Remarks by Minister Goodale to the Empire Club of Canada on National Security Tools and Architecture for a Changing and Difficult World


Toronto, Ontario
December 14, 2018

Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for coming.

Before the last federal election, the notion of becoming Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness had never crossed my mind. As a former Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Public Works and Finance, my focus had always been on ECONOMIC issues.

But the Prime Minister had this OTHER idea ... and ever since, I’ve been immersed in a world of spies and espionage, guns and gangs, opioids, transnational crime, migration and refugees, prisoner transfers and segregation, storms, floods and wildfires. It’s both exhausting and exhilarating, but on some days – I have to admit – it can be hard to find the up-side.

Nevertheless, three years and six weeks into this job, I can tell you it’s a great honour and a great adventure every day to work in the Public Safety portfolio – firstly, because of the tremendous, courageous and skilled Canadians I get to work WITH; secondly, because of the gravity of the issues that confront us; and thirdly because those issues ARE inextricably connected to jobs, growth, prosperity and economic success for Canadians.

Having a safe and secure country, governed by the rule of law and due process, is an absolute prerequisite for a thriving economy. Security provides the stability upon which free markets depend. It provides the predictability and confidence upon which investors rely.

Equally important – as safety and security are achieved and as the law is applied and administered – Canadians must have absolute confidence that their rights and freedoms are fully respected and protected.

We are fortunate to live in a free, open, diverse, inclusive democratic country – probably the finest example of pluralism the world has ever known. And we need to work every day to keep it that way – especially in this complex, constantly changing and very difficult world.

The Public Safety “portfolio” includes the department itself which deals with policy development, research, issues coordination and program delivery (in such diverse fields as emergency response capacity, countering radicalization, First Nations policing, anti-gang services, a new legal regime for cannabis, battling PTSI among First Responders, and much more).

But the bulk of the work in the portfolio actually gets done through a collection of essential and independent agencies – the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Correctional Service of Canada, the Parole Board of Canada ... to name the major ones.

Altogether, this portfolio includes over 60,000 dedicated personnel and an annual budget of $10 billion – all to keep Canada secure to keep the country safe, and to safeguard our rights and freedoms and the open, inclusive, democratic way in which we want to live our lives.

I've thought of giving this speech about this portfolio on three different occasions over the past 18 months, and each time some significant security event intervened to throw-off the timing. That’s the way things are in Public Safety – the environment is always dynamic, the issues are large and numerous, and constantly changing. It’s hard to focus a single speech on all the right topics at exactly the right time.

But today, I'd like to touch on four big topics that I hope you will find relevant:

  • one is Bill C-59, our new legislation designed to renovate Canada’s national security architecture to suit the realities of this changing and difficult world;
  • secondly, the issue of high risk terrorist travellers and how we deal with the threats they pose;
  • third, Canada’s new CYBER Security policy and the steps being taken to protect us all from malicious attacks; and
  • finally, foreign interference in Canadian affairs by state actors, including those who would use malicious influence to drive wedges of confusion, fear and hate, and do damage to our democracy.

First, Bill C-59, an Act respecting national security. It has passed the House of Commons and is now before the Senate. The product of the most open and comprehensive public consultations about national security in Canadian history, the new legislation, once passed, would accomplish three important objectives.

To start with, it will make several corrections in the law to fix previous mistakes – like language that was too vague rendering some provisions in the law unusable, a defective no-fly list that inadvertently victimized children, implied circumventions of the Charter, and so forth. These are all remedied in C-59.

Secondly, the Bill strengthens and clarifies the constitutional and legal authorities under which our security and intelligence agencies operates, and it creates some new tools for them to use. Various court decisions and expert reports have raised questions about these matters in recent years, and it's vital that there be no doubt about the powers and authorities these agencies have, and how they can be used, and where the fences are. Clarity is essential to effectiveness.

