Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Wednesday, December 3, 2014 Chair

Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Wednesday, December 3, 2014 Chair
Standing Committee on Public Safety and
National Security
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Mr. Daryl Kramp
Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
● (1530)
The Chair (Mr. Daryl Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings,
CPC)): Order, please. If the media wish to scrum, they can do it after
the meeting.
Welcome to meeting number 43 of the Standing Committee on
Public Safety and National Security.
Today, we are doing supplementary estimates (B), so I will read
the order as presented.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we have a study of the subject
matter of the supplementary estimates (B) for 2014-15: votes 1b and
5b under Canada Border Services Agency; vote 1b under Canadian
Security Intelligence Service; vote 1b under Correctional Service of
Canada; vote 1b under Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness;
votes 1b, 5b and 10b under Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and
vote 1b under Royal Canadian Mounted Police External Review
Appearing today before us as witnesses, for the first hour we have
the Honourable Steven Blaney, the Minister of Public Safety and
Emergency Preparedness. Accompanying him now and for the
second hour, from the Department of Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness, we have François Guimont, deputy minister.
From Canada Border Services Agency, we have Luc Portelance,
president; from Correctional Service of Canada, we have Don Head,
commissioner; from Canadian Security Intelligence Service, we have
Michel Coulombe, director; from the Parole Board of Canada, we
have Harvey Cenaiko, chairperson; from the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police, we have Deputy Commissioner Mike Cabana,
deputy commissioner of federal policing.
Welcome to all of our witnesses. Thank you very kindly for
coming here today for this study. We will proceed with an opening
statement, up to 10 minutes, should there be one, and after that we
will go directly to questions from our members.
Minister, do you have an opening statement?
Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness): Yes, Mr. Chair.
First, I would like to thank the committee members who ensured
that Bill C-44, which aims to protect Canada, can return to the House
of Commons for third reading and, therefore, be sent later to the
Senate, obtain royal assent and become law in Canada.
I am pleased to be here with you today. As you can see, I have
with me—
The Chair: On a point of order, Mr. Easter....
Hon. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.): You'll know what the
point of order is, Mr. Chair. It's the third time I've made this point of
The minister has all the resources of the department. He speaks
from written notes every time. It is just absolutely unacceptable
that.... It always was the practice that ministers brought their written
statements with them. We've gotten away from that.
The minister's written statement should be before us, so we can go
through it as he goes through it, so we hear the exact words he's
saying. I'm just issuing a complaint again that this minister comes
before this committee with all the department and all the resources
he has with him and is not prepared to give us a brief.
We have witnesses, Mr. Chair, from volunteer organizations. We
expect them to have a written brief, in both official languages, so I
see no reason why a minister does not.
● (1535)
The Chair: I recognize your point, Mr. Easter, you've raised it
Mr. Blaney.
Hon. Steven Blaney: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The hon. member is in the habit of raising this point. As you can
see, I am currently speaking without my notes. So it would be
difficult to provide them in both official languages, but I do intend to
continue making a presentation.
Today, we are here to discuss supplementary estimates (B).
I may consult my notes, but I will let you make your decision on
The Chair: Ms. Ablonczy.
Hon. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, CPC): Mr. Chair, I
would just comment that my friend, Mr. Easter, has been here for
some time, but not as long as I have been here. I sat where he sat for
many years—13 to be exact—and had many Liberal ministers
appear, and I can tell you that very often, if not most often, I never
saw a written document of their remarks.
Mr. Easter, getting on your high horse is a little bit out of line.
The Chair: Let's stop the dialogue now. I do appreciate the
comments from both sides.
We have a number of very experienced and relative witnesses, so
we will go directly to Minister Blaney for his statement.
Hon. Steven Blaney: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I'm sorry for this
unintentional loss of time.
I am always impressed when I appear before the Standing
Committee on Public Safety and National Security, especially when I
am surrounded by officials from agencies responsible for the
protection and security of Canadians.
I am accompanied today by Harvey Cenaiko, from the Parole
Board of Canada; Michel Coulombe, from the Canadian Security
Intelligence Service; Mike Cabana, from the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police; Don Head, from the Correctional Service of
Canada; Luc Portelance, from the Canada Border Services Agency;
and François Guimont, who is the Deputy Minister of Public Safety
I would like to tell the members of the committee that these people
work very hard, particularly when we were called to respond to the
recent terrorist attack. We were in the House a few minutes ago, and
I had the chance to meet the person who administered first aid to
Warrant Officer Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial. We
are currently preparing a proper and balanced response to this
growing terrorist threat. Obviously, we are not going to overreact,
but we are not going to stand idly by in the face of this threat, either.
Furthermore, I would like to publicly thank the heads of the
agencies that help us to adapt. They have already taken concrete
action to protect Canadians.
We are here today to make budgetary adjustments that will allow
these important individuals to continue to ensure our protection. As
you know, our department was created in response to the terrorist
attacks on September 11, 2001. Even now, I note that the priority for
national security is fighting terrorism.
December 3, 2014
● (1540)
I also want to thank the committee for its work on division 17 of
Bill C-43, which amends the DNA Identification Act to create
Lindsey's law. This important measure will create a DNA-based
missing persons index to help provide closure to the families of
missing persons.
I understand that Judy Peterson made a very emotional
presentation to the committee. I would like to thank you all for
your support on this important legislation that she has advocated for
on behalf of her daughter.
Many of you may remember that November 16 was the sad
anniversary of the disappearance of Julie Surprenant, in Terrebonne.
Her sister, Andréanne, wanted to pay tribute to her on that occasion.
It was a moving experience. It allowed us to remind the victims and
loved ones of the families of missing or murdered individuals of the
implementation of this act, which will help them to get through this
type of situation and to find some comfort.
On other fronts, I have introduced measures to provide a simple
and safe firearms licensing regime with Bill C-42, the common sense
firearms licensing act. This bill was thoroughly debated one week
ago. I look forward to this bill being referred to this committee for
study in the very near future.
Just last week, I appeared before you regarding Bill C-44, the
protection of Canada from terrorists act. I know the committee has
completed its study, and has returned the bill to the House without
amendments. As I said earlier, recent terrorist attacks are a reminder
that the terrorist organization ISIL is a very real threat to Canadians.
It is the reason we are working very determinedly to strengthen the
tools available to the police and intelligence community in the areas
of surveillance, detention, and arrest. The protection of Canada from
terrorists act is just the first step in our efforts to do that.
That said, we must not in any way neglect the other important
aspects of public safety, which is why I am here this afternoon.
My department and its agencies continue to give priority to efforts
to fight terrorism and violent extremism, which includes working
with our international allies.
As you know, we have implemented many initiatives to move
forward our government's ambitious public safety program. This
involves cracking down on crime, improving the rights of victims
and strengthening our national security. For example, I recently
announced the coming into force of the Safer Witnesses Act, which
will increase the effectiveness of the federal government's witness
protection program for the individuals it protects, while meeting the
needs of law enforcement agencies.
Mr. Chair, I could speak more about the measures that we are
implementing, but I would now like to move on to the
Supplementary Estimates (B), 2014-15. Essentially, these are
adjustments to the budget envelope that we were allocated and
some modifications that need to be made to properly reflect the
actual accounting and current expenses.
Furthermore, we just sent Bill C-32, An Act to enact the Canadian
Victims Bill of Rights and to amend certain Acts, back to the House
for debate at report stage. This fundamental bill will change the way
we handle justice in Canada and will put victims at the heart of our
justice system.
These estimates demonstrate our ongoing commitment to keeping
Canadians safe from those who wish to harm them without creating
billion-dollar boondoggles.
