Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence
Issue 3 - Evidence - Meeting of February 10, 2014
OTTAWA, Monday, February 10, 2014
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day
at 2 p.m. to study the policies, practices and collaborative efforts of Canada
Border Services Agency in determining admissibility to Canada and removal of
inadmissible individuals; and the status of Canada's international security and
defence relations, including but not limited to relations with the United
States, NATO and NORAD (topic: ballistic missile defence).
Senator Daniel Lang (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on National
Security and Defence for Monday, February 10, 2014.
Before we welcome our witnesses, I would like to begin by introducing the
people around the table. My name is Dan Lang, senator for Yukon. The clerk of
the committee is Josée Thérien, and our Library of Parliament analyst assigned
to the committee is Holly Porteous.
I would like to invite the senators to introduce themselves and state the
region they represent, starting with Senator Nolin, the longest serving member
of this committee.
Senator Nolin: Good afternoon, my name is Pierre Claude Nolin. I
represent Quebec, and more specifically the region of Suroît, which is around
Senator Wells: My name is David Wells and I represent Newfoundland and
Senator Dagenais: Good afternoon, my name is Senator Jean-Guy
Dagenais. Like Senator Nolin, I represent Quebec, and more specifically the
region of Victoria, which covers Verdun and l'Île-des-Sœurs, in downtown
Senator Campbell: My name is Larry Campbell. I am the senator
representing British Columbia, so we have both coasts covered here.
The Chair: Now we can feel a little more at home.
Today we are commencing two studies, one on the Canada Border Services Agency
and the second on ballistic missile defence. We are also meeting at a new time
for the committee. Going forward, we will be sitting from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on
Mondays with a 30-minute break from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. I would like to thank
all members for their cooperation in bringing this positive change together for
On December 12, 2013, the Senate adopted the following study and reference:
That the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence be
authorized to examine and report on the policies, practices, and
collaborative efforts of Canada Border Services Agency in determining
admissibility to Canada and removal of inadmissible individuals; and
That the Committee report to the Senate no later than December 31, 2014,
and that it retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until 90
days after the tabling of the final report.
Colleagues, the work performed by the members of the Canada Border Services
Agency is extremely important to Canada's security.
According to the Auditor General's report in fiscal year 2011-12, we welcome
98.7 million travellers at our ports of entry each year. Ninety thousand foreign
nationals enter Canada every day. The agency denied entry to 5,400 people at
ports of entry and intercepted another 4,000 overseas. The RCMP intercepted an
additional 1,277 people entering Canada illegally between ports of entry.
At a time of fiscal restraint and greater interagency collaboration, we have
a duty to assess where we are and where improvements can be made to our system.
To begin, we are pleased to welcome Martin Bolduc, Vice-president Operations,
and Lesley Soper, Executive Director of Enforcement and Intelligence Program.
Martin Bolduc, Vice-president Operations, Canada Border Services Agency:
Good afternoon Mr. Chair, honourable senators. I would like to thank the
committee for the opportunity to appear today on its study of the associated
challenges in determining admissibility and inadmissibility to Canada. I am
pleased to be here with my colleague Lesley Soper, Executive Director of
Enforcement and Intelligence Program.
I will open, if I may, by briefly describing the role and mandate of the
CBSA, and providing you with some context for the work we do to protect and
The CBSA was created ten years ago, in the aftermath of September 11.
National security, therefore, is the heart of our agency, and it is a
responsibility we undertake with the utmost seriousness.
The CBSA is a law enforcement agency that provides integrated border
services, which include customs; immigration enforcement; and food, plant and
animal inspection at the border. We have a dual mandate to secure the border and
facilitate the flow of legitimate travel and trade.
Let me share with you how that mandate translates into numbers. Last year the
agency processed approximately 100 million travellers to Canada, cleared 5.4
million trucks and 14 million commercial releases. We made 93 seizures of child
pornography and approximately 400 seizures of restricted and prohibited
firearms. The agency also seized over $300 million worth of illegal drugs. Those
numbers have been growing steadily over the last several years, placing
increasing demand on Border Services.
Determining the admissibility of persons into Canada is a central part of
immigration and border security mandate. All persons coming into Canada must
demonstrate they meet the legal requirement to enter or stay in the country, and
each individual is assessed based on the specific facts presented by the
applicant at the time of entry.
The CBSA screens people at several points along the travel continuum: at the
earliest opportunity overseas, in transit, and on arrival at the Canadian
border. The agency has liaison officers deployed in strategic locations around
the world who are responsible for identifying and mitigating border-related
threats at the earliest and farthest point possible from Canada's physical
As part of their duties, the liaison officers play an important role in the
identification of improperly documented passengers before they board a plane
destined for Canada.
These officers, who are trained document examiners, work with local
authorities and airlines to verify the validity of travel documents and to
prevent those who are inadmissible or pose a security threat from reaching
Receiving and reviewing documentation in advance improves our ability to
target and interdict inadmissible people and acts as a deterrent to those
contemplating illegal immigration, and for those who would pose a threat to
Liaison officers are involved with approximately 6,000 cases of improperly
documented travel each year and at the same time facilitate the travel of
approximately 3,000 legitimate travellers, the majority of whom are Canadians
We also have officers in Canada who work with Citizenship and Immigration
Canada and other partners to screen refugees, immigrants and visitors to prevent
the arrival of inadmissible people. These officers help CIC visa officers at
posts abroad and immigration officers in Canada to determine the admissibility
of persons seeking to enter or remain in Canada. By pushing the border out,
admissibility screening takes place before a person departs their country of
origin, and those who are found inadmissible are prevented from entering Canada
in the first place. Regardless if travellers seek entry to Canada through a
physical land border or arrive in Canada by air or marine mode, all persons must
report to the CBSA and may be subject to a more in-depth examination.
It is the responsibility of every person seeking entry into the country to
satisfy the officer that they have the right to enter Canada under the law. The
agency's officers receive extensive and specialized training that focuses on
passport and document fraud, intelligence collection and reporting, identifying
inadmissible persons and threats to national security, detecting migrant
smuggling and trafficking in persons. Officers also have information on lost and
stolen documents as well as fraudulent document trends.
The CBSA uses technology such as document readers and other specialized
equipment in order to identify and intercept fraudulent documents. The detection
and interdiction of inadmissible persons is a key responsibility for the agency,
and our front-line officers play a critical role in their identification at
designated ports of entry.
Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the CBSA is authorized to
arrest and detain permanent residents and foreign nationals at ports of entry
and within Canada who have, or may have violated the IRPA.
The decision to remove someone from Canada is not taken lightly. The CBSA
ensures that the right to due process is respected in each removal case before
proceeding. Once individuals have exhausted all avenues of recourse, they are
expected to respect our immigration law and leave Canada on their own accord or
face removal. Once a removal order becomes enforceable, the CBSA has a statutory
obligation under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to remove that
person from Canada as soon as possible.
It is often challenging to execute removal orders, since people facing
removal may have no desire to comply.
The highest priority is placed on removing those who are inadmissible on
grounds of security, war crime, serious criminality or organized criminality.
As the committee is aware, the 2013 fall report of the Auditor General
contained a chapter on preventing illegal entry into Canada. The 2013 report
looked at particular elements of the CBSA's multi-layered, risk-based approach
to managing the border. The report found that some people who may have posed a
risk have been able to slip through the system and evade detection. The agency
recognizes that it is essential that the systems and processes designed to
identify those individuals work as intended. The CBSA agrees with the
recommendation from the Auditor General and is working to address the areas
identified for improvement in this report.
One of these areas is the quality of advanced passenger information and
passenger name record data that the agency receives at the front end of the
screening process. This is not a challenge unique to the CBSA but one faced by
other border administrations in other countries. To address this, we are
implementing a comprehensive action plan to improve the quality of the data
given to us by international carriers, and we expect the plan to be fully
implemented by June 30, 2014.
The Beyond the Border Action Plan will make further improvements to
strengthen advanced passenger information. Currently, air carriers provide
information only after the plane has taken flight. Legislative changes in
December 2012 will require airlines to provide information as early as 72 hours
in advance to allow preliminary screening.
Under the Beyond the Border Action Plan, the Interactive Advanced Passenger
Information initiative is further improving the timing of transmitting that data
before a flight departs, allowing the agency to make a risk determination about
passengers prior to their boarding the aircraft.
A second area highlighted by the Auditor General was the CBSA's lookouts
program. Mr. Chair, I would like to note that we had already started to address
the issue raised in the report through our own internal audit of the program and
through the implementation of an action plan that puts in place stronger control
and provides greater oversight by senior management. Indeed, in this area the
Auditor General's recommendation was that we carry on with the implementation of
our internal plan.
While noting that program improvements are required, in 2012 alone, the
lookouts program has helped identify and deny entry to 51,000 people who were
inadmissible to Canada. It remains a helpful tool in the agency's screening
I would also like to note that the report acknowledges areas of progress, in
particular in the collection, monitoring and assessment of information. A
centralized, 24/7 National Targeting Centre became operational in April 2012,
and serves as a vital link in the public safety and national security continuum
through its capacity to risk-assess people and goods prior to their arrival in
Canada. The Targeting Centre supports other law enforcement partners by
integrating intelligence on border-related and international activities.
All in all the report was fair and helpful in identifying areas where we need
to improve, and the areas where we've made progress.
In conclusion, the global threat environment has become increasingly complex.
As such, CBSA's efforts to identify, interdict and prevent those who should not
be admitted into the country do not take place at a single point, nor are they
dependent upon a single system or process. The agency works with its partners to
address threats at its earliest opportunity, carrying out its targeting and risk
assessment activities along a continuum that begins away from our shores. It is
in this way, the agency keeps pace with threats as they evolve, while balancing
its dual mandate of security and facilitation.
Mr. Chair, this concludes my opening statement. My colleague and I would be
pleased to take the committee's questions.
The Chair: We appreciate your being here to start out the study. This
study is expected to take approximately four months of hearings, two hours every
week. We are going to look at all the various aspects of what you face on a
daily basis from the point of view of how we can bring recommendations forward
that will help you and your department do the job that we ask you to do.
I will begin with one question. Do you want to further elaborate for the
committee and for the viewers who are watching here today the process for
determining inadmissibility as well as admissibility for individuals who are
coming into the country, so that people understand exactly what we're speaking
Mr. Bolduc: The process is twofold. Travellers are showing up at our
border requesting entry into Canada. The border services officer at the port of
entry has the ability, based on what is provided in front of him, to make a
decision as to the admissibility of a traveller.
The other stream of determination occurs when a foreign national applies
abroad for a visa. Depending on a series of criteria, some of those applications
are vetted by the CBSA. The CBSA, based on information, provides a
recommendation to the visa officer at the mission abroad that enables the
officer to make a decision as to issuing a visa or not.
The Chair: I will follow up with one other question, because
approximately 100 million individuals in one way or another are coming through
our ports of entry in a year's time frame.
Looking ahead, do you see that number increasing? If so, to what degree, when
you are looking forward with respect to planning, say, for the next five years?
Mr. Bolduc: If you look at the volumes we've seen last year at the
land border, the volumes are fairly constant. We're not seeing a huge increase —
less than 1 per cent. I have to say that the number of travellers we encounter
at airports is increasing at a rate of about 5 per cent a year. Most of the
foreign nationals who seek entry into Canada arrive by air, so I think it would
be fair to say that number will grow over the coming years.
The Chair: You mentioned 5 per cent on average. Is that perhaps what
we could project going forward in view of what you have experienced in the last
Mr. Bolduc: In the air mode, yes. As I mentioned, the land border is
fairly stable. Overall, the number of travellers encountered by the CBSA is
fairly stable if you combine the two, but we do see an increase in the air mode.
Senator Nolin: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Bolduc and Ms. Soper, thank
you for accepting our invitation. You understand the scope of the mandate given
to us by the Senate. It is rather specific, and we do not want to get into all
of your responsibilities. We would like to focus on admissibility and removal
Ms. Soper, is it true that you have been reorganizing your intelligence
services for about five years now?
If so, why?
