INDEPTH: CANADIAN SECURITY|
Making Canada safe: The National Security Policy
CBC News Online | April 27, 2004
The National Security Policy was tabled in Parliament on April 27, 2004, outlining a broad scope of security, intelligence and public safety measures to protect Canadians not only against current and future security threats but also against disease like a SARS outbreak and other crises such as electrical blackouts and natural disasters.
The government has set aside $690 million for an integrated framework and action plan that the it says will be one of its top priorities in the ongoing International Policy Review.
- Integrated Threat Assessment Centre - $30M
- Intelligence enhancement - $137M
- Government Operations Centre - $15M
- Securing critical government information systems - $85M
- Cyber-security Task Force - $5M
- Marine security - $308M
- Passport Security Strategy - $10.31M
- Real Time Identification Project (fingerprints) - $99.78M
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan said the plan, titled Securing an Open Society: Canada's National Security Policy, is a "living" document, one that is open to adaptations.
The policy is based on three core national security interests:
- Protecting Canada and Canadians at home and abroad.
- Ensuring Canada is not a base for threats to Canada's allies.
- Contributing to international security.
Ottawa will involve all government levels in improving the national security system by creating a permanent forum on emergencies, consulting with provincial, territorial and municipal governments. To demonstrate this commitment, the government said it will establish operations centres in the provinces and territories.
The security framework will involve Canada's ethno-cultural groups by holding a Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security.
The federal government will also engage the private sector during the development of a Critical Infrastructure Protection Strategy, beginning with a position paper it said will be released in the summer of 2004. The private sector will also be involved in a national Cyber-security Task Force to develop a National Cyber-security Strategy to help the government protect itself from attacks against cyber networks.
Money will be dedicated to developing or enhancing tools to fulfil security responsibilities and activities including:
- Implementing the RCMP Real Time Identification Project, which will allow it to verify fingerprints in broader databases.
- Modernizing the RCMP's criminal record system.
- Implementing a Passport Security Strategy, which includes facial recognition biometric technology.
- Enhancing intelligence capabilities and securing critical government information systems.
- Reviewing and modernizing the Emergency Preparedness Act.
The National Security Policy involves the creation of a variety of new bodies including:
- A National Security Advisory Council made up of security experts from outside the government who will evaluate and improve the security system.
- An integrated Threat Assessment Centre and a Government Operations Centre to improve sharing and dissemination of threat information to co-ordinate responses
- An arms-length review mechanism for RCMP national security activities.
- Health Emergency Response Teams made up of health professionals from across the country to respond to health emergencies.
- A new Public Health Agency and a new chief public health officer.
- Regional public health centres of excellence.
Marine safety is also addressed in the new security policy. The government will engage North American partners in addressing areas such as biosecurity, food safety, cyber-security, public health, marine and transportation security, all part of the Smart Borders Action Plan, which includes Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. As well, the government will secure marine security by connecting marine security centres in a new network. It will increase surveillance both on the water and in the air by the Canadian Forces, the RCMP, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Border security has been a huge concern since the Sept. 11 attacks and the federal government is addressing that in the new security policy. In addition to improvements to fingerprinting and passports, the government will also streamline its refugee determination process to better determine who is a genuine refugee and who is abusing the system.
The government said it is committed to playing a vital role in countering international terrorism, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and defusing key inter/intra-state conflicts. It also said it is committed to making the Canadian Forces flexible, responsive and combat-capable for a wide range of operations, including working with Canada's allies. To do this, the government said it will use its experience in peace building to help developing countries as well as failed and failing states.