Allow me to provide some highlights of what I mean.
December 3, 2014
As the committee members can see, the Supplementary
Estimates (B), 2014-15, aim to transfer $3.3 million from the
Canada Border Services Agency to the RCMP to build a joint use
firing range in British Columbia. It also aims to obtain a transfer of
$5.2 million from the Correctional Service of Canada to the RCMP
to support the renovations of C block at the RCMP training academy
for correctional officer training.
In conclusion, Mr. Chair, it is clear that our Conservative
government is taking strong action to keep Canadians safe. We are
ensuring that victims are at the heart of the justice system and
ensuring that child sexual predators face serious consequences. We
are making our firearms laws safe and sensible, and we are making
sure that our law enforcement and national security organizations
have the tools they need to do their jobs.
These are prime examples of how we are using taxpayers' money.
This way of operating is more effective. We are achieving this by
grouping resources, while creating stronger ties within the department.
The one threat that seems to run through all of these initiatives is
that they have been delayed, obstructed, or sometimes opposed
outright. But we are prevailing, Mr. Chair, and I am proud to say that
we intend to stay the course. We have the protection of Canada act
coming back into the House of Commons, and we intend to come in
the near future with additional legislation so that we can tackle this
evolving terrorist threat.
In addition, the estimates seek $5.2 million for CSIS in support of
national security initiatives. I would also like to highlight two key
items related to the RCMP. First, on November 28—as of Monday—
the Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act
came into force, bringing in a new era of modernization and
accountability for the RCMP. In order to implement that act, these
supplementary estimates provide for $7.9 million to the RCMP to
implement new processes relating to grievances and public
Additionally, there is $710,000 to the RCMP External Review
Committee to maintain the committee's existing operations. This
entails the review of certain grievances and appeals of decisions and
disciplinary and other labour relations matters involving members of
the force. This is a very important accomplishment, Mr. Chair. We've
been working on that for years. In less than two years, the RCMP has
been able to implement this major shift. The deputy commissioner
can expand on this later on, but this is certainly a great
accomplishment. As you know, we now have beefed up—if you
allow me this expression—the oversight of the RCMP.
Second, the estimates seek to transfer $41.9 million to the RCMP
for policing services provided pursuant to the first nations policing
program. This funding will further support policing services that are
professional, dedicated, and responsive to the first nation and Inuit
communities they serve.
● (1545)
In addition, $3.7 million is set aside for the national public safety
campaign for the next phase in the fight against bullying, called “Get
Cyber Safe”. I must tell you that we have had very interesting results
in terms of market penetration and our ability to reach out to young
We are very proud of the success of this campaign, which is
having a significant impact across the country. More than a million
people have visited the “Get Cyber Safe” website, and there have
been different initiatives in that respect. Of course, I encourage
committee members to pass on these constructive messages on the
importance of having healthy practices when visiting social media
sites and using information technology or any electronic device.
With that in mind, Mr. Chair, I would be more than happy to
respond to questions from the members of this important committee.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Minister.
We will now go to our first round of questioning.
We will start with Mr. Carmichael, for seven minutes, please.
Mr. John Carmichael (Don Valley West, CPC): Thank you, Mr.
Thank you, Minister Blaney and your colleagues, for joining us
today as witnesses.
Minister Blaney, out of respect, we have received some disturbing
news today. I wonder if you could perhaps give the committee a bit
of an update on the reported shooting of an RCMP constable in
Hon. Steven Blaney: I thank the member for the question.
I was informed this morning that a front-line police officer from
the RCMP in British Columbia was wounded. This happened while
two RCMP members were performing a vehicle stop in Kamloops,
British Columbia, at 2:45 this morning as part of an ongoing
operation investigating organized crime. One member was shot. The
RCMP members returned fire, but the suspect fled the scene and was
later apprehended.
I just got confirmation from Mike Cabana that he's undergoing
surgery, but at this point in time his condition is stable and we
certainly hope
…that he will recover from his injuries as quickly as possible.
Maybe I can turn to Mike Cabana.
● (1550)
Deputy Commissioner Mike Cabana (Deputy Commissioner,
Federal Policing, Royal Canadian Mounted Police): Thank you,
Minister. Actually, I don't have much, because I've been tied up in
meetings. The last information I was provided was that he was
seriously wounded and was undergoing surgery, but his life was not
in danger.
Mr. John Carmichael: As one committee member I certainly
don't want to overstep my bounds here, but our thoughts and prayers
are certainly with him and his family for his full recovery.
They should know he's in our thoughts.
Hon. Steven Blaney: I think it reminds us of the dangers to our
front-line officers, and it certainly reminds us that they have to
remain prudent. To this point in time I have heard that he was
seriously wounded, that he's undergoing surgery, and that his family
is close to him. So we certainly are sending them our best wishes.
Mr. John Carmichael: Thank you. I appreciate the update.
Minister, as you know, most of the members at this table today
were either in this room or across the hall while a terrorist shot and
killed an unarmed soldier, Corporal Cirillo, and stormed the building
with an illegally acquired firearm. I wonder if you could comment on
the state of security on the Hill at this time, the changes following
those tragic events of October 22, and whether there will be more
changes coming.
Hon. Steven Blaney: Thank you for your question.
As you know, the security of Parliament is under the supervision
of the Speaker of the House and the Speaker of the Senate. I was
pleased to learn that they recently decided to merge their two
Wherever we are moving forward in terms of security there are
three guiding principles that have to guide us and, I would suggest,
to guide the Speakers in their moving forward and our willingness to
fully support them. As you know, for the security of the precinct, this
role is played by the RCMP. It is important that we have a unified
command, so that whenever something happens there is a flow of
information. This is the very first important principle, that we have a
unified command.
The second important aspect of this strategy is that we have a
leadership that is fully aware of the full capability and the capacity of
security. This is why there has been a very productive discussion
with the Speaker. We already have seen a major improvement on the
At this point in time I must stress that the threat that was
considered was mostly a car and vehicle threat. Now we need to
consider that pedestrians could also be considered as a potential
threat. That's why there has already been an improvement and an
adjustment to the security.
So a unified command and interoperability among the different
forces.... It does not really matter what colour the uniform is. What
matters is that these individuals are all working together under the
same direction and applying the safety rules and securing the access
to this very important place. This is the House of the people. We
understand that and this certainly has to be considered, but also in
December 3, 2014
the meantime people have to be protected, whether it's people inside
or outside Parliament. This is how we are moving forward.
I must tell you, as you can tell there have been major
improvements and we will support the two Speakers in their
willingness to move forward and increase the security of the Hill,
both for visitors and those who work here and for parliamentarians
as well, who obviously have a privileged access to this place.
Mr. John Carmichael: Thank you, Minister.
I know your comments are important to Canadians who are
watching today from coast to coast to coast. That information is very
relevant and very important to them.
Minister, I would like to speak with you briefly about the
supplementary estimates (B), and on the Correctional Service of
Canada specifically. As our government moved to creating safer
streets and communities and we talked about keeping victims safe,
there was tremendous noise and comment from our opposition that
putting criminals in jail would create a prison system that would be
bursting at the seams.
I wonder if you could comment on the supplementary estimates
(B). As I look at the information that I have before me, it looks like
the Correctional Service of Canada is certainly containing their
spending, which would indicate that in fact we're not seeing that
happening in our prison system, the prisons bursting at the seams,
but rather that the prison population may, and I look for your
direction on this, be remaining steady. I wonder if you could
comment on that, sir.
● (1555)
The Chair: Just briefly, please....
