Auditor General report finds Canada weak on security

by Canadian Shipper

The Auditor General Sheila Fraser has released a report today criticizing Canada’s security weaknesses despite its anti-terrorism funding initiatives of $7.7-billion after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Fraser said that while the $7.7-billion went to the right priority areas, such as airports, the government did not have a framework that would allow it to focus on the most important threats and guide investment, management, and development decisions so it could direct complementary actions in separate agencies or choose between conflicting priorities.

Also, departments and agencies are still unable to share some security information and their systems are not all able to communicate with each other.

"The government as a whole failed to achieve improvements in the ability of security information systems to communicate with each other. Consequently, needed improvements will be delayed by several years," said Fraser.

The audit was conducted before Paul Martin’s government reorganized the national security programs on Dec. 12, when he took over as Prime Minister. Among the changes was the creation of the new Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness under Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, which combines the protection and preparedness office with security organizations such as the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

The report noted, among other findings, that a small percentage of current airport employees could have criminal associations because Transport Canada does not have full access to RCMP criminal intelligence information when screening employees to work in restricted areas.

"Unless air transportation workers with access to aircraft are reliable, spending on passenger and cargo security will be of reduced value," said Fraser.

Fraser noted that while the government departments have agreed to comply with the recommendations in this report, "some of the flaws we identified-the incomplete watch lists and the questionable reliability of some airport personnel, for example-were in fundamental elements of routine security systems that were in place prior to September 2001. They should have been functioning more effectively at the time of our audit. These matters are serious and need to be addressed," she said in the report.

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