Madam Speaker, I would like to speak to the investments mentioned in the budget that we are making in the defence and security of our country.
Before I get into specific issues, I would like to mention two things: first, the importance of defence and security industries from the economic point of view; and, second, how Ottawa, as a city, is very well placed to be the hub of companies involved in the ISR, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, segments of the defence and security industries.
The Canadian defence and security industries are an essential service and a critical sector in Canada’s economy. These companies are highly innovative, export intensive and provide high-wage employment. These companies export 54% of their total sales. These companies provide employment to 64,000 people whose salaries are about 60% above the average Canadian manufacturing salaries.
During the last couple of decades, we have seen most of our manufacturing jobs outsourced to low-cost manufacturing countries across the world, but the jobs and manufacturing facilities of Canadian defence and security industries will never be outsourced. Also, for the U.S. defence purchases, which run into hundreds of billions of dollars every year, Canadian companies are considered to be U.S. domestic companies, offering a huge advantage to the Canadian defence and security industries.
Ottawa, as a hub, can be home to ISR companies, similar to hundreds of small companies around Washington, D.C. and the Annapolis beltway. Also, we are just few hours away from the centre of defence establishment in the U.S. We already have several companies in defence and security industries in Ottawa today. We also have Defence Research and Development Canada. Decision-makers on technology and procurements are also located here. All of these make Ottawa an ideal location for promoting it as the hub for ISR industries.
Canada is geographically well placed, with the powerful and friendly United States as our neighbour, who also is our major economic partner. The physical security threats to the country from outside our borders are minimal, and Canada was never worried much about physically protecting our land.
National defence is a fundamental responsibility of the federal government. In addition to protecting Canada from international threats and defending our sovereignty, the Canadian Armed Forces play an important role in making the world a safer place.
Budget 2022 recognized those challenges and proposed new action to respond to them. It invested in Canada’s defence capabilities, and in the alliances that will ensure a strong and coordinated global response to the ongoing challenges that the world faces today. Based on recent events and the changing global environment, the government acknowledged the requirement to reassess Canada’s role, priorities and needs in the face of a changing world.
Budget 2022 announced a defence policy review to allow Canada to update its existing 2017 defence policy, “Strong, Secure, Engaged”. In my view, merely updating the current policy is not enough. There has been a paradigm shift in the kinds of threats facing our country.
First, we have cybersecurity threats, including those that come from foreign actors, that target Canadians, Canadian businesses and our critical infrastructure. As Canadians grow more dependent on digital systems, the potential consequences of cyber-incidents continue to increase, and Canada needs to be ready.
Second, we have the spread of misinformation and disinformation that is directly challenging the stability of even the most long-standing democracies. Foreign threats to democracy, including state-sponsored disinformation, which is misinformation that is deliberately targeted to deceive people, have continued to grow amidst rising geopolitical tensions, a global pandemic and the rapid evolution of technology.
Third is biological threats that know no boundaries. The nature and severity of biological threats has grown in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the potentially catastrophic impacts of a deliberate biological event. Concerns are growing that the pandemic's unprecedented scale and reach could inspire terrorists to turn to biological weapons. United Nations Secretary-General Guterres has understood this threat. He warned:
The weaknesses and lack of preparedness exposed by this pandemic provide a window onto how a bioterrorist attack might unfold – and may increase its risks. Non-state groups could gain access to virulent strains that could pose similar devastation to societies around the globe.
The threat due to domestic terrorism is on the rise due to increasing hate and due to the spread of misinformation and disinformation. During the latest occupy movement, the cross-border connections between the extremist groups were alarming. Based on these threats, in my view, merely updating the current policy is not enough. We need a change in our approach to national security. We need a unified approach to defence. We need a unified approach between all government departments to seamlessly share the information for a unified response. We need a unified command to address the modern needs of security.
The existing policy document, “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, stated:
This policy is deliberately ambitious and focuses, first and foremost, on the heart of the Canadian Armed Forces – the brave women and men who wear the uniform.
We know how this worked out.
The document was geared more toward the big-ticket items like ships and fighter aircraft, which, while important, do not address the major threat that Canada and Canadians are facing.
In the current policy document, “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, which is 113 pages long, the word “misinformation” is mentioned only once. Similarly, the word “disinformation” is also mentioned only once. Also in this policy, the investment in cybersecurity was under “Joint Capabilities”. It was grouped with IT and communications, signal intelligence, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive detection and response capabilities. All of these had just a $4.6-billion investment over 20 years out of about $164 billion in proposed spending.
We should stop saying threats involving guns and bullets or ships and fighter planes from foreigners invading our land and sea are the only responsibility of the Canadian Armed Forces; or that cybersecurity threats are the responsibility of the Communications Security Establishment alone; or that biological threats should be handled by the Public health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces role is limited to providing a few medics; or that threats posed by misinformation and disinformation are the responsibility of maybe Canadian Heritage or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service; or that the threat from domestic terrorism is the responsibility of the RCMP, CSIS and local law enforcement agencies.
