STANDING COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL
DEFENCE AND VETERANS AFFAIRS
COMITÉ PERMANENT DE LA DÉFENSE
NATIONALE ET DES ANCIENS COMBATTANTS
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Thursday, November 1, 2001
The Chair (Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton,
Lib.)): I would like to call this meeting of the
Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans
Affairs to order.
We're pleased to have Dr. David Charters here. Dr.
Charters is from the University of New Brunswick's
Centre for Conflict Studies.
Before we get to you, Dr. Charters, we have had a
request from several members of the committee to deal
with a motion Mr. Benoit tabled with the committee
Mr. Benoit, do you want to address your motion?
Mr. Leon Benoit (Lakeland, Canadian Alliance): I
do, Mr. Chair, and I would hope everyone has a copy of
the motion. The motion is that the committee report to
the House that the government response to the
committee's unanimous report on defence procurement was
inadequate, and that the committee instruct the
government to prepare a second, complete response.
I think anyone who looked at the government response
to that motion would recognize that it took over a year
for the government to respond. Then, in areas in which
the committee had asked for further information, the
government response was that we already had enough
information. It is absolute nonsense for the
government to show that kind of lack of seriousness in
regard to an issue coming from this committee. They
should show more respect than that for this committee.
That was a slap in the face for this committee. In
several areas, that was the response—that we had
enough information and didn't need any more—in spite
of what the committee had asked for.
Particularly in light of the events of September 11,
of the seriousness of the issues that this committee is
dealing with, and of the importance of procurement
right now, I would hope I could get unanimous consent
to pass this motion, which would ask for another
response from the government, with it being a serious
response to the committee's report this time.
This was a unanimous report. It was supported by
every member of the committee. I doubt any of you
would argue that government should be responding that
we got all the information we needed, and that it
should not give us any more.
I would hope we have unanimous support for this
motion, Mr. Chair, so I move this motion.
The Chair: We have had a request for unanimous
Before we get to that, Mr. O'Reilly, you wanted to
Mr. John O'Reilly (Haliburton—Victoria—Brock,
Lib.): I certainly wouldn't grant unanimous consent.
I'll let you know that right away. But I would
entertain a revisit by the witnesses we have had here.
If we missed something in our list of witnesses,
perhaps the steering committee might recommend that we
rehear the ADM and anyone else, in view of the
response of the government.
The report was written before the events of September
11, and we have been taken on quite a different track since
then. Perhaps the steering committee could take a
further look at recalling some of the witnesses we had
in prior to September 11. We could revisit their
portfolios and expertise in light of those facts,
instead of asking the government to do something that
is really out of order.
So there is no unanimous consent, and I would ask that
you call the question.
The Chair: It sounds to me like you're
suggesting that we have in, as an example, the ADM
for matériel, Mr. Alan Williams. Is that your
Mr. John O'Reilly: I think it would be a start,
because it would take us to the top of the list of
witnesses we were looking for.
The Chair: Okay.
I don't want to prolong this discussion, because we do
have a witness here. Very quickly, though, we'll go to
Mr. Benoit and Ms. Beaumier.
Mr. Leon Benoit: Mr. Chair, I fully support having
this witness come back. That's great. But what I'm
looking for is some respect for this committee. It was
a unanimous report, but the government response says we
have all the information we need, even though we, as
a committee, have unanimously asked for more
information. It should be clear that we should ask the
government to respond respectfully to what this
committee has reported. I don't see how anyone could
possibly be against that.
I fully support what Mr. O'Reilly has said. We should
also ask for the ADM for matériel to come back. But the
fact is that the issues we're dealing with aren't just
being dealt with because of September 11. For eight
years, this military has been run down by this
government, Mr. Chair, and the time has come for us to
get some serious responses from the government.
The Chair: Mr. Benoit, we are dealing with the
issue of Mr. O'Reilly's suggestion at this point, in
Mr. Leon Benoit: Why are we dealing with that? I
have a motion on the floor, Mr. Chair.
The Chair: You were responding to his comments.
That's why I'm saying we were dealing with his
I'm going to hear Ms. Beaumier and Mr. Anders very
quickly. I don't want any repetition of points,
because we do want to hear from Dr. Charters as soon as
Ms. Colleen Beaumier (Brampton West—Mississauga,
Lib.): Mr. Benoit, when you make those kinds of
comments, you unfortunately lose a bit of support. We
all work very hard, and we all want to be treated
respectfully. You don't have the monopoly on that
Perhaps your motion is a little premature. If we have
the government officials back before us, perhaps that
would be a better time.
The Chair: Okay. Thank you, Ms. Beaumier.
Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Canadian Alliance): I
would just like to say that I was here when we put out
a report with regard to the living conditions for the
military. I'll let you know that I was pleasantly
surprised and shocked that this was one of the rarer
committees I'd ever served on in the House of Commons
that was actually willing to address issues in a way
that wasn't just going to shine the government's apple.
I respected the work of this committee on that issue,
and I know members of the Canadian Forces respected the
work of the committee on that issue. I've seen it when
I've gone to visit them on their ships and at their
places of work.
Likewise, if we want to maintain that type of rapport
with the troops in terms of showing that we actually do care, I
think this motion does make sense.
I realize many of you are part of a government and
that you will have the carrying say on this today when
we vote. But the last report of this committee
did get some real work done on it, and it had some real
response. That was because people serving in your
roles today were willing to take a stand and say
things that were sometimes uncomfortable, but they
nonetheless really got things changed for the forces. I
think that if you lay back and take what is an
unsatisfactory response from the minister in this case,
then we are not doing our forces the service they
The Chair: Okay.
We're going to call the vote on the motion at this
point. We've had a request for unanimous consent.
Obviously unanimous consent is not present, based on
Mr. O'Reilly's comments.
Mr. Leon Benoit: I'd like a recorded vote, Mr.
(Motion negatived: nays 8; yeas 5)
The Chair: Mr. Stoffer.
Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern
Shore, NDP): On a very quick point of order,
Mr. Chair, I'd maybe say a word to Dr. Charters to
apologize for the delay of twenty minutes before he was
able to make his presentation. Our committee normally
doesn't cause that type of delay for a witness, so this
is just a word to say it's not normal practice,
and to apologize for his inconvenience.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Stoffer. I have
already apologized to Dr. Charters twice for the
delays. We're anxious to hear him.
Dr. Charters, you have the floor.
Dr. David A. Charters (Director, Centre for
Conflict Studies, University of New Brunswick): Thank
you very much, Mr. Chair.
I have issued a prepared brief, which I believe has
been translated, but I would like to read it into the
record, if I may. I have entitled it “Terrorism in a
New Century: A Perspective in Light of the Attacks on
Terrorism is not a new phenomenon. It has been with us
in a variety of forms, conducted by a variety of
states, groups, and individuals, for at least two
millennia. But it is not a static form of political
violence. It is dynamic and evolving. Its users have
adapted it to the circumstances and resources of their
age. I submit in this brief that the events of
September 11 represent not just an adaptation, but the
cutting edge of a quantum breakthrough in terrorist
First, let me start by saying that I do not regard
terrorism as a pathology, like a disease. Rather, I
see it as a method of fighting, a form of warfare. It
is one of the preferred ways of warfare for the weak,
who don't have the means to fight the state on its own
terms. Rather than play to the strengths of the state,
especially its military power, terrorists use these
unconventional and asymmetric techniques to attack its
vulnerabilities. So, asking what causes terrorism is
to pose the wrong question. It is like asking what
causes knives. The more pertinent question today is,
in what ways do the attacks on September 11 demonstrate
a significant change in this form of warfare?
First, they use the tools of globalization—open
borders, international transportation, electronic
banking, the Internet—to attack the very heart of
globalization, America itself. This is the new wave of
warfare in the 21st century, “terrorism.com”. In
this case, they used America's greatest strengths
against it, and turned them into vulnerabilities.
In fact, they did more than that. They turned them
into weapons. Airliners and skyscrapers by
themselves are benign. Bring them together at speed,
guided by the world's most sophisticated computer—the
human brain—and driven by that most powerful source of
motivation—the human will—and you have a binary
weapon of mass destruction.
