Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Tuesday, March 8, 2016 Chair

Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Tuesday, March 8, 2016 Chair
Standing Committee on Public Safety and
National Security
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Mr. Robert Oliphant
Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
● (1105)
The Chair (Mr. Robert Oliphant (Don Valley West, Lib.)): I'm
going to call this meeting of the Standing Committee on Public
Safety and National Security to order.
I thank our witnesses and guests for coming today. This meeting is
to consider the supplementary estimates (C) for the year 2015-16. As
a reminder, the meeting is televised.
We're very pleased to have the Honourable Ralph Goodale,
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness with us, as
well as many senior officials. It is a great honour for us to see you
once again.
We're going to have two rounds of questioning. I want to leave
about five minutes at the end of the meeting for the vote on the
supplementary estimates, which I understand should happen fairly
easily. That is my hope.
We are going to begin with a 10-minute presentation from the
minister. Thank you for being with us.
Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness): Mr. Chair, thank you very much. I offer my
sincere apologies to you and members of the committee. I was
stranded in another meeting that ran a few minutes over time and I
apologize for not being here exactly on time.
It is a pleasure to appear before this committee for the first time as
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and
specifically to discuss the estimates.
I want to say that with respect to the estimates process, as
members who study old speeches from the House of Commons will
know, I very much support the efforts that Minister Brison at
Treasury Board is leading to try to improve the ability of
parliamentarians both to have effective oversight with respect to
the spending plans of the government and to connect the budget
process to the estimates process and the public accounts process, so
that everyone can follow the money and make intelligent decisions
about controlling the public purse. I hope that over the course of this
Parliament we will be able to make substantial progress towards
greater transparency with respect to government spending.
Today, I am joined by a number of familiar faces. I will introduce
my deputy minister, François Guimont, who heads the public service
within Public Safety Canada. I would ask François to introduce the
other officials at the table, many of whom I know this committee
already knows.
Mr. François Guimont (Deputy Minister, Department of
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness):
Thank you, Minister. Good morning to all of you. I present Don
Head, whom most of you probably know from Correctional Service
Canada; Nada Semaan, executive vice-president with the Canada
Border Services Agency; Commissioner Paulson, with us this
morning as well, from the RCMP; Michel Coulombe, director of
Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS; and Mr. Harvey
Cenaiko who is the chairperson of the Parole Board of Canada.
● (1110)
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Thank you, François.
As committee members already know from your previous
encounters with officials and heads of the various agencies within
the public safety portfolio, this mandate in this portfolio is both large
and complex. It encompasses a vast array of responsibilities: national
security, emergency management, law enforcement, corrections,
crime prevention, and border security.
I am continually impressed by the work that is being done by the
dedicated public servants who make up this portfolio in fulfilling the
basic mandate that we have from the Prime Minister. It's a mandate
that is inherent in this portfolio: keep Canadians safe, and do so in a
way that respects their rights, their freedoms, and the values of this
No matter how assiduous public servants are, there is always more
work to do.
At the outset today, I'd like to address two or three of the top-ofmind issues that we're working on, issues that Canadians are
concerned about and on which they are expecting leadership and
First, as members will know, we have moved ahead with real
purpose and intent on the issue of post-traumatic stress injuries, or
what people now refer to as operational stress injuries. They are
disproportionately high among first responders due to the nature of
the jobs that first responders are asked to do.
Every day police officers, firefighters, border officers, and others
in high-stress situations are risking their lives for the safety of other
Canadians. At the end of the day, very often they do not have access
to the resources and the support systems they need to help them cope
with the trauma they experience in their jobs.
We held an excellent national round table on PTSD, or OSI, in
Regina, back in January. It was a first step toward an inclusive
national conversation about how we can better support front-line
I understand this committee is going to be studying this important
issue, and I will certainly follow your deliberations on that topic with
a great deal of care.
Another topic of urgency is the whole question of workplace
harassment in the national police force. That was referred to
explicitly in my mandate letter from the Prime Minister. We want
healthy workplaces that are free from harassment and sexual
RCMP members perform an absolutely critical role in our
communities. Canadians expect a high standard from them in terms
of professional and exemplary behaviour. I am committed to taking
whatever action is necessary to help RCMP members, trainees, and
employees feel safe and respected among their colleagues and
superiors. I know the commissioner has been hard at work on that
challenge over the last period of time as well.
In that regard, I wrote to the chair of the Civilian Review and
Complaints Commission for the RCMP on February 4 this year to
ask him to undertake a comprehensive assessment of RCMP policies
and procedures in the workplace about harassment, and to evaluate
the implementation in the force of the recommendations that the
commission made back in 2013.
I note as well that RCMP Commissioner Paulson has asked Paul
Kennedy, a former chair of the commission for public complaints
against the RCMP, to act as an independent observer and monitor on
the investigation that's currently under way with respect to certain
allegations of misconduct at the police college. This is a topic that
has been of concern to Canadians, and we need to ensure that we're
responding on all fronts.
Finally, I want to mention the greatest challenge to our national
security as another topic of important concern to me, and I'm sure to
members of the committee, and that is the twofold threat of terrorism
and radicalization to violence.
As committee members know, we are undertaking broad
consultations about Canada's national security framework with
stakeholders that include parliamentarians, subject matter experts,
the general public, and our foreign partners.
I welcome and actively seek the input of members of all parties to
contribute to this review process. Indeed, a number of MPs and a
number of senators have already come forward to make offers.
● (1115)
Mr. Chair, I would welcome the advice of this committee about
how this committee would want to participate in the consultative
process, both hearing from other members of Parliament, but also
hearing from the general public about our national security
Among our top priorities is the establishment of a designated
Canadian office on community outreach and counter-radicalization
coordination. The goal is to find, promote, and share the best ways
March 8, 2016
with communities to prevent and combat radicalization and to build
resilient communities and resilient individuals.
The Aga Khan, a very respected citizen of the world, a global
activist for peace, and a great friend of Canada, has described our
country as the finest expression of pluralism the world has ever seen.
If we wish to continue that success, we need to work very hard to
share, instill, celebrate, and practise our precious Canadian values of
openness, diversity, inclusion, respect, and accommodation, and I
hope our new office of community outreach will contribute to that
I'm also working, as you know, with the Leader of the
Government in the House of Commons to create a statutory
committee of parliamentarians that will help scrutinize government
departments and agencies that exercise national security responsibilities. That was a fundamental election promise that we made.
Canada is an anomaly at the present time in not having a
parliamentary review mechanism with respect to security and
intelligence operations. All of our major allies, including those in
the Five Eyes—the U.S., the U.K., New Zealand, and Australia—
have such a parliamentary vehicle. We intend to fill the gap in
Canada and provide that kind of review mechanism in Canada, too.
In the process we will also review what other kinds of vehicles
and mechanisms we need in order to properly overview and
scrutinize the activities of our security and intelligence operations.
Other countries typically have a number of different vehicles
including a parliamentary one. We at present don't have that
parliamentary one and we will fill that gap.
The objectives are twofold here. Number one is to make sure that
our security and police operations are effective in keeping Canadians
safe. Number two is to make sure that in the process of doing so they
are safeguarding the values, the rights, the freedoms, and the
fundamental character of our country.
Mr. Chair, specifically about estimates and supplementary
estimates (C), as you will see for the portfolio overall, the total
authorities that we are seeking will result in a net increase of $176
million, which is relatively modest from a government pan-Canadian
point of view. It represents a 1.98% increase over the total authorities
to date.
The largest request, probably not a surprise to the committee, is
with respect to the RCMP. Commissioner Paulson in the past has
been very candid with the committee indicating where the financial
pressures, stresses, and strains are, and he's had to make some
internal reallocations from other areas to national security, which has
been difficult for the force to accommodate. We can't deal with all of
that pressure in this one set of estimates, but we are beginning the
process of trying to make sure that on a go-forward basis the A-base
contribution to the RCMP is sufficient for the work that Canadians
expect the RCMP to do. You can't give them a mandate and demand
they perform miracles and then not provide the resources necessary
to get the job done. The increase for the RCMP is $110 million, most
of which is going to the contract policing side of the equation.
There's also funding here for counterterrorism work and the fight
against cybercrime.
March 8, 2016
With respect to the CBSA, there's an increase of $59.2 million,
largely related to its mandate for securing the borders. It's the
integrity of its front-line operations, the critical work that it has
performed in respect to the Syrian refugees, and improving its
capacity with respect to biometrics.
For the Correctional Service of Canada, the request is a total of $4
million, the majority of which goes to fulfilling the requirements of
the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. The same is true with respect to
the Parole Board of Canada, a request of $300,000 in order to
implement measures in relation to the Canadian Victims Bill of
● (1120)
With respect to CSIS, you will find a number of transactions in the
estimates with money moving back and forth, all intended to
increase its capacity with respect to software and its work with
Global Affairs Canada, which is taking on increasing importance.
