Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Thursday, May 7, 2015 Chair

Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Thursday, May 7, 2015 Chair
Standing Committee on Public Safety and
National Security
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Mr. Daryl Kramp
Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security
Thursday, May 7, 2015
● (0845)
The Chair (Mr. Daryl Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings,
CPC)): Good morning, colleagues.
Welcome to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and
National Security. This is meeting number 68. Today the meeting is
Pursuant to Standing Order 81(4), the main estimates 2015-2016,
we'll be examining votes 1 and 5 under the Canada Border Services
Agency; vote 1 under the Canadian Security Intelligence Service;
vote 1 under the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for
the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; votes 1 and 5 under the
Correctional Service of Canada; vote 1 under the Office of the
Correctional Investigator; vote 1 under the Parole Board of Canada;
votes 1 and 5 under Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness;
votes 1, 5, and 10 under the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; vote 1
under the Royal Canadian Mounted Police External Review
Committee; and vote 1 under the Security Intelligence Review
Committee. Of course, this was referred to this committee on
Tuesday, February 24, 2015.
Appearing with us today are a number of departmental officials as
well as the minister. I will list them.
We have, of course, the minister, the Honourable Steven Blaney,
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
Our other witnesses are as follows: from the Department of Public
Safety and Emergency Preparedness, François Guimont, deputy
minister; from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Mr. Bob
Paulson, commissioner; from the Canada Border Services Agency,
Luc Portelance, president; from the Correctional Service of Canada,
Don Head, commissioner; from the Canadian Security Intelligence
Service, Michel Coulombe, director; from the Parole Board of
Canada, Mr. Harvey Cenaiko, chairman; from the Civilian Review
and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police, Ian McPhail, chair; and, from the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police External Review Committee, Ms. Elizabeth M. Walker, chair.
We welcome all our witnesses. We thank you very much for being
here today while we do our preliminary examination of the
We will now open the floor to Minister Blaney.
Your opening comments, please, sir.
Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness): Thank you very much, Chair Kramp, and I also
want to thank you for recognizing the members of the Canadian
safety community who are accompanying me this morning.
Of course, there is one simple reason why I am here today. It's to
seek your support for allowing the resources necessary for this safety
community to pursue its mission throughout the year.
In a more administrative sense, I am here to seek your support in
the context of your study of the main estimates 2015-16 and of the
Public Safety portfolio, as well as to answer your questions in the
first hour. Experts will answer your questions in the second half of
this meeting.
First things first, Mr. Chair. I want to thank all the members of this
important committee for their important work over the course of the
last week and the last month in their study of three major and
significant pieces of legislation, the first one being the protection
from terrorists act. Next is the anti-terrorism act, and I am thankful
for the support we got in the House of Commons yesterday. The
common sense firearms licensing act should also be on the floor very
The Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act received royal
assent on April 23 and represents the first major changes in three
decades to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act. Basically,
its purpose was to clarify the powers of the Canadian Security
Hon. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.): On a point of order, Mr.
Chair, does the minister have prepared remarks? I see that he's
reading from a document.
We expect the volunteers to come before the committee, Mr.
Chair, and we like to see the remarks so we can follow along. I see
no reason, with the reams of staff the minister has, why he can't
come with a prepared text for the committee.
● (0850)
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Easter. Of course, we've heard on a
number of occasions your comments on this matter.
Ms. Ablonczy, on the same point.
Hon. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, CPC): Mr. Chair,
when Mr. Easter was a minister he never provided written remarks. I
suggest that he put his listening ears on and follow along, like
everyone else has done over the years.
Mr. Wayne Easter: Mr. Chair—
The Chair: Thank you. That will be the end of that conversation.
Thank you, Mr. Easter.
You have the floor now, Mr. Blaney. Carry on, sir.
Hon. Steven Blaney: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As I was saying, the Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act
aims to clarify the powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence
Service, in other words to confirm that CSIS has the capacity to act
outside the country and to exchange information with our allies,
which is especially important in the context of individuals who travel
outside the country for terrorist purposes.
This first element provides legal clarification. It confirms the
existing power of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to carry
out activities abroad and to protect its informers and its employees.
This was the first significant law, but there were gaps to be filled,
which is why our government introduced a second bill in 2015
dealing with our anti-terrorism measures, in order to provide tools to
not only the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, but also the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other departments and federal
organizations to break this silo culture that exists in federal agencies
when it comes to sharing information on national security.
The measures that were passed yesterday in the House of
Commons and that will soon go before the Senate will enable the
government to reduce the threat specifically in the case of jihadist
terrorist activities before they manifest themselves. We will be able
to intervene at the start of the process, particularly in the context of
radicalization, for instance, by criminalizing the promotion of
terrorism in general and by being able to shut down websites
containing terrorist propaganda. Obviously, we are going to prevent
radicalized individuals from leaving Canada to take part in terrorist
activities. We are well aware of the growing number of Canadians
who may wish to leave the country to commit terrorist acts.
I also want to point out that in the 2015 budget, which was tabled
just a few weeks ago, our government is committing to increasing
national security resources by close to $300 million, especially for
the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police, as well as the Canada Border Services Agency.
Another important thing to note in the budget is that the Canadian
Security Intelligence Service watchdog, the review committee, will
see its budget doubled in order to enhance its surveillance of our
security agency.
The third bill, the common sense firearms licensing act, as you
know, will provide safe and sensible firearms policies for Canadians.
You have reviewed this bill already.
May 7, 2015
The goal is simple. As you know, it's to remove red tape while
keeping Canadians safe from gun crime. As Greg Farrant of the
Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters said, this bill:
...proposes reasonable amendments to...the Criminal Code that make sense, that
eliminate red tape, and introduce additional public safety measures. It does not
make guns easier to get. It does not allow firearms owners to transport them at
will wherever they want, and it does not put guns in the hands of the “wrong
On the contrary, Mr. Chairman, as you know, anyone who is
convicted of domestic violence will see their licence removed. We
are also reinforcing the capability for the CBSA to exchange
information with the RCMP so that we have better control and can
restrict the importation, particularly in the case of illegal firearms.
We are making mandatory training for anyone who is willing to
possess or acquire a firearm.
● (0855)
There was a major development over the winter in our relationship
with the Americans in terms of reinforcing our security measures and
the fluidity at the border as part of the “Beyond the Border”
I had the privilege of signing a customs pre-clearance agreement
with the U.S. Secretary of State, Jeh Johnson, in Washington. It was
one of the pillars of the “Beyond the Border” agreement, and we
have now accomplished this important step. I tabled the agreement
before Parliament when I returned from Washington.
The agreement is based on the success of existing pre-clearance
operations. It has been around for over 60 years in the airline
industry. These operations paved the way for customs pre-clearance
for land, rail and maritime transport. So it is an important step that
will help us improve the fluidity of transportation and movement of
goods and people at the border, while reinforcing security
As part of our efforts to protect Canadians from violent crime, we
recently introduced the life means life act to ensure that a life
sentence means life in prison.
As you can see, our government has one priority, which is to keep
Canadians safe. This has been a consistent theme for our government
since we were elected in 2006. This commitment to protecting
Canadians is reflected in the main estimates for 2015-16.
The total amount that you are studying this morning is $8.5 billion
for the fiscal year. This is an increase of about 1% in expenditures
over last year. I would like to provide you with the key points.
May 7, 2015
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service is requesting
$537 million for 2015-16 to ensure national security. The Canada
Border Services Agency is seeking a total of approximately
$1.8 billion, an increase of 2.2%. Mr. Portelance will be able to
explain how he intends to invest those amounts. There are major
capital projects to improve the physical facilities and to enable a
faster flow of passengers through our border crossings.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is at the heart of our plan
and plays an important role in managing border security. With the
$2.6 billion requested for the fiscal year, the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police will continue to integrate its commitments when it
comes to implementing legislation related to cross-border activity
within the “Beyond the Border” agreement signed by
President Obama and our Prime Minister Harper.
