Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence
Issue 10 - Evidence - Meeting of October 27, 2014
OTTAWA, Monday, October 27, 2014
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day
at 12:59 p.m. to study and report on security threats facing Canada and on
national security and defence issues in Indo-Asia Pacific Relations and their
implications for Canada's national security and defence policies, practices,
circumstances and capabilities.
Senator Daniel Lang (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: I would like to welcome everyone to the Standing Senate
Committee on National Security and Defence on Monday, October 27, 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. On my immediate
left is the clerk of the committee, Josée Thérien, and on my far right is our
Library of Parliament analyst assigned to the committee, Holly Porteous. I will
now go around the table and invite senators to introduce themselves and state
the region they represent.
Senator Mitchell: Grant Mitchell, deputy chair of the committee, and
I'm from Alberta.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Carolyn Stewart Olsen, senator from New
Senator Kenny: Colin Kenny from Ontario.
Senator Beyak: Senator Lynn Beyak, Ontario.
Senator Ngo: Senator Ngo from Ontario.
Senator Day: Joseph Day from ''J'' Division.
Senator White: Vern White, Ontario.
The Chair: Colleagues, this afternoon the committee will be meeting to
continue our two studies pertaining to our mandate of national security and
defence. In the first two hours, we will look at the terrorist threats in
Canada, and in the third hour we will focus on the Indo-Asia Pacific region as
part of our second study.
Before we begin our study I wish to express, on behalf of all members and all
senators on this committee, our deepest condolences to the families of Warrant
Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo, our two Canadian Armed
Forces members who were murdered by terrorists in Canada last week in two
separate incidents. Canadians are proud of our women and men in uniform and we
will not be intimidated, nor will we surrender to those who promote hateful
religious and non-religious views as a means of advancing their political
objectives. I also want to point out that, like many other Canadians and on
behalf of members of this committee, we like to see our soldiers proudly wearing
their uniforms in public. We must not be intimidated.
On June 19, 2014, the Senate agreed that the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence be authorized to study and report on security
threats facing Canada, including but not limited to cyberespionage, threats to
critical infrastructure, terrorist recruitment and financing, and terrorism
operations and prosecutions, and that the committee report to the Senate no
later than December 31, 2015. The Senate commenced this study because we, like
all Canadians, are concerned about the threats to our safety and security. We
wish to get to the core of the issue in a reasoned and well-informed manner.
Commissioner Paulson, we are very glad to have you here with us today along
with Mike Cabana, Deputy Commissioner, Federal Policing, and Peter Henschel,
Deputy Commissioner, Specialized Policing Services. You are not strangers to
this committee, and I welcome you back. We hope this will be an informative
session and that at the end of the day Canadians will have a better
understanding of the magnitude the threat, the nature of support for those
threats, a better sense of what radicalization means and the
counter-radicalization that is taking place.
Commissioner I understand you have an opening statement.
Bob Paulson, Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Thank you,
Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
I would also of course like to assure you that we will provide the committee
with a copy of my opening remarks in both official languages as soon as
possible. Given the ongoing changes in the situation and in our understanding of
last week's events, we had to make last minute changes this morning. Thank you
for your understanding.
Thank you for the invitation to discuss the range of security threats facing
Canada now and into the foreseeable future. I had originally intended to focus
my comments on topics including cybercrime, cyberespionage and threats to
critical infrastructure to name a few. However, in light of recent events in
Quebec and Ottawa, I will focus on the threat of terrorism, specifically those
intending to commit acts of terrorism both in Canada and abroad. That said, my
colleagues and I are happy to take your questions on the range of security
At the outset, I would like to again express the RCMP's condolences to the
family and friends of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan
Cirillo, as well as to all the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Terrorism has been a threat to Canada and to the safety and security of
Canadians for many years. We are not and have not been immune to acts of
terrorism. However, it does feel as though the events of the last seven days
have led to a sense of loss and vulnerability not felt in this country for a
long time. Perhaps most hurtful is that the attackers were Canadians. They were
members of our own communities who somehow turned against their friends and
families to commit violence and spread terror.
In light of such senseless acts it is natural to have a desire to seek out
those who want to do us harm. However, we must be mindful that Canada is a
nation of laws, and the Charter ensures the protection of all citizens.
Terrorism is a serious crime with harsh penalties, and we must be sure that our
pursuit of justice is based on evidence, which will support prosecutions, secure
convictions and bring eventual penalties. Our approach must be balanced with
dogged police work, evidence gathering and collaborative efforts with our
partners, particularly those in the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, to
ensure that the full weight of Canadian law can be brought to bear.
The RCMP is mandated to investigate and prevent terrorist activities. It is
one of our most important duties, and we take this responsibility extremely
seriously. Over the past decade we have been successful in detecting,
disrupting, investigating and charging terrorists across the country. In total,
17 individuals have been convicted under Canada's anti-terrorism laws.
Just last week, Misbahuddin Ahmed, who was convicted in July, received a
12-year sentence for terrorist activities. We have also prevented a number of
terrorist attacks through other disruptive means. We are leveraging our long-
standing and effective partnerships with the police departments across the
country, indeed the entire safety and security community, to combat this growing
threat. Terrorism is one of our most challenging investigative areas. It is
extremely difficult to detect the early signs of radicalization and ultimately
determine if an individual may be preparing to launch an attack on any scale.
Many of these individuals often show few signs of being disposed to violent
action. Even those under close investigation often exhibit little to no warning
signs before an attack is carried out. Ironically, the more elaborate the plot,
the greater the opportunity for successful disruption.
Terrorism is one of the most difficult kinds of crimes that we have to
It is extremely difficult to detect early signs of radicalization and to
determine whether or not a given individual is planning an attack, no matter
what the scale of the attack is. Quite often the terrorist gives no indication
of being disposed to violence. In most cases, even in those of individuals being
investigated, there are few or no signs that they are about to take action.
Ironically, the more sophisticated the plot, be better our chances are of
Further, there is little commonality amongst these individuals besides their
eventual radicalization. Our holdings tell us that they come from different
socio-economic backgrounds, are of different races and have taken vastly
different paths to their eventual radicalization to violence. The attacks of
last week underscore the challenges faced by the security and intelligence
committee. These acts were carried out with no advance warning and, thus far,
seemingly little to no preparation. The events of last week are clear examples
of just how suddenly these attacks can occur and how unpredictable radicalized
individuals can be.
As you are all aware on Monday, October 20 at 11:40 a.m., Martin
Couture-Rouleau struck Canadian Armed Forces members with his vehicle in the
parking lot of a shopping plaza in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, and on October 22,
beginning at 9:52 a.m., Michael Joseph Zehaf-Bibeau opened fire on the
ceremonial guards at the National War Memorial. He then headed to Parliament
Hill. After entering the grounds, he commandeered a vehicle and drove to the
main entrance while being pursued by RCMP. Upon entering Centre Block, he
engaged in an exchange with House of Commons security and RCMP officers where he
was killed. Neither of the individuals in these events was linked, nor were they
a part of a coordinated attack.
If prevention poses challenges when we are aware of an individual, it is even
more daunting to prevent the acts of someone unknown to us. We did not learn
until after the attack that Zehaf-Bibeau was hoping to leave for the Middle
East. While we now have a video he made describing his ideological and political
motives, our investigation is determining whether he had shared or communicated
these intentions to commit violence to anyone. Just like the earlier incident
that week, the attack came without warning. Unfortunately, we are all too
familiar with the unpredictability of these events.
These attacks were similar to the deadly events of last June in Moncton, New
Brunswick, where three RCMP officers were murdered and another two wounded by an
individual radicalized to violence by another political ideology. While
hindsight offered some indication of potential violence, there was no
forewarning. While we are facing this threat at home, we must focus efforts on
preventing individuals from travelling abroad to commit acts of terrorism.
Preventing the individuals from travelling is critical. If these individuals
return with training and/or battle experience, they pose an even greater threat
to Canada and our allies.
We are seeing a growing number of Canadians drawn into the ranks of ISIS and
ISIL and al Qaeda and attempting to or travelling abroad to conduct
terrorist-related activities. In January 2013, two Canadians participated in an
attack on an Algerian gas plant where 36 people were killed. Since then, still
others have gone to join conflict zones in places such as Syria and Iraq.
We are taking active measures to address these threats. Internally, we have
implemented a range of activities to detect, prevent and respond to terrorist
activity. This includes leveraging our domestic and international partners and
identifying new and unique ways to combat this threat. Operationally, the
RCMP-led Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams based across the country
have been fully mobilized to address the threat of high-risk travellers. In
addition to the existing 170 resources, we are reallocating the necessary funds
and personnel from other priority areas to combat this threat. In recent months,
and over the past week, over 300 additional resources were transferred in to
enhance the capacity of INSETs from other federal policing priority areas such
as organized crime and financial crime.
We are continually assessing the threat and the required resource levels and
taking the necessary steps to reallocate resources as required. Additionally,
other partners have contributed resources to our INSETs. Further, the wider law
enforcement communities in Canada and abroad continue to offer their help and
We are meeting daily with our partners at the Canadian Security Intelligence
Service to assess the threat posed by known, high-risk travellers and those
radicalized to violence. The RCMP has established a group which has resulted in
an unprecedented level of interdepartmental cooperation. The high-risk travel
case joint operations centre is housed within the RCMP op centre in order to
respond in an expedient manner to changes in threat and to bring the full powers
of the Government of Canada to bear the moment an individual is identified.
Our partnerships are not limited to the security and intelligence community
or law enforcement. The active engagement, cooperation and support of the
community are key to our efforts. It is likely that family, friends, teachers
and community members will be the first to see the radicalization process begin
and perhaps hear the first threats of violence. For example, it was the concern
and vigilance of the family and friends of Couture-Rouleau that brought him to
Early notification of sudden changes can be key in assisting an individual
before they become radicalized to violence. These changes vary. It could be
anything from withdrawal from positive social interactions and activities to
isolation, segregation, expressing increased hatred or espousing the virtues of
violence and expressing an ''us versus them'' understanding of the world. These
are often not criminal actions — far from it — but we would suggest that friends
and family members pay close attention to these indicators and reach out to law
enforcement or other services in the community if there are concerns.
The RCMP and the broader law enforcement community recognize that the best
way to prevent terrorism is to prevent radicalization in the first place. We are
doing this through countering violent extremism efforts and programming. The
RCMP, in collaboration with key partners, is implementing a program to provide
front-line police officers and the community with the tools they need to
recognize and assist individuals at risk.
In closing, I would like to reiterate what I said in my comments to the media
last week: Canadians are safe. Fundamentally, the events of last week have not
changed us. This was evident last Wednesday when citizens joined with police,
medical technicians and military personnel to protect and provide medical aid to
Corporal Nathan Cirillo. There were other acts of bravery and examples where
citizens cooperated with law enforcement. In the face of this adversity,
Canadians of all faiths, races and political persuasions came together to
protect and support one another. I am confident that this will continue.
Thank you very much for your time, and we're happy to answer any questions.
The Chair: Thank you very much, commissioner, for being with us this
afternoon and for your informative presentation. I would like to begin with a
question. The question that's outstanding for Canadians is what exactly is the
magnitude of the public threat that we as a country and as Canadians face going
forward. I want to refer you back to the document called Security, Freedom
and the Complex Terrorist Threat: Positive Steps Ahead, which was a report
by the special Senate committee in March 2011 chaired by Senator Segal and
The statement was made:
. . . the RCMP has estimated that as many as 50 terrorist organizations are
present in some capacity in Canada, and, as of May 2010, CSIS was
investigating over 200 individuals in Canada suspected of terrorism-related
Commissioner, can you provide us with an update for 2014 in view of what we
were facing back in 2010?
Mr. Paulson: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I guess the best way to frame up
the magnitude of the threat, you will have heard perhaps that I had sort of
assigned a number when I was at another committee hearing, talking about the
number of individuals who were identified as high-risk travellers. At the time,
I think I identified 90; last week it was 93. It's a number that fluctuates in
terms of the identification of people who for one reason or another and to one
level of understanding or another want to go abroad, participate in terrorist
activities, participate in jihad. That is one way of understanding that element
of the threat.
We do, however, have a number of other active investigations in partnership
with the intelligence service. How to frame that in terms of the numbers of
individuals, there are both individuals who are of high risk, perhaps arising
from radicalization, and there are others who are being actively investigated
for criminal offences related to national security. So I think the magnitude of
the threat is perhaps best characterized as serious and present and one that
requires all people in the national security business, in the law enforcement
business — indeed, all Canadian citizens — to be vigilant.
The Chair: I want to pursue my initial question. I go back to the
statement that the RCMP estimated that as many as 50 terrorist organizations —
not individuals, organizations — are present in some capacity in Canada. Is that
Mr. Paulson: I can't really say in terms of the number of terrorist
organizations. We are framing up our targeting on the back of individuals, some
of whom are inspired by the broader sort of al Qaeda threat, and others who are
inspired by the recent ISIL phenomenon.
In terms of the organizations, I'll ask my colleague Mike Cabana to speak to
Mike Cabana, Deputy Commissioner, Federal Policing, Royal Canadian Mounted
Police: Thank you, commissioner.
Senator, maybe my answer will not be quite as helpful as you would like. We
start first by understanding that 53 different organizations are listed as
terrorist entities in Canada currently, so there is a slight increase from 2011.
But I think the danger in trying to quantify or define the level of the threat
through numbers is rather a daunting one but also a dangerous one.
The threat is multi-dimensional. It involves the high-risk traveller that has
been the subject of much discussion over the past week or so, but it also
involves actual organizations that are operating in Canada. There are
individuals coming back to Canada from participating in foreign conflicts. We
have individuals in Canada who are attempting to travel abroad for the purpose
of participation. Then, of course, we have organizations here in Canada that are
involved in supporting the terrorist organizations through recruiting and
funding. I would caution about trying to put an inventory in place and define
the threat based on number of organizations.
The Chair: Perhaps I could pursue that later on.