I have one final specific point on the $2.6 million for Public
Safety Canada itself. That is largely to recognize the additional
responsibilities the department is taking on for the national search
and rescue secretariat. That used to be vested in the Department of
National Defence, and it will now be vested in the Department of
Public Safety.
That's a quick overview, Mr. Chair.
I want to close by thanking all the dedicated public servants who
toil in this department and in this portfolio in very critical jobs that
relate to the safety of their fellow citizens. They do a remarkable job,
subject to the human frailties that we all experience, but they are a
terrific group of public servants who work very hard for their fellow
I also want to say, Mr. Chair, thank you and a farewell to my
deputy minister, François Guimont. He will retire from the public
service at the end of this month after a remarkable career in the
service of Canada in Public Safety, Public Works, Environment
Canada, PCO, and elsewhere. François, I wish you well in your
retirement, and I extend the gratitude of the Government of Canada
for your lifetime of accomplishment in the service of Canadians.
Thank you, sir.
Mr. François Guimont: Thank you, Minister.
The Chair: We begin our questioning with Mr. Di Iorio.
Mr. Nicola Di Iorio (Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, Lib.):
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning, Mr. Minister.
Minister, the world has known different epochs, and Canada has
had its share of terrorist threats in its history. However, there is one
that is weighing on us currently, and it concerns the threat posed by
the radicalization of foreign combatants. We are meeting in a
splendid room, Minister, but this room has also been the setting for
some tragic moments in the history of this Parliament and of this
Could you explain to us how you intend to deal with that threat?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: There are two ways to address it. The
challenge is large and significant, and it's a challenge that's shared
Many other countries face much bigger problems than we do, but
the tragic events of October 2014 demonstrate that Canada is not
immune, and we need to treat this with the full seriousness it
deserves, in partnership with our colleagues and allies around the
Among the activities aimed at dealing with violent extremism and
radicalization, the front-line efforts to combat the immediate
consequences are directed by the RCMP and by CSIS and by the
Canada Border Services Agency. They work with National Defence.
They work with PCO. In fact, there are 17 departments or agencies
of the Government of Canada that discharge national security
functions and obligations.
Those people are on the job doing an amazing job for Canada
constantly all the time. They are absorbing all the necessary
information. They are taking the appropriate actions to deal with that
information. They constantly assess and reassess the threat level
that's applicable to Canada.
I would pause here to say that, while this is constantly under
review and nothing is ever taken for granted, the threat level that
exists today is the same as it was in October 2014, which is assessed
at medium. There has been no cause for Canada to adjust the threat
level since October 2014, and that remains the case today.
In terms of being more proactive about the future, we are
focusing, as you know, on the creation of this new office of
community outreach and counter-radicalization coordination. This is
to find the very best Canadian ways to reach out to communities, to
understand their vulnerabilities, and to identify the best means to
intervene before a tragedy occurs.
We have some good research through the Kanishka project, which
the previous government initiated. It has given us some useful and
helpful insights into the process of radicalization. Some provinces,
for example, the Province of Quebec has been very proactive in
developing its own counter-radicalization strategy. Cities and police
forces such as those in Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, and
others have developed their own outreach initiatives. The RCMP has
an outreach program. So does the Department of Public Safety.
What we want to do is pull all of this together in a coordinated
national office for outreach and for counter-radicalization, with best
practices, to make sure we are doing everything we can to build
resilient individuals and resilient communities while avoiding the
lure of radical and violent propaganda. We're going to do our very
best to make the values of Canadians something for everyone in this
country, those who have been here a long time and the newcomers,
to celebrate.
● (1125)
Mr. Nicola Di Iorio: Thank you, Minister.
You just spoke of the threat due to human actions, ill-intentioned
actions directed against Canada and its citizens. However, there are
also unfortunate events that occur because of natural disasters.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer recently announced that the
costs related to natural disasters was increasing. Could you share
with us the reasons behind that?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: There are many reasons for it, but one
obvious one is the impact of a destabilized climate and the greater
risk of natural disasters because of more frequent, more violent, and
more consequential weather events, the floods, droughts, and the
other types of problems that have befallen Canadians, and cost
municipalities, the private sector, and individual Canadians literally
tens of millions and billions of dollars. I think of the flood in
southern Alberta a few years ago. In southern Saskatchewan and
southern Manitoba, in two out of the last five years, there have been
major floods. There was the flooding in Quebec three years ago, I
The parliamentary budget officer has added up the consequences
of all of this and taking predictable factors into account, the officer
has tried to project what we can expect in terms of cost. He is saying
that typically what we budgeted in the past will simply not be
adequate to deal with the consequences in the future. There are two
things about that. No doubt in future estimates we will need to make
more cautious preparations for what the real dollar costs are going to
be, but we also need to invest in prevention. There you will see
something from our campaign platform that I think is very
encouraging. In the streams of infrastructure investment that we
intend to make in the future, there is specific reference to building
resilience against the consequences of climate change. How do we
better prepare for floods? How do we better manage those
unpredictable water flows? What kind of infrastructure can we
invest in that will make us better able to handle the disasters when
they occur and avoid the downstream costs as much as possible?
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Minister.
We'll go to Mr. O'Toole.
Hon. Erin O'Toole (Durham, CPC): Thank you very much, Mr.
Welcome, Minister, thank you for attending and thank you to your
deputy for his service. It's appreciated. I'd also like to thank your
We were very happy to see the conclusion of the Syrian refugee
program on the modified timeline, and I know a lot of effort went
into that. Many of my questions will relate to that, Minister. Under
your portfolio which departments were involved in the Syrian
refugee response?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: The primary front-line department, Mr.
O'Toole, was obviously CBSA, but a great deal of expertise and
effort was also devoted by the RCMP and by CSIS. The RCMP and
CSIS in particular were helpful to Immigration, Refugees and
Citizenship Canada in devising the screening process.
March 8, 2016
● (1130)
Hon. Erin O'Toole: Your own department, Public Safety and
Emergency Preparedness, obviously would have had some involvement as well.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Oh, yes, absolutely.
Hon. Erin O'Toole: Okay.
I liked your remarks at the beginning about studying old speeches
and following the money. That's what I intend to do with my time
On December 9, in committee of the whole on Bill C-3, which
was supplementary estimates (B), Minister McCallum said the
overall cost of the Syrian refugee program, which was the need for
Bill C-3 in the supplementary estimates, was $700 million. He told
the House that day that $500 million of that was the total spending
for Immigration, his department. Minister Brison said that other
departments.... They did not allocate where the other $200 million
would be spent, but Minister Brison said that most other departments
involved would cash manage their involvement in the Syrian
program. Is that what your departments did, they cash managed it?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Let me ask Nada to comment specifically
from the point of view of CBSA. I would note that I did mention an
amount earlier of $13.6 million for the critical role the agency played
in those efforts. That's part of these estimates now. But Nada can
provide more detail.
Ms. Nada Semaan (Executive Vice-President, Canada Border
Services Agency): Absolutely. This money will be received, once
approved. However, as you know, we worked on it quite a bit before,
so there was a bit of cash management in anticipating receiving the
funds through supplementary estimates (B).
Hon. Erin O'Toole: So the $13.6 million, Minister, that you
mentioned for CBSA, of the four departments you mention that's the
only department that will be receiving additional allocation. CSIS,
RCMP, and Public Safety, none of them require it?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: That's correct.
Hon. Erin O'Toole: Do we have a breakdown on how the cash
management may have affected other priorities or operations of the
Mr. François Guimont: At least in the case of Public Safety, and
I'll let my colleagues speak to their specific portfolio responsibilities,
we manage that as a priority within our ongoing programs. We did
not specifically earmark an individual or a team. This was part of our
ongoing activities and we just absorbed it. Very often, frankly, we do
that when emerging priorities do come up.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Could I ask Commissioner Paulson or Mr.
Coulombe if they have anything to add?
Commr Bob Paulson (Commissioner, Royal Canadian
Mounted Police): I would just say in a similar fashion that the
total cost to our organization was minimal and it was manageable
within our existing reference levels.
March 8, 2016
Hon. Erin O'Toole: Specifically, Minister, the government
operations centre, which I understand was the hub of the entire
operation, has not received additional funds in supplementary
estimates (B) or (C), so did it cash manage the entire additional
Hon. Ralph Goodale: It did, and that's the nature of its function,
to be able to respond to emerging situations quickly.