Finally, C-59 ushers in a whole new era of transparency and accountability. It creates a new, comprehensive National Security and Intelligence Review Agency with a government-wide all-inclusive mandate to examine any federal department or agency with a security or intelligence function. Gone will be review agencies that operate in fragmented silos. The new agency will be able to follow any issue wherever it goes across the entire government. That will complement the separate and independent work of our new National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.

We’re also creating a new Intelligence Commissioner with authority to examine and approve, or disallow, certain proposed security and intelligence activities before the fact, in advance. If the Commissioner says “no”, that activity doesn’t happen.

CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service) is Canada’s HUMAN intelligence gathering agency. It gains a clear set of rules in C-59 for managing and utilizing large-scale datasets upon which it depends for much of its scientific analysis.

CSE (the Communications Security Establishment) is Canada’s SIGNALS intelligence gathering agency. It gains its own stand-alone legislation and the authority to undertake active (not just defensive) cyber operations to take down imminent cyber threats to Canada, before they can attack us.

Other changes improve information sharing among federal government agencies. There are strong rules against behaviour that might contribute to torture. And the whole package will be reviewed for effectiveness from top to bottom in five years.

We have two over-arching objectives in C-59 – to ensure that the rights and freedoms of Canadians are properly respected, and equally, to ensure that our police, security and intelligence agencies are doing everything we expect of them to keep Canadians safe.

I’m hopeful that Bill C-59 will win the approval of the Senate and become law early next year.

Now let me turn to my second major topic today, and that is how we combat those who become radicalized to extremist violence and sometimes travel abroad to inflict terror.

Since the beginning of the evil rampage of barbarism launched in Syria and Iraq a few years ago by the so-called “Islamic State”, more properly known as Daesh, close to 40,000 individuals from various countries worldwide have been lured into the terrorist cause, and have travelled abroad to participate – mostly before 2016.

Canada’s share of this global problem is small and basically stable, but we’re not immune. Working closely with our international partners, Canada’s security, intelligence and police agencies have identified approximately 250 of these high-risk extremist travellers with a connection to Canada who have journeyed overseas – about half into Syria, Iraq and Turkey, and the rest into Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of north and east Africa.

Some of them have become battlefield combatants. Others did fundraising, operational planning, on-line propaganda, recruitment, training and other complicit activity. Some were just camp followers.

There are about 190 of these people still abroad. Some of them – perhaps many – are already dead. Some now have spouses and children. There are close to 60 individuals who left Canada and are now back – a small number from Syria, Iraq and Turkey, the rest from elsewhere. Overall, these figures have not changed significantly over the past three years. They remain largely stable.

Notably, despite the complete defeat of Daesh on the battlefield and the fall of the city of Raqqa last year, there has been NO recent surge of returnees to Canada. Incidentally, while every Canadian citizen has the legal right to “re-enter” Canada, the Government of Canada has no legal obligation to facilitate their return.

CSIS, the RCMP and our other security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies – including our federal financial regulators, as you may have seen in the news today – work constantly to know as much as we possibly can about every threat to our national security. That work is carried out 24/7 both internally, across all agencies, and in close collaboration with our allies in the Coalition Against Daesh, NATO, the Five Eyes Security Alliance, the G-7, the EU, Interpol, various UN agencies and others.

All available data is steadily and expertly assessed and re-assessed to ensure we are up-to-date and accurate on all risks and threats.

Canadians who involve themselves in terrorism and violent extremism can expect to be investigated, arrested, charged and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. That is our prime objective and priority.

Since specific terrorism offences first appeared in the Criminal Code some 15 years ago, over 100 charges have been laid involving 55 individuals, and 27 of them have been convicted of one or more offences – so far. Among that small and specific group of “returnees” from Syria, Iraq and Turkey, four have been charged and two convicted – so far.

But evidence that can be used in courtrooms is often very difficult to get, particularly when it must be derived from a foreign war zone half a world away, in a place that is still dysfunctional and dangerous. All our democratic allies face the same challenge.