Lesley Soper, Executive Director of Enforcement and Intelligence Program,
Canada Border Services Agency: We've recently reorganized ourselves to bring
together our intelligence organization with our enforcement organization.
Senator Nolin: That is exactly what I'm referring to. Why have you
Ms. Soper: Intelligence is really a service that serves our border
services officers on the front line as well our enforcement officers who are
working inland. Our goal in reorganizing to bring the intelligence function in
with the enforcement function was to ensure that there was a smooth hand-off
between our enforcement officers and our intelligence officers. Not that it
wasn't happening in the past, but those lines of communication are essential, so
we try to find a way to better increase the value of intelligence to enforcement
functions for our organization.
Senator Nolin: When you read the report of the Auditor General, were
you preoccupied by his findings or was it for you a known situation?
Ms. Soper: I think it was a known situation. You will recall that in
2008, we had KBOS, the Keeping the Borders Open and Secure audit, which had
similar findings with regard to the development of our targeting program and
then the results for the border and how well we closed the loop on targeted
lookouts and lookouts that occurred at the border.
We had been well under way re-reviewing that work we had made since 2008 when
the Auditor General came in to do the follow-up audit on that part. There are no
surprises there. In fact, if you read our management response, the Auditor
General's office had taken note of the action plan that we had developed
internally, and our targets are to deliver on those management responses.
Senator Nolin: Mr. Bolduc, what grounds do you look at when you are
considering a removal order? How is a removal set up? What are the criteria you
use to determine whether an individual should be removed from Canada?
Mr. Bolduc: A removal order is carried out as soon as the order
becomes enforceable. The individual would have had exhausted every avenue
available under the IRPA.
Senator Nolin: You just used an acronym. That refers to the
Immigration and Refugee Protect Act, correct?
Mr. Bolduc: Yes.
Senator Nolin: I want to ensure that everyone understands. You know
that we fine people here when there are too many acronyms. The chair does not
tend to enforce that rule, but perhaps we could ask you to keep that in mind. It
would be best to use as few acronyms as possible to ensure that the Canadians
who are watching will understand.
Mr. Bolduc: I will take note of that. A removal order becomes
enforceable once all avenues have been exhausted pursuant to the Immigration and
Refugee Protection Act. There may even have been a Federal Court case. At that
time, our officers will ensure that we have a travel document to proceed with
the removal. The removal can be carried out in two ways: escorted or unescorted.
After a risk and case assessment, a decision is made about whether the
individual will be allowed to leave voluntarily without being escorted by the
agency's officers. If it is determined that there is a risk, whether the
individual is a criminal or there is a security risk, the individual will be
physically escorted by the agency's officers to his or her destination country.
Senator Campbell: Thank you very much and welcome today. I have had
many years of working with your predecessor groups — customs and excise, the
border patrol, et cetera — and I think that your organization has a very
difficult job to do considering the size of our borders and the ways of entry.
I'm not going to get into the specifics of your presentation. I have specific
questions pertaining to the death of a lady in British Columbia named Jimenez.
As a former chief coroner, I understand that this is under investigation by the
Coroners Service of British Columbia. I would like to confirm with you that
because it is an in-custody death, the way the law in British Columbia is set
up, there will be a full public inquest. Is that correct?
Mr. Bolduc: I know there has been a lot of inaccurate reporting in the
media about this case. Yes, CBSA is fully cooperating with the coroner's
investigation. You, being an ex-coroner, probably know the legislation better
than I do, but following the findings of that investigation a decision will be
made to have a formal coroner's inquest in which the CBSA will again fully
Senator Campbell: You have a quite successful TV show. I don't find it
jolting entertainment, but I think it is one way of educating people about what
goes on. Are there specific groups within your organization — and I haven't
quite been able to figure this out from the TV show — whose primary function is
to go away from where the border is and act on information about where people
who may be living illegally in Canada are? Is that one function of this group of
Mr. Bolduc: Exactly. We have the people you see on the TV show, a
border services officer, but we also have a fairly significant team called
inland enforcement officers, and those people's main mandate is to enforce the
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to go into those apartments and try
to gather information on people who are inadmissible or who are illegally in
Senator Campbell: When you find someone like that, we always see them
being arrested. Where do you take them?
Mr. Bolduc: We bring them back to the office. An interview is
conducted, and based on the assessment of the officer of the case, the person
can be released on condition, meaning a reporting condition, or if we feel that
there is a flight risk, meaning that the individual could go underground, or
that there is a risk to the safety or security of Canadians, then we would
detain that individual.
Senator Campbell: When you detain, do you have your own detention
Mr. Bolduc: We manage our own detention centre. We have three. We have
one in Montreal, Laval; we have one in Toronto and one in Vancouver.
Senator Campbell: When you ``manage,'' are these policed by Border
Mr. Bolduc: There is CBSA management, but the guards are contractors
from security agencies.
Senator Campbell: Are they trained under CBSA?
Mr. Bolduc: They are trained and operate under CBSA policies.
Ms. Soper: We do full recite of those contracts and often have onsite
management in the facilities.
Senator Campbell: Would you ever take someone to Vancouver city police
cells or to RCMP detachment cells? I don't mean just in transit but to actually
be used as a holding facility?
Mr. Bolduc: Some people are detained in provincial facilities. We
don't use federal facilities.
Senator Campbell: Would they be remand centres?
Mr. Bolduc: They would be remand centres, and for those high-profile
cases where there are significant risks for safety and security, we usually use
a provincial facility because we feel that these types of facilities have the
proper personnel and proper training to deal with those more significant cases.
Senator Dagenais: Ms. Soper, we know that entry is difficult between
the United States and Canada. If people arrive in Canada, entry into the United
States is particularly difficult, and often, when people arrive on the plane,
they are stopped at the airport.
I would like to know whether there is good communication between the Canadian
and American border services, or whether people are stopped on arrival.
Ms. Soper: I think Mr. Bolduc might be able address that more directly
from the operational side. Certainly, in our major airports in Canada, we have
pre-clearance facilities running with the U.S., so there is smooth communication
between our U.S. counterparts and our Canadian counterparts to manage that.
Is your question directed more to how we generally work with the U.S. on
issues as they transpire across the border or more specifically in air mode?
Senator Dagenais: Your general way of working with the U.S. border
services. We would like to know whether the two forces work together at all.
Ms. Soper: We have a rich relationship, as you can imagine, with the
U.S. being our major border. We have regular information-sharing arrangements
with the United States to share information about persons travelling across our
border as well, between the different organizations, because the U.S. has police
organizations that are interested in border movements as well as our
counterpart, which is the Customs and Border Protection service. So we have
lawful information-sharing mechanisms to exchange information between our
We also give our officers tools in order to manage information, so our
primary inspection line makes use of lookouts that could be populated
domestically from us, from information we have about persons who may be crossing
the border with domestic partners, law enforcement partners, as well as U.S.
Senator Dagenais: Mr. Bolduc, I had the privilege of visiting your
facilities in Rigaud and I even got to try out your virtual shooting range. As a
former police officer, I would have to say that it went pretty well.
That said, I noticed that your officers will now be armed. We know that this
was something that was requested. I imagine that training will be similar to
that of police forces, which is done every year. I would like to hear your
thoughts on the danger involved in your work. Could we say that your work is
more dangerous now, with everything that is going on in other countries?
Mr. Bolduc: Thank you for your question. I would say that yes, we are
working in a changing environment. I started 25 years ago and I would say that
the environment when I started was completely different. We are dealing with
different types of people at our borders and we are facing unknown threats,
which is why we need to make the most of the information we get in advance about
the arrival of passengers and goods. This enables us to triage or target, so
that we can determine which individuals or goods we will examine when they
arrive at the border.
Our officers have solid training that gives them the tools they need to face
this reality. Based on the many discussions we have had with border services
agencies in other countries, this reality is not unique to Canada. This is a
global, worldwide phenomenon.
Senator Dagenais: Mr. Bolduc, in your presentation you said that you
try to mitigate threats as quickly as possible and at the farthest point
possible from our borders. Does this mean that when a plane lands at a Canadian
airport, immigrant passengers on board this flight have already been
Mr. Bolduc: Yes, right now, airlines are required to give us
information on passengers as soon as a plane has taken off from its point of
origin. One of the initiatives in the Beyond the Border Action Plan will enable
us to receive information up to 72 hours in advance. Right now, when the plane
takes off, our National Targeting Centre analyzes the information received,
targets individuals who will be the subject of a secondary screening at the port
of entry and provides a justification.
In the future, we will be able to process this information 72 hours in
advance, which will greatly improve our management. You can imagine the quantity
of information we receive from different airlines. The earlier we start
triaging, the more effective we will be. This tool will be very useful to us.
Senator White: As bit of a follow-up to my friend's question, it's
been about a decade since we've seen the shift to much greater emphasis on
enforcement within CBSA than we saw previously, which I think is welcome, in
particular, looking at some areas in the Yukon, for example.
Where are we when we come to the complete role of that enforcement strategy —
firearms, training and education? I know that the union representing a number of
the officers was in the beginning against some of the changes. In particular,
people were hired to do one thing, and would they be able to do what's asked of
Where are we percentage-wise in the rollout of that program?
Mr. Bolduc: You're right. It's a workforce in transition. We're still
on track to meet our goal of having officers armed by 2016. We have made some
modification to our training programs, and now our recruits that graduate from
our college in Rigaud are fully trained upon graduation. So those new people
joining the organization have the training and the tools and are able to carry
out the mandate.
It's well on track. I don't have a specific number of how many people we've
trained since we started, but with the permission of the chair, I would gladly
provide that number for you.
Senator White: I think we have a very strong no-fly program in Canada,
and I would suggest our partner in the United States has as well. I'm not so
convinced about countries that allow people travelling into Canada, which
concerns me greatly, primarily because we talk about the sharing of information
in a timely way to enact a no-fly or to manage the circumstances around someone
who is identified.
This is a loaded question, so I'll expect a loaded answer: Are you confident
that the countries that have flights into this country have a no-fly capability
and that we are getting intelligence quick enough to manage it as well?
Mr. Bolduc: Well, referring to the answer I provided to Senator
Dagenais, with interactive advance passenger information, we'll have the ability
to receive information up to 72 hours in advance. We will start assessing that
information and be able to provide a message back to the airline saying board or
no board. I think that will bring a lot of value to our targeting program.
You're right. Right now, having the information with wheels up, it depends on
where you're coming from. For example, if you're leaving Europe, the U.K. is
five hours to Toronto, and Washington is about an hour and a half, so having the
information up to 72 hours in advance, we'll have a lot more time and be able to
fully risk-assess the information on people coming to Canada.
Senator White: However, walking up to the airline in London, whether
Air Canada or others, three hours prior to departure, I could purchase a ticket,
be on the plane, and the information may not be received by you until after I'm
off the plane and at least walking up to your agents in Ottawa. Would that be
correct as well?
Mr. Bolduc: No. We would have gotten the information once the flight
took off from London.
Senator White: You would have received all the information —
Mr. Bolduc: Yes.
Senator White: So you would at least know they're on their way here
and manage the risk on site when they arrive?
Mr. Bolduc: Exactly. Assess the risk and be able to automatically
provide information to the front line as to whether we should conduct a
secondary elimination on so-and-so for so-and-so reason.
Senator White: And you mean ``elimination'' in the good way, not the
Mr. Bolduc: Yes.
Senator Wells: Thank you, Mr. Bolduc and Ms. Soper, for your
presentations and responses so far.
I want to talk about fraudulent documentation and the trends. Then I want to
ask a follow-up to that. What are the trends in fraudulent documentation?
Mr. Bolduc: That's a tough question. We see more and more people using
genuine documents obtained under false pretenses. That's the number-one trend.
Senator Wells: So that would pass the initial test at the border
because it's a legitimate document?
Mr. Bolduc: It would not necessarily pass the initial test at the
border because our officers use systems they have available for them. It makes
it more and more difficult for airline personnel abroad to be able to determine
that a document was obtained fraudulently and that a person is going to Canada
to claim refugee status or for whatever reason.
When I started, we would see photo substitutions. People would use a genuine
passport by cutting out and changing the picture.