Mr. O'Toole, you do raise a point about the future capacity of the
government operations centre, and I think that's something we will
have to look at very carefully. This is a very important nerve centre
within the Government of Canada when something goes wrong
somewhere in the country. This is a place where all of the
participants—not just federal departments, but provinces, municipalities, NGOs, and members of the private sector—can come
together. We're dealing with a national crisis, and we're all in the
same room, and we can make sure—
Hon. Erin O'Toole: Absolutely, Minister, and that's why I'm
asking. In the 2015-16 plans and priorities for your department, one
of the risks identified was, and I quote, “That the...GOC...may be
unable to support a coordinated response to a large-scale...event.”
That was identified by the department before the Syrian refugee
program, but you're saying they needed no additional resources and
were able to coordinate this?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: That's correct, but let me ask the deputy
minister to comment.
Mr. François Guimont: When that risk was identified, we
wanted to differentiate between the individuals within the capacity of
the team and the actual building. The building does have limitations,
if you will, which is something that I have discussed with the
minister. We are taking steps to address that building issue, because
the capacity of the GOC to coordinate in response to a major issue is
a function of the team, but also of the location, the structure of the
building, and its capacity. That risk is tied more to that component
than to what I would refer to as human resources, their training and
their capacity to work together and deliver a coordinated response.
● (1135)
Hon. Erin O'Toole: Would we be able to get a breakdown by
department of how much spending was required and how that cash
management affected additional operations?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Do you mean in relation to the overall
Syrian refugee initiative?
Hon. Erin O'Toole: Yes, because the supplementary estimates
(B) did not have details apart from CIC's commitment to the
program. I think even our new members of the family, our new
permanent residents want to make sure that we spend and allocate
accordingly. There's been a lot of concern that certain programs like
the private sponsorship route for refugees and a number of other
programs have been shelved to accommodate the timeline set during
the election. Cash management is a broad term. I'd like to see how
much it affected the budgets of your departments and what priorities
were shifted to accommodate that.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Mr. O'Toole, I will undertake to raise that
with Mr. McCallum and my other cabinet colleagues to see if we can
present to MPs and to Canadians publicly a final report on the Syrian
initiative so that people can have all the facts and figures on how it
Hon. Erin O'Toole: Because in fairness, $13.6 million is all we're
seeing, and I'm sure it was more than that.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Let me see if we can put it together. I agree
with your point.
The Chair: Thank you.
Monsieur Dubé.
Mr. Matthew Dubé (Beloeil—Chambly, NDP): Thank you,
Mr. Chair.
I thank the minister and our other guests for being here with us
today. Mr. Guimont, as my colleagues have also done, I want to take
this opportunity to thank you for your services.
My question is on Bill C-51.
The following issue is still of great concern to the NDP—
especially after listening to Mr. Coulombe yesterday, and also in
thinking about his testimony before our committee a few weeks ago.
I am referring to the fact that the powers are currently being used,
even though the oversight mechanisms that are considered essential
to ensure that those powers are well used have still not been put in
place. The NDP is still of the opinion that this act should be repealed.
My question is about the role opposition parties should play in this
regard. Minister, you have had some fine words to say on this, but
the fact remains that Mr. McGuinty was appointed without any
consultation of the opposition parties. You went to London. Yes,
there were conferences, but you also wanted to review the best
practices of the United Kingdom committee which is the counterpart
of the one you want to set up. Once again, no members of the
opposition were invited.
Following the letter Mr. Mulcair sent to the Prime Minister, will
opposition members and parties finally really be formally included in
this process?
Could you also provide us with an update on the process? Where
do things stand? There is some urgency now. The powers are being
used and the oversight is not adequate.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: I fully appreciate your point, Monsieur
Dubé. I want to give you the absolute reassurance from me as the
responsible minister but also on behalf of the government that this is
very much intended to be a process in which parliamentarians will
play an exceedingly important role in two ways.
March 8, 2016
First of all, it's by participating in the consultation about what
needs to be done in specific legislative terms to fix the problems that
were presented by Bill C-51. We have identified a number of those
issues in the past, the definition of “terrorist propaganda”, for
example, the problem with the no-fly list, various other ways that
have been enumerated in which the legislation has presented
difficulties and has been rightly criticized by a great many
Canadians. We are at the beginning of what I think is likely to be
the most inclusive consultation process about national security that
the country has ever seen.
Mr. Matthew Dubé: With your permission, Minister, I would like
to ask the following question.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Any agreement between two countries
with respect to matters of information about citizens would need to
respect the laws of the jurisdiction within which the information
originated. So the short answer to your question is yes.
With regard to the creation and operation of that committee, do
you commit to formally including opposition parties?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Yes, the commitment is clear. Now, when
you say “this committee” you mean the committee of parliamentarians to scrutinize....
● (1140)
Mr. Matthew Dubé: The McGuinty committee, as Mr. O'Toole
likes to refer to it.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: It's a legislated statutory committee of
parliamentarians to scrutinize the security intelligence operations of
the Government of Canada.
As my time is almost up, I have one last question for you and it
follows upon the one my colleague Mr. Garrison put to you in the
House concerning the Police Officer Recruitment Fund, which was
abolished by the previous government.
As I said earlier, there are probably 17 different departments and
agencies that have some security function. The committee will be a
committee representing all parties in the House of Commons. We are
still considering the interface with the Senate. That hasn't been
decided yet. I'll be meeting with senators later on to discuss that, but
on the specific question of whether members of the opposition will
be on that committee, yes, absolutely. If they weren't, the committee
wouldn't work.
Mr. Matthew Dubé: I would like to specify that my concern is
not about the presence of members on the committee, but about the
participation of the opposition in the setting up and operations of the
committee. We can talk about this again, because my time is limited.
With your permission, I am going to move on to another topic.
There was a Globe and Mail story yesterday, with the Prime
Minister going to visit his counterpart in Washington, on the
question of streamlining border services and how that's all operating.
Some concerns were raised by the Privacy Commissioner with
regard to removing red tape and the consequences that this can have
on how information flows.
The other problem is that often when we have these agreements
with Americans, it's important to remind folks that our laws and
American laws are quite different especially when it comes to
protecting the privacy of Canadians. Where is that process at? What's
going on, and can you guarantee to this committee that the private
information of Canadians will be protected according to Canadian
law and not American law?
As discussions about the border proceed, we have been very
careful to engage the office of the Privacy Commissioner, to seek
guidance from that office to make sure that the best practices are
followed. We will continue to seek that advice, and of course, after
the fact we're obliged to produce a privacy impact statement, so we
will make sure that is done—
Mr. Matthew Dubé: Thank you, Minister.
Will you, yes or no, commit to re-establishing that fund?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: That is not in the fiscal frame at the present
time. What is within the fiscal frame is a commitment that we made
during the election to establish a new fund, specifically directed at
the battle against guns and gangs, in the amount of $100 million on
an annual basis that would flow through provinces to police forces in
order to assist those forces with the very difficult on-the-ground
work they need to do in combatting illegal guns and gangs.
The Chair: Mr. Mendicino.
Mr. Marco Mendicino (Eglinton—Lawrence, Lib.): Thank you
very much, Mr. Chair.
I want to thank the minister for coming today to talk about the
supplementary estimates.
I also want to take the opportunity to thank the deputy minister for
his years of service. How many years did you say it was?
Mr. François Guimont: It was 34 years and—
Mr. Marco Mendicino: It must have gone by like the blink of an
Hon. Ralph Goodale: He's a lot older than he looks.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: There's a compliment.
I want to try to cover two topics today, Mr. Minister. I want to talk
a little about the oversight committee, and then I want to talk a little
about the no-fly list, and if you'll permit, I'd like to ask some very
targeted questions regarding oversight.
You talked about our fundamental commitment to creating a
national oversight committee. You talked about Canada being an
anomaly among our partners, and particularly with respect to the
Five Eyes. You talked as well about the creation of that committee as
a creature of statute. There'll be a piece of legislation that basically
strikes a national security oversight committee. Is that right?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: That's correct.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: Will this be an all-party committee?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Yes.
March 8, 2016
Mr. Marco Mendicino: Will it be made up of parties from all
sides of the House?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: That's right.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: Will it be made up as well of both
Houses? Is that what we're contemplating right now?
● (1145)
Hon. Ralph Goodale: That remains an open question. We haven't
yet had that conversation with the Senate, but we're open to a good
discussion of it.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: Is it safe to say that we'd like to see
progress so that we could include the Senate as part of this
Hon. Ralph Goodale: I'd like to see it be comprehensive, but we
haven't really crossed that policy bridge yet.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: Will membership of the committee
exclude ministers and parliamentary secretaries?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: You said “exclude”? Yes.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: Okay. Will these be order in council
appointments, which is to say, will the people be appointed by the
Prime Minister's Office or by cabinet?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: The method of selection has not yet been
determined. What will be required is an extraordinary level of
security clearance, because obviously these members of Parliament
will have access to very sensitive information and will need to be
appointed on a basis that respects that very critical dimension of
public safety and security.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: Is it possible that as part of the process
the screening may contemplate an order in council appointment?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: That's possible, yes.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: Okay.