While evidence is being collected and assessed, or where charges are difficult to lay, a full suite of OTHER measures are deployed against terror suspects, including: surveillance, interviews and further investigations; intelligence gathering and lawful sharing; on-going threat assessments; No-Fly listings; Criminal Code listings; the refusal or revocation of passports; terrorism peace bonds; and legally authorized threat reduction measures.

It’s all about keeping Canadians safe. The specific measures to be used in respect of any particular individual or situation is determined by Canada’s expert police, security and intelligence agencies. They are professional, not political. And they are highly regarded for what they do by international standards.

One final point – Daesh and Al-Qaeda are not the only sources of dangerous extremist violence. It can come from any type of fanaticism. For example, of increasing concern are groups like right-wing white supremacists and neo-Nazis who foment hate that manifests itself in violent anti-Semitism, or a brutal misogynistic VAN attack along Yonge Street, or the murder of six Canadian citizens, only because they were at prayer in a Mosque. All this too is a threat to Canada and Canadians which demands and gets the attention of all our public safety agencies.

Turning now to Cyber Security.

Over the past two decades, information technology has revolutionized our lives. The world has become a smaller, faster, more complex and inter-related place. People are more connected to each other than ever before, and connected to the things around them. And more dependent on those connections. And more vulnerable.

The Internet and smartphones have become an inextricable part of who we are. We spend a big portion of our waking hours online – in fact, at 43.5 hours per month, Canadians are the most online people in the world.

That’s how we work and play, shop and bank, entertain ourselves, stay in the know, keep in touch with family and friends. Digital technologies enrich our lives in countless ways. And underlying them is complex infrastructure upon which our economy and modern society depend. As part of that, our most sensitive personal and financial information is floating in a cloud.

And millions of times every day, hackers at home and around the world are trying to break in. They may be foreign states and militaries, or terror groups, or organized crime, or petty thieves, or people with corporate or personal grudges, or sometimes it’s the computer wonk next door, just trying to see how far he can get.

The hackers’ objectives range from theft and extortion to intimidation, revenge, disruption and chaos to simple nuisance. The tools available to them are sophisticated, prolific and cheap. They look to exploit gaps in the system and weak, and given our ubiquitous inter-connectedness, we are all only as strong as our weakest links.

Imagine the damage that would ensue if a major digital infrastructure system were to be compromised – in telecommunications, for example, or banking, transportation, healthcare or energy transmission. And it’s not hypothetical. Foreign hackers have twice brought down the electrical power system in Ukraine with wide-spread consequences, and that’s just a small illustration.

Based on the most recent information from Statistics Canada, cyber CRIME in this country is causing more than $3 billion in economic losses every year. Globally, the losses in 2018 are estimated at more than $600 billion. When asked what keeps him awake at night, the Governor of the Bank of Canada not long ago said the threat of cyber attacks.

So this is a large and very real worry, but we cannot allow ourselves to be driven by fear. As we roll out Canada's new Cyber Security Strategy, we are equally focused on the opportunity it creates for the most cutting-edge research, scientific discovery, innovation, new business development, advanced engineering and manufacturing, global exports, job creation, prosperity and growth.

Cyber security is, indeed, a GROWTH industry. It already contributes $1.7 billion to our GDP and more than 20,000 excellent jobs. The global market for top quality cyber security products and services stands at close to $100 billion today, and it’s likely to more than double in less than three years.

The global thirst for cyber strength in all industries across all sectors is enormous. Every country is struggling to develop the needed talent and skills. Right now, Canada is the world’s fourth largest innovation hub for cyber security, but we have huge potential to do better and better. With industry and academia, we should reach for the top. And to do that we need to leverage all available resources. I would note that our last federal budget funded the largest investments in science and innovation ever in Canadian history.

The last federal budget also identified more than $750 million over five years for our new federal Cyber plan.

A third of that, $250 million, goes to Shared Services Canada to enhance and protect cyber systems within the Government of Canada. In my view, the greatest benefit of Shared Services Canada is to ensure coherence and high standards of cyber security across all federal IT systems.

