MAY 27, 1994

Mr. Gray, Mr. Collenette, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a representative of the Solicitor General who is the federal minister responsible for Canada's Counter-Terrorism arrangements, I have been asked to say a few words about our country's response to terrorism. This will be followed by lunch and by a demonstration of the special capabilities of DND's Counter-Terrorism Unit, Joint Task Force Two (JTF 2).

Bob Fowler and I hope that today's exercise - called Exercise CONSUL - will improve our collective understanding of the importance of having in place effective national counter-terrorism plans and arrangements. All of you in this room, every level of government and all police services - municipal, provincial and federal - have a role to play in ensuring the safety and security of canadians. It is a collective responsibility.

Of course, we all hope that the arrangements and plans will never be used. But we would be failing in our duty to the Canadian public were we not prepared for any and all eventualities. We must, as emergency planners often say, "hope for the best and plan for the worst!"

Exercises like this one are particularly important. One of the basic principles of emergency planning is that arrangements or plans which are never tested will inevitably be found wanting during a real emergency.

Confucius said it best: "that which is not exercised in times of non-crisis will not function properly during the real thing".

Today's exercise, although of limited scale and duration, is of special importance because it is the forerunner to Exercise PRAETORIAN.

As most of you know by now, Exercise PRAETORIAN is due to take place in Victoria and in Ottawa, in ten days time, from June 7 to 9. This exercise is intended to be a major test of federal, provincial and municipal counter-terrorism response capabilities before the Commonwealth Games, which are scheduled to take place in B.C. from August 8 to 18.

Exercise PRAETORIAN started out as a counter-terrorism exercise, but has proved to be a first-class vehicle for testing other aspects of games security as well. We call this federal-provincial cost-effectiveness.

PRAETORIAN is primarily a command-post exercise, but for the first time we have added live play by police emergency response teams and Joint Task Force Two, in order to develop joint police-military tactical procedures.

The exercise will use a group of simulated terrorists, as well as several simulated hostages. To avoid inter-departmental rivalry, both terrorists and hostages will come from DND. The terrorists will be simulating the Khalistan National Army, using fictitious names.

The decision-making here in Ottawa will be done at the most senior level for the first time; unfortunately Mr. Collenette and the Prime Minister will be away, but the Solicitor General and the Clerk of the Privy Council will be involved, real-life emergencies permitting, of course.


Our National Counter-Terrorism Policy calls for a lead federal minister - the Solicitor General - to coordinate, not direct, the full use of all available resources at municipal, provincial and federal levels to resolve an incident. Our counter-terrorism plan serves as a guide and describes agreed procedures that should be followed at all levels. It has been developed to ensure the efficient use of a wide variety of people and materiel.

The plan is supported by a regular exercise program whose aim is to familiarize local and provincial police and officials with the principles of the plan, to solicit their feedback on how the plan can be improved, and to make police and government officials aware of the special demands and various jurisdictions involved during terrorist incidents.

Terrorism is first and foremost a crime, which means that the police of local jurisdiction have the major responsibility for resolving any incidents. Although the Security Offences Act gives the RCMP the primary responsibility for performing the duties of a peace officer during an incident, it does not give them exclusive jurisdiction.

Le défi est donc de résoudre l'éternelle question canadienne "c'est qui le patron?" Sans effet néfaste sur le rassemblement et la direction de la vaste gamme de ressources nécessaires ä la résolution d'un incident terroriste. La méthode la plus utilisée consiste a faire une "opération conjointe", ou tous les corps de police répondant a un incident, cooperent sous un seul commandement, compose d'officiers supérieurs provenant de chaque corps de police. Malheureusement le systeme de commandement et de controle utilisé par la police au québec empeche d'utiliser "l'opérations conjointe". Nous avons cependant réussi a développer des procédures d'ordre pratique pendant des exercices tenus au québec, et nous sommes en mesure d'opérer conjointement, en réalité sinon en théorie.

Since the on-scene police commander has the responsibility to resolve the incident, it follows that most of the decisions needed will be taken by him or her. There are three categories of decision, however, that a commander at that level cannot take.

The first is public communications. There needs to be a single communications approach to the media in order to maintain public confidence. Government and response personnel must be seen by the media, and hence the public, to be in control, to be working together and responding to the crisis.

To achieve this, public communications between three levels of government and the police must be coordinated. This, as I am sure you all would agree, is a major challenge.

The other two decisions involve government policy and access to resources not normally at the disposition of an on-scene police commander. These decisions will be taken at ministerial level. They concern first the response to terrorist's demands, which are likely to be political (such as the release of their comrades imprisoned in a foreign jail); and second, the use of force beyond the resources of the police in order to resolve an incident where lives are being lost.

The process leading to ministerial decisions on these and other issues is no different for counter-terrorism than it is for other crises, so I will not dwell on it. What is important, however, is the greater speed at which information may be expected to come in, and the greater speed with which life-and-death decisions may be required.

It is also likely that there will be a dearth of information, and that what information there is will be confused, particularly during the early stages of an incident when the difficult decisions seem to be most urgently required. That is why we practise counter-terrorism information-passing and decision-making procedures at least one each year, to ensure that we are ready.

Pour compliquer cette situation encore davantage, l'acces aux forces militaires pour résoudre un incident est possible par deux voies, soit la voie fédérale en utilisant la loi sur les infractions en matiere de sécurité, ou la voie provinciale en invoquant la partie onze de la loi sur la défense nationale. Il est donc évident que les discussions fédérales-provinciales s'imposent lors d'un incident terroriste, discussions qui se devront d'etre courtes et décisives. Comme toutes les autres discussions fédérales-provinciales, d'ailleurs.

Another issue concerns the use of deadly force. Obviously the police will attempt to resolve the situation without the use of force as long as they can. If the on-scene police commander feels that he needs to have recourse to JTF-2 to resolve the situation, he will have to convince his commanding officer that police resources will not be enough and the commanding officer, in turn, will have to convince the Commissioner, for example.

As soon as he is persuaded that military force may be needed, the Commissioner will probably ask the Chief of Defence Staff to position JTF-2 in the area of an incident, and the CDS will want to seek ministerial approval at some point. The Prime Minister and the cabinet may become involved, supported by an ad hoc committee of deputy heads.

Whatever the specifics of the situation, I am advised that one of the greatest operational concerns is that the decision to use troops will not be taken in time to allow them to be used when they are most needed.

It is not possible to have troops take over from police and mount an assault in a matter of minutes, because reconnaissance, planning and particularly relief in the line all take time to do properly. We have done a number of exercises over the years to develop ways of cutting down this time, and we expect to know more about it after Exercise PRAETORIAN.

Finally, the ministry's cycle of exercises, of which Exercise PRAETORIAN is in a sense the culmination, serves to maintain a continual awareness of counter-terrorism policies and procedures in the appropriate police, military and government counter-terrorist organisations. This allows us to keep our plan relevant to their needs.

That was a quick run through of a very complex subject, and I hope you have found it useful. I thank you for your attention. We have a buffet lunch set up at the back of the room. May I invite you to help yourselves? The Chief of the Defence Staff will call us together for the next phase of Exercise CONSUL in a few minutes.

Search the entire Special Operations.Com website for the specific information you are looking for. 
Just type in your search terms in the white box provided below, then select "Search". 

Match  and show results 

Having trouble isolating the information you seek? Then check out the SOC Search Tips

List Subscribe   |    Focus Features    | Updates    |   Newsroom   |  Contact Us

 Copyright ©2000 Special Operations.Com