Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence
Issue 2 - Evidence
OTTAWA, Monday, May 29, 2006
The Standing Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 10 a.m. to examine and report on the national security policy of Canada.
Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the chair.
The Chairman: Welcome. I would like to call the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence to order. My name is Colin Kenny and I chair the committee. Before we begin, I would briefly like to introduce the members of the committee.
Senator Peter Stollery, from Ontario, has served in Parliament since 1972, first as a member of the House of Commons and then as a senator. Senator Stollery is Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Senator Hugh Segal is from Ontario as well. He was Chief of Staff to former Prime Minister Mulroney, and was the associate secretary of the cabinet in Ontario. He is one of Canada's better-known public policy experts. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada. He chairs the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and also sits on the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.
Senator Norman Atkins, from Ontario, came to the Senate with 27 years of experience in the field of communications. He served as a senior adviser to former federal Conservative leader Robert Stanfield, to Premier William Davis of Ontario and to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
Senator Michael Meighen is a lawyer and a member of the bars of Quebec and Ontario. He is Chancellor of the University of Kings College and past chair of the Stratford Festival. He is currently Chair of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs and is also a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce and Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
Senator Larry Campbell, from British Columbia, was Mayor of Vancouver from 2002 to 2005 and is a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. His experiences as Vancouver's Chief Coroner inspired the Gemini award-winning television series, Da Vinci's Inquest. Senator Campbell is also a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples and the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
Senator George Baker, from Newfoundland and Labrador, has served in Parliament since 1974, first as a member of the House of Commons and then as a senator. While in the House of Commons, he served as Minister of Veterans Affairs from 1999 to 2000. He sits on the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans and the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
Senator Wilfred Moore, from Halifax, is a lawyer with an extensive record of community involvement and has been a member of the board of governors of St. Mary's University. He also sits on the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce and the Standing Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons for the Scrutiny of Regulations.
Our committee has been mandated to examine security and defence and the need for a national security policy. We have produced a number of reports since 2002 and we are currently in the midst of a detailed review of Canadian defence policy. We have held hearings in every province and have engaged with Canadians on an ongoing basis to determine their views of national interests, what they see as Canada's principal threats and how they would like the government to respond.
Before us today we have Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Commissioner Zaccardelli joined the RCMP in 1970. He was appointed the twentieth commissioner on September 2, 2002. Under the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, Commissioner Zaccardelli is responsible for all aspects of the management and ongoing operation of the RCMP and its roughly 23,000 employees.
Commissioner Zaccardelli last appeared before our committee two weeks ago. Welcome back, commissioner. We look forward to having a discussion with you.
With him we also have the Deputy Director of Operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Mr. Jack Hooper. Mr. Hooper is replacing Jim Judd, who has experienced a death in his family. Mr. Hooper has been Deputy Director of Operations for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service since 2005.
He joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1974 as a criminal investigator and later moved into counter- intelligence and counterterrorism with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Mr. Hooper, we welcome you here today and look forward to hearing from you.
As I understand it, Mr. Hooper, you have an opening statement; and, Mr. Zaccardelli, you feel you gave us all we could handle when you were here two weeks ago.
Giuliano Zaccardelli, Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: The senators will appreciate the extra time to ask questions.
Jack Hooper, Deputy Director (Operations), Canadian Security Intelligence Service: Good morning, honourable senators. I am pleased to be here with you today. Before I begin my opening remarks, I want to pass on the regrets of my director, Mr. Judd, who very much wanted to be here to address you personally. He cannot be. I will do my best to represent him and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which is grateful for this opportunity.
I do have some brief opening comments, which I will confine to two general issues. First, I have a few observations on the current terrorist threat environment; and second, I want to say a little about our specific interests in relation to Afghanistan.
Terrorist activities inspired by the al Qaeda ideology and operational doctrine are the most prominent and immediate security threat globally and domestically. It is a phenomenon that has been manifested in many parts of the world. In 2005, reported terrorist incidents of all types and origins reached an historic high. Many of these were rooted in the al Qaeda ideology and its operational doctrine.
The vast majority of these incidents did not occur in Western jurisdictions. However, that trend has been changing, and will likely continue, as attacks over the course of the last five years in the United States, Spain, the United Kingdom and other countries bear witness. As well, terrorist conspiracies in these and other Western countries have been interdicted before the actions could take place.
The threat of this variant of terror is global, complex and sophisticated. The individuals and groups involved are often internationally interconnected and highly mobile. Most troubling, as we have seen prominently in the case of the London transit attacks of last year, is that the individual operatives can be born and raised in the West and be thoroughly assimilated into Western society's values.
They are often technologically sophisticated, both in their use of materials and the Internet. The Internet is used increasingly as a multi-faceted tool for communications, recruitment, proselytizing and transfer of techniques. It has been estimated that, at any given time, there are about 4,500 terrorist-affiliated websites accessible on the Internet. There has also been a growing trend toward non-terrorist criminal activity by these individuals and groups, either to generate revenue or acquire materials in their terrorist planning.
Canada is not now, nor has it ever been, immune to the threat of terrorism. In fact, the committee will know that prior to the events of 9/11, the most significant act of terrorism in contemporary history, if you measure it in terms of casualties, had its roots in Canada. I am speaking of the Air India bombing, which resulted in the deaths of 329 people. Similarly, Canadian citizens have not been immune more recently. The casualties that Canadians suffered in the 9/11 attacks and in the Bali bombings, for example, testify to that.
Canadian military personnel serving in Afghanistan have been killed and wounded in theatre, as has a Canadian diplomat. The ongoing threat to our forces in Afghanistan, and to our Canadian personnel over there, remains high.
Similarly, we have not been immune to terrorism in other ways. There are resident in Canada graduates of terrorist training camps and campaigns, including experienced combatants from conflicts in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and elsewhere. As well, Canadian citizens or residents have been implicated in terrorist attacks or conspiracies in other countries.
For example, a young man is awaiting trial in Ottawa for his alleged involvement in a bombing conspiracy in the United Kingdom. Other Canadians or Canadian residents have been involved in terrorist plots against targets in the United States, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Singapore, Pakistan and other countries.
Canada was named on several occasions as one of six Western target countries by al Qaeda leaders as recently as last summer.
I will conclude my remarks with a few words about Afghanistan. This has been a country of interest to us for a number of years, and it continues to be of active interest for three basic reasons. First, it has a longstanding association with the global terrorist phenomenon, particularly al Qaeda, dating back to the days of the Soviet occupation. Many foreign nationals were participants along with Afghan nationals in the anti-Soviet campaign. Many of them continued their links with that organization after the Soviet withdrawal. A good number of them have migrated to elsewhere in the world, including to Canada.
The second reason we are interested in Afghanistan comes back to the deployment of Canadian Forces there; and it has resulted in our service taking an active role to support our military colleagues in that country. While I am not at liberty to discuss the specific operational details or methodologies of that support, I can say a couple of things about it.
First, this support has been principally focused on the acquisition of intelligence to help the Canadian Forces defend themselves against terrorist attacks in that country. Second, this intelligence is known to have saved lives; it has uncovered weapons and arms caches and it has disrupted terrorist attacks.
The third reason we have a continuing, active interest in Afghanistan comes back to concerns for the stability of the region more broadly speaking. Afghanistan is the current venue where the terrorist designs of a number of organizations rooted in Pakistan, the Central Asian republics and the subcontinent are planned and operationalized, and where individual activists seek support and sanctuary.
Our historical investigations have taught us that at some point, this condition of broader regional instability will be the progenitor of terrorist threats in Canada. Therefore, we have to orient our collection programs not only tactically, in response to current circumstances in Afghanistan, but also strategically, to better situate the Canadian security intelligence community in Canada against future threats.
Currently, terrorism and insurgency are being brought to Canadians in Afghanistan. At some point, if we are to learn the lessons of history, their practitioners may bring violence to the streets of our cities.
That said, senators, I will end my remarks and take your questions, bearing in mind that I may have to be circumspect in some of my responses.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Hooper. We really want you to come clean today.
Senator Meighen: Welcome, gentlemen. It is nice to see you back, commissioner. I am glad you are making a habit of appearing before us every two weeks or so. We look forward to an ongoing dialogue. Thank you for replacing Mr. Judd on such short notice, Mr. Hooper.
We are trying as a committee to gain a better understanding of the threat environment in Afghanistan and elsewhere — and perhaps even more importantly, how that constitutes a threat to our national security and to Canadians here at home.
Some of us have been on call-in shows and we have listened to radio and television. We have observed that ordinary Canadians at Tim Hortons do not get it, in the sense that they do not seem to perceive the threat to themselves, their families and their communities in the same way that you two gentlemen do. With great respect — I am not blaming you — the message is not getting through. Canadians do not understand it.
In your view, is there a way in which we can make it more real to the average Canadian, so that understanding the need to protect ourselves becomes more apparent? Or will it take, unfortunately, some dreadful incident on Canadian soil to bring our population to that realization?
Mr. Hooper: I will approach that from two perspectives. First, I do not know that many people understand or appreciate that where there are threats to Canadian interests, those represent a national security consideration for the government and its agencies.
Our Foreign Affairs personnel, aid personnel, RCMP officers and Canadian Forces personnel are Canadian assets. When Canadians are threatened in an international forum, that is a threat to the security of Canada. In simple terms, the fact that Canadians in theatre in Afghanistan are threatened, have suffered casualties and have died as a consequence of the insurgency and violence there, threatens our security.
In my opening remarks I talked about regional dynamics having a direct impact on the Canadian security environment. Shortly after the events of 9/11, we learned that in one of our major regions, about 60 per cent of our al Qaeda target inventory was identified by assets working abroad. That is to say, sources of intelligence were reporting from abroad on threats to the security of Canada. All of these individuals had some nexus to Afghanistan. They had either fought in the jihad, provided support to al Qaeda networks there or attended al Qaeda training camps, and they came to Canada to continue that work in support of al Qaeda.
Therefore, there is a powerful historical argument to be made that what goes on in an international forum does resonate in Canada and does result in threats to our security.
A number of things could sensitize people to this threat. We hope and pray that it does not take a catastrophic act of terrorism to bring it home to roost, but by virtue of the fact that since the events of the Air India bombing Canada has not suffered a significant act of terrorism, some complacency may be setting in. However, I can tell you that all of the circumstances that led to the London transit bombings, for example, now pertain in Canada. There is a significant requirement for the public to be educated about this threat.
With regard to what we are doing about it, in collaboration with our RCMP colleagues and other law enforcement officials, we are reaching out to a diversity of ethnic communities in Canada to try to carry this message forward, to educate people and to elicit their support in our efforts to counter these threats. It is a difficult process.
Senator Meighen: On the topic of reaching out to ethnic communities, there are those who would say that the Canadian Forces have been trying for quite some time to appeal to visible and other minorities in Canada so as to have a force that more accurately reflects the Canada of today. To be charitable, progress, albeit perhaps steady, is slow. How is CSIS progressing in dealing with ethnic communities?
Mr. Hooper: In the last few years, particularly since the events of 9/11, the results have been encouraging. I meet with and address every new class of recruits to the service. I read their CVs. The ethnic diversity, the linguistic skills and the life experiences of these people are remarkable. We are not yet where we need to be because there are legacies that derive from our having grown out of the RCMP, a predominantly male-oriented, paramilitary organization. We have set recruiting targets for visible minorities with multiple linguistic skills to draw from a recruitment pool that is more reflective of Canada's diversity. We are making significant progress.
Senator Meighen: In your opening remarks you used a phrase that politicians frequently use, ``Canadian interest.'' It is in the Canadian interest to do this, that and the other. Most of us understand what that means, but can you be a little more graphic? What is Canada's interest in Afghanistan? Is it preventing al Qaeda from operating training camps there? If so, why is that?
Mr. Hooper: Our Chief of the Defence Staff has aptly described Afghanistan as a petri dish for the propagation of terrorist bacteria. That is a graphic description, but a fairly accurate one. In its most selfish sense, our interests in Afghanistan come directly back to the security of our people in Canada.
We do have resident in Canada a number of individuals who fought with al Qaeda during the Soviet occupation and who have since trained in al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. For example, the individual who trained the bombers in the August 1998 attack on the U.S. embassy in Nairobi was a former resident of Vancouver who had fought in Afghanistan. There is a young man currently being held in custody in the United States for his involvement in conspiracies to bomb U.S., Australian and British installations in Singapore and the Philippines. This is a young man from St. Catharines who trained in al Qaeda camps. His brother, who also trained in al Qaeda camps, was killed in a firefight with Saudi authorities. The millennium bomber, Ahmed Ressam, associated with a number of individuals in Montreal who had fought and trained in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya, and had himself trained in Afghanistan.
These people have learned skills through association with former jihadis, or have learned the trade of terrorism in Afghan camps. They have come back to Canada and planned and participated in terrorist attacks, to this point, elsewhere in the world. It is in Canada's interest to ensure that they do not enter Canada, that they do not use Canada as a ground for planning and executing terrorist attacks, and that they do not do something in our country.
Senator Meighen: What you just described raises the question of how and why they were allowed to come to the country in the first place. A Canadian sitting over a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons might say that we should spend our money on improving our security in terms of whom we admit and do not admit to this country.
Second, Canadians in general, with their usual self-deprecation, believe that we have nothing for terrorists to attack. Of the people you listed, I do not think one had a target in Canada. Who is after the Seaway; who is after the Port of Vancouver? Is there any evidence that anyone has any interest in that?
The fellow at Tim Hortons will say that in any event, the Americans will protect us because they have to, because it is in their interest to do so. They are people who understand what interest is, because they understand that America, regrettably, is target number one. How would you respond to the arguments that the Americans will protect us and we do not have anything worth attacking?
Mr. Hooper: That question has two parts. One speaks to the phenomenon as it is occurring and has historically occurred in Afghanistan; the other speaks to the current threat that is indigenous to our country.
We would very much like to have the resources to vet every one of the tens of thousands of immigrants who derive from regions of conflict or instability. Pragmatically speaking, in many instances, the quality of information that we would require to interdict these individuals from entering Canada simply does not exist in the countries with which we deal. Records are not kept in the way that we would keep them. In many instances, the information is sketchy. Many of these people have arrived as refugees, without documentation or with falsified documentation. Stemming the influx of threatening elements through the refugee stream is a huge challenge, not only for my service but for the Government of Canada.
You indicated that all the cases that I spoke of dealt with threats directed elsewhere. In addition to the Afghan phenomenon, if I may call it that, I spoke in my opening remarks about the ``al Qaeda ideology.'' Al Qaeda does not exist in the same form as at the time of 9/11, for example. Al Qaeda created an ideology and an operational doctrine upon which disparate activists have seized. They have seen the operational successes of al Qaeda. We are seeing phenomena in Canada such as the emergence of home-grown, second- and third-generation terrorists. These are people who may have immigrated to Canada at an early age and become radicalized while in Canada. They are virtually indistinguishable from other youth. They blend into our society well, they speak our language and they appear to be, for all intents and purposes, well assimilated.
This is a growing phenomenon. We have also seen, commensurate with that, a growing phenomenon of conversion. We have cases of white Anglo-Saxon male Protestants converting to the most radical forms of Islam. These are people who blend in with us and our neighbours.
We have a bifurcated threat at this point — the threat that comes to Canada from the outside as well as a home- grown threat, and the home-grown variants look to Canada to execute their targeting. They are not looking to Afghanistan, the U.K. or anywhere else.
We must be vigilant on two fronts, that which is coming to us from the outside environment and, increasingly, that which is growing up in our communities.
Senator Meighen: You are satisfied, from the information you have, that the home-grown terrorist is primarily looking at targets in Canada?
Mr. Hooper: Yes.
The Chair: How do you find and defend against the home-grown terrorists? This is obviously a new phenomenon, but there were people in the U.K. who had been turned in six months. How do you deal with that?
Mr. Hooper: There were many lessons learned from the London transit bombings that really were not new to us but which validated some of our assessments. I spoke about the use of the Internet. You can become radicalized and committed to the al Qaeda ideology without ever having been to an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan or Afghanistan. You can do all of that over the Internet. You can learn techniques and acquire materials over the Internet. You can assemble an operational cell over the Internet. It is becoming increasingly difficult to detect these unknown elements, and we have to use highly sophisticated analytical techniques and information from a variety of sources to try to identify them.
A principal preoccupation of our counterterrorism program over the years has been the identification of those we call ``the unknowns.'' We do a good job of containing the threats we know about; we stay up at night worrying about the threats that we do not know about. We used to work on a ratio of 10 to 1, that is, for every one we knew about there were probably 10 that we did not. We strove to identify these unknowns. I worry that the ratio has increased. I think there may be more unknowns now than ever.
As to tactics for dealing with that, it used to be an axiom in our business that every piece of information or intelligence commanded a personal intervention. Someone had to deal with that information. We receive and collect so much information now that our challenge is to process and analyze it to identify the interlinkages between people and between disparate pieces of information, and we are increasingly relying on data manipulation techniques to identify these undisclosed interconnections. However, it is becoming a huge challenge for us.
The Chair: How do you rate it, Mr. Hooper? Is the home-grown terrorist number one on your list?
Mr. Hooper: On any given day it would depend on what operational activity is taking place in Canada, but I would say that the home-grown terrorist has achieved a condition that would put it on par with what is coming at us from the outside. In terms of their relative ranking, they are on equal ground as far as we are concerned.
Senator Stollery: I would like to remind everyone that the police shot the wrong man at Stockwell tube station. They murdered him; they shot him six times in the head while he was on the floor. They caught all the people through photographs. There are so many cameras in the London underground and bus systems that they were able to find them through photographs. There is no great mystery. The police actually murdered an innocent Brazilian electrician.
The Chair: I am not sure that is relevant to our questioning here, Senator Stollery.
Senator Stollery: The police have been unable to control it.
The Chair: Mr. Hooper, you have made two comments now that lead us to believe you are short of resources. You do not have enough funding to check all the people you need to and deal with the people immigrating to this country.
I know you are not here asking for money, because we do not have any, but tell us what percentage of immigrants you feel you cannot properly vet. Tell us what you are lacking in terms of people analyzing the information. How many times does someone have to say: ``We do not have the time to look into that; we have to move on''?
Mr. Hooper: I want to bring some additional context to bear because I do not want to walk out of this room and face the wrath of my director. I do not know that any government can fund its intelligence services sufficiently to provide absolute assurance that people immigrating to the country will be adequately vetted and that all threatening elements will be eliminated. Over the last five years, in the order of 20,000 immigrants have come from the Pakistan- Afghanistan region. We are in a position to vet one tenth of those, and that may be inadequate.
In terms of operational resources, we will be making a case to the government. We believe we need to be increasingly active abroad to collect the information that will tell us about threats resident in Canada.
The Chair: You are not completely satisfied about 90 per cent of the immigrants coming in?
Mr. Hooper: That is correct.
The Chair: Commissioner Zaccardelli, you are not here by accident. One concern of this committee is stovepipes. It is an issue that we see day after day in the United States, with their plethora of institutions. Can you give this committee some concrete examples of how you and Mr. Hooper do not have stovepipes and how things are different now in terms of the two organizations cooperating?
Mr. Zaccardelli: Thank you, Mr. Chair. The fact that we are here together, thanks to you, is an example of the collaboration and the good relationship that exists between our two organizations. More broadly, in Canada as a whole, among the national law enforcement agencies — CSIS, CBSA, Transport Canada, and provincial and municipal police forces — there is support for the philosophy of integration of which I am quite proud, and Mr. Hooper would probably say the same. We believe in that integration. There are clearly separate mandates and distinct issues with which organizations have to deal, but when it comes to the common interests of Canadians I am pleased with what we have in place. I know that our two organizations are the subject of much speculation in the media and elsewhere in terms of possible conflicts between us. I can tell you that our relationship is an excellent one. When I appeared before you two weeks ago, I mentioned a new memorandum of understanding. One editorialist quickly jumped on that, asking why it took so long. It did not take ``so long;'' it is simply part of our good relationship that we are constantly updating.
There is as much sharing of information and intelligence between our organizations as is allowed by the various policies and legislative regimes in place in this country.
In every case that involves a threat to this country from a security or law enforcement perspective, we work together. There is not one issue that is not being looked after and where we are not leveraging our collective resources for the greater good of this country.
The Chair: You are telling us that after the next bad event in Canada — which will occur at some point — those who conduct an investigation into it after the fact will not say, ``The computers of one group could not talk to those of the other,'' or ``One group was not sharing information with the other.'' You are telling us that those days are past, that although there may be other problems, that is not something for us to worry about?
Mr. Zaccardelli: Absolutely, Mr. Chair. Of course, we have files that we work on that have nothing to do with CSIS and CSIS has files that have nothing to do with the RCMP or law enforcement. However, where there is a need for collaboration and integration for the common good, to deal with security threats, we are in every case sharing information and working side by side in integrated teams. Some of our computers do not talk to each other because they do not need to, but where integration has to take place, they do.
As Commissioner of the RCMP, I am entirely pleased with our relationship with CSIS. It is a model that I would put before that of any other country in the world.
The Chair: Thank you, sir.
Senator Segal: I want to ask both of our guests a question about the framework under which they operate. When the former government brought in anti-terrorist legislation, it chose to do so, notwithstanding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms but consistent with the Charter, although they did receive some advice to the contrary at the time.
The Commissioner of the RCMP is responsible for a law enforcement organization that conducts investigations when there is sufficient evidence to believe that people are violating the law or engaged in a conspiracy to violate the law. It brings that information forward to Crown attorneys so that those people might be charged and will make arrests when necessary in that context. You are governed by the Criminal Code, the anti-terrorist legislation and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
That criminal interdiction process, which confers a series of presumptions of innocence and rights upon people, strikes me as quite different from the mandate of CSIS, which is to keep Canada safe from threats to our national security and the individual security of Canadian citizens.
The terrorist legislation is being reviewed, as we speak, by committees of Parliament. Do you both think that some changes might be necessary to make the jobs you and your officers in the field are trying to do on behalf of all Canadians easier and more effective?
Mr. Zaccardelli: There is one area in particular that I would like to see reviewed, one that causes the most concern between the two organizations. As you said, the two organizations operate independently. Where they need to come together, they do so, and I am quite satisfied with that, as I just said. However, there are times when certain information, usually in the possession of CSIS, can be beneficial to a prosecution. One source of friction that has arisen from time to time is how to deal with that information — whether we can use it and so on. This issue has bedevilled us all. It would be beneficial to us to have a regime that operates entirely within and respects every element of the Charter and that would facilitate the exchange and protection of that information. That has eluded us until now. We are looking at that with the Department of Justice as we speak.