But it’s equally vital to protect PRIVATE sector systems – so we’re investing $155 million to create the new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security. It has become our national operational authority, bringing together all federal cyber expertise under one roof – for analysis, advice and services to governments and to the private sector, large and small, including the operators of critical infrastructure. The Centre also works on enhanced public awareness and education.

The RCMP is receiving $200 million to strengthen criminal investigations of cyber crime and stand-up a new National Cyber Crime Coordination Centre – to support, assist and coordinate law enforcement activity in this field across the country.

The CSE, CSIS, Public Safety, Global Affairs, Natural Resources, Innovation and Employment departments also gain resources – including for a voluntary company certification service to verify their Cyber health, and for an integrated work-and-learning program for a thousand students. And that can only be a small beginning.

Another piece of our strategy will be coming in the New Year. Based on months of consultations, we plan to introduce a LEGISLATIVE framework to ensure we all understand the implications and obligations we share with each other in such an inter-connected and interdependent cyber world.

Again, the crucial point is the weakest link. It can bring down the whole house of cards and do irreparable harm. Those links need to be avoided to the maximum extent possible.

Finally today, I want to mention foreign interference.

From time immemorial, governments worldwide have been engaged in efforts to mold public opinion and government policy in OTHER countries in order to advance their own interests. And as long as that is done in a peaceful, open and transparent manner, within the law, it’s fine. It’s called diplomacy or treaty negotiations.

Our Team Canada efforts to provide information, shape opinions and build support in the United States for NAFTA are a good and proper example. All very public and factual. And without objection.

But when that type of activity becomes covert and clandestine, and is dominated by lies and disinformation aimed at misleading people, destabilizing the economy or manipulating democratic processes – a bright red line is crossed.

It could be espionage to steal commercial secrets, or sabotage to damage a global competitor. It could be murder to silence a vocal critic. Or maybe foreign agents providing illegal funds to support stooge candidates in election campaigns. It could be coercing members of a diaspora, or using social media to falsely slander a Cabinet Minister. It could be funding bots and trolls to stoke anxiety, even hysteria, around sensitive issues.

These types of hostile state activities have increasingly become a leading topic of discussion and concern among Canadians and between our country and partners in the Five Eyes and the G7.

There is increasing determination to work in concert to uncover illicit behaviours and confront rule-breaking countries. You saw some of that earlier this year with respect to Russia – a country which has flouted the rule of law and acceptable norms time and time again.

When Canada expelled four members of Russia’s diplomatic staff, Foreign Minister Freeland said “... the four have been identified as intelligence officers or individuals who have used their diplomatic status to undermine Canada’s security or interfere in our democracy.”

At this year’s G7 Summit hosted by Canada in Charlevoix, we announced a new G7 Rapid Response Mechanism to help tackle common threats. It will strengthen information sharing on foreign activities that undermine our democracies, and identify opportunities for coordinated responses.

Protecting our democratic institutions and countering hostile state activity are pressing priorities for the Government of Canada – and that includes safeguarding the integrity of next year’s federal election.

Domestically, Bill C-76 will help. It got Royal Assent just yesterday. Among other things, this Elections Modernization Act will prohibit Canadian third-parties from partisan activities using foreign funding, either during or outside of election campaigns. It also requires all organizations who sell advertising space to NOT knowingly accept election ads from foreign entities.

Most importantly, Canadians themselves need to be alert to what foreign intrusions look like, and skeptical about fake news masquerading as legitimate.

When our security agencies become aware of illicit foreign meddling, steps must be taken by credible sources to alert Canadians to the risk.


Ladies and gentlemen, you have been very patient. Thank you for your attention.

Let me close by repeating one brief point.

In all of our security and intelligence services at all levels, and among our police and other first responders and emergency personnel of all kinds, Canadians are fortunate to have an amazing team of strong, talented, dedicated people hard at work. They are indeed world-class.

And every day, they give their best to keep us all safe and to safeguard the precious rights and freedoms that make Canada, Canada.

I thank them for their service.

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