Senator Mitchell: Thank you to each of you for being here. I do want
to underline the gratitude of the people of Canada. For every person on the Hill
and who works there it was clear that there were a lot of RCMP uniformed men and
women going directly at that gunfire, and it was very inspiring to see that.
I would like to do two things to refine further the chair's question. First
of all, he is talking about the magnitude of the threat. Maybe it's a fine
distinction, but in terms of the nature of the threat, is it more likely we have
the single gunman, the single car driver? How do you compare that possibility to
larger possible attacks, bombs or even more coordinated attacks with more
coordinated, organized organizations?
Mr. Paulson: Thank you, senator. As I said in my opening comments,
ironically, the more elaborate the plot is, the more likely it is we are able to
respond in advance. There are probably more indicators that will come to our
attention of a developing plot.
To the heart of your question, I think the threat, which is continually
evolving, is now predominantly being understood as that sort of single
individual actor doing things like using his vehicle as a weapon. So that
presents a much more challenging threat. In that sense, I would suggest that the
threat has evolved to a state which is much more challenging and disconcerting
for law enforcement in terms of responding to that lone actor.
Senator Mitchell: And to go further still in pursuing this line of
questioning, over the last number of days I've been asked this question many
times and we've read about it: How is it that if there are 80 returnees that you
and others have alluded to, from fighting or some terrorist activity abroad,
they can still be functioning here in Canada in freedom? How is it that for
somebody whose passport has been taken back, as was the case with
Couture-Rouleau, we can't secure that person more? If you are following 90
people, what level of restrictions and monitoring can be brought to bear?
Are there gaps in your authority? Are community programs not broadly enough
based? Is that outreach not working? I don't mean to be critical at all; I'm
trying to get to the root and nature of the problem.
Mr. Paulson: Perhaps I could begin to answer your question. I will
invite my colleague to weigh in because it is an important question.
Couture-Rouleau is a very good example of having the suspicion, having the
instinct and intuition that his intention was to travel abroad to participate in
jihad. Certainly that was the family's concern as he was radicalizing.
In a law enforcement response, we have to translate those misgivings,
intuitions, thoughts and concerns into evidence that will permit us to make an
arrest, bring a prosecution, and provide the evidence to a court to have a
The challenges are multi-dimensional in the sense that we need to have
evidence of his intent — never mind him for a second, but somebody else who has
been abroad and come back — have evidence that they did participate in some of
these activities that were related to a terrorist group. So it's the transition
from the apparent belief and suspicion to the hard-core evidence that is
tangible, articulable and transferable to a courtroom.
Mr. Cabana: Actually, commissioner, it was very well said, very
eloquent. I'm not sure there is much I can add. Whether there are gaps in the
tools we have is actually the subject of analysis and review on an ongoing
I can assure you that the RCMP and its security partners, including the rest
of the law enforcement community in Canada, work consistently at identifying
what those tools are and leveraging every tool that is at our disposal to try to
prevent anything else from happening.
Senator Mitchell: This relationship between the preliminary work that
CSIS does — and CSIS has told us that they follow people up to a point, and
there is a threshold point at which the RCMP become involved — how is that
coordination working? Would it not be more productive to have the RCMP involved
earlier? Is there a strong coordination of those two forces, or is that a place
where there is a weakness?
Mr. Paulson: I would say that's a place where we're quite strong. We
have been working on that since I've been in Ottawa, and we have gotten the
relationship and the day-to-day operations between CSIS and the RCMP to a place
that is very effective. There are challenges though that remain.
I understand you are going to talk to our colleagues in the Canadian Security
Intelligence Service. We continue to be challenged with the transition of
intelligence into evidence. That is a seemingly intractable condition of our
work, because on the one hand we would have intelligence that the service might
have from other sources or from their sources and methods that cannot be
revealed. It makes it a challenge to bring that intelligence, which may give
rise to a very strong suspicion and belief, into the criminal context, which
requires a complete examination and exposure of the sources, to be able to weigh
and test the nature and quality of that intelligence.
We have done a lot of improvements over the years in terms of handing off
investigations, us being involved in the early part of the CSIS work, to be able
to assist at informing the criminality that is arising to a point that requires
intervention; hence, our 17 successful convictions, frankly. That has all been
done through painstaking work between CSIS and the RCMP.
Every day we're sitting down with those folks, looking at our holdings and
de-conflicting our holdings, and we continue to work effectively. But I would be
less than forthright if I said it was all blue skies and green lights. We have
challenges with respect to transferring intelligence to evidence.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Thank you for coming. After the events on the
Hill and being at home this weekend in New Brunswick, I think we live in a
country where people are not accepting of acts like this. One of the things that
were very clear to me when I stopped at the National War Memorial this morning
is that people want to know what they can do to assist. They don't expect our
security and police services to do everything. You did mention something about
ramping up programs so that Canadians can help, but if you could give some idea
of what they can do, because overriding our meetings in this study is the
security of Canadians and protecting Canadians. I know that's your overriding
principle as well.
Mr. Paulson: Thank you for that question. Let me begin by saying
you're absolutely right that a key solution to our challenges lies within our
communities. What I mean is what I mentioned in my opening comments, which was
encouraging and having people in our communities confident in referring changes
in behaviours, unusual developments and suspicious circumstances to police.
I will use the analogy of a parent who is concerned about a child's drug use.
They recognize that there is a problem, but they're reticent, and understandably
so, to bring that forward to the police because the police response will be
understood as an enforcement action on that drug use. We need to persuade
Canadians and to develop their trust such that the problem of a significant
change in behaviour giving rise to misgivings about a person's radicalization
needs to be quickly identified to the appropriate authorities. We have a very
effective network of law enforcement across this country, not just the RCMP but
municipal police forces and provincial police forces, which are informed and
ready to be able to manage that response. I think that's where a big chunk of
the answer lies.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Having gone through the whole situation in
Moncton as well, New Brunswickers are very concerned and wanting to help prevent
something like that from happening again. They have identified, though, that
they don't know quite how to go about it.
Do you have something in place that is easily accessed and perhaps secure for
them? Of course, there's always a fear if you call the police or whatever. They
will need some specific information about how to get a hold of you, how to
report and also perhaps that list of what you should look for. I'm just hoping
that you will be able to reassure me that you're thinking of how to put this all
Mr. Paulson: Certainly we're thinking about it, and indeed much of it
is already in place. One of the features of our countering violent extremism
strategy is that every police force across this country has effective access
points for the community to reach in on matters of prevention and matters of
intervention. One of the things we're doing is using that infrastructure, if I
can refer to it that way, to overlay the national security response.
We also have several other programs that I've referred to in other
appearances. Our front-line counterterrorism information officers bring those
pre-attack indicators and suspicious behaviours not just to the attention of
police officers on the front line, which is vital to have, but also into the
community so that people understand what it is they're seeing, what it might
mean. It's one thing to say, ''Johnny is behaving in a strange way.'' It's
another thing to say that strange behaviour requires some steps beyond those
that I can provide as a parent, a friend, a colleague or a neighbour.
Senator Day: Commissioner, gentlemen, thank you very much for being
here. I support all the comments that have been made in relation to our support
for the men and women in uniform. I hope you will take that back to the members
of the RCMP, that we're fully supportive. The questions we are asking will
hopefully be helpful. Both of the points that I wanted to follow up have already
been touched on.
The first one, commissioner, is the relationship with CSIS. I think the
importance of the transition from the intelligence investigation that CSIS does
and the criminal investigation that you do and the relationship thereof can't be
overemphasized. We don't want two solitudes here. I heard what you said and your
answer. I'm going to assume that you feel that things are flowing nicely, but I
will ask the same question of CSIS when they are here in that regard.
You may comment on that if you like, and if there is some investigation or
study going on to make sure that flows, I would be reassured by that.
Mr. Paulson: Let me take a quick second to say that for the last seven
or eight years, I personally have been involved with colleagues in recognizing
the importance of that relationship, recognizing that in this context,
everything that we do, every piece of information that we have in the national
security business, CSIS gets. We are continually making sure that they get all
of our information.
In terms of getting the information from CSIS, as I mentioned in my previous
answer, we need to be particular and purposeful in how we take that information
from CSIS to build our investigations. We will continue to and often do run
parallel investigations, not tripping over each other. We have accomplished some
significant breakthroughs in terms of relying on each other's equipment and
relying on each other's authorizations lawfully. We have come quite a long way.
The relationship with CSIS is very strong, sound and functional.
Senator Day: Thank you. The other area Senator Stewart Olsen touched
on, and I would like to re-emphasize, is that all of us here have returned to
our regions across Canada, and I happen to be from the same province as the
senator. Our communities are smaller, and most of the people I have talked to
can't understand why someone who is starting to change his or her attitudes and
is starting to say things that are worrisome, why that can't be brought to your
attention. You're policing in many of the provinces as well, and hopefully all
of your officers doing either national or provincial work will be trained the
It seems what we're seeing now is not necessarily an ideological driving
force but someone who has an emotional or mental problem and is focusing on
people in uniform to vent that hatred that has developed. It seems to me that
the ideological aspect of this is an adjunct to looking for some place to hang
your hat and say, ''I'm doing this because of this.''
So it's the importance of being able to monitor activity that could develop
into something very serious, like we've seen. With that background, could you
tell me what your counterterrorism information officer and that newly created
position are doing along those lines?
Mr. Paulson: Maybe I'll invite my colleague Deputy Commissioner Cabana
to speak to that. I've mentioned some of it. We have the countering violent
extremism program that we are, as we speak, rolling out across the country. We
have other programs that pre-exist and are being supported and have been quite
successful in many regards. I will ask Mr. Cabana to speak to that.
Mr. Cabana: Thank you, commissioner. Senator, as Commissioner Paulson
mentioned, there are a number of programs, the most recent one being the
countering violent extremism strategy that has been implemented, that seeks to
provide front-line enforcement resources from other agencies, but also from the
RCMP, with the necessary tools and knowledge to be able to identify if they are
potentially dealing with the onset of radicalization but also how to deal with
There are many different components to it, but I would say one of the key
components is the creation of community hubs, which engage a number of different
specialists from different fields, such as health and social services, that come
together once cases have been identified and develop a custom, tailored approach
to each individual in an effort to provide them with the necessary support in
order to change their way of thinking, if you want.
Mr. Paulson: In other words, if it's, as you mentioned, a mental
illness issue perhaps or a drug addiction issue, compounding and interfering
with the ability to get that person off this road of violent radicalization,
then we will bring in and assist people at brainstorming, problem-solving and
providing professional support to get to the heart of the matter.
Senator Day: I'd like you to comment on whether you have the
sufficient resources and legislation to do just that, the intervention and
preventing it from getting worse.
Mr. Paulson: As I've said — I'm not sure if I said it here or not, but
I have said it in other places — current circumstances are requiring that we
move our resources around within federal policing, and we're bringing all the
resources we need to do this, and it's getting done. What's happening is other
areas of our responsibilities and our mandate are being impacted, perhaps in
organized crime or in financial integrity matters, but we have the resources
that we are devoting to get this up, running and effective.
Senator Ngo: Thank you, commissioner. You mentioned you have about 90
or 93 high-risk individuals who have been identified, who have left for abroad
and have come back. Those are the high-risk ones. Do you have anything like
medium risk? If you have medium-risk ones who support or associate with radical
Islamic extremism, do you have a list, and do you have any idea how many people
are on that list? Can you characterize what ''medium risk'' means?
Mr. Paulson: Thank you for that question. You're referring, as I
mentioned before, to our high-risk travellers program, which is now a task
force, where I had recently identified 93 individuals as having been listed as
high-risk travellers, either individuals who want to go abroad or who are abroad
and want to come back. We are investigating that and we are managing that, and
in fact, we are working with our partners at CSIS in a daily re-evaluation of
Let me talk about that other group of individuals, let's call them high-risk
individuals, who for one reason or another we have a basis to suspect have taken
the path towards radicalization. We have a number of those individuals as well.
What we've been doing in the recent past with the service has been going back
over all of our holdings, all of them. We have sort of recast and re-evaluated
the basis upon which we have come to understand the threat posed by these
individuals. And with our partners across law enforcement in Canada, with the
service, with us, we have made sure that the evaluation of the threat on those
people is articulated and is responded to in a way that gives us confidence that
the threat posed by the individual is being responded to by either the
intelligence service, the RCMP or the partner police agency.
Senator Ngo: Thank you, commissioner. If that's the case, how do you
approach them, the so-called medium risk I'm talking about, not the 90 high-risk
you mentioned? How do you approach them? Do you seize the passport, or what are
the steps you have taken in order to evaluate the medium risk? And if there is,
do you face any other radical Islamic extremists in Canada?
Mr. Paulson: The way we assess the risk is on the basis and
reliability and accuracy of either the intelligence or the information that is
bringing them to our attention in the first place. An evaluation process is
applied. Who are these people? What is it that is being said they are intending
to do? What is the nature and quality of the evidence and intelligence giving us
an indication of what they intend to do? Then we will classify them as requiring
immediate response, perhaps, in terms of a criminal investigation featuring
wiretaps, surveillance, perhaps even, if it's manifest enough, an arrest and
charge, all the way down to surveillance, to intervention for an interview, to
perhaps an intelligence file for the service. The seizing of passports or the
application for a revocation of passport is one of numerous tools that are
available in this sort of non-charge space.
The ideal condition for me, the simple country cop, is we've got evidence, we
bring this person under arrest, we bring him to court, charge him and convict
him and deal with him. That's how we would like to roll.
There are a number of cases, as I have been mentioning, that fall short of
that; and so we have to have a strategy to intervene, surveil, acquire more
evidence, intervene, prevent, as well as detect and prosecute. That, in a
nutshell, is our strategy.
The Chair: Could I perhaps go further on that question? At the outset
we talked about wanting to look at the magnitude of the public threat that
Canadians are facing. We've been told, and you have been very transparent and
clear about this, there are 90, 93 travellers. It moves; it is fluid.