You mentioned earlier to some of my colleagues on the other side
about appointing members from the opposition. Is it the government's plan to consult with leaders of the opposition parties before
including members of their party?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: There obviously needs to be very thorough
consultation with party leaders and with members of Parliament in
order to get this appointment process right. The exact methodology
has not been settled, but we will seek advice on all sides of the
House to make sure we have a satisfactory way of assembling the
Mr. Marco Mendicino: Regarding powers that are contemplated
for the national security oversight committee, is it your vision that
the committee will have the power to compel witnesses to attend and
give evidence?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: That policy question has not yet been
Mr. Marco Mendicino: Has it been determined whether or not
we'll have the ability to compel individuals to bring information that
might otherwise be categorized as privileged under the national
security provisions?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: That's in the same category of compelling
witnesses or compelling documents. Those issues have not been
resolved yet, but I do repeat the objective here. This committee has
to be real. It has to be credible. It has to be trustworthy so that when
it does its work and offers comments to Canadians on the nature of
its work, Canadians will be able to trust that they are being told the
truth. Credibility is absolutely essential here, and we need to make
sure the committee has the tools necessary and the resources and the
research capacity to do its job.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: I have one last question on a national
security oversight committee. Will we find any references to it in the
supplementary estimates, or is it safe to say that because we're not at
the stage yet where presenting the legislation is imminent with
regard to this committee, it's not in the current supplementary
Hon. Ralph Goodale: It's not in the current numbers. This again
gets back to my first point about the strange way in which Parliament
deals with estimates. The main estimates that have been tabled are
actually based on last year's budget, not the budget we'll get on
March 22, so we have to change the order of things here to make it
Mr. Marco Mendicino: With regard to the no-fly list, Mr.
Minister, you were recently quoted in the papers as expressing some
frustration on the part of certain children who continue to be flagged
by the no-fly list, erroneously, it would appear. Can you tell this
committee what steps your department is taking to ensure this
doesn't happen in the future, or at least that we are continuing to
reduce the likelihood of children being erroneously flagged by the
no-fly list?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: The point is clearly this. Those children
who have been erroneously caught up in the no-fly process are not
on the no-fly list. The problem is that there are some adults who have
exactly the same names who are on the no-fly list, and it's the
confusion between the two that is causing the problem.
When the system was designed a few years ago, it did not include
an interactive, internal database that would allow false positives to
be easily flagged and then resolved. In fact, it relied on physical
identification at the gate, and within 5, 10, 15 minutes, the problems
could be resolved. But that still presents an awkward situation at the
gate, so we have to find a way to improve the database and the
computer system. There may be some lessons that we can learn here
from the American side of the operation, because they do have an
interactive system that resolves false positives faster than we do.
● (1150)
Mr. Marco Mendicino: May I just use the few seconds remaining
to ask whether or not you've contemplated some sort of appeals
process so that there is transparency for those individuals who have
been erroneously flagged?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Yes, and that was a specific commitment in
our platform.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, Minister.
Mr. O'Toole.
Hon. Erin O'Toole: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Minister, a number of my colleagues have been asking about the
committee of parliamentarians for security intelligence review.
We've been affectionately calling it the McGuinty committee, for
lack of any other description.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Your affection is overflowing, Mr.
Hon. Erin O'Toole: Well, you see that pragmatically last week
after consultations with the NDP, and the lack of consultations from
the government, I sent you a letter with recommendations. Mr.
Mendicino clearly read it because several of his questions to you
were contained in my letter.
You were saying the exact methodology is to be resolved, and you
need this to be credible. You're clearly still putting parameters on it.
Why appoint a chair before even the parameters are done?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Well, we're reaching out to have a very
inclusive process, and Mr. O'Toole, I would, quite frankly, apologize
to members of Parliament around the table here for not being able to
move as quickly on this as I would have liked to. I've said on other
occasions that this department is like riding a fire hose, and trying to
get up to speed on every issue is a big challenge, but we're getting
Hon. Erin O'Toole: Certainly.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: I welcomed your letter, as I did Monsieur
Mulcair's letter. It is helpful input into the process. Mr. LeBlanc and I
will be meeting shortly with members of the Senate to get their input.
We will have a more fulsome discussion of this.
The suggestions that you and others have made about how to
structure this committee, and what power and authority it needs to
have, are helpful input. We will weigh all of that very carefully.
Hon. Erin O'Toole: I appreciate those comments. I know MP
Rankin and I will wait by our phones for the call.
I have one final question on this subject. You talked about the
official secrets that will be involved, the credibility. Mr. Mendicino
mentioned this as well.
The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament in the U.
K. has had some success with discretion over two decades. One of
the points I made was that members should have some experience in
security, national defence, previous experience chairing a committee,
or ministerial experience, to ensure that the quality and effectiveness
of the committee is safeguarded. Is that your plan?
There has been some speculation that you've already identified
government members for the committee. Can you confirm whether
or not that's true?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: The final decisions have not been taken,
Mr. O'Toole.
The kinds of qualifications that you referred to in your letter will
certainly be helpful. They may not be the only ones, but I take your
point that this committee needs to have the horsepower to do a good
job. Otherwise, why have it? It's not there to be window dressing. It's
not there to be a buffer or a deflection. It's there to give Canadians
the assurance of two things; namely, that the agencies are doing what
they need to do to keep Canadians safe, and that the values, rights,
and freedoms of Canadians are properly respected. I want this to be a
March 8, 2016
very high-calibre group of parliamentarians who will be able to give
Canadians that assurance.
Hon. Erin O'Toole: Well, certainly the Conservative Party wants
this to be done right. We're prepared to work with the government,
particularly to ensure the safety of the operations conducted by our
intelligence agencies and their personnel.
My final question relates to the court decision in the case of
Mounted Police Association of Ontario v. Canada. We spoke in the
House on this subject when the government sought an extension of
the court period for that case. I understand that the government will
be bringing forward legislation very shortly on the new designated
bargaining model, using guidance from the court to ensure that
members have the right of collective action. Whether or not it will be
in the Public Service Labour Relations Act...
In the estimates we see another $110 million for the RCMP, with
about half of that being for contract policing. Has your department,
working with the commissioner, looked at the impact on the fiscal
framework of the legislation that will be in front of the House in the
next few weeks, in terms of how much upward pressure it may put
on budgets?
● (1155)
The Chair: Very briefly, Minister.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: The Supreme Court has been very clear
that RCMP members not having collective bargaining rights is in
violation of their constitutional rights, so the legislation will remedy
that constitutional defect. That will result in a bargaining process
that, as with the bargaining in all other sectors of the public service,
will be handled by Treasury Board.
You will find in the legislation a design to ensure that the unique
nature of policing operations is appropriately safeguarded.
Commissioner, do you have some thoughts that you—
The Chair: I'm sorry, we're at the end of the member's time.
Thank you, Minister.
It's hard to cut off Mr. Goodale.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Worse still to cut off the commissioner.
The Chair: Oh, I'm worried about that.
Ms. Damoff.
Ms. Pam Damoff (Oakville North—Burlington, Lib.): Thank
you very much for being here and for bringing your officials with
you. I'm going to change the subject just a little bit.
I've met with representatives of the Canadian Association of
Elizabeth Fry Societies and the John Howard Society. They've talked
to me about devastating personal and financial costs to individuals
because of changes that were made by the previous government to
pardons or record suspensions. I wonder if you could speak to that a
little bit.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: I may ask Mr. Cenaiko to comment as
well, because he has the task of dealing with these challenges.
March 8, 2016
There has been a considerable backlog. Through his own good
internal management within the Parole Board, he has been able to
make progress in resolving the backlog. There is still some of it
remaining, but as I understand it, Mr. Cenaiko is expecting to be able
to deal with most of that over the course of the next year or so.
There were also changes made in terms of fees that were charged
and the time that is taken, and so forth. We will re-examine all of that
to ensure it is good, solid public policy, not intended to accomplish
an ideological purpose but in fact designed to contribute to the wellbeing of Canadians and to public safety.
Harvey, do you have some comments to make on the backlog?
Mr. Harvey Cenaiko (Chairperson, Parole Board of Canada):
I just have—
Ms. Pam Damoff: Actually, I have only five minutes. What
you've told me is good enough that I can take it back to them. I'm
sorry to cut you off, but I have a couple of other things I want to ask
you about and I don't have much time.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Okay.
By the way, after I leave, the officials will be able to stay for a
Ms. Pam Damoff: Okay, so we can follow up on that afterwards.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Yes.
Ms. Pam Damoff: When Mr. Head appeared before the
committee, he said, and I'm quoting him here, “I cannot stress
enough how important that” occupational stress injury support is. He
went on to say, “The way we talk about it now is on how we build
and sustain the mental resilience of our staff...”.