Hon. Steven Blaney: Very briefly, the population of inmates is
decreasing or is very stable. Commissioner Head can comment on
that, but in terms of the apocalyptic projections that were made that
our tough-on-crime policies would have an impact, in fact they are
actually having an impact. It is that we are keeping criminals behind
bars and we have stopped the revolving doors that made criminals
repeat crimes outside. We are keeping them behind bars.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Minister.
Thank you, Mr. Carmichael.
Now, Mr. Garrison, you have seven minutes, please.
Mr. Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, NDP):
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the minister and the officials for being here today.
The minister said several times both in public statements and
statements in the House that the budget for Public Safety is larger
than it was in 2006, but in fact we know that in the 2012 budget the
minister planned cuts of about 10% or $688 million from Public
Safety. We also see the public accounts for 2013-14 show that his
department and its various agencies lapsed $572 million in spending.
So that appears to mean that we're about somewhere around 18% or
19% below the spending in 2012.
December 3, 2014
I wonder how the minister squares a 19% reduction with his
statement today that he has to make sure that Public Safety has the
tools they need to do their jobs, because surely that includes the
resources they need.
Hon. Steven Blaney: I thank you for your very interesting
question, and I must tell you that I am very proud to be part of a
government that takes very seriously the money that comes from
I must tell you that under the leadership of my predecessors we
were absolutely able to accomplish an increase in providing more
services to Canadians while indeed cutting red tape. That's exactly
what took place in this department. Let me give you the example of
the Canada Border Services Agency, which has seen the number of
front-line officers increase by 26%. Have we shaved our budgets so
we're cutting red tape and bureaucratic procedures? Absolutely.
Have we increased our people on the street, ensuring that our streets
are safer? Absolutely.
We're very proud to have done this. I'm very proud of the way we
have handled the public funds. This is why we can say today that we
have increased our budget for the RCMP by one third and we have
increased the budget of CSIS, which is our security and intelligence,
by one third, while in the meantime increasing service to the
I think Canadians are very proud now that they can benefit from
those savings, and that families will have more money in their
pockets, while in the meantime we are increasing the safety of the
Mr. Randall Garrison: Mr. Minister, to look specifically at CSIS,
which you've raised, your plan was to cut $24.5 million, and your
government lapsed another $18.2 million, so what we have here is
about $43 million in reductions since 2012. In these supplementary
estimates you tell me that you're asking for $5.2 million more for
CSIS for national security measures, so it seems to me that you must
have gone too far if you have to come back and ask for $5.2 million
I wonder if that's the result of the kind of thing we saw in
testimony before the Senate Standing Committee on National
Security and Defence on October 20, when the CSIS deputy director
of operations, in speaking about those who've returned from abroad
and may have been radicalized and trying to investigate them, said
several things. One thing he said was, “We can't devote all our
resources to all of them all the time.” He went on to talk about the
“limited resources” for monitoring those people.
Again, how does the minister square this $43 million in reduced
spending since 2012 with coming here today to ask for another $5.2
million, when his officials have publicly said they didn't have
enough to monitor all those who've returned from abroad?
Hon. Steven Blaney: Once again, I thank you for your question.
I would be really happy to see the NDP supporting more
investment in increasing our national security measures. I must tell
you that I would have really appreciated it if you could have
supported providing more tools by supporting Bill C-44. I think we
had an open debate in the House of Commons. I came here and
brought very reasonable arguments. You had many witnesses. I
would have liked the NDP to support Bill C-44, because I believe
this is what this country needs to keep Canadians safe. This is about
the tools, and when it comes time to speak about money, it is also
time for the budget.
But let me tell you why I'm here today for CSIS and what is, if I
can use the expression, their cashflow. In supplementary estimates
(B), the net amount for CSIS is $5.2 million or 1% of authorities to
date. CSIS has received from the Treasury Board authority to
increase its voted appropriation by $5.3 million as follows: an
increase of $3.6 million to recover proceeds from the sale of homes
purchased under the home sale plan and of $1.2 million for parking
fees, and $559,000 to recover costs related to the security screening
of employees.
This is the increased authority. There's been a decrease from
DFATD and DND. Actually, it's money that was transferred from
CSIS to DFATD, DND, or the RCMP. These amounts range from
$220,000 to $1.6 million. They are to provide support to the
department staff allocated at missions abroad; an amount for the
integrated terrorism assessment centre and for the Canadian safety
and security program; and there's also a transfer from the RCMP for
“software tools”.
What I'm asking for today is that the committee allow these
funding transfers so that we can reflect the real expenses incurred. I
certainly am looking forward to coming back to this committee to
seek support for additional funding to increase our safety and for the
evolving threat of terrorism.
● (1600)
Mr. Randall Garrison: Okay, thank you very much.
Mr. Minister, with respect, I want to go back to my point that
you've cut resources for CSIS since 2012 by very significant
amounts, which seems to have put you in the position of having to
come back and ask for more money. It would seem to me that any
reasonable person looking at this would say that you went too far in
your cutting resources to CSIS. I guess that's what I see in the
message of your being back here today, if you're asking for another
$5.2 million.
Now, I'm not saying that I'm opposed to that. I'm saying that I
think you went too far and you probably do need to add money back
in that budget. If you listened to the testimony of your deputy
director in the Senate, where he said he didn't have sufficient
resources to monitor people who were a threat, then obviously
you've gone too far in reducing the resources.
Hon. Steven Blaney: As I told you, we've increased the budget
for CSIS by one third over the course of our mandate. The amount
we're talking about today is transferring funds. I indeed expect to
face, to adapt to the evolving threat, and to come back for additional
funding. I'm looking forward to having your support.
However, today is for the current ongoing operation of CSIS.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Minister.
Now, Mr. Falk, please. You have seven minutes as well in this first
Mr. Ted Falk (Provencher, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to start off by expressing my gratitude to all of you who
represent our different security agencies here in Canada: correctional
service, border services, the Department of Public Safety, CSIS,
RCMP, and police services. Thank you for the most important work
that you do in providing safety and security for Canadian citizens.
Minister, you've already mentioned it in some of your comments
here, that the NDP voted against the protection of Canada from
terrorists act, and I believe you answered a House question yesterday
on exactly that.
Could you comment further on the need for this very important
law, Bill C-44, which clearly helps to clarify the law under which
CSIS needs to operate?
Hon. Steven Blaney: Absolutely, and I thank you for this
Even as the bill was tabled, members were provided with the
opportunity to get some technical briefings. Those who have
benefited from those briefings then could clearly understand that due
to some court decisions, it was important to update the CSIS Act,
which has not really been updated for the last 30 years. This is
exactly what the protection of Canada from terrorists act is doing,
clarifying the authority of CSIS.
One important thing, which is now obvious to us, is clearly
defining that CSIS has the capability to operate abroad. That seems
very obvious, but this needed to be added to the CSIS Act. This is
exactly what Bill C-44 achieves.
While we can protect witnesses, which is very important for an
intelligence agency, there is a mechanism that anyone who could be
accused under the information provided by those witnesses is
entitled to a fair trial. Once again, there is the amicus curiae legal
mechanism so that the law will help the court and help CSIS in its
mandate while clarifying its mandate.
There are some other elements in that bill like improving and
accelerating the removal of dual citizenship. This bill was already
adopted, but now we are willing to move forward as the terrorist
threat evolves. These are the measures in the bill. These are certainly
measures that I would appreciate and seek support on from all
Unfortunately, as I have pointed out—through the chair, of course
—I would have expected that the NDP support this important bill,
especially as the terrorist threat is real. I was given the opportunity to
highlight this fact, so were the experts in this area. Unfortunately we
did not get support. I still feel that when we're placed in front of
accurate facts, we should seek support.