What I'd like to get at is, below those travellers, the high risk, let's go
down to that medium level or even the lower level. What are we talking about in
magnitude of individuals involved in this type of ideology, this type of
mindset? Are we talking 300, 500, 1,000 people that between the RCMP and CSIS
have been identified so that eventually as they become more involved, then they
become high risk? They have to be identified at the beginning, so perhaps you
could expand on that.
Mr. Paulson: I don't know how useful it is to understanding the threat
to have a number assigned to that. Just for an order of magnitude, frame of
reference, we can talk about thousands of police occurrences where people will
have identified individuals who will require a response.
Those would be from ''I don't like the look of that person I saw on that bus
today, really looked shifty'' to ''I was in the bar last night and I heard this
person plotting to blow something up'' to ''got pictures of this person putting
together a plan.'' That's the range.
I think that, again, it's not particularly helpful to understand the
magnitude of the threat, because as we go through the events, such as the
terrible events that we have just gone through in this past week, people's
interest spikes and we begin to get a lot of ''don't like the cut of that
person's jib on the bus this morning,'' but we are talking as an order of
magnitude in the thousands.
Senator White: Thank you for being here today, and congratulations to
your members in managing both incidents last week, one as a secondary but one as
a primary, and thanks for that. Also, thanks for the transparency you showed. I
think it was helpful to people living in the city to see you show the videos and
explain the circumstances.
Deputy Cabana, you talked about the radicalization and the shape and a little
about the perspective even around the New Brunswick incident as some form of
radicalizing of someone's ideology, which isn't what we think about when we
think about radicalization. We often hear about the Internet and how it allows
people to become radicalized, but we also hear, if we look at the Toronto 18
case, circumstances around radicalization happening face to face often in
institutions in this country.
Do you have the tools to manage those face-to-face encounters from an ability
to stop some of the activity happening that does take someone who is at risk
mentally, drug-induced or others, stop those individuals from radicalizing the
people that we are seeing committing the acts, or do we need to step forward and
start having changes in hate legislation or something else that allows us to
attack those individuals? I can't repeat the question. I apologize.
Mr. Cabana: No, I don't think you need to. It's not an easy question
to answer, whether we have the necessary tools to be able to address that issue.
Of course, first and foremost, it's important for us to have the knowledge
that the issue exists in the first place with respect to certain individuals. I
would say that when we have that knowledge and the individuals are brought to
our attention or identified for us, whether the discussion occurred face to
face, if you want, or even over the Internet, we're leveraging the tools we have
to the extent that we can.
Unfortunately, as we saw in recent events, the ability — I'm not sure what
kind of tool we would have to have in place to be able to prevent all kinds of
incidents like the ones we saw last week, especially if the planning behind the
incident is done just by one individual with very little collaboration from
I realize I probably didn't provide the answer you're looking for, but I
can't think of a tool that would actually allow us to make sure that there will
never be any other incident.
Senator White: Have we successfully prosecuted anyone for successfully
radicalizing someone else in this country? Is there a prosecutable offence?
Mr. Paulson: Yes, there is.
Mr. Cabana: There is. We have not, but yes, there is.
Senator White: So we have the tool from a legislative perspective?
Mr. Cabana: Yes, we do.
Mr. Paulson: That's right. In fact, not just these recent events, but
a focus of our concern in the follow-up investigation, particularly in the
Ottawa event, is to satisfy ourselves that there is no one behind this
character. Were we to have the evidence, we would certainly bring a prosecution
or a charge against those individuals — not just asking community members to
give us indicators of people's behaviours but asking people to give us
information about people who are leading this radicalization effort, because
some people are vulnerable and some people are being taken advantage of and some
people are taking advantage of these people, and those are high-value targets,
in my mind.
Senator Kenny: I have three areas I want to touch on.
The first has to do with cooperation with CSIS. Your organizations have
different objectives. For some time we've had the impression that the objectives
would be at cross purposes. If you want to collect evidence and prosecute
somebody, and they want to collect intelligence and keep on collecting
intelligence, from the way you described it, you make it sound like everything's
working well there. My impression is that this is a constant debate and that
it's a challenge.
Mr. Paulson: I would agree with you, senator. You will recall my
misgivings about our abilities to transition intelligence to evidence. Let me
give you a real, concrete example of where we in the police have taken steps to
contribute to a much more effective relationship, and that is in the case of
these boats that were trying to come to Canada. We have shipped officers
shoulder to shoulder with CSIS and other agencies of the Government of Canada
abroad, and we had to demonstrate and say, ''Look, we're not going to wreck
everything by insisting that we manage everything towards a prosecution. We're
going to help get to prevention.'' Prevention is equally our mandate, as is
It's taken a little bit of a culture change within our world, which I'm proud
to say that we've accomplished in that sense. But there is still work to be done
on the broader sort of issue of that intelligence to evidence.
Senator Kenny: Did I understand you correctly through an earlier
question saying that you saw no further need for legislation to enhance your
ability to do your work?
Mr. Paulson: No, I didn't say that.
Senator Kenny: Were you close to that? The question came up with
Senator Day about what sort of tools you require, and he was referring, I
believe, to legislation. If you didn't say it, could you tell us what tools you
do need in the way of legislation?
Mr. Paulson: I think that is being examined as we speak in terms of
what some of the options would be. Frankly, generally speaking, I am of the view
that in some areas we need to be able to lower the threshold and perhaps exclude
some steps, for example, getting consent from the Attorney General in respect of
bringing a peace bond against a national security target. I think that the
thresholds for belief of either an offence being made or an individual being
involved in that offence need to be lowered to a reasonable suspicion as opposed
to a reasonable belief. There are some things that need to be addressed in the
short term, and they've been identified and certainly we've raised them.
Hopefully we'll be able to see some — it has to be balanced, of course, as you
will know, senator. It has to be balanced against Canadians' rightful
expectation that they're free and that they're safe from the improper
application of police powers. I think there is a balance that can be reached
Senator Kenny: Finally, resources. You gave the impression — at least
I got the impression earlier — that you were happy with the financial resources
that you have. In light of the fact that the budget of the RCMP has been
decreased 15 per cent over the last three years, I can't understand how you're
okay. I know about the efficiencies that you're creating in headquarters, but it
just seems to me remarkable that we're in this state of affairs and we're
cutting back on the budget of the police.
Mr. Paulson: Senator, I prepared to come and speak with you here
today. One of the things I did was review the testimony of other people who have
appeared before you. Let me put it this way: We're doing what we can with what
Senator White: I guess a little bit on the discussion around mental
illness and radicalization. I gave an interview last week with a CBC reporter
who tried to suggest somebody who was mentally ill couldn't be a terrorist or
couldn't commit a terrorist act. Just to clear the air — because a couple of
people have jumped on that again this weekend, in particular in relation to the
individual in Quebec — your perspective on the fact that a mentally ill person
could commit a terrorist act.
Mr. Paulson: I'm not a psychiatrist. I understand mental illness and I
understand the ravages that it can have on families and people. But certainly
when it comes to some of the purposeful, deliberate, considered, premeditated
actions that flow into some of the things that we've seen recently, I'm not
persuaded at all that mental illness is what's driving these things. What's
driving these things is a distorted world view of what's happening around these
individuals perhaps coming to fruition on the back of somebody who has some
mental challenges. But they are entirely distinguishable, in my estimation.
Senator Beyak: Thank you very much, gentlemen. You have our
admiration, respect and gratitude. Like Senator Stewart Olsen, all weekend I
heard from constituents that we live in a great nation, and they want to keep it
that way and do their part to do what they can as well.
I have a three-part question about the 93 travellers. People wonder how many
of them, if all or a majority, are what are commonly internationally known as
radical Islamic jihadist extremists. If that is the case, how often are they
travelling? How are they getting back? Do we need more tools to prevent them
from coming back? Is this war more than a criminal court due process thing?
Mr. Paulson: Thank you, senator, for your comments at the outset of
your question. I guess I would say that it's my view — and I would defer to my
colleague to my right here in terms of these individuals. Again, we're just
talking about the high-risk travellers. I would suspect that, at varying levels
of belief, all of them have some indications of radicalized behaviour. That's
the first thing.
How often are they travelling? We are endeavoring to make sure that they not
travel. But that's not the objective, because I think there is a reasonable
analysis that flows from stopping one of these radicalized individuals from
travelling, but you better be ready to do something about that when you stop
So we're very concerned, as are our partners at CSIS, about individuals who
come back from the war zone, from the terrorist activity abroad, with these
skills and this mindset that they have acquired over there. That is an area of
focus for us.
I must confess that I don't remember the third part of your question.
Senator Beyak: The third part was how many of them are born here to
radical Muslim parents or are Canadian citizens, dual citizens, visas,
Mr. Paulson: We do have that data. I don't know that I could provide
it to you now. We do know that. I would say most of the individuals are
Canadians. Let me defer to someone who does know with a little more confidence.
Mr. Cabana: Thank you, commissioner.
Senator, there is not one profile of someone who's been radicalized. A
significant percentage are Canadian, a good percentage of whom were born in
Canada. But not all of them — actually, very few of them — were born to what you
term ''radical parents.'' Radicalization occurs often outside the family unit.
Mr. Paulson: As I indicated in my comments, the most troubling and
offensive element of these recent attacks is that they were both Canadians.
Senator Beyak: Thank you very much.
Senator Dagenais: Thank you to our three guests for coming today.
First, I would like to congratulate your entire team for their excellent work
last week. I myself was a police officer for several years and I understand the
kinds of problems you face during these types of events.
I have two questions that I will ask you in English.
For the sake of clarity, was Martin Couture-Rouleau under national security
criminal investigation by the RCMP? Can you advise the public when the video of
Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau will be released so that Canadians can make their assessment of
Ms. Paulson: Thank you for the questions, senator.
Couture-Rouleau was a subject of a national security investigation. I think
we have been fairly forthright in describing that, and I don't know that there
is much more to add. We have tried to depict the challenges in that
investigation in terms of what our actions were, how we intervened and how we
worked with the family and others, meeting with them as recently as October 9,
prior to this attack. He was the subject of a criminal investigation, and had we
had sufficient evidence to charge him, we would have charged him.
The video on Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau is being analyzed right now for its
intelligence and evidence value. We are all interested in getting that before
the public, but we're interested in making sure that we have secured and are
confident in its intelligence and evidence value. I don't know when it's going
to be released. It will certainly be released someday, but I would be a fool to
say when it will be released. I am inclined to overcome those challenges and get
it released as soon as possible.
Senator Dagenais: Second, how would you characterize the level of
monitoring applied to Couture-Rouleau? Was it equivalent to that of the other 89
persons suspected of terrorist activities or sympathies that you are currently
Mr. Paulson: I would say this about Couture-Rouleau: We had a number
of individuals in our national security investigative team personally engage
with him and his family in frequent, if not constant, contact with family
members. It was very aggressive in terms of trying to engage and monitor him.
How would I characterize that against other individuals we are monitoring? It
goes, as I said earlier, to the evaluation and assessment of the threat that the
individual proposes. It would be no secret, and hopefully Canadians would
understand, that there are individuals we are monitoring continually right now
to try to get evidence that they are doing criminal acts; there are individuals
we have just learned about and are assessing; there are individuals we have
spoken to; and there are individuals that we have succeeded, in our view, in
turning around. There is a complete range of activity.
Although it ended very badly with respect to Couture-Rouleau, the officers in
particular, and Mr. Cabana would know better than I, were horrified — horrified
— that things had happened, as were all Canadians. They were heavily invested in
this man, and we're rethinking all of that.
Senator Mitchell: I would like to pursue the point you made that
you've reallocated, I think you said, 300 people. I don't know what each one of
those people makes, but if you made a rough estimate you're talking about $25
million. It sounds to me, one could argue, that you need them. You have
allocated them, and you are $25 million short, not to mention what you might
need for better community-based intervention to solve the problem before it
Bluntly asked, do you have the resources? How long will you need those 300
people? Where will you find the money to sustain that?
Mr. Paulson: Frankly speaking, one of the challenges in managing and
leading a police organization is that you never have enough money — you never
do. I will never have enough money. So what's your strategy? Get more money or
manage effectively with what you have, and make periodic appeals for more money.
Given the threat, what's happened and how it's developed, I'm satisfied, and
we continue to check daily our ability to move resources from one area of our
operations to another. If we were blue-skying how we were going to increase our
resourcing, for example, a lot of things would have to be put in place. We just
now have our recruitment and Depot training system and all those elements
operating in a very finely tuned way, so we need to be thoughtful around how
we're going to approach that if there is a need to ramp up.
I didn't come here to get resources. I came here to help understand the
nature of the threat. We are going to make decisions; we have made decisions;
and we will continue to make decision around moving resources around to respond
to the greatest threat to the safety of Canadians. That's sort of my mantra.
Senator Kenny: Commissioner, the government is going ahead with the
building of a $50-million visitor centre here on Parliament Hill. Have you or
has the RCMP been consulted on it? Are you satisfied that it will address the
problems that exist now, such as people being searched for the first time right
under the Peace Tower and those sorts of things? Is it going to be a plus from a
point of view of security?
Mr. Paulson: I don't know that I'm in a position to give an answer to
that. Maybe the deputy commissioner?
Mr. Cabana: Not to the level of detail that Senator Kenny is looking
for. There have been preliminary discussions with us, so I know that we're
engaged. But as for knowing what impact it will have on the security posture on
the Hill and checking people, unfortunately I can't answer that.
Senator White: Commissioner, you mentioned the possibility of removing
a step for approval on peace bonds to the Attorney General of Canada. Have we
had a problem with the Attorney General refusing peace bonds, or is it just the
Mr. Paulson: No. It's the preparation and the amount of extra work
required to accomplish that. It seems to me that the Attorney General's consent
in most of our national security investigations and charges is well-thought-out
and properly placed. But in respect of these peace bonds, there is an argument
to be made that cops can handle that.
