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