Every country in the world is facing the same challenge. We work within our current framework, although we have added a few new elements since the amendment. However, there are times when it would be most beneficial to our work if we could exchange that information while protecting it and ensuring that the subjects of our investigation have the full protection they are due under the Charter.
I would welcome any suggestions that would help to resolve this.
Mr. Hooper: There is no divergence in the view on this of Commissioner Zaccardelli and that of CSIS. It is fundamentally a matter of collection threshold. We collect to the threshold of ``reasonable grounds to suspect.'' The RCMP must prosecute against a threshold of ``reasonable and probable grounds to believe.''
I was a member of the RCMP on transition and I have been a member of CSIS since. As Mr. Zaccardelli said, this problem has bedevilled us for ever.
There has historically been finger-pointing at CSIS and the RCMP, saying that if we could get our act together everything would be much better. We do have our act together. We have never worked more collaboratively. We have secondees within each other's organization. We work shoulder to shoulder across the country. We have not operationalized many of the provisions of the Anti-terrorism Act. We are concerned that despite the best efforts of the RCMP and CSIS to tear down silos, there will still be a legislative impediment to transitioning security intelligence into evidence that can be used in criminal prosecutions.
Mr. Zaccardelli is absolutely right. He is speaking from a law enforcement perspective, but in our experience, every security and intelligence organization in the world confronts the same problem as we do in Canada, and it may be that a legislative remedy for this problem is required.
Senator Segal: I think the vast majority of Canadians would accept the constraint you both have, in that failures, when they happen, are open to public discussion. You cannot as easily discuss the interdictive or preventive successes that I am sure you both have had with respect to conspiracies to sustain terrorist events on Canadian soil. I understand and respect that. Having said that, I believe that the expectation of Canadians would be that, notwithstanding various legislative difficulties that might exist, you would both be focused on doing what is necessary to prevent events, understanding that prevention is more important than prosecution, all things being equal.
How do you manage that balance, to the extent you can share that with Canadians?
Mr. Hooper: A case in Toronto in the lead-up to and immediate aftermath of 9/11 introduced a new paradigm for operations between CSIS and the RCMP. There was a conspiracy among eight individuals to execute an act of serious violence in the Toronto area. We passed information to the RCMP. A task force was set up immediately, comprised of local law enforcement agencies, the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. We engaged the Ontario Crown because our initial design was to have these individuals prosecuted. The Crown advised there was not sufficient evidence to proceed with charges and the law enforcement community moved quickly into a diffuse-and-disrupt mode designed to prevent acts of violence from taking place. That case was a powerful lesson for both organizations and for law enforcement more broadly writ.
At the end of the day, if prosecution is not viable, there are other techniques. That has represented something of a sea change for law enforcement agencies. Do not abandon the intelligence and the information simply because it cannot be used as evidence in a court of law. Help us disrupt the threats. Since that time, the RCMP in particular, and most of the large provincial and municipal police agencies in Canada, have partnered with us in preventing these events.
Mr. Zaccardelli: I totally agree with what Mr. Hooper has said. From a law enforcement perspective, it has been one of the most difficult issues to deal with, but I am pleased with how we have progressed. Police officers are trained to gather evidence with the intention of prosecuting. Disruption does not cut it for us. We want to get our person and go to court. It was also difficult dealing with the Crowns, because they are part of the equation in the evaluation of the evidence. The tendency is for the Crown and law enforcement to want to go to court and successfully prosecute the case. That did cause serious friction with CSIS at times, when CSIS would say that there may be another way of dealing with the matter.
Particularly since 9/11, we have had to accept going to a disruptive mode, because prevention is the most important thing. The consequences of allowing an event to take place rather than doing everything possible to prevent it are unimaginable, in some cases. This has been a sea change for us.
There are situations in which CSIS had to make fundamental changes in how they looked at things. We have had meetings between CSIS and law enforcement people. Jim Judd, the director of CSIS, and I have attended these meetings. We talk about these matters and work them out. We approach every situation with a much more extensive menu of options for the best way to protect Canada.
Senator Segal: I have a brief question on the civil liberty side of the spectrum. I am sure everyone here was deeply touched by the courage and clarity of thought that Nichola Goddard's father expressed at the funeral of his brave daughter. He said that she died to protect freedom here, and that he would never want her death to be interpreted as something that would diminish freedom here, for the press or for anyone else.
What can you tell us, within the context of your general activities — not operation specific — about the fail-safe practices you try to have in place so that we can be assured that there are no individuals in this country who would be targeted simply because they might be a member of a certain religion or ethnic group? How do you protect innocent individuals while ensuring that our society is as safe as an open and democratic society can be? How do you ensure there is no targeting based on any presumption tied to some measure of ethnicity?
Mr. Hooper: For clarification, are you talking about targeting by law enforcement and security and intelligence organizations?
Senator Segal: Yes.
Mr. Hooper: CSIS has a formal targeting regime. Every investigation that uses intrusive techniques is approved by a committee comprised of senior managers of my service, up to and including the director. It includes a representative of the Department of Justice and of our ministry. We do not target on the basis of ethnicity. We do not target people because they are a member of a particular community. The best assurance that Canadians can have is that we are in no way resourced to do that kind of targeting, and we would not do it in any event.
We have a critical mass of investigations that we can manage, and we target the ones that we consider to be the most serious and imminent threats to the security of Canada.
In addition to the formal targeting regime, all of our targeting decisions and operational activities are reviewed by the Security Intelligence Review Committee and the Office of the Solicitor General. In addition to the internal management regime that accommodates targeting and establishes priorities for that, there is also external review that ensures that we are not doing the kinds of things to which you are referring.
Mr. Zaccardelli: I accept that there is a strong perception in Canadian society today — especially in specific communities — that law enforcement forces do racial profiling based on ethnicity. On national security files in which we are involved from a criminal perspective, all aspects of the operations are controlled in an entirely different fashion from any other criminal investigation. They are centrally controlled in Ottawa. They are controlled by a senior assistant commissioner who must approve every investigation undertaken. Every major aspect of that investigation must be approved at the centre. On every major file that deals with national security, we work closely with CSIS. We have a joint management team looking at them. As Mr. Hooper said, we have many other levels of review.
I do accept that that perception exists. Several weeks ago I was in Toronto at a conference, and this was the predominant issue for every group there. We talked about it. We have outreach programs attempting to deal with this, but I think the problem will be with us for some time because people simply believe it to be the case.
It does not matter what I believe or say; what counts is the beliefs of the people. We ask people to judge us on each case and to hold us to the highest standards provided for in the Charter.
I believe that we have done well, as we are committed to do, but we will have to work together to continue to do that. We will continue to run our outreach programs and look for suggestions on how to improve our work in this area. It is a major concern for us.
Senator Stollery: I would like to get back to Afghanistan for a moment and follow the line of Senator Meighen's remarks on the Tim Hortons crowd, of which I am one. I was out on Saturday at a club and there were about 10 of us sitting around, a cross-section of people. We only meet at club meetings. Every person said: ``What are we doing in Afghanistan?'' It was unanimous. Not one person even tried to suggest that we were there to create a democratic society in Afghanistan.
My question relates to the intelligence difficulties, the dangers to Canadian society that could come out of a failed mission in Afghanistan. We are told Mr. Bin Laden is six foot five, he is on a kidney machine, they will pay $10 million or $20 million if someone turns him in, and after five years in Afghanistan no one has. He seems to still be there; therefore he must have thousands of supporters.
I thought, Mr. Hooper, when you were giving us your interesting presentation that you confused the issue a little. Al Qaeda just means the base; it just means 15 or 20 people. Jihad means the struggle. I think you were really talking about the Salafi movement. It is important that these terms are understood because they mean something. They certainly mean something to Afghans and to the kinds of people we do not really want where I live in downtown Toronto.
This morning I read of riots in Kabul, where they wanted to kill Mr. Karzai. Every mission that has ever gone to Afghanistan has failed; the Russians lost 15,000 men there. Is there a risk of a failed mission rebounding on us?
I mentioned the murder of the innocent Brazilian electrician at Stockwell tube station in London, a city that is well informed and aware of the political climate. However, they still killed the wrong person. How often is this happening in Afghanistan? The intelligence gathering does not sound terribly strong to me if they cannot even find Osama bin Laden after five years.
Do you see that if the mission fails — and every other mission in Afghanistan has failed — this could then rebound on us?
Mr. Hooper: I would approach my answer to that question from two directions. First, I think we are pretty high on the list of Western targets in any event, quite apart from our presence in Afghanistan. We pursue with some aggression targets affiliated with al Qaeda and its elements. We have seen, in the post-9/11 incursions in Afghanistan, transcripts of security certificate proceedings held in Canada in al Qaeda safe houses there. There are a number of people, some of them Canadians, who are currently resident in that region and have a familiarity with the initiatives undertaken by the Canadian government, ourselves, the RCMP and law enforcement generally, on interdicting terrorism and targeting al Qaeda affiliates. We had a high threat profile before Afghanistan. In any event, the presence of Canadians and Canadian Forces there has elevated that threat somewhat.
In terms of what happens after a failed mission in Afghanistan, I cannot help but look at the broader strategic environment of the region, and that is why I specifically mentioned that in my opening comments.
Looking at the history of terrorism in Canada, whether it is Air India, the assassination of a Turkish diplomat, the attempted assassination of a Punjabi cabinet minister —
Senator Stollery: They did not come from Afghanistan.
Mr. Hooper: That is correct, but they came from a region that was unstable.
Senator Stollery: India is not unstable. It has had a democratic government since independence.
Mr. Hooper: The Punjab region of India has been the locus of internecine combat and operations and the source of acts of terrorism directed within India for many years.
Senator Stollery: Turkey is not unstable.
Mr. Hooper: Again, Armenian terrorists who attacked diplomats in Canada had grievances against the Turkish government. Afghanistan is unstable. It is the centre of a region. If Afghanistan fails, the prospects for growing stability in a broader central Asian region and a broader region of the subcontinent are in question. I think Afghanistan is a key in terms of its geopolitical significance.
Senator Stollery: Again, chairman, I do not want to beat a dead horse. I know the region reasonably well. I can tell one tribesman from another, and I have been in most of those areas. I do not quite see the connection.
The Kashmir problem, which has gone on since independence, has not been resolved. There are these areas, but the idea that the entire range from India to Turkey has much in common is simply not sustainable. They speak different languages and they eat different foods; they are different people. They have different traditions. That is such a stretch.
It seems to me self-evident — and I was in the Algerian war — that if we start bumping people off, which could mean thousands of innocent people, their families, their relatives and all the rest will not like us, and that is not good.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Thank you, Senator Stollery. Mr. Hooper, do you have a comment?
Mr. Hooper: No.
Senator Baker: I have two questions, one for CSIS and the other for the RCMP, regarding Afghanistan, security, and investigations about possible terrorist activity as it relates to Canada.
First, Mr. Hooper, you said in your opening remarks that Canadian citizens and residents — and there is a difference — have been implicated in terrorist attacks and conspiracies elsewhere in the world. Let me first ask if you are the same William Hooper who is well known in connection with the interrogation of Canadian citizens at Guantanamo Bay. Are you the same person or should I be asking you that question?
Mr. Hooper: No, I am one and the same person.
Senator Baker: Let me ask you the question. It is a simple question; you do not have to give a long answer, because I think there are many questions that arise from it. It involves Canadian citizens who are in custody in other parts of the world for alleged murder and terrorist activities.
Would you now agree that Canadian law was violated under two or three sections of the Charter during the interrogations conducted at Guantanamo Bay?
Mr. Hooper: I do not agree. I am familiar with the ruling of Judge Finkelstein in that process. I argued in testimony on that motion that we cannot force anyone to talk. What goes on in Guantanamo Bay, for example, is not much different from what goes on in Canadian cities. When we knock on a door and ask people to cooperate with us, they have the option of slamming that door in our faces, and typically they do.
In the first series of interviews of Omar Khadr, he was most cooperative. He agreed to see us and speak to us. In the second series of interviews he refused to cooperate. It is the old story — you cannot get blood out of a stone — so we abandoned those interviews.
Senator Baker: I understand where you are coming from. I am not completely disagreeing with your methods; however, there has to be compliance with Canadian law. A Canadian citizen cannot be held in detention without the person doing the questioning respecting section 10(a) of the Charter, the reason for detention; secondly, right to counsel; and thirdly, generally speaking, section 7 of the Charter.
I am asking you, generally speaking, when Canadians are held in detention in foreign jurisdictions, do you carry on the interrogation in the same manner; that is, if someone is willing to talk, do you talk to them?
Mr. Hooper: First, I want to dispel any notion that this is something that we do with great regularity. You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that we have spoken to individuals of investigative interest who are in detention. We just do not do much that. We did in the case of Mr. Khadr and some other Guantanamo detainees because we believed they had intelligence that would inform us of threats to the security of Canada. In the case of Mr. Khadr, he knew why he was being held. He did not exercise right to counsel.
In many cases, and I am speaking in general terms here without specific reference to a particular detainee, we will not see them until they have been visited by consular officials of our foreign affairs department. That is their mandate, to inform them. However, at the end of the day, if someone does not want to cooperate with us, there is little we can do to force that cooperation.
Senator Baker: I understand your legal argument: Since the person was not being charged in Canada, the Charter was not triggered. Now, the Supreme Court of Canada said consistently that this is not the case, and you passed it on to the American prosecuting authorities in this instance. You gave a copy to the Commissioner of the RCMP as well. You know the law inside out, Mr. Hooper, and you have a great background in investigation. Surely you know that the information you have given to the RCMP cannot be used in subsequent proceedings. This is derivative evidence, derived from three cases adjudged by the court to be violations of the Charter. Why hold the interviews if you know the information cannot be used in Canada? Is it because you have a reciprocal agreement with a foreign nation that you would interview Canadians held in detention abroad, and if you hold a resident of the United States in detention in Canada they can come to Canada and interview that person? Is there such an arrangement? Also, why would you give the information to the RCMP?
Mr. Hooper: First, there is no reciprocal arrangement. Second, the interviews take place because we believe, and this would be the case in every interview of a detainee, they have current intelligence that may speak to a threat to the security of Canada. Therefore we do that balancing act. The interview scenario is predicated on cooperation. If a person does not want to talk to us we will not talk to them.
As to our passing that information to the RCMP, the RCMP has a collateral mandate, as you are aware, senator, for the enforcement of national security offences. We believe that the information derived from those interviews may have assisted the RCMP in the firming of some investigations they had ongoing at the time.
Senator Baker: I have to cut this short, so I will get to my question for the Commissioner of the RCMP.
In Afghanistan, and in foreign jurisdictions where you have some involvement as to terrorism — forging passports and so on — and where you are conducting active investigations, RCMP officers occasionally talk to the media. There have been many cases in which you have had to make a final decision as to whether or not to dismiss that RCMP officer because he or she had spoken to the media. You derive that authority from section 45, I think, of the RCMP Act; is that correct?
Mr. Zaccardelli: Senator, I have a lot of authority under the RCMP Act, as some people would say, but I have no authority to dismiss people from the RCMP simply because they talked to the media.
Senator Baker: No, you do not, but you have the authority, which you have exercised, to dismiss people from the RCMP because there was an adjudication tribunal of the RCMP at the first level that decided a person had violated the oath of secrecy in speaking to the media. That was then sent to you. You gave it to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police external review agency, am I correct, in your references to them? That is an impartial body set up —
Mr. Zaccardelli: Senator, you are not giving me specific cases and you are making —
Senator Baker: Let us use the case of Reid. How about Stenhouse? You know these cases. You were involved in them.
Mr. Zaccardelli: Absolutely, and I can tell you clearly that in all cases dealing with discipline, or any matter under the RCMP Act, that affects any employee of the RCMP, full due process is followed and I take every decision most carefully. They have access to review by several bodies under the RCMP Act and they can also go to Federal Court. These two cases have, in fact, gone to Federal Court, as you know, Senator Baker.
Senator Baker: Federal Court does not have the power to overrule your findings of fact. There are three levels of administrative review: One is correctness, one is simpliciter reasonableness and the other is patently unreasonable. The courts have come to the conclusion that they cannot interfere with the commissioner's finding of fact.
Mr. Zaccardelli: Again, we are treading on dangerous ground here because we are not being specific, senator, but the courts have said that as the commissioner, and given my duty to administer the RCMP under the RCMP Act, unless I make a decision that is patently out in left field, they will leave me considerable leeway to make those decisions. That is what the courts have said, not I, senator.
Senator Baker: I know. My final question is this: Would you recommend that we recommend removing your power under section 45.14 of the RCMP Act, and leave it to the external review agency or the Federal Court to make a final determination? It appears to me to be patently unreasonable to you to leave such an important decision in your hands.
Mr. Zaccardelli: I would respectfully disagree with that. I think the commissioner, or anyone in charge of an agency, should have the authority and the means to deal with and manage that agency. Obviously, when those decisions are made, and especially when it is a serious issue of dismissing someone from the organization, I should not have the final say on it. That is why there is a process to appeal and get recommendations. I think that is a fair balance. At some point, however, someone may want to take that power away from me. I do not think that is right because then you are letting me off the hook; and that is why you pay me the big bucks.
Senator Baker: Mr. Commissioner, you have overruled the external review agency. In the case of either Stenhouse or Reid, you appointed a deputy commissioner to make that decision; is that not correct? He overruled the external review agency, which is made up of a lawyer, as the chair, and four other members.
Mr. Zaccardelli: Senator, let us be clear. I did not overrule the external review committee. Under the law, the external review committee makes recommendations to me. I either accept those recommendations or I do not. I did not overrule them. I want to be clear.
Senator, I accept 90 per cent of the recommendations from the external review committee and from the public complaints commission, so I think my record is quite good in that regard. There are times when we disagree, and that is why we have the Federal Court.
The Chairman: Thank you and maybe I could remind my colleagues that we are focusing on Afghanistan here.
Senator Campbell: I am senior to both of these gentlemen. I was not fired from the RCMP. I left because I realized that I was in an environment where the people I was trying to deal with had no rules, and we had rules coming out our yin-yang; I realized I could not deal with that area. I would also like to say that there was a time when the RCMP and CSIS did operate in a stovepipe or silo mode. I have stayed involved with police operations and with CSIS since I left the force in 1981. I can tell you that the cooperation within the police communities between these two agencies is now well recognized, well accepted. In fact, their cooperation with all agencies that could possibly bring intelligence or criminal charges to bear is ongoing.
Let us deal with Guantanamo first. Are we holding any Canadians in Guantanamo?
Mr. Hooper: We are not holding anyone in Guantanamo.
Senator Campbell: Who is holding them?
Mr. Hooper: The Americans.
Senator Campbell: Did we have anything to do with that? What is the issue here? I do not understand it. We went to talk to someone who was being held in Guantanamo. They said they did not want to talk and that is the end of it; is that correct?
Mr. Hooper: That is correct.
Senator Campbell: Did you ever beat any of those people?
Mr. Hooper: No.
Senator Campbell: Secondly, does anyone here have any information about the murder in Britain?
Mr. Zaccardelli: I have absolutely no information about the shooting that took place in the subway.
Senator Campbell: And that is absolutely the term, is it not? Someone was shot. That it was murder has not been decided by any court, nor has it in fact been investigated in those terms; is that correct?
Mr. Zaccardelli: To my knowledge, there has been no court case yet on that situation.
Senator Campbell: As a police officer, how much time do you have to make that decision?
Mr. Zaccardelli: Based on what I know, it was a split-second decision.
Senator Campbell: I too have been there. I just do not accept this entire idea of our looking at a murder that took place in Britain, or even bringing it up.
I have a couple of questions. One of my concerns is the inclusion in the term ``terrorists'' of organized gangs and organized crime. I would like to know if that is something that you are concerned with, and whether we as parliamentarians or as senators should be looking to assist you in dealing with this?
Mr. Hooper: There are terrorist organizations or terrorist phenomena that also engage in criminal enterprise. We have seen that nexus in the past and we expect to see it in the future. As it relates specifically to Afghanistan, senators are aware that there is a powerful connection between opium growth and the heroin trade and insurgency in Afghanistan. The illegal traffic in drugs is, in many ways, used to support the ongoing insurgency there.
Often there is a difference in assessment between us and law enforcement as to how much overlap there is in an organization's involvement in terrorism versus crime. Is the organization a terrorist organization that engages in crime, or a criminal organization that supports terror? It is not really a productive debate. I think we would all agree there is a nexus, evidenced in many organizations, and I will ask Commissioner Zaccardelli to address the issue of whether a legislative remedy is required.
Mr. Zaccardelli: We have no specific evidence of a nexus between organized crime and terrorism in Canada, but clearly, the two countries that jump out at you are Afghanistan and Colombia. I attended a conference here several weeks ago where more than 20 countries were strongly suspected of having these links.
If you look at Afghanistan in particular, since this is what we are mainly talking about here today, when over 90 per cent of the heroin originates from Afghanistan, when more than 50 per cent of the heroin in Canada — and these are rough estimates that are used with the addicts — comes from there, I do not think it is a quantum leap to make the association between organized crime groups, who eventually distribute the heroin in our country and other countries, and the money that goes back to those terrorists organizations that are controlling Afghanistan in many ways. Unfortunately, we do not have the direct link because it is laundered and filtered in so many ways.
The same thing is true of the cocaine coming out of Columbia. Clearly, criminal organizations in Canada use brokers in Columbia and other countries to get their drugs. It is not a quantum leap to say the drug money ends up in these huge territories controlled by terrorist groups who allow the production to take place. The danger is more countries now are starting to show these signs because state sponsorship of terrorist groups is becoming more difficult. There has been a clampdown in some cases.
Senator Campbell: Mr. Hooper, in 1998, then Director Ward Elcock came before this committee and said that CSIS was investigating possibly 50 terrorist groups and 350 individual terrorist targets under the counterterrorism program. After the last eight years, are these numbers still accurate, and secondly, do any of these groups emanate from Afghanistan or have links to Afghanistan?