I've talked about this at all of our meetings. It's something I'm very
passionate about. I applaud what you've done so far. I think we need
to be removing the stigma around this in the workplace. Our public
safety officers need to be on the top of their game, both physically
and mentally.
Can you talk briefly about the financial cost as well as the
potential need for additional funding for this issue within your
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Well, the cost of occupational stress
injuries and disabilities is difficult to quantify, but I think Canadians
are coming to recognize that they take a huge toll in terms of the
efficiency of people being on the job, the capacity to do the job, the
time they need to be away from work, and lost talent, altogether.
And we need to make sure when public safety officers suffer a
mental health issue because of their job that they get the kind of
support they need, that there is not a stigma attached to asking, that
their friends and colleagues and superiors know the danger signs to
look for, and that the treatment capacity is readily available not two
years from now or six months from now, but now, when you have
the opportunity to relieve that person's stress and maybe head off a
bigger tragedy.
That's why we're putting such emphasis on PTSD treatment and
responses for public safety officers.
Ms. Pam Damoff: That's why I push so hard for us as a
committee to look at it as well. I think it's a really important issue to
shed some light on.
I don't think I have any time left. Have I?
The Chair: You have 14 seconds.
Ms. Pam Damoff: Okay. I can say thank you very much.
I could have let you speak after all.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Damoff.
Ms. Gallant.
Mrs. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, CPC):
Mr. Chairman, this is through you to the minister.
Just prior to Christmas last year there was a worker inside an
electricity control centre. He was preparing to leave, and he noticed a
cursor on his computer suddenly slide across the screen on its own.
One after another, circuit breakers were turned on until substations
were turned off—30 in all—for 230,000 residents, two days before
Christmas, in western Ukraine, with no electricity and no heat.
The concern is that this type of sophisticated, planned,
synchronized attack could occur in North America.
What measures are in place to ensure that such a coordinated
attack, or perhaps a more sophisticated one, does not impede our
electricity system and all the items attached to the grid that we
depend on?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: That is a very good question.
Do we have an internal calculation of the cost consequences of
PTSD? Quite frankly, I'd like to—
● (1200)
Ms. Pam Damoff: We can get that later.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Yes, we could take a stab at putting
together some estimates.
I share the concern of members of Parliament about Canada's
capacity to deal effectively with cybersecurity issues, the whole issue
of our critical infrastructure, which you've referred to as potentially
vulnerable. The incident in Ukraine, by the way, was a very active
topic of discussion at the last meeting of the Five Eyes alliance in
Washington a few weeks ago. It's a matter of international anxiety.
Bob, within the RCMP, what is the toll?
Commr Bob Paulson: It is $162 million—that's why we have a
$6 million ask in the supplementals—and it's on a 12% increase,
year on year.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: So it's expensive.
There's simply a loss to businesses and enterprises from having
their systems hacked and interfered with. That probably cost
businesses globally $400 billion last year. By the end of this
decade, that cost is probably going to surpass $2 trillion U.S. per
year. The dimensions of this, not to mention privacy issues and so
forth, are huge.
March 8, 2016
Toward the end of last year the RCMP launched a whole new
initiative with respect to being more effective in dealing with
cybercrime. The Business Council of Canada, formerly the Canadian
Council of Chief Executives, has launched a new exchange of
information system in order to prepare business to deal with this
more effectively. Federal, provincial, and territorial security
ministers have had this conversation, as well.
I'm tempted to say that we're all only as good as we are, and
therefore the idea of carrying out a comprehensive review of our
cyber strategy is a very timely thing. The strategy is not that old, but
the file is moving so quickly. It's time to step back, see where we are,
and carry out actions where we think we may have weaknesses.
I have been asked by the Prime Minister to lead a review of
everything in the Government of Canada that relates to cybersecurity, in collaboration with the industry department and many other
departments of government, to make sure that we are on top of this
kind of situation and that the problem that hit Ukraine will be
properly defended against in Canada. We think that is the case today,
but the review will ask that critical question: are we sure? We want to
be sure.
● (1205)
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Mr. Chair, could I ask if every member of
the committee has changed their password today. You're supposed to
do it frequently.
Mrs. Cheryl Gallant: The criticism I hear about the Canadian
cyber incident response centre is that it's passive. There are plans and
tips given, but in the event of a cyber-attack, be it commercial or
otherwise, there is not an instant response.
Do the supplementary estimates reflect any efforts to stand up a
coordinated command and response to these types of incidents?
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Let me ask the deputy minister to
Mr. François Guimont: Thank you, Minister.
The CCIRC, the capacity we have in public safety, is co-located
with the government operations centre and it would be helpful if we
were successful in relocating it. This group is very capable. It has
augmented its capacity over the last budget, so there are more people
in the group. That's the first observation.
The second one is that they're pretty active. Their responsibility is
one of getting information from the operator when they face a
situation. They literally keep a laboratory of viruses that they study
to understand. They're very quick at disseminating information to
other constituents in Canada to help them take action to protect
themselves. They are at that pivot point. There is information
flowing to them from inside and outside government which they pass
back to the industrial sector of Canada. This is one of their key
features, their key role.
We want to work more closely with the industry. The industry is
giving itself a similar capacity. It's all about information sharing. It's
all about the speed of the information sharing, so that people can
then take action to protect themselves.
They have now invested in tools where this response will be
automated. We've made investments. Therefore, instead of relying
only upon individuals to pass on the information, there will be an
automated system whereby this information will fan out across
Progress has been made, but I'll tell members of the committee
that the cyber file, unlike other files, if you will, is always evolving.
It's a little bit like all your devices that have new functionality and
new applications. All that reality, which is quickly moving, is also
moving on us.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Guimont.
The Chair: Thank you.
We're going to suspend the meeting for a few minutes. Mr.
Goodale is leaving to go to another meeting. The officials are going
to stay. I'm going to suggest to the committee that we finish round
one. We would go with Mr. Spengemann, then Mr. Dubé, and then
start back at the top of the list for round two.
We'll suspend for two minutes.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Mr. Chair, thank you for the opportunity to
be here. I appreciated your questions. I even look forward to coming
back another time.
The Chair: You'll be invited.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Might I suggest to you on the cyber centre
that was the subject of the last question, it might well be possible to
arrange an opportunity when members of this committee, if you're
interested, could pay a visit to the cyber centre and see it functioning.
That might help with some of the background information.
The Chair: Excellent. Thank you very much.
We'll suspend for a few minutes.
● (1210)
The Chair: We're missing a few members. As I suggested, we're
going to finish round one. That will be five minutes for Mr.
Spengemann, three minutes for Mr. Dubé and then we will start back
with the seven-minute round and the first one will be Mr. ErskineSmith in the second round.
Mr. Spengemann, for five minutes.
Mr. Sven Spengemann (Mississauga—Lakeshore, Lib.): Thank
you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to our six distinguished senior public servants for
being here. Thank you for your service to the nation, and my thanks
also to your colleagues, the women and men who are in the field
keeping us safe day after day who are not here today but through you
are represented here.
I have two questions. One of them is specific and the other is more
general. I'll start with the more specific one.
March 8, 2016
In our ridings I think many of us parliamentarians around the table
and colleagues who are not here will have received questions over
the past months on the issue of marijuana. I've had folks come to me
from the production side, people who are interested in holding
licences to produce medical marijuana, people from the consumer
side, people who are beneficiaries of medical marijuana. Also there
are the pros and cons of the recreational side.
I'm wondering if you could give the committee, and through the
committee the Canadian public an update on the current legal status
of marijuana.
● (1215)
Commr Bob Paulson: Me?
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Sven Spengemann: That's for anybody who would like to
comment, anybody who has relevant information to give.
Commr Bob Paulson: I can say that the current legal status is
unchanged from where it was before the new government came into
I can say that we've had a struggle in the police community
broadly in terms of being discretionary in recognizing the stated
objectives of the government, while having to recognize the existing
laws. In other words, the medical marijuana regime, and frankly, the
explosion of dispensaries in many cities across the country present a
number of technically challenging legal conundrums.
we earn the trust of Canadians. So the maintenance of trust, the
strengthening of trust in our public institutions is not unique to
public safety and security, but it is perhaps something that we should
look at emphatically with respect to the area of public safety and
I'm wondering if each of you could comment briefly on how you
are working to maintain and strengthen the trust of Canadians in the
various organizations that you oversee.
Mr. François Guimont: Maybe I could say a few words to start.
Trust is important for sure in the institution and Canadians can step
back and look at the portfolio partners and be convinced, and I mean
that truthfully, that we are professional and we do our best.
We wake up in the morning, and come to work to do a good job. A
good job means we're on all the time, because this business that
we're in doesn't stop at five o'clock or six o'clock.
