mr. Deevy: We have looked at this. We have 350 officers doing marine policing at any given time. There would not necessarily need to be an increase in the number of officers doing marine policing; they would just need to be designated so that they could work with their American partners.

The Chair: That means going through the training process.

Mr. Deevy: The training process and the designation process. Then they would be able to partner with their American counterparts.

As a simple example, we could have an OPP boat with two marine officers on board meet with an American Coast Guard boat with two members on board and switch the members on the boats so that we have a Canadian and an American on each boat, and off they go. If they are fully trained marine people and have had the training required by Shiprider, they are good to go. Would that cost a lot of money? We are not increasing the number of officers doing marine policing, just getting a bigger bang for the buck.

Senator Day: Presumably with Shiprider you did a certain number of tests just to see how this is working. If Bill S-13 becomes law, it will cover all waterways that form borders, and there could be a significant increase in activity.

Mr. Deevy: Yes. We were not involved in the pilot projects for Shiprider. We are cognizant of them, are aware of their development and support the direction. This is integrated policing, collaboration and leveraging of resources. It is filling gaps that criminals could take advantage of across the border. We were not directly involved in the pilot projects, however.

Senator Day: You said 350 OPP officers are involved, but that is not full time; is that correct? You described that they could do this or that.

Mr. Deevy: It is seasonal. During the boating season in late spring, summer and early fall, they would be dedicated to those duties full time. At other times they would be doing general law enforcement.

Senator Day: Have you calculated how many person-years the OPP has dedicated to this type of the policing on the water?

Mr. Schlorff: In an average year we expend about 55,000 hours. We could break that down into a full-time equivalent, if you need it. That is seasonally how much time is spent on the water.

Senator Day: What do I divide 55,000 by? How much is one full-time equivalent?

Mr. Schlorff: It is around 1,400 hours per year, but I am not positive of that.

Senator Day: If it is anything different you will let me know; otherwise I will divide 1,400 into 55,000, and that will help me out with the figure I was looking for.

As far as Windsor is concerned, is it contemplated that under clause 7 of this bill some of your officers could become designated?

Mr. Brannagan: Yes. We would look forward to that. Because of the style of policing we have to do on the water in our area, it is relatively small. You heard the gentleman from Australia speak; we certainly do not have those issues in Windsor. However, the waterway in Windsor is extremely busy. As I mentioned earlier, the U.S. Coast Guard, Homeland Security, border patrol, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, the City of Detroit Police Department and 10 or 15 other American agencies are regularly on the Detroit River. They work with my people every day. The problem is the invisible border that goes down the middle of the river.

When my people have a boat stopped in the river and they are doing a check, it is not unusual for that boat to drift into American waters. Then, legally, our people are not allowed to enforce the law.

For us to take advantage of clause 7 of the Shiprider bill, much like Superintendant Deevy mentioned, I would have people on American boats; they would have people on my boats; and we would be able to effectively and efficiently handle that 22 kilometres of water for both nations.

From my standpoint, we would have to look more for a municipal response as opposed to a national response. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, that does not mean we do not come across issues that may not be municipally or nationally important, and we accept that responsibility. That is when we would dish off things to the RCMP, the CBSA or whomever.

Giving my people the ability to work on an American boat and Americans the ability to work on a Windsor police boat with cross-designation for law enforcement efforts in both countries would have no down side to it whatsoever.

Senator Day: Do you anticipate some transfer of funds to your police force if you did participate?

Mr. Brannagan: "Anticipate" and "wish" are two different things, senator.

The Chair: I do not think that is how it is structured.

Mr. Brannagan: I wish it was. We are a municipal police service with those responsibilities. If the federal government saw that it gets some enjoyment of that relationship with the Windsor Police Service and the U.S. Coast Guard, I am certain that we would be able to make a case that would be reasonably sound and that some funds would be used very well.

Senator Day: Thank you very much.

The Chair: To be clear, the proposed legislation as it is laid out embraces the RCMP and the U.S. Coast Guard and does not officially contemplate other people. There is just the option, if they are trained.

Senator Day: Clause 7 provides the option.

The Chair: You can train other people, but there is nothing about the exchange of funds. That is not how the framework is contemplated.

Senator Day: A prudent senator tries to determine who is paying for this.

Senator Marshall: You spoke about a number of police forces and American police forces, and then you referred to a dozen other organizations. How does it all become integrated so that the service you are providing appears seamless to the layperson? Each organization has its own culture, so there must be something there that makes everyone come together as one. Does it just happen over time, or is there training? How does it happen?

Mr. Brannagan: Generally, from our standpoint, it is relationships that my people have with all those American agencies on the water that I mentioned. Certainly, in my region, the United States Coast Guard is the lead agency in the area on the water, and it takes that lead very seriously. When we have joint force operations of any type, such as the Red Bull Air Race that we have hosted for a couple of years in Windsor on the Detroit River or the international fireworks that are world renowned, among many others, the U.S. Coast Guard takes the lead, because they have the designation for all command on the waterway. They are the ones that start it.