You may recall that the NDP did not support the Combating
Terrorism Act. I think we as Canadians can be very relieved today to
know that charges have been laid under this new act. With the law
we have in place in this country, terrorists are now prevented from
committing a terrorist act. This is why it is important as legislators
that we provide the tools to those who are there to protect us. This is
why I intend to come back in the near future with additional
measures that will fully comply with our Canadian law, but in the
December 3, 2014
meantime will provide tools necessary for our national security
agency and law enforcement agency to better protect Canadians.
● (1605)
Mr. Ted Falk: Thank you, Minister.
I find it very ironic that we're hearing from the NDP that they want
your department to spend more money, yet they're voting against all
the initiatives that your department is coming up with. They voted
against the protection of Canada from terrorists act, and as you
indicated they also voted against the Combating Terrorism Act. It
would seem to me that when it comes to issues of national security,
the NDP aren't getting it, and they're out of their depth.
You wanted to move this legislation along very quickly. Can you
comment a little further on the seriousness of the nature of the threats
that Canada is facing today? Why was it important to move the bill
Hon. Steven Blaney: We certainly rely on our experts to assess
the threat level. Certainly that can be done either now or in the
second hour of this important meeting, but at this point I would like
to stress that we have to adjust to this evolving threat.
We were witness to those actions here in this very Parliament. As
you will remember, you and I were in that very same room not so
long ago.
This is why we won't overreact to the terrorist threat, but we won't
under-react. This is why we are moving forward. We are also looking
at what other western countries are doing when faced with a similar
situation. I was in France recently. They are implementing a measure
such as the one we already have implemented or are contemplating it
for the near future. We are not alone in the fight against these
barbaric actions that are taken by terrorists, and this is why we will
move forward.
There is certainly an important need—as the courts said—for Bill
C-44, the bill that is in front of Parliament now. As of now, CSIS
does not have the same capability it had in the past. So it's not about
adding new powers, it's just about restoring existing authorities so
they can exchange information about terrorists who are travelling.
This is why I feel...and once again, I really would have appreciated
having the support of this committee.
This bill has to move as fast as we can do it as parliamentarians, so
that we can restore the capability of CSIS to protect Canadians. I am
confident that this bill will go back to the House in the coming days
and that we will be able to see it move through the Senate quickly to
get royal assent, so that CSIS can protect Canadians by two means—
making sure, when they are establishing a bond of trust with a
witness, that they can protect the witness and the witness can have
some confidentiality, and of course making sure that we can
exchange information with our partners.
● (1610)
The Chair: Thank you very much, Minister.
Thank you, Mr. Falk.
Now, for the final seven minutes on the first round, Mr. Easter,
Hon. Wayne Easter: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
December 3, 2014
Welcome, Minister and agency heads. Thank you for coming.
Mr. Carmichael mentioned this, Minister, but he didn't really
include all committee members. I think you can be assured that all
committee members, ourselves on this side as well, would certainly
pass on our regards and best wishes with respect to the RCMP
officer who was shot early this morning.
With respect to the last question, Mr. Minister, on exchanging
information with other agencies abroad, and the interchange you just
had, I was in Washington, D.C., yesterday. I met with the chair of the
homeland security committee, among others, and this is one of their
concerns. They're wondering where Canada is on that.
Bill C-44 doesn't deal with that issue, as I see it. I believe you
were anticipating bringing in other legislation, but to my knowledge
Bill C-44 does not deal with that specific issue. It deals with
protecting informants and sources abroad in a number of other areas,
but it does not deal with what we just talked about. That will require
other legislation. Am I correct?
Hon. Steven Blaney: You're right, Mr. Easter.
Hon. Wayne Easter: Thank you.
That will be coming forward in other legislation, but I can tell you,
having met the chair of the homeland security committee in the
United States yesterday, that is a concern, and I'm well aware of it; I
faced it when I was in your position.
Let me go back to the statement you made on October 8, where
you said, “We know of about 80 who have returned to Canada”—
meaning people who have been involved with a terrorist entity
abroad. This is your statement, and I quote:
Let me be clear that these individuals posing a threat to our security at home have
violated Canadian law, as passed by this Parliament in the Combating Terrorism Act.
You said they have violated Canadian law, Mr. Minister. You're
the top law enforcement official in the country. That was October 8.
Have any of them been arrested as yet?
Hon. Steven Blaney: As you know, there have been many
individuals who have been arrested under the current laws, and if we
want to have more arrests, we need to make sure that our law
enforcement has the appropriate tools.
Hon. Wayne Easter: None of those 80 have been arrested, have
Hon. Steven Blaney: Let me make one point very clear. You have
been in a capacity to know that there is a difference between having
intelligence and being able to present a robust charge that will stick
and bring an individual, or any terrorist in this case, to jail. That's
why we have to look at the way our system is working, and we also
have to look at the tools that we are currently providing to our law
enforcement. Once again, we may feel that an individual can
represent a threat but not necessarily have the evidence, because as
you are well aware, we are in a state of law. We are proud of that,
and this is how we conduct ourselves when dealing with terrorists.
This is why we, as parliamentarians, have such an important role to
set the rules, and this is why Bill C-44 and the coming legislation are
so important.
● (1615)
Hon. Wayne Easter: If it's an evidentiary shortcoming, then we,
as a committee, need to know what needs to be done to fix that. You
said yourself that they have violated Canadian law. If they have
violated Canadian law, it seems to me that they should be able to be
Section 83.181 of the Criminal Code states:
Everyone who leaves or attempts to leave Canada...for the purpose of committing
an act or omission outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would be an offence
under subsection 83.18(1) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to
imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years.
It seems to me that that section of the act should be able to be used
with these 80 folks who have returned to Canada from fighting with
what we have named as terrorist entities.
Has that act been used to charge anyone in Canada? I know one
individual was charged six months after he left the country, but he
isn't in Canada. Has anyone in Canada been charged under that
section? If not, why not?
Hon. Steven Blaney: I can come back with more specifics
because, as you know, the situation is evolving. Our police officers
are constantly reviewing our terrorist files. As you know, there are
accusations that have been laid under the Combating Terrorism Act,
so these are new tools that have been provided to our police officers.
I will be happy to come back with more specific details.
Hon. Wayne Easter: The reason I'm forceful on that point, Mr.
Minister, is that, if at the moment anybody out there is thinking of
going abroad to fight with ISIS or ISIL or anyone else, I think that
being aware of the fact that somebody has been charged under this
section would be a deterrent to going abroad and doing that. That's
why. Do you want to add further to that?
Hon. Steven Blaney: Mr. Easter, depending on the time you still
have in your question, and there will be another round, my expert
officials will be happy.... Are we close on time?
The Chair: You have about 15 seconds left, if you'd like to
Hon. Steven Blaney: I think your question deserves a fulsome
answer, and I suggest you address it to my colleagues in the next
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Easter.
Now, we move on to the second round.
Ms. Doré Lefebvre, you have the floor for five minutes.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre (Alfred-Pellan, NDP): Thank you
very much, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Minister, I would like to thank you and your officials for
being here today to answer our questions. We greatly appreciate it.
My questions have to do mainly with the Correctional Service of
First, I would like to get the numbers straight. You spoke about a
decrease in the prison population. However, in the past five years,
there has been a 10% increase in this population. There are
approximately 15,200 inmates a day in our prisons.
One other thing has increased, and that is double-bunking in the
cells. There has been a rising trend in this respect in the past five
years. There has been a 93% increase, which is huge. In the past five
years, we have also seen a 17% increase in cases of assault and fights
among inmates and a 6.7% increase in incidents of the use of force.
