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Canada Unveils New Security Policy (Apr. 28)

OTTAWA, Ontario --- Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan today tabled in Parliament Canada's first comprehensive statement on national security. “Securing An Open Society: Canada's National Security Policy,” sets out an integrated strategy and action plan designed to address current and future threats.

“The National Security Policy is an integrated strategy that demonstrates the Government of Canada's leadership and commitment to protecting Canadians,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.

A key element of the policy is to ensure domestic partners will be engaged in improving our national security system, through:

1. a permanent, high-level federal-provincial-territorial forum on emergencies, which will allow for regular strategic discussion of emergency management issues among key national players;

2. the National Security Advisory Council, which will give the Government the benefit of advice by security experts external to government in evaluating and improving our system; and,

3. the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security, which will better engage Canada's ethno-cultural and religious communities around ongoing security-related issues.

“A Government's most important duty is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens,” said the Deputy Prime Minister. “The National Security Policy protects our collective security interests in a way that reflects core Canadian values of tolerance, openness and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.”

The policy is a long-term strategic framework focussed on three core national security interests:

--protecting Canada and Canadians at home and abroad;

--ensuring Canada is not a base for threats to our allies; and,

--contributing to international security.

The National Security Policy assesses the threats to Canadians, articulates our national security interests and outlines an integrated management framework for national security issues. It provides a blueprint for action in six key areas - intelligence, emergency management, public health, transportation, border security, and international security.

New investments detailed in the policy will address the need for enhanced tools and capacities across the Government of Canada in order to fulfill its security responsibilities and activities. Key new measures include:

--enhancing intelligence capabilities ($137 million);

--securing critical government information systems ($85 million);

--fully implementing the RCMP Real Time Identification Project and improving the national fingerprint system ($99.78 million); and,

--implementing the Passport Security Strategy, including facial recognition biometric technology on the Canadian Passport, in-line with international standards ($10.31 million).

The policy also outlines new structures and strategies which will enable the Government of Canada to better anticipate and effectively manage complex threats:

--the creation of the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre ($30 million) and Government Operations Centre ($14.95 million) to improve the sharing and dissemination of threat information and better coordinate responses;

--the creation of Health Emergency Response Teams made up of health professionals from across the country, increasing Canada's ability to respond to health emergencies;

--strengthening marine security, including measures to improve coordination, enhance capacity and develop greater marine security co-operation with the United States ($308 million);

--the development of a Critical Infrastructure Protection Strategy for Canada - with the provinces, territories and the private sector - beginning with the release of a position paper this summer setting out key elements; and

--the convening of a high-level national Cyber-security Task Force with public and private representation to develop a National Cyber-Security Strategy ($5 million).

While the Government of Canada is determined to take a leadership role in defining and protecting the national security of Canada, it recognises and values the partnership that it has with provinces, territories and front-line responders in this endeavour. This is reflected in its commitment to co-locate federal, provincial, territorial and municipal emergency operations centres.

The Policy also makes it clear that national security will be one of the top priorities in the Government's ongoing International Policy Review. It provides for enhanced capacity for helping restore peace, order and good government in developing, failed and failing states, beginning with the establishment of a dedicated capacity-building fund.

The Government of Canada will also engage our North American partners to both deepen and broaden the successful Canada-U.S. Smart Borders Action Plan to include new areas such as biosecurity, food safety, cybersecurity, public health, marine and transportation security.

“Securing An Open Society: Canada's National Security Policy” will form the basis of discussions with Parliament, other governments and key stakeholders.

Since Budget 2001, the Government of Canada has announced in excess of $8.3 billion in specific measures to enhance Canada's national security and address priority gaps in our system. Funding of $690 million for new initiatives is being provided from the Security Reserve which includes significant new funding allocated in Budget 2004.

In releasing the National Security Policy, the Government is fulfilling a key commitment announced on December 12, 2003 and reiterated in the February 2004 Speech from the Throne. It also follows the creation of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada and the new Cabinet Committee on Security, Public Health and Emergencies, as well as the appointment of a National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister. (ends)

Click here to read the document (60 pages in PDF format) on the Canada Privy Council Office website.

Government of Canada Releases Comprehensive National Security Policy