Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Thursday, May 9, 2013 Chair

Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Thursday, May 9, 2013 Chair
Standing Committee on Public Safety and
National Security
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Mr. Kevin Sorenson
Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security
Thursday, May 9, 2013
● (0845)
The Chair (Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, CPC)): Good
morning, everyone.
This meeting number 86 of the Standing Committee on Public
Safety and National Security, on Thursday, May 9, 2013.
This morning we're leaving our regular study of the economics of
policing, and are responding to a motion that came before our
committee and was passed unanimously. That is a briefing on
security of rail transport.
With us today we have Gerard McDonald, he is assistant deputy
minister of safety and security at Transport Canada; John Davies,
director general of national security policy at the department of
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada; Chief Superintendent Larry Tremblay, director general of federal policing
criminal operations with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police;
Michel Coulombe, the deputy director of operations at the Canadian
Security Intelligence Service; and also, from VIA Rail Canada we
have Marc Tessier, director of corporate security and regulatory
affairs, safety, security, and risk management; Marc Beaulieu, the
regional general manager east, and chief of transportation; and
Jacques Gagnon, the spokesperson for corporate communications.
Our committee thanks all the witnesses for responding to our
request to appear and brief us on rail transport security. Canadians
thank you and the public servants responsible for keeping Canada's
railways safe. Be assured that Canadians rely on your work as they
go about their day-to-day business. We place our trust in the work of
the employees, the agents, the officers, and others under your
We will have time for questions from the members of Parliament
on our committee, following the briefings that you present to us
I'll remind members, and also officials who appear here, that we
aren't looking for any operational details, so to speak, that may put
security at risk. We expect that all those security measures will be
non-compromised, and that you will have the ability to determine
whether or not that is the fact with the question asked.
It may make sense that I go first, as my comments are written at a
higher level and will give context to the comments of my colleagues.
As many of you know, Public Safety Canada leads policy
development on a number of national security issues. Our role's
often one of convenor and facilitator, bringing together the security
and intelligence community to develop and improve policy. While
the recent arrests in Toronto and Montreal may raise concerns about
the threat of terrorism, they also demonstrate the ability of law
enforcement and intelligence agencies to work well together.
Today, I will focus primarily on the Government of Canada's
efforts to counter the threat of terrorism.
Last February, the Minister of Public Safety released “Building
Resilience Against Terrorism: Canada's Counter-terrorism Strategy”.
This document describes a framework within which the 15-plus
members of the federal security and intelligence community organize
their efforts against terrorism. These efforts are framed around four
mutually reinforcing elements, namely preventing, detecting, denying, and responding to terrorism.
Activities in the prevention element focus on the resilience of
communities to extremism, helping build their capacity to effectively
challenge extremists' narratives. This is a long-term effort. The
recent terrorist related arrests in Toronto and Montreal, particularly
the supportive reaction by local communities, are good examples of
many years of engagement efforts to earn their trust by the RCMP,
CSIS, Public Safety, and local police. Last year, for example, the
RCMP coordinated over 400 specific outreach sessions to raise
awareness among youth and adults of national security issues and of
the role key agencies play in countering threats and making
communities safer.
● (0850)
We're looking forward to your briefings.
We'll open the floor this morning with Mr. Davies.
Mr. John Davies (Director General, National Security Policy,
Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness):
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Furthermore, the Cross Cultural Roundtable on Security, which
advises the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Justice,
brings together leading citizens from diverse communities with
extensive experience in social and cultural issues to engage with the
government on national security issues.
Efforts in the element of detect aim to identify terrorist threats in a
manner that often requires timely sharing of information. Detection
requires a strong understanding of the threat environment and the
strong intelligence capacity to identify threats. Our knowledge has to
keep pace with terrorist groups, their capabilities, and the nature of
their plans. To accomplish this task within government, departments
and agencies share information for national security purposes every
There's a strong link to the third element, denying. Emphasis here
is on denying terrorists the means and opportunities to carry out their
activities through effective law enforcement and prosecution of
The key principle in all of these elements is that of partnership.
The RCMP-led integrated and national security enforcement teams
—also known as INSETs—are models of partnership and key to our
work to detect terrorists and deny them the means and opportunity to
carry out their intent. INSETs are staffed by employees from CSIS,
CBSA, local law enforcement, and the RCMP. This approach has
greatly improved the ability of agencies to work together and has led
to many successes, including the recent charges in Montreal and
Toronto as well as prior arrests including Momin Khawaja in Ottawa
and members of the Toronto 18.
Last year, recognizing the value of this model, the government
created a new INSET in Edmonton in addition to the existing ones in
Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. Note also that under the
national strategy and action plan for critical infrastructure, sector
networks have been established to facilitate information-sharing and
risk-management activities among governments and private sector
owners and operators, including rail sector stakeholders.
The rail sectors also represent the national cross-sector forum,
which brings together public and private sector partners from all ten
critical infrastructure sectors to set priorities and address shared
issues such as cyber-security and border management.
Finally our approach to counterterrorism also includes a need for a
proportionate and rapid response to any terrorist activities and to
mitigating their effects. We have infrastructure in place to
communicate with government, and between governments at all
levels and private sector owners and operators of critical
infrastructure including transportation. In the event of a terrorist
incident involving transportation, the government operations centre
is connected to other key operation centres across government to
manage incidents, including those housed within the RCMP, DND,
CSIS, DFAIT, CBSA, and Transport Canada.
Given our shared critical infrastructure with the U.S., there's also
close collaboration on critical infrastructure protection and response
mechanisms to threats.
For a terrorist incident within Canada, or for incidents overseas
with a domestic impact, the Government has adopted an all hazards
approach to emergency management. This is articulated in the
Federal Emergency Response Plan, managed by the Minister of
Public Safety.
May 9, 2013
With that, Mr. Chair, I think I'll leave it there.
Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Davies.
We'll move to the next one on the list. We have Chief
Superintendent Larry Tremblay of the Royal Canadian Mounted
C/Supt Larry Tremblay (Director General, Federal Policing
Criminal Operations, Royal Canadian Mounted Police): Thank
you, Mr. Chair. Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to
address this committee on these issues of such concern to Canadians.
You are all aware of the sensitivity of many of the issues we will
discuss here today. Some of my answers may reflect the care that
must be taken when matters are before the court or when assets and
personal security must be the priority.
I appreciate the opportunity to provide you with some information
about programs and partnerships that the RCMP has developed to
assist in keeping Canada's infrastructure, including the railway
systems, safe.
The recent success in Project Smooth is a clear demonstration of
the effectiveness of our integrated approach. The RCMP integrated
national security enforcement teams are responsible for investigating
potential threats to Canada's critical infrastructure, including railway
systems that support passenger and freight trains. But we cannot do
so alone.
At the detachment level, through calls for services, the RCMP
works with railway police services and rail operators to support
criminal investigations that directly impact rail assets and to ensure
railway property is secure against potential criminal threats.
Examples of regular collaboration between RCMP, rail police
services, municipal police, and rail operators include joint exercises
that are held throughout various locations. Scenarios from previous
exercises included hostage-taking, bomb threats, hijacking, and an
explosive attack against a freight train.
Based on operational requirements, members of the RCMP's
Jetway team may also deploy to some train stations and passenger
trains to counter organized crime and extremist elements that may
exploit rail. In addition to the counterterrorism information officer
program, the RCMP has provided training to rail operators on how to
recognize behaviour that may be indicative of pre-incident attack
May 9, 2013
The RCMP critical infrastructure intelligence team maintains
information-sharing partnerships with rail police services, municipal
transit police units, and rail operators throughout the country. Such
partners contribute to the suspicious incident reporting program,
which is a secure portal where partners voluntarily report behaviourbased incidents that may be indicative of pre-attack planning by
Having this network of security-cleared rail operators also allows
the RCMP to disseminate regular intelligence reporting to these
partners, including threat assessment, bulletins on ongoing investigative files, and analytical reports on suspicious incidents. These
products are intended to foster strong partnerships, cultivate a twoway flow of information, as well as generate awareness to a
particular issue or call for heightened vigilance where appropriate.
Existing partnerships with rail operators have provided the RCMP
with a direct line into the organizations that were collaborating with
us during Project Smooth. Such collaboration proved invaluable. For
example, the critical infrastructure intelligence team seconded from
one of the major railway police services directly supported this
project by providing technical information on rail operation.
● (0855)
Other rail security initiatives where the RCMP has collaborated
include government-sponsored classified briefings for owners and
operators of surface transportation assets, including passenger and
freight rail services. These briefings are hosted by Transport Canada,
a valuable partner in the transportation security file.
In addition, the RCMP participates each year in Public Safety
Canada's all hazards risk assessment. This year the RCMP is coleading a scenario involving an extremist attack on rail infrastructure. Such an assessment is intended to support a future exercise
intended to test rail security and emergency response.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The Chair: Thanks very much, Chief Superintendent.
We'll now move to Michel Coulombe and CSIS, please.
Mr. Michel Coulombe (Deputy Director of Operations,
Canadian Security Intelligence Service): Mr. Chair, and members
of the committee, good morning.
I am pleased to be here today to discuss issues relating to security
threats to critical infrastructure in Canada, and particularly to our rail
As members will know, CSIS is mandated to collect, analyze, and
advise the Government of Canada on threats to the security of
Canada. Since attacks on Canada's critical infrastructure are clear
threats against the security of Canada, CSIS works closely with other
departments and agencies in protecting our critical infrastructure,
notably through the national strategy for critical infrastructure,
Canada's cyber-security strategy, and Canada's counterterrorism
That being said, I would like to clarify for the committee that
CSIS is not the lead agency when it comes to critical infrastructure
protection. Questions relating to actual rail infrastructure security
and practices are best addressed to Transport Canada and the rail
companies themselves.
What I can speak to is the nature of the threat. Mr. Chair, threats to
our critical infrastructure can take many forms. They include:
terrorism, such as from groups or individuals directed or inspired by
al-Qaeda; domestic issue-motivated extremists, whether right- or
left-wing; and foreign states, which may have an interest in stealing
Canada's technology or even crippling our infrastructure.