There are these incidents and problems among the inmates. This is
of great concern to the officers from the Correctional Service of
Canada and the Office of the Correctional Investigator, who
submitted a report to that end.
Are you going to continue to let these numbers rise? Are you
going to continue to use double-bunking, knowing that it is not
solving the problems in our federal prisons?
● (1620)
Hon. Steven Blaney: Thank you for your question.
I have the opportunity to appear fairly regularly before the
committee, and I hope to come back again soon to discuss new
legislation we are putting in place and to seek your support in the
fight against terrorism.
To come back to your questions about correctional services, we
are honoured to have the commissioner of the Correctional Service
of Canada with us, and I will ask him to answer your questions.
Previously, I would have simply said that we are not seeing what
we had predicted. I would even use the word “apocalyptic” because
we had predicted that our penal institutions were going to be full.
That has not happened. We are even implementing a plan for
additional cells.
I will let the commissioner provide the numbers because,
obviously, they are constantly changing. As far as I know, they are
not as high as you mentioned. In recent months, we have seen a
decrease in the prison population.
In terms of double-bunking, I would like to point out that it is a
common and widespread practice in western systems. I have even
visited detention centres that had dormitories. There are all kinds of
accommodation—if I can say that—for inmates. We think this is a
common practice.
Moreover, I would like to commend the correctional services
officers for the important work they do.
On that note, I would ask the commissioner to provide an update.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre: If I may, I will have the opportunity
to come back to this during other question periods. In fact, I have
many questions to ask you about the Correctional Service of Canada.
However, while you are here with us during this first hour, I would
like to talk to you about your positions on certain matters.
When I speak with correctional officers, they often tell me about
problems with the aging population. We see it; the populations in our
prisons are getting a lot older. Often, the correctional officers have to
be involved in palliative care for inmates.
December 3, 2014
Have you thought of a strategy to review the operation of the
prison system? This is also part of what the Office of the
Correctional Investigator is calling for. He is asking for clarification
on this and for review of the plan on how to deal with these older
inmates, who can no longer get around and who, sometimes, have
oxygen tanks. Will a medical service be put in place or will we stick
to having correctional officers distribute pills to inmates?
Hon. Steven Blaney: First, the correctional services are doing a
remarkable job with the population in federal penitentiaries. There
are medical services. As you know, there are also rehabilitation
services and training services.
Once again, the commissioner will be able to provide details on all
the provisions put in place to adapt to the changing profile of inmates
in the institutions.
I can assure you that the correctional services officers do a
remarkable job. I have had the opportunity to visit the institutions,
and I can assure you that inmates are receiving top-quality medical
The Chair: Thank you very much. The time has expired.
Ms. Ablonczy, you have five minutes.
Hon. Diane Ablonczy: Thank you to all of you who are here.
It strikes me that in this Christmas season of peace and goodwill to
all, you deal with the other side of the coin. We know that's not an
easy task. We appreciate the fact that people like you are carrying a
heavy load on behalf of the rest of us, so that we can feel secure and
contented, not just at this time of year but all year round.
Minister, we were just looking at a section of the budget
implementation act that had to do with expanding the DNA indices,
the kind of information that law enforcement can now collect in
terms of DNA.
Why do you think this expansion of the DNA bank is so important
and what do you believe will be the benefit to Canadians?
Hon. Steven Blaney: I really want to thank you for your question
because we can be proud as a country of the DNA system we have
put in place.
Once again, this is a system that has been ongoing for many years
without any major change or improvement, and the technology is
evolving. The current DNA missing persons index.... Actually, we
will be given the opportunity to support tonight very important votes
that will take place. Not only will we support the budget
implementation act but also this very important bill.
There are five indices that will be added to the current system. Our
deputy commissioner knows this issue very well. Let me just put the
emphasis on those indices that will allow the collection of DNA at a
crime scene, DNA of a missing person, DNA of relatives of a
missing person, and also DNA of people working on crime scenes,
so that the results are not conflicted when they are doing these
December 3, 2014
This is a major step, a major improvement. This is done in a very
reasonable and practical manner. One objective is to bring closure to
families of the fallen, like Ms. Peterson, or any other family who is
wondering what has happened. This is the objective. Those indices
will be added.
One important issue is that the current.... There will be a barrier
established between the DNA of a relative and the DNA of a
criminal. There are firewalls to protect privacy and the rights of those
who are sharing information. These provisions are in the bill. It has
been very well crafted and I would be happy to provide you with
more detail.
Once again, we're going to make a leap forward to help victims in
their willingness to seek the truth on what sometimes happens in
tragic events.
● (1625)
Hon. Diane Ablonczy: Minister, obviously, you're aware of the
testimony we heard from Judy Peterson. We were all so impressed
with her courage because she's been working, after the disappearance
of her daughter, for 20 years to get changes to the DNA bank.
I know my colleague, Mr. Easter, was very helpful to Ms. Peterson
and she gave him credit for that and appreciated that. I know she
appreciates that, hopefully. Finally, tonight, this expansion that she's
been working for will take place. We're happy about that.
On a different topic, a lot of people I talk to are really worried
about people, especially young Canadians, some of whom have lived
all their life in this wonderful country, becoming radicalized and
even leaving the country to fight against the values that have made
us all safe and secure here.
Could you talk about what your department is doing to address
this radicalization?
The Chair: Mr. Blaney, that would probably require a lengthy
response, I understand, to that question, but you have about 15
seconds to do that.
Hon. Steven Blaney: The four pillars of our counterterrorism
strategy are oriented toward prevention, detection, denying someone
from committing an attack, and responding. So in the realm of
prevention, the RCMP is doing a lot of outreach towards
communities throughout the country. We have cross-cultural round
tables and we are also training our officers. I'm sure Deputy
Commissioner Cabana can expand on this. Once again, if I may add,
I think that the late Jim Flaherty will certainly wink at us, when the
budget implementation act is adopted and Lindsey's law will become
the law of the land, from his Irish paradise. He certainly can find
some comfort in this.
Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
● (1625)
● (1630)
The Chair: We're now back in session.
Yes, on point of order, Mr. Garrison....
Mr. Randall Garrison: Given that the minister wasn't able to
appear until today, we are I think beyond the period in which we
could actually vote on the supplementary estimates. I'm just asking if
my understanding is correct.
The Chair: That's correct.
Mr. Randall Garrison: So we will not be able to vote on these
because the minister was saying he'd like to have our support, and of
course it's disappointing for us. If he could have appeared earlier, he
would have had our support on these supplementary estimates, but
because of the timing he wasn't here in time for us to cast those
votes. Because we do a lot of committee business in camera, that's all
I can say about that. But since he did raise the topic, we would have
been voting in favour of these supplementary estimates had he been
here in time for us to do that.
The Chair: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.
Of course, these reports are deemed back without an amendment.
So at that point then there is no report on that, but I thank you for
your point of order and I think you've made your point.
Thank you very much. We will now go to first round of
Ms. James, please, you have seven minutes.
Ms. Roxanne James (Scarborough Centre, CPC): Thank you,
Mr. Chair, and thank you to all of the officials who are here today.
I'm going to start with the deputy minister for public safety on the
cyberbullying campaign.
Could you talk a little bit about what we've done so far. It's
something that I fully support. I actually did an announcement for
phase two of this back in September at a local grade 7 and grade 8
school in my own riding. I'm going to ask you to elaborate on this,
but it was the introduction of an interactive campaign so that
students or youth could actually log on—or someone my age if we
wanted to see what it was all about—and based on what you typed
in, the results came back with the person on the screen either smiling
and happy with the comments that someone might have typed on the
screen versus something that someone typed in that made them feel
uncomfortable or sad.