Secondly, the conventional wisdom thirty years ago was
that terrorists want a lot of people watching, not a
lot of people dead. The aim of terrorism was to
publicize a cause and to mobilize supporters for
it—the Palestinian issue, for example. Groups that
carried out attacks claimed responsibility for them in
very public ways—on radio, on TV, through communiqués,
and through spokespersons. Casualties and fatalities
generally were low. Hostages usually were released.
To do otherwise could alienate potential supporters,
delegitimize the cause, or provoke severe
counter-measures that might destroy the group.
Since the early 1980s, things have changed. Many
terrorist incidents have gone unclaimed. While the
reasons for this are not clear, I believe this
represents a change in motivation, from mobilization to
punishment. Some groups no longer feel the need to
publicize their cause and rally supporters. Instead,
their primary motive is to strike a major, damaging,
physical, and psychological blow against their enemies.
The result of this has been a much higher level of
casualties. In the 1980s and 1990s, many incidents
caused hundreds of deaths and sometimes thousands of
injuries, but the most recent attacks represent a
quantum leap in lethality that is right off the scale.
Now we have a lot of people watching and a lot of
These two changes—globalization of terrorism, and
mass casualties—mean a well-funded, well-organized
terrorist group can now do something that was not
possible for them before. They can create weapons with
the destructive power equal to the major weapons of a
state, use them to strike at the centres of
gravity—what the military calls a “decapitation
strike”—and thus inflict catastrophic human,
psychological, political, and economic damage on a
state, with major ripple effects on global security
and stability. It levels the playing field and puts
the most effective terrorist groups on a par with the
states that are their enemies.
If this is correct, then what happened on September 11
was not just a threshold event, but a breakthrough
event. It demonstrated the power of an exponentially
higher level of terrorist capability. I am concerned
that this has raised the bar, that it has set a new
standard by which all subsequent terrorist attacks will
be measured. If so, then all bets are off. There are
no limits. Anything is possible.
The only positive aspect of this prognosis is that the
number of groups and states that have the means, the
motive, and the opportunity to conduct such attacks, is
finite and relatively small. If the al-Qaeda network
was responsible for this attack, its track record
suggests that it may take some time before launching
another major attack. It does not have unlimited
resources, and the current heightened level of
security, investigations, and military operations
against its base area probably will make further
operations more difficult. But having been surprised
once, we should not lapse into complacency and assume
we cannot be surprised again. As the IRA remarked
after its attack on the British cabinet, “We only have
to be lucky once; you have to be lucky all the time.”
How, then, do we deal with this problem? Deal with it
we must, for it will not go away. If we ignore it, it
will strike us again and again. Are we indeed engaged
in a war on terrorism? If so, how much of that war is
It is true that the terrorists probably believe they
are at war with the United States and perhaps with
western civilization as a whole, but that does not
oblige us to respond in kind. Declaring war on
terrorism may be good public relations rhetoric, but it
carries some potentially unwelcome baggage. First, it
grants the terrorists, whoever they may be, greater
legitimacy than they deserve—status equal to the
soldiers of a state, rather than the criminal actors
they really are. Second, defining the struggle against
terrorism as a war may colour our expectations of what
can be achieved, how, and how soon.
westerners, war denotes military battles and quick,
decisive victories. But if this is a war, it probably
will not be like that.
Rather, it will be mostly a war of raids and
skirmishes, investigations, and arrests and trials. It
will be fought—indeed, it already is being
fought—largely in the shadows, by police, secret
services, special forces, and forensic accountants, in
many countries. It is likely to take years rather than
months. It may never be possible to declare a final
victory. The victory may be simply that the western
democracies endure, prevail, and survive.
Clearly, as the current campaign in Afghanistan shows,
there is a role for conventional military forces.
Naval forces provide a power projection capability, and
air forces can attack certain fixed and moving targets
when they present themselves. It is possible that if
evidence points to the direct involvement of a state in
addition to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, this
campaign could widen to include attacks on the military
forces, government, and infrastructure of that state.
Failing that, a clash of massed, mechanized armies
looks less likely than the current mix of limited
conventional and unconventional operations.
The problem is that the enemy does not present a
military target in the conventional sense. These
terrorists operate in small groups and networks, hidden
amongst many populations, using false identities,
secrecy, and security. Hiding in plain sight, they go
to great lengths not to draw attention to themselves,
nor do they appear to stay long in one place. We are
confronted with a nearly invisible moving target that
dwells among us. Attacking this target is not a job
for the armed forces, but for police, intelligence, and
security services. That certainly has implications for
the allocation of resources for Canadian
counter-terrorism programs, and for the role of the
Canadian Forces in those programs.
That completes my statement. Thank you.
The Chair: It's obvious that you put a great deal
of thought into that presentation, Dr. Charters. On
behalf of the members of this committee, I'd like to
thank you. We have a number of questioners who would
like to pursue some of your thoughts a little bit
Mr. Benoit, for seven minutes.
Mr. Leon Benoit: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for your presentation, Dr. Charters. I was
fortunate enough to attend a conference that you
co-sponsored in Fredericton a couple of weeks ago. I
must say it was a top-notch conference, and I encourage
you to keep up the good work. It's important to the
military to have the involvement of people who really support a strong
military, and to have them saying what they think we have to do
to improve the military.
Your presentation today on terrorism was fascinating,
and I do appreciate it very much. Several questions
come forth from the comments you've made here.
You're considered an expert on counter-guerrilla and
counter-terrorist operations and those types of things.
You have already said you expect this to be a long
war. Have you managed to narrow that down at all? How
long could we be talking about? Is it in terms of
three years, or in terms of twenty to thirty years?
Dr. David Charters: That's a tough question to
answer, but I'll be quite honest. I don't think I've
come up with any particular estimate. It is possible
the United States and its coalition partners could get
lucky. They might be able to break the will of the
Taliban and persuade them to hand over bin Laden. Or
perhaps by putting special forces in, they may be able
to locate that individual themselves.
Also, some progress clearly has been made in many
countries of the world in terms of rounding up some of
the networks. What we don't know is how many we have
missed. Are intact networks still out there that are
in fact capable of further operations? We don't know,
so we have this problem of this moving and somewhat
invisible target among us. These people tend to be
very patient. If the heat is on them now, they may not
be able to conduct operations for a while. They may
choose just to lay low, and then strike us again a year
from now or two years from now.
Mr. Leon Benoit: Will we really know when it's
over? If it's something to which there will be an end,
it won't be easy to define, will it?
Dr. David Charters: No, it won't. I don't think
we'll ever be able to have some kind of victory parade
down Wellington Street to say that we have beaten the
Mr. Leon Benoit: With that in mind, the Prime
Minister has been talking about peacekeeping in
Afghanistan after the victory. Maybe that's why he can
suggest that we can be involved in peacekeeping after
the victory. It may be ten, twenty, or thirty years
from now, and maybe we can rebuild the military by that
time—although I don't think that's what he had in
Realistically, in talking about peacekeeping after the
victory in Afghanistan, even if the Taliban were
defeated and even if bin Laden were captured, would they
not most likely just resort to guerrilla activities
again? You know it happened with Russia for ten years.
Dr. David Charters: It would depend very largely
on how it was presented. If the Taliban was only
defeated after a long campaign in which a lot of
Afghans suffered greatly, bringing westerners in to
keep the peace might be very unwelcome. If we were
able to remove that regime fairly quickly and put in
forces that clearly didn't participate in the
operations, it's quite possible they would be welcomed.
Bear in mind that Afghanistan has never been an easy
country to govern. Even when there has been a
government in Kabul, its writ often has not extended into
the countryside. It's a village- and clan-based
society, and whether or not blue-beret-wearing peacekeepers
would be welcome in any part of the countryside is a
moot point at this time.
Mr. Leon Benoit: What kinds of troops or what kinds
of people do you think Canada needs in the forces to
deal with the situation over the next few years, first
of all? And what about if we do get to this time when we can
declare some kind of peace, if we do get into a period
of trying to maintain stability and to establish a
Dr. David Charters: Let me answer that with a
couple of ifs. If we're actually able to bring the
conflict in Afghanistan to a close in some fashion, if
there is a peacekeeping mission, and if Canada is asked
to participate in it, we would have to have the kinds
of forces we have now, but more of them. If we were
going to sustain even something as relatively small as
a battle group of perhaps 1,000 or 1,500 troops, we're
talking about a pretty ambitious undertaking in a very
remote part of the world. It would require a fairly
lengthy logistics chain and a lot of transport. We're
talking about a very remote area, so we would need more
engineers, medical personnel, signallers, technical
support people, etc., as well as the sharp end.