Senator Marshall: Do you ever have a situation where things do not go smoothly, where, after the operation, you do your post mortem and say, "Boy, we did not do that one very well"?

Mr. Brannagan: For the most part, just like any land base operation, marine operations have their difficulties and challenges. However, I can tell you that in the debriefing of most marine operations, the single most important issue is the lack of legal authority to support an American or a Canadian.

I will give you a perfect example of that. One of my marine units, with two operators onboard, had a boat stopped in Canadian waters. There were four criminals on the boat, and my people were engaging them. During the course of that, my boat called for assistance. The U.S. Coast Guard said they would be there in 30 seconds. My guys were wondering where they have a boat that will get there in 30 seconds. Thirty seconds later, a helicopter came over top and stood about 75 feet off my boat, with the occupants of the criminal boat. An armed Coast Guard operator strapped into the helicopter made his presence known by coming out of that airship and letting the criminals know that they were fully armed and prepared to support the Canadian officers.

Senator Marshall: Are there standard protocols? There must be some things that are fairly well nailed down; and other things, as you said, would depend on relationships.

Mr. Brannagan: Absolutely. This August, a major on-water exercise will take place, which the U.S. Coast Guard is hosting. It will be about three days long. They will be engaging every law enforcement vessel in the area in the scenario. They have been planning this for six months already. In the course of doing that, all the agencies involved sit at the table and become aware of what that project will be and how they will respond to it. As I mentioned, for any other operation, the Coast Guard takes the lead in my area, and they willingly supply any necessary information to my people on the water, for whatever event will happen.

The U.S. Coast Guard hosts another program called Channel Watch, in which every single private boat is stopped in a section of the river or Lake St. Clair. All the agencies participate in this. The information that is gleaned from all those operations is disseminated to all the agencies, including mine.

Senator Marshall: How many agencies are there in total? Is it 20 or 30?

Mr. Brannagan: For the whole length of the river, from Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie, counting federal agencies, there are probably 25 different agencies on the American side. Small municipalities and regions on the American side often have marine vessels patrolling their areas of concern. On the Canadian side, there are the Windsor Police Service, the LaSalle Police Service, the OPP and the RCMP, from Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie.

Mr. Deevy: I can give you an example. Lambton County has four marine officers. We jointly patrol southern Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River with the Americans. Those are all shared waterways. Fred Wessels is the inspector in charge of that local detachment. He has established relationships with the American Coast Guard, Michigan State troopers, various municipal police services on the American side of the border, the border patrol, the sheriff department. There are any number of stakeholders. The American Coast Guard has the lead, but he interacts with all his American policing partners on a regular basis and looks for any opportunity to interact formally and informally — whatever can be done to enhance enforcement efforts on both sides of the border.

Senator Marshall: It is quite impressive to have that many organizations working together successfully and effectively. Thank you.

Senator Plett: Thank you, gentlemen, for coming out. I want to touch further on what Senator Dallaire started with, which is arming our border security people.

First, I support this. I think this was money well spent, whatever the cost was. I would suggest that maybe many of the younger border security people would be more supportive of it than some of the senior ones; I am not sure.

Specifically on the Shiprider program, these are actually better trained people. These would be OPP, Windsor Police and RCMP. It would not be the border security people who would typically be on the Shiprider vessels, would it?

Mr. Brannagan: That is my impression as well.

Senator Plett: Then really, the training that they may or may not have does not play into this.

Under what we have now, if we do not have Bill S-13, if you are in hot pursuit, do you have to stop at the border? Once the bad guys are on the other side of the imaginary line, do you have to turn back?

Mr. Brannagan: We do not have to turn back, but we cannot engage. Because of the location of our area, our boat spends a significant amount of time in American waters as well, but it cannot engage in American waters.

Senator Plett: You could follow them and radio ahead, and you could continue to follow and let the Americans know, although they probably would be well aware of it, where the boat is going?

Mr. Brannagan: Exactly.

Mr. Deevy: That is kind of a hit-and-miss strategy. The problem with that is when we are out in the water, we see something, and we cross that imaginary line and try to reach out to the Americans. Maybe they are not on the water that day; maybe they are deployed elsewhere. There is no guarantee. It is not nearly as good as having an integrated crew that can just go where it needs to go and continue to deal with whatever the issue is and can engage.

Senator Plett: We raised this question earlier. In Canada, there are certain times of the year when we all can walk on water. What happens during that part of the season? Does the Shiprider program continue once the lakes and the waterways are frozen?

Mr. Deevy: We had that very discussion. My understanding is that Shiprider is for marine policing. When that water becomes hard, then the Shiprider program does not apply, unless, over time, through lessons learned, it evolves to something more than it starts out as.

That is a very good point. Criminals are zipping back and forth on Ski-Doos. We have motorized snow vehicle patrols. We have many OPP officers involved in that during the winter months. It is the same issue: As soon as they cross the border, they cannot engage.