Attacks against critical infrastructure and industrial sabotage are
not new in Canada. Indeed, our country has a history of such attacks
and plots from a variety of groups, including: the bombing of a
transmission tower in Quebec in 2004; the Toronto 18 plot to bomb
the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2006; and the bombing of pipelines
in British Columbia in 2008-09.
● (0900)
These examples remind us all too well that terrorism is not
something that happens only in other countries. There are people in
groups here and now who seek to commit acts of violence in Canada
and who, given the chance, would kill innocent Canadians and
destroy civilian infrastructure. The plot that was foiled last month
was going to be carried out here in Canada.
That said, terrorism is a globalized threat, and our security cannot
be divorced from that of the international community and from the
activities of Canadians abroad. We are also increasingly concerned
about lone actors working from often deeply personal or plainly
unknown motivations. These individuals are hard to track or
anticipate, as they provide few operational leads for investigators
and are difficult to profile.
Computer hacker groups, or "hacktivists," could also pose a threat,
as anyone with a predilection for computers and malevolent
motivations could cause serious harm to our infrastructure.
And of course, we must not forget the threat posed by certain
states, which could target our critical infrastructure to achieve their
own military or economic objectives. Given our mandate, countering
state-sponsored threats to our infrastructure remains a key priority
for the Service.
May 9, 2013
In today's digital world, critical infrastructure networks are almost
all linked up in ways that make them vulnerable to attacks,
particularly cyber-attacks, and it is not difficult to ascertain the
advantages of attacking or sabotaging critical infrastructure. Such
attacks could cause significant disruption in transportation and
commerce, and lead to important economic losses to the intended
target. They can also provide easy and predictable news coverage for
the perpetrator's propaganda aims and often boost its recruitment
As part of the MOU, rail operators are required, amongst other
things, to conduct security risk assessments and develop security
plans relevant to their operations. Based on the identified risks,
operators develop and implement appropriate security practices.
Finally, by targeting innocent civilians they instill a sense of fear
in the general population. Certainly, different groups operate on
somewhat different motives. Al-Qaeda-inspired groups and individuals will almost always wish to kill people. Issue-motivated groups
may only target property to send a clear and specific message, and
foreign states might seek to advance their defence or trade interests.
On that note, Mr. Chair, I would like to thank you for your
attention and I would welcome from members questions on any
issues I have raised.
The Chair: Thank you very much, sir.
We'll now move to the Department of Transport, to the assistant
deputy minister for safety and security, Gerard McDonald.
Mr. Gerard McDonald (Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and
Security, Department of Transport): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you committee members. I appreciate this opportunity to
meet with your committee today to provide information about
Transport Canada's role in enhancing the security of the rail
transportation system.
Let me begin by saying that the safety and security of
transportation systems are of the utmost importance to the
Government of Canada.
On April 22, 2013, the RCMP arrested two individuals and
charged them with conspiring to carry out a terrorist attack against a
VIA train. It's important to note that there was no imminent threat to
the general public, rail employees, train passengers, or infrastructure.
These arrests, however, have highlighted the importance of
continued vigilance within the transportation system.
They have also emphasized that securing rail and urban transit
requires a partnership approach including all levels of government,
local law enforcement, first responders, operators, and industry
associations, supported by a range of tools that can be implemented
by operators of all sizes.
Transport Canada works closely with operators to safeguard the
security of their operations. For example, in 2007 the Government of
Canada renewed a memorandum of understanding on security with
the Railway Association of Canada and its members.
Transport Canada works with MOU signatories and conducts
oversight and monitoring activities to help industry meet the terms
and conditions of the MOU and promote a more secure rail
transportation system. For example, Transport Canada uses regionally located inspectors to audit the extent to which signatories meet
the terms and conditions of the MOU. This evaluation process
involves assessments and inspections of the important aspects of an
operator's security program.
● (0905)
The government can also exercise various legislative authorities to
enhance the security of the rail transportation system in certain
circumstances. For example, to enhance security during the 2010
Vancouver Olympics and the G-8 and G-20 in 2010 in Toronto,
Transport Canada used security authorities under the Railway Safety
From 2006 to 2009, Transport Canada also managed the TransitSecure program. This program provided financial assistance on a
cost-shared basis to both small and large commuter rail and public
transit operators throughout Canada to further enhance their security
measures for addressing potential threats of terrorism.
Industry and government also collaborate on the development of
voluntary codes of practice on such matters as conducting security
risk assessments, developing and maintaining security plans,
conducting security exercises, and training and awareness. Transport
Canada officials also participate in workshops with rail and transit
associations to promote rail security. We have also collaborated with
industry in the creation of an intelligence network for the sharing of
security intelligence and incident reporting.
In conclusion, I want to reiterate that security is of the utmost
importance to the Government of Canada. Security of the
transportation system is also everyone's business and is enhanced
through partnerships, the promotion of a security culture and
awareness across all jurisdictions and sectors.
Thank you again for offering Transport Canada the opportunity to
present how it is working to enhance the security of Canada's rail
transportation system.
I would welcome any questions you may have on the work we do
in this regard.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. McDonald.
We will now move to Montreal to VIA Rail.
May 9, 2013
I'm not certain whether there is one statement or two. Monsieur
Beaulieu, the floor is yours.
Mr. Marc Beaulieu (Regional General Manager, East and
Chief of Transporation, Customer Experience, VIA Rail Canada
Inc.): Good morning.
My name is Marc Beaulieu. I'm regional general manager and
chief of transportation for VIA Rail. I'm happy to be joined today by
Marc Tessier, our director of security and regulatory affairs, as well
as by Jacques Gagnon, our VIA spokesperson.
Mr. Chair, members of the committee, we are pleased to be
participating in this meeting by videoconference.
On behalf of VIA Rail Canada, I wish to thank you, Mr. Chair, for
our invitation to appear before this committee.
VIA Rail's safety and security policies are rigorous and strictly
applied. We have high training standards for our employees who
work on board trains and those who serve passengers. Our
mechanisms for reporting any kind of risk to police authorities are
very effective.
Safety and security are paramount at VIA Rail. We recognize and
salute the work of law enforcement. Passenger train travel is among
the safest and we work diligently to keep it that way. As a member of
the Railway Association of Canada, VIA Rail is signatory to the
memorandum of understanding on railway security between the
Railway Association of Canada and Transport Canada. The
memorandum of understanding covers the following essential
elements: security plans, training and awareness, exercises, and
incident reporting. In compliance with the above, VIA Rail has
submitted a security plan that reflects our current security model.
The plan is risk-based, using Transport Canada's threat context
statements as a basis for risk assessment.
As part of its security plan, VIA Rail has implemented the
following programs and procedures. Security awareness training is
mandatory for all employees. This training was developed in
consultation with the RCMP. A group of front-line employees have
also received face-to-face training by members of the RCMP.
Management employees with security responsibilities have received
training given by the RCMP officers, in conjunction with the
Canadian Police College in Ottawa. Intelligence training and
certification were also obtained through the Privy Council Office.
VIA Rail routinely conducts security exercises to ensure that
programs and procedures are functioning as designed. Part of this
process relies on participation of various police forces, including the
RCMP, on training exercises that focus on familiarizing officers with
VIA Rail operations and equipment, and synchronizing our
respective responses. VIA Rail also has procedures in place to
ensure the reporting of incidents with a nexus to terrorism to the
appropriate authorities. This includes partnership with the RCMP in
the suspicious incident reporting initiative and notification to
Transport Canada.
Above and beyond these requirements, VIA's security plan also
establishes our letter of understanding program, which involves
authorizing law enforcement agencies full access to our properties.
This empowers the law enforcement agencies to act on our behalf.
The RCMP is signatory on several letters of understanding. It
enables us to establish strong partnerships and facilitates intelligence
gathering and sharing.
VIA partners with host railway police who are responsible for
infrastructure protection over a significant portion of the track that
VIA Rail operates. VIA also works closely with Transport Canada to
participate on various initiatives, committees, and working groups.
This work has led to the establishment of the codes of practice that
outline industry best practices related to security, security plans,
threat and risk assessment, security awareness training, and public
In conclusion, I would like to thank our law enforcement partners
and Transport Canada for continuously helping us improve and be
more effective in terms of security. We deliver on our promise to
keep the travelling public safe.
● (0910)
In closing, I would like to thank law enforcement agencies and
Transport Canada for their ongoing support. It allows us to keep our
promise to provide secure service for our passengers.
Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Monsieur Beaulieu.
We will move into the first round of questioning. It's a sevenminute round.
We'll go to Mr. Hawn, please, for seven minutes.
Hon. Laurie Hawn (Edmonton Centre, CPC): Thank you, Mr.
Thank you to all our witnesses for appearing on pretty short
I'd like to start with Public Safety Canada, Mr. Davies. You talked
about the continuum of prevent, detect, deny, and respond.
Obviously we'd like to not get to the respond part. We'd like to
stop it earlier. I think the key to that is obviously detection, and to me
a key to that is having access to the information that's out there.
There's a lot of information out there on the Internet and in other
Do you think we need some kind of legislation that would permit
lawful access, under appropriate supervision, to the Internet to detect
the kind of activity that leads to what we've just witnessed?
Mr. John Davies: In broad terms, access to information is
intelligence. They're synonyms. They go together. Any kind of
policy program or legislative improvement that helps law enforcement, our intelligence agencies, access more information to make it
lawful to lower risk to Canadians, that's obviously something you
want to consider. You want to consider all the pros and cons of doing
that and the best way to legislate it, for sure. Obviously information
sharing with the private sector, with other parts of government,
anything we can do to facilitate that is a good thing in my view.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: I'm guessing that none of the other panellists
would disagree with that. I'm not seeing any disagreement, thank
I'd like to stick with Public Safety, Mr. Davies, for a second. One
of my other jobs is as the Canadian co-chair of the Canada-U.S.
Permanent Joint Board on Defence. As I'm sure you know, there's a
lot of cooperation on that between Public Safety and the Homeland
Security side. Could you talk a little bit about...?