Mr. Hooper: To answer the first question, I was actually taken by the similarity in the numbers that Mr. Elcock spoke about in 1998 and our current target inventory. They are virtually identical. I am surprised by that because targeting statistics tend to ebb and flow, so it may be anomalous, but the numbers are virtually identical to 1998.
There are a number of individuals and a number of organizations with an Afghan nexus or a linkage to al Qaeda.
Senator Campbell: Last year, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Anne McLellan, came before this committee and said that CSIS collects foreign security intelligence, and, ``they should collect more.'' My questions are: Is the CSIS overseas role focused entirely on the collection of intelligence about threats to the security of Canada? How are Canada's foreign intelligence requirements being addressed?
Mr. Hooper: The law actually does not permit us to collect foreign intelligence outside Canada — ``foreign'' intelligence being intelligence around the intentions and capabilities of foreign states and persons. Typically, when people talk about foreign intelligence, at least under our legal model, they are talking about political, economic and military intelligence. In response to your first question, senator, everything we do abroad is directed at collecting security intelligence.
In terms of how we do that, we are moving from one model to another. The service has historically, and the RCMP security service before it, posted what we call security liaison officers in many countries. The primary function of these officers was to conduct liaison with other trusted intelligence organizations and law enforcement agencies.
Afghanistan is a circumstance that has reoriented our thinking about what we need to be doing abroad. It taught us the lesson that much of the information on domestic threats has to be obtained outside the country.
We do that through a variety of means. We do it through foreign collection officers, visiting case officers and the use of assets whom we task and direct to collect intelligence abroad. There are a number of means, not the least of which is our interaction with allied intelligence services in an international arena.
Senator Campbell: How many people would you have working overseas gathering information? These would be your liaison officers, I take it.
Mr. Hooper: We have something less than 50 intelligence officers abroad.
Senator Campbell: Since the number of terrorist groups and individuals has stayed relatively constant, have we expanded our capabilities since 1998? While I recognize it has remained static, I think the threat has continued to increase. Have you been able to increase your overseas staff since 1998?
Mr. Hooper: Not to the extent that we would like. We received funding in two envelopes over the last two years to augment our foreign collection program, and a lot of that money was earmarked for sending people abroad.
Over the past number of years we have borrowed from domestic collection programs and the people doing that work to send them abroad to do foreign collection. We have invested the money that government accorded us at the front end, in various kinds of infrastructure support, because we can spend that money immediately. It takes a little longer to recruit and train a person who can then go abroad or who can backfill for someone already operating internationally.
Senator Moore: Mr. Hooper, in your opening remarks, you mentioned twice the phrase ``al Qaeda ideology.'' Can you state for the record what you understand that to be?
Mr. Hooper: I would make reference to a comment by Senator Stollery, when he said al Qaeda means nothing more than ``the base.'' Al Qaeda is an organization that has mutated over the years since its formation in 1988. When we meet with other intelligence professionals and start talking about al Qaeda, it is important that we establish what that means to each of us because al Qaeda right now is not the organization it was at the time of 9/11. It does not have a clear command and control structure with established means of communication. It does not have a training infrastructure, as it did prior to 9/11.
It does not have many of the elements that you would normally associate with a terrorist organization. However, there are a number of organizations that were or are affiliated with al Qaeda that have adopted their ideology — an ideology that says, in part, that Western influences must be eradicated from Islamic countries, that secular regimes must be replaced by caliphates and that sharia law must prevail in Islamic countries.
Al Qaeda evidenced, at its peak period, an operational methodology directed at attacking Western interests in the West, selecting mass casualty targets, for example, and targeting critical infrastructure in Western nations. It also developed a doctrine of operational security. Many of these features of what I call al Qaeda ideology or operational doctrine have been adopted by like-minded activists or operators who have no known connection to al Qaeda in any of its forms.
Senator Moore: You said in your remarks that there is a critical mass of investigations that you can manage at any one time. What is that critical mass? Someone asked about the resources — personnel, funding. Is it 1,000 cases, is it 10 cases? Can you give us an idea?
Mr. Hooper: I think it comes back again to Senator Campbell's question and my comment about the relatively static nature of our target inventory. I do know that since 1998, when Director Elcock provided those figures, we have cut back considerably in a number of investigative fields. We have reduced the number of individual and organizational targets and yet the target numbers themselves remain static. We have effectively augmented our target base in a number of terrorist domains, particularly.
I am concerned that maybe there is another interpretation. Perhaps we operate to critical capacity and we have reached it. That critical capacity has not really been enhanced over the years.
Senator Moore: Is there a number? Are we talking about the Elcock range?
Mr. Hooper: We are talking about 350 high-level targets and around 50 to 60 organizational targets.
Senator Moore: In terms of the homegrown terrorists, I take it the basis of that is you know who and where they are.
Mr. Hooper: We know who and where some of them are.
Senator Moore: Okay. If we know where and who some of them are, do we remove them from Canada? Is it better to have them here so we can keep an eye on what they are doing? Does the law stop us from having them removed? Are they more dangerous back in Afghanistan, for example?
Mr. Hooper: The homegrown terrorists present fewer remedies than international terrorists who arrive in Canada. We used to have what we called a three-tiered approach to targeting. We tried to keep known terrorists out of the country; if that failed, we would interdict them at ports of entry; and if that failed, only then would we embark on aggressive investigations against them. When we talk about the homegrown terrorist phenomenon, in most instances, these people are Canadian citizens. You cannot remove them to anywhere.
Senator Moore: Most of them are Canadian citizens?
Mr. Hooper: Yes. Most of them are very young. A lot of them were born here. Many of them who were not born here immigrated to Canada with their parents at an early age.
We have two options. We can work in collaboration with law enforcement to prosecute them or we can work to disrupt their activities.
Senator Atkins: I have one question for the commissioner.
Most Canadians think of the RCMP as a national police force, and yet you have had officers in Haiti, Bosnia and Afghanistan. What is the mandate? Is there a change in mandate and responsibilities, and how do they relate to CSIS in Afghanistan?
Mr. Zaccardelli: Senator, we have been in Namibia since 1989, when the government was involved in assisting the transition of the apartheid regime in South Africa. That was our first mission overseas.
Since then, we have deployed on many missions. First it was just the RCMP, but since 1995 we have been doing that in an integrated partnership with a number of other law enforcement agencies around the world. As you know, our biggest mission right now is Haiti. We do have a presence in Afghanistan, Bosnia and the Ivory Coast.
Our involvement is according to the government's foreign policy, whatever the government, where the Government of Canada decides to intervene to help a country, for whatever reason. Usually, it is because it is a failed state or they need substantial help. They will involve us.
In other cases where there is a specific need — it may not be a failed state but they need Canadian know-how in terms of law enforcement — we will be there to assist them. However, our missions have mainly been to go to these countries to help them establish the rule of law, to build up their police contingent with training and set up the infrastructure required to run a police force. Obviously, we also put great emphasis on the Canadian philosophy of policing, which is to be part of the community, to help the communities. We do that wherever the government asks us to go.
It comes back to a question that has been asked a number of times, right from the beginning: Why are we there? Why should we be in some of these failed states? It is because in today's world, what happens over there affects us directly.
Obviously, with national security and terrorism, there is a direct link. In terms of organized crime, you only have to look at the fall of the Soviet Union, which produced an exodus of major organized criminals around the world. Canada got more than its share. I hate to say it, but we were not ready for that.
When we help those countries help themselves, we are actually helping Canada. I believe it is a good investment. We do it based on the government's policy decision, and I think it is a wise one.
We are helping the Afghan national police force to re-establish a presence and build their infrastructure. Obviously, we are working very closely with the military and so on. Germany is doing most of the rebuilding of the police forces. A number of countries are there and we are part of an international team.
If we help them, we will help ourselves. Any information or criminal intelligence that we obtain, we share with other Canadian agencies and departments and with our partners around the world. It is most important, in my view, that we be there as part of a Canadian team.
Senator Atkins: Is it a strain on your human resources and does it require different training?
Mr. Zaccardelli: We have learned as we went along. There is some drain on the resources, but the payback more than offsets that. This year under the budget, for the first time, we got permanent funding for our presence abroad. We are very happy with that. Before that, I had to juggle some of my resources and keep some positions vacant here to help over there. I did it gladly because it paid dividends to Canada. With the new infusion of funding, we will be able to be there on a more permanent basis.
Obviously, we have learned many lessons. Training is important. Canada goes there because it really wants to help. We participate with NGOs and other departments in a holistic way to help those countries get back on their feet.
The Chairman: Commissioner and deputy director, thank you both very much for coming today. The messages that you have sent us this week and two weeks ago concern the committee greatly — the fact that you are only able to deal with one-third of the organized crime groups in the country; the fact that you are satisfied with only 10 per cent of your investigations of immigrants coming into this country. These are large concerns for the committee, which we will pursue at greater length. I would like to thank you both for coming today and for assisting the committee in this investigation.
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Our next witness this morning is the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Mr. MacKay was first elected as a Member of Parliament in 1997 and was re-elected in 2000, 2004 and 2006. He has served as critic for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, as the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and as house leader. Minister MacKay, we are very pleased to welcome you to your first appearance before the committee. Accompanying Minister MacKay are officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs: Mr. James Fox, Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Bilateral Relations; and Ms. Wendy Gilmour, Director of Peacekeeping and Operations Group, Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force Secretariat. Minister, please proceed.
Hon. Peter MacKay, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs: Senators, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to be here to discuss a number of the key issues concerning Canada's leadership role in Afghanistan. I thank you for the invitation to be with you today. Why we are there, what we are doing, what has been achieved and what is left to do are the key questions that I am sure senators will want addressed. I will be happy to take those questions after I finish my remarks.
Having been in Afghanistan earlier this month, I have returned convinced more than ever that the emergence of a stable, secure, self-sustaining and democratic Afghanistan that never again serves as a terrorist haven is a priority for Canada and for the international community. I am also convinced that Canada is making significant and positive progress and a contribution to that end goal. The most often asked question is: Why are we there?
Our purpose is clear. We are there to defend Canada's national interests by protecting Canadians from the threat of terrorism. Afghanistan was the largest incubator and exporter of terrorism anywhere in the world. If there was ever any wonder as to why Canada had to be there, one has only to recall that Canadians were killed when those planes flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York on 9/11. We are also there to demonstrate commitment on the world stage and promote Canadian values such as democracy, rule of law and human rights. We are there as well to help rebuild Afghanistan with the Afghans and over 60 other countries, including UN and NATO colleagues. It is truly a multinational effort.
Canada is in Afghanistan at the request of the Afghan government and under United Nations authorization. We are a proud contributor to a multinational effort. This is not an optional mission. The security of Canadians and of Canada was put at risk by the events of September 11, 2001. Afghanistan is central in the campaign against terrorism. This is a mission that has risks and the sacrifices made by Canadians have not been in vain. We must ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a haven for terrorists.
What are we doing in Afghanistan? Clearly, the challenge is enormous and requires an integrated effort that links security, governance and development. All three are necessary, for without security, we are not able to make progress on building governance or engaging in development. Without boots on the ground, there is no democracy building, no buildings and no baby bottles.
Over 14,000 Canadian Forces personnel have been deployed in support of our mission in Afghanistan since 9/11. The latest contingent of some 2,200 Canadians is bringing security to Southern Afghanistan, with about 100 other officers in Kabul, where Canada has assumed command of a multinational brigade headquarters. Canada's role in the south is paving the way for the transfer of operations there to NATO command from Operation Enduring Freedom, likely to happen this summer. During this month's debate on Canadian engagement in Afghanistan, the Prime Minister announced that we will extend the Canadian Forces deployment by two years. The expiry date was to be 2007. It is now February 2009. We are committed to Kandahar, including the provincial reconstruction team, or the PRT, which is made up of civilian and military personnel, from February 2007 to February 2009, as I mentioned, based on the expectation of rotation cycles of the NATO International Security Assistance Force.
Canada will also plan to assume leadership of the multinational brigade in Kandahar from November 2007 to May 2008.
Canada recognizes that success cannot be assured by military means alone. It requires simultaneous support for Afghan governance and development, and Canada is a leader on all fronts.
We opened an embassy in Kabul in 2003 and have since doubled our presence there. We will proceed with the acquisition of land and construction of a chancery, an official residence and staff housing for Canada's permanent embassy in Kabul, and I will be pleased to speak about the state of our current embassy. I visited it as well.
This will enable us to support enhanced diplomatic and development engagement in Afghanistan. We can achieve this with the good communication and relations that we have with the Afghan government and their officials.
Security assures us that we will be strengthening governance and reducing poverty in the streets of Kabul. Afghanistan is Canada's largest recipient of bilateral development assistance. With the Prime Minister's announcement on May 17 in support of Afghanistan's reconstruction efforts, the Government of Canada is allocating an additional $310 million in development assistance. This maintains Canada's commitment at $100 million per year through the year 2011 and raises Canada's total contribution to nearly $1 billion over 10 years.
We are delivering on what was promised, and as a steady and reliable ally, Canada has an exemplary record of disbursing our pledges and building Afghan leadership through the support of Afghan government programs and institutions. This, again, I witnessed firsthand.
It is only by building local capacity that we can ensure that our investment lasts long beyond the engagement. That formulation is being built every day.
What has been achieved? This is another important question. During my recent visit to Afghanistan, I saw for myself Afghanistan's impressive progress and the excellent work Canadians are doing. President Karzai asked me to convey to Canadians his personal and heartfelt gratitude for the support we are giving to the Afghan people.
Canada was instrumental in the establishment of a process to canton heavy weapons in Afghanistan — the same weapons that were used to destroy much of the country. Eleven thousand heavy weapons have been safely secured. We are the second largest contributor to the disarmament, the mobilization and reintegration process. Sixty-three thousand former combatants have been disarmed and demobilized. They have been taught new skills so that they can build a new life.
We are committed to supporting Canada's core values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. We have supported democratic development in Afghanistan through a $33 million financial contribution, deploying election observers and providing security throughout the election process. As you know, there were two elections in this time period.
Afghans, both men and women, demonstrated their resolve by going to the polls, despite threats to security, in two historic elections: 582 women ran in the provincial and parliamentary elections and now hold 27 per cent of the seats in Parliament, and I note that that is more than in the Canadian Parliament.
We are a lead donor on micro-finance, which helps thousands of Afghans, mainly women, once relegated to the margins of their society, access credit and finance in order to start businesses and build their own futures. Out of 157,000 clients, 78 per cent are women, and again, we saw significant, visible signs of a change in their society. I was aware of a business that was a recipient of this money from the Canada fund operating close to the Canadian embassy. Therefore, progress is being made across many sections of their society. Close to 5 million kids are in school, a third of them young girls; 3.7 million refugees have returned home, and 1,200 villages are now accessing clean water. I referenced earlier the number of soldiers who were disarmed and the number of small arms and heavy artillery that have now been cantoned.
Those are Afghan success stories in which Canada can also take pride, but, obviously, the end goal is for Afghans to stand on their own feet. We can help them get there.
Afghanistan has enjoyed progress across many sectors, and Canada has been there every step of the way.
I want to quote President Karzai's own words, and we hope he will visit Canada in the near future. He said:
Today Afghanistan has a constitution, an elected president, an elected Parliament. We are proud that women make up more than a quarter of the seats in our National Assembly, where four years ago, education was in a state of total collapse. Today, more than 6 million girls and boys are attending schools. Our national economy is growing steadily, and over the past four years, we have enjoyed a total real GDP growth of 85 per cent, while the rate of inflation has been kept at around 10 per cent.
What is left to do? Well, we are heartened by the progress, but certainly we cannot become complacent.
Major challenges confront Afghanistan, particularly with respect to security and weak institutions. The remaining threats are inter-related, with drug money contributing to corruption, fuelling the insurgency and subverting the rule of law.
A secure, self-sustaining and democratic Afghanistan means: promoting Afghan leadership, building governance capacity and engaging in development; all under an umbrella of security. This is our goal.
We are not alone in this essential endeavour. The United Nations maintains offices across Afghanistan, including in Kandahar. Over 60 countries are contributing to development efforts, over 35 to security.
Clearly, we are not alone in the essential endeavour of building in Afghanistan. The United Nations maintains offices across the country, including in Kandahar. Currently, over 60 countries are contributing to development efforts, more than 35 of them specifically in the area of security.
It is my understanding that close to $10 billion has been pledged by the international community. At the London conference co-chaired by Kofi Annan and Tony Blair in January, significant benchmarks were set, which we will discuss shortly. Our collective engagement is guided by an agreed international framework entitled the Afghanistan Compact. Developed by the Afghan government, the compact contains 40 concrete, measurable benchmarks to guide progress over the next five years on critical issues in the areas of governance, development and security. These are measurable, reportable and reasonable goals.
Specific examples of the benchmarks include the enactment of legislation against corruption by the end of 2007; a 20 per cent increase in the employment of women by the end of 2010; a clear and transparent national appointments mechanism for all senior government appointments by the end of 2006; and enrolment of 100,000 students, 35 per cent of whom will be women, in universities by the end of 2010. There are tracking and monitoring groups in place on these items.
Canada's strategy is to support the realization of the clear goals that Afghanistan has identified for itself in this compact. By measuring progress toward achieving the Afghanistan Compact benchmarks, we will measure our own success in terms of the contribution we are making to this mission.
Why will we continue our support? We are in Afghanistan to defend our national interests, to demonstrate our leadership and, most importantly, to help Afghans rebuild their country. Bringing stability to one of the worst war- torn and poverty-stricken regions of the world is a laudable goal. We have made significant progress in which Canadians can rightly take pride. We have started a job and we will finish it. One has only to examine what has taken place inside their borders to know that Afghans have had a long and difficult history. There are hard lessons to be learned there, as in other countries, such as the Balkans and Haiti. I would suggest that we cannot abandon Afghans, our allies, or the brave Canadian soldiers, the men and women wearing our uniform, in Afghanistan today. In their various ways, all of those individuals are making sacrifices and working hard. We owe them our thanks and our gratitude. Mr. Chair, I would be pleased to take senators' questions.
The Chairman: Thank you, minister, for your comments.
Senator Moore: Minister, you were quoted in The Toronto Star, I believe, as saying that our mission is not defined in terms of years; it is defined in terms of success. Do you have a checklist of what defines ``success,'' and if so, could you share that with the committee?
Mr. MacKay: Certainly, senator, and I thank you for the question. Success is about state-building, stability, and about achieving some, if not all, measurable goals in the areas that were set out clearly in the Afghanistan Compact. Those benchmarks and timelines include security forces being built within Afghanistan, including army and police forces. Border police are included in that aspect because one of the biggest issues is the cross-border travels of both the Taliban and the drug trade. It is well known that 90 per cent of the world's heroin originates in Afghanistan. It is a particularly potent heroin and makes its way not only into Europe, but also into Canada. Further disbandment of illegal combatants and armed groups within the borders of Afghanistan is a clear goal on which progress is being made. I mentioned counter-narcotics, mine action and ammunition. There has been significant progress on disarmament. The removal of mines, for which Canada has become world renowned, is still a significant exercise. As well, there has been public administration reform in government and a further spreading of democracy to regions outside Kabul, with governors and elected officials. The UN has developed a number of conventions and resolutions on anti-corruption that will apply in Afghanistan. Other areas include census and statistic gathering, which has not been done for many years; elections; gender neutrality; human rights building; the rule of law; a judiciary, with a system that allows for fair trials; land registration; economic and social development; and infrastructure. I flew over both Kandahar and Kabul, and it is a remarkable sight. It is like going back in time. Many of the houses that people live in are not fit for cattle. The countryside is devastated such that forest fires are burning still, so there is much need for reforestation.
Afghanistan's energy sector is truly behind the times, to say the least. Natural resources and mining, water resource management, urban development, anything to do with the environment, are major areas in which we are assisting. I visited schools sponsored by Canadians and saw the enthusiasm and the zest for life that the children have. Young girls aged 14 to 15 years who had never been permitted to go to school are taking 3 or 4 years to catch up to their male counterparts. Obviously, health care is a major undertaking within the borders of Afghanistan. Agriculture, rural development, social protection and poverty reduction are extremely important, and detailed benchmarks, with timelines, are set out in the Afghanistan Compact, in which Canada was very much a participant. The more-than-60 countries that participated have made significant monetary and human resource commitments to achieve these goals. It is not as if a plan is not in place, and it is not as if Canada is working alone.
Senator Moore: Minister, when does President Karzai stand for re-election?
Mr. MacKay: I believe that his mandate runs until 2009 and that regional elections for governors will take place in the interim.
Senator Moore: Canada's commitment is to February 2009.
Mr. MacKay: That is correct.
Senator Moore: When in 2009 does he stand for re-election?
Mr. MacKay: I am not sure.
Senator Moore: Do any of your departmental officials know? Is it before February?
Mr. MacKay: I do not know if a precise date has been set, but that is the proximate end of his mandate. I do not know whether they have fixed election dates.
Senator Moore: The Afghanistan Compact includes a goal of a 20 per cent increase in the employment of women by the end of 2010. Do you expect Canadian forces to be there in 2010?
Mr. MacKay: The current mandate does not go beyond February 2009, so that remains to be seen. It will be decided democratically, in Parliament.
Senator Moore: What is the desired end state that Canada seeks that, once achieved, would have us withdraw our troops from Afghanistan?
Mr. MacKay: Progress on the benchmarks set out in the Afghanistan Compact to create a stable, self-sustaining country.
Senator Moore: Some of these extend beyond our commitment until February 2009.
Mr. MacKay: That is correct.
Senator Moore: Are you saying that we could be there beyond that time to achieve this victory or success?
Mr. MacKay: That is quite possible, but no one individual can take that decision.
Senator Moore: I gather from your answer, minister, that there is no true timeline in terms of Canadian involvement.
Mr. MacKay: There is very much a timeline. You are aware of a vote that took place in the Parliament of Canada that extends our participation in Afghanistan until February 2009. Just as the original mission, which was put in place by the previous government and which we supported, was extended, that possibility exists, depending on the progress we have been able to achieve in many of the areas that I have outlined.
Senator Moore: Corruption has been mentioned in various publications and you have alluded to it in your remarks this morning. How are we to eliminate the corruption? It is great that we have Canadian values, the rule of law and human rights. However, although I know little about the history of Afghanistan, it seems that it consists of factions driven by warlords, each with his own fiefdom and looking after his monetary resources. How can Canada curb that? Russia and others have tried before. How will we do that? Do you think that is a truly achievable goal?
