Security is Teamwork
Nov 15, 2005

Most Canadians have similar images clearly imbedded in their memory: the twisted iron, brave firemen and broken bodies of the twin towers on 11th of September 2001; the slumping train and rushing bobbies in Madrid and London; the frightened faces and loaded backs of people fleeing the tsunami in Indonesia; the bent buildings and trees, and the water walls of hurricanes Katrina through Wilma; and the sheer helplessness of the citizens and authorities of Pakistan confronted by the terrible earthquake, with ­staggering losses of 50,000 dead and counting. Now we are told of a potential pandemic caused by the bird flu that would make SARS look like a toothache. Oh yes… another car bombing in Iraq. These are but some of the threats, both man-made and natural, that most Canadians are aware of but have luckily avoided thus far.

In our National Security Policy of April 2004, the opening statement is: “There can be no greater role, no more important obligation for a government than the protection and safety of its citizens.” The Prime Minister’s covering remarks stated: “The government is determined to build a system that works to continually enhance the security of Canadians and contribute to the security of a safer world.”

How do Canadians deal with such daily images and remain reassured by the words of our government about policy and the effective expenditure of funds to that avail?

Senator Dandurant in the 30’s, when decrying expenditures on defence, uttered the oft-quoted statement that “we (referring to Canada) live in a fireproof house.” This resonated well with many over the years though even then, on the verge of World War Two, it was to prove naïve and dangerous. No country today can be totally or even partially isolated from what goes on elsewhere… not even North Korea, a country that has made a policy of isolation.

Canada’s vulnerability is quite obvious to most. All of these aspects are integral to the secure Canada of today:

  • our reliance on external energy sources
  • the interconnectedness of our electrical grid
  • the importance of unfettered travel to our economy and our daily lives.
  • the international make-up of our day-to-day food sources and other products
  • the increasing violence of Mother Nature brought on by climactic changes
  • our increased reliance on immigration for continued prosperity and development
  • the security, dependence upon, general availability of, and access to information for our financial prosperity.

In FrontLine’s interview with the Deputy Prime Minister, recognizing the efforts of our new department, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, Anne McLellan states that the main challenge involves the need for more effective collaboration between, and within, all levels of government, the private sector, and our citizens, to ensure our own security. This serves to underline recent comments made to the Public Policy Forum on Public Security in Ottawa this past September, when she said: “If there is one single, essential ingredient to public safety, it is collaboration.

In today’s world, the threats are just too many and too varied, and the stakes too high to do anything else. We have to share information. We have to work together. We have to work together because we are in this together – and by that I mean that interdependencies are so numerous and so complex in just about every aspect of our lives. A vulnerability for one can be a threat to all, and assuring public safety and national security is a lot more complicated than simply making sure all the doors are locked.”

It is my view that the Canadian taxpayers care little about which level or department of government or company does what, when an emergency arises. They expect results and they expect them quickly. The present multi-level approach must be made to respond more quickly. Canadians expect to be informed and reassured that intelligent and effective response and recovery will be at hand when needed, and rightly so. They will accept reasonable limitations on their freedom that might result from such efforts. They will not accept failure nor internal bickering such as they saw during the events in New Orleans. They expect to see wise spending of the resources dedicated to their security. All of this demands the highest level of collaboration at the most crucial time – when emotions run high. In order for this to happen, we must be prepared beforehand. It is the responsibility of government to see that this occurs, and to reassure Canadians that it is. This is the challenge to emergency management across Canada.

Much has and is being done in this vein. PSEPC is gaining in profile and effectiveness. Late last year, the government launched a Position Paper on the National Infrastructure Strategy to engage in this dialogue with governments and the private sector (which owns most infrastructure). This September it called for comment on the revision of the key guide document, The Emergencies Act, that provides major national policy guidance.

In June of this year, the Minister of National Defence, Bill Graham, announced the creation of Canada Command and stated: “With CANADA COMMAND, for the first time, a unified and integrated chain of command at the national and regional levels will have the immediate authority to deploy maritime, land and air assets in their regional areas of responsibility in support of domestic operations.”

Federal Transport Minister, Jean-C. Lapierre, continues to improve airport and other security and, in concert with Ontario ministerial colleagues, he recently announced an investment of $4 million for cameras and electronic message signs to increase driver safety on the Blue Water Bridge leading to the United States border. Late in October he also announced, with provincial colleagues, $590 million in specific measures and commitments to the Pacific Gateway enhancements.

On the question of quality, might I point out that the new Canadian Border Services Agency recently won several GTech Distinction Awards for leading edge technical excellence for their NEXUS and TITAN programs on automated risk assessment. However, FrontLine brings other security concerns to the fore in this current issue. Additionally, a series of reports by the Senate Committee on Defence and Security details many legitimate and serious border and other major security concerns that have yet to be ­properly addressed.

The sense of urgency, cooperation and competence expected by Canadians will test the collaborative abilities of all governments to achieve the expected results across the present labyrinth of legislated authority. The challenge will be to minimize the tension of conflicting authorities and directives through exercises and training. It will also require the elimination of unnecessary barriers to continuous communication in order to make the best use of available resources across this vast country where and when needed. Again, exercises at many levels will be required, as will a more efficient dissemination of pertinent intelligence to the lowest levels.

FrontLine sees the need to assist in this collaboration by offering a new tool, FrontLine SECURITY, to both the public and private sectors. As the Executive Director of this new publication, I can assure you that our aim will be to inform, and to ­discuss the issues and challenges, and to offer solutions and products that will “enhance the security of Canadians.”

I encourage all to contribute and take part in this most important dialogue. Our first edition, available in February 2006, will help the security team work to address these challenges.

MGen (ret) Clive Addy, a respected Defence critic, has testified before both the Parliamentary and Senate committees on defence and security. He is the founding Chair of the National Security Group which has been following and monitoring Canadian security policy since 2003, and has accepted the position of Executive Director of the new FrontLine Security magazine.
© FrontLine Defence 2005