Mr. Leon Benoit: What about right now, over the
next couple of years? What kinds of people would Canada
need to take part in the operations there? Would the
Canadian Airborne Regiment, for example, be something
that would be really handy to have right now, or an
expanded JTF2? What types of forces would we need to
be able to really contribute in a meaningful way, on
the ground, right now?
Dr. David Charters: Let me come back to one of the
points I made earlier. This is not primarily a
military campaign. In fact, the lead is being taken on
a number of fronts, and police and intelligence play a
more significant role in some ways. We're focused on
Afghanistan because that part of the campaign has
a military dimension, if you like, but it may not be the
If we were to contribute ground forces to an ongoing
campaign in Afghanistan—say, the next six to twelve
months or more—if we started with the
JTF2 contingent that we have already contributed,
that's a pretty small contingent and we could probably
support it. If we were to move up the scale and put
in an infantry battalion group or battle group, or if
we moved to something like a brigade, we would need a
lot more of what I would call straight, conventional
combat forces. In order to support a battalion group
in Afghanistan, we would need two battalions behind it,
back home, to handle rotation, reinforcement, casualty
replacement, and so on. If we up that to a brigade,
we're really looking at two brigades' equivalent back
home to support that. We have to do the math that way.
If we're looking at 1,000, we need 3,000. If we're
looking at 3,000 to 5,000, we're looking at 9,000 to
15,000 behind them.
Would the Canadian Airborne be of particular value?
Not necessarily. We did see one airborne raid a few
weeks ago, but that won't necessarily be the pattern.
Well-trained, well-disciplined, good combat
soldiers—which we have always been able to
produce—would be quite sufficient, but we would need
lots of them, and they would have to be well-equipped.
The Chair: Thank you, Dr. Charters.
Mr. Claude Bachand (Saint-Jean, BQ): I will begin by
thanking you for your presentation, but I must tell you that
I was startled by some of the things that you said.
First of all, you said, and I quote:
Declaring “War on Terrorism” may be good public relations
rhetoric, but it carries some potentially unwelcome baggage.
And you went on to talk about the negative consequences.
I believe that the first weapon we should take up in a
war—even if it is a war on terrorism—is public relations.
I think that introducing the expression “War on Terrorism” is
very significant for public opinion, even if it is only to
reassure people. It seems to me that after we have had two
airplanes plow into us, we cannot sit back like saints and do
When you are attacked like that, you have to launch a public
relations campaign. Moreover, the other side did not hesitate to
do so. I think that it was not by coincidence that the first
airplane crashed, and that all the media then had time to get set
up before the second airplane crashed. I think that this was a
public relations battle from the start and that this war does not
have only negative consequences. It also has positive
consequences, and the Americans have said as much. Up to now, the
conflict is unfolding much as I expected.
It began with military retaliation. Of course, there were
some unfortunate mistakes, and not all of these mistakes are
explained to us. CNN tells us about all kinds of things, but
where does the truth lie? The people in the field perhaps know
more. We listen to CNN or RDI and we have to take the information
that they give us. In my view, public relations are the first
weapon. They did a good job, and they continue to do a good job.
Militarily speaking, I think that the Americans have played
their cards well. They built themselves a coalition—appealing to
the UN Security Council which said that this was self-defence—and
also appealing to their traditional NATO allies, who said that this
was an action covered by article 5 of the Washington Treaty and
that they would be on the side of the Americans.
Therefore, up to this point, I believe that the counterattack
has been a measured one, from both the military point of view and
the point of view of public relations. It is being conducted in
fields that are not traditionally military fields. I think that the
financial battle, which consists of cutting off the terrorist's
financial resources, is also a very important initiative and
I think that we have to discuss such things in this type of war.
We must not forget diplomatic means: the regime must be
isolated. All of the western democracies currently agree that the
Taliban regime makes no sense, so the regime is completely
isolated. There is not a soul on earth who would be upset if the
Taliban regime fell tomorrow morning. Diplomacy is therefore an
important weapon also.
However, there is one thing that has been ignored by everyone
since the beginning, and I believe that you raised it. If I find
myself in a back alley at 3 o'clock in the morning, facing a fellow
who is six feet, six inches tall, and if I see a stick lying on the
sidewalk, I would likely grab the stick to defend myself. Those
people have perhaps been driven to extremes. I am not trying to
justify their actions, but I think that we have to look at the
distribution of wealth. Last week, I was asked for my opinion on
the new American jet that will cost American taxpayers
$300 billion. If they set aside only one tenth of that to help
those countries... In other words, the military, financial and
diplomatic counterattack against those people may not be
I would like to hear your views on that. Should we focus more
on providing assistance to help those countries thrive? Right now,
they are a perfect breeding ground for terrorists. They can
mobilize public opinion on their side, point the finger at the evil
enemy that wants to exploit their reserves and resources and say
that the only weapons they have against this enemy are the actions
they carried out on September 11, 2001. For example, Mr. Martin was
talking about an international equalization program between rich
and poor countries. It seems to me that we need to emphasize that
more in our discussions.
Dr. David Charters: Your points are well taken.
Let me respond to the first one.
I agree the United States was attacked and that
they have to respond. There's no question about
it. The question I raise is whether the term “war”
is an appropriate term. It may not be. All I was
suggesting is that our use of the term “war” may be
inappropriate because it can raise expectations that we
might not be able to meet. Those expectations, if they
are not met, could undermine support for the
longer-term campaign that this clearly will involve.
So I agree that we have to respond. We have to respond
vigorously, and the response has to be effective. I
have tried to suggest that military means are part of
the solution, but we have to move on these other
fronts. That raises the question you brought up toward
the end, and that is whether or not there are ways in
which we can address, if you like, the underlying
causes. I would say, yes, if we can determine what
those underlying causes are, and if they are indeed
solvable. I'm not entirely convinced this is a battle
simply between the rich nations and the poor nations.
Let me address some things we have learned about bin
Laden himself. He has identified at least three things
that motivate his war against the United States and the
west. The first is the Arab-Israeli dispute over
Palestine. The second is the presence of American
forces in Saudi territory. The third is his desire to
remove from power what he sees as a corrupt Saudi
On the face of it, these might appear to be manageable
problems. The United States could perhaps base its
forces elsewhere, or just keep them offshore so that
they're not in Saudi territory. That's an easy problem
to manage. However, the other two are more
problematic. If bin Laden was able to topple the Saudi
regime, he would not replace it with a liberal
democracy, but with an even harsher Islamic, theocratic
state that would probably look like the Taliban regime
in Afghanistan. On the Palestine issue, bin Laden's
solution is not a peace agreement between Israel and
the Palestinians, but the destruction of Israel.
Among other things, he is virulently anti-Semitic.
Therefore, two of his three objectives are antithetical
to western interests, and are thus unsolvable. In any
case, those are only the visible manifestations of what
I think is a much deeper problem, and one that may be
much harder or even impossible to resolve.
We need to look at this struggle—again, I hesitate to
use the word “war”—as a struggle perhaps between the
Islamic world and the western world. We don't see it
that way, and many Muslims would agree with us. Osama
bin Laden and the Taliban don't speak for the whole
Muslim world, and not even for all of the Middle East,
Pakistan, or Afghanistan. But we shouldn't be
complacent about that, because bin Laden sees that his
appeal has a powerful resonance amongst a minority in
the region. I don't think that has a lot to do with
poverty. It has a lot to do with a sense that a
culture—in this case, Islamic culture—is
seen as or is portrayed as being under siege by the west,
and not just militarily, but economically and culturally.
Some people in parts of the Middle East and central and
south Asia are perhaps concluding that, with their
belief system, there is no way in which they can
compete with the western world and perhaps with
The Chair: Dr. Charters, I'm unfortunately going
to have to cut you off. Mr. Bachand is well over his
time, and we want to ensure that other members of the
committee have an opportunity to ask some questions.
Maybe you could revisit the conclusion of your answer
when Mr. Bachand comes back on another round.
Ms. Beaumier, you have the floor, for seven minutes.
Ms. Colleen Beaumier: Thank you.