It was quite an extraordinary thing to see. It was interesting to also
witness the students who were present for that announcement
because they were smiling at parts of it, and in the other parts when
they're seeing what the results were on the screen it was quite
interesting to see how they reacted, as well.
That concludes our first hour.
Minister Blaney, we will suspend very briefly and certainly you'll
be leaving, sir. Then we'll go right back at it.
I'm just wondering if you could talk a little bit about that and
where we are on that, and perhaps even how well used that website
has been to date.
● (1635)
Mr. François Guimont (Deputy Minister, Department of
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness): Thank you for the
In the past, the department sponsored cyberbullying campaigns
that were very effective, and a bit—if you wish, I'll use my own
words—passive in nature. You've probably seen youths looking at
something, passing it on to a friend, and then you see a police officer
asking questions. The resources that we got—and your question is
very timely in the sense that the Treasury Board provided us with
approval to move forward with this new campaign, which is more
interactive in nature, as you stated.
Our folks at Public Safety worked with specialists in trying to
create something that was more, I'm tempted to say, attractive to
youths. For those of you who have seen this tool, it's quite
impressive. The first time I saw it before it was made public, I was
very much surprised to see how interesting it is in the sense of you
being able to literally interact with an individual and punch in a few
words and see what their reaction is, which is, as you stated, either a
rewarding type of reaction or body language, or a more negative one.
The obvious question I asked was—I remember asking this
question—how new is this? Has this been used in the past? It's fairly
recent. It has been used elsewhere, but it's fairly rare, if you wish. So
I was quite pleased to see that the department would be moving to
the leading edge. It's been very popular for that very reason. I don't
have the numbers here with me, but I can certainly file it with the
committee for sure, and it is evolving, as you might imagine, every
day. The feedback that I got from my folks was that it was very much
enjoyed by the youth. It gives them an appreciation for what words
mean, which is essentially at the core of what that interactive video
Ms. Roxanne James: I remember when I did that announcement
and there were a few giggles or something in the audience at some of
the comments, but once they saw the expression of the person who
was reading on the other end it became silent in the room. I think that
was the key to the Stop Hating Online campaign. Anyone who's
listened to this committee simply has to go to the web and type in
“stop hating online campaign“ and you'll find it. I think it's an
excellent resource tool for parents to check out.
I have a question for the RCMP as well. The RCMP
accountability act came into force this week. There was an
announcement that you did with the Minister of Public Safety, not
yourself, but the commissioner. I know with my previous committee
work on the status of women, the commissioner was at that
committee. He came in to testify. We were studying harassment in
the workplace. I know that some of the things that were discussed in
that committee have played into the RCMP accountability act with
regard to some of new things that are involved in that act about the
new code of conduct, and so on. I'm wondering if you could
comment on some of these changes. I know it had significant
changes because the act hadn't been significantly changed in almost
25 years with regards to harassment in the workplace, codes of
conduct, and so on. Could you speak to that for a few moments?
December 3, 2014
D/Commr Mike Cabana: Absolutely. Thank you very much for
your question. I could probably speak on it for the rest of the time
that we have.
As you pointed out, and as Minister Blaney pointed out, it
provides for the RCMP a whole new regime for management of
human resources and code of conduct issues, including harassment.
Harassment now has its own regime separate from the code of
conduct processes. It also led to an expansion or creation of a new
agency, an oversight agency, for the RCMP. I'm not quite sure what
else I could provide in terms of details.
Ms. Roxanne James: The legislation passed in 2013, I believe,
but it did take a period of time to come into force with the scope and
nature of this particular act. I know from when the commissioner did
appear, and even in the status of women talks, discussions were
ongoing with employees, senior management, and other stakeholders
across the country. When we take a look at how quickly it was
implemented, that's a terrific achievement.
● (1640)
D/Commr Mike Cabana: Thank you. There was a lot of work
that was done as you pointed out. Consultation was very extensive,
including with the employees of the RCMP and regular members, as
well as public service employees and the civilian members.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms. James.
Now we'll go to Mr. Garrison, please for seven minutes.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I
neglected in my last round to add our concerns for the wounded
RCMP member in Kamloops. I understand he's a 13-year veteran
and father of two, and we all hope for a speedy and complete
I'm going to ask my question to Mr. Cenaiko from the Parole
Board of Canada. We had a change to recast pardons as record
suspensions. We had an increase in the fees from $150 to $631.
These are for people who have finished their sentences, are trying to
get back into employment, and are trying to get their lives back
together having paid the penalties they were ascribed. I have two
One is that last year we were seeing a drop in applications for
record suspensions that was attributed by many people to the
increase in the fee to $631, which is something very tough for
someone who needs the record suspension to get a job. The second is
that last year we had a backlog of some 15,000 applications. I want
to know if you had enough resources to make a dent in that backlog.
Mr. Harvey Cenaiko (Chairperson, Parole Board of Canada):
Thank you very much for the question.
There was a drop in the number of record suspensions that
individuals applied for. However, that also has to do with the fact
that, under the new legislation, the timing has gone from three years
to five years for summary conviction offences. For indictable
offences, the new waiting period has gone from five years to 10
years, so there was a drop in the number. However, this past year we
did still receive approximately 14,254 applications, and we accepted
9,500 that were completed as processing through.
December 3, 2014
In relation to the second part of your question in relation to the
backlog, the board has been able to make significant progress in
reducing the backlog over the last two years with funding through
internal efficiencies. We had a total of 22,230 files that were being
reviewed in the backlog, and we're now at 10,186 applications.
The board is currently focusing its efforts on clearing the backlog
of applications, including some related to offences tried summarily,
and we'll continue with those for summary offences. We're working
on approximately 3,500 of those right now, which we hope to have
completed by the end of this fiscal year, so over the next three and a
half months. Also, we have approximately 6,700 applications related
to indictable offences, which we'll continue to work on as resources
permit. With our current resources, we expect to have close to 70%
of the backlog cleared by March 31 of this fiscal year. As we move
into the new fiscal year, we'll remain committed to working on the
backlog, including that related to indictable offences, as resources
Mr. Randall Garrison: Thank you very much.
The Chair: You have one minute left.
Mr. Randall Garrison: One minute—that presents a little bit of a
I want to turn to CBSA. In 2012 cuts announced for CBSA
amounted to a plan of $143 million, and the estimates say you've
lapsed $194 million. Those are relatively significant numbers.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Thank you. The progress you have made
is very encouraging.
At the time there was a question about positions in the intelligence
branch of CBSA. At the time, the union said that 100 positions—not
people, but positions—were going to be eliminated from the
intelligence branch, which obviously helps keep our borders safe,
not something most people think of as a back-office function. Can
you tell me whether those 100 positions were in fact eliminated?
I wonder if you have any estimate of time for that last 30%.
What's the plan for clearing that last 30% of the backlog? What
timelines are available?
Mr. Luc Portelance (President, Canada Border Services
Agency): Thank you.
Mr. Harvey Cenaiko: I can't give you a timeline, but I can tell
you that we will work on it as resources permit, because the record
suspension staff will continue to work on the record suspensions. We
are governed by statute and timelines on record suspension. For a
summary conviction offence, we have to have that. Once it's
accepted and we are able to process it because everything has been
submitted properly, we have six months to complete the file. For
indictable offences, we have one year.
Those are ongoing as we speak, and we're maintaining our
timelines under the User Fees Act. In the case of the pardons, we're
completing those as we can with the resources we have.
● (1645)
Mr. Randall Garrison: So you are staying within those timelines.