Senator Day: Someone reading the transcript of this hearing or
watching it on television might come to the conclusion that the term
''radicalization'' relates only to religious-based radicalization. You indicated
that it is a term and an offence under the Criminal Code. I don't have my
Criminal Code here, but maybe you can give us a brief understanding of
Mr. Paulson: It's probably laid out differently within the code. When
we talk about radicalization, and don't let me be too elementary, there is no
crime in having radical thoughts. It's the act of moving someone into doing
something violent or in support of a terrorist activity that attracts our
attention. The radicalization phenomenon is sort of recognized as being an
individual who has maybe strong or contentious thoughts or those that are not in
the mainstream, and that's generally no crime. It's moving that radical thought
into an area where you begin to act and move towards violence, which is where we
It's probably no surprise or shock to anyone that there are individuals who
would be developing and exploiting people's weaknesses at radicalizing their
views and bringing them along. Even that, in terms of some areas, is not a
crime. The moment they begin to advocate for violence, then that's a very
serious engagement on the terrorist offence.
Senator Day: Thank you. I think that will be helpful.
Senator Beyak: I don't mean this question to sound critical in any
way. I want an understanding of something I don't know.
I worked for the last five years with very moderate Muslims in the United
States and Canada. I don't think I can say their names, but I was a little
appalled and glad that you repudiated the handbook, United Against
Terrorism, but there were some pretty radical Muslim groups that were part
of that book, and I wondered how we were associated with them and why. I'm glad
that you repudiated it. If you're going to take a stand, would you explain a
little bit why you were associating in the first place with them?
As I said, I don't mean to be critical. I just didn't like the book at all.
Mr. Paulson: I'm used to being criticized.
In respect of that pamphlet, first, it needs to be said that in terms of our
prevention activities, we need to engage and hang out with people of all
different ilk and all different activities. While I did make a statement with
respect to the ultimate pamphlet that was produced, our chapter within that
pamphlet is pretty solid, and I stand by what we had to say about our role and
how we respond to the threat. It's unfortunate that I had to ask that we not put
a public aspect to an announcement of that. But really, when you look at our
chapter in that book, we stand by that.
Senator Beyak: There's talk that three of the groups were unindicted
co-conspirators in radical Islam. Do you have any comment on that or did you
have any knowledge of that?
Mr. Paulson: I'm afraid I don't know what you're referring to.
Senator Beyak: Okay, thank you.
The Chair: I have one question on the threshold of the legal framework
we presently work under and that we could in some areas lower it to allow you
and your force to do the job we ask you to do.
Right now we have 93 individuals, as I understand it, and Canadians have
heard that 93 individuals out there are under some sort of surveillance, or at
least it is identified that they could be of some violent consequence to the
general public. If we were to lower the threshold in a number of areas that
perhaps you and other departments of the government could recommend, would that
put us in a position where you as a law enforcement agency could perhaps
constrain, restrain or detain these individuals for a period of time so that at
least you have an opportunity to deal with this radicalization as opposed to
trying to deal with it at the doorstep?
Mr. Paulson: Yes, that's right. There are two areas where I think we
could examine and discuss the lowering of thresholds. As we've talked about
already, one is in respect of the peace bond. After an application to a court,
the peace bond assigns conditions to restrict the movement of an individual,
have them account perhaps, have them report or have them do this or have them do
that. I think that's entirely reasonable.
Another area is in getting assistance from various corners of our communities
and society in terms of getting information. Information has become very
difficult to come by. Privacy interests are very strong, and properly in many
instances, but in getting information perhaps relating to Internet registration
or getting information in respect of telephone numbers. The world is changing
rapidly, not only in terms of the threat that we've been discussing but also in
terms of the technology that people are using that we have to keep up with.
You've heard this lament perhaps before, but I think there is room to be able
to discuss lower thresholds of assistance orders to individuals to provide
information where it's reasonably suspected an offence has or will take place
and where it's reasonably suspected that an individual is perhaps contributing
to that offence.
The Chair: Commissioner, I appreciate your giving us the time you
have. We felt it was an important enough issue for Canadians that we should take
as much time as we can.
I want to thank you and your colleagues for appearing. Obviously this is a
committee you're familiar with, and I'm sure we will be seeing you in the
future. Thank you for doing the job you do.
As we continue our look at terrorist threats to Canada, we're pleased to have
with us Michael Peirce, Assistant Director Intelligence, CSIS. I apologize for
the lateness of our start. I know we were due to start at two o'clock, but, in
view of events, you can see why it has taken a little bit more time. We
appreciate the time you have taken out of our schedule to be here with us today.
I understand that you have an opening statement.
Michael Peirce, Assistant Director Intelligence, Canadian Security
Intelligence Service: Good afternoon, honourable senators. Thank you for
your invitation today to discuss the terrorist threat to Canada. Mr. Chair,
first, on behalf of the men and women of the Canadian Security Intelligence
Service, I would like to express my deepest respects for Warrant Officer Vincent
and Corporal Cirillo, as well as my condolences to their families, friends, and
fellow members of the Canadian Armed Forces. I can assure Canadians that, though
we, too, are deeply affected by these acts, we are firm in our resolve to
protect Canadians and the security of Canada.
Mr. Chair, unfortunately, as Canadians now know first-hand, the threat posed
by radicalized individuals, be they inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and
the Levant, which I will refer to as ISIL, al Qaeda or other things on social
media, is, as our director recently said, all too real. While I will not speak
of the specifics of the recent events — it's simply too soon for us to do that —
I will endeavour to address some of the questions that have been raised in the
aftermath of those events.
Honourable senators recently heard from the service's Deputy Director of
Operations, Jeff Yaworski, who is responsible for the service's human
intelligence collection activities. As Assistant Director of Intelligence, I am
responsible for the production and dissemination of intelligence assessments.
The service's intelligence assessment function is integral to the conduct of
our investigations. In fact, our analytical work is increasingly integrated with
our collection and operational activities. Just as my analysts draw on insights
gained through the service's operations, those same analysts provide direct
support to operations. These core functions of the service are mutually
Our assessments are also outward-facing and strategic in nature. They enhance
the government's awareness of the nature and magnitude of the threat, assist
decision makers in their efforts to counter these threats, support the mandates
of other domestic and foreign partners and identify gaps and emerging issues
regarding the national security agenda.
Classified CSIS threat assessments are shared widely with partners such as
the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canada Border Services Agency, the
Communications Security Establishment, Citizenship and Immigration Canada,
Public Safety and other government departments and agencies. The timely
dissemination of these assessments is critical as it enhances our partners'
situational awareness and allows them to consider their response to any new
developments or trends. To be clear, this is in addition to the operational
cooperation between the service and its provincial, federal and foreign
partners. I should also point out that the Integrated Terrorism Assessment
Centre, ITAC, which is a community-wide resource housed within CSIS — and when I
say ''community-wide,'' I mean within the national security community — is
responsible for producing integrated, comprehensive and timely threat
assessments for all levels of government with security responsibilities,
first-line responders, such as law enforcement, and, as appropriate, critical
infrastructure stakeholders in the private sector. ITAC's all-source assessments
are likewise shared so that measures can be taken to prevent and mitigate
While my analysts produce assessments related to all threats to the security
of Canada — cyber, counter-espionage, counter-proliferation — as you might
expect, terrorism, including radicalization and terrorist travel, is our top
intelligence priority. Though what we know continues to evolve, CSIS has to date
found that radicalized individuals in Canada come from varied social backgrounds
and varied age groups, tend to be educated and tend not to come from
impoverished circumstances. I say that in contrast in particular to the profile
that we see from European radicalized individuals. They often at least appear to
be integrated into society. Whether these characteristics apply equally to lone
actors is an area of continuing study.
Just as the service has prioritized operations, likewise our assessment
branch has mobilized all available resources and continues to work diligently
with domestic and foreign partners to leverage all available intelligence
against this terrorist threat. This is because, as noted, there is not one set
of identifiable characteristics or behaviours amongst extremists. There isn't
one profile there where you can say, ''This is it. If we had that profile, it
would be easy to target those individuals in our investigations.'' Rather, we
know the threat posed by radicalized individuals is diffuse and can materialize
quickly. For these reasons, terrorism continues to pose a consistent tactical
threat in Canada and facing Canadian interests.
One constant is the extremist narrative which holds that the West is at war
with Islam. This narrative continues to exert a powerful influence. We are
concerned about the emergence of new, more violent and radical groups such as
ISIL, as it's clear that their violent and extremist ideologies are resonating,
unfortunately, with some individuals within Canada.
The Internet and social media increasingly play a role in the radicalization
of individuals, their mobilization to violence and the facilitation of threat
activity, be that fundraising activity, recruitment, training or planning. We
have also seen that extremists and their networks are resilient, adaptive and
opportunistic. I want to assure honourable members of this committee and all
Canadians that CSIS is taking every step to identify terrorists and their
activities, to assess the threat and to share information with our partners.
It's important to stress in this regard that CSIS is not an enforcement
agency. We are not authorized to arrest, detain, revoke status or deny travel.
CSIS does, however, support its partners who have their powers in their efforts
to administer and enforce Canadian law.
While what we do and how we do it must remain classified so as not to
jeopardize our ability to investigate threats to the security of Canada, by
sharing advice or assessments with our partners they are able to take action in
accordance with their mandates.
In relation to our own authorities who have been the subject of much
discussion, I respectfully request that the proposed measures recently announced
by the government, which will soon be introduced — very soon — be discussed at a
subsequent appearance. This is both to respect the parliamentary process and
also to allow senators the opportunity to consider the proposed amendments. On
that note, I will conclude my remarks to allow time for questions.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Peirce. We appreciate your coming here
today. Once again, we apologize for the lateness of beginning the proceedings.
From your perspective, could you speak for a minute or two about the
magnitude of the threat that Canadians face? That is in part why we're having
this study, namely to define what the threat is and to look at what we can
recommend regarding confronting the threat and perhaps resolving some of the
issues. Could you expand a little on that?
Mr. Peirce: To begin with, on the magnitude of the threat, as the
director and the deputy director of operations have both recently said, it is a
very real threat here in Canada. It's a tactical and persistent threat. The
scope of the threat is affected significantly by the travellers issue, often
referred to as the foreign fighters issue as well. I'm sure you've heard
considerable testimony about the fact that 230, 135, 140 Canadians who have a
nexus to extremist activity have travelled abroad. We have approximately — and I
say ''approximately'' because the number changes, and we have concrete numbers
but within 10 minutes the number could have changed because of a development out
there — 80 individuals who have returned. Those are significant numbers and much
more significant than the numbers we saw, for instance, during the late 1990s,
early 2000s, where we had individuals travelling to the Afghanistan, Pakistan
region. Those individuals returned to Canada and we had 20 years of
counterterrorism work to do as a result. The numbers are far more significant
today. As well, I think the nature of the threat is different. The ability to
communicate through social media has changed that threat. It is more diffuse and
it is able to change rather rapidly. It is a significant challenge for us which
increases the threat.
There's been a lot of focus on the numbers, the 130 to 140, the 80 returnees.
We have to be careful not to be distracted by the numbers. In addition to the
travellers issue, we have existing and ongoing investigations into terrorist
threats within Canada — that is, individuals who may not want to travel. There
is that component of it as well. In addition, when we talk about numbers, a
definition is always tied to that particular number, and we could parse the
definitions differently. It gives you a picture of the idea of the volume of the
threat, but we shouldn't focus too much on the numbers by themselves. The nature
of the terrorism threat has grown; it is a real threat
Senator Mitchell: Thank you, Mr. Peirce. Last week Mr. Yaworski wasn't
Pollyanna about it, but he said Canadians are safe. Today Canadians probably
feel quite safe, but maybe a little less secure than they did prior to last
Monday. What are you doing or thinking about doing today that, a week ago
yesterday, you weren't doing? Have you upped or changed your game in some way as
a result of the realization of these threats last week in two cases?
Mr. Peirce: The first thing we have done, and I think it is a natural
reaction, is make sure that the business you have been doing already has been
done well and that you're not missing anything. As a result, everyone takes
their files and goes over them as carefully as possible. We've been working 24-7
to do that to make sure there isn't something out there we're missing that
wasn't apparent in our files.
We have shifted both operational and our assessment resources to make sure we
can give that kind of coverage, both as an immediate response and then doing so
on an ongoing basis. Frankly, it's the nature of our organization that we have
to be nimble. We have to be able to respond to changing threats. We have seen an
increase in threats in a number of areas, so it's not just the terrorism area
that we have to address in that regard.
Senator Mitchell: You use the word in the context of ISIL, of how it's
possibly resonating, in Canada. I'd like to have you assist us in qualifying
that in the sense of resonating. Would it be that there is a specific,
coordinated effort on the part of ISIL to send agents or to recruit them in a
place like Canada to develop a coordinated plan of attack? Or is it more that
they're through the Internet and the news media, and just the fact that they're
doing what they're doing somehow captures the imagination of people who are
vulnerable to radicalization or have other problems?
Mr. Peirce: ISIL first and foremost is focused on the area in which
they are at war. That said, the Internet is a very effective recruiting tool,
and it is the number one tool for recruitment and radicalization. That is one of
the differences we see, whereas in the late 1990s, early 2000s, individuals who
went to Afghanistan or Pakistan to train had to come back to Canada to
radicalize individuals. They were in relatively small numbers, as I have
indicated, so it was a much more contained message. Now you see it all over the
Internet. You can go on YouTube and see things that you ought not to spend too
much time watching, frankly. There is a serious aspect that way.
As well, because we have a number of Canadians — approximately 50 or so in
the Syria, Iraq area — who have travelled there and individuals who have come
back, they both bring with them the ability to radicalize. When they come back,
in particular, they have tremendous what we call ''street cred.'' They come back
and they're the cool kids. Kids want to listen to them, and that has an impact.
They can do that from Syria and Iraq. They can run a website and send out
Twitter messages from Syria and Iraq and have that impact, but when it's in
person it has that much more impact.
It's not so much a matter of a planned attack by ISIL. We don't have a clear,
developed plan of attack against Canada by ISIL. What we have are individuals
who are being radicalized and encouraged to action.