As you know, the Correctional Service of Canada contributes to
public safety by making sure that the correctional system actually
corrects criminal behaviour. To perform this vital function, the
Correctional Service of Canada is seeking total funding of
approximately $2.4 billion for the coming fiscal year. This represents
an increase of approximately 1% over the last fiscal year.
My colleague who is with me today, Mr. Guimond, is the Deputy
Minister of Public Safety. He coordinates all public safety operations
with the agencies, but also those that relate to natural disasters. He is
seeking funding of approximately $1.2 billion for the 2015-16 fiscal
year, which is an increase of 2.5% over the previous fiscal year.
It is worth noting that this request from Public Safety Canada is an
increase of $86.4 million, but that it affects the disaster financial
assistance arrangements, so that in 2015-16 we expect to transfer
$848 million to the provinces that were hit with natural disasters.
These amounts will make it possible to meet existing and future
obligations to communities seriously affected by flooding and other
natural disasters.
● (0900)
Mr. Chair, you will probably remember that in January, our
government announced a modernization of the disaster financial
assistance agreement, which adjusts the eligibility threshold to take
into account inflation and ensure the program's financial viability.
This also includes additional measures for the national disaster
mitigation program. The goal is to support the provinces in their
projects to reduce the impact of natural disasters.
It is also important to keep in mind that the fixed maximum rate of
90% for large-scale disasters is maintained. Our government is there
to help. In early April, I invited the provinces to submit projects to
reduce natural disasters and their impact, especially with respect to
flood risks. It may include measures and studies relating to flood
To conclude, I am pleased to present to you today an impressive
track record realized by our agencies. I will be pleased to answer
your questions. Obviously, these are large amounts, but they are
necessary to ensure the safety of Canadians. I would like to assure
you that this money is being well used by the representatives of our
agencies. I would like to congratulate them on the important work
they have done over the year, during which they have been
particularly called upon, and I'm thinking about what happened just a
few metres from here.
Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Minister Blaney.
We will now go to the rounds of questioning. We will start with
Mr. Norlock, please.
You have seven minutes.
Mr. Rick Norlock (Northumberland—Quinte West, CPC):
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and, through you, to the witnesses,
particularly the minister, for appearing today.
Minister, in your opening remarks you mentioned the additional
fiscal room, particularly around the $300 million in budget 2015,
which will be going towards national security measures. I'm
wondering if you could expand on that a little by talking about the
fiscal support and what that enables in terms of the tools and the
additional support our security agencies need to do their jobs.
Hon. Steven Blaney: Thank you, Mr. Norlock. As you are a
former police officer, your support at this committee is appreciated.
We've seen over the last months an increased demand for tracking
of individuals who would be willing to travel abroad to commit
terrorist attacks or to do so on our soil. We've heard loud and clear
from both Commissioner Paulson and the head of our intelligence
agency that they have had to temporarily reallocate resources related
to tackling that threat.
That's why in the budget we are providing additional resources to
recognize the fact that while there is a terrorist threat in this country,
there are other issues that need to be addressed. We are well aware of
the role of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, our national police.
They are dealing with organized crime, money laundering, and
drugs. They have a large mandate. We have to make sure they are
fulfilling their mandate in all their capacities as well our intelligence
service. That's why there is a provision of $300 million in the
You may also notice, as I've mentioned in my remarks, that we are
increasing the funding of the watchdog for the intelligence agency,
which will increase and expand their capability to monitor the work
of our intelligence agency, as they've done over the last 30 years.
But there is also funding for increasing security for the
parliamentary precinct. As you know, there has been a motion,
voted on by both the House of Commons and the Senate, to invite
the RCMP to coordinate the security activity here on the Hill. This
again is a great outcome and will ensure there are no silos among
different security agencies here on the Hill. That will be
implemented in the coming year.
So there is funding for the RCMP, the CBSA, and the agency in
terms of security, and there is additional funding for the
parliamentary precinct.
Also, we don't want to neglect the increasing threat our country is
facing in terms of cybersecurity. That's why in the budget there is
additional funding for increasing the capability of the government to
protect itself from cyber-attacks.
Also, to be able to keep on reaching out to industries, I am cochairing with our deputy minister and with former minister John
Manley in working with the executive officers of many major
telecommunications companies and those in the banking industry.
We need to make sure that Canadian industries are protected from
cyber-attacks that would try to paralyze our systems or do espionage.
That's why we are increasing funding in the cyber-strategy that we
introduced already a few years ago: we feel there's a growing need to
be filled.
In a nutshell, there's $300 million for increasing public funding for
our security agencies and for increasing the security for the
parliamentary precinct, and there's also additional funding for
● (0905)
Mr. Rick Norlock: Thank you very much, Minister.
Perhaps I could change topics a bit. You mentioned, of course, in
addition to your previous remarks, the national disaster mitigation
program. As we know, in many areas, and in particular in western
Canada, there was some major flooding. I wonder if you could talk
about the proactive or preventative program—because it makes a lot
of sense—and how it should help the provinces plan for future
events and mitigate damages.
Hon. Steven Blaney: It's fairly simple. In 1970 the government
introduced to the provinces a program to support local communities
faced with flooding and natural disasters, whether they be in Alberta,
the Atlantic provinces, or Quebec. This funding has some
mechanisms that can provide, in the case of a large disaster, up to
90% of the cost of the natural disaster.
What happened, actually, is that the program had not been
modified or updated since 1970. What we realized is that $1 in 1970
is now worth $6 today. There was a disproportionate contribution, I
would say, from the federal government when compared to the
original concept at the time the program was launched, so what we
did is increase it. We actually took half of the indexation. We are
now at $3 instead of being at the actual current value, which would
be $6. We've gone halfway. We've put what was $1 in 1970 up to $3
now, which would in fact be $6, and from now on it will be indexed.
This is to ensure the sustainability of the program.
Also, In the meantime, we've launched our mitigation program,
which is providing funding for all provinces and territories up to
$200 million. It is there to help build the intelligence and the
knowledge in order to be better prepared for natural disasters. We are
also reaching out to the private sector. We are seeing very nice
initiatives now, such as in Alberta, where some private insurance
companies are beginning to offer private flood insurance.
There are a lot of things happening in that field. We are willing to
keep a leading role by providing funding and working with the
provinces and territories to shift from fixing what is broken to
preventing those natural disasters from having costly impacts on
infrastructure by mitigating and preventing these impacts.
May 7, 2015
● (0910)
The Chair: Thank you, Minister.
Mr. Garrison, you have seven minutes, please.
Mr. Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, NDP):
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you very much to you, Minister, and to your officials, for
being present today on this important topic.
I want to begin by raising an urgent public safety issue on behalf
of Ms. Sims, the member for Newton—North Delta, and Mr.
Sandhu, the member for Surrey North. Unfortunately, because of
scheduling conflicts, neither could be here this morning.
The concern is that as of May 6, there have been 25 shootings in 8
weeks in the municipality of Surrey. Residents there are asking
where the federal government is on this. If I may, I will read briefly
from statement by Ms. Sims. She said:
This is going to take all three levels of government working together. ...All I know
is I live in a community where seniors are scared, families are scared and there isn’t
any part of Surrey where people feel safe right now.
Mr. Minister, Mr. Sandhu has asked you twice in the House for
commitments for federal action on this urgent crisis in Surrey, so I'm
going to ask you again this morning. Do you have a timetable or will
you make a commitment for meeting the request of the municipality
of Surrey for more officers, more RCMP officers? Secondly, will
you make a commitment today that there will be more money put
into anti-gang strategies to help combat the plague of gun violence in
urban areas?