Mr. MacKay: Senator, you are right to suggest this remains a major challenge. However, I would remind you that previous attempts were not the multinational approach that we are seeing today. Clearly, previous interventions did not have the backing of the United Nations. The progress that has been made, I would suggest, in a relatively short time is encouraging. Police forces and the Afghan military are being built to allow them to provide their own security. That is one of the end goals about which we spoke. Certainly that goal is achievable.
Senator Moore: They have been trying for four or five years to set up a police force that would administer some rule of law to curb or, hopefully, wipe out corruption.
Mr. MacKay: That is correct.
Senator Moore: That has not happened.
Mr. MacKay: I am not trying to be glib, but I would suggest that there is crime in our own country. We will not completely eradicate crime in Afghanistan in four years.
Senator Moore: It is not fair to compare the Canadian and Afghani situations.
Mr. MacKay: I am not suggesting that is the case. Rather, I am saying that state-building takes time. Over four years, going back to ground zero, significant progress, particularly in the area of stemming corruption and the heroin and poppy trade, has been made. Undeniably, it remains an enormous challenge. I believe that prior to my testimony today, senators heard Commissioner Zaccardelli speak to the RCMP participation in the effort, along with our partners and allies. The multinational police presence is in place to help build their capacity. A functioning judiciary and legal system is beginning to take hold in Afghanistan. We approach corruption at every level. I would suggest, senator, that the progress, from when we started this exercise to where we are today, is significant. There is a long way to go, but Canada can be proud of its participation on so many of these levels, security being only one.
Senator Moore: I want to talk a little about the monetary costs. The Polaris Institute indicated that Canada has spent $4.1 billion since 2001 on the Afghan mission, which constitutes 68 per cent of the $6.1 billion that we spent on international missions between 2001 and 2006. Canada has spent, I believe, $214 million on UN operations during that five-year period. The obvious question is whether this is consuming all of our traditional areas of international aid to other countries. Will they not be dealt with because of this tremendous financial focus on Afghanistan?
Mr. MacKay: First, I do not believe that the figure of $4.1 billion cited by Senator Moore is the Canadian commitment over this time frame, but rather the global commitment. Canada's total commitment to 2010 is $1 billion. I cannot speak to amounts previously committed or spent because I was not the minister during that time frame. However, the current commitment is set out within the context of other commitments, including to Haiti and Sudan. The short answer is no, I do not believe that our current commitment to Afghanistan, monetarily or militarily, will negatively affect Canada's ability to make a contribution in other areas.
Senator Moore: Thank you.
The Chairman: I would like to clarify a couple of points, minister, if I may. Our concern was about the timeline being to 2009. It seemed more rational to the committee for the government to list the conditions it wanted to see in place, and when those came about, Canada would move on. Why did the government choose not to go that route?
Mr. MacKay: For the presentation today?
The Chairman: No, generally speaking. It seems that no one can truly say that Canada will be in an area from this date to that date when we do not know what things will be like on that future date. The government knows what conditions it wants to see in place, so would it not make more sense to put forward a resolution stating Canada will be in Afghanistan until certain conditions are met?
Mr. MacKay: Those conditions are outlined specifically in the Afghanistan Compact, and Canada is a participant in the benchmarks, the time frames and the goals we hope to accomplish. Canada is a strong adherent to those 40 goals outlined in the Afghanistan Compact, with which senators are familiar.
The Chairman: Ambassador Alexander told the committee that it would take five generations, and General Leslie told us it would take 20 years. That is why it would seem more appropriate to speak in terms of the goals rather than a specific date.
Mr. MacKay: I would suggest that this is an ongoing exercise whose successes will ebb and flow in certain areas, whether military or development of human resources. I am not underscoring the importance of those over the others. However, stability has to be achieved first, and there is still a great deal of insurgency that has to be quelled before progress can spread into many of the other areas within the country. To say specifically that progress being made in Kabul is tantamount to achieving the security that is required in the entire region is simply setting up a false paradigm. A monitoring process is in place to keep a close eye on how much progress is being made in many of these areas, such as humanitarian aid, clean air, housing, and democracy, which is easier to measure because we can see the elections taking place and there is tangible proof of a functioning Parliament. The security side is a different matter, and so it is difficult to cite a set time period.
To use a sports analogy, there is a time in the game when the momentum shifts and certain elements are unpredictable. I believe that no one is able to accurately state how much time it will take for security to be achieved. That can be done only when it has been achieved.
The Chairman: That is why we thought it inappropriate to —
Mr. MacKay: I am reminded that the development pledge goes beyond the military pledge, to the year 2011, and is from the broader international community.
The Chairman: Prior to your note, I was trying to make the point that it seemed unreasonable to name a date for Canada's military involvement, given that you were trying to achieve a set of conditions.
Mr. MacKay: If you are telling me, on behalf of the opposition, that you would be willing to extend the date further, we could bring forward another motion.
The Chairman: I do not speak for the opposition because this is a committee of the Senate of Canada. You are here to assist us in understanding the problem. I put to you a question about whether it would make more sense to describe the conditions that the government would like to achieve rather than have a specific date, which you have just told us you cannot name with any accuracy.
Mr. MacKay: The date chosen, February 2009, was a two-year extension that we thought reasonable. You have a different premise.
The Chairman: Yes, and it appears that you support the premise, inasmuch as you said that you do not know what the conditions will be like at that time.
Mr. MacKay: It would be difficult for anyone to say what the conditions will be in 2009. I hope that there will be significant progress on all 40 of the benchmarks set out in the Afghanistan Compact, and that is likely the end goal of all participants in the international community.
The Chairman: I have two brief points, one being the poppy trade. The evidence we received was that it was at an all- time high since the Taliban left. However, I understood you to say that it was being reduced. Do you wish to comment further on that?
Mr. MacKay: Afghanistan produces 90 per cent of the world's heroin. It is one of the larger, if not the largest, sources of funding for the Taliban. Much intimidation occurs in Afghanistan surrounding the drug trade. There is also the economic reality to be considered. People involved in the drug trade have not been given alternatives that could compare with the monetary return they get from that trade. Often, drug traffickers work in concert with the Taliban, which makes this a highly complex issue to address. Hindrances include profit, instability, and the slow progress made by the Afghan government in policing the vast countryside where poppies are grown. It is enormously challenging and will not be eliminated overnight. As I mentioned, ongoing efforts to stabilize the country are still at the forefront of the efforts.
Certainly progress has been made. They have focused in a strategic manner and come forward with concrete, targeted and sequenced efforts on the ground to address the poppy trade, but it is nowhere near in hand.
The Chairman: I did not understand how progress could be made if the poppy trade has been growing since we became involved.
Mr. MacKay: That is because there are not as many people involved in the trade, but the financial returns are growing.
The Chairman: I believe you said that the spending between now and 2010 would be $1 billion, which includes aid, troops, et cetera.
Mr. MacKay: That is the estimate, yes.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Senator Moore: Was that to 2009?
The Chairman: No, 2010 was the date given.
Mr. MacKay: No, 2009.
The Chairman: I thought you were talking about aid going on beyond that.
Mr. MacKay: No, aid to 2011 is the international commitment, of which Canada is a part.
Senator Campbell: I have a number of questions. Would it be fair to say that your ministry is responsible for the changing of the social conditions in Afghanistan versus the military aspect? I am having a hard time understanding whether and how they are joined.
Mr. MacKay: They are joined, and in fact are interrelated, Senator Campbell. There is a Foreign Affairs coordination aspect and a military aspect, under the purview of DND. Within the provincial reconstruction teams, civilian and military components support one another. As for international aid and development, CIDA is the principal delivery vehicle for those programs. It is a multi-faceted, interdepartmental approach. The short answer is that all departments, including the PCO, coordinate their efforts so that officials can work closely together.
Senator Campbell: Is it fair to ask, who is the minister responsible for the mission on the ground?
Mr. MacKay: Do you refer to the military mission?
Senator Campbell: They are interrelated, so I wonder whether one minister is responsible for all of it. I understand the complications and I am not trying to be difficult. I would like to know who oversees all of our personnel on the ground.
Mr. MacKay: Well, if you mean ``personnel'' collectively — a collective decision made by those departments — it would be the cabinet and the Prime Minister.
Senator Campbell: Are you the lead minister?
Mr. MacKay: I would be the lead minister on certain aspects of the mission.
Senator Campbell: Would that include trying to change the social conditions to assist people in getting an education and clean water?
Mr. MacKay: The delivery of that is mostly, in practical terms, through CIDA, which is part of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Senator Campbell: Who would be the senior leader on the ground? I do not need a name, but who would be responsible, since these aspects are joined? I accept that they are coordinated. Would it be a military person or would it be someone from CIDA or your ministry?
Mr. MacKay: On the military side, it would be Gen. Fraser on the ground, answerable to the Chief of the Defence Staff. On the development side, it would be the Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan, David Sproule. As well, a number of CIDA officials not only look after the administrative and coordinating effort, but also are involved in the delivery of some of these services, which is an enormous challenge for them. I would suggest that it underscores the need for more support.
Senator Campbell: Would it be fair to say that when you deliver services, a military component goes in to supply security for CIDA people and for people from your ministry involved in the social aspects?
Mr. MacKay: That is correct.
Senator Campbell: As you know, for some 37 years I have been interested in looking at the opium trade. Under the Taliban, growing poppies for the opium trade dropped substantially. I find it interesting, if what you said is correct, that the Taliban are back into the opium trade to fund their philosophy. Is that correct?
Mr. MacKay: That is what I am led to believe. They are pressuring the farmers to participate, either through intimidation or by paying them to do so.
Senator Campbell: In the mid-1990s, there was a glut of heroin on the market, coming mainly out of Afghanistan and the golden triangle. It dropped off substantially, but now we are seeing that glut recur. Is that a policing issue?
Mr. MacKay: Yes, certainly it is a policing issue.
Senator Campbell: Has there ever been a national police force in Afghanistan like the RCMP in Canada?
Mr. MacKay: I believe there was one but it had a presence in various degrees. It was more concentrated in Kabul, and I am not sure how much capacity they had in the outer regions, which is where some of the bigger challenges are in terms of opium production.
I do not think I need to remind anyone that policing under the Taliban was not in compliance with what we would consider to be the rule of law. It was more in keeping with vigilante justice as opposed to due process.
Senator Campbell: Or rule of religion.
Mr. MacKay: That is another way of putting it.
Senator Campbell: I understand it is quite frontier-like outside the larger cities in Afghanistan.
Mr. MacKay: This is only commentary on my part, but the situation went well beyond religion. It was a strict religious doctrinal interpretation. I do not think that what they were doing could be construed as being in keeping with religious practice.
Senator Campbell: I am having a difficult time with something else. Are we at war?
Mr. MacKay: We are part of a global effort to confront and defeat terrorism.
Senator Campbell: We are at war then, although I do not mean to say that Canada has declared war on Afghanistan. I say this because wars do not have timelines. Wars continue until one side wins. In 1939 no one said they were in it until 1945, and if they did not accomplish their goal, they would be out. I have concerns and worries about the suggested timelines. There is an expectation that at some date, Canada will pull out of Afghanistan, and no one wants to be accused of cutting and running. Can there be a timeline for war?
Mr. MacKay: The clock was running out quite quickly, as you know, because we were coming up against the timeline of February 2007, which is why the Prime Minister and the new government were adamant about the need to extend it.
Senator Campbell: I will not go into that area of the debate, whether we agree with it. In your role as a knowledgeable senior minister with a great deal of experience, do you think it reasonable, when fighting a war, to create timelines? Would it be more reasonable to simply stay in until the objectives are realized? Those goals could be focused on the social aspects or the terrorism aspects or on the opium trade or on all of the above. Would that not be more realistic in a time of war?
Mr. MacKay: I agree that the state-building and benchmarks we have been discussing are the more accurate means of measuring progress and arriving at an eventual timeline. I do not think that in the middle of an exercise one can predict with any great degree of accuracy what the date will be for termination of the participation. I agree with that premise because we are not there yet; it is a continuum. Clearly, in all of these areas the tangible results are seen in the lives of the children in Afghanistan; in the ability of the country to begin functioning in a peaceful and productive fashion; and in the area of policing, where there is accountability, and respect for one another and for rule of law. Again, I am extremely proud of what Canada is doing in Afghanistan when I look at what the RCMP are doing to help build a national police force; and at what the military have been able to accomplish, in concert with civilians and NGOs, working to bring stability to the country.
All of these efforts are so interrelated and, in many cases, so complex that putting specific timelines in place is difficult.
Senator Campbell: Is it fair to say that we are not fighting a war where one day we will see people just put their arms in the air and surrender, and that what we are trying to do is to build a nation that can fight terrorism from within?
Mr. MacKay: I would agree that the ideal scenario, in this case, would be the Afghan people having a national police force, a national army and a border agency to sustain themselves. I do not know that we will ever be able to say that it is over, the surrender is in place and there is an armistice. Within Afghanistan, that day might come. As we have seen, and as I mentioned earlier in my opening remarks, in countries such as Haiti, Kosovo and others, there is always a danger of falling back.
I hope that we will see the day in the not-too-distant future when the last member of the Taliban puts up his hands and the Afghan people can go on pursuing the quality of life that we are fortunate enough to enjoy; and I think that is achievable. It is certainly more achievable now than ever before in their country's history, I would suggest.
Senator Campbell: If it slips, do we go back in?
Mr. MacKay: It is not a matter of going back in because we are there.
Senator Campbell: I refer to your examples of Kosovo and Haiti, where we were in, and we left and they have slipped again.
Mr. MacKay: We would do an assessment at the time in conjunction with the international community. We are re- engaging in Haiti and other regions to continue our efforts. Canadians are generous by nature and outward looking. I do not think you will ever see a time when Canadians will want to be on the sidelines if they sense that they can do something to help.
Senator Atkins: Minister, it is an honour to have you here. Your presentation contained much optimism. You have answered a number of questions that are on the minds of many people. I have one more: Is this a no-win situation?
Mr. MacKay: I do not believe so. We are winning every day in terms of the difference that we are making in the lives of the people of Afghanistan by our very presence there and the important work that is being done. We are winning even if, God forbid, the final surrender never arrives. The difference can be seen in the eyes of the children in school today who were never allowed to go to school before; and in the homes that are being built, with clean water, sanitation and sewage systems, elements that we take for granted.
I do not subscribe to the premise that this is a no-win situation. It is a lengthy, difficult mission, but so were previous commitments made by Canadians over many generations. I think this is a worthwhile effort, and although this might sound esoteric, the current capacity-building is exporting and espousing the Canadian values that we hold dear. That gives great value added to the mission. Canadians believe proudly that we have the best country in the world, and we are willing to share our resources to help them to achieve the same standard of living. Yes, I am an optimist.
Senator Atkins: Are you an optimist when you talk about a timeline of 2009? Considering the problems that we face in Afghanistan — the topography and the way in which the Taliban operate — could we not end up in a situation akin to that in Cyprus years ago or in other areas of the world?
Mr. MacKay: I would say that 2009 is a more realistic date than 2007. As for what will be achieved by that date, I would suggest that we will be in a far better position then to assess all of these criteria, rather than racing up against a timeline and potentially being in the position of letting down the people of Afghanistan and our international allies. These missions take time, senator, as you know well. There are many practical considerations for other countries to plan for. The English and the Dutch made commitments before we had the vote in the House of Commons. I would suggest that the achievements and the state-building are the best indicators of the final time frame.
Senator Atkins: This committee has been concerned about the number of military personnel. When the decision was made to extend our commitment to 2009, were the prospects of the rotations by our military considered? How we recruit and build our personnel in the military is still a question. Is anyone concerned that perhaps we are spreading ourselves too thinly?
Mr. MacKay: That is certainly a relevant question, senator, which your chairman has asked many times. We are actively engaged in recruiting for the Canadian Forces. The length and size of this mission is certainly a factor in those recruitment efforts, as is the consideration of other missions and responsibilities. I cannot speak for the Minister of Defence and I do not pretend to be the final authority on the status of recruitment and our capacity for future deployments. However, I know that that has been considered and that there has been close consultation with Gen. Hillier. This is very much part of a larger question and planning around this mission and future missions.
Senator Atkins: I have one final question: You quoted Hamid Karzai as saying that the national economy of Afghanistan is growing steadily and that over the past four years, the country has enjoyed a total real GDP growth of 85 per cent. Could you comment further on that?
Mr. MacKay: Senator Atkins, I have seen figures that appear to support the fact that their economy is growing. It is all relative, of course, and not to belittle the kind of economy they have, but it is not on par with what we would consider a modern, functioning economy. They are still reliant on a very few sectors. To that extent, again, the progress has to be measured from whence they started. To have doubled their GDP in four years, I would suggest, is impressive by any standard.
Senator Atkins: Where is the economy developing, if not in the drug trade?
Mr. MacKay: It is the collective development of the country in terms of total revenue being generated compared with previously, although the businesses permitted to operate are not manufacturing on the scale of a textile industry in Quebec, for example. There is ability for independent businesses to develop and for women to start businesses of their own. I spoke to the micro-credit program, and the trades are being taught in schools. We saw kids working with sewing machines, computers, et cetera, to learn new, hands-on skills, as well as how to function in many social situations. The tangible evidence is seen on the ground at the educational level. The preparatory work done in vocational schools, I would suggest, is the best indicator that their economy will continue to improve.
Senator Stollery: I will try to be brief, chairman. I cannot help but wonder, in hearing Senator Atkins' questions on the economy, how they could know what their economy is if they cannot take a census. It is likely that they have never had a proper census. Is not our presence in Afghanistan meant to assist the Americans, who want to get soldiers out of Afghanistan and into Iraq? It is a concern, particularly on the part of the British and the Dutch, that NATO is irrelevant. We have talked about a census and about the economy. Will they take the census where Osama bin Laden lives with his kidney machine? I have not heard anyone mention that. For five years he has had a huge bounty on his head, but it seems that he has thousands of supporters because no one has turned him in to the authorities. Will they take a census in the tribal areas?
Mr. MacKay: Do you have information that he is currently in Afghanistan?
Senator Stollery: I do not know where he is, but everyone seems to suggest that is where he is.
Mr. MacKay: I will answer a few of those questions.
Senator Stollery: No, it is important to set up the background first, Mr. Chairman, because it does not make sense unless you ask the question: Is this in fact to help the Americans and to try to assuage the concerns of the Europeans, who are worried that NATO has become an irrelevancy because the Cold War ended in 1989? Does that not make more sense than all of the bogus numbers that they give out?
I am not suggesting that you would do that, but Karzai is a stooge put in power by the Americans, and everyone knows it. Is not the other question the real answer? Why would we extend a mission if we do not have the answers to these questions?
Mr. MacKay: I will try to answer a few of the questions. First, I do not believe that President Karzai is a stooge because he was democratically elected. Senator, with respect, he was democratically elected. I met him and found him to be a compelling, charismatic, dedicated person who wants to help his country. Are we doing this to help the Americans? We are doing this to help the Afghan people in partnership with our international allies, who happen to include the Americans, but also the British, the Dutch, the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Romanians, et al.
Do I believe that these figures are a true depiction of what is happening? Prior to going to Afghanistan, I might have agreed with you on some of these points, but I have seen the progress being made and have talked to those who are most intimately involved — Ambassador Sproule, CIDA officials and Gen. Fraser — and who can gauge well the progress in the field. Those individuals are best able to gauge the success of the mission. That is why I hope that President Karzai appears before the committee. Many Canadians would be impressed. Certainly he makes a strong case for Canada's continued involvement.
The Chairman: Minister MacKay, thank you for appearing before the committee today.
Mr. MacKay: I thank the committee for its work. It is helpful, and appreciated by Canadians.
The Chairman: Our next witness is LGen. Michel Gauthier, Commander, Canadian Expeditionary Forces Command. LGen. Gauthier was promoted to his current rank in April 2006. He has served as Commander of Canadian Expeditionary Forces Command since September 12, 2005. He is the operational level commander responsible to the Chief of Defence Staff for the conduct of military operations outside of Canada, including Afghanistan.
Lieutenant General Gauthier appeared before the committee two weeks ago. We welcome him back and we look forward to hearing from him again. I must thank him for the visit we had to his headquarters, even though it was at an ungodly hour in the morning that is when he starts working.
Lieutenant-General J.C.M. Gauthier, Commander, Canadian Expeditionary Forces Command, National Defence: Honourable senators, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak with you today. I understand that your focus this afternoon is on the Canadian Forces mission in Afghanistan and I have prepared my opening remarks accordingly.
As I mentioned to you in my last appearance, as Commander of CEFCOM and a member of the CF, I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished since we first began conducting ground operations in Afghanistan in 2002.
From a CEFCOM perspective, this is a no fail mission, which means in essence that at both the Canadian Forces level and with my command, we have been doing everything possible to reduce the risk to mission success and to the safety of our deployed men and women to the absolute minimum.
As you know, the genesis of this mission can be found in the international response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Today, Canada, along with its allies, is working with the Afghan Government to extend its authority throughout the country and to support its efforts to rebuild Afghanistan. Our collective goal is to ensure that Afghanistan will never again be used as a breeding ground for terrorists.
The mission is about defending Canada from possible terrorist threats before they reach our shores, but it is also about helping the Afghan people rebuild their lives and their country.
This operation is as complex as any the Canadian Forces have undertaken in the past half-century. I believe that many of the challenges inherent in this operation are representative of the evolving nature of military operations in the 21st century.
To repeat what I said during my last appearance before you, these are full-spectrum operations, or three-block war operations. The operations include combat, stability operations, and humanitarian or development assistance tasks. All of the operations are performed simultaneously and conducted against adaptive opponents, alongside an array of international actors and a complex, domestic power structure. The operations are performed in very unforgiving terrain, in support of a local population that has been ravaged by over two decades of conflict, and all in a communications environment where media are able to report events on the ground to the Canadian public in real time. Success in these full-spectrum operations requires us to work closely with our partners and other government departments to accomplish the task at hand. This is precisely what we are doing in Afghanistan today.
We are not operating alone in Afghanistan but in concert with our military allies and our partners from Foreign Affairs, CIDA, the RCMP and others. The provincial reconstruction team in Kandahar province, for which Canada has been responsible since August 2005, is a focal point for this effort. Along with representatives of Foreign Affairs, CIDA and the RCMP, we are working together to reinforce the authority of the Afghan government in this important southern province.