I think both actions—the war and the anti-terrorist
bills that we're having to put through—are unpalatable
to most Canadians and Americans. I disagree with you
that expectations are raised, because I don't think any
of us have expectations over this war. I don't think anyone
has been fooled into thinking this is going to be a war
in which there is a victory.
The big thing is that we all ask what else we could
have done. Action definitely had to be taken. I want
your opinion on whether or not there was an alternative
way. The Taliban wanted us to show them proof. We
ignored that. They offered to let a third party take
bin Laden. I don't really think they would have found
a third country that would have taken bin Laden any
more than they want to capture bin Laden alive, because
it presents terrible problems once you have him.
You commented that we have two theatres of war right
now. One is the propaganda war—which I'm not sure
we're winning—and the other is the ground war. Would
a foreign intelligence agency perhaps strengthen our
fight in the future?
Dr. David Charters: Thank you very much. I agree
with you. At the moment, we're not faring very well
in the propaganda war, if we call it a propaganda war.
At the moment, this is a war of images, and the images
don't look very good.
Could we have found this other option, like presenting
the evidence to the Taliban? I don't think the
Americans could have presented any evidence that the
Taliban would have accepted. The mere presentation of
it would have been part of the game. I
don't think that was a serious offer on the part of the
Taliban. If the Americans had tried to present
information that was sufficiently detailed enough to
actually bring prosecution, they would have compromised
sources and methods. They would have simply given
information back to the Taliban and to bin Laden about
how much they knew. So I don't think that was a viable
As for handing him over to a third party, the World
Court, or whatever, the Americans could quite
justifiably say they are very sorry, but these crimes
occurred within a certain jurisdiction within their
domestic law, and that they will be tried in the U.S.
and nowhere else.
Coming to your issue of a foreign intelligence
service, before you make that decision, I think you
have to decide what it is that Canada needs in the way of
an independent information capability. How much
sovereignty in the information field do we need as an
independent nation? Are we content that we can get by
with whatever the CSE and CSIS are able to pick up with
their limited external mandates, along with some
reporting from our embassies, or do we need something
more than that? We're also very heavily dependent on
our allies. Is that a good way to go?
I would argue that the events of September 11 should
at least focus our attention on these questions.
I think a good case can be made for creating a Canadian
foreign intelligence service. But let me say that
having that service as a collection service alone would
not be sufficient. What it really needs to go along
with it is a very robust and high-quality analysis and
assessment office or bureau—whatever you choose to
call it—because that's where you produce the value
added. It's not so much what you can collect overseas,
it's how you interpret it and analyse it that makes it
useful to policy. It would only be useful to policy if
cabinet, the Prime Minister, and others are prepared to
You have to create, if you like, a climate that is
receptive to using intelligence, not one that is merely
simply reacting to what's on the news or what the
latest crisis is. In fact, it must be a long-term
commitment to the use of information. If you don't
have that, then creating either a foreign intelligence
collection service or an independent analytical and
assessment bureau really would be a waste of resources.
I think you have to ask some of those questions first.
Ms. Colleen Beaumier: Thank you.
The Chair: Do you have any further questions, Ms.
Ms. Colleen Beaumier: No.
The Chair: Mr. Dromisky, Ms. Beaumier has two
minutes left in her time. Did you want to ask some
questions in that time?
Mr. Stan Dromisky (Thunder Bay—Atikokan, Lib.): I
can use her two minutes plus my seven minutes?
The Chair: You can use her two minutes to get
started on some questions.
Mr. Stan Dromisky: Very good.
I'm very impressed with your presentation. This is
the kind of article that should appear on the editorial
page of every newspaper in the country, for several
Your perception, your vision of this whole scenario, is
really enlightening. Since September 11, a tremendous
amount of pressure has been exerted by people screaming
for huge increases in the defence budget and other
budgets in order to prepare ourselves for a war of the
past. They want a tremendous increase in planes,
tanks, and everything else you can think of—the
typical conventional toys of war. In your last
paragraph, you have a dynamic...that last paragraph is
fantastic. That is where the emphasis should be. I
made a statement regarding what I consider to be a push
in the traditional spending patterns—which could be a
misappropriation of tax dollars—instead of going in
the direction you are advocating in that last
What are our chances of success in terms of going in
the direction you're recommending, versus the kind of
pressure we are getting from all over the country
regarding the purchase of traditional equipment?
Dr. David Charters: I can see some value in
re-emphasizing our armed forces along some of the
traditional lines. Whether we need tanks or not is
probably not a question I'm qualified to answer. I
would say we need people first. We need well-trained
people, and we need a lot of specialists who we
are not getting, such as engineers, signallers, medical
people, and so on. So if I was to place my investment,
I would invest in people first, but you can't put
people out on the battlefield alone. They have to be
well-equipped in other ways.
We may need to consider moving into some areas,
including unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance
and surveillance, since that extends the eyes and ears
of the battlefield commander; probably updated
artillery, but artillery that's highly mobile, can be
moved around from place to place on the battlefield,
and uses terminally-guided precision ammunition; and
helicopters, lots more helicopters, and perhaps armed
helicopters. These are the things that are going to be
part of the modern battlefield. I'm not saying the
tank is extinct, because it may not be in some
The Chair: Again, Dr. Charters, I'm going to have
to cut you off, because Mr. Dromisky is over the time
limit. We will go to Mr. Stoffer right now, and perhaps you
can again revisit those issues with Mr. Dromisky.
Mr. Peter Stoffer: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I agree with Mr. Dromisky. This should appear on the
editorial page of every newspaper in the country,
because the truth sometimes hurts. In the way in which
you have presented your brief, it is very simplistic in
its detail, when you think about it. If you take a
plane and a building, then within a human mind in the
head a destructive man, you have a weapon of mass
destruction. Prior to September 11, who would have
actually thought of that? To be able to put
that...when you hear it, it's very simple in
detail, but very deadly. But when we think about it,
we shouldn't be that surprised, because Timothy McVeigh
filled a Ryder truck with fertilizer. The Unabomber
had some simplistic little things in mail bombs.
Again, you mention right off the top, “Terrorism is
not a new phenomenon.” It's simply not new, yet as a
nation and as a society, we react like this is new.
I'm surprised at the concern being expressed about
anthrax in the States, when the Unabomber had stuff
going through the mail all the time. Yet it's now that
they're taking precautions about it. Again, there's
Timothy McVeigh. I'm surprised that after Waco, the
United States didn't do more domestically to increase
awareness of terrorist acts. But they're doing it now,
and I say they're doing it now because they have a visual
enemy who is easy to pinpoint.
Still, there has been absolutely...the first thing
they say about any war or terrorist act is that the
first casualty is the truth. We still don't know.
With our best guess, we can assume it's bin Laden and
his group—more than likely, it is—but the only
evidence I've ever seen is in the Globe and Mail.
That goes for you and anyone else, for that matter.
My concern is that it's not just this group that uses
terrorist acts. We had the Japanese one, with chemical
warfare in the subway. We have the IRA—and what a
chilling statement that was. I remember when they
said, “We only have to be lucky once.” I remember
Margaret Thatcher was quite shaken by that.
Sir, my question to you is, why are we so stupid in not
learning from historical events? Why does it take
something like this to finally wake us up to the
realization that this thing has been going on and will
continue on forever? This so-called war will never
really end, because it's not just international
terrorism, it's domestic terrorism as well. Why are we
so reluctant to learn that lesson?
Dr. David Charters: Boy, that's a tough one to
I don't think it's an issue of stupidity. You have to
recognize that most societies, most of the time, are not
under threat. Canada is a good example. We are able
to function as a regular society, if you like, 99% of
the time. We have priorities that interest us. We are
interested in medical care, in education, or in the
social safety net. Those are the things that are
important to us, so we pay attention to those, because
those are the things that matter most on a day-to-day
Fortunately, this kind of event doesn't strike us very
often. Perhaps because it doesn't strike us very
often, once the initial shock is over, we're able to
put it on the back burner and not obsess about it.
Maybe that's a good thing.
You have to recover from psychological blows, there's
no question about it. But there's no question that we
could look back and say there are some aspects of this
that we should have seen coming. In fact, the idea of
putting a plane into a target goes back to World War
II. That's exactly what kamikaze pilots did during the
air and naval battles of World War II. The most
immediate previous example of this was in either 1994
or 1995. A group of Algerian hijackers had hijacked a
plane to fly to France, and they were going to actually
crash it into Paris. So these guys weren't the first
to try it.
