Mr. Chair, ever since the decision was made to close the Emergency Preparedness College in Arnprior, the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness, OCIPEP, has gone from crisis to crisis, totally unprepared, and the training programs are in shambles.
On March 12 of this year the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness produced a threat analysis to Canada's critical infrastructure. Under this section “Impact of Accidental Threats on Canadian Critical Infrastructures”,it had this to say about power failures:
The North American hydro grid is more interconnected today than it was at the time of the Great Northeast Blackout. “This interconnectedness has increased the ability of the grid to withstand unexpected disruptions as managed by coordinated real-time monitoring across North America.” Officials have gone to great lengths to ensure that the entire breadth of the North American electricity grid is carefully monitored for fluctuations and special protection systems are in place. This work is therefore making the possibility of another massive blackout that would leave large areas of North America without power, remote.
Nowhere in the minister's “Lessons Learned” document does he acknowledge or even consider the need to be prepared for a power blackout, let alone apologize to Canadians for this subsequent misinformation that came out of OCIPEP.
This is even more serious given the fact that the minister is aware that in the aftermath of 9/11, CSIS and the RCMP had been monitoring a missing employee from the Labrador hydroelectric power station and that detailed blueprints were found of power stations on his personal computer. Yet the minister still considered that there was no risk to power installations.
Now, this week, we learned that the Deputy Prime Minister was sailing through the Caribbean instead of participating in Operation Topoff--that stands for “top officials”--a joint U.S-Canadian emergency preparedness exercise that was two years and $10 million in the making. He assumed that because of the U.S. focus on Saddam Hussein at the time, Topoff would not proceed.
We know that the Deputy Prime Minister had a luxury jet follow him around through the islands to the tune of $25,000 a day, but the defence minister's agency could only muster a tabletop version of the exercise instead of the full capacity for Operation Topoff that was intended. That was only after Mr. Rumsfeld personally called Mr. Manley to find out whether or not he was still going to proceed.
How can the minister justify the fact that OCIPEP crashed within 50 minutes of zero hour for the exercise, and why are Canadians being asked to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on an office like OCIPEP that doesn't work and is out of control, and considering the fact that OCIPEP continues to fail Canadians?