Using our liaison officer network abroad, we keep our officers on the front
line up to date on what is happening around the world, what other border
agencies see, and we provide them with tools and knowledge so they can be
mindful of that when they interact with foreign nationals and even with our own
citizens when they show up at the border.
Senator Wells: Because of the new technology and the sophistication of
those who would try to get around our rules, are our defences along those lines
state of the art?
Mr. Bolduc: I believe they are. The initiatives that are contained in
the Beyond the Border Action Plan will give us an additional advantage in being
one step ahead of trends and what is happening around the world.
Senator Wells: When I go to the Air Canada or WestJet desk and fly
internationally, they want to see my passport. I provide my boarding pass, but
they want to see my passport. They look at it and they say, ``Thank you, Mr.
Wells.'' That is one of the initial levels of screening by a third party.
Is there any plan for those ticket agents to have electronic scanners? When
they look at a passport, they can't tell if there's an issue with a fraudulent
document or anything like that. Is there any plan to have the airlines — which
are often, as I said, the first level of third-party screening — have greater
ability than eyes only?
Mr. Bolduc: Well, the scanning tools they have available to them are
internal to the airlines. One of the big roles of our liaison officer networks
abroad is to provide training to those airline agents, making sure that they are
aware and that they do a proper screening. Often, those people rely on our
liaison officers when in doubt, seeking clarification.
We believe that we have a strong network and that our program is robust. If
we look at the number of calls our officers get — often seven days a week, 24
hours a day — I think the message is getting across to airline agents.
The Chair: If I could pursue a question, colleagues, just to put it in
perspective, I have heard various numbers referring to individuals who are
inadmissible and are in Canada. Perhaps, for the record, you could give us an
estimate of the number of individuals in Canada today who are seen to be
Mr. Bolduc: Mr. Chair, are you referring to the number of people we
have in our removal inventory?
The Chair: No. My understanding is you have knowledge of people who
are inadmissible, have come into the country, are supposed to report back but
haven't. So subsequently over the last number of years, a great number of
individuals have actually been in the country, but we don't have any way of
processing them out of the country.
Ms. Soper: Yes. We have an inventory of cases for which we have a
warrant for persons who are inadmissible. It's quite a small inventory compared
to the overall removals inventory. It's in the neighbourhood of 3,500
individuals, but this has accrued over many years. It's not a very precise
figure in that it doesn't speak to the number of persons who may have departed
Canada. Consequently, they've never been seen by law enforcement or us. We've
been tracking that number of inadmissible persons for many decades, so it's not
a good measure of how many people may be inadmissible and at large in Canadian
The Chair: You talked about two categories, one inadmissible and the
other individuals for removal.
Ms. Soper: Yes.
The Chair: Perhaps you could expand on that.
Ms. Soper: We also track warrants for people who failed to appear for
their removal from Canada and for whom we put out a subsequent warrant. Again,
we have been tracking this number for many years. It's currently at, I believe,
44,000 individuals. It has been accruing since 1980 when we first put in data
systems and began to track.
You may recall that under the Beyond the Border Action Plan, we put in place
an exit control system for foreign nationals. For persons who leave the country
in the future, we would know they have self-removed. Whereas now the only tool
we have as an agency, we have to either investigate and try to find them living
in Canada, within their community, or we open a warrant in order for our broader
police community to help us find that person so that we can effect a removal.
The Chair: That's quite a substantial number, 45,000 plus 3,500, so
we're almost up to 50,000 individuals, in one manner or another, who are seen to
be in the country, quite frankly, illegally at this stage.
Ms. Soper: I can provide you the exact statistics as they sit today.
We track them on a monthly basis, so I can provide you with the most recent
data. I believe it's under 44,000 for the non-admissibility cases and in the
neighbourhood of 3,000 to 3,500 — I'm sorry, I don't have my statistics in front
The Chair: If you don't mind, colleagues, I want to pursue this.
In this document from the Auditor General, which, Mr. Bolduc, you referred to
a number of times in your presentation, a number of initiatives are obviously
being taken in respect to allowing you to do the job that we've asked you to do.
I'd just like to ask a broad question.
In view of the fact that we're looking at 45,000 to 50,000 individuals who
are basically in the country illegally starting since 1980 in our data bank, do
you have any proposals legislatively or policy-wise that would help you in
dealing with these situations so that we can secure the border? I don't quite
understand why we would be tolerating this. Can anything further be done?
Mr. Bolduc: One of the tools that will be useful to us is an
initiative we call entry-exit, introducing exit controls.
Right now we could issue an arrest warrant for an individual, that person
could decide on their own to leave the country, and that information would not
come to CBSA. By introducing exit controls, when that person leaves the country
we will be able to reconcile that with our own warrants inventory and be able to
close the file. That will be beneficial to the CBSA and will help us greatly to
manage that number, which, you're right, seems fairly significant. In fact, that
led to our launching the CBSA initiative. Now, for those high-profile people we
want to locate, we put their picture and description out to the public like most
police agencies do.
We are trying to be creative and use all investigative tools available to us,
but I would say entry-exit would be a great gain for the CBSA.
Ms. Soper: Mr. Chair, I would like to add some context. I think when
we compare ourselves to the U.S. or the U.K., where they have been tracking
persons who have absconded in our societies, we compare very favourably.
The U.K. recently had a parliamentary inquiry in relation to the absconders
in their immigration system, and they put the figure at about 450,000
individuals. I think the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, combined with the
Department of State, puts out a measure of the number of illegals inside U.S.
society, and it's pegged at about 10 million individuals in the U.S.
I would also put into context that in the last two years of data we have
collected on the number of warrants for people who have disappeared in Canada,
awaiting removal or an inadmissibility hearing, we close as many warrants as we
open. So we're keeping pace with the number of people who appear in the system
and close as many of those cases as are freshly opened.
Senator Nolin: Mr. Bolduc, I would like to get back to the Auditor
General's report. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations require
this from airlines — and you referred to this earlier — because there is a
change to the deadline for providing advance passenger information and passenger
You — meaning the agency — and the Auditor General do not agree. The Auditor
General claims that the quality of data given to you by airlines is lacking. In
his report, the Auditor General says that you have said that as long as airlines
provide information, even if it is incomplete, they will be complying with the
regulations. That is why you have a nearly perfect 100 per cent satisfaction
Have you resolved this little semantics problem? What the Auditor General is
saying seems to be important. The quality of the information is what matters.
Mr. Bolduc: Absolutely. Thank you for your question, senator. We have
taken action based on the recommendations from the Office of the Auditor
General. We created a task force with industry representatives to understand
their environment, what kind of technical and operational capacities they have,
and what difficulties they were having sending us information. This task force
We created a type of report card for each airline. Education is often the
best way to change what they are doing. When we give airlines a report card,
they are more likely to improve their performance.
We also introduced the idea of a confirmation message. Once the airline sends
passenger information to the agency that is an acceptable quality, a message
will be sent to the airline to confirm receipt of the information. Although
there may be a slight difference of opinion with the Office of the Auditor
General regarding terminology and semantics, we have taken action based on the
recommendations and have implemented measures to fix the situation.
The Chair: Colleagues, I'm going to limit each member to one question,
because we are going on the second round and time is running past us.
Senator Campbell: There two acronyms, but I'll use the long versions:
Field Operations Support System and Integrated Customs Enforcement System. These
are primarily used as lookouts, feeding information into the system.
The Auditor General wasn't overly pleased with the way that was going on. I
have one question that may sound like two, but it won't be: It will just be one.
It says that lookouts are primarily entered into the field operations, but
they may also be entered into the Integrated Customs Enforcement System. Field
operations are being phased out, I'm advised, as of December 2014. Does that
mean that the Integrated Customs Enforcement System will be in place, will be
working and, as noted by the Auditor General, is the only one that actually has
a record, a continuing file? Is that what's going to happen?
Mr. Bolduc: You're right. The Field Operations Support System will be
decommissioned by December of this year. We will be transitioning to a new
system that is in use with Citizenship and Immigration.
One thing that's important, I think, is that CBSA is only 10 years old; we
were created on December 12, 2002. We created an organization and used the
legacy systems that were in use at that time.
You're right that there are two systems, the Field Operations Support System
and the Integrated Customs Enforcement System. One thing that is important is
that those two systems feed into the system that is queried by the officers when
a traveller presents himself or herself at the land border or the airport. So a
lookout has been input into one of the two systems and is transparent to the
officer who is scanning the passport.
Senator Campbell: That wasn't really the issue I was getting at. It's
good that the officers have that available. What I'm getting at is that there is
no record under one of them. There is nothing ongoing under the Field Operations
Support System. They found that the metrics based on the ICES, the Integrated
Customs Enforcement System, are not reliable.
You have one where there's no record and the other where we don't trust the
figures. What's going to take the place of the one when it's gone in 2014? It's
a new system. Will that also include ICES?
Mr. Bolduc: It's a new build that will include all available
Senator Campbell: And there will be a record?
Mr. Bolduc: There will be a record.
Senator Dagenais: Mr. Bolduc, as you know, people often claim refugee
status in Canada after their country of origin experiences a cataclysm. Correct
me if I'm wrong, but I believe they are granted temporary residency until the
situation is resolved, after which these people are expected to return to their
country. However, sometimes the situation is not resolved in six months and
these people settle in Canada, get married, start a family and find work. When
the permit expires, these people are supposed to return to their country. What
do you do in such situations? These people may not report themselves. This
happens every day and we sometimes see it in the media. What do you do with
Mr. Bolduc: Senator Dagenais, I'd like to make a clarification, if I
may, and then I would ask Ms. Soper to expand on my answer.
There are two ways to be recognized as a refugee in Canada. Canada chooses
refugees abroad, in refugee camps, and are brought to Canada under that status.
When they arrive here, they have the status of a person having been afforded the
protection of Canada.
The other way is for people to show up at our borders and ask for protection
from Canada. These people must plead their case to the Immigration and Refugee
Board, which is an independent board separate from the CBSA and Citizenship and
Immigration Canada, which will decide whether to grant these individuals
protection in Canada.
If the answer is no, the individual would then have access to various forms
of recourse. For example, the person could appeal or apply for permanent
residence for compassionate reasons through Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Once all avenues have been exhausted, the individual becomes inadmissible to
Canada and must be removed from Canada.
Some people may be tempted to take an illegal route, but there are still
individuals who cooperate and who will voluntarily leave Canada in the hopes of
applying to settle here once again, through the normal channels.
That is our reality with people who are asking for protection in Canada.
Senator Dagenais: Do you have anything to add, Ms. Soper?
Ms. Soper: I would maybe add that as it's structured, the Immigration
and Refugee Protection Act certainly incentivizes people to come forward to
leave Canada voluntarily, particularly if they have formed associations or
friendships. If you are removed by CBSA, you are required basically to pay a
fine in order to return to Canada. There are incentives to encourage people to
voluntarily comply, but it's not always effective.
Senator White: I have one question that will require two answers.
We've seen reductions as a result of the Deficit Reduction Action Plan, DRAP,
across the Government of Canada, and some reductions will happen at CBSA,
understanding that it actually might require a large reduction in the number of
officers. My question is, first, whether you have the ability to continue to
deliver the service that you provide across the country now. And second, the
Manley-Ridge Smart Border Accord, enacted in 2003-04, looked at the
fast-tracking of individuals between Canada and U.S. Part of that was a
real-time identification system, which is rolled out now for the most part. Can
you tell me where that is and whether we are at the point we anticipated being
at when it was first negotiated?
Mr. Bolduc: On part A of the question, CBSA had to contribute $143
million under the DRAP initiative. Most of the re-engineering occurred in our
headquarters' footprint in internal services. No cuts were made to the front
line in uniform and our teams who are responsible for what I referred to as
inland enforcement officers — no cuts to the front line.
On part B, what were you referring to?
Senator White: The Manley-Ridge accord that looked at fast-tracking
individuals between Canada and the U.S. and at things like real-time
identification rollout, which was started in 2004 and finally became active in
2012. The whole idea was that we would move more easily and quickly and would be
able to track individuals whom we want to track between the two countries. Have
we moved the yardsticks on that accord? Is it successful? Based on what it was
going to do, it would have been successful, whether we actually succeeded in
delivering that product.