The military focus is on improving security as well as enabling governance and economic and social development. I stress the word ``enabling'' because we are not in the lead on these activities; we are supporting the efforts of our partners.
Our military campaign plan has three lines of operation: Security, governance and economic and social development, but we only lead on the security line. Security challenges on the southern and eastern reaches of Afghanistan have been so significant that making progress on the other two lines of operation has been challenging, but this progress is imperative. We must win the confidence of the Afghan people so that they can help us with security. This confidence will not be won through security operations alone. The Afghan government and the international community have to improve the quality of peoples' lives.
The Canadian Forces is doing all it can to provide a security environment that allows our partners to work on these aspects and, at the same time, our officers and soldiers are regularly involved in engaging tribal elders and community leaders to support the international community and Canada's own 3D effort. I expect that the complex challenge of enabling governance and development at the same time as leading on security will be the essence of future full- spectrum operations.
Of course, we Canadians are not in Afghanistan alone. There are over 30 nations in fact, who like Canada, are committed to a stable, democratic and economically viable Afghanistan.
The Canadian Forces' contribution to the international effort in Afghanistan is significant. Today, a total of about 2,300 Canadian Forces personnel are deployed on Operation Archer in Afghanistan and the theatre support base. The vast majority of those in Afghanistan are in the Kandahar region, but significant and important elements of the mission remain in Kabul.
Before describing our efforts in the Kandahar region, I would like to highlight the efforts of two particular organizations in Kabul, the Strategic Advisory Team, or ``SAT'' and the team of the Afghan National Training Centre, which is commonly referred to as ``NTC.''
The SAT, or Strategic Advisory Team, consists of 13 CF members and one civilian defence research scientist. The SAT concept developed from a bilateral agreement between Canada and the Afghan government in which Canada would provide a small team of advisors to assist in the development of the Afghan national development strategy, ANDS, and the civil service commission, CSC. The main line of operation for the SAT is to help build a strategic planning capability within the Afghan government. It is important to note that the strategic advisory team is not directly involved in strategic planning. The team members act as mentors and provide strategic planning advice to the ANDS working group and the civil service commission.
Although a small team, the SAT has had a profound impact in Afghanistan. In January, when President Karzai's economic adviser, Dr. Naderi, attended the London conference to unveil the Afghanistan Compact, he invited SAT leader Colonel Mike Capstick to attend this landmark event with him. More recently, the strategic advisory team is performing an important facilitation role in linking the Afghan national development strategy effort to those of the OEF coalition and ISAF leadership. The SAT, in conjunction with other mentoring efforts, and the work of the Canadian PRD, is the cornerstone of our efforts to rebuild Afghanistan.
From my perspective, this relatively small team has had an impact out of all proportion to its size.
We also have a training team of 15 CF personnel who work directly with the Afghan national army soldiers as they complete basic individual training at the Kabul military training centre, KMTC. Officers and non-commissioned members graduate from KMTC and come under the care of the Canadian training team at the NTC responsible for the initial collective training for section and platoon-level skills. The NTC is the final training stage that ANA soldiers complete prior to their operational deployment with Afghan military units across the country.
Canadian soldiers have a well deserved reputation as excellent trainers, and the impact of this relatively small element in the NA training cycle has been very important.
As you all know, we are also playing a meaningful role with a strong concentration of forces in the South of Afghanistan. Canada's Brigadier-General David Fraser has been in command of Multinational Brigade South, under Operation Enduring Freedom, since February 28. Operation Enduring Freedom is, as you all know, the U.S.-led coalition that has been operating in Afghanistan since 2001, and is now principally focused on the troubled southern and eastern regions of the country.
Brigadier General Fraser is both the multi-national commander and the commander of all elements of the Canadian task force in Afghanistan. I will elaborate on the national direction that guides Brigadier General Fraser's efforts.
Nationally, our overarching strategic intent is to prevent Afghanistan from relapsing into a failed state in which terrorists and terrorist organizations would find safe haven. Specific objectives assigned to the Canadian Forces include helping maintain a secure environment in the ISAF area of operations and supporting the establishment of efficient and durable Afghan security structures. This CF is assisting the Government of Afghanistan in providing security and stability in the country and supports reconstruction activities. The CF has as another objective the elimination of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other armed groups that pose a threat to international peace and security. To that end, the CF's objective is to bring Osama bin Laden and the leaders of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other armed groups to justice. The CF supports the efforts to address the humanitarian needs of Afghans consistent with international guidelines regarding the use of military assets in support of humanitarian activities.
Within this construct, there are three lines of operation. Security and stability is the first line, governance is the second, and development is the third. The Canadian Forces main effort is to build Afghan national security force capacity while defeating al-Qaeda, Taliban and other armed group elements in concert with them.
In the context of these objectives and lines of operation, specific tasks have been assigned to Brigadier General Fraser, including combining and integrating the PRT and manoeuvre elements in close cooperation with partners. He has the task of building the capacity of the government of Afghanistan in Regional Command South in close cooperation with the strategic advisory team at the strategic level. The second task is to enable ISAF transition from Operation Enduring Freedom in region south. BGen. Fraser is conducting intelligence-led operations in concert with Afghan security forces, to enable lethal and non-lethal strikes against al-Qaeda, Taliban and other armed groups that threaten the authority of the government of Afghanistan. The fourth task of the CF is to support the international community in rebuilding Afghanistan and contributing to the improvement of a secure and stable environment in Afghanistan.
Canada's command — Brigadier General Fraser's leadership — of the multi-national Brigade HQ for Regional Command South is significant. The Brigade HQ is made up principally of Canadian, U.K., Dutch and American officers and NCNs, with roughly 50 per cent being Canadian, and the supporting Signal Squadron also coming from Canada.
We took over command from a largely American task force. While functioning for several months under an Operation Enduring Freedom mandate, and under the command of Combined Joint Task Force-76, Brigadier-General Fraser and his Headquarters are playing an absolutely critical role in setting the conditions for a successful expansion of the NATO mandate into the south.
This transition from Operation Enduring Freedom to international security force will not be without challenges. Transitional military operations such as this one create opportunities for opposing forces to exploit seams between departing and arriving forces. In many respects, this is what we are seeing now in the rise in insurgent activity over the past few weeks. Brigadier General Fraser has had to very carefully balance the demands associated with the current security situation and near term Operation Enduring Freedom requirements with the need to support the deployment of our new NATO partners into the region. In my view, he is balancing these competing demands extremely well.
For Canada, which has the responsibility for Kandahar province, the seat of the multi-national brigade, this critical bridging role is one we anticipated, and is why we deployed our infantry battle group and the brigade headquarters several months earlier than our NATO partners did. The task of supporting the inflow of our NATO partners, the U.K. task force, to Helmand province, which is east of Kandahar, and the Netherlands task force to Uruzgan province, which is north of Kandahar, has largely fallen upon this Canadian unit and this has, to a large degree, governed priorities and areas of focus for the Canadian battle group. The deployments are progressing on or ahead of schedule, and the many tactical lessons learned while operating in this volatile region will be of benefit to their operational planning as well.
Beyond this transition focus, our battle group has achieved much progress towards its own objectives. The media has covered actions in contact with armed opposition throughout Kandahar province as we have extended our presence into regions that to date have been considered safe havens for the Taliban. We have disrupted them in their own areas, weakened their capability, reduced their numbers and exposed them for what they are. Through these security operations and in close collaboration with the governor of Kandahar province and leaders of the provincial, district and village levels, the Canadian battle group is also extending the reach of the PRT from the capital city to the outer regions of the province. The focus is on extending both the legitimacy and the credibility of the government of Afghanistan down to all levels, and our military efforts are founded on programs being developed by CIDA, Foreign Affairs and the RCMP.
A few word on the NATO Transition plan. The first phase of course was to stabilize Kabul and that began with NATO assuming responsibility for the International Security Assistance Force in 2003. Since then, NATO forces have moved to the north, to begin securing that region. Kabul and the north were Stage One of the NATO mission. Moving to the west was Stage Two and that is well on the way. Expanding to the more troublesome southern region of Afghanistan, which includes the province of Kandahar, is NATO's Stage Three.
As mentioned above, Brigadier-General Fraser will remain in command of the MNB South as it transitions to Regional Command South under ISAF later this summer. When this transition is complete, almost all of Afghanistan, with the exception of Regional Command East, will be under NATO authority.
As you have heard, the rebuilding of Afghanistan will take a long time. The Afghanistan Compact, a five-year action plan agreed to by the international community and the Government of Afghanistan, is still in its infancy in terms of implementation. Canada's 2003-05contribution to ISAF and the leadership role Canada played in the early days of NATO involvement with Afghanistan were meaningful and highly successful in terms of impact on the Government of Afghanistan and the people of Kabul.
Given that Canada has only been engaged in the south for three months, it is still too early to be able to report practical, visible results of our collective efforts. Our presence in Kandahar province, the first ever coalition presence in many sanctuary areas, has sparked expected reactions of the Taliban and other opposing forces. This paints an awkward picture of success, in that our advances in stability and security are demonstrated by increases in attacks against our forces.
I should also note that in late February, as Canadians were assuming command in Kandahar, General Karl Eikenberry, the senior OEF coalition commander, stated publicly that he fully expected insurgent activity to grow through the spring and early summer. This is precisely what we have seen over the past days and weeks. The Canadian battle group, which has been very active throughout its deployment, has, in concert with Afghan national security forces, just increased its operational tempo. This is likely to precipitate a further increase in reported insurgent attacks and activity.
Kandahar and the southern region were the heart of the Taliban movement in pre-2001 Afghanistan. The insurgency remains intent on overthrowing the legitimate and democratically elected national government.
Since we are there to help the government and its people, we will continue to be targeted by insurgents, although I must say that attacks against Afghans are much more frequent than they are against the coalition. Progress in the south will be slow, and it is only through a long-term commitment, likely beyond the timeline of the Afghanistan Compact, that the international community will see Afghanistan able to stand on its own two feet.
Stability above all will require an effective national government, and effective national security forces whose effects are felt throughout the country. We are working in close cooperation with the Afghan National Security Forces, the Afghan National Police and the Government of Afghanistan to increase security in the south.
This will not happen overnight, but we have had increasing success in conducting joint operations with Afghan units, in response to Afghan intelligence on insurgent activity. And the more success we have, the more security we bring, which will ultimately help our partners in the PRT further their efforts in the areas of governance and development.
It is the opinion of Canadian commanders throughout the chain of command, including myself, that Canada is making a positive contribution in Afghanistan. I visited our troops in Afghanistan a number of times since taking command and I have had an opportunity to speak with hundreds of our deployed soldiers. They often live in extremely spartan conditions, ``outside the wire,'' as they say. They operate in an exceptionally demanding environment both physically and from a security perspective, and the pace of operational activity is extremely intense.
Despite the challenges they face, they are determined to succeed and are positive about their accomplishments. They have a very well-developed understanding of their mission and what needs to be done to help Afghanistan with its recovery. They believe in what they are doing.
Honourable senators, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today, and I look forward to your questions.
The Chairman: Thank you very much for your very comprehensive presentation. Before we go to the questions, perhaps I could have you revisit a comment you made in your concluding remarks:
Our presence in Kandahar province, the first-ever coalition presence in many sanctuary areas, has sparked expected reaction from the Taliban and other opposition forces. This paints an awkward picture of our success in that our advances in stability and security are demonstrated by increasing attacks on our forces.
How can you suggest that we have greater stability and security when you are telling that there are more attacks on our forces?
LGen. Gauthier: The security and stability is a consequence of our establishing a presence in areas where we had not previously established a presence, where there are opposition forces. Unfortunately, in the course of establishing that stability and security, the price to be paid is that initially there is going to be a reaction to our presence in these sanctuaries. Along with Afghan national security forces, we have to prevail over the opposing forces. We have to eliminate the threat in those areas.
The Chairman: If they were throwing rose petals in front of you as you were arriving, I would understand that there is increased stability and security. Is it not premature to suggest that stability and security has arrived if in fact the level of violence has increased?
LGen. Gauthier: No, I am not suggesting that stability and security have arrived. I am saying that is the direction in which we are headed. I would like to think that in any number of the villages north of Kandahar, in particular, where we have established a more regular presence, that those villagers are feeling less threatened today by Taliban and other insurgents than they were before our arrival. In that sense, we are establishing or improving stability and security.
The Chairman: In that context, I understand what you mean. Thank you.
Senator Campbell: Thank you for coming today, LGen. Gauthier. What is the date of the timeline of the Afghanistan Compact?
LGen. Gauthier: The timeline ends five years from January of this year.
Senator Campbell: Is this increase in violence against Canadian soldiers seen as a counterattack because of the successes?
LGen. Gauthier: Simply the fact that we are entering into what they perceive to be their turf, and perhaps they are hopeful that if they can cause casualties it will drive us away and we will not return to those particular areas.
Senator Campbell: Who has the Regional Command East?
LGen. Gauthier: An American.
Senator Campbell: Who made that decision?
LGen. Gauthier: This was prior to NATO moving into Afghanistan and prior to ISAF expansion out of Kabul, operations throughout Afghanistan were conducted by a U.S-led coalition, under Operation Enduring Freedom. ISAF has moved into the north and the west, and ISAF will soon move into the south.
Senator Campbell: One of the difficulties that Canadians have, and that has been expressed to me, is this sense that we are moving in because of the American involvement. I do not necessarily subscribe to that, but one can understand that view. When I see that Canada is going to take over NATO, one would assume that you would take over all of the country under the NATO command rather than inserting another nation in there. Why would you have an American in charge of Regional Command East and Canada in charge of NATO in all the rest of the country?
LGen. Gauthier: No. I did not make myself clear, then, in my earlier comments. Canada will not be in charge of the entire NATO operation. In fact, command of the NATO operation in Afghanistan rotates on a 6-month or 12-month basis. Since about a month ago, the commander of ISAF is an officer from U.K., Lieutenant-General David Richards.
Different nations are responsible for operations in the northern and western regions, and Canada will assume initial leadership in the southern region. Canada will command, through the transition period and then into the first NATO mandate, in the south of Afghanistan.
Senator Campbell: When NATO takes over the mandate, Canada will not be in charge of all NATO in Afghanistan.
LGen. Gauthier: No. Just in the southern region.
Senator Campbell: But NATO will be in charge of three quarters of the country?
LGen. Gauthier: Effectively, yes.
Senator Campbell: Then why would NATO not be in charge of all of them?
LGen. Gauthier: NATO is doing this in steps.
Senator Campbell: Will they ever take over the eastern command?
LGen. Gauthier: I would expect relatively quickly, after having assumed responsibility for the south. However, because the south and the east are more challenging than the north and the west, they certainly want to make sure that they have it right in the south before moving into the east, which is every bit as challenging as the south.
Senator Campbell: This morning we heard that the RCMP is in Afghanistan, and the German police. Are we the only country with a CIDA-like organization in Afghanistan? Or is this question best left for the minister?
LGen. Gauthier: No. Interestingly enough, I can tell you that as early as last fall, in the Kandahar PRT there were representatives from USAID, DFID, the U.K. department of foreign development, as well as CIDA and our own Foreign Affairs. There are other national development agencies in the south, and, in fact, working out of our PRT.
Senator Campbell: Would it be fair to say that NATO is buying into the triple D?
LGen. Gauthier: Absolutely. If you look at the Afghanistan Compact, which is a compact between the government of Afghanistan and the international community, the arrangement on mutually agreed goals between Afghanistan and the international community projects out five years.
Senator Campbell: The last time you were here before us, you listed eight criteria in the Defence Policy Statement that were to be considered before taking on international deployment. Among the criteria was the need for a defined end stage and a clear exit strategy. I do not think that we received that information.
Is there a defined end stage toward which we are working, and if not, why not?
LGen. Gauthier: For the sake of clarity, I did not make reference to eight criteria in my last appearance before you.
Senator Campbell: I am sorry; the statement lists eight criteria.
LGen. Gauthier: I recall being asked about an exit strategy and my response to that was the Canadian military does not develop exit strategies. These are Government of Canada decisions. From the national objectives flow the objectives for the Canadian Forces. I have described these objectives to you.
Certainly, when you take those objectives together, you can and we have identified an end state of sorts. From a military perspective, it has everything to do with Afghan national security forces having the capacity to do this on their own. That is something that the international community will march to. It is something that we are marching to right now; and ultimately it will be up to the Government of Canada to determine when we have done enough in relation to these objectives.
Senator Campbell: You must do scenarios. You must be prepared for all different cases. You cannot just say our exit is going to be, we win. There have to be fallback positions or things that you take into consideration, even if it is only as a tabletop.
LGen. Gauthier: We have not formulated an official exit strategy.
The Chairman: When you were before us last, LGen. Gauthier, you did talk about benchmarks that you had established and just now you referred to a military end state. Would you care to describe what the military end state you were just referring to looks like, and would you also describe for the committee what the benchmarks are that you see toward getting there?
LGen. Gauthier: Do you want the long answer or the short answer?
The Chairman: We will take the best answer you have.
LGen. Gauthier: I will take that in two parts. The campaign plan is classified and the end state per se, as is described specifically, is classified. However, I can certainly paraphrase something for you that I think would help. Then, if you do not mind, I will get into measuring success and progress in the framework I spoke to you about last time.
The end state we refer to is described in relation to opposing forces, and their capacity to influence development and the security situation in Afghanistan. From our perspective, that capacity needs to be reduced to the point where Afghanistan will be left to stand on its own two feet. That is in relation to opposing forces.
In relation to the government of Afghanistan, the end state is expressed in terms of the progress that Afghan national security forces are able to make in the development of effective, functioning operational capabilities.
The Chairman: Does that mean that the Afghan military can function without the assistance of outside military?
LGen. Gauthier: Effectively, yes.
The Chairman: So they can maintain control over everything within their boundaries without Canadian or any other countries' assistance?
LGen. Gauthier: Yes, that is consistent with international plans. A driving factor in our planning is the Afghan national development strategy. There is also an ISAF plan and there is an Operation Enduring Freedom plan. There is a Government of Canada strategy, and there is a Canadian Forces campaign plan.
I may have said this last time; there is actually very good convergence between all of those plans especially as it relates to the three lines of operation that I have described to you. Remember the three lines of operations are security and stability, governance by extending the legitimacy and credibility of the Afghan national government, and social and economic development. Based on those lines of operation, we have defined strategic objectives.
I will walk you through our approach to measuring effects and effectiveness. We have agreed-upon strategic objectives and based on those strategic objectives, we identify strategic effects. Based on the strategic effects — in other words, countrywide, affecting the government of Afghanistan as a whole, principally in the security realm — we have operational effects. We have measures of effectiveness for each operational effect. There is a matrix under development that lines all of these up.
For each operational objective, there are a number of measures that are identified. For these effects and measures, there are then levels. Operational level is my level. Then there are tactical actions and measures of performance at the tactical level. The measures of performance might be such things as how many new police stations are opened or closed in the province of Kandahar over a given period. All of this will lead us to a dashboard, which I use regularly to manage how we shape our force in support of the mission and how we shape our effort in Afghanistan, based on the progress that we are making.
Another important element of this is not just about our internal use, but reporting on progress. One of the challenges will be to take what is now a classified document, because there will be sensitivities and use it to positive effect with respect to the public, government and others in concert with our 3D partners.
The Chairman: Could you share with us the matrix?
LGen. Gauthier: It is still under development. I will be briefed on the road test version of this later this week. Once I am satisfied that we have something that is road testable, I will take that and extract what can be reasonably extracted from it, from an operational security perspective. At that point, I will be able to give you a more specific understanding of the matrix.
The Chairman: Will you then give us a list of the measures of performance? You mentioned police stations.
LGen. Gauthier: We will to the extent that it is operationally wise for us to do so without revealing our cards to our adversaries. Obviously, armed with that information, they could do certain things to skew the results of our measurements.
The Chairman: I understand. When you testified prior to this, you mentioned benchmarks, plural. Could you put the S on to benchmarks for us now?
LGen. Gauthier: Absolutely.
The Chairman: Go ahead.
LGen. Gauthier: Oh, benchmarks, plural. I thought you were just referring to the measures of effectiveness and performance.
The Chairman: You left us with the message that when you returned you would have benchmarks for us. You have given us one. I am welcoming you to give us some more, please.
LGen. Gauthier: Senator, I am not in a position to do that, as our own internal work is not complete.
Senator Campbell: Operationally, what are your top five urgent requirements? If we could fulfill five wishes, what would they be?
LGen. Gauthier: I would have to consult down the chain to give you a clear answer on that question.
Senator Campbell: I want your answer.
LGen. Gauthier: Do not take this the wrong way, senator, but we do not deal in wishes and the hypothetical. We are used to doing the very best that we can with the resources that we have.
Senator Campbell: I am not trying to put on you the spot. Where would you put the funds if we arranged for you to have more operational resources?
LGen. Gauthier: An important requirement at the tactical level, where we are reliant on others is the area of medium- to- heavy lift helicopter capability. This is not critical but we would like to have this capability in order to move troops about quickly.
The whole range of lift requirements, from strategic to tactical, in fixed wing as well is another area where if we had a magic wand and unlimited resources, we could use more help.
Senator Atkins: Thank you, LGen. Gauthier, for coming once again; your presentation is very thorough. You say.
It is the opinion of Canadian commanders throughout the chain of command, including myself, that Canada is making a positive contribution in Afghanistan.
I do not think anyone doubts that statement.
The government has extended our commitment for two years. Do you feel that extension puts pressure on the military in terms of spreading it too thin in its rotation process?
LGen. Gauthier: Absolutely not. I think when we first embarked on this mission in 2002, and re-engaged from an ISAF perspective in 2003, and then more recently when we committed to the south, we did so with the expectation that this would be something, given the nature of the challenge, that we have to sustain for some time. Certainly, within the force-generation capacities of the army and air force, what we are providing now in Afghanistan, plus or minus — because we will not always be providing the brigade leadership piece— is sustainable for the next two years without any great difficulty.
Senator Atkins: You are not concerned about the number of recruits and the way they are trained for rotation?
LGen. Gauthier: You are actually taking me into an area that is beyond my lane, in the sense that I am not the force generator. I employ forces that are given to me by others.
The Chairman: Wait for MGen. Leslie.