The second point is that people are very lawful, very mindful of
the legal framework in which we work. I would say as well it's a
function of teamwork. We work very closely with the commissioner's people when we need to, Commissioner Paulson, and Michel
Coulombe, the director of CSIS. We have ongoing discussions,
relationships, built on trust, and that trust inside projects outside in
the sense of Canadians. I think they can feel that we're doing our best
to earn and keep their trust.
Certainly, we in the RCMP have applied our discretion to enforce
where circumstances are exceeding the scope of the existing
legislation around medical marijuana, in other words, aggressive
marketing, on the street, near schools, and so on. In some
communities they're even contemplating taxing and licensing.
As I said, we work within the legal framework and we work
within the policies and the operational procedures that we give
I might point out, just technically, not as a stated intention, there's
an argument to be made that licensing some of these illegal
dispensaries amounts to receiving the proceeds of crime.
The Acting Chair (Hon. Erin O'Toole): Thank you very much,
Mr. Guimont.
It's a bit of a mess right now, to be honest. Our approach has been
to use our discretion at the front line to make decisions while the
government sorts out their stated platform.
Mr. Sven Spengemann: Is it fair to say that you have changed
your enforcement strategy in the wake of recent platform policy
announcements, or is it the same as it was a year and a half ago, let's
Commr Bob Paulson: No. I would say it's fair to say that we've
changed. We understand the platform. We understand the existing
laws, but we also see a proliferation of patently unlawful behaviours
that need to be held in check while we get to a point where a more
coherent legislative regime is in place.
Mr. Sven Spengemann: Thank you for that.
My second question, as I said, is a more general one. I'd like to
address it to as many of you as would like to comment. I think, if we
look back on this conversation this morning, what connects all our
questions and the answers that many of you gave is the idea of trust
in our public institutions.
The minister said we're balancing the provision of effective
security against or with our charter rights, and when we do that well,
● (1220)
Three minutes for Mr. Dubé.
Mr. Matthew Dubé: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My question is addressed to Mr. Head. In fact, I would like to go
back to the topic I raised the last time he came before the committee.
The Ontario Human Rights Commissioner has spoken out about
solitary confinement. That is not the preferred term, but I am going
to continue to use it nonetheless. She mentioned that this practice
should be brought to an end in provincial prisons or should at the
very least be restricted. I continue to insist that this committee should
study this matter. I know that my colleague Murray Rankin shares
my opinion.
What do you think of the commissioner's statement? Does it
reflect reality in federal penitentiaries?
Mr. Don Head (Commissioner, Correctional Service of
Canada): Thank you for the question.
As I briefly mentioned at the last appearance, we've made a lot of
progress at the federal level in terms of how segregation, or solitary
confinement, as some people call it, has been used. We have put in
place a series of additional, internal, oversight processes. We have
also put in place different alternatives for housing offenders other
than in the institution where they're being segregated or held in
special confinement conditions.
I have to say that in comparison to the provinces we have a little
more in terms of resources to do some of the work that we've been
doing. Even in the last year, we've been able to reduce the
segregation population by almost half. We've gone from just under
800 down to 396 people who are in segregation on any given day.
The challenge that the provinces have is in relation to resources and
a population which is not comprised of individuals who have longerterm sentences with whom they can work to deliver programs. The
provinces have a little more of a challenge than we do at the federal
Mr. Matthew Dubé: Mr. Chair, do I have a little time left?
The Chair: You have one minute left.
Mr. Matthew Dubé: I have a quick question for Mr. Paulson.
I am wondering about the criminal database backlog which the
Auditor General has raised a few times. I think we're closing in on
seven years since this has been brought to our attention.
Can you give us an update on where that is, or do we have to wait
for the Auditor General to report on it again?
Commr Bob Paulson: No, I don't think you have to wait for the
Auditor General again.
We have implemented a plan to reduce the backlog on a cascading
priority level, while recognizing that the transition to electronic
reception into the system, the taking of fingerprints and biometric
data, is a tough transition, not necessarily just for the RCMP, but also
for other police services. That transition is making it difficult, but we
are trying to prioritize our updates to the record database so that
courts are properly informed as to what they're facing when criminal
records are presented, and so that police officers, perhaps more
importantly, are aware of who they're facing when they are doing
their jobs.
The plan is in place and it's a massive undertaking to digitize that
whole approach. I'll undertake to provide an update in more detail if
you'd like.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Paulson.
Mr. Erskine-Smith, for seven minutes.
Mr. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Beaches—East York, Lib.):
Thank you very much.
I'd like to deal with the estimates themselves. I'd like to start with
the Canada Border Services Agency. There's a line item of $21
million in funding to improve the integrity of the CBSA front-line
operations. It's one of the largest line items we have before us.
March 8, 2016
Could you give us an explanation as to where those monies would
Ms. Nada Semaan: Absolutely.
This is money that has been provided since 2011. It serves to help
with the program integrity in three areas. First, once we became an
armed workforce we could no longer utilize students on the land
borders, so we now need to supplement that in peak periods with
regular officers, which is an increased cost. Second, with small and
remote ports, we needed to double up our officers for safety and
security purposes. That required an additional workforce in all of our
small and remote ports. Third, when we became a department or an
agency, we came from a number of other agencies, one being the
CRA, the Canada Revenue Agency. The conversion of their status at
CRA to a border force officer also required additional money. That's
basically all it is.
● (1225)
Mr. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith: Thanks very much.
My next question is for the Correctional Service of Canada.
I note that since March 2005, the federal inmate population has
increased by 17.5%. Could you comment, Mr. Head, with respect to
whether funding levels have matched the increase in federal
Mr. Don Head: There are a couple of components to that.
Actually, over the last year or so the population has been coming
down. As of this morning, the incarcerated population sits at 14,613.
This is down from a peak when it was at just over 15,200, so it has
been coming down over the last year.
We did receive money over the last three or four years for the
building of additional cells and additional accommodation space;
however, we did not receive additional monies to increase
programming capacity. We had to find some measures and
implement some streamlining efficiencies to keep the level of
programming going.
Mr. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith: If I can, I'll jump in there.
On programming specifically related to the aboriginal inmate
population, which is excessively high, the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission recommendations called upon the federal government
to provide more supports for aboriginal programming, halfway
houses, and parole services. Under your current funding model, are
you able to provide those services?
Mr. Don Head: Under the current funding model, in order to go
forward I would need additional funding.
Mr. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith: My next question is for the Parole
Board of Canada.
In your 2015-16 report you note that there's “a risk that key
activities and functions could be adversely affected unless the Board
is able to recruit, stabilize, strengthen competencies and capacity,
and retain its workforce while ensuring employee wellness”. I note
that there's not a significant amount of new funding. In fact, the
funding is going to implement the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.
I wonder if you could comment on whether you are receiving
sufficient funding to do your job.
March 8, 2016
Mr. Harvey Cenaiko: That's a good question. The funding we're
receiving in the supplementary (C)s is really to assist us with the web
portal that the Correctional Service of Canada is going to be
providing us.
With that, we'll be able to provide victims with an electronic
means to register and to get information for themselves. In addition,
though, on our own, for those individuals who don't have the Internet
or for remote communities or indigenous communities where no
Internet is available, we want to ensure that victims who cannot
attend a hearing personally can have the ability to access a digital
recording of the hearing so they can in fact hear it themselves.
Mr. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith: As we move forward with the
legalization of marijuana and perhaps move forward to increase
pardons for those who have records related to possession and
perhaps low-level trafficking offences, would you envision needing
significant additional resources to process those pardons?
Mr. Harvey Cenaiko: Well, we'd have to see what the legislation
brings forward before we could actually make a determination on
how that might impact us.
First of all, there are no pardons. They're record suspensions. If the
term is going to be changed, then the legislation would have to be
changed. However, I understand what you're saying.
Mr. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith: Sure.
My next question is for the RCMP. I note that there's $6 million in
funding related to government advertising programs. Could you fill
us in as to where those monies go?
Commr Bob Paulson: Well, to recruiting, mostly to recruiting. In
fact, we're on a bit of a campaign to up our numbers. The force is
challenged to meet attrition and growth and attract the right people to
the organization, so we've embarked on a very targeted and focused
recruitment effort to bring good young people of all backgrounds
into the force.
Mr. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith: Thanks very much.
My next question is for the Canadian Security Intelligence
Service. There's a line item of $1,160,000 for software tools to
process digital information. Are these software tools created inhouse? Is that the reason the line item is so large?
Mr. Michel Coulombe (Director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service): Yes, that's it.
Mr. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith: Does CSIS use these software
tools as part of its own investigations?
● (1230)
Mr. Michel Coulombe: Yes.