Ms. Soper: We have made a lot of progress. In fact, it has continued
under the Beyond the Border Action Plan. Specifically, being able to share
fingerprint information in real time is happening quite seamlessly for persons
who present themselves at the port of entry without identification documents.
We're able to exchange that information with the U.S going forward under the
Beyond the Border Action Plan in real time, so we can compare whether that
person was also inadmissible to the U.S. as he or she presents in Canada. That's
being implemented currently.
Likewise, our counterparts in Citizenship and Immigration Canada are issuing
visas using fingerprints as the basis to do background checks. These are big
steps forward that we are taking in that space, and certainly trying to
harmonize as much as possible with the U.S. and leverage the information we have
about third country nationals coming into North America.
Senator Wells: Mr. Bolduc, you mentioned earlier about the 72-hour
protocol and the fly or no fly. This is a follow- up question to a line of
questioning from Senator Dagenais.
Is there enough collaboration and integration with Homeland Security or our
American partners? For example, if we see someone that normally we would say
``no fly'' about but the Americans would like them to come to Canada so we could
hand them over, is there collaboration? It's not real time because we have 72
hours to make a decision, but is that level of collaboration present?
Mr. Bolduc: It occurs minute by minute, day by day and week by week.
As soon as CBSA receives information from the airline, that information is
vetted through a series of databases. We share real-time information with the
U.S. as they do the other way around.
Also, to have a more robust relationship, we have U.S. Customs and Border
Protection officers embedded in our National Targeting Centre; and we have CBSA
officers embedded in their National Targeting Centre. Any information that would
be deemed of value in potentially intercepting somebody at the border will be
taken into consideration. If need be, we will use the contacts we have
domestically as well as reach out to our U.S. and international partners to
validate and confirm the information.
Senator Wells: I said ``only the U.S.'' because I'm sure the vast
majority of travelers are across our shared border.
Senator Campbell: My question was answered in response to Senator
Wells, thank you.
The Chair: Colleagues we have another 20 minutes. If anyone else has
questions, please indicate so to the clerk. I have a follow-up question, if I
I would like to refer to the Auditor General's report again at 5.42. I want
to read from it again because I think it's important to understand why this
would happen. The report states:
We found that, in 15 cases (31 percent), the individuals entered Canada at
a port of entry. In 11 of the 15 cases, the individuals were deemed
inadmissible at the port of entry, but were allowed to enter Canada
temporarily with a requirement to return to the port of entry, usually the
next day, for departure or further examination. This is in accordance with
the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The individuals
subsequently failed to appear at the port of entry as required. Four of the
11 individuals had criminal records, 2 of them for more serious offences.
The remaining 4 cases involved port runners, who failed to stop and report
What I don't quite understand is, if you apprehend an individual at the
border and he or she is deemed to be inadmissible, why would you give them a
Mr. Bolduc: A series of reasons. Most of those cases will occur in the
air mode. Somebody would seek admission into Canada and would be deemed
inadmissible under the act, and the only flight available to return the person
would be the following day.
If the officer assesses that there is no flight risk — no reason that the
person will disappear — no identity concerns in that we know exactly who the
person is and no national security reason, the officer has the ability to
suspend the interview and have the person report back the next morning. As for
sending those people to detention systematically, usually the CBSA sends them
for the three reasons I mentioned: identity, security concern and flight risk.
With your permission, Ms. Soper might complete my answer.
Ms. Soper: As to these 11 individuals with criminal records, these
could be any offences under the Criminal Code. The two serious ones were what we
would describe as serious criminality under the Immigration and Refugee
Protection Act, and in those minor cases, they could be
driving-under-the-influence charges or those sorts of circumstances where an
officer may exercise an ``allowed to leave.'' Because they are in the air
context, they need to return to the airport in order to leave.
There is another important piece here, which is that under the Immigration
and Refugee Protection Act, if there are foreign offences, the officer can write
an admissibility report, but they must refer them to the Immigration and Refugee
Board to have an admissibility determination done there. We need to grant entry
in order for that admissibility hearing to occur. As Mr. Bolduc highlights, if
the detention risks were present, we'd certainly be detaining in those cases,
but if there weren't substantive grounds for which we could seek detention, we
would not be seeking detention in those cases.
The Chair: I do not understand this. An individual is at the border.
He or she is deemed to be inadmissible. We say, ``Come back in 24 hours and
catch your airplane back; you've been deemed inadmissible.'' Then, they don't
come back because, obviously, they want to get into the country. It would seem
to me that the policy should be that if you're deemed to be inadmissible, you
would be detained until such time as the next airplane was to leave the country
as opposed to trying to sort out what offences we're speaking of because you
have already come to the conclusion that they're inadmissible. One of reasons
we're having these hearings is to see whether there has to be a recommended
change in policy or in legislation to help assist individuals such as yourself
to make sure that those who are inadmissible don't come into the country and
stay in the country. Do you need further legislative direction to be able to
detain these individuals so that we don't put an officer in a situation that,
quite frankly, puts him or her in a very difficult position policy-wise? Perhaps
you could comment on that.
Mr. Bolduc: Yes. The way the Immigration and Refugee Protection
Act is written — and help me, Ms. Soper; I want to be technically exact — the
officer has the discretion, if there is no security concern, to not affect the
return immediately. He has the ability, in the air mode, if the flight is the
next morning, to let the person come in and report back the next morning so that
we can confirm departure. That's the way the IRPA is written as of today.
Ms. Soper: I personally studied some of the cases that the OAG looked
at, and I would suggest that the way the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
is structured doesn't allow that officer to make a decision to render the person
inadmissible and turn them away. Even if an individual comes and says, ``I'm a
convicted murderer from country Y,'' no discretion is granted to an officer.
They can detain them, but they cannot make that admissibility determination.
That is the under the control of the Immigration and Refugee Board.
The choice given to an officer in that circumstance is to detain if there are
grounds for detention because IRPA is very clear on the grounds under which we
can detain. They can consider an ``allowed to leave,'' where the person
voluntarily wants to withdraw permission to enter. In the air mode, it can be
that the officer makes a judgment that the person can be trusted to report the
next day and that the circumstances do not present any risk. That does occur,
and it is permitted under the act but, again, in a very narrow number of cases.
So the tools available are very circumscribed.
The Chair: It's an area that one would want to pursue further.
Senator Campbell: I would like to explore this a little bit. I know
that I'm outnumbered here, but I trust all of my valued colleagues. How often
does this happen? How often does somebody show up at the border who is perhaps
not well versed in travel procedures, and you say, ``Okay, the only flight out
of here goes tomorrow morning, I want you to show up tomorrow morning''? How
many times does it happen that they don't show up? How often? We could have a
solution looking for a problem here. Please go ahead if you have an answer.
Ms. Soper: It is not an insignificant number.
Senator Campbell: It's not insignificant?
The Chair: We would need a solution for the question.
Ms. Soper: More than 100 per annum.
Senator Campbell: More than 100 per annum. How many times are people
turned away? What I'm trying to say is this: How many times does the officer
say, ``Be back here tomorrow morning,'' and they don't show up? It's more than
100 that don't show up. How many did we send away?
Ms. Soper: The vast majority are in land mode, and they're generally
American citizens and turned away as a matter of course.
Senator Campbell: No, I'm talking about in the airport. Obviously, if
I'm at a land border, I don't need to worry about it. I just say, ``Get in your
car. Hook a left, hook a left, and there's the U.S.''
Ms. Soper: The vast majority would be detained in the airport and
turned around if they were serious enough. But there are enough outliers.
Senator Campbell: I'm not getting my question answered. How many
people were at an airport and were denied access, and the officer through his
training — and I get that — said, ``You know what, this is mom and pop.'' So how
many of them are turned away to report the next day, and how many of them don't
show up? Then I want to know, for those who do not show up, what the reason was.
Did the officer miss something? Did they turn out to be a terrorist or the
murderer who showed up and didn't admit to it at the border? What is the reason
for it? I get ``nudgey'' when someone shows up about — that's an old Mountie
The Chair: Can we let the witnesses respond?
Senator Campbell: Yes.
Mr. Bolduc: With the permission of the chair, we will look at finding
that number. We don't have that number available to us.
Senator Campbell: I think the way you are doing it is good. Now I
would change my mind if I found out that the 100 people, for whatever reason,
turned out to be terrorists.
Mr. Bolduc: If I could just add a comment, I want to reassure senators
and the public that if the officer feels that there is a risk for safety and
security, or a risk based on the interaction with the individual that the person
will disappear, the decision made by the officer will be to detain. I think
In referring to the OAG, they found — and I think the chair referred to that
—15 cases out of the sample that they looked at where the person was allowed to
come in and didn't show up to leave the country or there was no evidence to
demonstrate that the person had left the country.
The Chair: So we can clarify what we're asking for, you referred to
the OAG's report again. Once again, as I quoted, four of the 11 individuals had
criminal records; two of them more serious offences; and four were ``port
runners.'' I don't know what that means.
I think Senator Campbell wants to know in a year, for your statistics, for
those given 24 hours to leave the border and come back for the purposes of
returning to wherever they were to go because they were inadmissible, how many
of those didn't return out of the numbers that were ordered to return? I think
that would be a very interesting statistic to see. We would appreciate getting
those statistics sooner rather than later, if that's okay.
Mr. Bolduc: We will provide it to the committee.
The Chair: Senators, I have one more question concerning the
legislation before the House of Commons that was tabled a number of days ago,
Bill C-24 dealing with immigration. I'm not sure of the title of the bill,
something about enhancing Canadian citizenship. Does that particular piece of
legislation have any ramifications for your department, or do you know?
Ms. Soper: It has a small nexus to the work we do in the sense that
part of the measures that were introduced address the revocation of citizenship
where a person acquired permanent residency through fraud. There would be
mechanisms to allow us to remove citizenship of persons who acquired citizenship
by way of fraud, which is part of our investigative space that we work in. Once
citizenship and immigration have done an investigation on the fraudulent nature
of a citizenship application and they work to remove citizenship, we would be
working to do the parallel permanent residency investigation in those cases.
The Chair: Do you have the statistics on how many individuals received
citizenship under fraudulent intent?
Ms. Soper: No. Citizenship and Immigration would need to respond to
The Chair: Thank you. I would like to thank the witnesses for coming
here this afternoon. It has been a very worthwhile committee hearing. You've
brought a fair amount of information to the hearing and I think it will help us
going forward in understanding the problems you face. As I said at the
beginning, the purpose of these hearings is to see where we can be of some
assistance in ensuring due process occurs and ensuring that those people being
asked to do their job under the legislation can do it and do it to the best of
Colleagues, you will recall that on December 12, 2013, the Senate adopted the
following study reference — and I want to quote for the viewers who have tuned
in to this particular hearing:
That the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence be
authorized to examine and report on the status of Canada's international
security and defence relations, including but not limited to, relations with
the United States, NATO, and NORAD; and
That the committee report to the Senate no later than December 31, 2014,
and that it retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until 90
days after the tabling of the final report.
Colleagues, today we will commence our study into the area of ballistic
missile defence. Through the study, our goals will be to explore the subject of
ballistic missile defence, including the government's policy decision, the
threat environment and the relevance to our international security and defence
relations, and to report back to the Senate with specific recommendations.
Colleagues, we are all aware that strategic and military threats are
increasing, especially in the face of non-state and state actors such as Iran
and North Korea. Beyond nuclear weapons, the threat of an electromagnetic pulse,
EMP, attack is also credible and could have a devastating impact on Canada or
one of our allies. At the same time, those opposed to ballistic missile defence
indicate that the systems do not work, the costs have not been clearly defined,
and the benefits have not been well articulated to Canadians.
To begin our study, I'm pleased to welcome Colin Robertson, Fellow, Canadian
Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, and Ferry de Kerckhove, Executive
Vice-President, Conference of Defence Associations Institute, to lead off our
study on ballistic missile defence.
Gentlemen, I understand you each have an opening statement. We have until
five o'clock for this session. Mr. de Kerckhove, please proceed.