We've kind of talked about the Canadian side of this, which
obviously ultimately is the most important to us. Can you talk a little
bit about the coordination with the U.S. in general terms, or if there
is anything sort of specific to rail safety that you could talk about?
● (0915)
May 9, 2013
you've been collaborating forever in these areas, and this has
formalized it.
Is that working as planned and is there an international component
to that or could you describe at least in broad terms the international
component of that with agencies south of the border?
C/Supt Larry Tremblay: Obviously the RCMP works very
closely with our U.S. law enforcement partners. The INSETs here in
Canada are just a formalized version of the level of cooperation
amongst the agencies. Even where we don't have an INSET, there's a
high level of collaboration throughout. The INSETs allow us to
formalize that and work closely together. The level of sharing at the
provincial, federal, and municipal levels is outstanding.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: For CSIS, events change. Things can unfold
fairly quickly. I know how you're going to answer this, but I'm going
to ask it anyway. How quickly can CSIS adapt? I guess I just want
some level of comfort that CSIS is manned and equipped, etc., to
adapt fairly quickly when new threats arise or when the landscape
Mr. John Davies: Just maybe in general terms and my colleagues
can talk about a more specific link to rail. The beyond the border
initiative agreement between President Obama and Prime Minister
Harper is a big driver of a lot of security-related investments and
efforts over the last few years. Of course, one aspect of that is
information sharing, working together also on different threat
assessments, investments to make the border safer, to push the
border out from a permanent perspective.
Mr. Michel Coulombe: We are a very nimble organization. That's
the nature of the work we do, so we have to adapt all the time. If you
go back to moving from more of a CI priority during the Cold War to
more of a CT environment today.... The emergence of cyber was also
another issue we had to adapt to. So we have the analytical capability
and the operational capability to adapt to the emergence of new
threats and environments.
So a lot of the work we're doing with the U.S. is sort of driven by
very concrete objectives linked to the border action plan. The action
plan has a number of specific metrics, deliverable dates, and so on. It
has really helped energize and open a lot of doors for us with the U.
S. and I think vice versa. So that's a big part at least from the national
security policy and information-sharing point of view. That's a big
piece of the puzzle for us.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: For Transport Canada—because I don't want
to leave anybody out—Mr. McDonald, you obviously have
Transport Canada's responsibility for transportation, safety, and
security. What mechanisms do you use to ensure that operators—
whether it's on the rail side or the air transport side, whatever—are in
fact fulfilling their obligations?
Hon. Laurie Hawn: Thank you.
I'd like to turn to VIA Rail now along that same line with respect
to MOUs or agreements you have with other rail companies,
specifically cross-border. What kinds of arrangements do you have
for information sharing, intelligence-sharing cooperation, with other
operators, specifically Amtrak?
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: We have a very close relationship with
Amtrak. We value our partnership with them. We're in constant
communication whether it be operational or security wise. We
certainly share information extremely well. As I said, it's an
extension. We keep them informed as much as required to make sure
that our mutual networks are well informed of any threats.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: Thank you.
To the RCMP now, Superintendent Tremblay, I was lucky enough
to be in Edmonton to help announce the integrated national security
enforcement teams. So it's a relatively new concept, although I know
Mr. Gerard McDonald: We have a number of mechanisms. First
and foremost, we conduct oversight of the operators to make sure
that they're living up either to our regulatory framework or to the
MOUs that we have in place. We've also established security
networks in each of the modes where we ensure that operators have
people cleared at the appropriate level, at the secret level, so that we
can share any information with them that might become available to
us in the event that there is a threat to the system. It allows us in
concert with them to raise vigilance as appropriate.
● (0920)
Hon. Laurie Hawn: What kind of inspections do you conduct?
Do you do things like what we in the air force would call a "nonotice Tac Eval"? Do you do those kinds of exercises?
Mr. Gerard McDonald: We might do that.
May 9, 2013
In many cases what we'll do, specifically with respect to the rail
industry—all of the rail industry has security plans in place—is go in
and verify that they are living up to what they say they are going to
do in those security plans. We'll also consult with them on the
development of their plans, and if required, if we see that something
is not there, we may do surprise inspections. It's more often
announced, quite frankly.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: Okay.
Going back to the RCMP, Chief Superintendent Tremblay,
recently the government's Combating Terrorism Act was passed,
giving police new tools and powers to address the threat posed by
terrorism. As much as you can say, politically, what is your view of
Bill S-7? Is it going to give you some more tools in your tool belt?
The Chair: Go ahead.
C/Supt Larry Tremblay: Thank you.
Obviously I cannot comment on pending legislation, but I can say
that we will make use of all tools that are made available to us for
law enforcement purposes.
Mr. Randall Garrison: What that would indicate is that, under
the national strategy and action plan for critical infrastructure, we
would find VIA Rail in the transportation sector, under that strategy
in 2011. Would that be a good understanding of where you're
participating in these initiatives?
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: That's correct.
Mr. Randall Garrison: I'll turn to Mr. Davies from Public Safety.
Was any of the money from the anti-terrorism initiative allocated
to critical infrastructure projects?
Mr. John Davies: Are you talking about the PSAT money?
Mr. Randall Garrison: That's right.
Mr. John Davies: I don't have knowledge of the way that money
was broken down.
Mr. Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, NDP):
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Randall Garrison: We've had the recent report from the
Auditor General that expressed concerns about identifying where the
money was spent. One area in which I still have a question concerns
whether you would be able, at a later date, to tell us whether any of
that money was allocated to national critical infrastructure such as
VIA Rail.
I too would like to thank all the witnesses for appearing at short
Mr. John Davies: I'm certain that some was allocated to the
transport sector.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll move to Mr. Garrison, please, for seven minutes.
In particular I extend thanks to VIA Rail and the RCMP for their
very quick action on the most recent anti-terrorism case, which of
course on our side we believe demonstrates that the tool box is
probably full and being made good use of.
I want to start with a question to VIA Rail about how VIA Rail is
treated by the government, in terms of anti-terrorism strategies and
activities. Are you at VIA Rail treated solely in the same manner as
any other private institution, despite the fact that you're a crown
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: I'll defer that to our director of security.
Mr. Marc Tessier (Director, Corporate Security and Regulatory Affairs, Safety, Security and Risk Management, VIA Rail
Canada Inc.): Thank you.
We work very closely with the industry and with the governing
agencies, such as Transport Canada. Because of the nature of our
business, we have very customer-focused and passenger-focused
inspection criteria with Transport Canada. I would say that it is
mostly due to the nature of our business, rather than to the fact that
we are a crown corporation, that we enjoy that closer relationship.
Mr. Randall Garrison: When it came to something such as the
government's anti-terrorism initiative, which started in late 2001 or
early 2002, would VIA Rail have been invited to submit proposals
for funding for anti-terrorism initiatives under the proposal, or were
you simply left with the other, private sector groups to take care of
those security things with your own resources?
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: We rely on our own operating budgets to put
these plans in place.
The Chair: Yes, Mr. McDonald?
Mr. Gerard McDonald: Mr. Chair, I may be able to provide a bit
of clarification.
One of the programs under that rubric was, as I alluded to earlier,
the Transit-Secure program, which identified roughly $115 million
to be spent to enhance the security of rail and urban infrastructure.
Under that program, all rail and urban transit operators were
eligible to apply. VIA Rail did not apply under that particular
program, but they did benefit from security enhancements that were
made under the program to Toronto's Union Station and to gare
Centrale in Montreal.
● (0925)
Mr. Randall Garrison: Going back again to the Auditor
General's recent reports, one of the things they identified was some
gaps in overall coordination. We have the public safety anti-terrorism
initiative in 2001. We have the building resilience against terrorism,
Canada's counterterrorism strategy, 2012. We have a national
strategy and action plan for critical infrastructure. We have Canada's
cyber-security strategy. We have Canada's counterterrorism strategy.
Who is actually coordinating all of the work on the anti-terrorism
strategy? How is that coordination done? I know it is officially
assigned to Public Safety, but we have this whole set of strategies
covering various things. Where does that coordination occur?
May 9, 2013
Mr. John Davies: For the counterterrorism strategy, Public Safety
Canada coordinates, on behalf of the security intelligence community, the implementation of that strategy, likewise for the strategy on
critical infrastructure, and it is the same thing for the cyber-strategy.
How well versed do you think Canadians are right now on the
actual threat of terrorism? What kind of work does VIA Rail do to
encourage vigilance and encourage reporting from the client level?
I'm sorry, I've forgotten the others you mentioned, but at Public
Safety, as I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks, we develop
policy with the community. We put things together with them and we
implement with them as well. It's our job to work with the
community, document what has been going on, create the action
plans, and report to ministers and to cabinet about how things are
going in terms of progress.
Mr. Randall Garrison: If this coordination is going on at Public
Safety, how is that related to the coordination of spending on the
anti-terrorism initiatives? In other words, you have the coordination
of policy aspects, but who is coordinating the assignment of
resources to these anti-terrorism things?
Mr. John Davies: Again, if you're talking about the PSAT money,
I think that money has run out some time ago. Most resources for
departments and agencies are called A-base or normal core funding
of these departments.
● (0930)
Are you asking if there are additional resources and who designs
where incremental dollars go? Is that what you're asking?
Mr. Randall Garrison: One of the concerns the Auditor General
identified was that there was a lack of evidence that proposals for
spending under anti-terrorism initiatives were clearly based on threat
and risk assessments. So I'm trying to determine who would be
responsible for making sure that the money we're spending, whether
it's department by department or overall in government, is based, as
the Auditor General said, on national threat and risk assessments.
Is that the responsibility of your coordinating groups? Is that the
responsibility of Treasury Board?
Mr. John Davies: Again I think you're talking about discrete
initiatives of some years ago. Obviously for core spending now,
there are departmental performance reports. There are various reports
that are public and discussed. Whether it's the estimates, the public
accounts, all that kind of normal corporate reporting, that's when
those issues are discussed and debated amongst parliamentarians.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Garrison. We're out of time.
We'll now move back to Mr. Leef, please.