Hon. Steven Blaney: Thank you for your question, Mr. Garrison.
I was on the streets of Surrey last year. I did a tour with an RCMP
officer in some troubling areas of Surrey. At the same time, I was
impressed to see how the community is reacting to this important
challenge of making their community safer.
As you know, since 2006 our government has been committed to
tackling violent crimes and gang violence. You may be aware that
more than 30 bills and measures have been undertaken, especially on
drive-by shootings, which is a factor and is an important measure in
terms of increased mandatory minimum sentences.
The first pillar of our approach is to strengthen the tools that our
police officers have to tackle gang violence. Mr. Sandhu was given
the opportunity to support those measures in the House and
unfortunately we did not benefit from his support, but I'm glad that
I was able to move forward—my predecessor was as well—on those
important measures by the Conservatives.
That being said, it is the first pillar. We have also invested more
than $3 million in the community of Surrey to prevent youth from
being radicalized. We have put in place our national crime
prevention strategy that has proven to be effective in its results.
We are always looking at opportunities to work with the community
and the provincial government to increase the measures that are
taking place to reduce gang violence.
May 7, 2015
I've also met with member of Parliament Nina Grewal, who is the
member from Surrey. I've met with community leaders. Once again,
I cannot stress enough how this community is getting involved in
making their community safer by supporting the efforts of the police.
Third and lastly, and as important as the two other pillars, we are
also working with the Government of British Columbia and the City
of Surrey to provide more boots on the ground. I've been working on
this issue with the commissioner. He's been a great support.
These are the three measures we have taken. I would suggest to
your colleague and you that one way to make sure that we are able to
continue to support the community of Surrey is by supporting the
budget, in which there is $300 million. This funding will be allocated
to terrorism, will relieve the RCMP from the reallocation of
resources, and will also make it easier to send more police officers
into the streets of Surrey.
Mr. Randall Garrison: With respect, Mr. Minister, there's still no
commitment there for anything specific for this urgent crisis in
Since you raised the general question of resources, I want to turn
to what I really believe is a sleight of hand that you're playing with
the budget here. You talk about more resources being available. In
fact, you appeared before us in 2012 and very proudly talked about
cuts of $195 million that you would make to the RCMP. Those cuts
went ahead.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Mr. Minister, once again, as I've said,
they can't both be true. You can't have made cuts of $200 million to
the RCMP and call it an increase. It's simply not true.
Hon. Steven Blaney: Mr. Garrison, I ask you to take a look at the
2006 budget compared to this one. There has been an increase of
over 30%. That's the reality. The reality is that we have invested in
improving security. I will also tell you frankly that we are not going
to hide to carry out a rationalization exercise. Remember,
Mr. Garrison, that we are here to manage taxpayers' money. It is
important that they get something for their money, and the best way
to do that is with rationalization. That's what the RCMP did but, at
the same time, there is a budgetary increase.
When it comes time to vote, I encourage you to support the budget
to provide more resources to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
and to our security system.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister.
We will now go to Ms. James for seven minutes, please.
Ms. Roxanne James (Scarborough Centre, CPC): Thank you,
Mr. Chair.
In this year's estimates for 2015 to 2016, the budget for the RCMP
is actually down slightly, and that's down almost $200 million on
cuts that you previously made. When you talk about adding money
back in the new budget, you're talking about something four years
off. In 2015-16, there's only $57 million dollars for terrorism. Even if
all of that went to the RCMP, it's still $150 million short of where it
was when you began your cuts to the RCMP, so I think it's quite
disingenuous to talk about new resources.
Thanks to you, Minister, as well as the representatives from each
of the agencies, for appearing today.
You mentioned CSIS. You say that the budget for CSIS will be up.
In 2015-16, it is indeed up by some $17 million; however, in 2012,
you began implementation of cuts of $24.5 million. That still leaves
CSIS $17 million below where it was in 2012.
I'm a bit concerned that there are still people—maybe members of
Parliament, even some of those who are on this committee—who
cannot come to terms with the fact that terrorism is a real threat to
Canada. During Bill C-51 testimony, we heard from many credible
witnesses from our security agencies, including some who are here
sitting beside you, who talked about the fact that the threat of
terrorism is real, that it has evolved, and that it is a growing problem
here in Canada and around the world.
I can't see how you can have it both ways. You can't have made
significant budgetary savings and say you're putting in new
resources at the same time. The two can't both be true.
● (0915)
The Chair: Very briefly, please, Minister.
Hon. Steven Blaney: Once again, we've increased the budget of
the RCMP seven times over the course of the last decade. Since we
got into power, there was an increase of one third. That's the reality.
There is an increase this year of $2.6 billion.
Once again, the best way for the New Democrats to support more
resources is to support the current budget in which there is additional
funding for the RCMP.
The Chair: Thank you, Minister.
You have about 15 seconds, Mr. Garrison.
First of all, Minister, in your opening remarks, you mentioned Bill
C-44 receiving royal assent. As well, congratulations on having Bill
C-51 pass through the House last night on the vote. I'm very pleased
to see that as well.
Add to this the fact that during debate in the House on Bill C-51,
one member of the NDP referred to the attacks of October 22 that
left one member of the Canadian Armed Forces dead—and of course
one was an attack here in Parliament—as merely “an unfortunate
incident”. As we talk about terrorism, I want to get your opinion on
why you feel that Bill C-51 is so important and on the fact that
Canadians should be listening to the credible witnesses who deal in
areas of intelligence gathering and law enforcement, and to those
who have studied terrorism, as opposed to the opposition party.
Hon. Steven Blaney: Thank you very much, Ms. James. If I may,
I will answer in my mother tongue.
I had the opportunity to meet the sister of Warrant Officer
P a t r i c e Vi n c e n t a n d a l l o f h i s f a m i l y m e m b e r s .
Prime Minister Harper invited his mother and members of his
family to Ottawa to present them with the flag that was flying atop
the Peace Tower on October 20, the day Mr. Vincent was hit by a
vehicle driven by an individual.
The members of the committee must remember this because they
were there when Patrice Vincent's sister, Louise Vincent, came to
testify. She told this same committee that she deeply believed that,
with the measures adopted last night, the perpetrator of this horrible
act, Martin Couture-Rouleau, would have been behind bars and her
brother would still be alive. At that time, she encouraged committee
members to support Bill C-51, which aims to provide additional
tools to our police forces.
A few days after the attack, the President of France, Mr. Hollande,
visited Ottawa. He clearly described both acts that took place in
Canada as terrorist acts. We had a visit from the U.S. Secretary of
State, John Kerry, who described with no hesitation the acts that took
place here as terrorist acts.
As I often say, we have to call a spade a spade. What is a terrorist
act? Under the Criminal Code, the definition of a terrorist act is,
above all, a dramatic gesture that attacks the authorities. It is
ideologically or politically motivated and is also a violent act. Those
three elements describe the attack that took place in Saint-Jean-surRichelieu and the attack by the individual who roamed these halls on
October 22, 2014.
I would appeal to the intellectual honesty of the individuals taking
part in the debate. We need to rely on the facts and recognize the
reality for what it is. In fact, there is a danger in not recognizing the
reality for what it is. If we do not make the right diagnosis, we
cannot provide the right solutions.
That is what our government, the Department of Justice, the
Department of Public Safety and all the agencies have tried to do in
preparing the anti-terrorist measures that were tabled in the House at
the start of the year. If I may, I would like to quote an Ontario court
judge who described the work that is being done. It is important to
mention it because the Canadian Security Intelligence Service works
in the shadows. We never have an opportunity to tell them that they
are doing important work and that they are saving lives.