Mr. Peter Stoffer: On that note, sir, you mentioned
that it may not be stupidity. It has to be ignorance,
then, because we had Air India in 1983. By all means,
somehow a bomb got on that airplane, either through
cargo or through baggage that was unchecked. They then
started screening international baggage. Today, you
can go on an aircraft and not know the contents of the
suitcases or cargo in the belly of that aircraft. It
doesn't take much to put X-ray machines at baggage
counters and to X-ray the luggage and cargo that goes on
the aircraft. So I think we are stupid. We haven't
learned a thing yet.
I think we're stupid because we base it on economics
and so-called risk management. Because we're not under
threat, we don't have to do these things. Something
has to happen first. It's like putting a sidewalk on a
street or erecting a stop sign in a subdivision. If some kid
gets killed on a bicycle, you see the stop sign put up
the next day. We're a reactionary group of people,
we're not proactive. By your statement, I think you're
basically giving us a wake-up call and are telling us
to be more proactive in the future, through issues of
security, intelligence, the RCMP, or whatever it takes.
Am I correct in that?
Dr. David Charters: Yes, we could be more
proactive than we are, and perhaps September 11 was a
good wake-up call. In a sense, it was tragic in so
many other respects, but if it woke up Canada without
having to impact on us directly, too much, apart from
those who were killed in the World Trade Center towers,
then it has probably been a good thing.
But we've also
had a couple of other wake-up calls along the way that
I think have helped us. One was the ice storm, and the
other was Y2K. Because of those two things, we had
already begun to move in the right direction of
beginning to think about the security of things like
our critical infrastructures. The fact that the
government set up a new agency to look after that was,
I think, an indication that we're beginning to move in
the right direction. But September 11 was the wake-up call of
all wake-up calls.
Mr. Peter Stoffer: Mr. Chairman, this is my last
question, if possible.
The Chair: Very briefly.
Mr. Peter Stoffer: Yes, sir.
For organizations like CSIS and the CSE, which are two
different departments but which work in close
conjuncture, would it be better if they were actually
under one roof, working together internationally and
domestically for the exchange of information?
Dr. David Charters: I'm not sure I would agree
with that, no. I see the two roles as being somewhat
distinct, but there may be a gap that still needs to be
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Stoffer, Dr. Charters.
Mr. Anders, for five minutes.
Mr. Rob Anders: Thank you.
Dr. Charters, Benjamin Netanyahu edited a book called
Terrorism: How the West can Win. It contains a number
of articles, but two that I remember off the top of my
head are by Paul Laxalt and by Jack Kemp. I
had the chance to scan that book just after the crashes
at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I'm
surprised some of the ideas contained in those pages
haven't made it into the public debate yet.
One of those ideas was that the missions or consulates
of a number of various states or countries—about a
half-dozen in the Arab world, like Iran, Iraq, Libya,
Sudan, Syria, and Afghanistan, although there may be
some others in terms of varying roles—have, in one way or
another over the last decade or two, been used to
further terrorist aims, whether that was by
providing travel documents, visas, passports, money,
safe houses, diplomatic immunity, diplomatic pouches,
or whatever. For those countries that have been
directly or indirectly aiding these types of
organizations, this book suggests that we should
severely curtail the diplomatic privileges of those
states that have been involved in this type of thing.
I want to get your thoughts on that.
And I have a second question for you that is based on
the response you were making to Mr. Bachand earlier
with regard to the nature of al-Qaeda. I'm wondering
if you're aware of Samuel Huntington's essay on the
clash of civilizations in his book The Clash of
Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.
If you are, can you comment on your
thoughts on Huntington?
Dr. David Charters: Let me first address the
Netanyahu book and the points he was raising.
In the 1980s, there certainly was what I would
call—to use a legal term, if you like—circumstantial
evidence that linked a number of foreign embassies to
terrorist operations. We had a number of cases. At
the Libyan embassy in London, shots were actually fired
out of the embassy. The Libyans also seemed to be
directly involved in the Labelle discotheque
bombing in Berlin, and so on.
I'm not sure I would necessarily agree with everything
Mr. Netanyahu says, because he can be fairly extreme.
But a case can be made for closely monitoring what
foreign embassies do if you have reason to believe they
may in fact be involved in supporting unwelcome
activities. Countries have a number of tools at their
disposal to do that.
It may well be that it becomes necessary to shut an
embassy down and ship all the people out. I don't have
a problem with that if the threat seems to be serious
enough. I don't regard diplomatic immunity as a
suicide pact, and I don't think any country should.
Using the diplomatic bag to smuggle in some kinds of
weapons and so on shouldn't be permitted.
So I would say, yes, if you have reason to believe an
embassy is involved in those kinds of activities, then
you should take the appropriate measures. If
necessary, you throw everybody out. There's no
question about it.
Can you remind me of the second part of your question?
Mr. Rob Anders: It was on your awareness of Samuel
Dr. David Charters: Right, yes.
I'm sure that, to some extent, my ideas are not
exclusive to me. We all read a lot of the same
materials, and after a while we begin to wonder where
our ideas come from. Huntington did talk about
essentially what he saw as a clash of civilizations
between the Islamic world and ours. Whether or not my
thoughts have been shaped by that particular reading or
others, I don't know.
What I was trying to suggest is to look at it
from the perspective of some elements of the Islamic
world—and I'm not saying this would represent the
whole Islamic world. Those elements do see their culture or their
civilization as being under threat, perhaps because in
some ways they don't feel it can compete with the
incredible power, the globalized power, that western
Western culture penetrates every reach of their
society. If one really believes one's society should
be guided by both the letter and the spirit of the
Koran, there's no question that our culture would be
seen as very threatening. We have to at least
acknowledge that such a perception may be out there,
and it may be what is driving people like bin Laden.
It's not just that he's upset about the Palestinian
issue, or just that he's opposed to the Saudis. It's
what those things represent to his culture. That's
probably threatening, and I'm not sure we can do
anything about it. We can't change who we are in such
a way that we would ever meet his criteria. We are who
Mr. Rob Anders: If I still have time, Mr.
The Chair: No, you're out of time, Mr. Anders.
Mr. Claude Bachand: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Charters, you are the director of the Centre for Conflict
Studies. A conflict always has causes, and people need to work to
settle those issues. We may well have not caused the conflict, but
when these things happen we need to resolve them.
I would like you to summarize for me how you think the United
States and the International Coalition are doing. Do you think that
we are moving toward a settlement? Are people looking to settle
this, or is it still too early for that?
Secondly, I would like your opinion regarding the fact that
all the other democracies are reacting much like Canada, that is,
with anti-terrorist legislation, which may be a public relations
exercise aimed at showing that governments are serious and willing
to take the bull by the horns.
I do not know whether you have had the chance to read
Bill C-36. We of the Bloc Québécois have some reservations about
it, because if rights and freedoms are too restricted, then the
terrorists win. That is perhaps what they were looking for, maybe
they wanted to create a climate where the western countries would
be forced to discipline themselves and be tougher from now on.
We are asking ourselves a number of questions, among others,
about how the bill defines who is a terrorist, the possibility of
wiretapping without having to go through a judge, preventive
detention and restrictions on access to information. Do you believe
that Canada's approach with Bill C-36 is the way to deal with the
problem of terrorism?
I have the same question at the international level. Do you
believe that the Americans and the international coalition are
reacting effectively and are well on their way toward a potential
future resolution of these problems?
Dr. David Charters: Let me answer that question
As I said at the beginning, the military campaign is
only part of the solution. I don't think the United
States is unjustified in taking some kind of military
action. I think they had the right to do so under
the United Nations charter, which allows them to take
actions in self-defence. As long as those actions are
proportionate, discriminate, and directed at preventing
further attacks on the United States, they are
certainly legally justified under international law.
The problem that I see—and I don't think I'm alone in
this—is that even though the scale of American
operations in Afghanistan is relatively limited so far,
those actions are enough to allow people in the region
to feel threatened. The problem is that even the
minimum the Americans do is going to upset some people.
That's unavoidable. If that was the only thing the
Americans and the coalition did, it would get us into a
lot of trouble. The fact that our own foreign
minister, Tony Blair, American diplomats, and the
American Secretary of State are spending a lot of time
on the diplomatic front is a good thing, because you
have to move on that front as well. The problem is
that we're not going to be able to win over the people
who are going to be offended no matter what we do.