This isn't an entirely new activity. Certainly under al Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula they used to put out a magazine called Inspire. You may have
heard of it. It encouraged lone-actor attacks the same way ISIL has. What's
different is this has happened in Canada now.
Senator White: Thank you very much for being here, sir.
My question is going to talk quickly about the information that came out a
couple of weeks ago surrounding nuclear power plants. My understanding is the
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission advised nuclear power plants to tell people
living within a certain area around those to be prescribed with iodine tablets.
I'm trying to get my head around whether this was a warning from CSIS and, if
so, why there wasn't a broader discussion. I know in relation to the Darlington,
Pickering nuclear power plants the police service wasn't engaged in any
discussion about a possible threat and whether that came from CSIS.
Mr. Peirce: The assessment of threats does come from CSIS on a number
of levels and in a number of ways. We share with our government partners. We
don't have the mandate to advise the private sector per se. As to a specific
threat to the Darlington station, I don't believe that that was direct advice
We provide advice, as I said, to the Government of Canada, and that advice
may have gone on.
Senator White: I used to meet with the Canadian Nuclear Safety
Commission regularly, and they receive information regularly from CSIS. My
question surrounds the local police service jurisdiction, the Durham Regional
Police Service, which is 1,300 strong, receiving no advice from anyone in
relation to that same threat; that's a concern of mine. Local police agencies
are the ones who will respond to the call, as we saw last week at least in part
here on Parliament Hill and just off Parliament Hill. Is there a thought that
information should be shared more broadly with police agencies that will respond
to those calls instead of them hearing it from, I think it was, CBC that
actually reported on it?
Mr. Peirce: I can't speak specifically to that particular situation,
but I can say that ITAC, the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre, does
provide threat assessments to first responders, including the police. And
generally speaking I would expect that if threat advice was provided in regard
to Darlington station, it would have been provided to the local police as well.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Just to continue a bit on the provision of
threat assessment warnings, ITAC was originally conceived as a service that
would provide the threat warning requirements to a range of clients, some of
which operate at a non-classified level. Can you give me some idea of what the
difference is between classified and non-classified? How many would be
Mr. Peirce: I don't know the exact numbers as to how many would be
non-classified. The bulk of individuals or organizations receiving intelligence
either from ITAC or from CSIS will be receiving it at a classified level.
There are sometimes difficulties in their holding the intelligence. They may
not have appropriately secure facilities for holding the intelligence, so they
may receive it in a written form that's at a non-classified level. The
bottom-line threat message will be consistent, whether it's at a classified or
unclassified level. The difference will be in the detail that can be given.
For instance, if you're providing unclassified threat advice, you will
endeavour to obscure your sources so that you can protect those sources.
Senator Stewart Olsen: If I might just follow up, you referred to your
client base. Does that extend beyond the federal government and selected law
enforcement agencies? What is your client base?
Mr. Peirce: For CSIS, formally and officially, our mandate is to
advise the Government of Canada. We will share, with foreign partners for
example, and the purpose of that is to ensure that they're informed and can help
protect Canadian interests. Obviously, it helps us if they are well-enough
informed. We will also share on a give-to-get basis. We need to get information,
and often to get information we have to provide some information. We will share
in that way.
ITAC does have a broader mandate for sharing of their assessments, and it
does include, as I said, first responders, provincial governments, local police
forces. It's a broader base in that respect.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Basically, when you say first responders, fire
departments, ambulance, it is not just law enforcement. ITAC would make a
decision as to who should be informed, depending on the threat?
Mr. Peirce: Absolutely. Whenever you are disseminating intelligence,
one of the things you have to do is make a determination as to who should be
receiving that intelligence and ensure that it gets into the right people's
Senator Day: ITAC is integrated terrorism, and you say assessment or
Mr. Peirce: Analysis.
Senator Day: I hear both. It was a threat analysis centre previously
described. Have you restricted your activity for financial reasons or just
because terrorism is one of the threats that is most important from your point
of view now?
Mr. Peirce: To be clear, I'm not the head of ITAC. ITAC is an
independent organization, but we work very closely together. The mandate of ITAC
was changed a few years ago. Now the organization is 10 years old; it's just
celebrated its tenth anniversary. It was changed simply to focus that mandate on
terrorism. That is, I should say, consistent with what we see among our
international partners. The Brits have JTAC; the Americans have NCTC. They're
Senator Day: Are there other threat-assessment-focused entities in
Canada or the Five Eyes, for example, the other countries that we share a lot
with that deal with other types of threat assessment that we participate in and
that CSIS is part of?
Mr. Peirce: We do, but the others are generally structured in the same
way that CSIS is, which is that we cover the broad range of threats. There
aren't necessarily bodies that are targeted specifically to the national
counter- proliferation centre.
Senator Day: Cyberthreat, for example.
Mr. Peirce: There are different parts of the federal government that
deal with the cyberthreat: the Communications Security Establishment, CSIS and
Senator Day: Where is that integrated threat assessment centre located
Mr. Peirce: There isn't a single, integrated centre for it. Each of us
has a piece of the responsibility, but we work all very closely together and are
closely integrated in that respect.
Senator Day: I wanted to clarify your point earlier about ISIS and
international Islam suggesting that or encouraging single-terrorist activity,
one-person activity. You are not suggesting that all of these one-person
terrorist activities that we are starting to see quite a bit of here in Canada
and some in the United States are all ideologically based as opposed to other
types of focus for these individuals. Maybe they hate people in uniform because
they grew up with a father who was in the fire department and never home. There
could be all kinds of psychological reasons why they don't like people in
uniform, so they go around doing whatever they can to remove them.
Mr. Peirce: I think it's a very important point that you're making,
senator. We should not jump to conclusions about the drivers. It's actually very
difficult, as I'm sure you know, to determine the threshold factor that
motivated an individual to violence. We should be very careful in reaching those
In saying that, I'm not speaking at all about the two recent events. I really
don't think that this is a moment for us to do that and certainly not for CSIS
to do that.
Senator Day: My question wasn't specifically on the two recent events
Senator Beyak: Thank you very much for your excellent intelligence
I asked a question of the group that was here previously, the RCMP, and I'd
like to ask a similar one of you.
Mr. Peirce: Did you get a good answer?
Senator Beyak: I did.
Mr. Peirce: That's what I wanted to know.
Senator Beyak: Canadians are tolerant, welcoming, open-minded and
flexible, and I've worked for years, since 2008, with moderate Muslim groups and
Muslims in Canada and the United States. But there is a concern amongst
Canadians about the term ''radical Islamists.'' And the RCMP said that 93 of
their travellers, the vast majority, are associated with what is commonly known
internationally as the radical jihadist Islamist State, ISIS. Could you tell me
how many individuals you follow who are radicalized and what your concerns are,
and if you have the tools to do it effectively?
Mr. Peirce: On the first part of the question, while we have talked
about traveller numbers, one of the things we haven't talked about and we hold
very closely is the number of targets of investigation that we have. That
remains classified information. I wouldn't go down that road.
Senator Beyak: I was afraid of that.
Mr. Peirce: In terms of the tools that we have, that does lead us over
into events that are taking place momentarily, which is some new legislation I
believe that is being introduced. We will see some developments in that area.
Certainly they are welcome developments, but we'll await a subsequent
opportunity to speak to those.
Senator Beyak: Thank you very much. I thought it would be classified,
but I had to ask.
Senator Dagenais: Mr. Peirce, I would like to ask you four questions,
with the chair's permission.
That's a very short question.
The Chair: If I could do it for Senator Day, I could do it for Senator
Senator Dagenais: I will begin with two.
Senator Day: I began with one.
Senator Dagenais: Mr. Peirce, thank you very much. Thailand has been
going through political turmoil for the past five or six years. Could you
provide us with an overview of the current situation in the country now?
Mr. Peirce: There's going to be follow-up to that, too?
Senator Dagenais: Would you like to have the other questions right
Mr. Peirce: I think that I should be very cautious about speaking
about another country, first of all, and their particular circumstances.
Certainly, there's been a difficult past there that we are aware of, and we have
seen progress in some areas.
The threat certainly has not been eliminated in relation to Thailand, and it
is an area of ongoing concern. Beyond that, as I say, I should be cautious about
Senator Dagenais: What are the prospects for a stable solution?
Mr. Peirce: With caution, what I'll say is this: I am optimistic about
progress that has been made.
Senator Dagenais: Thank you so much. I will keep my other questions
for the second round.
Senator Kenny: Could you please put on the record for us what your
products are and why they're useful? I think Canadians know you don't predict
the future, that you're more inclined to give context and options.
Talk to the committee, if you would, for a few minutes about the sort of
products, why they're useful, who uses them, and I'm going to be asking about a
reallocation of resources after that.
Mr. Peirce: Excellent. Let me start with our products then. We
provide, out of my directorate, which is the intelligence directorate, two
primary kinds of products. One is intelligence assessment. Those are assessed
intelligence, where we've taken the intelligence from multiple sources. It will
be our own collection, but we'll be informed by intelligence from foreign
agencies as well as open source intelligence, and assess it to give a picture of
an evolving or developing threat.
As you say, prediction isn't our business — prediction is a fraught exercise
— but being able to indicate things to look for, sign posts. ''If you see this
happening, this is a concern.'' When we talk about operational intelligence, we
talk about trip wires: ''When we see this event take place, you should now be
watching for the following threat.''
That is our assessed intelligence. We also provide raw intelligence, and we
provide thousands of raw CSIS intelligence reports. Those are set in context. We
have some reference to the source, so there is some context for the reliability
of what we are providing. We provide it to other government departments and
agencies, as well as, in appropriate circumstances, to our foreign partners.
Assessed intelligence can be used for everything from guiding decision
makers, including policy-makers within the Government of Canada, including up to
the highest level, on potential threats. The assessed intelligence may also
inform our operational people. As I said, it may give an indication that here
are five indicators of terrorist travel, and if you see these indicators then
you should watch that your target may be preparing to travel; so that kind of
The raw intelligence we don't provide for the purpose of making direct policy
decisions. We don't want individuals to take a single piece of raw intelligence
and make a policy decision on that. We want to make sure they're informed and
they can come back to us and ask us an assessed view of the intelligence if it's
on an issue of relevance to them. That single piece of raw intelligence is a bit
dangerous by itself, so you want to make sure. We educate our clients about that
regularly. We disseminate those, as I said, to our government departments and
agencies. Then they're aware of evolving threats and can come back to us and ask
for those assessed pieces.
Senator Kenny: How do you know if the stuff you're producing is any
good? How much of it is produced because there is a demand for it? Somebody
says, ''I need to know something,'' or ''I need to know more about something.''
And how much is pushed out or offered by you: ''Hey, you had better pay
attention because this might affect you''?
Mr. Peirce: I think it's a cycle, and it's not one or the other of
those things. Both our collection of intelligence and the intelligence that we
disseminate are based on the priorities set by the Government of Canada. Those
are high level, but they are set by the Government of Canada and give us our
guidance. Then, as an organization, we take that high- level guidance and break
it into intelligence requirements. I forget what our total is right now. We have
80-odd intelligence requirements, very specific and detailed: ''Collect
intelligence on these issues.'' We use that to provide the raw intelligence
that's collected and, as I said, to assess based on those priorities.
We take the time to inform government about the threat so they can make
informed decisions about how to set priorities. It is a cyclical piece. We give
you this intelligence. We give you this briefing that gives you some context,
and then you tell us what you want to know.
We always have to be alive to the fact that we may collect intelligence that
hasn't been specifically requested. We keep the flexibility to make sure we can
report on emerging issues and seek feedback. We have a robust feedback mechanism
to do that.
Senator Kenny: How do you evaluate the work you're doing? Who
Mr. Peirce: We get feedback from our clients. We seek that feedback
actively. When we send out an intelligence report, there is always a request for
feedback as part of that, and we do compile the feedback we receive. We're
working to develop a more robust feedback mechanism.
When you go out and solicit feedback, sometimes you only hear from either end
of the spectrum, the people who really like you or those don't like you. We want
to make sure we're getting comprehensive feedback, so we're continuing to work
on developing a more robust mechanism.
The Chair: I would like to follow up on what your organization does.
You said 80 targets?
Mr. Peirce: Yes, 80 individuals; returnees, I believe. They're
individuals who have returned to Canada, having travelled abroad for extremist
The Chair: Another agency actually informs you of those individuals;
is that not correct? You are not out there finding or identifying them.
Mr. Peirce: We very much are on the front-line of identifying those
individuals. We are aided from a variety of sources, including the Canada Border
Services Agency, who will share information with us. We're very much on the
front-line of identifying the individuals. These are individuals who have
travelled from Canada —
The Chair: I know what CSIS is; I was thinking about your
Mr. Peirce: I am CSIS.
The Chair: You are CSIS?
Mr. Peirce: I have a boss.
The Chair: I think I've got it somewhat clarified. I want to go
further, and that has to do with the financing of terrorism, which we haven't
touched on so far.
I have two questions: How does the glorification and financing of terrorists
increase and contribute to radicalization in Canada? How serious is the question
of terrorist financing in Canada, and where is that financing taking place, if
Mr. Peirce: There are at least two different kinds of financing. One
is financing for individuals within Canada, for example, who want to travel to
engage in jihad. Those are relatively small sums but very operationally
As you can imagine, if you see money going to an individual, it may be an
indication that they're amassing those funds for the purpose of travelling, if
they're someone who is otherwise on our radar; so tracking that kind of
financing is very important.
There is financing that flows from Canada to terrorist organizations, and
that kind of financing is very dependent on the kind of terrorist organization.
If we look at ISIL, it is a terrorist organization that holds considerable
territory; they have control over banks and oil in Iraq. As a result, they are a
very well-funded terrorist organization.
We see other terrorist organizations, such as al Qaeda in the Islamic
Maghreb, who actively engage in kidnapping for the purpose of raising funds for
their operations. We see smaller sums that flow from Canada for organizations
like al Shabaab, which is a terrorist organization active in Somalia and Kenya,
in particular. We watch for the flow of funds there. There are different kinds
of funding relationships, each one of them very much of concern to us.