There is a lot of fuss, a lot of brouhaha. At some point, we need to
take the time to thank the people who make sure that we can drive
our children to daycare, do our grocery shopping in peace and do our
jobs. That is what these people do. The judge was talking about a 34year-old individual who was found guilty of a terrorist act.
● (0920)
Here's what she said about the terrorist:
You are now a convicted terrorist. ...You have betrayed the trust of your
government and your fellow citizens. You have effectively been convicted of treason,
an act that invites universal condemnation among sovereign states throughout the
But here's what she had to say about the work of our Canadian
Security Intelligence Service. The evidence presented in court
indicated that the men were seeking to establish a functional terrorist
May 7, 2015
cell in Canada. They might have succeeded if not for—to quote the
judge—“the vigilant and tireless” work of our national security
When do we take the time to thank those who are keeping us safe?
The judge did it when she gave that sentence to that individual who
was trying to harm other Canadians.
So to answer your question, the first duty of a government is to
protect its citizens. This is what I would say we are able to achieve
with your support, Madam James, for which I thank you, and with
the support of your colleagues and the support of those who have
supported this bill, including Mr. Easter here, who yesterday voted in
favour of the bill.
I want to thank you because I believe that this is important
legislation that will enable us to fill those gaps that were exploited by
terrorists to harm other Canadians.
The Chair: Thank you, Minister. The time is up now.
We will go to Mr. Easter, please, for 10 minutes.
Hon. Wayne Easter: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Welcome, Minister and officials.
First, Mr. Minister, while we agree with more money for the
Security Intelligence Review Committee, I would strongly disagree
with your statement that it is oversight. It is not. It's after-the-fact
review. I think the government has failed the country miserably by
not providing proper parliamentary oversight to the combination of
security agencies that we have in this country, as all our Five Eyes
partners have. I strenuously disagree with you on your point on
SIRC. It's not oversight.
We're here to talk about the estimates, but one of the problems
with the government budgets that we're seeing from this government
is that even though you allocate moneys in your budget, and it passes
this committee and Parliament, it doesn't mean it's real money if
what happened last year is any indication. Last year, it seems to me
—and Randall went through the lapses in the funding—there were
lapses to the RCMP and there were lapses in terms of the spending
with regard to CSIS, the Correctional Service of Canada, the Canada
Border Services Agency, and the list goes on.
This wording may be a little too strong, but I'll put the question to
you this way. It seems to me that last year the minister quietly
whispered in the ear of agency heads and asked them to kick back
some money to the consolidated revenue fund. Is that going to
happen again or is this real money?
● (0925)
Hon. Steven Blaney: I thank you for your question, Mr. Easter.
While I recognize your support yesterday of the important antiterrorism measures, I strongly disagree with your view of the state of
our intelligence community.
In terms of review and oversight, let me take this opportunity to
clearly state the difference between oversight and review. On the side
of oversight, Mr. Easter, you may be well aware that CSIS itself has
an oversight mechanism of its activities that are monitored and
supervised by Public Safety. They are to have an oversight of their
activity, as I am.
May 7, 2015
That being said, as you know, there are already existing
provisions, but there are also provisions in the bill you supported
which provide that every time the intelligence agency infringes on
the rights of Canadians, they have to seek consent from the Attorney
General and the Department of Justice, and also seek a warrant from
a judge. This is the robust mechanism we have in place for oversight.
Let me remind you that, to my knowledge, we are the only country
for which, in terms of disrupting threats, CSIS, our Canadian
intelligence agency, will have to seek a warrant from a judge. This is
not happening in other legislation. That is it for robust oversight.
In terms of review, you are right to say that the Security
Intelligence Review Committee is doing its job. I would quote for
you the director himself, who acknowledged that to have this
distance from the ongoing activity gives them more latitude and
enables them to do a better job of reviewing the activity of our
intelligence agency. As you know, the Auditor General can do
review activity at any time, as can the Privacy Commissioner. The
Supreme Court itself—this is why I've been saying that SIRC is a
Canadian model that is the envy of the world—is saying that SIRC is
establishing this balance between procedural rights and privacy and
also the national security issue.
Just to conclude, if I may, because this goes right to your question
Hon. Wayne Easter: Mr. Chair, I think the minister is limited to
the same amount of time that the question was, and I think he's over
that time.
I do have a question to—
● (0930)
The Chair: You have the right to interfere.
Hon. Wayne Easter: I have a question for Commissioner
Paulson. I know that the commissioner is in a somewhat difficult
One, you're responsible to the rank and file in terms of their
training and equipment and the force as a whole. Also, you have
some responsibility to the government not to complain, I guess, that
the government's not giving you enough money, but I believe that
the responsibility to the rank and file is paramount.
You're aware no doubt, Commissioner, of the Global Television
16X9 documentary called “Under Fire”. It raised serious questions
about proper training and about equipment being provided by the
RCMP, etc. Answers haven't been forthcoming.
I can tell you that in my office we've received a lot of e-mails from
the rank and file that worry me. One of them is that although the
RCMP had indicated long ago that they would be rolling out the
carbine program—we'll not get into the details of the Moncton
The Chair: Very briefly, to allow time for the answer.
responsibility in terms of criminals. Has that situation been redressed
now? Is there enough money in this budget to redress that situation?
The Chair: Very briefly, Mr. Paulson. I'm so sorry, but Mr. Easter
has used up most of the time.
Commissioner Bob Paulson (Commissioner, Royal Canadian
Mounted Police): Okay. Thank you for the time, Mr. Chair.
We still have the reallocation of resources to address the highestpriority most threatening files. We are managing that day to day.
Nothing has changed from when I last spoke about that.
Let me go back to your previous question about the 16X9
program. You characterized a cascading series of responsibilities,
and you left out Canadians in there. I view my primary responsibility
as keeping Canadians safe, along with the rest of the employees, the
“rank and file”, as you put it.
That story raised some issues around equipment and around
training, sensationalized around the Moncton murders, which was
offensive in some respects. It spoke of officers bringing their own
weapons to work and so on. I'm not aware of any of those instances.
The carbine program is rolling out. We have over 2,200 weapons
rolled out. It's rolled out on a purposefully risk-assessed framework
that is being cautious around putting these—effectively—assault
rifles into the hands of our police officers, recognizing that there's a
need for our officers to have that kind of arming, but with conditions,
policies, and guidelines around the use of that. That is progressing on
We've made commitments in respect of the MacNeil report on the
Moncton case. We're meeting those commitments. Hard body
armour has been deployed on a wide basis. Cars have hard body
armour in them. Members need to know how to put it on. In the
Moncton case, that was widely available.
We continue to work on our training and we continue to work on
our equipment, but I am very concerned about the safety of
Canadians, our members, and working with government.
The Chair: Thank you, Commissioner Paulson.
Ms. Doré Lefebvre, you have five minutes.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre (Alfred-Pellan, NDP): Thank you
very much, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Wayne Easter: Can you respond to that program in terms of
training and equipment that rank-and-file RCMP members think
you're short of?
I would like to thank all the witnesses and the minister for being
here today to answer our questions.
Secondly, you indicated before the committee last time that you'd
moved 600 resources to anti-terrorism from other areas of federal
My first question is for the Minister of Public Safety, Mr. Blaney.
It has to do with pardon applications.
Pardon applications have piled up over the past few years because
the Parole Board of Canada, the PBC, doesn't have the resources
needed to process them. You are probably aware of the issue. We're
talking about thousands of applications that have accumulated, and
the situation isn't changing. A PBC spokesperson mentioned that she
wouldn't be able to allocate the resources required in 2015-16 to
process all the pardon applications that have been pending for
several years.