Is there a long-term solution to this? That's really
your bottom-line question. To be honest, I don't think
I can give you an answer, because I'm not sure. I wish
I could be sure and could say that if we only did
this and this, we would find some way to resolve
this great dispute. But if it is indeed a clash of
civilizations, or at least a clash of cultures, that's
much harder to resolve, particularly if elements in
those cultures believe the two are not compatible at
all, that they cannot live side by side.
I made the point earlier that I don't think a lot of
Muslims see the west in those terms, that they do see a
modus vivendi as possible. But while we're responding
to those who take a more extreme view, we end up doing
so at the risk of alienating even those members of the
Muslim community who would otherwise side with us.
So, I wish I could say, yes, there is an answer to
On the second—
The Chair: Dr. Charters, I'm going to have to cut
you off. We can come back to it again later.
At this point, we go to Madame St-Jacques.
Ms. Diane St-Jacques (Shefford, Lib.): Thank you,
This is the first time that I have attended this committee,
and I was very impressed by your presentation, which I found very
informative and very realistic.
In your presentation, you stated:
If the al-Qaeda network was responsible for this attack, its track
record suggested that it may take some time before launching
another major attack.
I would like your opinion on that. This week, there were
rumours that other terrorist attacks might be imminent. It was said
that they might even come this week, but nothing has happened until
My question also extends to biological attacks using anthrax.
Do you believe that same network is responsible for those attacks,
or was it a network within the United States which might extend to
Canada in the future?
Dr. David Charters: First, let me say that I think
there is a continued risk of attacks, but I don't think
we can say for certain that further attacks will occur
next week, next month, or next year. It may be
possible to know that, but I certainly don't know it.
I'm not that well informed. I'm not part of the
intelligence collection community. But given what
happened on September 11, we should assume some
capability exists to do that kind of attack again. It
may take a different form. You could see a car bomb going
off in Washington, a bomb on a ship in San Francisco,
or some kind of attack in London, Paris, or wherever.
So, yes, further attacks are possible, but I don't
think it's possible for us to know exactly when or
where they will occur.
On the question of anthrax, I have been puzzled by the
anthrax attacks, because they don't look like the
work of al-Qaeda. They might be, but something about them
doesn't feel quite right. The past attacks by the bin
Laden organization have tended to be fairly direct,
open, and spectacular, such as the Khobar Towers bombing,
for example, or their involvement with the previous
World Trade Center attack. These were large-scale
attacks with dramatic effects.
The anthrax attacks look more like something the
fellow known as the Unabomber would have done—that is,
a sort of a pathological individual. Or they might be
by some extreme, right-wing, white supremacist,
anti-government group in the States that is
capitalizing on the fear created by the
September 11 attacks. And another possibility is some
kind of apocalyptic cult. So I think there are a
number of possibilities.
In some ways, then, this doesn't look like an al-Qaeda
attack. The targets are odd. The dispersal method of
the anthrax is strange. The attacks are creating fear, but they're
not actually affecting very many people.
The Chair: Is that it, Madame St-Jacques?
Ms. Diane St-Jacques: Yes.
The Chair: Mr. Carignan.
Mr. Jean-Guy Carignan (Quebec East, Lib.): Thank you,
Mr. Charters, I am going to play devil's advocate concerning
the strategy used by the terrorists, which you often denigrate by
using pejorative language. I will explain.
I am going to refer to three or four parts of your
presentation, make a few comments and end with a single question.
For example, you said that: “Terrorism is not a new phenomenon.”
You also said that the recent incidents were “the cutting edge of
a quantum breakthrough” and that terrorism is “one of the preferred
ways of warfare for the weak.” The way these things are put seems
to me to be pejorative.
Certain commentators have even suggested that the terrorist
strategy was actually brilliant. A little further on in your text,
you said that they used the means that they had to strike targets
that were important to Americans.
During the Second World War, the French used resistance
fighters. How many acts of sabotage did they carry out? How did
they unnerve the Germans and how did they pave the way for victory?
Sabotage has always been a military strategy to prepare the way,
just like these terrorists are using the destruction of airplanes.
You say further on that this new terrorist act has “raised the
bar” and set a new standard. “If so,” you say, “then all bets are
off. There are no limits. Anything is possible.” What difference is
there between that strategy and the few privileged nations who have
nuclear arms and who can obliterate all the other nations or push
them into a corner and keep them living in fear?
A little further on, you say:
Declaring war on terrorism may be good public relations rhetoric,
but it carries some potentially unwelcome baggage. First, it grants
the terrorists, whoever they may be, greater legitimacy than they
deserve—status equal to the soldiers of a State, rather than the
criminal actors they really are.
In the same paragraph, you state: “To most Westerners, war
denotes military battles....”
I come back to my question now. Why is the strategy of these
people not a good one, in comparison with what we know and what we
do in wars? Is our method the only good one?
You also say that if we learn that other countries have taken
part in these attacks alongside the Talibans, we can attack them
and have a good conventional war.
In your last paragraph, you say that everything has changed.
The way you describe it, it seems very much like sabotage or
guerilla warfare, which has always existed as well.
So why is the strategy used by these people weak in comparison
with our conventional strategies?
The Chair: Dr. Charters, I'm going to ask you to
respond to that very quickly, because Monsieur Carignan
went on for quite some time with his question.
Dr. David Charters: I'll see if I can respond very
quickly to all those points.
When I use the term “weak”, I don't intend it to be
pejorative. I'm merely attempting to recognize that
groups carrying out these kinds of attacks are usually
very small and don't normally have power equivalent to
that of a state. In relative terms, they are weaker in
that sense. They don't have as much power, whether
it's military power, economic power, or political
power. They are weakened in relation.
Is there a difference in the strategies the major
powers exercised, say, with respect to nuclear weapons?
You're right, in a sense. In fact, what I say in the
paper is that we are seeing the terrorists acquiring
capabilities that put them on par
with the power of a state. What I'm saying is that
terrorism is not new, but the capabilities that
terrorists have demonstrated change the relationship
and put them up. They actually can now wield power
equivalent to some of the weapons of power that are
held by a state power.
Why would their strategy be invalid? It's not invalid
for them. They see it as the only way in which they
can fight. Having said that, we have to recognize that
the kinds of things they were doing fall within the
jurisdiction of criminal law within the countries in
which they carried them out. Also, they violate all
of the principles of international law on warfare.
There was no formal declaration of war, they are not
recognized actors under international law, and they did not
wear uniforms. There are a whole range of things that
they did not do that are required of armed forces
engaged in combat, and their attack could not be
described as being discriminate, proportional, or
necessary. Under those terms of international law, you
would have to say their actions are legally invalid.
That's probably the best answer I can give you.
The Chair: Thank you, Dr. Charters.
Mr. Stoffer, for five minutes.
Mr. Peter Stoffer: Sir, have you had an
opportunity to read Bill C-36?
Dr. David Charters: I've only just started reading
it. I got my copy last week, but I was busy preparing
for this. I did not have a chance to read it in any
detail at all.
Mr. Peter Stoffer: Very good.
I just want to compliment you again on what I think is
a very good brief. It's going to go a long way toward
helping us in our report, especially when you mention
that they use the tools of globalization against us.
Our strengths on the economic basis are our weaknesses
on the security basis.
I want to give you as much time as you like. What is
the most valuable lesson that we, as a western society,
can learn not from previous attacks like Air India, the
Unabomber, or Timothy McVeigh, but the horrific events
on September 11? Everyone's saying the world has
changed, and I suspect you're saying the world is going
to change, probably in a tighter sort of sense. I'd
like to give you an opportunity to tell us what, in
your view, is the number one thing we will get out of
this at the end of it all.
The Cold War with Russia went on for a long time, but
communism was finally declared defeated. This
particular war—I don't like to use that word; perhaps
I should say “battle”—is going to go on for an....
You said terrorism has been going on for two millennia
now, and chances are it's going to go on a lot longer.
What are we going to get out of this? It's not going
to end, so what change is going to happen to Mr. and
Mrs. Canadian on Main Street?
