National Security Report | Canada is ill-equipped to deal with growing threats

(Ottawa) The rise of the far right in the United States poses as great a threat to Canada’s national security as cyberattacks by rogue states, foreign interference, Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, and great power rivalry.

Posted at 5:00 am

Joel Denis Bellavance

Joel Denis Bellavance
The press

The problem is that Canada is ill-equipped to deal with these growing threats, the country’s former national security officials agree.

In a powerful report released on Tuesday1call for a comprehensive review of the Canadian government’s national security policy. According to these former officials, who are part of a working group set up by the university’s École supérieure d’affaires Public and International Organizations, a serious push is needed to navigate the choppy waters of geopolitical changes happening at breakneck speed in Ottawa, to create this report.

Added to these threats are those caused by climate change and pandemics. In the face of “a deteriorating security environment,” allies in the Five Eyes (US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada) have already updated their policies, introduced new tools, reformed their institutions, and created new alliances, all while devoting the necessary resources to them .

It’s imperative Canada does the same, says the 40-page report it received The press. The most recent review of Canada’s national security policy dates back to 2004. In her opinion, there is no need to invest large new sums of money to conduct such an exercise. The Trudeau administration could achieve this by maximizing the tools it already has at its disposal and by promoting better cooperation with Canada’s key allies.

“The concept of national security is rarely taken seriously. We are content to hide behind the American shield, which has led us to complacency and neglect of our national security,” these experts, who have held positions in the highest decision-making areas of national security in the United States, note with concern.

Canada is not ready to defend itself in this new world order. The overhaul of our national security is urgent. […] The pillars we have historically relied on for our protection and prosperity no longer fulfill that role. The rules-based world order is severely weakened.

Excerpt from the report published on Tuesday

These experts include former directors of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (Ward Elcock and Richard Fadden), former national security advisers to the Prime Minister (Daniel Jean, Margaret Bloodworth and Roland Paris), former deputy ministers of defense or global affairs (Vincent Rigby, Kerry Buck and John McNee) and other influential mandarins (Morris Rosenberg, Nada Semaan, Masud Husain and Margaret McCuaig-Johnston).

Thomas Juneau, a national security expert who also served as a policy officer in the Department of National Defense and is now an associate professor at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, led the concert project with Vincent Rigby, the former journalist The economist Madelaine Drohan helped draft the report.

recommendations

Along with a portrait of the situation, the experts offer about sixty recommendations that could guide the country during this troubled time.

Among other things, they propose a better exchange of information between intelligence agencies and various federal agencies, as well as partners outside of Ottawa, such as the provinces, the private sector and academia.

They also recommend a stronger presence in the Arctic, a national security policy review at least every five years, and the establishment of a cabinet committee dedicated to national security and chaired by the prime minister, as is the case in the UK, Australia and New Zealand . Opposition party leaders should be regularly briefed on national security issues.

They also think it is essential that security agencies show more transparency and a stronger presence on social networks. “The situation underscores the need for greater transparency and a better understanding of national security by the public. »

It is not enough for a group of ministers and their departments and agencies to work behind closed doors; the population must also be informed and consulted. The government needs to be more open so Canadians can better understand the context of the threat.

Excerpt from the report published on Tuesday

They define a threat to Canada’s national security as any situation “endangering the Canadian people, their democratic values ​​and institutions, their economy, their society and their sovereignty”.

authoritarian regimes

In her opinion, the world order is weakened not only by Russia’s expansionist tendencies, but also by the rise of China on the political, economic, military and technological levels over the past 30 years. They are also authoritarian regimes that use disinformation to undermine liberal democracies.

“With their foreign interference, disinformation, espionage and hostage diplomacy, as well as their cyber attacks, China and Russia will remain a significant threat to Canada. Their actions directly threaten state institutions as well as the population, companies, universities and research centers. The Russian and Chinese governments are knocking on our doors, intimidating citizens exiled to Canada to escape tyranny,” they write.

But they point out the threat is also coming from within, as shown by the convoy of truckers that paralyzed downtown Ottawa for three weeks and the barricades at key border crossings. The links between far-right extremists in Canada and the United States have become apparent, not to mention the unequivocal support of American conservative politicians and media outlets like Fox News. “This situation certainly did not constitute a traditional form of foreign interference because it was not the result of the actions of a foreign government, but it certainly posed a greater threat to Canadian democracy than any action by any country other than the United States.” ‘ note the experts.

They argue that this threat poses a significant challenge to our national security and intelligence services because it emanates from the United States, which is Canada’s largest source of intelligence.

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