As you know, this has a real impact on our communities, and also
on the efforts to socially reintegrate these individuals into our
communities. Some of these people are being asked to withdraw the
request and re-start the process whereas they have been waiting for
an answer for years. Moreover, there are fees involved in applying
for a pardon. There's no point in hiding it: often they are people with
low incomes and their applications, which are fairly expensive, must
be started over.
Does your government have a plan that would allow it to resolve
the situation as quickly as possible? This situation doesn't affect just
one riding. It's happening across the country.
Do you have a plan that would make it possible to grant resources
to the Parole Board of Canada to resolve the situation, which is
untenable for many individuals?
● (0935)
Hon. Steven Blaney: Thank you for your question,
Ms. Doré Lefebvre.
May 7, 2015
I know of another case involving Correctional Service of Canada
programs, and I would like to talk about it before this committee. I
will give you a brief overview.
There have been cuts to programs that are relatively important for
the social reintegration of our inmates. Unfortunately, it was
announced that these programs were going to be cut in the coming
months. The ones I'm thinking of include ARCAD, which has been
working with inmates for about 50 years, as well as support and
responsibility circles. They are concerned for their funding in the
coming years because it isn't recurring. They feel like they are
always walking a tightrope when it comes to this funding.
What is the situation for those particular programs? Will their
funding be renewed in the next few years? Cuts have been
announced in this regard.
Can we give them some good news today and tell them that their
funding won't be interrupted?
The Chair: You have 30 seconds.
Hon. Steven Blaney: Thank you, Ms. Doré Lefebvre. I am
always happy to answer your questions during committee meetings
or during question period in the House.
I am pleased to tell you this morning that the backlog of summary
convictions has been completely eliminated. It's important to note
that our government has, in a sense, modernized the criminal records
suspension process and that the user-pay principle has been
Your questions have to do with agreements between the
Correctional Service of Canada and non-profit organizations. The
Correctional Service of Canada establishes a balance between the
resources it already has internally to meet these needs and the
services provided by the organizations. Given that I don't have much
time, I will ask the commissioner to answer your question in the
second hour of the meeting.
That said, I must remind you of one thing.
I'm going to turn to Mr. Cenaiko, our director, but I just wanted to
mention this.
At one point, there was a backlog of over 30,000 applications,
which has been reduced by close to 25,000. Therefore, as we speak,
what is left to liquidate are the pardon applications for indictable
offences, since they are under the former system. There are a little
over 5,000 left. Mr. Cenaiko and his team confirmed that they had
the financial resources needed to continue to process this backlog
and that they truly intend to achieve that goal.
I will turn to Mr. Cenaiko for additional comments.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre: Mr. Cenaiko, I will come back to
you later because I would like to take advantage of the little time I
have to pester the minister with my questions. I don't want to be
impolite, but I have only a few minutes left. So I'll continue with
you, Mr. Minister.
Thank you for your answer. I greatly appreciate it.
The Chair: I'm sorry. Thank you very much. I apologize to Mr.
Cenaiko as well, but we're out of time on this. Perhaps on another
round you can make a response.
We will now go to Ms. Ablonczy for five minutes.
Hon. Diane Ablonczy: Thank you.
Thank you to everyone for appearing.
Minister, we thank you for your leadership during these troubled
times. I just read a recent article outlining jihadist training camps in
the Mexican desert, so threats are close to us and very mobile, and I
congratulate you on getting the new anti-terrorism bill through. I
know that it was a delicate balancing act, because we are very
determined to protect rights and freedoms in Canada but also to
protect our security.
During the debate on the anti-terrorism bill, I heard some
contradictory messages from the opposition. One was that this bill
would allow our security forces to spy on all Canadians, especially
peaceful protesters and so forth, but then also that our security forces
are underfunded and unable to do their job under the bill. I wonder if
you could comment on the enhanced funding for our security forces
in these main estimates.
May 7, 2015
● (0940)
Hon. Steven Blaney: I thank you for your question, Ms.
Ablonczy, and also for your keen interest in public safety.
Up front, I would like to reassure you. I've used the expression
“so-called experts” when we've talked about our anti-terrorism
measures. Why? Because anyone who dares to read the bill will see
that there are many provisions where the bill is in full compliance
with both the office and regulations regarding the privacy of
Canadians, and with the Charter of Rights. There are a lot of checks
and balances, as has been mentioned earlier, regarding seeking a
warrant and the consent of the Attorney General. There also have
been amendments to make it clear that in no possible or imaginary
way could a protester be targeted by this bill.
There's one thing that we have to be reminded of. This year is the
30th anniversary of CSIS. The director can comment about it. One
has to be well aware that intelligence officers are not law
enforcement and don't have the capability of making arrests or
detentions. It is in their genetic code. That being said, I want to
highlight the fact that you have made me aware of those intricacies
and links between organized crime, drug trafficking at the border,
and terrorism. This, I would say, is certainly an explosive and
dangerous cocktail. That is certainly a justification for ensuring that
our police officers and the CBSA have the resources they need to
keep our border safe and also to work with our partners.
As I've mentioned, there is a provision of $300 million in the
budget. I feel that this is needed regarding the threat we are facing,
and it's also making sure that we are not putting all our eggs in the
same basket. I don't know if this is an English expression, but it
certainly is one in French. That is why we need to keep an eye on all
the public safety challenges, but once again, terrorism remains the
national security priority.
Hon. Diane Ablonczy: Minister, you mentioned our border. We
are aware that the jobs and incomes of many Canadians are
impacted, either directly or indirectly, by the flow of goods and
services across our border with the United States. You have just
signed a preclearance agreement with the United States. It allows U.
S. border officers to carry firearms on Canadian soil, and there have
been concerns raised about that. I would like you to comment on this
new agreement with the U.S. on preclearance.
Hon. Steven Blaney: I thank you for the question.
I can certainly reassure you. thanks to the excellent work of our
negotiator. The principle of reciprocity is embedded in the
agreement, which is in front of the House for in-depth examination.
Whatever privilege or mechanism is put in place for U.S. border
officers who would be in Canada is reciprocated for any Canadian
border officer who would be operating in the United States.
We also built on the long experience we have with the
preclearance mode at the airport, which I believe began in 1952.
We updated it, built on it, and that's what is in front of us. It is a
comprehensive agreement that includes rail, land, marine, and air
modes and was received favourably on both sides of the border.
We are also going to work at making the border less of a barrier
for trade, especially for what we call visas without.... We will allow
Canadian truckers to go into the United States and get back into
Canada to shorten their route without having to stop at the border.
There is a pilot project. The truckers are really pleased with it. This is
a demonstration of the CBSA working at making the border
smoother and more fluid for people who legally are just doing trade
and willing to increase our trade relationship with our U.S. partner.
● (0945)
The Chair: We have now finished our first hour.
Minister, thank you very much for attending. We will start our
second hour very shortly.
We will suspend for a few minutes.
● (0945)
● (0945)
The Chair: Colleagues, we are back. The chair would like to
advise the committee that we have both some challenges and
scheduling things that we have to deal with right away, in that the
chair of course is aware, as we all are, that we have potential votes
coming very shortly, which is going to mean that we do not have the
time that is necessary and/or allocated for the rest of our witnesses.
There are some options on the floor. The chair will outline three
options and wait for direction from the committee as to how it
wishes to proceed.
Number one, according to Standing Order number 115(5), when
the bells are sounded, we have the option of staying a little longer at
the discretion of the committee. It would take unanimous consent of
the committee to do so. Being as the votes are in Centre Block and
we are in Centre Block, this is a possibility you could consider.
The second issue is on the actual votes themselves, on the
estimates. There are 16 votes. They can be voted individually or they
can all be grouped. It would take unanimous consent to group them.