Ferry de Kerckhove, Executive Vice-President, Conference of Defence
Associations Institute: Thank you for the invitation. I'll explain why I was
insisting on being presented as the executive vice-president of the CDAI. It's
because we publish a yearly document called Canada's Strategic Outlook,
and ours for 2014 comes out in about a week and a half. I thought it would be
important to highlight that, in case you might be interested, but I'm also a
fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and therefore a
colleague of Mr. Robertson's. I think we have been colleagues for years.
I'd like to try to give a broad picture and discuss BMD within the large
context of what it is, a threat analysis. I think this Senate session is timely.
In fact, our document called for a full-fledged study by the government of BMD.
I hope your report will energize the government in that direction, because in
fact we've been recommending for the past two years that the government look at
BMD in earnest, rather than avoid the issue, so we're all on the same page on
In terms of the strategic perspective, we tend to think that the world is
more dangerous than ever, but it's not just more dangerous than ever; it is also
because what I would call ``the Western resolve'' is waning after all the crises
they've gone through. I would say there's a pervasive quasi neo-isolationism
atmosphere in the West. You have a strong feeling of wariness throughout the
system. Maybe the French are slightly different, but I'll get to that a bit
later. There's a trend towards a retrenchment and towards engagement overseas.
In this day and age, ``no boots on the ground'' has become the mantra, if
On top of that, I think we've all recognized that there's a general social
malaise permeating most of the countries, the democracies and otherwise. There's
not a day where there's not some kind of demonstration in a country, even
towards elected government; and inequalities are crippling the natural social
compact, which adds to the general feeling of malaise. The Snowden revelations
have added angst between leaders.
I am talking about a general absence of leadership throughout the Western
world. We've seen it in the Arab Spring. We've seen the U.S. political logjam,
which is really blurring the perception of the importance of the U.S. for our
security in the world. And there's a general absence of strategies.
If you look at NATO, there's an increasing risk of NATO becoming a two-tiered
alliance with countries that are still pulling their weight within it, whether
it's the French, the British, or even the Germans. On the other hand you have
countries that are bailing out of their responsibility within NATO, which of
course is a threat to general alliance solidarity. There are a lot of
uncertainties out there.
Our perspective is that if we don't get the right structure and financial
backing, even for our own defence, I think the Canadian Forces could become
limited to continental defence with reduced expeditionary capabilities.
On the other hand, we are looking at U.S. continental perimeter defence,
ballistic missile defence, cybersecurity. All three elements are fundamental to
our security, hence we've got to look at it in earnest and also look at BMD, but
in that broader context because we do have a very clear interest in addition to
We have the fight against drugs in Latin America. We also have the expansion
towards Asia and the Pacific, which has some defence implication, and in our
report we go into more detail. For instance, what kind of navy do you need when
you have more extended trade orientation towards the broad Asia-Pacific region
than the more traditional one we've had in the past? The Atlantic is the past;
Asia-Pacific is the future.
If you look at the crisis in the Middle East, Syria and North Africa and our
specific interest for Israel's security, we could consider, for instance,
helping Israel if there were to be an agreement between the Palestinians and
Israel. We could even be contributing a potential transitional disengagement
force to Israel.
I'm mentioning those aspects of defence to give you a sense of the broad
pictures of our interest. We have interests in Africa in the mining sector now.
The bottom line is that despite this retrenchment that we feel, this kind of
disengagement, the armed forces remain essential for our security and
sovereignty. We cannot just pick and choose à la carte. We have to look at what
enhances that security, particularly when you have the priority on the Arctic,
when you have cybersecurity, which has been designated as the fifth domain of
war. All these factors add up to looking at BMD as part and parcel of our
contribution to North American defence and to our sovereignty.
I put aside the argument that the more we get involved in that, the more we
lose our sovereignty. Quite to the contrary, my sense is that the more we
involve ourselves in that kind of mutual defence, the more we accredit the value
of our contribution to North American security.
The chair mentioned some of these, but if you look at the threats out there,
like North Korea mindlessly pursuing its nuclear option and already compelling
the U.S. to enhance its BMD capacity, and at what goes on in the negotiations
with Iran, we're very hopeful. On the other hand, if it fails, what would Iran
do? Would it follow suit on its nuclear program? It would foster a nuclear
proliferation in the broad region, in the Middle East. This could be an even
more dangerous game further down the road.
If you look at the debate within NATO, BMD itself is now pitting Russia
against the U.S. as NATO installs the theatre missile against rogue non-state
actors close to Russia's area of influence.
Mr. Robertson will be much more detailed about this, I'm sure, but we do make
a distinction between the BMD participation in Europe and the BMD deployment in
continental North America. However, the bottom line from my perspective is that
we should participate in the latter.
Let me quickly highlight some of the dangers I see that justify even more the
uncertainties as to both China's long- term ambition and the future of a
multipolar world. Indeed, if you see the imposition of the ADIZ, the aerial
defence zone, China is evidently continuing to incrementally test the
international resolve, and there is a great risk when it comes to Japan.
The failures in managing the crises in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan —
particularly post-foreign troop withdrawal — and the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, all of these are areas of danger. I mentioned cybersecurity and also a
general weakening of the multilateral and international system. Some of these
institutions, like the G8, are becoming obsolete.
The point is that the U.S. will not intervene from a political and moral
basis in all crises to come. The days of humanitarian military interventions are
over, and the question is whether China will be a partner or a threat. We should
try to consider China a partner, but there is a long way to go before that.
As well, one of my serious concerns is Russia. In a way, Russia is
reinventing a new version of the Cold War. I strongly recommend everyone read
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation's statement on their
concept of foreign policy. When you read that document, you wonder whether you
flipped a page back in time. It looks like revanchism Cold War talk to an
amazing degree; it's quite fascinating, in fact. Russia is trying to rebuild its
glory, its aura, by creating this concept of Eurasia where it would play a
pivotal role between the European, which it despises, and the Asian, which
Meanwhile the threats that know no frontier continue to create more problems
with climate change, pollution, resource depletion, et cetera.
Basically my take on it all is that even though every crisis we see could
engage Canada, at the present time it's doubtful that Canada would engage much
in some of those crises. But I think the review of our own interests within our
own defence and security perimeter, including BMD, is absolutely essential.
On those words, Mr. Chair, I would pass the floor on to my dear colleague,
Colin Robertson, Fellow, Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute,
as an individual: I would like to share some information about my
background. I worked in Canada's Foreign Service for nearly 33 years. I then
worked as vice- president for the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs
Institute, a non-partisan research institute based in Calgary. This institute is
connected to the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy, where I am a
fellow. I am a member of the board of directors of the Conference of Defence
Associations Institute, of which Ferry is the vice-president. I am also a senior
advisor at McKenna Long & Aldridge, a legal firm in Washington. I am proud to
volunteer as honourary captain at the Strategic Communications Directorate of
the Royal Canadian Navy.
That gives you an overview of my background. However, I would like to say
that my comments in no way reflect the opinions of the various organizations I
It is time for Canada to join the rest of the Western alliance, our 27
partners in NATO, and our friends and allies in the Indo-Pacific — Australia,
Japan and South Korea — under the umbrellas of ballistic missile defence.
We need to be prepared for the threat of missile attacks.
Continental defence has been integral to Canadian national security since
Mackenzie King and Franklin Roosevelt parleyed at Kingston in 1938.
Led by Louis St. Laurent, we were architects of NATO because of our belief in
collective security. A decade later we would create NORAD, our binational
aerospace defence agreement that now includes aspects of maritime warning.
Today our security is again threatened. North Korea has conducted several
ballistic missile tests under the guise of peaceful satellite launches. It has
stated its long-range missiles will target the United States, and it has
developed a road-mobile ballistic missile capability. Iran has a large arsenal
of ballistic missiles. We hope that the current Geneva discussions will stop
Iranian nuclear development, but their outcome is uncertain. The six-party talks
with North Korea broke down in 2009 after North Korea repeatedly broke its
As John Baird observed, before we trust, we need to verify.
While Iran does not have the capacity today to strike Canada with missiles,
the evidence is that they are trying to build that capacity.
We don't know what new threats are coming down the pike. What happens if
Pakistan goes rogue? Risk assessments forecast more bad actors with access to
warheads, intercontinental missiles and weapons of mass destruction — nuclear,
chemical and biological. Despite our best efforts, the genie is out of the
bottle on proliferation.
Participation in BMD is both an insurance policy for our homeland and a
renewed commitment to contemporary collective defence. Through NORAD, we
currently share information and early warning and attack assessment with the
U.S. But when it comes time to make critical launch decisions, our officials
literally have to leave the room. The algorithms that U.S. Northern Command has
developed to protect the U.S. homeland do not include Canadian cities like
Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto or Montreal. Membership brings the privilege of being
in the room and being part of the conversation on how to protect Canadians.
Canada has a conflicted history when it comes to nuclear weapons and domestic
air defence. Although we were present at the creation of nuclear energy research
during the Second World War, and Canada was vital, we eschewed the development
of nuclear arms for ourselves. Instead we opted to developed nuclear power for
peaceful purposes through the CANDU reactor. We sold it around the world on
condition of non-proliferation.
We would be deceived by India. It developed its own nuclear weapons, using
plutonium derived from a research reactor provided by Canada. The Indians argued
that in a nuclear neighbourhood, they had to be prepared.
Placement of nuclear warheads on Canadian soil as part of our alliance
commitment tormented John Diefenbaker. The resulting Bomarc controversy
contributed to the government's undoing and the election of Lester B. Pearson.
Lester Pearson, who had won the Nobel Peace Prize over the Suez crisis,
concluded that our obligations to NORAD and NATO required participation. The
decision was controversial. A young Pierre Trudeau called Pearson ``the
defrocked prince of peace.''
Two decades later, now Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau faced similar divisions
within his own cabinet over the testing of cruise missiles on Canadian soil.
Trudeau agreed to the testing, arguing that ``it is hardly fair to rely on the
Americans to protect the West, but to refuse to lend them a hand when the going
Notwithstanding his friendship with Ronald Reagan, Brian Mulroney joined with
Australia, France and other allies in rejecting participation in the U.S. Star
Wars missile defence program because Canada ``would not be able to call the
shots.'' When a new and much more modest ballistic missile defence was developed
under George W. Bush, Paul Martin dithered and then opted out, to the confusion
of his new Chief of the Defence Staff and ambassador to the United States.
Advised that newly elected Prime Minister Stephen Harper would not welcome a
request, Mr. Bush found this puzzling. He reportedly asked Mr. Harper what would
happen if a North Korean missile aimed at Los Angeles or Seattle wound up
heading toward Vancouver or Calgary.
Criticism of BMD boils down to the following: First, according to critics, it
does not work and weaponizes space. It's a latter-day Maginot Line, being
costly, unreliable and provocative. NORAD, they argue, provides sufficient
defence. But they forget that at the critical moment we must leave the room.
BMD is not Star Wars, with its improbable futuristic weapons and enormous
cost. The current system has no space- based weapons; instead, it uses kinetic
energy to stop warheads.
With this system essentially in place, participation does not come with an
admission charge. Any future costs can be scaled and shared within the alliance.
Technology, research and constant testing have made BMD a reasonable shield. The
Israeli's Iron Dome demonstrates the defensive worth of anti-missile technology.
The second criticism of BMD is that it makes us too reliant on the U.S. This
tiresome argument is also applied to trade and commerce, but who would argue
that freer trade has not benefited Canada? In terms of defence, the whole point
of collective security is to contribute according to our capacity for mutual
security and protection. Protecting Canadians and Americans was the logic of the
original DEW Line and NORAD.
Shouldn't Canada have a say in the development of the North American BMD
architecture in advance of the actual emergence of a combined ICBM or nuclear
threat? Moreover, is it logical to have a say in the establishment of that
architecture in Europe but to exclude ourselves from having that say in North
America? At what point is the Canadian national interest put in jeopardy by not
having a say?
During the cruise missile debate, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau remarked that
some Canadians ``are eager to take refugee under the U.S. umbrella but don't
want to help hold it.''
The rest of NATO has signed onto missile defence. So have Australia, Japan
and South Korea. While the U.S. has a general invitation to its allies to join
the shield, it has not put any pressure on Canada.
