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