They do not have to be voted on today, but that is an option that is
before you.
The other issue is that we have other legislation that is coming
before the committee, and we said that we would set aside 10
minutes or so for committee business today to allow our schedule to
move forward at the next meeting.
Those are the issues that are before the committee right now. The
chair is asking for some direction as to which way you would wish to
First of all, let's take them point by point. The chair would like to
know whether or not you wish to proceed a few minutes after the
votes are called. I'm asking for direction on the first option.
Mr. Easter.
● (0950)
Hon. Wayne Easter: Mr. Chair, is it a half-hour bell? If it's a halfhour bell, there's no reason why we can't stay until we have five
minutes left on the bell.
The Chair: Yes. It's a half-hour bell.
Ms. James.
Ms. Roxanne James: I would ask for 10 minutes in case anyone
needs to visit the bathroom between voting, but I think we should be
able to continue going as long as possible.
The Chair: Would the chair have unanimous consent to move
forward and leave 10 minutes at the end?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Okay. That is done. We will add very close to 20
minutes, I would expect, once the bells go.
That is our first issue.
Now, we can continue with questioning today, and we can deal
with committee business near the end of this. The chair will allot five
minutes for committee business and leave 15. I throw that out on the
floor. I'm asking for a very quick deliberation. If I don't get any sense
of it, the chair will make an arbitrary decision, but I'm looking for
your input first.
Mr. Garrison.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Since we have both the question of
voting on the estimates here at the committee and committee
business, might I suggest that when the bells sound we move
immediately to voting on these and committee business?
The Chair: Ms. James.
Ms. Roxanne James: I'm okay with that.
The Chair: Mr. Easter.
Hon. Wayne Easter: Mr. Chair, there are some important
questions to be put to the heads of agencies here, and we really do
need an hour with them. If we don't have an hour today, I would
suggest that we find another hour somewhere else. We get more
answers from officials than we do from the minister. I think it's
important we spend as much time as we can with officials.
The Chair: Your point is taken, and I would certainly have to get
a motion to bring witnesses back if that were to be the case, but that
would of course come under committee business, so first of all we'd
have to get to committee business to discuss that.
Ms. James.
Ms. Roxanne James: Given that there's legislation that will be
coming to committee, we need to do committee business today. I
would suggest that when the bells ring and we go in camera to do the
committee business, we actually cover the committee business
portion first, and then go to the votes on the main estimates, because
those votes can occur, as you said, at any point. They do not
necessarily have to be done today.
The Chair: That's a reasonable suggestion. Are we comfortable
with that so that we may move on without delay?
Some hon. members: Yes.
The Chair: That's fine. Thank you very much. I do appreciate
We will now immediately open the floor to rounds with our
witnesses while we have them here.
Mr. Falk, you have the floor for five minutes.
Mr. Ted Falk (Provencher, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
May 7, 2015
Thank you to our witnesses for attending committee here this
I'd like to begin my questions with the RCMP commissioner.
Commissioner, we've seen some of the media articles regarding
some of the equipment that's offered to some of your members. I
know that you commented on it briefly during the time the minister
had with us here, but could you also perhaps correct the record for
some of the claims made about the equipment that the RCMP is
alleged to have been using?
● (0955)
Commr Bob Paulson: Okay. What I was referring to is that there
were some discussions in the media. I think they were actors
pretending to be police officers, who were speaking from transcripts.
I didn't see the show, but they were claiming to bring their own
weapons to work. That is not something I'm aware of, and were I to
become aware of it or were any of my supervisors or decisionmakers to become aware of it, we would act on it, which is not to say
that we're not mindful that our members need to be properly
equipped to do the job. In that regard, they are, and in that regard, we
continue to train them on various techniques that are evolving given
the threat Canadians are facing.
Mr. Ted Falk: Also, these main estimates do not include the
additional resources that were allocated in budget 2015. Could you
comment on these additional resources that will be allocated in
supplementary estimates (A)?
Commr Bob Paulson: Well, I know that there are this year's....
Well, I cannot, in fact. I'm not in a position to offer you any
elucidating info on that. I don't quite understand what you're driving
at. I'm sorry.
Mr. Ted Falk: One thing that I've noticed on many of the RCMP
vehicles is that you're always soliciting for people to consider the
RCMP as a source of employment and a career. Can you comment
briefly to the committee on whether you have the resources
necessary to attract people, to train people, and to retain people?
Commr Bob Paulson: Yes, we do.
The challenge in bringing the resourcing of the RCMP up to snuff,
to everybody's sense of snuff, is the idea that pressures are changing
all the time, but in terms of balancing the intake to Depot, with the
attrition that we forecast in the force balanced against real decisions
taken in the contracting jurisdictions about what money is available
—not just what hope and desire exist, but what money is being made
available to bring people in—then we secure and we ramp up our
intake at Depot.
For example, this year I think we're looking at close to 30 troops,
projecting attrition and growth within the contracts, so we need to
advertise. I know there is money being sought from the government
to help us with that. Our training capacity at Depot turns on the
number of cadets we're taking in. We also have some employment
equity issues to make sure that we're targeting the right people at the
right age and in the right areas of our country. All in all, it's a
complicated system, but it's functioning.
Mr. Ted Falk: And there are recruits available?
Commr Bob Paulson: Yes, there are recruits available.
May 7, 2015
I'll tell you, though, the recruits are available and the labour
market availability is strong, and we need to get the right people in
the organization, but we're competing with other police forces. While
we have no difficulty in bringing in people, neither do other police
forces have difficulty in attracting our officers once they're trained.
That is getting to be a little bit of an issue.
The Chair: You have one minute, Mr. Falk.
Mr. Ted Falk: Mr. Coulombe, I'd like to direct a question towards
Last night we voted on Bill C-51. We passed it in the House and
we moved it along to the Senate. You had a chance to speak to the
bill here at committee, as did another 48 other witnesses.
We heard from some groups that felt the bill was actually targeting
protestors instead of terrorists, that CSIS will become a secret police
organization through the information sharing act, and that spying on
protesters will happen.
I know that former assistant deputy Ray Boisvert testified at
committee and said people shouldn't be so flattered as to think
they're going to be targeted by the new measures in the bill. Can you
comment a little on that as well just to set the record straight?
The Chair: Very briefly, please.
Mr. Michel Coulombe (Director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service): As I testified before on Bill C-51, the info sharing
act, there's nothing hidden in there that changes the CSIS Act in
terms of the types of activities that we can or cannot investigate. In
the CSIS Act it's clear that lawful advocacy, protest, and dissent are
not something we can investigate unless it's done in the context of
using violence. Nothing in Bill C-51 changed that.
The Chair: Thanks very much.
Your time is over, Mr. Falk.
Mr. Garrison, you have five minutes.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I have two things I want to try to pursue here in five minutes or
less. We'll see if that's possible.
I want to ask Mr. Paulson this, because I believe the allocation for
enhancing national security falls largely in his purview, but if I'm
wrong, maybe the deputy minister can comment on this.
When you look at the estimates for 2015-16, you see that $18
million is allocated for countering terrorism. Who is eligible to
access that money and how will it be used? We met with the
Canadian Association of Police Governance, as I know many MPs
did, and the police boards at the municipal level, who bear a lot of
the front-line work in countering terrorism at the community level.
Their question was about whether any of this money is available to
them and, if so, how are they going to be able to access that money?
The “countering terrorism” money of almost $300 million the
minister refers to is of course over four years. This year, just $18
million is allocated. So who does it go to? Are municipalities eligible
for it? If so, how would they access that money?