Mr. Ryan Leef (Yukon, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to all our witnesses.
Since we did really come today to talk about rail security, I'll
direct some of my questions to the folks at VIA Rail.
We've heard about partnerships and integrated work and
education. I'm just wondering, when we get down to the client
level for identifying threats, what kind of work is VIA Rail doing to
ensure the passengers and clients of rail services receive the
information and education they need to be vigilant?
We heard the RCMP talk about detachment-level work. We heard
CSIS talk about how difficult it is to identify lone operators, and if
we have threats around the rail sector, obviously we rely heavily on
the general public to be aware of these threats.
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: We certainly have some programs that are
very effective at increasing employee vigilance. Our locomotive
engineers are extremely familiar with their territory, and our frontline employees who deal with our customers, either on our trains or
in our stations, are very well trained and experienced at observing
and identifying any dangerous situations or suspicious behaviours.
We have technology in place in our stations and facilities with
many features, such as cameras, access control, remote locking
systems. We have security personnel from VIA Rail and station
owners to provide security guards in many locations, and we use
contracted security inspectors who are former police officers who
travel under cover on some of our trains.
There is no doubt in our minds that our customers are a big part of
our solution. Anything that is brought forth to our attention is acted
upon very rigorously and very effectively. To answer your question,
I'm very confident that people who travel in our mode of transport
feel safe, are safe, and we do everything possible to continuously
improve our mitigations that are in place.
Mr. Ryan Leef: Thank you.
When you're using any form of public transportation or when
you're in any public space generally, you just want to be able to
operate, to feel safe, let your guard down, and not be constantly on
the lookout. But obviously we've reached a different day. As we
heard from CSIS, there are people in groups here and now that are
seeking to do us harm.
I was just in Boston a few weeks ago when the attacks occurred
there. I'd be the first to admit that in a venue like that, you certainly
let your guard down. I'm not sure we ever want to see the day when
we're inundated with warning signs. Obviously sometimes the best
security is the security you don't see. But we as everyday citizens
and people utilizing public transportation for this topic have a role to
How do you strike a balance between letting people know where
and how to report or educating with signage or with security things,
and at the same time, allowing people to exist in an environment
where they're not on that proverbial edge of their seat all the time?
How do you strike that balance appropriately with VIA Rail?
May 9, 2013
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: It's through constant training and awareness.
We use every opportunity available to us to make sure that the
message is clear. Our “keep an eye open" approach and training for
our employees is very clear. The first skill that they use is diffusing.
Suspicious issues are to be reported immediately. Our operations
control centre is directly linked to whatever police forces or support
that we require in any event. We test those measures regularly. We
use the feedback from our front-line employees and our managers to
consistently review any of our processes and procedures to ensure
that a balance is reached. When in doubt, always err on the side of
Mr. Ryan Leef: Chief Superintendent Tremblay, the NDP
suggested the tool box is full. Would you say that today the tool
box for law enforcement is full and that we are on par with terrorism
organizations? Are we behind them slightly? Are there things we
need to do to make sure that we continually add to that tool box?
How are we keeping pace right now?
C/Supt Larry Tremblay: What I can comment on is that the
complexity of the threat continues to evolve. It's critical that we
reposition to deal with that evolving threat. Again, without being in a
position to comment on the proposed legislation, we will make use
of all tools available. If tools become available, we will put them to
good use.
Mr. Ryan Leef: Thank you.
The Chair: One minute.
Mr. Ryan Leef: One minute? Thank you, Mr. Chair.
You described work at the detachment levels. How important do
you think the work at the detachment level is in terms of community
education and engagement, in contrast to the work at the more
discreet levels of enforcement?
● (0935)
C/Supt Larry Tremblay: It's absolutely critical. I think the recent
arrests, and the more public recent arrests, show the level of
collaboration among the various agencies and collaboration with the
private sector. But prevention of terrorist-related activity is very
much a shared responsibility. It can't be left to the police alone or to
the agency alone. The engagement of community leaders and the
engagement of the public is absolutely critical in the detect, deny,
and prevent phase.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll move to Mr. Scarpaleggia, please, for seven minutes.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.): Thank you
very much, Chair, and thank you to all the witnesses for being here.
Thank you to the committee for agreeing to our Liberal motion to
have this hearing. We also would have liked to have had some
outside experts, not because we don't have faith in the work that
you're all doing, but just to test the resilience of your responses
I'd like to get down to a little bit of a more specific level. We've
heard about strategies, coordination, and memoranda of understanding. But I was wondering, Mr. Beaulieu, if you could tell me or
the committee how many incidents there have been on the VIA Rail
train service in the last year. You say there are people trained to
respond to incidents. Obviously we're not talking about terrorist
attacks here. We're just talking about incidents on trains where the
porters or someone else—one of your plainclothes marshals—would
have to intervene in some way. From something very simple to
something like, for example, a passenger needing to be taken off the
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: To the exact number of incidents, I would
not be able to answer that, but I could certainly recover it from our
database as required and get you that information later. I can tell you
that our employees are extremely vigilant, and they apply the
processes extremely well.
Police forces across the country, when required, respond
extremely effectively. To my knowledge, never have we contacted
any police force for support that didn't respond swiftly and
effectively to our needs. Yes, we have detrained customers on
occasion, unfortunately, because it was our only option at that time.
We also are extremely well skilled at identifying any suspicious
baggage, and again, the police forces respond extremely effectively
to all those needs. I can say that, to my knowledge, it has happened
at least eight to 10 times this year, without being too specific,
because I don't have the database in front of me, but numerous times.
Each was responded to extremely effectively by all involved on
every occasion.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: You're telling me there have been
incidents and people have been taken off the train and baggage has
been taken off the train. So, yes, we would appreciate getting
information on the number of times this has occurred, and perhaps
on an annual basis for the last three to five years. That would be
You say you have security cameras in the stations. What do these
security cameras tell you? As you know, there's a debate in the
United States as to whether security cameras are an effective
deterrent. We know they obviously help in apprehending those
who've committed offences, but there's a big debate as to whether
they are a deterrent.
So I'm just wondering, have your security cameras been helpful in
terms of perhaps preventing someone from boarding a train who,
based on a security camera, was exhibiting maybe odd behaviour or
something like that?
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: I can't answer that specific question of
somebody having odd behaviour. I know that we have used our
security cameras to recover stolen items and identify a perpetrator of
a crime, but I don't have a specific example of having detected
somebody with suspicious behaviour with our camera systems per
● (0940)
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: I would also like to, at this point,
follow up on something that came out of the Auditor General's report
and that Mr. Garrison raised, which is that nobody seems to be able
to tell us how much is being spent on anti-terrorism or cyber-security
in this country.
I remember when the minister appeared. I think it was either last
month or two months ago. We asked him if he could give us a
number for how much the Government of Canada spends on the
fight for cyber-security, and the only answer we got from the
minister was, well, consult the estimates in all the different
departments that are involved. I think this is something that is
concerning, not only to the Auditor General but to members of
Parliament and to the public.
Mr. McDonald, in your department, in your unit, will there be any
diminution of resources in the coming years, maybe next year or the
year after, as a result of budget cutting, for example? Would you be
considered front line or back room? If you're front line, we've been
told by the government that there will be no reductions in
expenditures or manpower, but we've been told that back office
services could see some cuts.
I'd like to know if you're being squeezed, or if your budget is
being squeezed, to the extent that you may not be able to do the fine
work that you do as well in the future. Are you being asked to come
up with efficiencies that maybe, quite frankly, are not there to be
Mr. Gerard McDonald: In response to your question of whether
we're front line or back room, in fact we're both. We exercise the
functional responsibility for our safety and security programs. Then
we also deliver those programs on the front line through our
inspectors and what have you in the regions and at headquarters.
Our programs have been subject to the same reductions that have
been absorbed by other departments around the country. But that
being said, we made a specific effort not to cut any front-line
resources, not to reduce any of our inspectors out in the field, but to
look more at administrative, organization, and overhead-type
expenses in order to meet the budget reductions that have been
imposed on us.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Thank you.
Mr. Beaulieu, if somebody comes to buy a ticket at the local train
station and they want to pay cash, do you just take the cash and give
them a ticket, or does that raise a red flag?
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: All purchases paid with cash raise a red flag.
There are other indicators, such as one-way trips, nervousness, other
behaviours that are communicated through training and awareness to
our employees. Any such incidents can be easily reported and
followed up on.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Scarpaleggia.
We'll now move to Madame Michaud for five minutes. The
second round is a five-minute round.
Ms. Élaine Michaud (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, NDP): I
would like to thank you for being here today.
I would like to build on the questions asked by my colleague,
Mr. Garrison.
You mentioned that many departments and agencies, including
yours, experienced budget cuts. This began with budget 2012, when
the Canada Border Services Agency absorbed cuts of $143 million,
which resulted in the elimination of 325 jobs at border crossings
May 9, 2013
across the country. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service will
have its budget cut by almost $24.5 million in 2015. This is going to
happen. The RCMP has been subjected to reductions of
$195.2 million and more cuts are expected in budget 2013. It is
expected that spending will be slashed by 29.8% in 2013-14
compared to 2012-13.
Cuts are being made in different departments and the work is
being done in silos. However, is there a global assessment of how
every cut and every new measure implemented affects the capacity
of various departments and agencies to counter terrorism and protect
Canada's national security?
Mr. John Davies: Thank you for your question.
● (0945)
Is it an overall analysis, from a national security point of view, of
what the totality of cuts has meant to the community across the board
that you're asking for?
Ms. Élaine Michaud: Yes, exactly. I want to know if the
cumulative effect of all the cuts has been assessed. Different human
resources are being eliminated. What are the effects on the ground of
all these initiatives?
Mr. Ryan Leef: I have a point of order.
The Chair: I'll hear Mr. Leef on a point of order.