Mr. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith: Moving to SIRC, I note there's
$240,000 in funding to support an increase in the complexity and
volume of workload related to SIRC's review of the expanded
operations of CSIS. What specifically are these expanded operations
that require $240,000 more to go to SIRC?
Mr. Michel Coulombe: Could you repeat that?
Mr. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith: Sure. I'll take you to the line item.
It shows $240,000 for funding to support an increase in the
complexity and volume of workload related to SIRC's review of the
expanded operations of CSIS.
Mr. Michel Coulombe: Yes, as SIRC is expanding the number of
reviews they're doing—
Mr. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith: Oh, sorry. It said “expanded
operations” of CSIS, so that may be incorrect, then.
Mr. Michel Coulombe: Well, that's it, but as we're expanding our
operations, SIRC might increase the number of reviews they're doing
of our operations and we need more people to actually support the
work that SIRC is doing in terms of those annual reviews.
Mr. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith: Is the expanded work the new
disruption powers, the new information sharing, and the new powers
under Bill C-51 specifically?
Mr. Michel Coulombe: That's part of it, but it's also the
expansion of our operation overseas and the expansion of operations
here in Canada.
Mr. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith: That makes sense. Thanks very
The Chair: Thank you.
Mr. O'Toole.
Hon. Erin O'Toole: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to our witnesses for remaining with us.
Mr. Coulombe, you are not as busy as you were yesterday before a
committee, so I'm going to spend a little time with you. The minister
outlined in his remarks the focus on counter-radicalization and
stopping those threats before they gather. I think all sides want to
proceed on that. We've been trying to look at that from day one as a
Yesterday in front of the Senate committee you mentioned the
disruption powers that have been used two dozen or so times.
Without revealing any specifics, could you in general terms discuss
what type of disruption it was and what the risks were of a general
nature? I know this might be hard for you, but I'd like to understand
the type of disruption that has been engaged for public safety
Mr. Michel Coulombe: As I mentioned in my last appearance in
front of this committee, the threat reduction measures used so far did
not require Federal Court warrants. That's the first thing that needs to
be understood.
Generically, the type of activities we're talking about go from
conducting an interview and overtly letting the subject of the
investigation know that they are under investigation, to asking
family members, friends, and community leaders to intervene when
somebody is on the path to radicalization. Trying to bring a counternarrative to stop that radicalization would be another example; it
could be about preventing a terrorist target of investigation from
accessing a potential target facility.
Those are the types of measures we've used so far. The risk is
minimal because again, we're not talking about warranted threat
reduction measures.
Hon. Erin O'Toole: You've mentioned working in some cases
with family members or community members to halt the risks of
radicalization. Have there been any instances you can speak of,
without specifics, where there has been foreign influence, either
through connections through an organization or through the flow of
money to an organization on the ground in Canada?
March 8, 2016
Commr Bob Paulson: Yes, I don't think we should overstate the
greyness of it. I would draw a parallel to coming across someone
with a still who is making whisky for commercial purposes. We
wouldn't issue a ticket, right? There are ample other statutory paths
to prosecuting them. That's somewhat analogous to this situation.
Mr. Michel Coulombe: Well, most of the time actually there is, if
you want to qualify it as a foreign influence. It's usually through the
Internet and social media, from organizations such as Daesh, the
Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
The people who are exploiting.... Maybe I shouldn't say
exploiting, but there's a misunderstanding, it seems to me, in the
Canadian consciousness about what the state of the law is. People
are trying to take advantage, frankly, and make some money. Where
those people are identified as organized crime figures or serious
criminals with criminal enterprise intentions, or where they are doing
that around schools, or marketing that overtly and affecting children,
we're taking action. I think that's a reasonable course.
Hon. Erin O'Toole: About the money piece, is there an ability to
watch the flow of money to see if that's supplementing what can start
as radicalization online but can lead to a cluster, as we've seen in
Ottawa and Calgary? Has money flowed?
Hon. Erin O'Toole: We're three or four months past the election
when the promise was made. Do you find that the aggressiveness of
some players in this space is becoming more pronounced as time
Mr. Michel Coulombe: Money flow is something that the service
is looking into as a subject of investigation. Money flow is certainly
something that is of importance. It's part of our investigation in
collecting intelligence on the activities of the target.
Hon. Erin O'Toole: The minister has mentioned the counterradicalization coordinator and a national office. We've read a lot
about it in the media, but we haven't received any specifics on it in
Parliament. Are some of your operations and outreach within the
counter-radicalization community and the groups tackling this
informing the minister as he creates this position and the scope for
the department?
● (1235)
Mr. Michel Coulombe: Yes, the role of the service and the work
we've done so far, for example, being part of the Kanishka project
and the analysis the service has done itself in terms of factors leading
to radicalization, are certainly informing Public Safety as they're
working on this project.
Hon. Erin O'Toole: Thank you.
Commissioner Paulson, thank you. You've both been here within a
few weeks of previous appearances, so we appreciate your time. I
have a question for you.
Mr. Spengemann outlined somewhat the uncertainty with respect
to marijuana, in that there was an election promise with regard to
legalization, yet there's a period before legislation or a regulatory
review is coming forward. There's a kind of wild west being created
by people who want to push the envelope forward.
The discretion that you noted, Commissioner, appears to be
similar to the position that the chiefs of police of Canada took, in that
the best way to approach this might be to empower law enforcement
with the ability to issue a ticket in the circumstances where use is
recreational and there's no impact on youth or things like that, or to
lay charges for more serious incidents near schools or for someone
who might be trafficking or dealing and that sort of thing.
That was a recommendation as opposed to legalization. Is that in
effect what is happening now in this sort of grey zone between the
election promise and future legislation?
Commr Bob Paulson: No, it seems to be pretty steady.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Monsieur Dubé.
Mr. Matthew Dubé: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Paulson, I would like to discuss another aspect of the criminal
activity intelligence database. We know that the situation may have
changed and perhaps you could provide us with more detail on this.
In Quebec, according to what the Auditor General said, processing
times are longer for requests in French than in English. According to
the information I have, the wait time is 14 months for requests in
English, whereas in Quebec it is 36 months. Is this due to a lack of
sufficient resources to meet official languages commitments? Is that
what explains that difference?
Commr Bob Paulson: Unfortunately, Mr. Dubé, I am not in a
position to explain what is going on. What could explain this
difference is that in Quebec there are several police forces, whereas
elsewhere in Canada, the RCMP does this type of frontline police
work. I do not have the figures, but there are hundreds of police
corps in Quebec and each one has to adjust its policy to manage—
Mr. Matthew Dubé: Forgive me for interrupting you, but my
time is limited.
Ontario has a provincial police force like the one in Quebec, and
yet the situation is not the same. Do you have a shortage of resources
to meet official language commitments in Quebec? I understand
what you are saying, but once again, the situation is the same in
Ontario, but it does not have the same problem.
● (1240)
Commr Bob Paulson: There are also challenges in Ontario. Even
though they may not be as serious as the ones in Quebec, we still
have to meet the challenge which consists in changing the processes
to provide information.
Mr. Matthew Dubé: Very well. I have taken note of this.
March 8, 2016
Mr. Head, if I may come back to you, once again I'm going to
come back to the topic of solitary confinement.
I heard what you said, and I appreciate that the situation is
different provincially and federally. That being said, I will ask once
again, given that I think it's an important topic to study, do you still
believe that this committee should undertake a study on the use of
solitary confinement, and how we can see that going forward?
Mr. Don Head: It's a really good question. When I talk to my
colleagues around the world, probably the common theme that is
coming up at their management tables is the issue of segregation.
Part of the reason it's at the table is there is a misunderstanding about
what's going on, so I think that even having someone appear before
you to talk about what segregation is, and what happens federally,
provincially and around the world would be a good start to getting
some facts out there.
As we go forward, looking at the whole issue, I think there is
going to be an opportunity to consider possible policy, legislative
and regulatory changes that will address some of the issues you see
in the newspaper and playing out in our facilities.
M. Matthew Dubé: All right. Thank you.
I have a question for all the witnesses. Mr. Paulson may also want
to answer.
Several members raised the issue of the legalization of marijuana.
I think the government is beginning to realize that there is a
difference between an electoral commitment and actually changing
the laws involved. There is a certain vagueness at the moment, no
matter what your opinion is on this topic, and this is causing a
problem with regard to your work. We need some concrete action
and more information as to the direction the government is going to
take. Would you say that is an accurate statement? That seems to be
the gist of your comments.
Commr Bob Paulson: In my opinion, changing the legislation
and the regulations is very complex work.
It's a complex area. I think folks are going to be challenged to
make that transition, and we want to help to the extent that we can.
Mr. Matthew Dubé: The situation remains uncertain because we
do not know what direction the government is going to take. There
seems to be more reluctance than there was before. This seems to be
causing problems for you with regard to—
Commr Bob Paulson: The government's anticipated direction is
clear enough, but with such a complex project, you have to expect
that it will take some time.