The Chair: You cannot operate unless you have money, no matter where
you are. But our focus point has to be within Canada, and where this money is
being raised and the volume of money that is being raised. You've obviously been
able to identify at least some of the sources for that financing?
Mr. Peirce: Yes.
The Chair: Perhaps you can expand on exactly what we're speaking about
and what volume of money we are speaking about.
Mr. Peirce: On the sources of financing, they are certainly varied.
You have organizations that attempt to operate under cover of different purposes
or individuals attempting to operate under cover of different purposes,
ostensibly raising money for humanitarian purposes in Syria and Iraq, and they
may well be actually funneling that money to a terrorist organization, so we see
that kind of piece of work.
We have seen a recent phenomenon, essentially crowd share. The Internet age
has given us the ability for people to go on and put out a public message
seeking funds. They won't necessarily direct the full purpose of raising the
funds. Again, they might do it under the cover of humanitarian aid, but crowd
share. ''I want to go carry out humanitarian aid in Somalia, please share
funds,'' and they set up a website, and funding flows through. It's quite a
troubling development from the Internet. You have more astute organizations that
try to raise funds directly associated with terrorist organizations. One of our
significant concerns is fundraising for Hezbollah in Canada, for instance.
The Chair: I want to go back. What volume of money are we speaking of
in this context? Are we talking about tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands
or millions of dollars? What are we speaking about here, in your estimation?
Mr. Peirce: I don't have an overall volume, and I would be loath to
get into specific details in relation to specific organizations. When we're
talking about individuals, for instance, individuals who are raising money for
terrorist purposes within Canada, they can be relatively moderate sums, up to
$10,000 kind of thing. That's the range you'll normally see for individuals,
particularly individuals who want to travel, for instance, up to that kind of
range. When you're talking organizations, you are talking six-figure sums.
The Chair: Are we laying any charges?
Mr. Peirce: First of all, I have to say that's not my end of the deal.
We provide the advice, and we know that FINTRAC also provides advice, and it
would be for the RCMP or local officials to lay charges.
The Chair: We'll definitely follow up on that.
Mr. Peirce: It is a difficult area, though, because you have the
fundraising, but until funds are used for something, it's very difficult to
prosecute simply on the basis of the collection of funds. It's done under
careful cover. ''I want to go and study at a madrassa in Yemen.'' Okay, on the
face of it, that's what you're collecting it for, and I'm going to have a very
difficult time, based on the collection of intelligence, prosecuting you on that
Senator Beyak: Thank you, again. I wonder if you could tell me, I will
word it a little differently, not the numbers that you're following but the
actual numbers in Canada. How big is the magnitude? How big is the threat? How
many individuals are radicalized, are following radical Islam? Do you have the
funds to investigate the mosques and the imams who are espousing hatred towards
Mr. Peirce: In terms of the numbers, again, I will be very cautious
about doing that, so I won't provide a set number for individuals. Certainly,
the question of resources, I think you've heard much testimony today about the
importance of prioritizing our resources. We work within the resources we have.
We do shift our priorities around. We've always shifted our priorities around
and shifted our resources accordingly, and at this time, we are certainly going
through the process again of moving resources in response to the terrorist
Senator Beyak: Thank you.
Senator Day: I have a request for a definition. You talked about the
dangers of sharing raw intelligence. I've always thought of intelligence as
being facts or information that has been put together and in some way looked at
that is different from pure raw facts, but are you using the term ''raw
intelligence'' just to mean raw facts?
Mr. Peirce: I will give some concrete examples of raw intelligence.
Raw intelligence may be that we have spoken to a human source. The human source
says that person X is interested in doing something, and let's consider that
terrorism- based. It may be that human source tells us that a particular country
is interested in collecting intelligence in a certain area. That's raw
intelligence because, while we've assessed the source — this is a long-standing
source, a credible source and we have an assessment of our source there — it's
just an individual piece in isolation. You want to set that against other
intelligence to give a full context and assessment.
However, if we've collected that piece of raw intelligence and it says that
country X is looking to collect such and such information or it says that an
individual is intending to carry out some conduct, we want to share that, but we
want to share it saying that's just one piece. That's why I call it ''raw
intelligence.'' It has not been put together with all of the other intelligence
we may have in the area, and that other intelligence adds context. It might fill
out an assessment. For instance, there could be a spin on that intelligence that
we see from other collection.
Senator Day: Thank you. That's helpful.
Would it be helpful in the work that you do and that your colleagues do at
CSIS to have a law requiring everyone who leaves Canada to report to Canadian
authorities so that we have a record of everyone who has exited Canada?
Mr. Peirce: Undoubtedly, we don't have that exit information, as you
Senator Day: Yes, I understand.
Mr. Peirce: We do collect from a variety of sources and try to cover
that, but certainly a law that gave us that kind of information would be
helpful. That's not to comment on whether that law or however that law might be
framed would be an appropriate law. I don't go into policy.
Senator Day: Is your name spelled like that as a result of your
working at CSIS and that everyone who works there has a name like that, or
spelled somewhat differently, so they can't find you in the phone book?
Mr. Peirce: I will say a few things first. It's not a nom de guerre.
Second, I am very well practiced in grammatical rules. It's ''I'' before ''E''
except after ''C'' or in words that say ''AY'' as in ''neighbour'' and
''weigh.'' There are other exceptions. They include the name ''Peirce.''
Unfortunately, they also include the word ''weird,'' so you can make the
connections you want to make with that.
Senator Day: You've been asked that question before.
Mr. Peirce: I have.
Senator Kenny: Following up on what Senator Day was asking you about,
when you say you go to other sources, would that be, for example, airline travel
Mr. Peirce: Not necessarily airline travel information. There may be
times when we can get airline travel information. We may get information because
somebody may be on the specified persons list, which is part of the Passenger
Protect Program, so we may get information there, but we'll also collect
information from sources in the community. We will in some instances have
technical sources intercepting communications that will give an indication. We
may have a technical source that allows us to intercept Internet traffic so we
can see their booking their ticket online. It's a broad range of sources.
Senator Kenny: If we could go back to the reallocation of resources,
when Commissioner Paulson was here, he talked about taking a significant number
of people away from, amongst other things, white-collar crime. We've had a
director of CSIS in the past come to us and say 50 per cent of CSIS is focusing
on Chinese espionage. Are we not paying any attention to the Chinese now and
refocusing on the terrorist threat, or how have the resources been moved around
in the organization?
Mr. Peirce: We first of all looked at our priorities, based on the
direction from the Government of Canada, and we re-established our intelligence
requirements, the tiering of them. When I say ''tiering,'' what happens is, as I
said, you've got let's say 80 intelligence requirements and you're going to have
maybe 15 to 20 that are tier 1. These are your highest priority. You will
collect against these.
You will have a tier 2 set. These are important intelligence requirements.
You will put resources to them, but you're going to moderate those resources
compared to those tier 1s.
We'll have tier 3. Those are really ones where, if you get collection on
them, possibly secondary collection, you're going to report on them, but you're
not going to put resources necessarily.
There are four tiers. The fourth category will be areas where you say that's
a watching brief; we're not actively collecting on that, but it's a watching
We've just recently looked at those tiers and said, ''Do we have them
right?'' and adjusted them slightly. We didn't take ones off and say, ''This
one, Chinese espionage, is no longer important,'' and take it off and we won't
collect. We are still covering those priorities.
We did also go through the exercise, though, of looking at our investigations
and, for example, looking across the country and looking at the threat that's
being investigated and saying, ''Are we getting a lot out of this region on this
threat?'' And if not, maybe those resources don't have to be directed in that
region to that threat, so maybe we can move some of those resources onto the
terrorism threat, for instance.
That's the kind of exercise that we've been through, very actively looking at
where are we not as efficient or not as effective, and maybe those resources can
be put to a more efficient or effective use. That's the exercise.
Senator Kenny: The committee has heard a fair amount about the
relationship between CSIS and the RCMP. Could you talk to us about CSIS and the
Communications Security Establishment? What sort of mechanism do you have to
ensure that you're functioning in a way that is constructive and complementary,
and how do you ensure that Canadian resources are put to the best use between
the two organizations?
Mr. Peirce: We have a number of mechanisms to help us in that regard.
We have very close relations with the Communications Security Establishment.
Senator Kenny: They are just next door.
Mr. Peirce: They are now just next door, our new neighbours. They're
keeping it down, so we're quite comfortable with that.
First of all, we have joint management team meetings where their management
team sits down with our management team and we identify any issues. We identify
priorities and areas where we can work together more effectively. As you can
imagine, with the fact that they've moved in next door, we're very conscious
about opportunities for efficiency and effectiveness, areas where we can share
services with them, for example. So we have those joint management team
We have individuals from each organization seconded to the other. Sometimes
it's not just knowing that they work this way and you can work with them, but
you bring one of them over and you send one of your people over; and by working
so closely, you get to understand the other better. We've done that, and it has
proven very effective for us.
We've also sat down and looked at our intelligence requirements, which I
spoke of earlier, that set out our priorities. We've cross-referenced them to
make sure that we have coverage — there are no big gaps across our priorities —
but also to make sure that they're rationalized against each other. You want to
understand what it is they're collecting on and what you're collecting on.
Sometimes they can be mutually supporting. If we can collect signals
intelligence, it may aid us in our human-source activity, for instance, and vice
versa. You want to make sure you're well-coordinated in that way and that you're
going after the same priorities. That's how we operate in that sphere.
The Chair: I would like to go into a whole different area from the
point of view of CSIS and your responsibilities. Earlier today, we learned that
there are 93, 95, 90 extreme travelers; 80 have returned. We've also been told —
and don't quote me on this; I'm going on memory — that there are up to 145
Canadians, or dual citizenship Canadians, fighting with various terrorist
organizations offshore. We have been told that thousands of individuals have
been identified in a lower level in respect to perhaps their involvement in the
terrorist movement, either indirectly or directly.
I'd like to hear CSIS's comments about the statements being made in some
quarters that some schools are perhaps espousing radical Islamic views, or
doctrines, in some quarters in Canada. Is that true, and do you have some
Mr. Peirce: First, one point of clarification, just because I don't
want to leave any misimpression out there. When we're talking about individuals
who are overseas, the 135 to 140 individuals, they are not necessarily engaged
in fighting; they are engaged in supporting. It's a distinction because, for the
Canadian public in particular, we don't want them to think that there are 135 to
140 individuals who will come back with hardened combat abilities. That's not
the case, and we don't want to leave that misimpression.
On the second part, I wasn't sure what you were referring to when you were
referring to schools.
The Chair: I'm referring to a certain ideology or doctrine that
obviously these individuals are being exposed to, either individual or
individuals. My question is, where are they getting those teachings to be able
to go to radicalization? It's one thing to talk about an isolated situation off
in Quebec and another situation that happened on the Hill, but at the end of the
day there seems to be at least a thread of ideology at the base of this. Are
there teachings going on in Canada that are espousing that particular viewpoint,
which is then transferring itself into radicalization?
Mr. Peirce: The short answer to the question is yes. There are
individuals who are espousing a radical extremist view of Islam, and they are
doing so specifically to radicalize individuals, oftentimes young individuals.
That message is having an impact and we are, as a result, seeing people turn to
a radical view of Islam. In addition, there is an enormous proliferation of
extremist propaganda on the Internet, and it's a very powerful radicalizing
The Chair: I want to go back to get it clarified on the record. There
are actual schools or classrooms or venues that are being utilized on an ongoing
basis to espouse this type of doctrine; is that correct?
Mr. Peirce: I'm not talking about specific institutions. I'm talking
about individuals. I should be very clear about that. When we investigate, we
investigate individuals and their activities. There may be individuals whose
activities may be associated with a particular institution, but it's the
individuals we investigate. For instance, we don't investigate mosques.
The Chair: If you have a school and a classroom and a teacher who has
been identified by your organization espousing that type of doctrine, do you
pass that information on to the provincial government or the authority that has
Mr. Peirce: If we have that kind of information.
The Chair: Have you done that?
Mr. Peirce: I can't say that we have done that with regard to schools,
for instance. I can't say comprehensively ''ever,'' but I haven't seen
information specifically about a school saying, ''This school has an individual
in the classroom undertaking this activity.'' We will target individuals.
Individuals don't tend to operate in an institution quite so brazenly as
that. Individuals may be associated with an institution, but they'll take
students off to the side and conduct their activities in the community as
opposed to in the institution. That's what we'll target.
The Chair: Colleagues, time is coming to an end here. I want to thank
our witness. I believe you have been very forthright. I speak for all my
colleagues when I say that we appreciate your candour. It's a very important
issue for Canadians. I know many Canadians are watching this public forum. One
of the reasons we're having these hearings is so we can inform Canadians of what
you do, why you do it and the importance of what you do.
Mr. Peirce: Thank you very much.
The Chair: On June 19, 2014, the Senate approved the following
reference for this committee: that the Standing Senate Committee on National
Security and Defence be authorized to study and report on national security and
defence issues in Indo-Asia Pacific Relations and their implications for
Canada's national security and defence policies, practices, circumstances and
capabilities; and that the committee report to the Senate no later than December
Joining us today to discuss the Indo-Asia Pacific, we have, from the
Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, David Drake, Director
General, Security and Intelligence Bureau; and Peter MacArthur, Director
General, South, Southeast Asia and Oceania Bureau. From National Defence and the
Canadian Armed Forces, we have Rear-Admiral Gilles Couturier, Director General
International Security Policy. Welcome to the committee.
I understand we have two opening statements, one from each department.
Peter MacArthur, Director General, South, Southeast Asia and Oceania
Bureau, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada: Honourable senators,
thank you for the invitation to speak to you today.
I welcome this opportunity to speak. Canada maintains nearly 40 missions in
the Indo-Asia-pacific region with close to 1,000 staff. Canada's diplomatic
network in Asia is stronger than in any other region and it is growing.