That's for whichever of you, since we don't know who has the
● (1000)
Mr. François Guimont (Deputy Minister, Department of
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness): I'll take a stab at
this, Mr. Chair.
Public Safety runs the crime prevention strategy, for which we
have a budget allocation of $40 million. As you were asking the
question, I was trying to find the actual number.
This envelope exists, and this envelope is for crime prevention. It
has sub-elements to it. For instance, there's a sub-element related to
the gang-related types of activities and to prevention of crime in
youth, and these subcomponents, measured in millions—I don't have
the details here, but I will provide them to you—essentially are
available for proposals coming forward to be supported and then
approved by the minister.
Mr. Randall Garrison: But in your table 4.3.1, where it says
“Enhancing National Security” and “Countering Terrorism”, there's
an $18-million allocation. That's not the crime prevention fund. That
seems to be something else. It's not clear who has that money and
how it's being allocated.
Commr Bob Paulson: If I understand your question properly,
that money is coming through the budget in the phased-in of that
$300-plus million, right, so to the extent that we in the RCMP are
getting some of that money in the first year, recognizing the
ramping-up phase, we disburse that to our investigative resources in
the field. Our national security approach is built on integrated teams.
That's a long story to say, at least to my understanding, that there's
no direct path for municipalities to get that money. That's money
we're going to put in these integrated teams, which sometimes
members from those municipalities are partnered into. In that sense,
it's a very long way round to get money to them.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Thanks very much. They were concerned
that this was the case: that there was no allocation directly for them.
That's not to criticize any additional allocation for the RCMP. We all
know that there's a real threat of terrorism and that money is very
much needed.
I want to turn to Corrections. Given the report that we received
from the Auditor General—and I know that the members on the
other side have argued that the Auditor General should appear at the
public accounts committee and talk about Corrections—I'd like to
talk about that report here in this committee.
Again, looking directly at the main estimates, there's something
that is a little confusing to me. It says that the “Correctional
Interventions” budget from 2014-15 to 2015-16 will be reduced by
$50 million. That, I'm presuming, is the programming that goes on in
the correctional institutions. Then the second line there, “Community
Supervision”, is being increased by about the same amount of
Given the Auditor General's report, which says there's a problem
in getting people into community supervision that he thinks needs to
be investigated, I don't understand this allocation. If the blockage is
in the programming in the prison, then how will we be spending
more money in the community? Don't get me wrong: I think
spending more money in the community is the right thing to do.
Mr. Don Head (Commissioner, Correctional Service of
Canada): Thank you for the question.
The adjustment you see is actually a technical adjustment. What it
is is really a shift in where we account for the spending of resources
in relation to psychological services. There's actually no reduction in
services. It's an accounting under the sub-activities of the program
activity architecture.
The Chair: I'm sorry. Your five minutes are over. It goes so
quickly, Mr. Garrison.
Mr. Payne, you have five minutes.
● (1005)
Mr. LaVar Payne (Medicine Hat, CPC): Thank you, Chair.
Thanks to the witnesses for coming today.
I'll try to be brief.
My first question goes to Mr. Coulombe, director for CSIS.
There's certainly some additional funding, as I understand it, in the
estimates. I know that some of that funding is very delicate as to
where you might be spending it, so you won't be able to give us
directly where that's going, but I wonder if you could comment on
the value and purpose of the roughly $20 million in the 2015-16
Mr. Michel Coulombe: The vast majority of that money you see
in the main estimates is actually reprofiling of money for projects
that were delayed. The bulk of that $20 million—in fact, close to
over $19 million—is reprofiling of money.
Mr. LaVar Payne: I don't quite understand what that means, but
Mr. Michel Coulombe: It's money we have for specific projects,
such as infrastructure, for example, that were delayed. We're
reprofiling that money to this fiscal year.
Mr. LaVar Payne: Thank you.
My next question goes to Mr. Portelance, director for the CBSA.
Again, they have increased funding in the main estimates. The
minister did talk a bit about where some of that funding would be
going, but I wonder if you could give us any further detail.
Certainly I understand the strides that are being made on the
beyond the border action plan. Could you could update us on that?
Mr. Luc Portelance (President, Canada Border Services
Agency): Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the question.
The bulk of the money is going to be allocated towards
infrastructure technology and projects associated with beyond the
border action plan. Some of this is to refurbish major ports of entry.
Some will be going to technology at ports of entry, such as the
implementation of RFID. Some will be associated to trusted traders
programs, where we'll be adding lanes.
The majority of the funding is to enhance our ability not only to
secure the border but also to facilitate new technology and new
border infrastructure. Significant investments are being made in that
May 7, 2015
Mr. LaVar Payne: Thank you.
Mr. Portelance, the minister also made some comments on the
preclearance. I wonder if you have any other information that you'd
like to talk about in particular on the U.S. Customs and border
officers working in Canada. As I understand it, there's a regime so
that Canadians can work on U.S. soil as well. Could you update us
on that?
Mr. Luc Portelance: I think the greatest advantage—certainly for
the CBSA—associated with a preclearance agreement is that it paves
the way for meeting one of the key commitments of the beyond the
border action plan, which is to develop a preclearance operation in
Massena, New York. It's a key element of the CBSA's operations. As
the U.S. will have the opportunity to establish preclearance
operations in Canada, in a reciprocal way the CBSA will also be
able to position itself at a key location, which is Massena.
The preclearance agreement was a fundamental element towards
paving the way towards achieving that objective, and we're having
some good cooperative discussions right now with CBP, our U.S.
counterpart, to advance that initiative.
Mr. LaVar Payne: Thank you.
How much time do I have left, Chair?
The Chair: You have about a minute, sir.
Mr. LaVar Payne: That's perfect.
I'd like to go back to the director of CSIS. Certainly, I have had an
opportunity to read the public report on CSIS that was tabled
yesterday, and, as I understand it, terrorism continues to be the
highest national security threat. I wonder if you could comment on
that report.
Mr. Michel Coulombe: To be brief, I would qualify the terrorism
threat at this time as persistent and unparalleled, and the volume of
the tempo is something that we haven't seen before. That is
happening at a time when the other threat, cyber espionage, is also
increasing. It's a very challenging time in terms of the threats that
this country faces.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Payne. We will now go to
Mr. Easter.
You have five minutes, sir.
Hon. Wayne Easter: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'll turn to Commissioner Paulson again.
Commissioner, I am concerned about the answer that you gave to
a government member. You actually suggested that a major TV
network might use actors to make the point. I wonder if you might
want to rephrase that. I can tell you that since that program was on, I
have had a lot of emails, and I called back quite a number of people,
and I don't believe these folks are imitating something or not...and I
do believe what rank-and-file members feel is a lack of proper body
armour in some cases, a lack of weapons in another, and a lack of
training that is affecting morale. If it's a money issue, we as a
committee need to know about it.
Would you respond to that? I am concerned about that comment
you made.
May 7, 2015
● (1010)
Commr Bob Paulson: Okay. Well, I didn't see it, so let me say
that first of all. I didn't see the program. Somebody told me that there
were people who were representing members who were actors. I
don't know, so I probably shouldn't have said that.
What I will say about that is that, look, what I find disturbing is
not the members' characterization of the nature of the threat they face
and the way in which the organization prepares them to face that
threat. That's a fair conversation. We should have it and we do have
it every day. What I find troubling is the characterization of the
Moncton murders, the use of the Moncton murders, to represent a
shortfall and make a leap in analysis that I don't think is supported by
the facts. It's a very complex situation.