Dr. David Charters: I would like to hope that, in
due course, we will be able to get back to life as
normal. That is possible. Walking through the streets
of Ottawa today, you see that most people are doing
what they always do. They're going to work, doing
their jobs, and whatever. I think that will continue.
Maybe the one thing we have to take away with us from
the experience of September 11, though, is a
recognition that we can't be complacent about
activities going on in other parts of the world,
because they can reach out and touch us. They can
touch us in ways that bring incredible harm—physical and
mental harm to people, and clear damage to
economies—so we have to have a degree of awareness
that these things can happen. Maybe that changes the
way we look at our day-to-day procedures in the sense
of being a little bit more security-conscious.
I don't think we should go down the route of living
under emergency law all the time. That would defeat
the process. Democracies have to remember not only who
they're fighting, but what they're actually fighting
for. We must never lose sight of that. Terrorists
have yet to destroy a democracy, so we must not do
their job for them. Terrorism only works when the
target responds in the way that the terrorists intend, so we
should not respond in a way that simply plays into what
the terrorists are trying to achieve.
It wouldn't hurt us to develop a culture
of safety and security, though. That is, we must be
aware of what's out there in the world that could have
some impact on us, particularly if you're involved in
some kind of institution—for example, various kinds of
critical infrastructures. Some of these take safety
and security very seriously, but others don't. We may
have to take a higher degree of awareness of safety and
security, but I don't think we need to take it to
the point at which we're living under emergency law.
Mr. Peter Stoffer: Thank you very much.
What a great line that is to hear, folks: “Terrorists
have yet to destroy a democracy, so we must not do
their job for them.” I think that's fabulous. Another
one says you don't protect your civil liberties by
abandoning your civil liberties. I suspect you would
agree with that.
Dr. David Charters: Absolutely. In fact, I think
that was the point Mr. Bachand was trying to get
Mr. Claude Bachand: And I'll come back to you on
Mr. Peter Stoffer: Mr. Chair, I just want to say
that of all the committee meetings we've had so far, this has
been the most fascinating.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Stoffer.
Ms. Gallant, for five minutes.
Ms. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke,
Canadian Alliance): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Before I
get started, I would like to ask that I be able to say
a few words at the end, before you close the meeting
The Chair: We have an established agenda at this
point, so I would ask that you put any questions that
you have to Dr. Charters.
Ms. Cheryl Gallant: To Dr. Charters, through the
chair, we have many vital points in Canada that require
protection: nuclear power plants, hydro-electric
plants, airports, pipelines, dams, etc. At least in
part, this seems to be a job that should have been
given to the reserves, but the militia has only 11,000
to 15,000 people. As well, the International Atomic
Energy Agency says spent fuel at decommissioned plants
also poses a major threat. So how large should the
militia be to do the job that's realistically required?
Dr. David Charters: First of all, you have to have
good threat assessment. If you don't have that, you're
forced into a situation in which you feel you have to
protect everything. That's unrealistic. Even if we
took all the police, all the military, all sorts of
volunteers, and whoever, we could never adequately
protect every piece of critical infrastructure that is a
vital point in this country. You have to have good
intelligence collection and good intelligence analysis
that together produce a threat assessment that should be able
to narrow the range of targets that need to be
Yes, a certain amount of risk management is involved
in this. You say that, given the level of threat, this
kind of target is more likely to be attacked than that
kind is. If you have limited resources—and we all
do—you put your resources there. We don't have
unlimited resources, so we have to define where the
high-risk targets are, and protect those.
Is there a role for the militia? Yes, but
bear in mind that you can't call them out and leave
them there permanently. Are you going to call out the
militia for ten years? I don't know. I don't think
you can do that.
You're going to have to find other ways of protecting
those sites. That can be through target hardening, so
that you don't have to have people there all the time.
You can have surveillance cameras and all of those
sorts of things. That will perhaps allow you to
maintain a watch on certain points without actually
having to have people right there, on the spot, as long
as you have some means of responding in case of an
Ms. Cheryl Gallant: Thank you.
Are we prepared to confront a major internal threat or
disaster to Canada? Do the Canadian Forces have an
adequate urban search and rescue capability?
Dr. David Charters: I'm not sure they would be
the prime or first responder on that sort of
thing. There's no question that we can call the armed
forces in to support, but it seems to me that urban
search and rescue, as you would describe it, is
predominantly the responsibility of fire departments,
police departments, and perhaps other emergency
services. Can we draw on the armed forces to assist?
Certainly. Look at what they did in the ice storm and
Mr. Stan Dromisky: Removing snow in Toronto.
Dr. David Charters: Yes, removing snow in Toronto,
and during the Winnipeg floods. It seems to me that we
have a body of people who can be drawn upon, yes, but
they shouldn't be considered the first responders.
Ms. Cheryl Gallant: Do we have an adequate
bioterrorist response capability in the event of an
attack, in your opinion?
Dr. David Charters: I'm afraid I'll have to pass
on that. I don't feel I know enough about it. I've
heard a few reports in the media, but that doesn't tell
me enough to make me feel I'm qualified to respond to that
Ms. Cheryl Gallant: Thank you, Dr. Charters.
The Chair: Mr. Bachand.
Mr. Claude Bachand: I have here a study by John E. Finn from
Wesleyan University, which you no doubt know, Mr. Charters, because
he seems to be criticizing your book The Deadly Sin of Terrorism.
I want to come back to my earlier questions. There is a
passage in Mr. Finn's study that I find very interesting and that
I am going to read to you. Unfortunately, the book is not
translated; it is only in English. He says:
Charters go beyond conventional wisdom, noting that
the definition of “success” implicit in it is unduly
narrow. If we broaden the term to include forcing the
state to adopt a wide array of responses, including
changing public attitudes in “favor of less democratic
means of government,” or adopting measures that
undermine democratic principles..., then certainly
terrorism “succeeded” to some extent in each of the
countries studied in this volume. This is most obvious
in the adoption of antiterrorist laws and policies,
that might be judged undemocratic. Here Charters wisely
returns to the definitional issues raised early on,
noting that many of these policies...were adopted
primarily to counteract domestic terrorism.
I asked you a question earlier about Bill C-36, which defines
“terrorism” in a very broad way, allows wiretapping with only a
minister's signature, authorizes preventive detention, and
restricts access to information. Do you not think that if Canada
adopts this type of legislation, the terrorists will have won?
Dr. David Charters: The point I made to one of the
other members was that I have not had a chance to read
all the way through Bill C-36, so I cannot comment on
it in detail.
But Finn is right, and I think our book made that
point—as did one of our others. The adoption of
emergency powers is something democracies should
approach with real caution, because they are by their
very nature undemocratic. The terrorists achieve some
degree of victory if they force us into that.
That said, I don't think bin Laden's concern would be
that Canada becomes less democratic in this case. His
beef with us is such that he would want to see the
destruction of countries like Canada, preferably in a
violent way and not by them becoming less democratic.
As a general principle—and it comes back to what I
said to Mr. Stoffer—democracies must remember what it
is that they are fighting for, and not do the
terrorists' work for them. If we do extend our law
enforcement or intelligence and surveillance powers, if
we increase the length of detentions without charge,
etc., all of those measures should be expanded with
real care. If we feel we have to do that, then those measures
need to be subject to oversight, to appeal procedures, to due
process, and ultimately to repeal. We cannot simply
leave them on the books forever.
Mr. Claude Bachand: By “repeal”, do you mean
Dr. David Charters: Yes, I would favour a sunset
clause, or at least a clause that says we should look
at this legislation again after a given period of time,
to decide if we really need it or that it doesn't need
to be extended for another year. Britain's Prevention
of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989,
for example, was subject to
limited periods of time. It would come up in the House
of Commons and they would have to vote to continue it.
I can't remember exactly, but I think it was finally
voted out in 1992.
What I'm saying is that any new laws should be used
with discrimination, so that they don't stifle
legitimate exercises of fundamental rights. This is a
very difficult thing to do. We're trying to balance
better security with the preservation of our liberties.
It's not easy. There's no perfect solution. You're
going to err on one side or the other.
The Chair: Thank you, Dr. Charters.
Mr. Peter Stoffer: Actually, Mr. Chair, I'd like
to give my time to you, in case you have any questions
that you'd like to ask of our witness.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Stoffer. You're very
An hon. member: He's always generous.
An hon. member: He has always been like that.