The Chair: You will be happy to know that when the minister was here earlier he took that under advisement. We raised the Ski-Doo and ice question.

Senator Plett: I live in an area called MOM's Way, for Manitoba, Ontario and Minnesota. It is a triangle that comes together. We have the issue of Lake of the Woods, of course, and it is a concern. I will use that as a segue into my last question.

I am very supportive of the Shiprider program. I think it is a great program, and I am looking forward to it going through both houses. However, what could we do to improve it? Are there areas that this program leaves out that could be helped a bit and enhanced?

Mr. Deevy: I read the legislation, but I am not a lawyer. I do not know whether I am interpreting it correctly. Mr. Schlorff and I have discussed it. If the bill passes, I do not think there is any guarantee that either OPP officers or Windsor Police Service officers would necessarily be designated.

As a first step, it would be preferable if there were some assurances that when this goes through other municipal and provincial police services would have an opportunity to participate in order to maximize the benefit of the program. I raised the example of Lambton. We have four marine officers there. I would want to have all four designated so that on any given day a trained marine police officer working is already designated. You could then call across the border to your partner and ask, "Who do you have working? Let us get together." On a regular basis throughout the whole boating season, you could then get the biggest bang for your buck out of the Shiprider program.

Senator Plett: I find it interesting that you say you would not necessarily be on that or that the Windsor police would not necessarily be on it. Who would necessarily be on that?

The Chair: The proposed legislation actually spells it out because it is an agreement between two countries. Ottawa cannot engage provincial or municipal police forces. It is between Canada and the United States. That framework means U.S. Coast Guard on their side, RCMP on ours.

Senator Plett: The only ones Ottawa can designate would be RCMP?

Senator Day: No. Clause 7 clearly says that "the central authority can designate an individual who is a police officer appointed or employed under the law of the province."

Senator Plett: What if they made an agreement with the OPP?

The Chair: Yes. That is separate and outside of this agreement. They can do it, but I think you heard the minister say that if there was an individual need or an area of expertise, you could go. This agreement between two countries can only deal with national policing bodies. They cannot come and mandate it. They can go and ask, however. You guys can say yes and you can go to training and it can all work, but they cannot write it down and make it law because they do not have jurisdiction.

Senator Dallaire: Because it is framework legislation, it says that that possibility exists. From listening to the minister, the more help he gets from the municipalities and provinces, the more help he will get.

Senator Plett: It sounds to me from these gentlemen that they would all be there willing to participate. Thank you very much, gentlemen; I appreciate that.

The Chair: I think that is the point. You are telling us that you would welcome it, but it is not something the federal government can mandate. They can leave it there so that if there is interest, that interest would be recognized.

Senator Dallaire: The Americans have this massive capability deployed and are continuing to increase it with new technologies, including UAVs and so on. They will make this joint with us, which gives them assets as we gain assets that way.

During the Cold War, we had many people on the intelligence side create threats in order to ensure we got a lot of capabilities. You have our friends on the southern border that have lots of capabilities. Do they have enough threat to keep those capabilities busy? Are they creating threats and in so doing sustaining indirectly even the attitude that we need all this stuff because Canada is a real sieve and that is why we have to do this?

Mr. Brannagan: From our standpoint in Windsor, they give us numbers on the products that have been seized by intelligence-led policing, and these are actual commodities. There is a significant amount. There is a realistic threat that we see every day as police officers. I do not know whether you want to call that a national threat. I appreciate that Shiprider is national and its interests are national. However, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, although we do not have a national policing strategy, we do understand some of the national issues from the mere fact that we are policing municipally every day. Municipally, those issues leak into national security issues from time to time; we appreciate that.

Mr. Power can talk about what we have seized over the years since we have been dealing with BEST.

Mr. Power: The BEST operation we have seen locally in Windsor has been very beneficial. We have conducted numerous operations with our American counterparts, and with our one officer stationed in Detroit we seized approximately $1.6 million in narcotics in 2010 alone. We are finding that people are using Windsor as a staging area for narcotics to go into the United States and using Detroit as the entryway into Canada for narcotics or guns travelling from the highway. They are not all staying in Windsor; it is a conduit.

Our staff is supporting initiatives as far as the projects we have worked on. Just in the city alone, there was over $4 million in narcotics. We cannot track exactly where those narcotics came from, but we have had huge success with our drugs and intelligence.

Senator Dallaire: Their perception, however, is that the threat is a lot stronger coming from the north than our perception of the threat coming from the south. Am I correct?

Mr. Brannagan: I would say so.

Senator Dallaire: From weapons to whatever. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, gentlemen, very much. It is very useful for us to have well-informed observers of this process because we have been involved through the IBETs and the BEST program to look at this. Thank you for that insight. We are looking at the nitty-gritty parts of the bill, and you have helped us. Thank you for making the trip. I know it was a long way to come for this.

That wraps up our committee today looking at Bill S-13, the proposed Shiprider legislation on joint maritime activities between Canada and the United States. We will be returning to this topic again next week.

(The committee adjourned.)