Mr. Ryan Leef: Mr. Chair, I think, in fairness to our witnesses,
that these broad-based questions about departmental cuts and across
the spectrum cuts are not fair. We asked them to come here to answer
questions about the safety of Canada's rail system. If the members
opposite have direct questions about budgetary measures that would
directly impact transport or rail safety, I think it might be fair for the
witnesses to answer, but I don't think to ask them on a completely
departmental level is fair.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Leef. In fact I asked our clerk for the
motion that we've asked them to appear on, and I should remind the
committee that we have asked them to appear at a meeting to brief
the committee on current modes, systems, and procedures for
protecting rail transport in Canada, passengers, and freight against
I think what Mr. Leef says is probably correct. I would encourage
you.... The broad question of whether there have been cuts that have
affected the safety of rail...but we're more specifically looking into
the procedures for protecting rail transport in Canada: the systems,
the modes, not the overall question of budgetary....
Go ahead.
Ms. Élaine Michaud: If it's going to be a point of order and not
on my time, I want to answer to that.
The Chair: It's definitely not on your time. We haven't taken your
time off.
May 9, 2013
Ms. Élaine Michaud: All right, that is perfect.
In fact, in the presentations, some witnesses told us that they
wanted to look at the broader issues. Thus, I am responding to the
presentations made here. The witnesses themselves wanted to
address these broader issues. Therefore, in that context, I believe that
my questions are in keeping with the rules.
The Chair: I'll watch it. I hadn't interjected myself yet, because I
think your questioning was getting close to the edge here. We want a
briefing on the systems, the procedures, and the modes of security on
Continue, please.
Ms. Élaine Michaud: I will.
Mr. Davies, could you speak to that?
Mr. John Davies: In very broad terms, during the deficit
reduction action plan discussions, the national security advisor,
together with other deputies from the community, met consistently to
discuss the impact of cuts on national security. There was an ongoing
dialogue among deputies during that time.
Ms. Élaine Michaud: Thank you very much.
I will now ask Mr. Tremblay a question that addresses the
concerns of my colleagues opposite, I believe.
I referred to the cuts at the RCMP. Does this have a direct effect
on your ability to work with VIA Rail to protect the security of
railways and counter possible terrorist attacks?
C/Supt Larry Tremblay: Thank you for your question.
Mr. Chair, in very broad terms we believe that the recent arrests
have demonstrated that we do possess the ability, in close
collaboration with the S and I community and various departments
within the GOC, to work with the private sector to counter what was
a very serious terrorist threat to the rail system.
I'm not sure that I can go into more detail than that.
Ms. Élaine Michaud: Thank you very much.
My next question is for Mr. McDonald.
Earlier, you started talking about certain programs of the public
security and anti-terrorism initiative, which allowed Transport
Canada, among others, to collaborate with VIA Rail on railway
Could you expand on what you said? We know that there are a lot
of programs in this initiative, and that it is difficult to track where the
money was invested, the results and where any residual money went.
Could you tell us more about certain other initiatives you used to
ensure the security of our railways?
Mr. Gerard McDonald: Thank you for your question.
As I indicated earlier, we've had two major initiatives. One is the
Transit-Secure program that ran from 2006 to 2009, I believe. That
was to improve security at railway stations and operations, and urban
transit operations. That provided funding for our organizations to
improve what they had.
● (0950)
Ms. Élaine Michaud: Allow me to clarify something about this
The Chair: Just let him finish. We're out of time.
Mr. Gerard McDonald: It funded things such as construction
equipment, training, public awareness, signage, internal assessments,
surveillance technologies, infrastructure in these locations, security
centres, and access control measures.
As I indicated, we also have the MOU with the railways. We work
regularly with the railways to enhance the MOU, make sure that it's
lived up to, and ensure that the railways are meeting their obligations
in that regard.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. McDonald.
We'll now move back to the government, to Mr. Norlock, please.
Mr. Rick Norlock (Northumberland—Quinte West, CPC):
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Through you to the witnesses, thank you for appearing today.
Just to set the record straight, the Auditor General said that we
didn't find anything that gave us concern that the money was used in
any way it should not have been. Then when he appeared before
Mr. John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River, NDP): On a
point of order. I don't think that we're talking about that anymore.
Mr. Rick Norlock: Absolutely, Mr. Chair, they're not going to get
away with misinformation. I'm speaking to my constituents at home.
They've been somewhat misled by the type of questioning that goes
on here. There has been no misappropriation and at the department
The Chair: Go ahead.
Mr. John Rafferty: It's exactly the same as Mr. Leef's point.
We've left that line of questioning. I will certainly return to that if
you wish, when it's my turn.
The Chair: Mr. Norlock, maybe word it in a way or—
Mr. Rick Norlock: Let me go to another issue.
One of the questions had to do with CBSA and cuts. If I remember
correctly, Mr. Chair, looking at some of our past budgets—and if any
of the witnesses who may be directly responsible for CBSA want to
confirm this—we've increased front-line.... Number one, because
terrorists are not nice people, we've armed our border guards for their
safety and the safety of Canadians. Number two, we've increased
front-line CBSA officers to 26%.
But if I might go to the VIA Rail folks and the RCMP with regard
to security cameras, based on my 30 years of policing, security
cameras have in the past and continue.... I'll go right to the RCMP.
Wouldn't the proof of the pudding with regard to security cameras in
areas of concern and in our cities and towns, in your opinion and
based on the Boston experience.... Security cameras significantly
reduced the investigation time in order to catch the bad guys.
Wouldn't that be true, Chief Superintendent?
C/Supt Larry Tremblay: Thank you.
I think security cameras have been used by law enforcement in
order to bring facts within the evidence chain. So we have made use
of security cameras for law enforcement purposes. It has been
extensively used for evidence purposes in court.
Mr. Rick Norlock: Thank you very much.
This question is for Mr. Coulombe. Can you describe the role
CSIS has in the counterterrorism strategy that was announced by this
government in 2012?
Mr. Michel Coulombe: If you look at our mandate, we obviously
have a role in all four phases—detect, prevent, deny, response—but
to different degrees.
I think it's pretty obvious in terms of detect and prevent what our
role would be, and response also. If there is an incident or an
investigation we will collaborate with the RCMP, so we would also
have a role in the response phase. We do have a role in all four
phases to different degrees.
Mr. Rick Norlock: Thank you very much.
I have a question again for the RCMP and perhaps our folks at
VIA Rail. Can you describe specifically the collaboration between
the RCMP and rail operators? I'm thinking of the CN and CP police
who provide a vital function along those lines used by VIA. Perhaps
the VIA folks can chime in if they see an area they want to talk about
with regard to collaboration with those two police services, vis-à-vis
their rail operations.
C/Supt Larry Tremblay: Because of the ongoing case, I can't go
into detail now, but I can easily say that we have, from the onset of
this investigation, been working hand in hand with VIA and CN
police in order to assist in the investigation and ensure public safety.
The collaboration was seamless. It was an open door both ways into
how we can work together to prevent this threat. This relationship is
established and ongoing.
● (0955)
Mr. Rick Norlock: Thank you.
Mr. Beaulieu, any comments with regard to—
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: Yes, I completely concur with that
statement. The collaboration and cooperation is second to none.
Whether it be with the RCMP, local law enforcement agencies, CN
May 9, 2013
and CP, our network is very rigorous and we communicate extremely
The Chair: Very quickly, Mr. Norlock, you have 30 seconds.
Mr. Rick Norlock: I have a quick question for CSIS. The
possibility of a terrorist threat is on many people's minds, given
recent events. Have these events dramatically changed anything in
regard to the standard operating procedures of CSIS?
Mr. Michel Coulombe: My quick response is no.
Mr. Rick Norlock: Great. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll now move back to the opposition and Monsieur Rousseau.
Mr. Jean Rousseau (Compton—Stanstead, NDP): Thank you
very much, Mr. Chair.
With respect to operations, there are six border crossings in my
riding. Some of them, like Chartierville, Stanhope and SaintHerménégilde are fairly isolated. In the region, there are sometimes
hundreds of kilometres of forest between different border crossings.
Let us be frank. In outlying areas of the Eastern Townships, people
have crossed the border and been found wandering in different
municipalities. There have even been cases of mischief committed in
my riding by people who simply crossed the border through the
Every time that we speak to people at the Canada Border Services
Agency, the RCMP, or the Sûreté du Québec—the Sûreté du Québec
patrols certain areas of Quebec because other border services lack
the resources to do so—they tell us that information sharing between
the various services is difficult and ineffective, that there is
information, but that they cannot use it.
My question is for Mr. Davies and also Mr. Tremblay, or
Mr. McDonald, to whom I will address another question a little later.
Why am I hearing about those kinds of situations, when you are
telling me that everything is going relatively well and that operations
are very successful and very effective?
I will give you an example. Although very effective operations
have been conducted in Stanstead, there have been unfortunate
situations in the past, and they continue to occur, because of the fact
that hundreds of kilometres of forest are wide open.
How is the surveillance carried out? How can we reassure people,
tell them that there is security and, above all, that there are patrols?
Mr. John Davies: Unfortunately I don't have a great answer for
you. The CBSA would be well placed to give you a bit more detail,
operationally, on how things are working at the border and what their
efforts are for interoperability, dealing with local communities, and
any posts that would be isolated and the challenges they face.
I'm not sure if others have any....
The Chair: Mr. Rousseau, could you again be more specific to
rail, perhaps? I appreciate you have those.... Yes, go ahead.
May 9, 2013
Mr. Jean Rousseau: All right.
In my riding, there is a small railway service that belongs to the
St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad, which only ships freight. Two
railway lines cross the border in my area, the Eastern Townships.
This company is owned by Genesee & Wyoming Inc., which
manages the shipping. It seems that it also owns railway cars.
How does the information sharing and training that you mentioned
take place? You say that communications and training keep people
up-to-date on rail security. This small line only carries freight, but at
least one or two trains cross the border every day. Are these trains
searched. How are searches conducted?
Furthermore, there are level crossings that are in a poor state of
repair. Traffic has been tied up for days because the St. Lawrence
and Atlantic Railroad has not assumed responsibility for repairing
and upgrading these level crossings. The Department of Transport
officials say that the municipality should have that responsibility.
Therefore, who is responsible for what? It seems to me that there are
holes in the system.