The Chair: Dr. Charters, just to pursue the issue
of a foreign intelligence agency a little bit further,
you were talking about an independent intelligence
capacity. There is some question with respect to the
whole issue of the fact that Canada is alone among G-8
countries in not having a foreign intelligence agency.
Even some countries as small as Australia, for
instance, have both a foreign and domestic intelligence
gathering capability. If you would, I would like you
to expand a little bit further on your earlier
explanations. Also, if you believe it is important to
keep foreign and domestic intelligence agencies
separate, please tell us why, from the standpoint of
contamination with respect to their methods of
information gathering. If you have any comments on
that, I'd appreciate hearing them.
Dr. David Charters: Let me say first that with
reference to the specific problem we're confronting at
the moment, intelligence is your first line of defence.
If you're going to try to understand the problem of
terrorism, if you're going to assess the threat
properly, anticipate, and try to prevent activities, or
identify, locate, arrest, and prosecute perpetrators,
then intelligence is your first weapon.
Having said that, the point I was trying to make
earlier is that you not only need a foreign
intelligence capability—that is, the ability to
collect overseas by more than just open-source
information—you also have to have some kind of
analysis capability that adds value to the data that
you collect. In the short term, if we determine that
we have a need for this capability, then we could
probably extend the mandate and resources of CSIS on a
temporary basis. That could provide a bridge to see us
over the gap of time it would take to create a
whole new service. This is not the most desirable way
to go about it, but if we felt we needed something in
the meantime, it probably is the route to go.
But you're right. You would be taking a risk by
creating a domestic and foreign service all in one
body, and you would risk blurring the methods used by
both. It would have to be monitored very carefully,
because the lines between the domestic and the
international would be blurred.
Let me say as well that when you're dealing with a
problem like the bin Laden problem—if that's what
we're up against—indeed, the lines between security
intelligence and foreign intelligence are already
blurred in a sense, because the enemy has blurred them.
You have people operating inside a country and
operating across borders. At what point does one
service take over and the other get left behind? They
have to talk to each other. Even if you have two
completely distinct services—a foreign and a
domestic—they have to talk. If they don't, the
terrorist is going to slip through the gap between
them. They have to be able to exchange information
even if one is collecting it only externally and the
The Chair: Very quickly, a lot of us watched with
some interest—and in my case, amazement—in terms of
the announcement by Premier Harris that he was going to
develop an anti-terrorist capability within the OPP.
How do you see that in terms of the fact that we have
all these agencies already that are perhaps not
necessarily sharing information to the extent that they
should? Now Ontario is talking of creating yet another
capability. The Ontario government obviously is
attempting to provide some assistance under the
circumstances, but could it end up doing more harm than
Dr. David Charters: The more agencies you have
playing the game, the more you risk a duplication of
effort and of people tripping over each other's
operations. There's no question about that. It may
provide some value within the province. The police
forces have had emergency response teams to deal with
barricade situations, as have the RCMP. But yes, you
can certainly risk having too many people in the game,
which in turn creates a risk of poor coordination.
The Chair: Thank you, Dr. Charters.
Mr. Leon Benoit: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Dr. Charters, I was interested in your comments on the
sunset clause and your caution about the cure being
worse than the disease when it comes to civil
liberties. I know you said you're not that familiar
with Bill C-36, but in that legislation, terrorists are
targeted based on race and religion. I'm just looking
for your comments on that issue before I go on to some
Dr. David Charters: Again, I don't think I can
comment. If I read that portion of the legislation, I
must have missed that. I didn't see that part or I
didn't get far enough into it, so I had better not
offer comment on something I haven't looked at.
Mr. Leon Benoit: We have been bringing up that
concern. A terrorist is a terrorist. It doesn't make
one any less bad if he or she is a member of a certain
group or not a member of a certain group.
Dr. David Charters: I could say you're right, in
the sense that anybody who is engaged in these
activities, regardless of background, is a legitimate
target for investigation. To single out a particular
group would probably be a mistake. That said, if
members of an identifiable group are engaging in that
activity in any significant numbers, you can't ignore
the fact that they are engaging in it just because you
don't want to offend the group.
Mr. Leon Benoit: That's a different issue, though.
That's a matter of...I forget what the term is, but
the immigration department does it all the time. They
target based on certain profiles, let's say.
Getting back to the issue of special forces and
JTF2, I can't understand why there's such a high level
of secrecy in Canada in regard to this organization,
when the United States has said how many they have in
their special forces and how many they've deployed.
It's the same thing for the United Kingdom. Even
though Australia is sending a very small contingent,
they've said they are deploying 150 SAS operatives, with 100
front-line and 50 support troops. Here in Canada,
though, we don't know how many are even in JTF2, and we don't
know how many are going. We don't even know if we have
enough left at home to protect the homeland. Why this
level of secrecy in Canada?
Dr. David Charters: The British first created the
Special Air Service in World War II. It was briefly
disbanded after the war, but was recreated in Malaya.
The SAS has been around for the better part of
forty to fifty years. It has had a number of
opportunities to have its operations become a matter of
public record—and not always favourably to the regiment, I
might add. But I think it's simply a question of them
being used to it now. There isn't that mystique of
secrecy surrounding the SAS.
We haven't gotten there yet, because it's something
new. We're probably still trying to figure out how to
deal with this kind of unit, because it is unique. I
think it's just a question of a learning curve.
Mr. Leon Benoit: Could it be because the force is
embarrassingly small for a country like Canada? The
number thrown out is 250. That's not much of a special
force for a country with the GDP that Canada has.
Dr. David Charters: Bear in mind that the Special
Air Service, as a whole regiment, is very small. The
SAS is actually not that much bigger than JTF2. I
think it has a headquarters and five squadrons, with
roughly fifty to sixty people per squadron, plus various sorts
of training elements, and so on. I think the figure
for the SAS is somewhere in the 350 range. In a sense,
then, perhaps ours is not disproportionately small. It
sounds like very few people, and it is. But bear in
mind that for the kind of mission for which it was
established, it's probably all right in terms of its
Mr. Leon Benoit: You're talking about the
Australian force, are you not?
Dr. David Charters: No, I was talking about the
Mr. Leon Benoit: Well, in terms of their special
forces altogether, the British have quite a large
Dr. David Charters: Yes, because they have the
Special Boat Service and so on. But if you look at
the raw numbers on those, you'll find they're all
pretty small. Do you want to include the Royal Marine Commandos?
They could be considered a special force, I suppose,
but I would put the SAS and SBS more on the line with
Mr. Leon Benoit: Okay.
I would just like to thank you very much for your
presentation. It has been fascinating. I also
apologize. I don't think we should have to put up with
the kind of politics we saw today. Your presentation
was held up for 20 to 25 minutes by the government not
showing up because they didn't want to face a vote.
That's democratic, isn't it, Dr. Charters?
Dr. David Charters: No comment.
The Chair: Mr. Benoit...[Inaudible—Editor].
On behalf of all of the members of the defence
committee, Dr. Charters, we really appreciated your
thoughts today. I think it was a very stimulating
discussion. We had some good questions and some even
better answers. Your offerings will help us in terms
of the study that we are doing.
Thank you very much for being here.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
The Chair: I have an announcement in connection
with some of the other business of the committee.
A motion has been passed with respect to the
subcommittee on veterans affairs. It would be
appreciated if the parties could provide lists of the
members they would like to have on that subcommittee,
because we would like to get the work of that
subcommittee going as quickly as possible.
Mrs. Gallant, you had an issue. Could you tell us
what that issue is about? We do have an
established agenda here. If you tell us what the issue
is about, I can put it to the committee in order to
determine whether or not they want to deal with it.
Ms. Cheryl Gallant: Sure.
I have been reading with great interest your
“Fostering Human Security: A Joint Canada-U.S.
Brigade”, and I'm seeking unanimous consent from
this committee to have it tabled in Parliament. I have
spoken to Mr. Bachand, who has had a chance to look at
it in English. He has indicated that he would accept
it even though the document is only in English right
An hon. member: That sounds great.
Ms. Cheryl Gallant: It was a report prepared in
The Chair: A request has been made for unanimous
consent. Is there unanimous consent?
An hon. member: No.
Mr. Rob Anders: His work deserves recognition.
An hon. member: It's not ours.
The Chair: We do not have unanimous consent.
The meeting is adjourned.