Mr. Matthew Dubé: Fine.
Mr. Coulombe, given your line of work, you are a man of few
words, often quite rightly so. Yesterday, you spoke of several
decades of combatting terrorism. I would like to understand why you
made such a statement, which could be worrisome for people.
How do you justify such a statement?
Mr. Michel Coulombe: I will give you an example.
The phenomenon of people going abroad to take part in jihad, in
terrorist activities, is not new. We have seen it in Afghanistan,
Bosnia and Chechnya. However, even if we add up all of these
conflicts, we see that the number of people involved now in Syria
and Iraq is probably 10 times higher. But we are still working today
on the files of individuals who took part in these conflicts.
At the present time there are between 25,000 and 30,000 foreign
combatants in that region who are neither Iraqi nor Syrian. As I
mentioned yesterday, even if the Islamic State group is defeated
militarily, these 30,000 individuals will leave the region to return to
their countries of origin or go elsewhere to take part in jihad. Even if
only 10% of them do so, we are talking about 2,000 people who will
continue to participate in terrorist activities.
Mr. Matthew Dubé: Concerning the fight against radicalization,
do you think that an approach that would include the communities
concerned would have more impact than military measures? If I read
between the lines, I believe that is what you were saying.
● (1245)
Mr. Michel Coulombe: I do not think the issue is whether one
would have more impact than the other. It is really a continuum. We
certainly cannot solve this matter simply by collecting information,
or enforcing the laws and carrying out military operations. Nor will
the issue be solved through deradicalization programs alone. What
matters is that there truly be a continuum, with action all along the
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We have time for one more seven-minute round. We'll go to Mr.
Mendicino and then Ms. Damoff.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to return to the topic of the national security oversight
committee. Given that the minister has now taken his leave, I'm
going to direct my questions to the deputy minister.
Within the broader context of oversight, we've heard about the
distinction between real-time oversight and post hoc or after-the-fact
oversight, which is more akin to what SIRC does. It looks
historically at whether or not the departments are complying with
the balance between the need to protect Canadians and to also
safeguard their values under the charter.
We presently get real-time oversight through the national security
adviser. Is that a fair statement?
Mr. François Guimont: Well, if by “we” you mean the
Mr. Marco Mendicino: I mean that the Prime Minister gets realtime—
Mr. François Guimont: Yes. It is a combination of Public Safety,
the agency heads, the deputy minister, the minister, and the national
security adviser and the apparatus around that unit.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: It's channelled through the national
security adviser. Is that a fair statement?
Mr. François Guimont: For the PM, yes.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: It requires ongoing information and
assessments provided to the executive branch, namely, the Prime
Mr. François Guimont: Yes.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: It also requires coordinating all of the
various branches within the broader intelligence community. Is that
Mr. François Guimont: Yes.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: In the course of exercising that function,
there is some oversight. Is that a fair statement?
Mr. François Guimont: Well, the oversight—I would use the
word “review”—is separated along a number of lines at the agency.
The director of CSIS has SIRC as a review mechanism. Commissioner Paulson also has the capacity, a review mechanism, to look at
the operations of the RCMP. It's separated. It's not integrated. Also,
they're not parliamentarians. That's the big difference. It's people
who are from the outside, so they're at arm's length. They're not tied
to Parliament.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: My question is this: where do you see the
national security adviser's role within the national security oversight
committee? Do you see this particular official being the most
appropriate one to brief the national security oversight committee on
ongoing real-time exercises of government authority as provided for
under the relevant statutes?
Mr. François Guimont: Mr. Chairman, if I were to look at the
dialogue we had in the U.K. when I was there with the minister in
January, I would say that they will go where they need to go to get
the information they need in carrying out their duties. It could be
calling upon the NSA, but I can see the director of CSIS being called
forward, and it's the same thing for Commissioner Paulson, me, or
I will again repeat myself. They will go where their mandate
essentially allows them to go to get the information they need to
carry out their work.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: This is in keeping with my question
earlier to the minister about the ability to compel witnesses to come
and provide evidence to the statutory committee.
Mr. François Guimont: That's a question that will need to be
In the U.K., they have the power to compel, if I remember, but
they have been using an approach whereby in calling people to come
forward to the committee the individuals contribute or collaborate
quite freely.
That point will have to be discussed and decided by the
Mr. Marco Mendicino: Thank you very much.
Ms. Pam Damoff: On this International Women's Day, I want to
go back to Commissioner Paulson. We talked about putting women
in leadership in the RCMP. I appreciated your support that this needs
to happen if we're going to change the culture to create a healthy
workplace that is free from sexual harassment.
March 8, 2016
One of the things I had asked, and I might not have been clear
about, is that we need women to enter policing. You're doing some
promotion on that. We need them to remain in policing and also to
take on leadership roles.
I'll give you an example of one of the obstacles I've heard, which
is child care. For women, working shift work or working 12-hour
shifts when day cares are open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. makes it very
challenging to get into policing.
I'm wondering whether you need more funding to look at issues
like that: why women aren't entering and staying in policing, and are
there ways we can make it so they are able to both enter and stay in
the RCMP?
● (1250)
Commr Bob Paulson: That's an excellent question, and it's
something we've turned our mind to in the last several years as we've
tried to advance on the gender and respect issues that we've been
working on.
Just quickly, women have a retention rate in the force on par with
men up until 25 years. That doesn't answer your question, but it's
interesting that once they qualify for a pension, they leave. That
affects our ability to advance a greater cohort of women into the
executive and senior executive ranks.
Putting that aside for a second and going back to your question, in
terms of accommodating families, that's where our concentration is
now. In large urban centres where we have a sizeable representation,
that's not a problem. We—at least I and the senior executive—are
moving towards a more innovative approach to HR. For example,
job sharing has been something which women have raised with me,
and we're completely open to it. We need to get the mechanics and
the practical arrangements done, but the authorities are all there and
the support from senior management is there.
The challenge is in the more remote areas. We police, I think, 78%
of the geographic land mass of Canada, and in some very remote
circumstances. In terms of our postings and our policies around
postings, it presents a challenge. We'll have a two-person
detachment, and it can be very difficult for families.
We're completely open to innovative approaches. Do we need
more money for HR practices? Yes, we absolutely do. We are
embarking on our review—the minister referred to it briefly—of our
funding demands, and it is being put out to contract as we speak.
That will provide an opportunity for the government to understand
how to rightsize the RCMP.
Ms. Pam Damoff: I suspect that in remote areas, getting the right
people, whether they're men or women, is a challenge because of
those families.
Commr Bob Paulson: Right.
Ms. Pam Damoff: So you're really limiting who is able to take
those postings because it would only be certain people with certain
family situations who could do that.
Commr Bob Paulson: Right.
Ms. Pam Damoff: Okay, thank you. I think that's my time.
The Chair: That's your time, and that will end our questioning.
March 8, 2016
I have three questions for the committee members.
You have in front of you the list of the 12 requests regarding
voting on the supplementary estimates. Do I have unanimous
consent that we will agree to them as they are stated, or would you
prefer to vote on them one at a time?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: It's okay to accept them. Are they accepted then
An hon. member: On division.
Vote 1c—Operating expenditures..........$43,936,130
Vote 5c—Capital expenditures..........$8,960,703
(Votes 1c and 5c agreed to on division)
Vote 1c—Program expenditures..........$1
(Vote 1c agreed to on division)
Vote 1c—Operating expenditures, grants and contributions..........$1,788,446
Vote 5c—Capital expenditures..........$2,311,554
(Votes 1c and 5c agreed to on division)
Vote 1c—Program expenditures ..........$299,150
(Vote 1c agreed to on division)
Vote 1c—Operating expenditures..........$1
Vote 5c—Grants and contributions..........$1
(Votes 1c and 5c agreed to on division)
Vote 1c—Operating expenditures..........$71,330,241
Vote 5c—Capital expenditures..........$26,020,296
Vote 10c—Grants and contributions..........$6,600,000
(Votes 1c, 5c and 10c agreed to on division)
Vote 1c—Program expenditures..........$270,262
(Vote 1c agreed to on division)
The Chair: The second question is, shall I report the
supplementary estimates (C) 2015-16 to the House?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: The third question—I was waiting until one of the
members requested this—is with respect to lunch. I believe in public
disclosure on this. We have not been serving lunch to the committee,
even though we are over the lunch hour, and I just wanted....
Is there general agreement that we should have sandwiches and
soup available over the lunch hour? Is there unanimous consent for
this? Are we all agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: I think that is all the business. I'll just remind the
committee that we will begin our study on PTSD/OSI on Thursday.
We'll have a brief agenda committee meeting before then to go over
the witnesses beyond Thursday.
The meeting is adjourned.
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