LGen. Gauthier: That question comes in when we start talking about a second line of operation, especially a major second line of operation. Are we able to do that and how does that relate to our capacity to expand as government wishes us to expand? I think you are aware of that dynamic.
Senator Atkins: You said that the major goal is for the Afghans to stand on their own two feet. Do you think it can be achieved between now and 2009?
LGen. Gauthier: It is pretty clear to me that the end state that I described to you will not be achieved by 2009, but that is not to say that we have to continue to be contributing to that end state. Again, that is not my decision. However, I can say with reasonable certainty that it will take more than two years to get Afghan national security forces effective to the point where international involvement will not be required.
Senator Atkins: How long do you think it might take?
LGen. Gauthier: I do not have a crystal ball, nor do I think it would be of benefit to you for me to gaze into one.
Senator Atkins: The decision to extend our commitment has polarized public opinion. How would you answer someone who asks the question, are we in a no-win situation, even as well as our military is performing, and what is happening over there? Historically, nobody has ever won in this type of situation. Why, all of a sudden do we think that even with the coalition forces we can achieve something that has not been done before?
LGen. Gauthier: Again, you are asking me to make judgments and to comment in areas that are beyond my purview.
The Chairman: Can you give us a comment from a military point of view?
LGen. Gauthier: I will say that some might have said the same thing about the challenge we faced in Kabul in 2003, and point to the success that has been achieved there over the last couple of years with Canadians playing a very important part both in leadership and with boots on the ground.
Kandahar province and the south of Afghanistan is a tougher nut to crack. There is absolutely no doubt about that. However, there are substantial international community forces rolling into that area, substantially more than was there under Operation Enduring Freedom, so the capacity of international military forces in the south and the potential for them to have an impact is real. I have no reason to doubt that we will make progress, but I am also under no illusions. It will not take a year or two; it will take a sustained effort.
Senator Atkins: How much does topography come into play in terms of how the military deals with its missions? The Taliban hide in the hills and do not wear uniforms.
LGen. Gauthier: We deal with it. We have various capabilities. Our soldiers are up in those hills, in some cases on foot, in some cases based on where the LAV III or the RG31 Nyala or helicopters might be able to carry us.
The topography has a significant impact on how we operate. We factor that into how we plan and equip our forces. We factor that into our operating methods, our tactics.
Senator Atkins: Do you not need aircraft?
LGen. Gauthier: We have aircraft there. There are substantial numbers of helicopters there that belong to the coalition.
Senator Atkins: Could we deploy CF-18s there?
LGen. Gauthier: I suppose we could. It would be a possibility. It is not something that has been high enough on our list or NATO's, in terms of something that would be helpful for Canada to provide. Perhaps in the future.
Senator Atkins: On the news last night they talked about the deployment of five new Sea Kings. With the record of Sea Kings over the last few years, I do not know whether that provides any real confidence with people who are following this whole situation.
Beyond that, is there any opportunity for Canada to buy second-hand, off-the-shelf helicopters that would be helpful in the mission?
LGen. Gauthier: Thankfully, from my perspective, I am focused on conducting the mission overseas as opposed to buying the equipment. I will have to defer to others more competent to give you answers to that question, senator.
Senator Atkins: For you to fulfill your mission, you want the instruments to do it.
LGen. Gauthier: The situation today in Afghanistan is a coalition operation. In that kind of an environment, whether it is today under Operation Enduring Freedom or tomorrow under ISAF, different nations contribute different capabilities to the operation. Others provide helicopters. It would be nice to have our own guaranteed support, but our troops are getting around in helicopters.
The Chairman: If you had Canadian helicopters there under the command of Canadians, first, are you telling us that you have all the helicopter lift your require right now?
LGen. Gauthier: You would actually have to ask the coalition commander that question, because it is his operation on the ground. He is bringing together the coalition partners.
The Chairman: And he will not tell you?
LGen. Gauthier: I suspect he would say he needs a lot more helicopters because you can never have enough.
The Chairman: The second question is: If there were helicopters that were being dispatched by Canadians and if, God forbid, with the limited resources, there was a choice between having a medivac of a wounded Canadian or, for example, a wounded American. Where would that aircraft go first?
LGen. Gauthier: That is a hypothetical situation that we have actually not run into there. On each and every occasion where we have had to have casualties airlifted, and given the geography and topography that Senator Atkins referred to, just about anywhere where we run into a casualty or we have casualties or take casualties, helicopter support has been required and it has been there and it has responded within minutes, just as it did over the last 12 hours when we had LAV III and a number of soldiers run into some problems overnight.
The Chairman: Obviously, any commander would prefer to have that asset under his command.
LGen. Gauthier: If we brought helicopters to the operation, they would be contributed to the coalition. They would be under the same arrangement as all the other helicopters in the operation. They become a coalition resource, controlled ultimately by the multinational commander who right now is Canadian.
Senator Atkins: What is a medium lift helicopter?
LGen. Gauthier: That is something that is able to lift an airliftable artillery piece; something that is able to carry or lift a platoons' worth of infantry with their kit. That size is compared with the lighter utility transport helicopters that we have right now in the Canadian Forces.
Senator Atkins: Does the Sea King have that capability?
LGen. Gauthier: Again, you would have to ask people in the air force that question. I know it is something that has been looked at. I have no direct knowledge of the Sea King issue that was raised over the last 12 hours or so in the media. I am not going to be helpful to you on that one, senator.
Senator Atkins: I have another line of questioning. Why do you not produce or deliver a weekly military update to the Canadian public on what is happening in Afghanistan?
LGen. Gauthier: That is an interesting question. Indirectly, it is not coming directly from us, you are able to read, certainly at least every second day, what is happening on the ground in Afghanistan and the views of our soldiers and our officers. You are able to read something about the mission in Afghanistan that gives you a good ground level view of what is happening there.
Having said that, I acknowledge that it would be beneficial to Canadians and to government for us to communicate more proactively, from a chain of command perspective, how we believe things are going. That ties back into our measures of success and what we do with them.
Senator Atkins: The media has its own spin on things. I would have thought that it would be important for the military to put out an official communiqué. Would that not help in terms of public opinion?
LGen. Gauthier: It is hard to say. I have been quite impressed by the balance in the media coverage over the last couple of months. I do not think it has been detrimental to the public's perception of what we are doing in Afghanistan or how we are doing it. It seems to me that, by and large, it has been factual and, at the same time, largely positive.
Senator Atkins: Up to now, I do not think the public sees this as our war. The government is going to have to demand an increase for increased military human resources and equipment. Does it not seem important that they know what is happening and what is required and how successful you are?
LGen. Gauthier: You are taking me into a realm that, again, is beyond my level of competence. Ultimately the minister, the CDS and the deputy minister together with the rest of government will decide how best to communicate the progress in Afghanistan.
Senator Moore: Thank you for being here. I am trying to follow these initials.
What is ISAF and what is PRT?
LGen. Gauthier: ISAF is the International Security Assistance Force, which operates under NATO. PRT is a provincial reconstruction team and there are dozens of these all over Afghanistan.
Senator Moore: More than one team for each province?
LGen. Gauthier: No, no more than one per province, but some are currently operating under Operation Enduring Freedom, a U.S.-led coalition mandate, and others in the north and the west are operating under an International Security Assistance Force mandate. The PRTs all have basically the same purpose.
Senator Moore: This is the development part of the 3D, is it?
LGen. Gauthier: Right; development, but not strictly in a social or economic sense. The PRT is focused on capacity building.
Senator Moore: Capacity to do what?
LGen. Gauthier: The capacity to help the Afghan national police or help the governor to build provincial-level government institutions that tie together the different national elements that are sitting in the province of Kandahar. To help the ministry of the interior, ministry of education, et cetera — and to take what the provincial leadership is trying to do and help to extend it out into the districts and the villages.
Senator Moore: Out of interest, I presume that President Karzai has bodyguards.
LGen. Gauthier: I cannot speak authoritatively about that, but I think that would be a fair assumption.
Senator Moore: Are our troops providing that service, or the Americans?
LGen. Gauthier: Certainly not our troops. We are not involved in that.
Senator Moore: Do Afghan troops provide that protection?
LGen. Gauthier: I could not say, sir.
Senator Moore: What is the timing of the next rotation of Canadian troops?
LGen. Gauthier: In the August time frame.
Senator Moore: What unit will be going there?
LGen. Gauthier: The First Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment, among others will be going in August. The infantry unit which will serve as the basis for the infantry battle group will be led by the commanding officer of First Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment, from Petawawa. However, there are many different units involved in the deployment, mostly from Petawawa.
Senator Moore: Will there be any special operations forces operating in the Canadian area of responsibility in Afghanistan over which the Canadian commander would not have knowledge?
LGen. Gauthier: Canadian special forces? Absolutely not.
Senator Moore: Are there any other country's special forces that he would know of?
LGen. Gauthier: As the Canadian commander, not necessarily. If there are Canadian special forces operating in Afghanistan, they will effectively, from a national perspective, be under national leadership, so he would certainly be aware, yes.
The Chairman: General, one of the things that concerns the committee a great deal is the overlap between the American command and NATO that will be taking place very shortly. It seems like a strange arrangement, to have two forces functioning in the same geography — in fact, probably three forces, if you take into account the Afghan army. The committee sees extraordinarily difficult challenges for commanders to ensure that they do not have blue-on-blue situations or a situation where friendly people are shooting at friendly people.
First, aside from the American unwillingness to have others command their forces, what is the rationale for having such an unwieldy structure? Second, how do your people propose to address this to ensure that we do not have these terrible accidents?
LGen. Gauthier: Senator, I first need to correct one thing you said about unwillingness of the Americans to have their forces under the command of others. In Afghanistan today, BGen. Fraser has under his command a U.S. infantry battalion.
The Chairman: We understand that, but we spent time in Congress and I must tell you that it is an act of faith down there. There are ways of saving face that they use from time to time but, bottom line, they will also explain to you that above the Canadian there is an American somewhere in the chain of command.
LGen. Gauthier: That is right, but your remark suggested that this was all about American concerns. I will not try to characterize what you just said.
The Chairman: I will rephrase it. Clearly the Americans are pursuing some different objectives in Afghanistan that are over and above what NATO is pursuing. Therefore, they have a different command structure, but they are still operating on the same turf.
LGen. Gauthier: You are again taking me into an area that is well beyond the operational realm, but I am happy to answer the question to some degree or to give you some insight into this subject.
Afghanistan is a complex place, and as I said in my opening comments, it is the most complex operation we have undertaken in the last half-century. It is indescribably complex due to the different factors at play, purely from an Afghan perspective and the range of challenges, which I think we understand reasonably well. Adding to the complexity are the international actors that participate in various aspects such as the development piece or the counter- narcotics piece. These aspects are not connected in any way to coalition military operations. The evolving dynamic of NATO interests and OEF-U.S.-led coalition interests where, quite frankly, the fact of having a parallel chain of command as of this summer is as much a function of NATO concerns with the nature of operations that it wants to undertake in Afghanistan as it is about anything to do with the Americans.
The reality is that there are certain types of operations which NATO has not signed on to. On any counterterrorist operations we — because we are all part of NATO — have collectively said that we are not comfortable as NATO nations being engaged in this piece, which means that the Americans have actually — and thankfully from my perspective — agreed to continue to conduct them.
Coming to the last part of your question, the key is, as you have suggested, how to make the best of the complex arrangement that we will have as of the summer. Various measures have been taken to achieve that goal. It is certainly a subject of almost daily discussion as we approach the transition period from OEF to ISAF to ensure that there is full coordination so that we do not have situations where one force, operating in parallel but not synchronized with another force, does things that have significant negative impacts on the other force. Everyone is conscious of that and there is lots of discussion about it. There have been decisions made about the structure of ISAF headquarters and its relationship to Operation Enduring Freedom. Officers will be embedded from one into the other. Americans will be embedded into certain positions to ensure seamlessness between the two operations. We need to do the same things at the region south level as well.
It will not be easy; it will be a challenge.
The Chairman: I am sure it will, but you just told the committee that a Canadian commander would know about a Canadian special force operating within his territory but he might not know about American or other special forces operating within his territory. How does that fit with what you have just described?
LGen. Gauthier: This, again, is hypothetical to a certain extent. If we are talking about the future, the special operations forces piece of the capability packages between Operation Enduring Freedom and ISAF have not yet been fully developed. I do not want to go much beyond that in an unclassified forum. There are measures in place for coordination now. There will need to be measures in place for those who have multinational responsibilities to ensure that there is visibility into what is going on.
I answered the earlier question in the way I did because if you have a Canadian officer not as a multinational commander but strictly as a Canadian officer, he would not necessarily have a need to know about special operations that are going on, unless they are in his particular area, obviously.
Senator Moore: You said that Operation Enduring Freedom is the U.S.-led coalition that has been operating in Afghanistan since 2001. We talked about a strategy for Canada to be out of Afghanistan. Does Operation Enduring Freedom have a timeline? Is there a set time when it will conclude its operations there?
LGen. Gauthier: I cannot answer that question because the operation is U.S.-led and we are transitioning from that to NATO relatively soon, so I have not paid close attention to specifically what Operation Enduring Freedom will do in the longer term.
Senator Moore: We have been there as a participant since 2001?
LGen. Gauthier: Yes.
Senator Moore: The Afghan Compact will have five years remaining after January 1, 2006. That will take us to 10 years. I am thinking about what Senator Atkins asked you earlier. The Russian troops were in there for 20 or 22 years. By 2011, we will have been there for one-half that amount of time. Do you see us being successful where others were not? If so, what is the basis for that opinion?
LGen. Gauthier: Yes, I do, or I do not think we would be doing this. Our involvement in Afghanistan is at the invitation of a democratically elected government. We really are there to help the people of Afghanistan and to support the Government of Afghanistan. That was not the case with the Russians.
Senator Moore: I understand. If at the end of the term of the Afghan Compact we decide that all the success benchmarks have been met and we return home, do you think that the necessary assistance will be in place to enable the Afghan people to govern themselves and to carry on in a democratic fashion, and that they will not return to the warlord tribal factions that they have had in the past? We are bucking thousands of years of tradition.
LGen. Gauthier: The end of five years is not very far away.
Senator Moore: I know.
LGen. Gauthier: We first sent troops to Cyprus in 1964, and we still have troops in Cyprus. I led the first unit into the Balkans in 1992, and we still have forces in the Balkans. It has taken some time to rehabilitate what was a relatively advanced society. To suggest that it might take longer than 10 years to rehabilitate Afghanistan after everything it has been through is not shocking to me. It makes good sense to me. I do not necessarily have the clearest crystal ball as to the future of Afghanistan. However, it will take a long time.
Senator Moore: You have been there and you have worked with the Afghan civic and military leaders so you must have some sense of whether they have confidence that they can achieve what we are trying to help them do.
LGen. Gauthier: We have seen tremendous success at the national level over the last 12 to 18 months in Kabul. The challenge is now in the south. I am not as familiar with the successes in the north and the west, but it will be a challenge to extend that authority into the provinces of Kandahar, Helmand and Uruzgan. However, the province of Zabul, which is northeast of Kandahar, has actually had tremendous success and is making a recovery. We need to try to replicate that in Kandahar, Helmand and Oruzgan where we have coalition forces deploying.
Senator Moore: Outside of the major population centres such as Kabul, how are Canadian troops perceived? Are we looked on as being friends or do some think we are terrorists ourselves?
LGen. Gauthier: I do not have a solid understanding of that perception. I think it varies from village to village. Above all, the answer lies in what we are doing for them. If we are not able to do anything for them, they will look to support someone else, which takes me back to the 3D notion, that is, that we have to have the complete package so that can make a serious difference in their lives. If we cannot, and if they are still being terrorized by the Taliban, that terror might force them to vote with the Taliban.
Senator Johnson: It is nice to have you here today. I am interested in the rebuilding of Afghanistan. Senator Moore touched on the subject. Could you tell me a bit more about your strategic advisory team and the provincial constitution team? You credit the very small team with amazing work.
That feeds into the work the Canadian Forces are doing with the Kabul military training centre. How is this working together in terms of the rebuilding process?
You say that they like working with Canadians once they are finished their training as well. I am interested in the relationships that are being developed as we focus on rebuilding.
LGen. Gauthier: The strategic advisory team, SAT, is a relatively small team of 13 led by Col. Mike Capstick and a couple of lieutenant-colonels. It is comprised mostly of military personnel with one civilian adviser, although that may change over time.
The team focuses on process and has been working with the Afghan national development working group over the course of nearly a year, initially to help them shape the Afghan national development strategy, which was successfully brought forward as a strategy as opposed to a detailed plan. Their focus has been on process. It is as simple as helping them to set up a meeting with an agenda and a record of the results of the meeting. It is to teach them the basic steps in a strategic planning process. It became evident that the group they were working with needed help with that kind of structure.
Senator Johnson: That would extend into the work we are doing with people in villages?
LGen. Gauthier: That is the next step. Because of the success we have had with the SAT in Kabul and their understanding of the Afghan national development strategy at the national level, we are now looking at this from the provincial level and down to the levels of districts and villages. We are looking to see how, in the province of Kandahar specifically, we can build on that successful formula to help them with their processes. That is an area where CIDA and Foreign Affairs have made some good progress over the last couple of months in particular. It is promising.
You also asked about the national training centre team. They effectively serve as a bridge in the sense that individual training is conducted and there is a team-building part of the training, which is about learning to do drills and procedures for military operations at the section level with a group of 10 individuals and at the platoon level with 40 to 45 people. Canadians help a group of these individuals through the team-building process and work with them through their drills. I cannot remember the exact duration of the training. The formed groups are then fed off into units all over the country.
Senator Johnson: How many Afghans are involved in this program?
LGen. Gauthier: Many hundreds are involved over time. They rotate through this training centre, which is just outside of Kabul. We have an opportunity with this small team to have a direct impact on many of these soldiers as they are cycled through the system.
The Chairman: General, can you give us the financial cost so far of Operation Archer?
LGen. Gauthier: What do you mean by ``Operation Archer''?
The Chairman: In its largest context, from start to finish.
LGen. Gauthier: I can give you year-to-year amounts.
The Chairman: That would be fine.
LGen. Gauthier: There is Operation Apollo, Operation Athena — which was under an ISAF mandate — and Operation Archer.
The Chairman: If you have the Canadian costs broken out that way, that would be fine.
LGen. Gauthier: I can give you the incremental costs to the Canadian Forces since 2001: Operation Apollo, 2001-02, $191 million; 2002-03, $234 million; 2003-04, $163 million. Operation Athena, which was the major contribution to ISAF, 2003-04, $455 million; 2004-05, $297 million; 2005-06, not yet wrapped up, $88 million. Operation Archer, 2005- 06, estimated at $286 million and 2006-07 — that is, to the end of the previous mandate — $286 million.
The Chairman: How are these costs tracked and reported?
LGen. Gauthier: I am not sure what you are asking me.
The Chairman: Who keeps track of them? You must have people with green eye shades.
LGen. Gauthier: It is done in many different ways. Some of the funds are tracked by my comptroller staff; others, depending on the nature of the expenditure, are tracked by the services; others are tracked by ADM materiel; others by ADM information management or ADM infrastructure and environment. It depends on the specific nature of the costs and who, based on that, is accountable for those funds. It is everything, including, potentially, the armoured patrol vehicles that we bought.
The Chairman: It would include the mission-specific equipment that you just acquired?
LGen. Gauthier: Potentially, yes, but there are sustainment costs. It seems like a simple question; it is actually quite complex, because it goes across the departments in the Canadian Forces.
The Chairman: For a committee it is incredibly complex. That is why we are turning to you for some help.
Where are all of these costs consolidated?
LGen. Gauthier: The costs are consolidated within National Defence Headquarters by ADM (Fin CS).
The Chairman: Could you tell us the mission statement that BGen. Fraser received for Afghanistan?
LGen. Gauthier: I am reflecting on the security classification. I do not have it written down in words that would be helpful to you. because it is classified. I will have to take that on notice and provide you an unclassified version.
The Chairman: Thank you. Will it be redacted so we can see the black marks you have taken out?
LGen. Gauthier: I am not sure how that works, senator.
The Chairman: It is kind of fun guessing what goes in the middle. Have you assigned him specific tasks since he received his mission statement?
LGen. Gauthier: I covered them in my opening remarks.
The Chairman: Have they all been covered here?
LGen. Gauthier: Yes.
The Chairman: The general structure of his command and —
LGen. Gauthier: I am sorry to interrupt, but on that last point there is a lengthy Canadian Forces campaign plan for Afghanistan, which is classified. There is also a 20-page commander's directive issued by me to Gen. Fraser which is, again, classified. It is not information that we would want our adversaries to have great clarity on.
The Chairman: Think of us as friends.
LGen. Gauthier: There are operational security issues here.
The Chairman: I understand.
LGen. Gauthier: It is not as simple as what I have described in my opening remarks, but I have given you the essence of what we have asked BGen. Fraser to do.
The Chairman: Can you give us an outline of Task Force Afghanistan and the roles and missions and various components?
LGen. Gauthier: I have discussed much of it already. At the national level, there is a national training centre element, which I have described; there is the strategic advisory team element, which I have described. There are individual staffs present at a number of different headquarters, be it ISAF headquarters, U.S.-led coalition headquarters or others. That is in Kabul itself.
In Kandahar, the main elements are the Canadian contribution to BGen. Fraser's headquarters, the Multi-National Brigade headquarters. A supporting signal squadron provides communication support to that headquarters. There is a very important capability that I have not described. It is what we call a Role 3 medical facility, which Canada is leading. That is at Kandahar airfield. They are doing amazing work in support of the coalition and in support of Afghan security forces. They have a surgical range of capabilities. For our Canadian Forces personnel that would involve stabilizing patients so that they can be moved.
The infantry battalion is comprised of a number of subunits including infantry companies, an artillery element, an engineer element and a tactical unmanned aerial vehicle element as well as other elements. That is the main fighting force or operational force, which projects capability throughout Kandahar province. There is then a national command element and a national support element. Those are the basic pieces of the task force.
All and all, the figure is roughly 1,950 with roughly another 250 at our theatre support base.
The Chairman: What is the rationale for the ratio between the approximately 2,300 that are there and the approximately 230 that are in the PRT? Why, for example, is the PRT not twice the size or half the size? Given that reconstruction is a big part of the deal, why does it not call for more resources?