● (1000)
Mr. Gerard McDonald: Mr. Chair, I think that falls into my
capacity. I'm not sure if I understand all the questions.
In terms of searching these trains when they're crossing the border,
that's a CBSA responsibility. I can't respond to that.
With respect to the security of the operations of an organization
like the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad, they're part of the MOU
with the Railway Association of Canada, so they have a
responsibility to have a security plan. They have to assess what
their risks are and have a plan to be able to respond to mitigate those
Obviously a short-line railway, with the type of merchandise it's
carrying, is not going to have as detailed a plan as VIA Rail, which is
carrying passengers across the country. So they have that plan. They
work with us. They work with the Railway Association of Canada.
We assess their plan to make sure that it meets the requirements, that
they have adequately assessed the risks, and that they have
mitigation measures in place to address them.
Finally, with respect to level crossings and how they get funded,
as you may be aware, we do have a grade-crossing contribution
program to which all railways can apply. It's funded on a 50-50 basis
between the federal government, and the municipalities and the
railways. The federal government is one side; the municipalities and
railways are on the other. That is one way to get funding to improve
level crossings.
Yes, there is a jurisdictional issue, obviously, between railways
and municipalities. It exists everywhere in the country. We try to
work through it as best we can. In many cases we are successful in
doing that and in improving the safety of those level crossings.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. McDonald.
We'll now move to Mr. Payne, please, for five minutes.
Mr. LaVar Payne (Medicine Hat, CPC): Thank you, Chair.
Thank you to all the witnesses for coming in. It's certainly
important to talk about some of the issues we've heard already.
Mr. McDonald, just on your point, I actually just recently
announced a number of dollars that went into funding right across
my riding. There are probably at least a half-dozen different
crossings that are being upgraded for safety purposes, which is
extremely important, I think, for the communities, for the citizens
who might be using those roadways. That's an important aspect.
Mr. Davies, in your comments you talked about how we have
infrastructure in place to communicate with government at all levels,
private sector, and operators of critical infrastructure—obviously
including transportation. Could you maybe give us a little better feel
for what “critical infrastructure” might be?
Mr. John Davies: Do you mean what the 10 sectors are, how the
plan worked, and so on?
Mr. LaVar Payne: Yes.
Mr. John Davies: I'll do my best. Critical infrastructure is not my
direct responsibility, but in 2010 the Minister of Public Safety,
together with his counterparts in the provinces, announced the
national strategy for critical infrastructure. Essentially this is a plan
to address threats to vital assets in systems, like financial systems,
transport networks, electricity grids, and so on. It's more or less a
vision for building public-private partnerships, improving information sharing among levels of government with the private sector on
risks and threats, and conducting risk management activities and
The chief superintendent talked a bit about those kinds of
exercises, but there are a number of working groups by sector, and
those sectors roll up once a year into a national forum. They receive
classified briefings on threats and risks, exchange information on
building risk methodologies, and so on. There's also, in a sense, a
counterpart to that of work with the United States, given how our
critical infrastructure entwines with theirs to some degree.
Mr. LaVar Payne: Okay. Thank you.
Mr. McDonald, I just wanted to touch a bit more on the railway.
I'm from western Canada, and in my riding I have a couple of major
petrochemical or fertilizer producers. Of course, they do ship a lot of
goods such as ammonia and methanol, and they do travel across the
border. That's done through CPR because that's the only railway we
have. I'm just wondering what the communication is between
Transport Canada and CPR, their plans, particularly with carrying
these types of products. Obviously when you think about it, certainly
terrorism could be a major issue.
If anyone else has a comment on that, I'd certainly appreciate that
as well.
● (1005)
Mr. Gerard McDonald: With respect to that, those are goods we
would classify as dangerous goods. They are covered under the
Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act. First and foremost, they
have to have an appropriate means of containment to transport those
goods. They also have to have what we call an ERAP, an emergency
response activation plan, so that if anything goes wrong, they have a
plan in place and they can activate that plan should it be necessary.
We also have provisions now within the TDG Act for security
measures for goods that could be considered for the use of terrorism
or what have you. We're in the process of developing regulations in
that regard as to what measures we might want to use should a
security situation arise.
Mr. LaVar Payne: Is there anyone who wants to comment on
those? No?
Certainly we want to commend the RCMP on their recent
performance in stopping the potential terrorism act. I'm wondering if
you could describe what work or collaboration occurred to make
those arrests possible, without, obviously, divulging sensitive
C/Supt Larry Tremblay: Thank you, sir, for your comment.
I think it's critical. We all recognize that terrorism is a global
phenomenon, so the response must be in line with that reality. Any
terrorism-related investigation will activate cooperation not only
within the Canadian government but with partners and allies, most
often with our U.S. ally's law enforcement agency. This project was
just another example of that.
Mr. LaVar Payne: Okay.
How much time do I have?
The Chair: You have five seconds. We'll just maybe credit you
with that until the next meeting.
We'll go to Mr. Rafferty, please.
Mr. John Rafferty: Thank you very much, Chair.
I do appreciate Mr. Leef's point of order because we've already
heard in this committee previously from the RCMP that their cuts to
2015 of $195.2 million are not going to impact public safety, and
also from CSIS that a $24.5 million cut is not going to affect public
safety. We don't need to talk about budget cuts anymore. Thank you,
Mr. Leef, for that point of order.
I guess it's good because you were just wasting that money before.
Let me ask a question about who's in charge. You talk about
building resilience against terrorism, about the 15-plus members of
the security network, and about shared responsibilities. We've heard
that a couple of times. Where does the buck stop? Who is actually
coordinating that? Is there a pyramid there, or is everybody sort of
acting independently and helping each other whenever they need
some help?
Yes, Mr. Davies, please.
Mr. John Davies: The Prime Minister, I think, is where the buck
stops. Under him is the Minister of Public Safety, and obviously the
counterterrorism strategy is something that he released, but it was
May 9, 2013
done in cooperation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the
Minister of Justice, the Minister of Transport, and so on.
In terms of the kind of binding leadership role, the Minister of
Public Safety plays a big part in that, given his portfolio includes
CSIS, the RCMP, and CBSA, and those are three core members of
the security intelligence community.
Mr. John Rafferty: Is there a coordinating body that sort of keeps
an eye on all those agencies, that sort of gives direction?
Mr. John Davies: Certainly there's a series of deputy-level
committees that meet frequently, almost weekly, to talk about
emerging issues, whether those are threat issues or new policy or
legislation. Those committees advise ministers, right up to the
Cabinet Committee on National Security, which is a new creation of
the Prime Minister. I believe it's two years old now.
● (1010)
Mr. John Rafferty: I guess I'm just trying to get a sense of the
relationship between the agencies and then maybe the Prime
Minister, who, as you say, is the boss.
This is a question for VIA Rail. Let's say you call in a police
service and the incident is resolved. Do you get billed for that? How
does that work? Let's say you're using the RCMP services, or in
Ontario, the OPP. Do they send you a bill later for the help they gave
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: No. We don't get billed for such incidents. If
the police are called in for dangerous situations that threaten security
or safety and take whatever action is necessary according to their
experience, they do not invoice us for that.
Mr. John Rafferty: Okay. That doesn't happen anywhere in the
system, right? There's no cost recovery there anywhere. Everybody
just sort of helps when they're called upon.
This is also a question for VIA Rail. As you know, you have
kilometres and kilometres of track that is unsupervised—
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: It's 46,000.
Mr. John Rafferty: It's 46,000? Really, no one can police that; it's
so huge. I know that in northern Ontario, where VIA Rail is not, but
CN and CP are, just stopping people from trespassing is almost an
impossible task. How does VIA Rail monitor that, to the best of your
ability? How does that happen?
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: We rely heavily on the experience of our
locomotive engineers and on-train employees, who are well trained
in identifying any areas of concern. They immediately report any
incidents to the rail traffic controllers, who then in turn immediately
contact police for intervention. They are of course very skilled
individuals who operate over this territory for a living, and they
know every turn and switch along the way. They are very good at
immediately reporting any incident or behaviour that needs to be
The Chair: Thank you very much.
May 9, 2013
We'll now move back to Mr. Gill, please, for five minutes.
Mr. Parm Gill (Brampton—Springdale, CPC): Thank you, Mr.
I also want to thank all the witnesses for their time. I know that it
was short notice, so we appreciate you appearing before the
My question is first for VIA Rail. Obviously, this is basically
related to your clients, your customers, who take the rail on a regular
basis. What sort of cooperation do you get from them in terms of any
concerns or any issues they may have or may be concerned about?
Do you regularly get any sort of reporting from individuals, just your
customers, such as, “Hey, we're concerned about a certain
individual”, or a package, say, or just on general safety concerns?
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: Yes, we certainly receive such information,
and we act upon it quickly. We regularly call upon local law
enforcement, or whatever enforcement we need, to further those
investigations. They're acted upon very promptly and effectively
whenever they're brought to our attention by a customer or one of
our employees using our “keep an eye open” approach.
Mr. Parm Gill: How would they normally contact you? What's
the method used most often?
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: Usually through contact with our employees,
or I suppose they would call 911. All the police forces can get a hold
of us very quickly. The network works extremely well. We rely
heavily on our infrastructure owners as well, who do an extremely
good job of having track forces out there and signaling any incidents
to us. Our primary contact is our employees, our operations control
centre, or simply by calling the local police.
● (1015)
Mr. Parm Gill: Are there any educational components available
to your passengers, to the general public, any sort of signage—be it
on the rail itself, or in the waiting areas, and so on—of what to look
for if they feel unsafe, or if there's any sort of suspicious activity or a
suspicious person? Are there telephone numbers of a law
enforcement agency posted, or is it just 911?
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: My understanding is that the best way to
alert somebody of a dangerous or suspicious situation quickly is to
dial 911. We rely heavily on our partnerships with all the police
forces, and CN and CP police forces, and our operating partners, to
respond quickly and effectively.
Mr. Parm Gill: But is there actual signage available or an
educational component of what to look for and who to call in case?