Mr. Harvey Cenaiko: For the backlog we aren't, because we're
not governed by the legislation regarding the pardon backlog, which
were the old cases prior to the change in legislation in 2012.
Mr. Randall Garrison: I know my office and several other
offices have had queries from people who say they've been waiting
two to three years since their application was approved. Would that
be possible?
Mr. Harvey Cenaiko: The vast majority of the files we've had
have been for summary convictions, for things like impaired driving,
thefts, and drug offences.
The indictable offences obviously include things that are much
more serious: major frauds, serious assaults, sexual assaults, and
even.... Some of those wouldn't even be considered under the new
legislation. Some of those individuals who have pardon applications
don't want a record suspension because they will not qualify under
the new legislation since some of them have more than three federal
offences. Under the new legislation they will not qualify for a record
suspension, so they'll stay in the pardon hopper, so to speak, until we
get to them. But we will process them with the resources we have.
Perhaps just to clarify the two separate issues, the lapse that you
referred to is unrelated to the intelligence officers. That lapse was
actually mostly reprofiled on projects, money we couldn't spend one
year into another.
On your specific question with respect to intelligence officers,
those positions were indeed reduced, as we had promised through
the deficit reduction action plan. But if I can reassure the member, in
assessing the intelligence needs of the CBSA, we took into
consideration the existing number of intelligence officers versus
the total complement of the CBSA. I spent 24 years working in
intelligence for CSIS, and my assessment was that we had in fact too
many resources in the intelligence function versus the complement
of border services officers.
I can assure you that this was done very diligently with full
comprehension of where we were reducing. From my perspective, I
did not think that we were actually reducing the intelligence capacity
of the CBSA, but cutting in areas that were not necessarily
associated with collecting intelligence but were more analytical, and
areas where I could actually gain that analysis from some of my
partner agencies.
We made those cuts with full confidence that we wouldn't reduce
our effectiveness.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Perhaps I can sneak in one question.
The Chair: Very briefly.
Mr. Randall Garrison: The Federation of Canadian Municipalities had asked for ongoing talks with the RCMP about the costs
of contract policing and the ability of the RCMP to supply the
personnel for those contracts. Are you in talks with the Canadian
federation of municipalities on that question of costs and staffing of
the contracts?
D/Commr Mike Cabana: I'm sorry, I'm not aware of any
discussions ongoing currently with the Federation of Canadian
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Mr. Lauzon.
Mr. Guy Lauzon (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry,
CPC): Thank you very much, Chair.
It's a pleasure. I'm a visitor at this committee, as is Mr. Portelance.
Mr. Portelance, you're probably aware I come from the riding of
Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, which includes Akwesasne,
which might be somewhat familiar to you. I want to give you an
opportunity to praise the good work that your people are doing down
in my area. There are a lot of increases in seizures in recent times. I
want to commend you. You don't have a very pleasant job, but I
think you're doing well and you're increasing the seizures, so that's
all good for my area.
I guess in doing that you work with the RCMP and with IBET,
and that seems to be working extremely well. We've put more
resources to that and I think the dividends are being realized. I know
there was a $50-million seizure some time ago. Can you give us a list
of some of the highlights of the recent seizures? I see them in the
newspaper and they're pretty significant—right in my area. That has
to be hurting the organized crime in that area. Can you perhaps just
give us a thumbnail?
● (1650)
Mr. Luc Portelance: Certainly. I don't have a list of the various
It is a very dynamic environment, as you suggest. But I would say
that we are working closely and effectively with law enforcement
partners. Obviously we have responsibility for the port of entry in
Cornwall. That is one of the 20 busiest ports of entry in Canada, so
just in terms of the flow of legitimate people and goods it's an
important port of entry.
From an enforcement perspective, because we focus on the port of
entry, we work very closely with not just the RCMP but with the
OPP and Sûreté du Québec, as you know—better than I do perhaps.
That area has a number of jurisdictions that come into play, including
our U.S. partners, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, New York
State Police, and so on. The collaboration is quite effective and the
seizures actually sometimes occur away from the border. I suspect
that there are probably more seizures away from our port of entry.
But oftentimes it's because those activities are being pushed away
from the port of entry.
I would also make the point that we do that work in collaboration
as well with the community of Akwesasne, the Mohawk police, and
the band council. It is a very dynamic environment. We have
effective liaison with the community of Akwesasne and the
December 3, 2014
Akwesasne police service. I think all in all for us we continue to
balance both the travel of legitimate people and goods—because that
remains important—with also focusing on seizures.
If I may, the last point I would make is that we've recently opened
a new temporary facility in Cornwall, actually on our side of the
island, which has provided for better flow of traffic and better
opportunity for our officers to effect their duties in a professional
Mr. Guy Lauzon: I'm very pleased and I'm getting great
comments. I encourage you to keep up the good work.
I have a question for the deputy commissioner.
There were some reports yesterday in the integrity commissioner's
report that some of the flights for the RCMP were a slight bit
overweight. What is your reaction in response to that observation?
D/Commr Mike Cabana: Mr. Chair, thank you very much for the
I think we need to put a little bit of context around yesterday's
reports. Very succinctly, I'll try to give you the context.
In November 2013, we were advised that the Office of the Public
Sector Integrity Commissioner had initiated an investigation on our
air services branch. On October 31 of this year, we were provided
with a draft copy of the report. In the interim, we provided full
collaboration to the integrity commissioner and his personnel, in
order for them to be able to conduct the investigation.
I think what was lost in some of the reporting over the last few
days is the fact that prior to the initiation of the investigation by the
integrity commissioner in August 2013, the RCMP had approached
Transport Canada with concerns, and had made a request for them to
have a look at air services, including our office here in Ottawa, and
for a review, a study of practices there. We worked with them to
develop a plan.
By the time the draft report was received, we had already
implemented the plan to address the issues, with the help of
Transport Canada, .
Mr. Guy Lauzon: You can't beat that. I commend you for that,
and that's the kind of reaction we would expect. Keep up the good
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
● (1655)
The Chair: You still have a minute if you'd like, otherwise we'll
go on to the next.
We will now go on to—yes, another minute?
Mr. John Carmichael: Are you sharing with Ms. Ablonczy?
Mr. Guy Lauzon: No.
Mr. John Carmichael: May I pick up the other half of that?
The Chair: Yes, you may.
Mr. John Carmichael: I would like to address a question to
Commissioner Head.
December 3, 2014
Commissioner, I asked the minister earlier about some of the
estimates and the results that have been posted. With regard to
returning the money, I have to assume that this is due to the projected
growth of the prison population that simply has not materialized. I
wonder if you could comment on that, if in fact that is the case.
Could you tell us what the prison population is today and what it
was projected to be, sir?
Mr. Don Head (Commissioner, Correctional Service of
Canada): Thank you for the question.
As of today, the incarcerated population is 14,983 offenders in 43
penitentiaries. When we talk about those significant overestimates
that were done back in early 2008 based on 2005 data, the estimates
had put projections up to 18,000 inmates. Those have not
materialized at all.
We gauge the increase in the population against March 2010 when
significant legislative changes came in, such as the Safe Streets and
Communities Act. Since that time, the prison population has
increased by around a thousand. We were at around 14,027 back
in March 2010, and we've been hovering around the 15,000 mark for
literally the last year or so.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Head.
Mr. Easter, you have seven minutes, please.
Hon. Wayne Easter: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
According to the public accounts, the RCMP, CBSA and CSIS
lapsed by some $371 million. Now, I know deputy that it's not as
straightforward as it looks, in terms of lapsing of money.