By the title of the committee's study, I acknowledge and important choice
that recognizes India's place in regional and global security. With a
reform-minded government holding broad democratic power, the Indian economy
could be on the verge of important reforms with global implications. Both Canada
and India value freedom, pluralism and respect for human rights and the rule of
law. We are Westminster-style parliamentary democracies, experiencing both
majority and minority governments. We believe that all members of society have a
role to play and a stake in the future.
Engagement is the fundamental premise of our approach to Asia. Some of the
great democracy success stories of the last generation are found in Asia, and
they are South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Mongolia. Most recently this year we
have seen major elections in India and Indonesia, two of the world's three most
populous democratic nations, as well as a democratic breakthrough in Afghanistan
and last year in Pakistan. At the same time, when respect for democracy and
human rights is challenged, such as post-coup Thailand, Canada must continue to
exercise influence and promote a values-based agenda. Societies which fail to
develop democratic checks and balances contribute to instability.
To further Canada's engagement in the region, the government seeks to join
two vital forums: the East Asia Summit, EAS, and the ASEAN Defence Ministers'
Meeting Plus, ADMM+. The EAS likely will become an increasingly important venue
for security as well as political and economic dialogue. ADMM+ is a relatively
new mechanism that provides a framework for discussion and cooperation between
Canada is a participant in the ASEAN Regional Forum, ARF, a long-standing
venue which facilitates cooperation on regional security. Canada also
participates in the Shangri-La Dialogue, another important regional opportunity
for security discussions in Singapore. Canada holds a number of high-level
dialogues to discuss security and defence issues in the Indo-Asia Pacific
region, including with regional partners such as India and Japan. In August
2014, Minister Baird announced $14 million to help address security issues of
shared concern in Southeast Asia on top of $30 million that has already been
announced and invested in recent years.
Projects include those to mitigate biological and nuclear threats, disrupt
illicit flows while protecting legitimate trade, combat human smuggling
activities, improve regional cybersecurity tools, further public-private
partnerships and sound financial regulation, promote health and effective
disaster response, and work with our ASEAN partners to address the foreign
fighter phenomenon and radicalization. We are currently pursuing the most
ambitious trade agenda in Canadian history, including with Japan and India as
well as the broad Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.
We have recently ratified the Canada-South Korea FTA and the Canada-China
Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement. Energy security is a very
important opportunity for Canada as Japan, South Korea, China and India are
leading importers of energy, including liquefied natural gas. Canadian
development programs and activities in Asia are a concrete tool to help bring
security and prosperity in all their forms, including through sustainable
economic development. Let me touch briefly on some particular areas of interest.
The Indian Ocean: While the rise of China has been at the forefront of
geostrategic thinking for some time, India has led the way as a model in the
region of a knowledge-based economy. As the world's largest democracy, it also
has the advantages that institutions of political accountability and the rule of
As the world's fourth-largest economy, India's relations with its close
neighbours are central to regional stability. Supported by important investments
in its navy, India is looking to assert itself as the dominant power in its
Indian Ocean neighbourhood. However, India is also prudent in its approach to
maritime disputes to its east. It is preoccupied by maintaining access to trade
routes but avoids taking sides in maritime disputes. This approach has been to
the benefit of regional security, and many commentators agree that India-China
relations are on a relatively stable footing.
Tensions in the South China Sea area reached a new high early last summer.
Sovereignty over parts of the South China Sea is disputed by China, Brunei,
Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam, as well as Taiwan. The most prominent
disputes concern the Spratly and Paracel Islands. Two thirds of the world's
trade passes through the South China Sea. An escalation in maritime boundary or
territorial disputes between Asian countries could have disruptive effects on
the global economy and threaten regional stability and global prosperity.
In East Asia, regional dynamics have also become more complex. The East China
Sea has been a flashpoint for China and Japan. Destabilizing factors such as
resurgent nationalism are stoking fears. China has become increasingly assertive
in pursuing its interests, including through the establishment of an air defence
identification zone which covers, in part, islands disputed with Japan. Japan is
seeking a more active role for its military in defence and cooperation with
allies, though it seeks to retain strict limitations on its role.
In conclusion, there is wide recognition that the balance of power in Asia is
shifting. As economic growth and integration continues, all countries in the
region are being forced to recalibrate their relations. Indeed, the Indo-Asia
Pacific region is the new centre of global affairs, and it is here that profound
economic and strategic changes are unfolding.
Rear-Admiral Gilles Couturier, Director General International Security
Policy, National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces: Mr. Chair and
senators, thank you very much for having me before the committee today to speak
on the Indo-Asia Pacific.
Canadians live in an uncertain world, and, as I know you understand,
increasing globalization has meant that developments far from our shores can
have a deep impact on the safety and interests of Canadians at home and abroad.
The events of last week clearly demonstrate that point.
Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2013, the then Minister of Defence
Peter MacKay stated:
Asia-Pacific security is now part of global security dynamics and however
you define it . . . .
. . . Asia-Pacific . . . .
. . . Indo-Pacific . . . .
. . . or pan-Pacific, as I like to call it from the perspective of a
In short, Asian security challenges and concerns are by their very nature
Canadian security challenges and concerns, and the Department of National
Defence involvement in this dynamic area of the world works to support overall
Canadian government objectives globally.
The regional security environment in the Indo-Pacific remains ever changing,
uncertain and challenging. Several long-standing boundary business disputes,
particularly in the maritime area, have increased tensions and are at risk of
devolving into open conflict due to misunderstanding, miscalculations and the
inflexibility caused by nationalistic audiences.
For example, the tension rose last spring in the South China Sea, the sea
lines of communication that feed our own economy, which came under duress. With
regard to North Korea, stability is threatened by the erratic behaviour of the
leadership and its pursuit of nuclear weapons as well as the technology to
deliver them. Finally, the region is challenged by piracy, illegal migration,
resource pressures and natural disasters.
As part of the Government of Canada's overall focus on the Indo-Pacific
region, the National Defence team is committed to defence and security
cooperation aimed at maintaining peace and stability in the region to which
Canada is integrally connected.
Our primary objective is to encourage a stable security environment where
disputes are managed according to international norms and laws. But contributing
to regional security requires a development of a comprehensive strategy.
Canada is not alone, and many of our friends and partners have similar
concerns and are undertaking similar processes. We are sharing information with
like-minded nations, such as Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., and
coordinating responses to help strengthen our representative approaches.
At home, the Defence team is actively working with whole-of-government
partners to explore approaches and develop plans that will take us in this
direction. This was the impetus for the Asia-Pacific policy cooperation
framework signed by Minister Nicholson and U.S. Secretary of Defense Hagel at
the Halifax International Security Forum last fall. This framework sets the
foundation for closer cooperation between our two countries, while respecting
our individual national interests.
In carrying out this undertaking we are building upon existing commitments
and engagements. The Canadian Armed Forces have been contributing on an ongoing
basis since 1953 to the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission in
Korea. The defence team has actively been working alongside friends and partners
in the region to mitigate regional security challenges through important
activities such as participating in engagements with China's People's Liberation
Army, respecting the theme of ''modest, enduring and reciprocal,'' and with an
aim of encouraging them to take on their role as a responsible and participatory
member of the global community.
We had numerous disaster relief team, or DART, deployments since 2004, the
first one being in Sri Lanka for the tsunami, in Pakistan in 2005 for the
earthquake and most recently in the Philippines for Typhoon Haiyan. We are also
demonstrating our commitment and capabilities through our participation in
regional military exercises.
Indeed, after the U.S., Canada has been the largest contributor of troops to
many of the exercises in the Korean peninsula such as the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian
in South Korea. Last summer more than 1,000 Canadian sailors, soldiers, airmen
and airwomen deployed to the Hawaiian Islands and southern California as part of
RIMPAC, Exercise Rim of the Pacific, the world's premier combined and joint
maritime exercise. Their performance in this 22- country strong exercise was
Further, the Military Training and Cooperation Program has been a valuable
defence diplomacy tool, building regional capability as we strive to develop
important bilateral relations within the region. Eleven Asian countries
participated in the program, and over the last fiscal year more than 150
officers from member countries received training sponsored by the MTCP in
language, peace support, military staff and professional development programs.
Canada has also sponsored several high-profile seminars in Indonesia through the
The Defence team is focused on developing key bilateral relations, continuing
participation in the ASEAN Regional Forum and exploring opportunities to
contribute to the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus, which would give Canada
a stronger voice in the region in the defence and security sphere, as you heard
from my colleague from Foreign Affairs.
Multilateral dialogue tools hold great promise and opportunities to work on
defence and security-related issues and strengthen cooperation in the region. At
present we are striving for targeted engagement in making contributions where we
believe we are adding value. This includes the areas where Canada has such a
strong reputation, such as peacekeeping, counter-IED and anti-terrorism and of
In sum, if the government's objectives and ambitions in the Indo-Asia Pacific
region are to be fully realized, defence engagement must remain a priority
within a coherent and comprehensive Canadian effort. The sense of a renewed
effort speaks to a more focused priority set and achieving impact in a region of
dynamic growth and complex security challenges.
Overall, for Canada to realize its broader aspirations in this dynamic
region, we must continue to invest in our security and defence relationships for
the long haul. This investment requires a dedicated and constant effort.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to appear before you, and I look
forward to the discussion.
The Chair: I'd like to begin with Senator Mitchell.
Senator Mitchell: Thank you very much, gentlemen. This is an
interesting and important topic, if not quite as urgent as the one we had
earlier. We've had your testimony today, and we've had some before. I'm seeing
these two lines of thought, and I can't quite figure out which way the consensus
would come down. On the one hand, China, as well as this region, is clearly an
economic opportunity, and the risk there might be that we would miss it. On the
other hand, there is this theme that there is a military threat somehow.
Mitigating that, in my mind, is the fact that China holds, I think, $3 trillion
or $4 trillion worth of U.S. bonds and wouldn't want to do much to offend that
economy, I would think. We actually included them in RIMPAC this year for the
first time. We're training with them.
This is kind of a high-level question in a sense: Are we concerned about a
war with that region, or are we concerned about missing out on the economic
opportunity that's inherent in trade with that region?
Mr. MacArthur: Perhaps I could begin, Mr. Chair. I think our relations
with China and North Asia need to be seen in a holistic manner. There is an
economic opportunity there, and we are determined to engage with eyes wide open.
There is the capacity, on parallel tracks, to maintain relations, whether it's
commenting on human rights abuses or attempting to do more with China in terms
of FIPA, for example, which was just ratified and allows Canadian companies to
invest in China with greater predictability and transparency. I think we can
walk and chew gum at the same time in these very important strategic
relationships, which are multi-faceted. I would turn to my colleague about your
comment on the military potential of the country.
Rear-Admiral Couturier: Like you said, we do our engaging
''mil-to-mil'' with the Chinese. The goal there is to share some of our own best
practices and to better understand how they work as far as a military associated
with their own engagement in the way they do business. We've had a least two
engagements to date. In both cases, it was an exchange of ideas. They had an
opportunity to look at how we operate, how we do business. One of them was on
how we do human resources, and there were some significant differences in the
way we proceed in how we do business. At the same time, we had an opportunity to
hear from them about how they deal with their own challenges and how they see
the future developing from a human resources perspective. The goal there,
without a doubt, is to get a better understanding of where they are coming from
and to share some of our best practices.
The example of RIMPAC speaks volumes on where we believe the way ahead is.
The best way to understand where the country comes from and to avoid any
misunderstanding is to operate together. If you put this in the maritime
environment, the fact that we have four ships — but three operational ships —
deployed there gives us the opportunity to see how they react at sea and to get
the commander's appreciation that, if things were to happen, there is a way to
communicate that would prevent any misunderstanding. They achieved that within
the exercise of RIMPAC.
Senator Mitchell: My next question is more specifically military in
the idea of the division of our resources between the East Coast and West Coast.
I don't know how much of this you can actually answer, but is the navy giving
thought to redeploying due to reassessing priorities?
Rear-Admiral Couturier: It's hard for me to speak for Admiral Norman.
Right now, he is not my direct boss, but he could be soon. So we have to be
careful of where we tread.
Having said that, we do discuss that on a regular basis amongst some of the
senior naval officers. What needs to stay at the forefront is that where we're
based doesn't really affect where we can operate. Over the last two years we did
have ships deploy from the West Coast into NATO theatres of operations, and we
can certainly do the opposite if necessary.
The infrastructure as it is right now is more favourable to the east-west
split that we have as far as forces. One should not interpret that as meaning
that we can't deploy on the West Coast because of the number of assets in
Victoria. If the need or requirement is there, there is certainly the
opportunity to deploy ships from both coasts to answer the request of the
government to deploy in a specific region.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Thank you, gentlemen, for coming.
Because Canada is very much focused as a country on the protection of
democratic rights for people, I'm wondering about certain concerns that have
been expressed about democracy and whether it is thriving in the region. I'm
wondering if you would agree that it is a matter of concern. If so, are there
areas we should be looking at? Second, what more can Canada do to beef up making
democracy more important on the agenda of these countries?
Mr. MacArthur: Very good question. Because we are a value-based
foreign policy, we are focused on democracy, the rule of law and human rights,
particularly for women and girls, for example. This is something we promote
through our diplomatic presence around the world. I think it's a mixed picture
on democracy. There has been a setback in Thailand after the coup d'état
there, which seems to be a harder coup than previous, softer coups and is
something of great concern. It's not business as usual, currently, with
Thailand. You saw statements by the minister when the coup took place. We are
also concerned about human rights and democracy in Vietnam, for example.