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: We have “travelling better together”
programs to inform passengers of behaviours that are and are not
tolerated. Again, we don't have a public awareness campaign with
the number to reach us if there's a security threat. They're to use the
quickest means to alert the proper authorities.
Mr. Parm Gill: The other question I have is, when it comes to
railway security, how well equipped would you say we are here in
Canada in comparison to some of the other countries that have a
similar railway system in place?
How would you rate us, as a country, in being prepared to tackle
any of these threats—safety, security?
Mr. Gerard McDonald: I'll try to answer that.
Obviously, it's very different. Probably the biggest similarity to the
rail structure we have in Canada is that of the States. With Europe
and the Asian countries, their systems operate in a highly urbanized
environment, which is much different from how we operate in
Canada. Given the threats we have in the system, we feel we have
adequate response plans prepared to address the risks we perceive to
be there.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Gill.
It's still another government-round question. I'll ask one quick
question and then we'll go to Mr. Leef.
After asking all of you not to give away any operational type of
issues that might hinder security, I guess I would ask this. How often
do you meet with the RCMP? For example, in the last event, I take it
that you didn't just wake up one morning and see that VIA Rail was
in the news. You obviously must have been aware of some ongoing
Is this a natural thing, where you meet with them once a week or
they’ll give you a heads-up that there may be an investigation under
way and to tighten up some of your security? Does that type of thing
happen, Mr. Tessier or Mr. Beaulieu?
Mr. Tessier, go ahead.
Mr. Marc Tessier: Yes, thank you.
We have regular contacts with the RCMP. As far as the recent
event, yes, we had received previous notification. As I said, we have
ongoing communication between VIA Rail security and the RCMP,
as well as other law enforcement agencies, and Transport Canada.
The Chair: In terms of notification, then, are there certain steps
you take immediately, based on that, which your locomotive
engineers, or your porters or conductors, would realize are out of
the norm?
Mr. Marc Tessier: As far as the last incident is concerned, VIA
Rail was notified, and we were under the guidance of the RCMP.
That's all I can say about that.
● (1020)
The Chair: Whatever process or whatever strategy you took, it
obviously worked, so we're very pleased. I think we all have
confidence that.... Obviously, the communication, then, between the
RCMP and VIA Rail was very good. You were able, in whatever
way you did it, to contact your conductors without giving away
anything. I think Canadians can be confident in that.
We'll go to Mr. Leef, please.
Mr. Ryan Leef: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
This is another question for VIA Rail. We have talked a lot about
the prevention strategies that are in place. Of course, it's a priority for
our government, and I think obviously a priority for you at VIA Rail,
to make sure that incidents don't happen in the first place. But maybe
we can move to the response end of it, because I don't think we've
touched on that a lot.
It is recognized a lot of times that when disaster strikes, your
survivability of an incident, or the mitigation of harm, has as much to
do with your response to it as it does the event itself. On that end,
what kind of work is VIA Rail doing with integrated partnerships to
ensure a safe and appropriate response to anything that might occur
on a medium or larger scale?
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: We've participated in exercises with local
police and the RCMP to develop our skills and knowledge on first
response. Depending on the location, the site could be taken control
of by the infrastructure owner themselves. We work very well in
partnership with the infrastructure owners, with the RCMP, and with
Transport Canada to coordinate these exercises, to practise how they
We have an operations control centre that is open 24 hours a day,
seven days a week, in constant communication with whatever
governing bodies we require, or infrastructure owners, to keep an
eye. For anything that is signalled to us, we have identified an
appropriate response per type of occurrence. We use it efficiently
whenever required.
Mr. Ryan Leef: Do you engage other emergency services, such as
local fire and ambulance or other emergency responders, in that
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: We would contact any agency required,
depending on the type of emergency it is, whether it be fire,
ambulance, police, or Transport Canada. For any means that we need
to mitigate the risk that has been identified to us, we have an
appropriate response plan.
Mr. Ryan Leef: Thank you.
Mr. McDonald, we're focused on rail, of course, but does
Transport have similar plans with other public safety transport, and
does that include appropriate legislation for public transport? Some
of these transport systems are integrated. You take a bus to take a
train to take a plane.
Maybe you could just touch on that a bit.
Mr. Gerard McDonald: Sure. It really depends on the type of
mode. Some of the requirements we have are legislated, and we do
have regulations in that regard. With others, as with the rail industry,
we work through a memorandum of agreement.
The objective for us is to achieve a certain behaviour as opposed
to passing laws and regulations. It's making sure that the industry's
prepared, that they've assessed the risk, and that they know what
they're doing and how to respond to it.
Mr. Ryan Leef: Great. Thank you.
I'll go back to VIA Rail again. Obviously, with the security market
nowadays, there's a host of products, programs, and systems
available to choose from. When you're making decisions about the
suite of security programs and security measures that you buy or
May 9, 2013
integrate into your system, at even the smallest of levels, how do you
go about making those decisions? Are they evidence-based,
operationally appropriate decisions, keeping in mind sound financial
management, or do you just try to invest in everything going and see
what works?
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: We rely on our partnerships with experts in
the field, whether it be Transport Canada, the RCMP, or other
railways. We seek whatever expertise required.
All of our risk assessments are done using proven models to make
sure that the mitigation we're aiming for is properly considered in
our assessments. We get full cooperation from everybody and
anybody who is involved in our safety and security network.
● (1025)
Mr. Ryan Leef: Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Leef.
We'll now move back to Mr. Garrison.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Let me assure everybody that I'm going to have a very specific
question for VIA Rail, but given some of the interventions from the
other side, I just want to step back for a minute.
The terms of reference for today are fairly narrow, but we on this
side think it's important to set the rail transport question of national
security in the larger context. It was implied, for instance, that the
audit of the Auditor General didn't really apply to what we're talking
about today, and I just want to point to two of the objectives of that
The Auditor General said that their audit was to “determine
whether the management framework for the Public Security and
Anti-Terrorism initiative was adequate to ensure that funding
decisions reduced risks to Canadians by the maximum extent
possible”. For that reason, we've asked a number of more general
questions, because that audit I think is relevant to determining where
our resources are going, and whether rail is one of the places it needs
to go.
Second was to “determine whether intelligence services work
efficiently together and provide enforcement personnel with
adequate information”. Again, I'm going to have a very specific
question about that with regard to VIA Rail.
We've asked the question on the overall impact of cuts being made
in various departments, and whether anybody is examining the
coordination of this to make sure that those individual cuts don't
have an unintended impact on national security. We've asked about
the allocation of resources to try to make sure that they're clearly
based on threat and risk assessment. We've asked some questions
about the coordination of those activities.
Finally, I think one of our perspectives has been that there seems
to be, in the strategy, the treatment of VIA Rail as just another
railway, when clearly VIA Rail, both as a crown corporation and as a
passenger carrier, probably needs some special treatment in these
May 9, 2013
With that in mind, I'm going to ask about—again from the Auditor
General's report—a question that was raised. My question is to VIA
Rail. When you sell tickets to people, do you check ID? What kind
of ID would be checked?
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: We only check ID when necessary, in other
words, if we have a doubt as to the transaction that is going on. We
do not as a rule ask all of our customers for ID.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Has that policy been evaluated in a threat
and risk assessment? I'm not arguing that it's necessary. I'm just
asking the question of whether that policy was viewed through that
lens of risk and threat assessment.
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: Well, as part of our ongoing review of our
security plans, we're always exploring further risk mitigation in
consultation with our partners, and law enforcement, and Transport
Canada. We're constantly assessing further controls. That is one of
the controls being assessed.
Mr. Randall Garrison: It seems to me this might be a good
example of where, by VIA Rail perhaps checking ID, it might be of
assistance to law enforcement officials by flagging people who are
otherwise on watch lists in other places. So here's one of my
questions, then, very specifically: does VIA Rail have access to the
information on lost and stolen passports?
If someone were to use a lost or stolen passport at VIA Rail,
would you know that it's a lost or stolen passport? Because one of
the concerns raised by the Auditor General was that this information
isn't getting to front-line people.
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: No, I'm not aware of receiving any
information on lost or stolen passports.
Mr. Randall Garrison: My follow-up question, then, would be to
Mr. Tremblay.
In the Auditor General's report, he points to what he considers
serious delays in processing information on lost and stolen passports,
from the passport office to the RCMP. He was talking about delays
of over a month in processing that information. Can you make any
comment about that?
C/Supt Larry Tremblay: I'm sorry. I'm just not personally aware
of the specificity of your question.
Mr. Randall Garrison: His concern was that obviously if we're
dealing with terrorism factors, the timeliness is important, and that
the information needs to pass quickly from Citizenship and
Immigration Canada to the law enforcement authorities so that the
information is out there.
One of the things he does say is that he suspects that a lack of
resources for what is considered sometimes a routine operation is
one of the reasons for that delay. I wonder if maybe Mr. Davies or
anyone else has any comment on that.
● (1030)
Mr. John Davies: We certainly have to talk to Passport Canada
about what information they push out now. Obviously, they would
be looking at what's lawful to push out—if they had information—to
make sure there's a lawful basis for that information to move.
I haven't heard the concern that there's an issue. Usually if a
passport's stolen or lost, my understanding is that information goes
to the security agencies and so on. But I think we'd have to talk to
them to get more details on what constraints they may be under. I
don't think the constraint would be a resource constraint. I think it
would be an issue on whether it's lawful to push that information, to
whom, and when.
The Chair: Thank you.
We'll now go back to Mr. Del Mastro.
Welcome to our committee, Mr. Del Mastro.
Mr. Dean Del Mastro (Peterborough, CPC): Thank you, Mr.
I have a couple of questions for the witnesses.
First of all, I think certainly what we've witnessed—and I've just
talked to my colleague as well—we seem to have very good
collaboration with the United States. We seem to have very good
collaboration between agencies, and indeed, with VIA Rail. I think
that's very encouraging to everyone hearing the testimony here
Mr. Rafferty pointed out that there are, in fact, thousands of miles
of track—in the railway industry, we do still talk miles—and it
seems to me that most of it is not of great concern. Where we do
have greater concerns seems to be in urbanized areas. Threats are
exposed or highlighted when we see people gaining access to tracks
in areas where they shouldn't be. We had an unfortunate incident just
a couple of years ago in Montreal, for example, where some younger
folks got down there with spray-paint cans or what have you. But it
demonstrates that access to the tracks is still perhaps too easy.