The third criticism is that BMD is morally wrong. But we live in the real
world, not Elysium. We can't be sure whether something aimed at the United
States isn't going to strike Canada. The Senate report by this very committee in
2005 concluded that an effective BMD could save hundreds of thousands of
The moral argument should be reframed to ask why the Government of Canada
does not have a voice in how BMD may be used. One could argue that it is a moral
imperative for the government to have such a say when the potential target is a
By being part of the defensive shield, we strengthen the deterrent effect of
BMD. Taking part in surveillance for BMD is part of the continuum of
capabilities that contributes to the alliance. This could include missile
defence capacity in our new warships and using our submarines to track
potentially hostile attack submarines. Participation in BMD is both an insurance
policy for our homeland and a renewed commitment to contemporary collective
defence. By being part of the defensive shield, we strengthen the deterrent
effect of BMD.
In putting these remarks together, I sought the advice of friends and
colleagues. British defence scholar Professor Julian Lindley-French pointed out
that BMD should be seen as part of the modernization of NATO's Article 5 and
thus part of the need to create 21st century collective defence. As
In that light, BMD sits at the crux of two axes of future defence. The
first axis links NORAD to a `NATO' Advance Defence as part of an evolving
umbrella, even if the Russians do not like that.
The second axis concerns the development of complementary advanced forces
and cyber-defence, amongst other efforts.
As part of this effort, which is reflected in the 2010 NATO Strategic
Concept, BMD would be part of a defence `cornerstone' which would underpin
collective defence, crisis management and, of course, co-operative security.
Indeed, the ability to project civil-military influence to stabilise
societies can only take place if the home base is secure — BMD is thus part
of a new balance between protection and projection.
Russia should be invited to be part of this effort because BMD is
counter-technology rather than counter- state.
This is good advice. Collective security means preparation and commitment.
``For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt,'' observed John F.
Kennedy, ``can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.''
Collective security through NATO and our alliance with the United States has
guaranteed the peace since 1945, contributing to the greatest growth in commerce
and development in world history. Canada has been a beneficiary, with marginal
premiums. Changing circumstances, alliance solidarity and self-preservation
oblige us to update our security policy. BMD must be incorporated within our
Canada First Defence Strategy for security policy.
The Chair: I will lead off with a question. It's an area of study that
I'm new to, and we're relying on people such as you to broaden our understanding
of the missile defence program — exactly what it does, what the implications
are, whether Canada's security is being affected by not participating, and
whether we will be in a better position if we do participate.
At the inception of the ballistic missile defence program back in 2005, if
not before, there was a lot of criticism that the technology did not work; in
other words, it was a program that was being undertaken, but there was no
certainty regarding its capabilities. My question is simple: Does the technology
Mr. Robertson: The technology does work. We've seen a demonstration of
it in Israel. Is it 100 per cent? No. Is it improving daily with technology and
You can't guarantee absolute insurance, but it's like going out in a storm
with an umbrella. You are far better to have that umbrella than not.
Mr. de Kerckhove: During the First Gulf War, you had the Patriots.
Some of them worked; some did not work. Progress has been made. It's no wonder
that the Turks have asked to be protected by Patriot anti-missile stations
because of the crisis in Syria.
There is a healthy debate, as always, in this world about the success of the
Iron Dome. Of course, there have been mis-hits in all of that, but a hell of lot
of rockets went down just a week ago in Eilat, and they could have done a lot of
damage to the city of Eilat.
There is a lot of stuff in your kitchen that does not work. You fix it, but
the kitchen is improved day after day, and I think it is part of the arsenal
that we must have.
Senator Nolin: You just used the word ``arsenal.'' I think it's
important to explain to the Canadians watching this that we are truly talking
about defensive measures, for example, protecting ourselves against missiles
targeting the United States that pass over Canadian territory.
To what degree do you think we should be concerned? We hear a lot of
aggressive words from North Korea, a bit less from Iran, although our Israeli
friends would have us believe that Iran is more of a threat.
Mr. de Kerckhove: My colleague mentioned that we are living in an
increasingly complex world, especially in terms of non-state actors that I
believe are the real threat.
There are two ways to look at things. How do you expect a terrorist to get
access to a nuclear missile and be able to launch it? A lot of technology is
Do the Koreans, even now, have comprehensive miniaturization technology that
would allow them to more easily launch a long-range missile? Right now, it falls
as a result of gravity. Once again, this is a day-to-day thing; not a long- term
That is the debate going on in Israel. Is the Iron Dome enough right now? In
five years, in light of the ongoing challenges with Hamas and in Gaza and
elsewhere, at some point, will there be a stronger, stealthier missile that will
cause even more damage?
We do not feel that same anxiety here in Canada directly, but it is still a
growing concern because of non-state actors. I am not saying that tomorrow we'll
see a missile, but I think that overall, in terms of policy, we are committed to
doing things with the United States.
For the time being, the United States is not really worried that they will be
hit by a Korean missile, but every time that the Koreans make technical
advances, they may have the capacity to make it all the way to California. That
is not possible right now, but one day it will be. Why wait for a missile to
show up before we find a way to defend ourselves? This is very much about
defence. It is a long-term political, military and technological commitment.
Senator Nolin: How long can the situation work if it's only defensive?
We are basically saying, ``We will not attack it you, so don't worry. We will
not blow you up, but we will definitely defend ourselves with the kinetic force
of our missiles to intercept whatever you send us.''
Mr. de Kerckhove: Nowadays, they are not nuclear-tipped. They are
kinetic. That is a huge difference. It is very important to highlight because a
lot of people are thinking those missiles are nuclear-tipped.
Mr. Robertson: The concerns are real. There is a threat. We must be
prepared, which is why I recommend defence. There is an increased threat to
Canadians because North Korea has improved its technology.
Also Iran and Pakistan — there are other places where you cannot predict the
longer term, so you therefore should be prepared.
Senator Nolin: I understand that you are highlighting the
contradiction of Canada's being a member of the 28 NATO countries supporting
BMDs in Europe but not in North America. That's basically one of the highlights
of both of your presentations.
However, we cannot avoid trying to explain to Canadians how we could remove
that ambiguity and be on one side totally or on the other totally. Do you have a
comment? In less than 18 months we will have an election. It's probably not good
timing to talk about that, but it is never good.
Mr. de Kerckhove: I find it interesting because the message to
Canadians about the fact that we're talking about a defensive element of arsenal
should be reassuring.
The argument that we're still part of the system of nuclear deterrence is
also defensive, the nuclear deterrence of BMD. I will make a distinction because
in the case of BMD, it is strictly defensive in the sense that you are not going
to launch BMD against a country. The only way to use BMD is if you have a
missile attacking you.
So, for me, the message to the Canadian public should distinguish between
nuclear deterrence with the overarching umbrella, which is part of what we have
done for umpteen years. And, so far, I still think there is more and more
nuclear power, and you have to continue to have that deterrence, but there is a
big debate about that.
On BMD itself, it is a straightforward message to the Canadian population.
Are we ready? I think Mr. Robertson put it well when he said it has to be part
of the Canada First Defence Strategy we set because that's the time to make the
fundamental decision of at least implementing it, and then you do it over time.
I'd be interested to see what the Canadian public would say if we don't explain
it well. You are right. It has to be told well to the Canadian public, but it is
strictly defensive and kinetic. I don't know how to say it differently.
Mr. Robertson: That's correct. It's kinetic. It's not nuclear, and as
for timing, well, unfortunately, we're not in a position to be able to predict
when bad things will happen to us. Just think of 9/11.
Senator Nolin: Insurance policy.
Mr. Robertson: Insurance policy.
I gave a capsule portrayal of Canadian history to illustrate to the committee
that it has been something that has tormented our parliamentarians for many
years, and it's not a partisan issue. That's one thing I also want to underline.
It has conflicted John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, Prime
Minister Harper and Prime Minister Mulroney. But we can't predict when something
might happen. You pointed out we're perhaps not far from an election. It was an
election issue in 1962; it was an election issue to some degree in 1984, as you
came up on cruise missile testing. Certainly, Mr. de Kerckhove and I were part
of that time.
Senator Nolin: Do you remember the camp in front of Parliament?
Mr. Robertson: I remember.
I also want to underline a point you made, and that is the importance of
getting out ahead and presenting to the public the reasons you would want to do
this. We did it around cruise missile testing, we did it around Bomarc, and I
think that is important, which is why I applaud this committee because it is
important that the public has an opportunity to hear both sides of the argument.
Too often, it becomes utterly emotional, and you start dealing in slogans.
I think you have to start looking at whether the threat has changed. In my
view, the threat has changed. This is defensive. It is kinetic. It is not
nuclear. We're talking about a different thing than we talked about in the case
of Star Wars and the expense.
It is something that we should be doing, and, as you pointed out, out of 27
of the 28 allies, we are the outlier on this one. Yet, for North America now,
because of changed risk assessment, because of advances made in technology by
the North Koreans and potentially by the Iranians, we can't wait until something
is headed in our direction and then hope that the missile for which the
algorithms aren't triggered are able to stop it.
Senator Dagenais: If Canada decided to become more involved in the
missile defence program — beyond the symbolic exchange of personnel working at
the primary facilities, such as the American platforms — we would perhaps be
forced to make some decisions with respect to cuts to the defence program.
In your opinion, where should Canada make cuts to its defence program in
order to make the necessary resources available?
Mr. de Kerckhove: Thank you very much for that question. This is not
about playing around with the abacus. I think that the biggest opportunity we
have with the review or examination of the Canada First Defence Strategy is that
we can truly take a look at the various aspects of national defence. I could
bore you for hours with all the different scenarios being discussed. Will the
Canadian government tell us that it will not cut staff and will maintain
spending — the procurement or capital program — in which case it is certain that
the forces' state of readiness and training will suffer greatly overall?
If you add the antiballistic missile into this operation, it becomes part of
the debate, but it needs to be debated seriously. My big concern is that the
government will quickly review the strategy and simply make a few more cuts,
without truly asking itself what kind of defence we want to have. Will the
accountants be running it, or will it be run based on Canada's current threats?
I think that a review of the antimissile defence system needs to be integrated
into this review. I cannot respond by telling you, ``we'll take 10,000 people
out of Goose Bay, stick 4 or 5 here and there, and we'll save $20,000 to help
make a little contribution to AMD.''
I'm glad you asked me that question, because that is how it needs to be
presented to the Canadian public. Our entire defence policy must be extensively
reviewed because, from the beginning, the Canada First Defence Strategy never
had the funding it needed to be effective. Making decisions takes courage. Are
we or are we not more efficient if we cut staff? Are we using the reserves in a
better way? There are many things that need to be done within this debate.
As for an answer to your question, it is part of the whole thing. Do not ask
me to remove 10,000 men so we can pay for ballistic missile defence. Instead,
tell me whether you agree to have an extensive review, and a missile defence
policy would, in principle, be created as part of that review.
Senator Dagenais: Mr. Robertson, do you have anything to add?
Mr. Robertson: I think that the biggest thing with defence is to ask
questions. It is not so much about what we want as what we need. I think that we
need a missile defence system because of existing threats and because our
environment has changed.
Senator Wells: Thank you, gentlemen, for being here. I'm going to
switch tracks a little bit, because you've both had such a long history working
on behalf of Canada in this area. I'm going to ask you about our foreign policy;
it's tightly linked with our defence policy, clearly. I agree that a suite of
defences is necessary for the protection of our country.
You know that we have an emphasis now on economic partnerships throughout the
world. To what degree is this a key part of our defence strategy, in your
opinion? You've both had postings on behalf of Canada at many embassies and in
many areas. Economic partnerships that protect us on another front, how would
you view those or the importance of them?
Mr. Robertson: Senator, in my view, you have to have conditions of
stability and peace before you can do your trade and commerce. So the first set
is to establish the means for commerce.