LGen. Gauthier: That is not the correct number for the PRT. If that appeared in my final speaking notes, it was missed in the final edit. In Camp Nathan Smith, from where the PRT currently operates, there are a number of different elements, including the PRT team and others that work with the PRT. They do not all belong to the PRT.
In the previous rotation, when all we had in the south was the PRT, there was a larger number. It was in the order of 230 to 250. The actual number that is physically part of the PRT organization is much smaller than that, but it engages and leverages the full capabilities of the battle group to be able to contribute to the reconstruction effort across the province of Kandahar. The number that is directly associated with the PRT under the command of the commander is less than 50. It does not need to be any larger than that. It is all about a clear relationship between the commander of the PRT and the battle group commander so that they are supporting each other's efforts. They are complementary.
The Chairman: Can you give us the rationale for 50? Why is 50 the right number?
LGen. Gauthier: The number will vary over time as our appreciation of the need evolves. The number was in the order of 250. I do not have the precise number for the PRT. I know that it will change for Roto 2 based on the lessons we have learned from Roto 1.
The Chairman: Will it move upwards or downwards?
LGen. Gauthier: Downwards.
The Chairman: Could you characterize for the committee the relationship between the military and NGOs operating in the same area?
LGen. Gauthier: Are you asking whether they are good or bad?
The Chairman: You choose the adjectives you would like, General.
LGen. Gauthier: The PRT is all about working with provincial-level officials and institutions and extending their work beyond the provincial level into the districts where there is another layer of administration, and then down to the village level where there are village leaders and tribal elders who have a role to play in decision making.
Between the battle group and the PRT leadership, their role is to engage and get to know Afghan authorities, to support them and to win their confidence in concert with other international and local NGOs.
We are happy to work with anyone who can assist. Due to the security in Kandahar, the presence of NGOs is not huge.
The Chairman: Our impression is that, generally speaking, NGOs do not mix well with army green.
LGen. Gauthier: Theoretically that is true. In the past, that is what we have seen. We are trying to change that with the PRT concept. The reality is that in Afghanistan, if we are all motivated by the same objective, which is to help the Government of Afghanistan, we ought to be able to work together.
The Chairman: Our understanding is that they feel they would be tainted and be seen as taking sides if they associated themselves too closely with an armed force.
LGen. Gauthier: That is a theory that does not apply very well to Afghanistan. I do not understand the notion of choosing sides. There is a government and then there are others who oppose the legitimately constituted government. We are there to help the government, and presumably NGOs, the aid community and the development community would also be there to help the government. In that sense, it is not like a traditional peacekeeping environment where there are belligerents on either side and you do not want to be seen to be favouring one side over the other. In this case, we are all there to help the Government of Afghanistan.
The Chairman: You referred to them as CIMIC. How large a group of people who would have that speciality would be part of the PRT?
LGen. Gauthier: My educated guess would be between 15 and 20.
The Chairman: Are they all reservists?
LGen. Gauthier: Yes.
The Chairman: Why is that?
LGen. Gauthier: It is because we have had some success in building this into the reserves. It has been a success story. They combine skill sets that are not necessarily traditionally available in the military with military skills to be able to do what we ask them to do as CIMIC officers and NCOs.
The Chairman: When the committee was last in Afghanistan, we met with a group of Canadian soldiers. You said you currently have 15 soldiers involved in training the Afghan military. At the time, we met a group of 25 Canadians who were not allowed to train the Afghan military, but they were charged with evaluating the training that the Afghan military got from other nations. Needless to say, they were a very frustrated bunch of Canadian soldiers.
Do the 15 soldiers who are currently involved in training actually train? Do they go into the field with Afghan soldiers or are they more of the evaluator type that we met in Kabul?
LGen. Gauthier: I am not sure who you met in Kabul, but I can tell you that on my second-last visit to Afghanistan I spent time in a training area with Canadians who were training and mentoring Afghan leaders and working with soldiers. They were running up and down mountains and such things.
The Chairman: That was precisely the concern of the soldiers we met. They were not able to do that and they found that they had difficulty gaining the respect of the Afghan military because they were not going into the field with them, whereas soldiers from other armies were living the same sort of life and taking the same sort of chances, and the Afghans developed respect for them over time.
Is the group now involved in training performing that type of training?
LGen. Gauthier: Yes.
The Chairman: We thought it was a bizarre sort of set-up and we wanted to know whether that continued.
This has been very constructive and very helpful to the committee. I would like to thank you very much. You have been very generous, not only to come back twice but also to let us wander around your headquarters at Star Top Road. It was a worthwhile visit and we appreciated it very much. We appreciate how thoroughly and patiently you answered our questions. It helps us work our way up the learning curve, and we are most grateful.
We are fortunate to have with us now the Honourable Josée Verner, Minister of International Cooperation. Ms. Verner was elected to the House of Commons in 2006. Prior to becoming a member of Parliament, she spent close to 20 years working in the field of communications and the public service. In the last Parliament, Ms. Verner was critic for the Economic Development Agency of Canada, for the Regions of Quebec and la Francophonie. She also serves as Chair of the Quebec Conservative Caucus.
We are very pleased that you are appearing but before us today. This is your first appearance before the committee and we look forward to hearing from you.
Ms. Verner is accompanied today by two officials from the Canadian International Development Agency: Hau Sing Tse, Vice-President of the Asia Branch, and Phillip Baker, Director of the Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka Division.
Hon. Josée Verner, P.C., MP, Minister of International Cooperation: Mr. Chair, this is my first appearance before this committee, and I am very pleased to be addressing you. I am also happy you have chosen to focus on the issue of Afghanistan, and I want to take this opportunity to congratulate you on the excellent work you are doing.
As you know, Afghanistan has been devastated. More than 20 years of conflict, serious human rights violations, widespread poverty, and successive years of drought have led to the destruction of almost every sector of society.
Since the fall of the Taliban, Canadians have felt the urge to help the people of Afghanistan rise out of those dark years. But it is far from an easy task to rebuild and develop a devastated country like Afghanistan.
Although there has been a lot of progress, today the people of Afghanistan still need solid support and a firm commitment from countries like Canada.
The development assistance that Canada and the international community are providing to Afghanistan is contributing to the country's human and economic development. It involves a comprehensive approach intended to establish a stable, democratic self-government.
We are among the 36 nations who have made progress in Afghanistan under the auspices of the UN and NATO. But it takes time and ongoing commitment to lay the foundations of democratic and economic development. Like our 35 allies, our objective is to enable the Government of Afghanistan to carry out its policies and to ensure Afghanistan's sustainable development.
To this end, Canada's engagement is comprised of three complementary, necessary and inseparable parts: support for stabilization, diplomacy and development assistance.
To ensure sustainable results in Afghanistan, Canada is working in accordance with the priorities that the Government of Afghanistan has spelled out in its national development strategy, approved in London in January 2006.
We are helping the Government of Afghanistan to extend its programs into remote or vulnerable communities — where the government's presence is weaker and not sufficient to win the confidence of the people — and to allow all Afghans to take advantage of the positive, concrete, sustainable progress in all parts of the country. In doing so, we are helping to build confidence in the new government, helping rally the people behind it, and contributing to the stabilization of southern Afghanistan.
Our support for the Government of Afghanistan is based on those Canadian values that make us proud, including respect for human rights, gender equality, freedom of speech, democracy, and poverty reduction. The people of Afghanistan have shown their commitment to these principles many times, in particular, with the election of a new Parliament composed of 25 per cent women.
The progress made by the Afghan people, with the support of the international community, is impressive, and Canada has been a key partner working to achieve these results.
Canada is helping to change, in a concrete and sustainable manner, the status of women in Afghanistan. Canadians remember that Taliban law did not allow women to meet together in public or to go to school. Today, thanks to CIDA's support, the organization Rights and Democracy has been able to open several women's centres throughout Afghanistan.
These centres help women by providing basic services such as literacy training, health care, legal aid and shelters. They also work to inform women about their basic rights.
Under the Taliban regime, women could not support their families, and they were denied access to the labour market. Today, thanks to Canada's contribution, more than 10,000 widows have received food aid and many have received training to help them find a job and support their families. The current government recently allocated $7 million for these projects.
Canada is also helping to improve security in Afghanistan. Each month, landmines in Afghanistan injure and kill over 100 people. They impede access to farmland, and impede repairs to roads and schools. Canada is a leader in landmine destruction, and this work is vital to the security of all those in Afghanistan. The ammunition and landmines destroyed thanks to Canadian-funded projects are the same ones used to attack civilians and military personnel, including Canadians, working to rebuild Afghanistan.
As well, through CIDA, Canada has played a key role in Afghanistan's disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process. Under the New Beginning Program, more than 63,000 former soldiers have laid down their arms. As well, more than 10,000 pieces of heavy artillery have been surrendered.
Thanks to Canadian assistance, these former soldiers have been able to return to their families and lead active lives in their community again. Some have chosen to start up small businesses. Others work to eliminate landmines in Afghanistan. Others devote themselves to teaching, so that the children of Afghanistan can enjoy a better future.
Finally, Canada is helping to ensure sustainable development. To this end, we are helping to develop entrepreneurship and agriculture. Canada is the largest donor to the microcredit program in Afghanistan. This program has already benefited 157,000 clients, of which the majority (78 per cent) are women. The same women who, a few years ago, scarcely had the right to go outside their own homes are now starting up small retail businesses, grocery stores, or small shops. Recipients are able to obtain and, above all, repay loans. This enables them to regain their dignity and build their self-confidence.
CIDA also supports the National Solidarity Program. Through this program, elected village councils, made up of both women and men, make their own decisions about infrastructures to build in their community. Schools, roads, and wells have thus been built where people needed them.
Canada will continue to offer support to national public programs and partnership initiatives with a proven record. We will continue to play a leadership role in supporting the democratic processes and will build on key contributions with respect to security, rule of law, human development and the advancement of women's socio-economic status, including basic education.
Having started on the road to establishing democracy, protecting human rights, and reducing poverty, Afghanistan is writing a decisive chapter in its history. Although they have made progress, the people of Afghanistan still need our support.
In helping Afghanistan to become stable, democratic, self-governing, and based on a legal economy, Canada is helping to ensure that Afghanistan will never again be a safe haven for terrorists and to create favourable conditions for sustainable development.
Canadians have good reasons to be proud of all our achievements. I am eager to hear your observations and recommendations related to Canadian assistance in Afghanistan.
Senator Campbell: Thank you for coming here today. One of the things that the committee is interested in is the commitment to the 3D strategy. In going over the documentation, it would appear we have spent a lot of money in Afghanistan, yet when we look at CIDA's information, there does not seem to be a whole lot of it on where and how the money is being spent. Could you give us some idea of how it is being spent, especially in areas where we seem to have a large interest, such as Kandahar.
Ms. Verner: CIDA is currently preparing its budget allocation for Afghanistan for this year. The following investment scenario is being discussed for the allocation of $90 million in current year national programs, not including those which are Kandahar-specific: for national rural development programs, 15 million; for the repayment of the Afghan government's operational costs via a special World Bank trust fund, up to 15 million; on security, i.e. mine clearance, and ammunition disposal, up to 10 million; rule of law and governance, up to 12 million; microcredit, which benefits women especially, up to 12 million; alternative means of subsistence and skills training for women, programs implemented by Canadian partners, five million; the basic education initiative for girls, three million; other allocations, 18 million.
CIDA has to be in a position to quickly respond to any new initiative proposed by the Afghan government or by Canadian and international partners. That is why some amounts have yet to be allocated.
Perhaps I can add, with respect to Kandahar, that CIDA would initially be spending $6 million on programming for projects under the provincial reconstruction team or PRT — the program to build confidence in government is part of the Canadian provincial reconstruction team's work in Kandahar.
Actually, I should add that CIDA's contribution in Kandahar amounts to approximately 10 per cent of the global budget.
Senator Campbell: Can you explain the $15 million to the World Bank? You said $90 million was the total; what is the $15 million?
Ms. Verner: For the World Bank? Part of the $15 million is earmarked for micro credit, and as far as the other part is concerned perhaps my colleague could...
Hau Sing Tse, Vice-President, Asia Branch, Canadian International Development Agency: National Solidarity Program. These are programs to support the rural livelihoods. They are designed and implemented by the Afghanistan government in conjunction with the World Bank.
Senator Campbell: This money goes to the World Bank, and they join up with the Afghani government to decide where it goes. Is this amount over and above the $10 million for micro financing?
Mr. Tse: Right.
Senator Campbell: With respect to the 3D strategy, when the military goes in and does its actions within the rural setting, it would seem important that immediately after that, once things have calmed down, CIDA would go in showing that we are here, not just as military but also as builders. Is that how it happens?
It is fine for your officials to answer.
Ms. Verner: To start I should say that given the fragility of the state, no development work can be done in Afghanistan without the security afforded by our troops over there.
Phillip Baker, Director General, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka Division, Canadian International Development Agency: As well, you have the notion that sequential support is possible, whereby the military would be there first and CIDA would follow. You also have simultaneous support, and that is how we approach Kandahar, whereby there is simultaneous activity between the military, the Department of Foreign Affairs through diplomacy and CIDA through development. It all depends largely on the security situation in a given context within a certain area in Afghanistan.
Senator Campbell: CIDA has no difficulties working with the military, perhaps not on an ongoing basis; is that what you are saying?
Mr. Baker: Yes. Again, this is context specific. For instance, in Kandahar it is the military that provides CIDA the access required in such an insecure area to be able to conduct development programming. This approach was chosen by cabinet and by Canada, and it is proving effective.
Mr. Tse: I might add that the primary reason to have a PRT is to connect the central government to the regions. Having stability in and of itself would not be sufficient; people would need to see that their lives are getting better. Therefore, the argument is not sequential but more simultaneous. As security and stability evolve, you have development also taking place.
Senator Campbell: That is good news. There was some suggestion that if CIDA worked with the military, they would be seen as part of the military operation rather than part of a civilian operation that is helping to build the country, not bring it under control.
You have given us the specific CIDA programs. Can you explain the structure of the CIDA organization in Afghanistan?
Mr. Baker: We have the combination of a team based at headquarters and also people based in the field. At headquarters, there is a group of project managers and analysts, as well as managers in general. In the field, we are structured such that in Kabul we have a head of aid — which is typical for all CIDA countries — who oversees the implementation of the program operationally. Under that head of aid, there are two other Canadian CIDA officers with four local staff. That is our team in Kabul, which of course works in close collaboration with Canada's Ambassador to Afghanistan.
We also have an individual called a development adviser working with Brigadier-General Fraser at the Kandahar airfield. That individual works to advise the military on the sound development aspects of their military approaches and also to liaise with other development advisers in the region. Finally, we have a development director based right within the PRT. There are two local staff along with that director. In the next couple of months, two officers will augment CIDA's presence within the PRT.
Senator Campbell: How would CIDA come to a village to determine what they could do or how they could help? Do you fit in with the military group and speak to the elders or the leaders of the village? How do you find out where you can best use your resources and your knowledge?
Mr. Tse: The most important thing for CIDA officials is that they play a facilitating role. CIDA has to consult with the elders and communities, identify the initiatives, listen to their priorities, earn the support, and consult with the women to take their views into consideration as they move forward to identify those activities. That is why it is a facilitator role.
Ms. Verner: By getting the entire community involved, the entire village, and in order to be sure to meet the needs of villages, that is how we can convince people to believe in a democratic process, in the government's national programs.
Senator Campbell: My question was, and I think it was answered, that they go in with the military, meet with the leaders and then make decisions. They are actually on the ground when the military comes in.
Mr. Baker: The best approach appears to be when Afghans facilitate and gather the information from Afghan locals. That is how we designed our programming in the PRT. The program works best when the Afghans themselves bring back that information, share it with the villages and engage with the villagers. They work with CIDA, the government and elected officials locally to define the best approach to meeting that village's priorities.
Senator Campbell: I can understand that. Would CIDA in Kandahar take that information to the head in Kabul to make a decision?
Mr. Baker: There are two ways decisions can be made: The commander of the PRT camp can work closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the RCMP and CIDA to make decisions at an operational level, or decisions on a policy level can come back through headquarters. The role of Kabul, through the ambassador and our CIDA staff there, is largely for liaising with national programs, making sure that what is done in Kandahar links up with what is being done nationally.
The Chairman: It is our understanding that there were no CIDA officers in Kandahar for the first four months of this year; is that correct?
Mr. Baker: A CIDA officer has been present. The development director began in late August of 2005, was present all through the fall and was out on leave for a short duration through the period of the middle of the winter, but has been back ever since.
The Chairman: Where did the four months come from? Is that just a false rumour? We were told there was no one there in January, February and March.
Mr. Baker: From about mid-January, for about six weeks, our development director was back in Ottawa on consultations; that was the duration of the absence.
The Chairman: We understand it was for safety reasons; is that correct?
Mr. Baker: It was not for safety reasons so much as evaluations of the situation. It was best to have the person directly involved consult with us in Ottawa.
The Chairman: We have had extraordinary difficulty getting details of funding going into Kandahar. We are able to get nationwide figures, but we have difficulty getting figures for the province itself. Is there some reason for that? We have made a number of requests and have thus far been unsuccessful.
Ms. Verner: As I mentioned earlier, CIDA will be spending $6 million on programming for projects carried out by the provincial reconstruction team. There will be the program to build confidence in government which is part of the Canadian provincial reconstruction team's work in Kandahar. That is what we were referring to earlier on; we consult with the community as a whole in order to make sure that the community itself is deciding on the projects it wants to go ahead with.
The Chairman: Would it be possible to provide the committee with a list of projects that we fund in Kandahar together with the dollar figures associated with them, together with the timing of those projects?
Ms. Verner: Yes, all right.
The Chairman: Our concern is that there not be a lag when Canadian troops arrive and the perception amongst the indigenous people that life is starting to improve. We are very concerned that the figures we have been able to obtain thus far have been country-wide. Our understanding is that most of the Canadian funding in fact goes through programs that fund the entire country rather than the province of Kandahar. Am I correct about the lack of lag, and am I correct about the fact that the funding is not specific to Kandahar but goes to the whole country?
Ms. Verner: Ninety million dollars are allocated to national programs, 10 per cent of which are for Kandahar. Perhaps you had something to add?
Mr. Baker: In addition, please keep in mind that the national programs do reach Kandahar, so by Canada and CIDA supporting national programs we are also supporting Kandahar. Canada and CIDA have also launched several other initiatives that are Kandahar-focused and are now underway. It does take careful planning to effectively launch these projects. The confidence-in-government program and our alternative livelihoods activities are based solely on Kandahar as a pilot for the rest of the country and are well underway and will be disbursing very shortly.
The Chairman: When you are providing the information on the project, the timing and the funding of them, would it be possible to provide the committee with your indicators of success? How do you measure whether a program is working, whether you are getting the results that you would like to get and whether Canadian taxpayers are getting value for the money expended?
As a result of the agreement between the international community and the Afghan government, performance criteria were established. There are 40 criteria. Projects are assessed based on the given criteria.
Mr. Tse: I would supplement that response by stating that once we establish a base like the one in Kandahar and achieve results, we are then able to scale up. We have been working diligently since August of last year and engaging the locals in that area, but networking and getting to know the elders and provincial officials takes time.
Now is the time when we begin our program activities, and as we subsequently achieve results, we will do more in different districts.
The Chairman: Could you give the committee examples of what measurements you would have? Take any project you like and give us examples of what metrics you would consider to be an indication of success.
Mr. Baker: We would consider a number of factors: proper design and implementation of the project according to specific timelines; different community mobilizers to measure whether you have kept to those timelines; how much of the project is finished by a certain time. In addition, independent groups, such as government departments, would come out to verify that each step has been completed according to plan. If hold-ups occur, they would identify why. There would be GPS tracking and budgetary accountability verification to ensure that the right amount is being spent as promised and committed to on the project. On top of that, the community would police itself.
At our conference on government work, local village leaders went on record to say that the projects would help in their villages and that they would work hard to ensure that they happen on time and on budget.
The Chairman: If 90 per cent of your funding is national, are the statistics broken down in such a way that you can measure them for Kandahar province?
Ms. Verner: I would like to add that we also deal with organizations such as the World Bank, for instance, which has very strict accountability requirements. These organizations which are our partners have very specific criteria in place to measure effectiveness.
The Chairman: I repeat my question: Where you have 90 per cent of your funding going to national programs, are the specifics sufficient such that you can measure the impact of those programs on Kandahar province?
Mr. Tse: As we collect more resourced information with the World Bank and the donor community about the national program, we should be able to track how much of the national program will go to Kandahar.
The Chairman: Will you be able to track the results as well?
Mr. Baker: I can answer that question by giving an example. For the National Solidarity Program, one of the most successful national programs across Afghanistan, they keep rigorous numbers in terms of the specific priority projects created in each village. For instance, they track how many schools have been built across Afghanistan; how many were built by quick-impact military projects of the United States or someone else versus that national program; and the costs so that they can compare the different means of constructing projects like a school done through the National Solidarity Program versus another method. The results, including Kandahar province, are tracked.
The Chairman: Mr. Baker, is this a hypothetical answer or do you have some of those figures today?
Mr. Baker: For example, 3,000 schools have been constructed over the last few years across Afghanistan. Of those, 700 were constructed by the national Solidarity Program and roughly 20 were done in Kandahar province.
The Chairman: We have been making inquiries of CIDA for a number of weeks to provide this kind of information so as to make this a more productive meeting. Thus far, we have been unable to obtain this information. Perhaps we are asking at the wrong place and you would be good enough to tell us where we should make our inquiries, or perhaps this is new information in the last week or so?
Mr. Baker: I just returned from a visit to Kandahar and Kabul where I met with several government ministers in the cabinet of the Government of Afghanistan. The numbers I just gave you are hot off the press, so to speak. I could be working with our colleagues in the cabinet in Afghanistan to track down more of those statistics, specifically along the lines that you are looking for.
Mr. Tse: There is also a donor committee associated with the Afghan government that monitors the implementation of their Afghan national development strategy. In that process, there will be enough of a critical mass for us to track more precisely, over time, the results achieved by the different programs.
The Chairman: Do you anticipate making this information available to committees such as ours or to Canadians on an ongoing basis? If so, how regularly will such information be made public? Will it be made public monthly or quarterly?
Ms. Verner: I cannot tell you how often, but given the significance of this mission, it is to our advantage to communicate any results we get over there. How often could we provide the committee with figures?