What are we doing, specifically, to eliminate that kind of access to
what is really a very dangerous area? If you can get down there with
a spray-paint can, you can get down there with just about anything
else. What are we doing to secure the tracks in urbanized areas, not
only from a public safety perspective for the people who might
access it, but also for the people on the trains?
Mr. Gerard McDonald: Mr. Chair, obviously, as the member
points out, access to tracks is a very big concern for us, on both the
safety side and the security side. What we expect each railway
organization to do is to conduct an appropriate threat and risk
assessment of all their infrastructure, identify those areas requiring
the highest need of improvement, and develop the appropriate
mitigation measures to address those.
We're working with the railways, on both the safety and the
security side, to help them identify those areas where there are
specific instances—such as in Montreal where access to the tracks
was a concern—then we work with them to see what can be done.
It's my understanding that changes have been made to that particular
area to make it more secure.
May 9, 2013
Mr. Dean Del Mastro: When we look at VIA, for example, they
tend to operate at speeds faster than freight trains. That's expected.
It's part of their business plan. These specific areas become of greater
concern. If people can access the tracks, they don't have a lot of
warning. People often, frankly, mistake the speed of trains. They
don't have a lot of warning, specifically with passenger trains and the
speed they're travelling at.
what some of the risks in the system are and how you might mitigate
them. One of the risks identified in that report is that our plans aren't
robust enough. Obviously, to mitigate it we're going to ensure that
we enhance those plans to ensure their robustness.
Has there been consideration given—and, again, it speaks to all
aspects of rail security—to greater mitigation efforts, such as fencing
and so forth, that would really block access to railway yards in urban
Mr. Gerard McDonald: It's not an area that we regulate
specifically in a general sense. But if there is a specific area of
concern, we can work with the railway to look at where further
mitigation measures might be necessary, and if necessary, try to
come to an agreement with the railways. That is what we do to
address those.
Mr. Dean Del Mastro: At this point, it's optional whether the
railways may choose or not—
● (1035)
Mr. Gerard McDonald: It's the railway's responsibility.
Mr. Beaulieu, just to come back to the marshals, you have
plainclothes marshals on VIA Rail trains in Canada. You did say
that, correct?
We work with them. If we find an area that is a continuing
concern, we can bring more force to bear on finding a potential
Mr. Dean Del Mastro: Okay.
To VIA Rail, as I said, we've seen some incidents where there
have been concerns about access to the tracks. I know CN is a
principal railway whose tracks you operate on in the corridor. There's
also some interaction with CP.
Are you working with those railways specifically to enhance
security to prevent access along those tracks?
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: We rely strongly on the infrastructure
owners to provide that safety. We report very quickly and efficiently
to them whenever we find there's a risk area that needs to be
We work very closely with Operation Lifesaver, which obviously
creates awareness campaigns on the dangers of being on or near
infrastructure. We work very closely with Transport Canada. In fact,
we've had a very successful private-crossing closure program that
was funded by Transport Canada to improve rail security on the
short distance of infrastructure that we own. All incidents and
reasons for suspicion are quickly reported to the infrastructure owner
for their information and furtherance.
Mr. Dean Del Mastro: Thank you.
The Chair: We'll move to Mr. Scarpaleggia, please, for five
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Mr. McDonald, I'm looking at a
newspaper article from a couple of weeks ago. It says: In its latest plans
and priorities report, Transport Canada noted that security “systems and processes
in place may not be sufficiently robust to respond” to a major incident.
Perhaps you could comment on that. Is it a misquote?
Mr. Gerard McDonald: No, I don't believe it's a misquote. It's
from our report on plans and priorities. Part of that is that you outline
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Okay.
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: I did.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Okay. I don't know if you can answer
this, but on what percentage of trains would you have them? Is it 5%,
10%, 20%?
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: To reveal more information about some of
our measures would defeat the purpose of the measures that are in
place, so I'm going to choose not to answer that.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Understood.
That's why, actually, Liberals more and more are calling for the
establishment of a public safety and national security committee that
would meet in camera. As you know, Senator Dallaire has been
discussing this, and I brought it up a couple times at this committee.
That's precisely why—so we can get some of these answers.
On the issue of passenger lists, when it comes to air travel, Mr.
McDonald, correct me if I'm wrong, but every time someone gets on
a plane in Canada, their name is checked against an RCMP list or
some kind of list to see if they're a person of interest. Or is it just
people travelling in and out of Canada, especially to the United
Mr. Gerard McDonald: Their names are checked against what is
called a specified persons list.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Is that done for people getting on VIA
trains? If not, would it be very expensive and complicated to do it for
VIA passenger lists as well?
Mr. Gerard McDonald: It is not done for VIA trains. One would
have to assess what the value of that would be before determining
whether it would be a worthwhile exercise and whether it would
mitigate any security risks.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Well, I would think that if it mitigates
security risks in one area, it would mitigate them in another. We're
talking in both cases about mass transit. Obviously, in some ways, I
suppose, there's more concern about air travel, but we're talking
about probably the same passenger loads, and so on and so forth.
Given that there's no screening of baggage that gets on a VIA Rail
train, probably there's a good reason to screen the lists.
I would suggest that this is something that VIA Rail and the
government might want to look at, Mr. Chair.
May 9, 2013
I'd like to turn to the big issue, I guess, Mr. Beaulieu and Mr.
Tessier, as representatives of the government. Is anyone in a position
to compare and contrast our rail security here, especially in the busy
Montreal-Quebec City-Windsor corridor, with how Amtrak tackles
security in the busy New York-Boston-Washington corridor?
Apparently all their baggage has to go through sniffer dogs and so
Mr. John Davies: I think there's an element of subjectivity in how
you look at this.
I'm not suggesting that this is what we should look at, but are you
regularly comparing and contrasting, and maybe sharing best
practices? Or are they out of the picture, in some way, from your
● (1040)
The Chair: I think that was, perhaps, to Mr. Beaulieu.
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: We constantly review safety and security
measures by other railways, whether it be Amtrak or Europe or
Australia, to see what their best practices are. Based on our risk
assessments, we determine what actions we should take.
C/Supt Larry Tremblay: We have a member of the CN police on
secondment to national security here at headquarters for that specific
If I may, I'm going to go back to your passenger list question, just
for a clarification. Every person who gets on our trains has their
ticket scanned so we know exactly how many people and what
people are aboard our trains. This is consistent with the safety and
security plans we submit to Transport Canada. We know who is on
our trains based on ticket scanning, and we've implemented that
The Chair: Your time is just up, very quickly, please.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Are you comparing that with a police
list? For example, he may not be a terrorist. It could be somebody
who's known to have a firearm and has threatened someone in the
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Scarpaleggia.
We'll now move to Mr. Rafferty.
Mr. John Rafferty: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
If we have a little bit of time, Mr. Beaulieu might be interested in
answering that question.
I have a question for you, Mr. Davies, but you may find that it's
better answered by Mr. Coulombe or Mr. Tremblay. In your opening
remarks, you talked about terrorist-related incidents. That got me
thinking that we have a number of incidents of civil unrest or civil
disobedience. I'm just wondering, what is the definition of a terrorist,
in relation to public safety, that you use in Transport, in the
government, and in the agencies? What distinguishes a terrorist from
someone who is blocking a railway line, for example?
Mr. John Davies: I'm referring to the CT, counterterrorism,
strategy. We tend to not define terrorism directly. We talk about the
terrorist activities that you see described in the Criminal Code. That's
an act or omission undertaken inside or outside Canada for a
political, religious, or ideological purpose, which is intended to
intimidate the public.
Mr. John Rafferty: So that would include first nations blocking a
rail line, for example?
Mr. John Davies: Ahh...
Mr. John Rafferty: Under that definition....
Mr. John Rafferty: I have a second question for you.
It's about the INSETs, which I didn't know about until your
opening remarks. They sound like a good idea but I didn't see the
railroads represented. Are railways represented on INSETs?
Mr. John Rafferty: I'm curious as to what the response has been
to INSETs. The RCMP, and maybe Mr. Coulombe, might want to
answer also. You're also part of that group. Perhaps if we have time,
Mr. Tessier might want to respond as well.
How are they working?
● (1045)
C/Supt Larry Tremblay: They're in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa,
Vancouver, and now Edmonton. They are an extremely efficient and
effective way to pull multi-agencies together. They are very focused
and ensure timely information sharing. They also ensure that there's
notification. Overall, they make investigation of terrorist-related
activity far more efficient and timely.
Mr. John Rafferty: Mr. Coulombe, would you care to comment
on that, or agree with Chief Tremblay?
Mr. Michel Coulombe: I can only echo Mr. Tremblay. When I
was in Montreal, in charge of Quebec, we had a member of CSIS
seconded to INSET at C Division. This facilitated the exchange of
information. The CSIS member had access to her own database.
INSETs facilitate liaison and are a good approach to counterterrorism.
Mr. John Rafferty: Mr. Tessier, do you care to make a comment,
or Mr. Beaulieu?
Mr. Marc Beaulieu: We're not members of INSET, but we
certainly receive information from them. I echo the comments of the
RCMP and CSIS that it's a very effective way of receiving the
Mr. John Rafferty: Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much, everyone, for appearing and
helping the public safety and national security committee understand
a little more about rail safety and security.
Mr. Del Mastro asked the question about young people and paint
cans. I guess different people view different things in different ways.
Many aspiring young artists see a canvas every time they see a grain
car, so they're down there. Terrorists may very well see potential for
a terrorist act.
Different people have different roles. Your role is to protect
Canada, to protect the security of Canadians. We thank you very
much for the very important work you're doing, seemingly in an
organized fashion, where issues of the past—turf wars and things
like that—don't seem to be as present today as maybe 20 years ago.
So thank you very much.
We are adjourned.
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