If you look back to when we created NATO, NATO was set up as defensive, but
the Canadian article, so called, is the economic argument you're making. By our
design we said it's fine to have peace and security, but, more importantly, we
have to have trade and commerce so we can prosper. The two, to me, are not at
There has been some criticism of the government's new effort and focus on
economic diplomacy. Mr. de Kerckhove and I would both say that was our primary
purpose because we assure this with peace, and we were there to try and find
trade opportunities so Canadian businesses could do trade, and that contributes
to the prosperity of the country. This is a country that has to trade in order
for us enjoy prosperity. Before you can do trade, you have to have the
conditions of peace and security, and that means a reasonable contribution
towards a defence policy.
To me, you can't separate defence policy from your broad economic policy,
which includes your foreign policy. Your foreign policy, in a sense, represents
the various strands: defence policy, trade policy and development policy.
Development fits into this as well. Again, you want to create conditions of
peace and stability in a country so you can trade with them. If it's difficult,
as we know from the experience in Afghanistan and other places where the
conditions are awful, that's where we are most likely to see things go badly for
Mr. de Kerckhove: If I may just add a quick point, because I agree
with everything Mr. Robertson said.
I'm always amused by this emphasis on economic diplomacy because in my career
I think, even though I was supposed to be on the political or foreign affairs
stream, I spent 60 per cent of my time on trade in every posting I had,
particularly at the highest levels.
What I would like to add is that not only should there be a total integration
between foreign policy and defence but, as I said earlier, the more you're going
to alter your patterns of trade, the more you're going to focus on the Asia-
Pacific, and the more you're going to need to adapt some of your defence
capabilities in order to meet some of the more blue sky, blue water and some of
the different kinds of capacity that you will want to have. I think that's the
Really the government has to say what it is that you want Canada to be on the
international stage. If the government answered that question, then we should be
able to say what it is you need from a defence perspective.
I can tell you, let's have an amphibious capacity, fine, but what will you do
with that capacity? There are all kinds of questions there, but it's up to the
government first to tell us what that broad foreign policy is that we're talking
about. The link with defence is very clear, and the economics matter even more
as we look toward the Pacific.
Mr. Robertson: If I may just add, it's now trade negotiations with
Japan and Korea. One of the issues from the Korean side, and what they're
interested in knowing about where we stand, is where we are on defence policy.
Are we making a contribution to the collective security? We are not just an
Atlantic nation; we are also a Pacific nation.
As Mr. de Kerckhove has pointed out, the Pacific side of the trade dimension
is very important, but there is another dimension to that, and that is the
defence side of it. That's what predicated the American pivot to the Pacific,
and they're looking to us to be part of that as a Pacific nation.
Senator Campbell: I suppose my question to Korea is, ``So what do we
get for this at the end of day?'' We went the last time, and that's obviously
what they want.
Do you think it's possible that the whole issue of missile defence is because
the definition of war and peace is gone, has changed? There's no such thing as a
permanent peace à la World War II. We just have to look at Afghanistan, Iraq,
Iran, Syria, North Korea, Africa; it just goes on and on. Perhaps what we need
to do, to get to the point where you would like us to be, is to educate
Canadians about what's going on.
There's never been a hope of a lasting peace in Afghanistan. I don't even
know why we were there. Do you think this is what we need to be doing?
For instance, I had no idea there weren't nuclear tips on those weapons, and
I'm sitting here. I don't pay too much attention to this, to tell you truth. I
mean, once it's out there, you wonder, what happens when this happens? Well, it
just blows up and goes down.
Do you think one of the things we have to do is talk to Canadians about war
and peace? We have three submarines. Hello. I have no idea why we have three old
submarines, but we have them.
Do we need to readdress who we are and what our function is?
Mr. de Kerckhove: You fell into what I said earlier. That's exactly
the point. Tell me what you want Canada to be, and I'll tell you what we need to
Let me make two quick points. I could stay at $18 billion with 70,000 troops
and all that and have strictly continental defence. That's what we could afford
now. Even in a time of retrenchment and fiscal responsibility, I could see us
implementing all the recommendations for transformation made by General Lesley.
As well, I could see an increase to meet what the Canadian government wishes to
have as Canada in the world.
You're absolutely right. In fact, one of the most amusing sentences we have
at the beginning of our report is ``Gone are the days when we could trust our
enemies'' — that we had enemies we could trust.
Mr. Robertson: Or even know who they are.
Mr. de Kerckhove: Exactly. On the definitions of ``war'' and
``peace,'' it's fascinating because your question is so well put.
Go back a few decades and imagine a president who can say that next year at
this time the war will end. That is what Obama said about the war in
Afghanistan; so hooray. There is a crystal ball that no one else has. How can
you determine that the war will end, unless, of course, you've said that it
doesn't matter a hoot and you'll walk out?
Senator Campbell: He's going by old definitions.
How do we decide what we want?
Mr. Robertson: How do we decide what we want? The first thing we do is
assess the risk. What are the risks to Canada? That then trickles down to our
partners in the alliance. What are the risks to Canada? There is now a risk to
Canada that an errant missile could strike one of our cities. That, to me, is
why we should rethink our position.
We should be rethinking constantly where we are. Your question earlier was
about what we need. We have to decide what the risks are so we can determine
what we need to defend ourselves from those risks.
You've talked about the submarines. In my view, the submarines are quite
useful because one of the threats is missile launch attack submarines. If a
North Korean submarine was headed in our direction and they knew we had a
submarine out there, they would be much less likely to head our way. This has
been proven over time. The submarine is the ultimate stealth weapon. Just the
very fact that we have submarines and no one knows where they are serves as a
deterrent. Ultimately, that's what we're trying to do — we're trying to deter
threats to Canada.
We contribute because we have found that collective security is by far the
best means to defend our vast land mass with like-minded allies, particularly in
Europe, through NATO, and the United States, obviously, in continental defence.
Now, as you pointed out at the outset of your question, we look to South Korea
and why we got involved there 60 years ago. Actually, they'll say that it's
given us a great deal of goodwill. The Koreans have not forgotten that we served
there and defended them; and that works to our advantage.
Senator Campbell: I know where two submarines are: in dry dock, so
they're not helping us very much.
My last question is this: Many times Canada and other countries in the world
look to the UN. Now, as far as I'm concerned, the inmates are running the asylum
at the UN, and more and more so. What will be our alternative body? NATO? I
don't know. The UN is the reason we went to Korea. Many of the instances that
we've been involved with militarily have been UN missions. Well, I simply would
not put a Canadian soldier under a UN mission. What are we going to be looking
at as the alternate group for the world to get together?
Mr. de Kerckhove: Here we're launching a much broader debate. I think
the present government has belittled the importance of the United Nations. This
being said, it is true that it is an institution in dire need of a remake,
though it tried in 2005. That being said, let's divide the multilateral system
into three categories. Functional organizations, such as the World Health
Organization, are still doing stellar work despite some of the politicization.
Through it, a lot of good work is being done.
Then you have the political institutions, such as the General Assembly, the
UN Security Council, which the present Government of Canada bemoans and despises
because it compromises the default position as opposed to the high moral ground.
It is true that some countries there are dictatorships, but most of the
countries in the UN are democracies, at least to a certain extent. The real
issue is that we have never managed to change the way in which decisions are
taken at the UN, particularly in the Security Council. The right of veto that
continues to apply throughout, including humanitarian issues, is responsible for
the fact that we haven't done anything in Syria. People will tell you that we
should thank the Russians for preventing us from going into the quagmire. That
is certainly true today, but not in the early days when we might have been able
to do something sooner. With a no-fly zone or something like that, we could have
prevented jihadists, and they are the ones I worry about for Canada, and,
therefore, I am in favour of BMD. That's the second category.
The third category is the multilateral systems like the G8, the G20 and
others that are also in bad need of repair. I'm sorry to say it, but the G8 has
become a fairly obsolete and stale organization. Why? Because it doesn't include
the critical countries that should be there, which are India and China. You're
going to tell me that China is not a democracy. Well, Russia is a para-democracy
and is not the best democracy in town. There is graduation. India is a
democracy, but we haven't included India in the G8, so we have a problem there,
while the G20 is a more scattered group.
You've got all those different institutions that clearly are in need of a
remake. However, that doesn't change the fundamental truth that if you didn't
have those organizations, you'd have chaos on a larger scale. Take, for
instance, what happened in the Sahara and in central Africa. These are areas
where the UN is trying to make a difference but where Canada has been AWOL for
quite a long time. So please, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Change the water, but keep the baby inside.
The Chair: I just want to follow up on Senator Campbell's question.
What is in it for Canada? I want to refer to Mr. Robertson's comments, and I
quote: ``The algorithms that U.S. Northern Command have developed to protect the
U.S. homeland do not include Canadian cities like Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto or
I'd like to know from you if that information is direct from U.S. Northern
Command, and is it information that has been available to Canada? A body of
opinion out there would suggest that the ballistic missile defence will
adequately protect Canada, and we really don't have to join it to ensure that
Canada is covered if there were an attack.
The question has to be, how accurate is this statement and where did you get
Mr. Robertson: Senator, that information is reliable. It comes from
sources in the United States and from highly reliable sources within Canada.
Remember, they've designed their system through Northern Command to defend
the United States. Senator Campbell said, ``What about Vancouver?'' Well, in
fact, Seattle is one that's protected. The algorithms used for protection of
Seattle may well apply.
That's why I did not include Vancouver, for example, in that because, in
discussing this with the various experts, they said that Vancouver they could
probably stop, but, if it kept going, there's no surety. Again, there's no
guarantee, but there's a much higher percentage if you've prepared ahead of time
because when the time comes to launch these things, you've got literally
seconds. Far better for Canada to be there and have this built in as part of the
system because the system is now using this kinetic energy, and non-nuclear
warheads can stop this. Not 100 per cent, but it's sure better than what we have
today. The threat is now there.
The Chair: I just want to get it on the record. Our lack of
involvement puts Canada, to some degree, at risk in view of the fact that we're
not there to be able to put forward the prospect that we have other areas that
need defending with respect to ballistic missile defence as it stands today.
Mr. Robertson: I'd be more definitive; I'd say that we are at risk.
The Chair: Could I just go into another area? There is a position
that's put forward. I don't know if it has merit or not, and I'd like to hear
your opinion. The installation of a ballistic missile defence program causes a
destabilizing factor in arms control. That was an argument that was put forward
back in 2005. Could you tell us if that argument still has merit?
Mr. Robertson: The argument was certainly used around Star Wars that
it destabilizing because of its potential for attack capacity, but this is not
an attack. This is defensive. This is simply like a shield. Is the shield
destabilizing to the environment? No, that's not the case with this.
Mr. de Kerckhove: You're talking about arms control and disarmament.
In the technical sense of the word, I don't think there's any problem. If you
look at the politics of it, the push by NATO toward installing BMD in NATO in
the area closer to the so-called area of influence of Russia may have a
political impact on Russia's contribution to the general arms control and
This being said, at the senior level, between Russia and the U.S., arms
control, reduction of nuclear capacity and all of that is definitely taking
place. This is why we highlighted the fact that we're talking about North
American ballistic missile defence, which is different, although we are
participating also in the European one.
In a way, the North American one is far less destabilizing — if it is at all
— compared to the political concern that would be looked at by Russia as
legitimate given that NATO's progress is getting closer and closer to their
range. That might be, in their sense, destabilizing. On the other hand, the
closer they get, the more there might be an inducement to go further into arms
control and disarmament in order to jointly ensure the defence against rogue
states, which was the general object of the debate within NATO and with the U.S.
and Russia. Russia stalled on that as the rogue state development missile
systems were advancing closer to the border of the former Soviet Union.
Senator Nolin: I want to go back to Senator Wells' question about
trade. I'm convinced that both of you will agree with me. It's not new for
Canada to mix trade and stability and peace. If we go back to the Washington
treaty, the Canadian amendment was referring to that as evidence of stability.
If we have our enemies getting rich and stable, we'll have peace. So that's why
it was quite a valid question.
Talking about trade, Canada is in the midst of a huge negotiation with South
Korea. So what's your assessment of the instability in the region for the moment
and the need for Canada to get involved and push for stability and peace in the
Mr. de Kerckhove: Mr. Robertson has lots of views on that one also.
Senator Nolin: I have not only North Korea in mind but also China.