We should stop compartmentalizing the threats and divide the responsibility. We need to act cohesively.
We need generals who have a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence and other leading technologies. We need generals with a Ph.D. in biology. We need to completely start afresh and come up with a comprehensive strategy and policy. The existing policy document “Strong, Secure, Engaged” focused on a $164-billion investment in procurement of traditional assets and tools, including ships, fighter aircraft, etc.
When we review this policy, it may be a good idea where the new high-technology companies are going. As an example, a Silicon Valley company called Anduril is succeeding commercially in transforming the U.S. and allied military capabilities with advanced technology. It says that the next generation of military technology will depend less on advances in shipbuilding and aircraft design than on advances in software engineering and computing. Unlike traditional defence contractors who focus primarily on hardware, its core system is an autonomous sense-making and command and control platform that serves as the core platform for its suite of capabilities.
Ideas are turned into deployed capabilities in months, not years, saving the government and taxpayers money along the way. The company combines military veterans with engineers who are experts in artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced sensors, secure networking, aerospace, virtual reality technology, aircraft modelling and simulation. We should look at companies like this to see what is happening elsewhere and where the defence systems are going.
I would like to quote extensively from the report, “A National Security Strategy for the 2020s”, prepared by the Task Force on National Security and the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.
We are living in a time of intense global instability when the security of Canada and other liberal democracies is under growing threat. An increasingly aggressive Russia is only one of a series of threats, both old and new, that endanger national security in Canada. It exemplifies the worrying re-emergence of great-power rivalry. It also interacts with or amplifies other threats, such as the use of new technologies to wage cyber-warfare, an increase in ideological extremism at home and abroad, attacks on democratic institutions, and transnational threats such as climate change and pandemics. We witnessed a different constellation of such threats in the protests that blocked border crossings and disrupted Canada's capital in early 2022. Where once the state was the focus of these threats, individuals and societies have also become targets.
When these and other threats reach the scale and potential to endanger what matters most to us as a country - our people, our democratic values and institutions, our economy, our society and our sovereignty - Canadians expect their government to protect them. Yet Canadians and their governments rarely take national security seriously. Taking shelter under the American umbrella has worked well for us.... We have not experienced a direct violent attack against our citizens in recent memory on the same scale as some of our allies, with the last major one being the Air India attack of 1985. This has made us complacent and paved the way for our neglect of national security....
Our peers, including our partners in the Five Eyes partnership (Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States) are reacting to this rapidly changing situation by revamping policies, identifying new tools and authorities, reforming institutions, devoting new resources to security and seeking new partnerships. They possess not only a deeper appreciation of the threats facing the West but also a more sophisticated national security culture writ large.
The report makes the case that Canada is not ready to face this new world. As a country, it says we urgently need to rethink national security.
The best part of the report is that the core recommendations do not require massive amounts of new spending, but, rather, focus on making better use of the tools we already have and improving co-operation among key partners.
The report makes recommendations in four broad categories.
Number one is to develop new strategies. Canada needs a national security strategy that reflects today’s realities. We can no longer count on some of the traditional pillars that have guaranteed our security and prosperity for decades. The essential first step is to hold a public review of national security. A thorough and transparent review would help inform the public, highlight priorities, identify the policies and tools required to address them, and point to the required changes to governance. In reviewing its national security strategy, the government should also take a hard look at whether its foreign, defence and development policies are adequate. This does not mean an isolated update in each case, but a holistic approach that examines all our national security assets in a coordinated fashion.
Number two is to strengthen existing tools and create new ones. Canada must build new tools and make better use of existing ones to deal with this diversifying and intensifying range of threats. More specifically, Canada should invest more in the following areas: sharing information within government, sharing information with other levels of government, reviewing outdated legislation, enhancing the use of open-source intelligence, strengthening cybersecurity, protecting economic security, guarding against foreign interference, and deterring organized crime and money laundering.
Number three is to enhance governance. Canada needs to rethink its national security governance framework: how decisions are made, policies developed and information shared.
Number four is to increase transparency and engagement. Many Canadians today mistrust government. This has major implications for national security. This erosion of trust opens space for misinformation and disinformation to spread, which weakens democratic institutions and contributes to a vacuum that hostile actors do not hesitate to fill. In this context, the national security community’s tradition of secrecy is outdated and counterproductive. As such, the report strongly recommends that the national security community’s recent engagement efforts be significantly ramped up, both with the public, including civil society, the private sector, the media and academia, and with Parliament. The community, moreover, must continue and intensify its efforts to increase diversity within its ranks.
It has been over 15 years since we produced a national security or foreign policy statement. We have not seriously reviewed the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act since CSIS was established in 1984. We need to have an integrated approach involving the Canadian Armed Forces, the Canadian Security Establishment, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Public Health Agency of Canada and other agencies dealing with defence and security.
I will conclude with a quote from Alex Deep. In his article “Hybrid War: Old Concept, New Techniques”, in the Small Wars Journal, he mentions that we need “an adaptable and versatile military” to overcome the complex threats posed by the modern hybrid war, which combines all the conventional and irregular components.