My question is for the RCMP. The RCMP lapsed by $158.6
million, yet the Commissioner of the RCMP told the Senate national
security committee on October 27, and I'll quote him:
Frankly speaking, one of the challenges in managing and leading a police
organization is that you never have enough money—you never do.
I wonder if the deputy commissioner could connect the dots for
Was it not possible to use some of that $158 million for human
resources? Were they not available? Could you clarify those numbers
and tell us why?
D/Commr Mike Cabana: Actually, I can probably provide you
with a little bit of clarity around this.
The $158.6 million in lapsed funding can be broken down as
follows: $15.2 million was in a frozen allotment, which means it
cannot be used for anything else; $61 million was carried forward for
projects in the new year. The true lapse was $82 million and the
operating fund part of the $82 million was $9.4 million, which is
Hon. Wayne Easter: When I talked to some in the rank and file,
the members and member reps complained, at least to me, about
salary levels. They said that salary levels within the RCMP are not
keeping up with the salary levels of some of the other police forces,
whether it's Calgary, Vancouver, or whatever.
As a result, I'm told the RCMP is losing fully trained officers that
have come through the training depot and they're going to other
jurisdictions with other police forces where they don't run the risk of
getting sent to an isolated location.
Can you give us any numbers in terms of either direct numbers or
percentage of your members that you may be losing on an annual
basis to police forces of other jurisdictions? Given these indications,
I think there is a problem in terms of either working conditions or
salary levels.
● (1700)
D/Commr Mike Cabana: Unfortunately, I'm not in the position
now to provide you the actual numbers that you're looking for, but
the reality though is not a new reality.
I have 34 years in the RCMP and 34 years ago we were still
experiencing back then members who were completing their training
and were being transferred to remote areas where they were having
second thoughts and were then finding employment in different law
enforcement agencies.
The reverse is also equally true. We have members of other police
agencies that consistently join the RCMP.
If there's an interest in the committee here—
Hon. Wayne Easter: If you could, Deputy Commissioner, it's not
an absolute priority, but if you could put together the numbers of
RCMP people out to other police jurisdictions, it would at least be
information that we could maybe have a debate about at committee.
To the Canada Border Services Agency, one of the complaints I
get from businesses is that all too often when they come across the
Ambassador Bridge or the other bridge—but the Ambassador Bridge
is where I get the most complaints—they see CBSA booths not
filled. They are sitting idle with traffic backed up, especially if
there's a football or baseball game in Detroit, and at busy times when
traffic is heavy. I just emailed Ambassador Bridge while we were
here and they said they're moving fine right at the moment, but it's
not a busy time.
I have two questions. First, why are those booths empty by CBSA
during busy times?
Second, in the Ambassador Bridge area, or the Detroit area, actual
traffic now is still only about 40% below what it was in 2003, so our
traffic is not nearly as heavy, yet we're still having backups. We also
have the new bridge to nowhere at the moment. With that situation,
the distance of the bridges apart, can you tell us how many more new
Canada Border Services Agency booths you're going to require to
man the new bridge as compared to the current situation?
Mr. Luc Portelance: Thank you.
Well, I guess I have a couple of thoughts. In terms of the statistics,
the 40% reduction since 2003, I don't have those numbers. However,
I've seen the numbers since 2008, and the numbers have been
holding steady at the Ambassador Bridge, and in fact in the land
mode in general. The Ambassador Bridge is our busiest crossing, as
you know.
In terms of empty booths, for the last three to four years, we've
developed a very elaborate system to assess the percentage of our
booths that are occupied at any given time. To do that, we pay
attention to what's going on on the other side of the border. For
instance, in Detroit, between the tunnel and the Ambassador Bridge,
we will pay attention to whether the Red Wings or the Pistons are
playing, or the Tigers, whether or not there are any events. We're
quite conscious of the fact that there's a lot of cross-border traffic
associated with events.
Our entire plan, both tactical and strategic, is based on historical
knowledge of traffic, of trends, and it is amplified based on
knowledge of what will be happening on any given night. I wouldn't
expect that the booths should always be full. We simply don't have
the business plan to do that, and you'd find that's true, not just for us,
but for CBP as well.
Our wait times at the Ambassador Bridge are generally pretty
good, in the sense that we try to provide not much more than 10
minutes at off-peak hours, and not much more than about 20 minutes
at on-peak hours. Now, that ebbs and flows, but for the most part,
our wait-time strategy across the country is pretty effective.
The other factor is that our commercial clients almost have a better
knowledge than we do of the trends, and usually they cycle through
when they know that the wait times are going to be lower. We also
post our wait times. As you know, people can go online right now
and know specifically what the wait times are at any of our top
Since last year, we've started posting historical wait times. The
purpose of that is to allow the travelling public to assess ahead of
time what they can expect. Rather than saying that right now they
have an hour or a 15-minute wait time, we are predicting wait times
from what the historical wait times were. That's an attempt by us to
start shifting the patterns, and pushing people to times where we
have less traffic burden. Thus far, it's been quite—
● (1705)
The Chair: Mr. Portelance, we're cutting into the next speaker's
Madame Doré Lefebvre, you have two or three minutes, please.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My questions are mainly for Mr. Head.
I have a question about the recommendations made by the
correctional investigator in “Risky Business: An Investigation of the
Treatment and Management of Chronic Self-Injury Among Federally
Sentenced Women”. That report on self-injury made 16 recommendations. We know that self-injury is a major problem in the prisons.
Has there been any follow-up on the recommendations in the
report? Where are we headed with that?
December 3, 2014
A lot of that has been focused on responding to the needs of selfharming women. That's where a lot of our time, energy, and
reallocated resources have gone. We've put in place a more stringent
review committee, made up of health care professionals, including
psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and front-line nurses, to
consistently engage and review the various women who are selfharming.
The short answer is that we've put in place a lot of new
approaches, processes, to address the points that the Correctional
Investigator has raised with us.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre: Excellent.
I would like to come back to a question I asked the minister earlier
about the older population in the prison system, which has some
impact on the work of correctional officers, depending on the prison.
There is a prison in Montée-Saint-François, in my riding, where
the prison population is mainly sex offenders. For the most part,
these offenders were caught a long time after their offence. So they
are very old.
Do you have a strategy for these people? Are you putting anything
in place to deal with these new challenges?
Mr. Don Head: We have in place a series of approaches to deal
with aging offenders.
As you can appreciate, individuals who stay with us for long
periods of time, who are as old as I am or older, come with a
significant number of health care issues. One of the challenges for us
is around palliative care and dealing with individuals who end up
passing away in custody. Again, we put a lot of time and energy into
looking at how we respond to the needs, for instance, whether there
are opportunities to take special cases to the Parole Board for
consideration. We've also gone to the point of using other offenders
for peer support. This has been a program that we've found to be
quite helpful in terms of helping elderly offenders, and in some
cases, individuals in palliative care.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Head.
Colleagues, we have bells at 5:15 with 15-minute bells only. We
have committee business just for a very short while. We will now
thank our witnesses for coming.
Mr. Don Head: We've put in place a series of initiatives to
address the recommendations of the Correctional Investigator as
brought forward.
You have a point of order, Ms. Ablonczy.
Hon. Diane Ablonczy: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
December 3, 2014
I'd just like to correct the record. I said earlier that I had been here
longer than Mr. Easter. I've since been informed by an unimpeachable source that we were elected at the same time. The only thing I
can say in defence of such a regrettable error is that my friend Mr.
Easter does not look old enough to have been here as long as I have.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
● (1710)
The Chair: The chair will take that comment in the spirit of
We will suspend for one minute, and then we will go back in
camera for committee business.
[Proceedings continue in camera]
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