Mr. de Kerckhove: What is interesting about Korea is that, were there
to be an attack by the North Koreans on South Korea, we are still tied to the
post-1952 arrangement. Therefore, we would be a partner in the alliance on that
side in terms of forestalling the North Korean advance.
On the other hand, in terms of the actual trade — and, again, I'll defer to
Mr. Robertson on that one — my sense is that there's a limited impact on the
conduciveness of our discussion with South Korea on the trade agreement. As for
the distraction that I would call North Korea, with all the danger that it
imparts, I'm worried about the nuclear weapons of North Korea, but I'm also
worried about the potential collapse of that country, which brings us to what
extent we help them to get out of their mess.
In terms of the relationship with South Korea and the general area, I think
the Pacific is becoming a common border as opposed to an area of danger, apart
from the North Korean issue and the concern I have about the ADIZ that China has
imposed. I really think that, in terms of the relationship with the TPPs and all
of those trade negotiations, we're going into a fairly reasonably solid base.
Mr. Robertson, don't you think so?
Mr. Robertson: I would just say that in the case of Asia you have 19th
century nation states with 21st century economics and unfortunately, in some
cases, 19th century politics because there are still frontier challenges, as we
know. Think of China, Japan, the Philippines and others. Certainly, in the case
of the Koreas, there is an unsettled situation.
Put this in the context of the Canadian efforts to secure a trade agreement
with Korea, which is very much in our interest and something I believe we should
do. That said, what can we do to be helpful?
There is actually something we could do. Our current policy on engagement,
for example, with North Korea — because the South Koreans depend a lot on others
to listen to what's going on — only permits us to talk about nuclear
proliferation and human rights. I understand why we've done it, but it means
that we don't have any discussion with the North Koreans. The South Koreans
relied on us as one of the interlocuteurs valables. In the past, in
discussions with the North Koreans, as irrational as they may appear to us, our
ambassador could go up there because they could discuss other things. You
weren't talking, necessarily, to the person directly across from you, but you
were talking to the person who was also in the room — the younger generation.
We should rethink our policy on that. I understand why we put it in, but that
engagement part is something that the Koreans are very interested in and that
would serve our commercial ends.
Senator Nolin: Basically, if I understand you correctly, if we don't
publicly talk about BMD for our own continent, we're less credible protecting or
defending our trade partners.
Mr. Robertson: To a degree, yes, because they look at us and say,
``Well, what are you doing?''
Senator Nolin: As an interlocuteur valable, and that includes
protection and defence of our own territories.
Mr. Robertson: We often accuse the Americans of not being a reliable
trade partner — and we've seen that — but they expect us to be a reliable
security partner. In my view — and you've just heard this — we are a very
reliable security partner. We've created the perimeter that the Americans have
asked for, but we are saying to the Americans now, ``Okay, we want you to be a
reliable trade partner. We have done what you've asked on the security front.''
Senator Nolin: That's good. I think we will have to explore that a
little bit more. I think the relationship between security and trade is a good
Senator Wells: I want to go back to Russia. You mentioned it, Mr. de
Kerckhove, in your opening remarks. I find it interesting when we look at the
history of the 1930s and at Germany, which was decimated after the First World
War and regrew 20 years later to be, as they style themselves, perhaps, and as
we may style them as we look back, a super power.
In the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, something similar happened on a
different scale. I don't think anyone would be fooled now to think they're not
regaining their strength as a superpower and showing a certain global swagger.
How concerned should we be? They're trying to maintain or grow their areas of
influence with Syria, the Ukraine, and with Poland some years ago and now. How
concerned should we be about the re-strengthening of Russia?
Mr. de Kerckhove: I lived in Russia for three years and have a lot of
sympathy for Russia's desire to regain its status post-humiliation of the
downfall of the Soviet Union. Maybe I tend to ascribe more to President Putin
than to the rest of Russia. What I find worrisome — because that's really what
you're asking me — is his anti-West attitude. Of course he'll cooperate and
gloat about his success in Syria, and all of that, but there is something
confrontational at every level, and there's still a modality of a kind of
East-West approach. It is worrisome because with what is going on in Europe —
for instance, Ukraine in Russia versus the European Union — you find the
stability in front of that. You take other countries that would like to have a
bit more breathing space and cooperate. Take Armenia, who would like to
incorporate with Europe but has been strangled into the Eurasian concept.
Take all the former republics — the ``stans'' — and Russia's desire to
exercise control over them. For example, look at the pipeline wars that you
don't hear about between the Turks and the Russians. The Russians are now
encouraging the export of gas from Turkmenistan to China so there is less gas
going through the Nabucco pipeline in Turkey so that more gas, even at a higher
cost, can be pumped through Russia into Europe to the Ukraine. Does that sound
Machiavellian? I don't know, but it is worrisome because it's a non-cooperative
mode. To that extent, as I said, they're rewriting a new kind of Cold War.
There are other areas where cooperation is great, for example, on the
reduction of nuclear weapon capacity. In the Arctic there is real, solid
cooperation. Why? Because anything going on in the Arctic has an expeditionary
nature, which means that we better cooperate if we don't want to drown.
For instance, the Norwegians are delighted that there's more and more Russian
military in the Arctic. That will be less mess than they'll do elsewhere and
that is one organization that knows how to do its work.
The general tone, at a time when we should be cooperating against the rogue
state, the rogue actors and the non- state actors and all of that, is this sense
coming from Russia, which is a wonderful country — I've lived there, so I know
the country — that you've got to be against to re-establish glory, your past
history and all of that.
This notion of a Eurasia of contours that I don't know how to define is also
worrisome because then you will have some various places, particularly in the
``stans,'' whether it's Kazakhstan, Tajikistan or the five or six that are
there. So there's a certain inherent instability that is not helpful at a time
when there is a retrenchment and also, if I may repeat what I said earlier, a
lack of leadership on the part of the Western world which goes back to some of
your points earlier, namely, ``Tell me what you want; I'll tell you what you
need. But if you don't have enough leadership to tell us what you want, I won't
be able to help you define what you need.''
Senator Wells: I'd like to hear from Mr. Robertson on that same
question regarding Russia.
Mr. Robertson: Going back to Peter the Great and Catherine the Great,
there've always been the two sides: that side of Russia that looks to the West
and that side that, in a sense, wants a stand-alone Russia. I think under
President Putin it's the latter. He's positioning himself as less European and
more of a greater Asian power, and that presents us with challenges. We have to
play the long game with Russia, because it is a long game. You play to that
which you saw at the opening ceremony of the Olympics, the history alluded to
there, the wonderful culture that has made a contribution. Part of my
observation of Russia is that there is a sense of inferiority vis-à-vis the
West. As much as we can, that is what we have to work against.
A great Canadian diplomat, Robert Ford, was posted there for 25 years. He
really understood, and because he understood Russians, the Russians had a much
better appreciation of Canada and looked to Canada as a kind of partner or
friend. The current Russian ambassador to Canada, for example, is now the Dean
of the Diplomatic Corps here. He is very shrewd and has some weight back in
Russia, so we should be working with him, and others, to try to reduce the
chances of misunderstandings because I think that's the biggest threat we face
vis-à-vis Russia, namely a misunderstanding rather than, on the part of the
Russians, an overt effort at aggression.
Traditionally, Russians were attacked — whether we're talking Napoleon or
Hitler. They have that in their psyche. That's very much part of the Russian
mentality and something we have to be conscious of, but we can actually play a
positive role, I think.
Senator Wells: Thank you. That's helpful.
Senator Dagenais: You alluded to the economic situation in North
Korea. Do you think that its capacity to produce missiles enables it to exert
pressure to acquire foreign currency?
Mr. de Kerckhove: I think that, in general, we have economic concerns
about North Korea. After the current leader's uncle was killed in cold blood, we
have every reason to believe that we will be seeing strict controls over the
economy. Taek, the uncle in question, was relatively close to Deng Xiaoping and
was trying to bring in economic reform in North Korea. The decision to come in
and kill him was obviously a quick way to fix the country's economic management
problems, and it likely means that we will see more of an emphasis on defence
and less on the economy.
Does that give us a way to exert pressure? For example, in spite of all of
Kim Jong-un's posturing, we have still seen an opening for the two countries to
come closer together. In other words, does the western world tend to consider
him as too unpredictable? Should we try to better understand the medieval
mentality of the current North Korean leadership to be more concerned about what
is going on? Perhaps, in the spirit of what Colin was saying, by trying to talk
to them and create a space for debate and dialogue? That will take a lot of
time. Right now, I have very little hope for the Korean economy's recovery and
for the influx of foreign currency.
Senator Dagenais: Mr. Robertson, do you have anything to add?
Mr. Robertson: I would say the country with greatest influence on
North Korea is China. There are other six-party talks that we talked about which
are dormant, but China wants to play now and wants to be seen as a great power.
I think that's fair. Certainly economically they're finding their way now in the
international organizations. The architecture we've designed — and here, Senator
Campbell, I think the United Nations still has an important role to play — is
not perfect, but it beats any alternative that we could create.
Going back to China, if China wants to be accorded great power status, then
China has to take on some of the responsibilities of a great power. North Korea
is largely a creature of its making. It sustains it. Its economy depends
entirely on the lifeline provided to it by China, a bit like Cuba used to depend
My sense is that the current Chinese leadership, with the change, is very
disappointed about what is going on in North Korea, and they have let that be
understood in the north. That's probably the best way for us to seek any kind of
resolution in North Korea — working with China and letting China play the
leader's role in the six-party talks and what goes on further, because China is
in the best position to have influence on North Korea.
The Chair: Colleagues, could I ask one more question before we
adjourn? One area we have not touched on is the possible threat of an
electromagnetic pulse attack, a phraseology that most Canadians have never heard
of. Do you have any knowledge of that? If you do, would you perhaps let us know
what you do know?
Mr. de Kerckhove: I feel myself very cybernetically attacked.
Mr. Robertson: This is uncharted territory. The people to whom I have
spoken all suggest to me that cyber threats are the great threats of the future.
I've been to enough conferences of late to come back feeling very disquieted;
and people I talk to who understand, no one is particularly well prepared.
We've seen demonstrations of cyber and, if you like, electronic pulse in a
couple of instances. The Russians have used it on three or four occasions,
Romania and a couple of others; the Iranians used it on Aramco; and there was
the likelihood of perhaps an effort in the United States, until we came to the
latest Iranian sessions.
It certainly is the one area where, again, the experts I talk to who
understand this feel that we are not at all well prepared, but there is
something that applies not just to the government side but also to the business
community. Think about if all our ATM machines got shut down. We have seen ice
storms in Quebec and here in Ottawa. We know what happens when things go down.
If this were done by a hostile power, or simply a non-state actor, how do we
cope with this? This is an area that requires a lot more attention.
The Chair: I want to follow up with one short question. The ballistic
missile defence program that we've been referring to over the last hour and a
half, is that the type of program that will be able to at least negate, in part,
that kind of attack vis-à-vis the other types of attacks?
Mr. Robertson: No, sir. That's a different threat.
Mr. de Kerckhove: Can I make a quick point on the cybersecurity issue?
But that would carry us much further. There is an issue out there. I tend to
look at cybersecurity the way you look at arms control and disarmament. Is there
a possibility of establishing a code of conduct when it comes to cybersecurity?
As I mentioned, the Americans call cybersecurity the fifth domain of war. How
does one define, if at all, a cyberattack as an act of war? There are some who
propose that we should do that in order to know what we are talking about. Are
we talking about at the level of privacy or the industrial level, or are we
talking about an attack against the state? Those distinctions are fairly
academic, in the sense that they could be blurred. If you have a massive attack
against your industry, in a way it's an attack on the state itself, and to the
extent the Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, will say, ``I don't care about the
definition. This is war and we're responding.''
The countries that are attacking are also the countries that will be
attacked. At a certain state, is there a way to establish some
confidence-building measure in that field in order to advance our general
understanding of the issue? As Mr. Robertson says, this is very early days, but
it is pretty ominous and dangerous.
The Chair: Gentlemen, it is five o'clock. I would like to thank our
witnesses for being here today. It has been very informative. We will now