Mr. Tse: At this point in time, we rely on the World Bank and the UN agencies to give the general picture. As this committee that I mentioned earlier becomes more regular in their tracking, monitoring and reporting, the frequency will be known more easily as a result. At a minimum, I would say that it should be done annually. The question is whether, throughout the year, some of the benchmarks and points will be —
The Chairman: I can tell you, sir, that a minimum one year is absolutely not satisfactory. We will be looking for far greater frequency than that. Our concern is that if aid does not follow quickly after the troops arrive, then the troops will be seen as occupiers. However, if aid follows quickly after the troops, then people will associate a better standard of life with the Canadians there. We think it will have an impact on the safety of the troops if, in fact, life is improving in Kandahar with these programs.
Minister, could you make a commitment to more frequent reporting than once a year?
Ms. Verner: Yes, I can undertake to do that.
Senator Moore: Mr. Baker, you said there were 3,000 schools built in Afghanistan. During what period of time did that occur?
Mr. Baker: It has been since 9/11.
Senator Moore: What was your second figure?
Mr. Baker: There were 700 schools built by the National Solidarity Program.
Senator Moore: Canada participates in that program.
Mr. Baker: That is one of the national programs that Canada supports strongly. Such a national approach puts an Afghan face and ownership on the initiatives.
Senator Moore: I believe you said that 20 of those schools built by the NSP are in Kandahar proper.
Mr. Baker: That is correct.
Senator Moore: How much money did Canada contribute? Did we pay for those 20 schools in Kandahar? Did we pay for a portion of the 700 schools? Has that been tracked?
Mr. Baker: Our monies go centrally to the national programs. On a pro-rated basis, the Government of Afghanistan, working closely with either the United Nations organizations or the World Bank, administer the distribution of those funds according to priorities. For the National Solidarity Program, for example, there is a rough guideline of $50,000 U.S. per village. That has been the target for the NSP across Afghanistan. To date, approximately 12,000 villages have been reached through the program.
Senator Atkins: Thank you, minister, for appearing this afternoon. Have you been to Afghanistan?
Ms. Verner: Not yet.
Senator Atkins: Have your two colleagues been to Afghanistan?
Mr. Tse: Yes.
Mr. Baker: Yes.
Senator Atkins: Who administers the distribution of funds at the village level?
Ms. Verner: It is the NGOs.
Senator Atkins: Someone must be in charge to make decisions on the disbursements?
Mr. Baker: That would be the village shura — the village elders working to identify village priorities.
Senator Atkins: Do you have any record of the success of the use of those funds?
Mr. Baker: Yes, there has been a solid success rate on the national programs in terms of the use of the funds and the lack of diversion of the funds. That has been verified by Price Waterhouse Coopers, which is acting as accountant for the World Bank through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, who handles the National Solidarity Program and MISFA, the Microfinance and Investment Support Facility Afghanistan.
Senator Atkins: What is it that you look for in terms of success in these villages? You have mentioned schools, but what other projects are on top of your list?
Ms. Verner: There are alternative farming projects which give farmers options other than opium poppy production so that they do not have to resort to drugs and also to meet their needs. These types of projects exist. Approximately 157,000 people, 78 per cent of which were women, received micro credit. Women in villages started up small businesses and workshops. In one village, we were told that a woman had bought a sewing machine and helped four other women do the same, and they now have a sewing operation in the village. These are very concrete examples of projects which help villages find a way out and which stimulate the economy of the village.
Senator Atkins: You mentioned poppies. What kind of agricultural replacement?
Ms. Verner: Grains, specifically corn, wheat, vegetables. Obviously, when an entire village decides to start up an irrigation project, it is good for all of those who want to farm the land.
Senator Atkins: There are many land mines there. Do you encourage any programs with regard to discovering the location of land mines?
Ms. Verner: Yes, we do have a program for that. It is obviously very important for the Afghan people, in this phase of reconstruction, to address this problem. We have a four-year, $30 million mine-clearance project underway, for the period from 2002 to 2006.
Senator Atkins: Are you working with both the local military and our own forces over there?
Ms. Verner: With the United Nations.
Senator Atkins: What is CIDA doing to enhance democratization? Do you have a program that reaches from the top down to the villages?
Ms. Verner: Yes, we do indeed have information and awareness-raising campaigns in place. The government was also involved in the most recent elections. The Afghan Parliament is composed of over 25 per cent women, almost 27 per cent. Parliamentarians were all democratically elected, including the President. We also provide information on how Parliament works.
Senator Atkins: Are you involved in any program related to sustainable development? Flora MacDonald, a Canadian icon, has been working in Afghanistan. Would your organization encourage her in her travels to Afghanistan?
Mr. Tse: Yes, I have had many meetings and pleasurable moments with Ms. MacDonald over the past number of years talking about Afghanistan. She is very knowledgeable about sustainable development. We are involved in some areas of the agriculture sector, but at this point in time much of our focus and international efforts have to do with the livelihood issue, the real subsistence level of engagement. Obviously, even with this kind of community development work, we take the environmental aspects into consideration.
Senator Atkins: What is CIDA's view of the effectiveness of the provincial reconstruction team concept? Is it a good program or do you have reservations? How do you feel about it?
Ms. Verner: It is a wonderful concept integrating different points of view on the work which we aim to do in Afghanistan and the staff member we have in the reconstruction team is currently working on building relationships with the people. For us, it is important to build trust, and show people that democracy works. I have also been told that Afghan people appreciate our involvement over there, obviously.
Mr. Tse: For a country like Afghanistan, the primary reason for wanting to have a PRT is to get the centre connected to the provinces and the local districts. You need the stability and the development to happen there so that they can see the benefit of a stable government, have no war and so on. In the absence of not having blanket NATO military support all over the country, this is a very good solution. As we speak, there are about 22 PRTs, and more will be coming in the months ahead.
Mr. Baker: I might add one final factor. We have met with representatives of the United Kingdom and with the Dutch to study their approaches to development within their PRTs in Helmand province and Uruzgan. Both the Dutch and the British are very intrigued by Canada's confidence-in-government program within our PRT. The American Ambassador to Kabul has just announced the Canadian-led initiative in our PRT to be the most innovative development approach for a PRT. We believe we are on the right track on that front.
Senator Atkins: Two of your colleagues have been over there, but you did not tell us how many are there at the moment from CIDA.
Ms. Verner: We have three permanent staff in Kabul and four at the local level. We have two in Kandahar.
Senator Atkins: Are they stationed there permanently?
Mr. Tse: Yes.
Senator Atkins: Do these individuals require any special training?
Ms. Verner: We make sure that the staff we have over there have the necessary training to work in the most difficult of conditions.
Senator Atkins: Would they have language training?
Mr. Baker: The focus is training for hostile environments to ensure that they understand the risks they are entering into and they understand the right protocols and responses within those risks. We also train jointly with the Department of National Defence, Canadian Forces personnel who will also be deploying to Kandahar, as well as with colleagues from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the RCMP, the notion being that you are building a team dynamic and an understanding of each other's missions as 3D even before you arrive in theatre in Kandahar.
Senator Atkins: You explained to my colleague the process of the distribution of finances. Could you take us through that once again, how it originates and how it gets down to the local level?
Ms. Verner: We have said that we will provide $100 million per year overall, $90 million for national programs covering the entire territory, including Kandahar. Moreover, 10 per cent of the budget goes to Kandahar. That gives you the overall picture of our financial support to Afghanistan. Perhaps my colleague can give you more specifics.
Senator Atkins: I understand the top end.
Mr. Baker: You want to take it to the bottom end.
Senator Atkins: Right.
Mr. Baker: Understanding that top end is key because the whole notion is that these programs are owned and designed by Afghanistan. That is the beauty of them in terms of their sustainability. As you move down through, government departments are responsible for various sector portfolios, just as in Canada. For example, rural reconstruction is responsible for implementing the National Solidarity Program. They, through their national and provincial directors, would work to reach out to the villages to identify the priorities for each village. That information is then rolled up by the districts and then by the provinces and is fed back to the national level. It is all at the hands of the bureaucracies of the actual ministries of the Government of Afghanistan.
Senator Atkins: The NGOs at the local level make a proposal to whom?
Mr. Baker: The village shura would determine which projects they want to go ahead with, confirm that with the implementer of the program — for instance, rural reconstruction is one ministry — and then locally selected NGOs would bid on doing that work and act as the contractor to implement it.
Senator Atkins: Who supervises to ensure that this money is being used for that purpose?
Mr. Baker: Both ARTF, the World Bank, for example, for the national programs under its bailiwick, plus the ministry involved in governing that activity right out to the village level, for example, the ministry of rural reconstruction and development.
Senator Atkins: Does the World Bank have a crew in Afghanistan?
Mr. Baker: The World Bank works with independent verification and accounting such as Price Waterhouse Coopers.
Mr. Tse: We look at it from an accountability perspective and the capacity to discharge funds related to the national programs. The World Bank has the capacity and the infrastructure; in particular, they have the means to engage a lot of Middle Eastern accounting firms to put in place the infrastructure for monitoring, for vetting the receipts and all these issues in Afghanistan. Over time, as these national programs go to the next phase, we will be able to look at other institutional capacity and government initiatives as well.
Senator Norman K. Atkins (Acting Chairman) in the chair.
The Acting Chairman: I have now assumed the job of acting chair, so I will call on Senator Johnson.
Senator Johnson: It is nice to see you today, minister. You have certainly covered a lot of ground. I would like to commend CIDA on the work it is doing.
What kind of training are CIDA personnel given before they go to Afghanistan? Is there anything? Do you send people from the different areas that we are involved with and committed to? How are they trained?
Ms. Verner: In terms of the general training people receive, as Mr. Baker said, we train them to work in difficult conditions, to anticipate possible reactions. Perhaps Mr. Baker can give you additional information as to specific training for employees. We do however make sure that staff have proper training before we send them over there.
Mr. Baker: Our effectiveness begins with the actual recruitment process when we bring our employees from CIDA to work on the Afghan program. We have a hostile environment that is very pertinent for Kandahar and somewhat pertinent for Kabul.
The actual development background of these experts is important. We draw in people with seasoned experience, often from South Asia itself, who have worked with our Pakistan or Bangladesh program. They are seasoned development experts. We bring them in at various levels of our program so that we have a nice mix of people learning the ropes, supporting us at headquarters. They work with extremely seasoned people such as our head of aid and our staff in the field in Kabul, who have been in many development situations before. By virtue of their development training, academic background and experience, they are completely well versed on taking on these challenges.
Mr. Tse: In addition, our colleagues at DND have programs for their civilian staff that deal with working in high security and high risk environments. We piggyback on those programs. Our British colleagues also give them training because they are working in the same high risk environment. The military has different modules. When the time is right, we send our young officers there as well.
Senator Johnson: How many women would be involved in this work?
Mr. Baker: They are majority at the moment. Currently, our head of aid is female, her two officers are female, and our Kandahar airfield development adviser is female. I would say that roughly half of my team at headquarters are female.
Senator Campbell: It is working.
Mr. Baker: They are the smartest members of the team.
Senator Johnson: Thank you for saying that; therefore, the work in the women's centres would be going very well.
I did not realize that there were almost 29 million people in Afghanistan. The average age is about 17 and the average person dies at about age 42; is that correct?
Mr. Baker: About 44.
Senator Johnson: Women have a very high rate of death during pregnancy as well. That is still the case, is it not?
Mr. Baker: Yes.
Senator Johnson: Are the CIDA programs working in the women's centres? I know we are putting a lot of time into these programs. Given that women run the homes and raise the children and the families of the future, I think that is where a lot of the focus should be in rebuilding a country such as Afghanistan. I would appreciate it if you could elaborate on anything in that regard.
I also know that there is work being done with legal aid, with women's rights, with safe houses and with widows. There must be a tremendous number of widows in the country, as well as medical services.
Are the girls getting back into school in a meaningful way? Could you give me more information or have you covered most of it?
With pleasure. To build on what you have just said, apparently one out of five Afghan women die from pregnancy- related complications. I think we would all agree that women's living conditions need to be improved over there.
We have a micro-financing program in Afghanistan. First of all, I think we have to start by informing women of their rights. There is an organization, called Rights and Democracy, which does that type of work. Women tell other women, they tell their daughters; they send their daughters to school, and that is how, over time, women will be able to fully participate in Afghanistan. We have a 52-million-dollar micro-financing program underway in Afghanistan, as we said earlier on; and 157,000 clients have used it, 78 per cent of which were women. That is extremely important data.
You are right, life expectancy for women in Afghanistan is 44 years. Clearly, education needs to be provided with respect to basic care.
We should also reiterate that over four million children are registered in schools, a third of which are girls. These girls receive information regarding their rights. There is also the Women's Rights Promotion Fund which received a 1.75-million-dollar CIDA contribution. The Human Rights and Development Centre advocates for women's rights through this promotional fund.
CIDA contributes $2.8 million to support the media. Through this project, women were trained in the field of communication and media in rural regions where most families have access to the radio.
The $90 million we were referring to earlier on also include a basic education initiative for girls in the order of three million dollars. A lot of work is being done as we speak, and we are expecting results. This will be a long process, but we do not have the right to abandon Afghan women. I would like to remind you that over 25 per cent of parliamentarians are women.
Senator Johnson: That is more than we have, which is great. I am encouraged with that, because sitting here, we never know exactly how these programs are working. The more Canadians learn about this, the better, because we are supporting this effort over there with all our hearts for the betterment of the people and the democratization of this country.
In terms of security, I am very pleased to see the initiatives on the anti-personnel mines. This is very important. Are there fewer injuries and fewer children being maimed by these land mines now? Are we having some success? I would hope we would be. I would imagine that if we are educating them, that would help them understand as well. Is there progress on that front?
Ms. Verner: I would also like to add that there is a 10-million-dollar mine clearance and ammunition destruction program.
Senator Johnson: I was reading about the demobilization of 63,000 veterans. The average person would have been through approximately 25 years of war. How is the progress with regard to re-entry into civilian life? Do you have any information?
Ms. Verner: There are various information programs designed for veterans. There are now 63,000 of them and some of them have turned to agriculture, others work at a commercial level within the village, and others hold other positions. Perhaps Mr. Baker has additional information on that.
Mr. Baker: Canada has worked extremely closely with Japan as the lead supporting countries working with the Government of Afghanistan. There is a program called Afghan New Beginnings, and the focus is toward disarmament and demobilization, but, most importantly, reintegration at the community level, back into the communities themselves. You have to prepare both the communities to receive these individuals and you have to prepare the individuals to go back.
In addition, we have a program called DIAG, or Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups. You have the last combatants but also these illegally-armed militias roaming the country. This is a follow-up program to reintegrate these individuals and to encourage disarmament, as well. Canada is a key player in that program.
Senator Johnson: That is very good to hear.
In terms of the drug trade, is our initiative to encourage people to get into other agricultural efforts bearing fruit? As beautiful as poppies are, are Afghanis still growing poppies or are they doing more mixed farming now, if I may put it that way? Is there movement on that front? I am very interested in what is really happening at the grassroots level with the people of this country.
Ms. Verner: The drug trade in Afghanistan represents a serious threat and a challenge. However, we recently announced that we would invest $27 million to provide Afghans and residents of Kandahar province with means of subsistence other than the illegal cultivation of poppies.
The 27-million-dollar amount is distributed in the following way: there is a contribution to the special fund for the fight against narcotics, an alternative means of subsistence program in Kandahar. This is an 18.5-million-dollar project over three to five years. There is also a seven-million-dollar community renewal and alternative means of subsistence project over a three-year period.
As I mentioned earlier, Afghans have alternative crops. We talked about wheat and vegetables, and these alternatives aim to show them the benefits of healthy agricultural production.
Senator Johnson: Is the rural infrastructure being strengthened by this in terms of developing access to markets for their crops? That would all tie in together, I assume.
Mr. Tse: Yes, it helps. History tells us that, based on the experience in Colombia and Northern Thailand, you need interdiction, criminal justice reform, demand reduction and alternative livelihoods. All of these elements must happen at the same time and over a 15- to 25-year period of time in order to achieve success. In this regard, we have been working on alternative livelihoods.
Senator Johnson: My last question concerns the microcredit program. I am unsure as to how it works. Could you explain the benefits of that program to their clients? Is it a savings and credit service for starting businesses?
Ms. Verner: Yes, these sources of financing are available. If I am not mistaken, the bulk of the financing comes from the World Bank, and it helps the Afghans set up small businesses.
Earlier, I gave the example of an Afghan woman who purchased a sewing machine and who convinced three or four others to do the same. Together, they set up a small dressmaking shop in their village. The data that is currently available confirms that 99 per cent of the loans are reimbursed by the Afghans, because for them it is a question of pride.
Senator Johnson: The pride, of course, would be created through the National Solidarity Program with regard to construction, would it not, as they have a say in how their communities are developed? Are these all in place and working now?
Ms. Verner: It is already in place and it is working well. By involving the whole community, including seniors and women, in the decisions regarding infrastructure projects in their village, we get better results. For example, an Afghan village that chooses to build a school will most certainly protect it from any kind of damage.
Senator Johnson: It would be interesting to go over there and see that at some time. Thank you so much for your answers.
Senator Moore: In March 2006, a further $40 million was allocated by CIDA to Afghanistan. I understand that this brought the total to $656.5 million between 2001 and 2009 and maintained their funding level at $100 million for the fiscal year that we are now in. Is that money new or is that a continuation of the financial commitment of the previous government?
Ms. Verner: It is a reallocation within our budget. We have committed to an amount of $100 million per year for 2006-2007, but also until 2011. Bear in mind that what had been allocated in recent years represented a decrease, in other words $100 million; this year should have been roughly $60 million, with $50 million for the following year, and finally $40 million.
The additional amounts invested and announced are designed to make up the difference to bring the amount to $100 million per year until 2011.
Senator Moore: Are those sums to top it up to $100 million per year new monies or are they a reallocation?
Ms. Verner: It is a reallocation within our —
Mr. Tse: Some of it is from our regular growth, the 8 per cent growth, and some of it is from our internal allocation.
Senator Moore: It is a not a commitment of new money; it is a reworking of your own funds.
Mr. Tse: It is new money in the sense that it is a growth of the 8 per cent year over year.
Senator Moore: I was a bit confused. At one time, minister, you said, or someone did, that Kandahar gets $6 million per year to use with the PRTs, and someone said that 10 per cent per year goes to Kandahar. Is it correct that the total amount to the country per year is $100 million and that Kandahar gets 10 per cent? Is it 10 per cent? Is it $10 million? I heard the figure $6 million at one time.
Mr. Baker: We have to keep in mind that to date we have been using the figures. Remember that the PRT has just been launched. To date, roughly 90 per cent of the CIDA programming, of the $100 million, has gone toward national programs. Disbursements through the PRT are just commencing, but it is anticipated that $6 million will be disbursed this fiscal year. However, to date, roughly $90 million has been disbursed for national programs and approximately $10 million has been disbursed through other means.
Senator Moore: Does that $10 million include the $6 million?
Mr. Baker: The $10 million does not include the $6 million. The $6 million has not been done before because the PRT is new. Going forward, you will see roughly $6 million spent this fiscal year for the PRT, plus, as the minister mentioned, there is the alternative livelihoods program, focused solely on Kandahar, which amounts to $18.5 million over three years. You will see over the years roughly in the neighbourhood of $8 million to $10 million per year on the PRT during its duration.
Senator Moore: Practically speaking, if 90 per cent of the CIDA funding is flowing into national programs, how does the ordinary Afghan citizen know that some of the funding that he or she is receiving the benefit of is coming from Canada and from Canadians?
Mr. Baker: First and foremost, we mentioned that the national programs are owned and managed by Afghans themselves. The most important aspect for the local Afghans is to know that there is central government and there are benefits of democracy reaching out to their village.
On top of that, you have a combination of factors. You have President Karzai himself and his cabinet giving kudos to Canada for its leadership on issues such as microfinancing and demining. The cabinet members themselves come out and work with their directors in Kandahar — in the area of rural development, for instance — and they, too, are promoting the notion that Canada is taking a different approach Canada is taking.
The conference-in-government initiative is a brand new approach that we think is innovative and much better than other approaches taken in the past. You will constantly see kudos passed to Canada, even from the U.S. ambassador in Kabul. That continues at all levels right down to the village. When we visit them, they work with our CIDA officers. What they like about Canada is the fact that we give them the say, we follow their priorities, and we work with them to put an Afghan face on the programs. They, therefore, have ownership of their programming, which has paid off in spades throughout our work across Afghanistan.
Senator Moore: The officials know that it is Canadian money, as do the President, cabinet or the members of the village council, but what about the citizens? Do they know? If so, how do they know? How are they informed?
Mr. Tse: You just touched on one chord of the 3D rationales. We have Canadian troops who are helping to stabilize the southern part of the country; we have development assistance of that magnitude funding the Afghan-owned programs. Those are the images and messages that we need to use to tell the story, not only in Canada but also in Afghanistan.
Senator Moore: I understand the need, but how do the rank and file citizens of Afghanistan, who are benefiting from this aid, know that the source is Canada?
What is a shura?
Mr. Baker: A shura is the name for a village council of tribal elders, which is not only a function of age. Villages are administered by these elders. When they meet, it is called a shura. They meet to discuss what priorities should be funded. When each elder comes to the shura, they bring with them information from their own consultations with the population of their village. When they go back to their villages, they share the message. This method of dispersing information is a unique cultural aspect of life in Afghanistan.
Senator Moore: When they go back, they report to the people in their community.
Mr. Baker: As Mr. Tse mentioned, when have you a 3D approach to diplomacy, the Department of National Defence and CIDA working in a concerted, coherent fashion, every time they are out in the villagers they are repeating the same message: ``Brought to you by Canada but with an Afghan face. We support your named priorities.''
Senator Moore: I want to touch on something Senator Johnson asked with regard to microfinancing. When a citizen gets a small loan and pays it back, is that money recycled through the community? You are nodding. Say something on the record, please. It is recycled.
Mr. Baker: There is a saving component in this program as well. The agencies giving out those loans are being institutionalized at the local level now so that they will be self-sustaining in the future.
The Acting Chairman: On behalf of the committee, I want to thank the minister and her colleagues for appearing before us today. Hopefully, you will come back in the future and report to us the achievements of CIDA. The information you have provided has been very useful.
The committee continued in camera.