On the other side of the coin, we see some progress in Burma, which is
opening up and becoming more democratic. We expect elections in 2015, and we
just opened our embassy there, our first resident embassy. The trend line is in
terms of very complex, historic elections in Indonesia, India and Afghanistan,
in two rounds. They are good trends. However, the elections that were held in
Bangladesh were dysfunctional because the opposition party boycotted the
election. It's very much a question of governance, and we have funding called
the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives. Combined with our development
programming, there is funding available and being invested in trying to enable
greater democratic flows. For example, in the case of Burma, we had actual
practising politicians brought to Parliament Hill to experience committee
meetings, Question Period and the work of the house, and we sent
parliamentarians and officers of the house into Naypyidaw, the capital of Burma,
for peer-to-peer mentoring. That is designed to show other countries, including
Thailand, in this case, which has more military in its government than Burma
currently does. That's the kind of change we're seeing.
I think Indonesia and India are showing a model to others, and it is very
much a focus of foreign policy. The work of our ambassadors around the region is
consistently pushing our messages and looking for progress, including through
some funding programming.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Overall, you're more encouraged than
Mr. MacArthur: Overall more encouraged than discouraged. I think the
rise of ASEAN is helpful in that regard, as is Indonesia being a model as the
core, largest country of that organization.
The Chair: I trust you didn't show them Question Period during the
course of that mentoring that took place. I will go to Senator Day next.
Senator Day: ASEAN has been talking about more political integration.
Has there been any advance on that? The ASEAN nations, from a military point of
view, have cooperated, and Canada has been part of that for a while.
Can you tell us what's happening in those Southeast Asian nations?
Mr. MacArthur: I can start, and my colleagues can add in if they wish.
Yes, you're quite right, senator, there is a move afoot to economically
integrate the ASEAN 10. The theoretical date is the end of 2015. Most observers
believe it will take longer than that, but you're looking at a regional economic
block of 600 million people, the size of the European Union. It is quite
vibrant, with some of the faster-growing economies in the world, the Philippines
and Indonesia being examples of that. Political union will not be possible.
This is a coordinated secretariat in Jakarta. Minister Baird was the first
foreign minister to meet with the Secretary- General, former Vietnamese foreign
minister, in August of this year. We are keen to assist ASEAN through their
connectivity agenda —not just economically, but helping them people-to people,
in justice, politics and democracy, to bring them together. We're watching how
successful they are in doing that, but there is disparity in the economic
development between Singapore and Laos. Culturally, it's not a monolith; it's
federated. Some of our capacity in federalism would be of interest to certain
member countries of ASEAN such as the Philippines, for example Mindanao in the
I will turn to my colleagues on the ARF, which is a separate institution.
Rear-Admiral Couturier: We are trying to support the progress that
they're doing, and we've offered our services as far as the mil-to-mil aspect in
both the bilateral function and a multilateral agenda. At this stage, however,
there is minimum engagement from a military perspective.
Senator Day: There used to be good cooperation between China and some
of the other Southeast Asian countries, particularly in trying to stop piracy
near Singapore. Singapore was sort of the centre for the think tank in that
regard. Since the difficulties in the South China Sea and the East China Sea,
are we seeing any military cooperation between China and any of its neighbours?
Rear-Admiral Couturier: You're correct that Singapore used to be the
centre. They are still coordinating response for participating countries in the
region. The Chinese are dealing not only with anti-piracy in that region but
also with the anti-piracy challenges we are facing in the Arabian Gulf. There
are still discussions and they're still engaged, but our appreciation of the
level of cooperation that's happening at the lower level has changed quite a bit
since the recent past.
The Singaporeans are trying to bring everyone together. They are going to
build an HADR centre of excellence within Singapore to support anti-piracy. By
centralizing all those central committees, they hope to be able to get better
interaction from all the countries.
Senator Day: As a final concluding comment, there are a good number of
parliamentarians both in the Senate and in the House of Commons who have spent a
lot of time on the ASEAN inter-parliamentary political group that we have been
an active member of and the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum. I urge you not to
forget parliamentary diplomacy and the assistance that members of the House of
Commons and Senate can be in that regard.
Senator Dagenais: Thank you to our three witnesses. I have two quick
questions for Mr. Couturier. I would like to go back to the subject of Thailand.
How does the Canadian government promote stability in that region?
Rear-Admiral Couturier: We do it in two ways. There is our
participation in an exercise like RIMPAC — I speak here of a military meeting of
minds. During the exercise, there were discussions between the senior officers
in the region. The Chinese senior officer was there, and there was a Japanese
officer as well. This exercise allowed us to get an idea, not from the political
standpoint because that is out of our purview, but from a military standpoint,
of how we lead operations and the opportunities to better work together in order
to meet the objectives of our respective governments, again without touching
upon the political aspect of that work. That is the main goal of an exercise
Senator Dagenais: You answered my second question in part. I wanted to
know how the Thai government participated in establishing that stability. You
said a Japanese officer and a Chinese officer worked alongside you?
Rear-Admiral Couturier: More specifically, in the case of Thailand, we
suspended our joint military exercises for the time being, until we see how the
region's political situation plays out. We have an attaché deployed there, but
we suspended activities. We expect that at a certain point we will have to go
back to the country in order to pursue activities that are crucial to them.
One of the things we do, from a military standpoint, during our joint
exercises with the MTCP, is to study relations between the military and an
elected civilian government. This is part of the development work we do with
them. We see it as a positive and a fairly major contribution.
Senator Beyak: Rear-Admiral Couturier, could you provide the committee
with the full list of the defence and security agreements being signed and the
list of those being negotiated? Would you be able to give me that?
Rear-Admiral Couturier: I would have to go back and look at what those
are. Of the ones that were signed, the most obvious is the one we signed during
the HISF, and that was between the minister and the secretary of defence. I will
look at some of the others.
Senator Beyak: There is some concern about China's military
expenditures by other countries in that region. Do you see it as a problem? Is
it destabilizing things in any way?
Rear-Admiral Couturier: There is certainly expansion. For example, in
the submarine world — for us navy guys, it is an important area — they're
building three to one compared to our U.S. counterparts. If you hear about the
U.S. rebalancing in the region, this is an area where they are refocusing. The
U.S. has sent more submarines on the west coast to try to rebalance that
element. We're monitoring and, based on what you have heard from Dr. Boutilier
and others, there is not only the expansion part of China but there is also a
national element. You have to consider that aspect when you analyze the growth
of military hardware in all areas. We're monitoring and are concerned to a
certain extent, but at this stage we're engaged with our allies and we are
comfortable with where we are.
The Chair: Our last witness here last week, Dr. Boutilier, commented
that we were late in having our presence felt in this particular area of the
Yet, Mr. MacArthur, you stated in your opening address that Canada maintains
nearly 40 missions in the Indo-Asia Pacific region, with a staff of close to
1,000; and Canada's diplomatic network in Asia is stronger than in any other
region and is growing. Perhaps you can comment on the statement made by Dr.
Mr. MacArthur: Certainly, Mr. Chair. I was referring to our diplomatic
footprint which was growing in places like an ASEAN ambassador's presence in
Laos and Cambodia to ensure that Canadian values and foreign policy and economic
interests are well understood for all ASEAN capitals. That's the work of our
ambassadors and diplomatic staff. Canada's soft power has a lot of take in that
part of the world given our human rights values, our governance, which is
tested; even our banking system is of interest. The robust nature of Canadian
society, multiculturalism, and the way we are governed — we shouldn't
underestimate that brand image in countries not just of ASEAN but in the general
region. My point was that diplomatically, and that includes economic diplomacy
as a subset of our diplomacy, we are much more engaged than we have been in the
I will give you an example. In June this year, the trade minister invited an
ASEAN trade ministerial delegation to Vancouver and Toronto. Only Japan, China
and the United States have done that. These were ministerial and deputy
ministerial representatives of all ASEAN capitals who came to Canada. It was an
eye-opener for many of them. That's the kind of engagement we're trying to
reverse our steady flow of ministers and officials, including our foreign and
trade ministers who have been to ASEAN dialogue meetings for three successive
years and have presented substance at their meetings and engaged better than
ever before. That's all supported by our web of networkers in the embassies and
consulates across the region.
Rear-Admiral Couturier: From a budget perspective, if you look at
2007-08, we had 11 per cent of our DMTC budget going toward the Indo-Asia. Next
year it will be at 30 per cent, so we certainly realize the importance of that
region, and we have refocused some of our resources to meet training
requirements in the area that I mentioned earlier. We are seeing the importance
and trying to ensure that, both from the DMTC perspective and the
military-to-military aspect, we keep increasing our ability to share our own
lessons learned with them.
The Chair: Turning to another area, ballistic missile defence, can we
hear your comments with respect to the installation of that particular program
in that part of the world?
Rear-Admiral Couturier: From a Canadian Armed Forces perspective, I
will be clear what we're seeing in that region is led by the U.S. for the threat
that's generated from there. From a Canadian perspective, we in the military are
looking at the options in the future and how to best deal with that the BMD
threat. That will be addressed by the government's decision in the near future,
depending on whether they decide to go that route or not.
David Drake, Director, General Security and Intelligence Bureau, Foreign
Affairs, Trade and Development Canada: Of course, ballistic missile defence
concerns are focused primarily at North Korea, which has an extensive missile
program and delivery program that I'm sure you're well aware of. Canada is very
focused on this. We work within the international community to try to contain
North Korea. It's problematic now because of the lack of the six-party talks,
but significant work is taking place around the world focused on North Korea at
this point in time.
Obviously, we have extensive economic sanctions placed on North Korea,
including prohibition of imports and exports from North Korea, with humanitarian
exemptions. North Korea has systematically ignored a whole series of UN Security
Council resolutions, and Canada plays a big part in trying to keep pressure on
them to come to the bargaining table and deal with these worrisome issues.
Senator Ngo: The question I wanted to ask you was already answered, so
I will turn to another one. In your presentation you say that tension in the
South China Sea reached a new high early last summer, and the sovereignty of the
South China Sea is disputed by China, Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and so on.
The dispute concerned the Spratly and Paracel Islands.
Recently, the United States has been forging a closer relationship with
Vietnam in the hope of ramping up its presence against China, by lifting its ban
of selling weaponry to Vietnam —. There is concern throughout the region and
beyond that these hostilities could erupt because of a lack of tranquility at
sea. We know that the United States has signed a military alliance with the
Philippines, a military presence in South Korea, military protection in Japan,
and recently selling weaponry to Vietnam. The question I'm asking is in the wake
of the — and economic exploitation by Beijing. What is Canada's position on the
territorial dispute in the South China Sea, and how critical is it for Asian
nations to see that Canada is committed to contributing to peace and stability
in the region?
Mr. MacArthur: Very good question there. Obviously, I think the
Government of Canada's position on the South China Sea is that we are seeking a
peaceful resolution under the Law of the Sea, all international law and peaceful
resolution. We do not take sides, but we very much call for a cooperative
approach. I know, for example, when the deputy prime minister and foreign
minister of Vietnam were here that was the Canadian message, the need to make
sure that this is done through international negotiations.
I'm happy to say there are reports of senior officials of China and ASEAN
meeting currently or very soon to talk about a code of conduct for the South
China Sea. So diplomatically, amongst senior officials, there is dialogue. I
think ASEAN plays a key role given its weight in the region and, for example,
the role of Indonesia behind the scenes seeking to ensure that things are done
in an appropriate manner.
Mr. Drake: I think it's important to recognize that what you have
right now is a whole series of — and in some cases overlapping — claims, like
multiple countries. Obviously, the Chinese have the largest claim. They are also
involved in the East China Sea in terms of their new air defence zone. The
Chinese have put forward a dispute, but certainly they have never substantiated
their claim as demarcated by the so-called ''Nine Dash Line,'' which covers 80
per cent of the sea. Clearly a lot of work needs to be done by the international
community, notably the countries themselves.
The best thing to do is call parties, as Mr. MacArthur said, to start talking
according to international law, and there is not enough of that. In terms of
where we need to be here, I think Canada's position is quite strong on this. We
don't take a particular position vis-à-vis one country, but it is the process.
It is the process of international law, which we need to focus on, and certainly
Canada is a country that has been highly regarded for our advice for many years.
You mentioned the South China Sea, but there is also the East China Sea, a
series of territorial disputes. And the way through this is by the force of
The Chair: Before we close, I would like to follow up on Senator
Beyak's question about agreements that are being negotiated or have been
negotiated with the Indo-Asia region. Has either department considered moving to
a strategic cooperation agreement with either Japan or India, similar to what
Australia and the United States have done in the past? Do you have any comments
Mr. MacArthur: I think the Canada-India relationship, particularly
since the Prime Minister's visit in November 2012, has taken a certain
significance and improved relations with India and presents good opportunities
on a whole set of levels to do more with India.
For example, just a couple of weeks ago both the foreign and trade ministers
were in India, along with the British Columbia premier. There was a massive
Canadian presence, including the private sector, in the delegation. In effect,
we are already conducting a very high-level, substantive relationship with India
across a whole range of factors.
It wouldn't be impossible to contemplate that kind of a special relationship
that's very much developing, particularly with the election of the new
government under Prime Minister Modi. I think there are good possibilities for
the kind of cooperation Prime Minister Modi had when he met with our ministers
in New Delhi. It was a warm meeting and highly cooperative. I think there are
good, winning conditions there at present for that kind of development.
Rear-Admiral Couturier: With India, on the military side, we're at the
early stage of engaging in some discussion.
For example the head of our navy was recently conducting bilaterals with the
head of the Indian navy, so we're certainly looking at this, but very much at
the beginning of trying to reinforce that bilateral relationship.
On the Japanese side, we have a series of discussions on the bilateral
element. One is the cross-service agreement, more oriented towards a logistics
element. Once this agreement is signed we believe that will be the first of
others we will be able to generate to increase our cooperation with the
Japanese. As I said, all services are very much engaged. There is some
discussion between the chiefs of services regularly. In June of this year we had
a discussion with their academic community on the military aspect of it where we
shared some views of the world including, at the time, Ukraine and Iraq. I
believe that bilateral is very strong.
The Chair: Colleagues, I see time has moved on here. I would like to
thank the witnesses for taking the time to come and appear before us. You have
added to the information in respect to the ongoing study we have undertaken.
I will excuse the witnesses before we go in camera.
(The committee continued in camera.)