I think the report we did and the changes that we're bringing as to
how the organization is run is a transparent, full, thorough
accounting of shortcomings on the organization's part and a plan
to fix them. I just didn't think that was a fair characterization of the
Hon. Wayne Easter: I'll read you what one individual, an RCMP
dispatcher of eight years, said in a letter: “Members and staff have no
voices—our jobs are put on the line by speaking up and whistleblowing...”. They're thanking Global for producing that program. It's
Commr Bob Paulson: That's not true, Mr. Easter. Mr. Easter,
that's not true, and I have to stop you there, because people couch
these criticisms in the blanket of repercussions, and there are no
repercussions. What we are building—what I've built and what I
insist on having—is an organization where those conversations take
place without repercussions.
Hon. Wayne Easter: I think it's good that you make that point,
and any other calls I get, I'll—
Commr Bob Paulson: Refer them to me.
Hon. Wayne Easter: —make that point myself.
Another area related to the RCMP is that we're getting an awful lot
of complaints on security checks for jobs from people who can't get
the security checks and the criminal record checks, etc. through the
RCMP fast enough. You have employers wanting the employee, and
the potential employee is waiting for the record check. Where is that
at the moment? Why aren't the technology and human resources in
place to get this done fast?
Commr Bob Paulson: Thank you for that question.
The technology is, I'm happy to say, in place. What we need are
the users in the field, all of the police forces and agencies that are not
part of the RCMP, to subscribe to the idea that we're doing this realtime ID. This real-time ID system is an amazing piece of gear. It's
working. It's working for those people who have the equipment.
There is some upfront cost to getting that equipment, but when that
equipment is purchased—and we're in the new age of digital
communication—that is streamlining that process incredibly.
It's in place. Folks around the country need to subscribe to that
and we need to make that a reality.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Easter.
We will now go to Mr. Rousseau for a few minutes.
Mr. Jean Rousseau (Compton—Stanstead, NDP): Thank you
very much, Mr. Chair.
National safety in my riding is a big, big issue. I have seven points
of entry, Lake Memphremagog, militia training in the Appalaches,
and two RCMP offices, so it's a very big thing. Because I don't have
much time, I'll ask my question in French.
My question is for Mr. Portelance.
The budget indicates a decrease of $20 million resulting from the
gradual elimination of funding for front-line operations. What impact
will this decrease have on front-line operations? These small cuts
here and there are really worrying RCMP and Canada Border
Services Agency employees.
● (1015)
Mr. Luc Portelance: Thank you for that excellent question.
These funds will basically disappear. However, I am pleased to tell
you that this $20 million is included in the 2015 budget. So there
will be no changes in our front-line operations.
Mr. Jean Rousseau: Has it been a while since you've been to the
Beebe crossing in Stanstead? It's a little bit rustic and could really
use some renovations.
Mr. Luc Portelance: The other good news is that the 2015 budget
provides for major investments to that end. We are getting ready to
renovate and refit over 70 border crossings. I believe the Beebe
crossing is one of them, but don't quote me on that. We are going to
renovate most of the small and medium border crossings over the
next three years. We are well aware of the condition they're in.
Unfortunately, I've never been to Beebe.
Mr. Jean Rousseau: Beebe is where you're in the United States
on one side of the street, and in Canada on the other. It's unique.
Mr. Paulson, my question is for you.
There are two RCMP offices in my riding, one in Stanstead, which
has just been renovated, and another on Bourque Boulevard in
Sherbrooke, very close to my constituency office.
There have been budget cuts since 2013-14. Will one of the
offices be affected by cuts to staff or resources, particularly the one
for Stanstead, which operates along the border?
Commr Bob Paulson: Thank you for the question.
I don't know. We are making changes in how we are managing
federal resources in Canada. We don't intend to close any offices or
detachments, but it's one option we're looking at. I can't give you an
answer on this today.
Mr. Jean Rousseau: You should also go visit these offices,
Mr. Paulson.
Mr. Coulombe, do you know that there are training operations for
foreign militias and even Canadian militias in the forest along the
border and on Mount Pinnacle, not far from the municipality of
Coaticook? Is any monitoring going on and what's happening with
these operations? People in the surrounding villages are aware of it
and are talking to me about it. What is going on with these activities?
Mr. Michel Coulombe: Thank you for the question.
You will understand that I cannot comment on specific points
concerning the operations. All I can say is that if there are any
activities that represent a certain threat and that fall under the
definition of a threat as set out in the Canadian Security Intelligence
Service Act, we are doing what we have to. I cannot answer more
specifically on that matter.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Rousseau.
Now we'll go to Ms. James briefly, for five minutes or less.
Ms. Roxanne James: Thank you, Mr. Chair. The bells are
ringing, so....
My question will be directed to Mr. Coulombe—
Mr. Randall Garrison: On a point of order, Mr. Chair, I thought
our agreement was that when the bells started, we would go directly
to committee business.
The Chair: No, we agreed to go....
We were going to go 20 minutes, and we were going to go up to
10 minutes to finish off with the witnesses. We would then go to
committee business for the last 10 minutes.
That was the chair's understanding. If the chair was wrong on that,
I stand to be corrected. We thought we would just finish a round, and
that way hopefully we'd get everybody in. But I will check that with
the clerk.
I've just checked with the clerk, and the chair stands corrected.
The chair was apparently under the wrong impression. We will now
Thank you to our witnesses for coming here today.
We will now go in camera to discuss committee business.
[Proceedings continue in camera]
● (1015)
● (1025)
[Public proceedings resume]
The Chair: Colleagues, I'll bring this to your attention. I'll
paraphrase very quickly. I can read the full explanation should it be
The basic tenet of my discussion is the fact the amount we will be
voting on is in the initial, less, of course, the interim supply that went
out on them, leaving us with the balance that we are voting on. Are
we all comfortable with that or would you wish the chair to read out
the process?
May 7, 2015
First of all, the chair would like some direction. Are we doing
these one by one or can we do them in one motion? I would need
unanimous consent to.... No unanimous consent? We will go one by
one. Is that correct?
Mr. Randall Garrison: I can give you unanimous consent to do
all but the last one.
The Chair: That's fine. If we're comfortable with doing
everything but the last one, do we have unanimous consent to go
that way?
We are going from vote 1 right straight through until vote 14.
Okay? So vote 1 right straight through—
Mr. Randall Garrison: I'm sorry. We don't have a good list here
to work with on the number of votes. The vote on SIRC is the one
that I would like to treat separately.
The Chair: Yes, that is the extra vote, Randall. SIRC is not
included. It's all of the votes up to SIRC.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Thank you.
The Chair: The chair is not going to read out each one because
they're all separate amounts. As long as we have an understanding
that this does not include the vote on SIRC and that this does give
you the amount less the interim that was put out there, we're voting
on the balance forward now.
We'll vote now on numbers 1 to 14.
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$1,411,403,312
Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$180,203,476
(Votes 1 and 5 agreed to)
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$488,215,677
(Vote 1 agreed to)
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$9,032,529
(Vote 1 agreed to)
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$1,928,746,713
Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$176,944,519
(Votes 1 and 5 agreed to)
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$4,106,381
(Vote 1 agreed to)
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$40,021,838
(Vote 1 agreed to)
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$113,188,545
Vote 5—The grants listed in the estimates and contributions..........$1,022,476,287
(Votes 1 and 5 agreed to)
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$1,726,192,674
Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$261,996,018
May 7, 2015
Vote 10—The grants listed in the estimates and contributions..........$180,351,933
(Votes 1, 5, and 10 agreed to)
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$848,114
(Vote 1 agreed to)
The Chair: We will now go to vote 15, which is vote 1 under the
Security Intelligence Review Committee, less the amount of
$619,830.25 granted in interim supply.
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$2,479,321
(Vote 1 agreed to)
The Chair: Shall the chair report the 2015-16 main estimates to
the House?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Thank you very much, colleagues.
Is there anything else on future business? I see none, so this
meeting is adjourned.
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