23 Comments

Trudeau's always big on grand pronouncements. His reputation has always shown Canadians shouldn't hold their breath waiting for him to act. National Security is not on his radar, no matter what he says.

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You wrote, “Core membership of a National Security Council should include the deputy prime minister, as well as the ministers of Finance, National Defence, Foreign Affairs, International Development, International Trade, Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, Public Safety, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship and Justice.” I’m not inferring these are the wrong people, but could you give a reason why each of these areas need to be included? I agree that the Prime Minister needs to be included. You do suggest a rather large group of people meeting once every two weeks, an I wonder if such a group could be effective with so many people present. Thanks for the article ... it is something Canada needs and I sincerely hope the government pulls it off successfully, and successful enough that it becomes ingrained such that future elected governments keep it going.

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Chaired by the Prime Minister....you have to be kidding !!!

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Count me as skeptical, in a world where ministerial responsibility seems to have vanished and where no desk has a sign that says: "the bucks stops here". Will this facilitate and focus effective action, or will it simply dilute responsibility for failure or foot dragging?

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These gentlemen are way more qualified to speak to it than I am - but they are wrong (in part).

Another cabinet committee, in addition to safety and security (and URG) is ticking the box. Only.

And here is why: It is a rather common response to stand up a committee to look like something is being done, with no meaningful reform attached underneath. These are politicians who have very busy lives, agendas and many committees to attend. They will get tired and busy and any item will go through the political lens as like any other cabinet committee. This is human nature and normal. Think I'm wrong? There already exists such a committee with many of the membership already suggested by the authors in The Line article, called Cabinet Committee on Safety, Security and Emergencies. Have things gotten better in the coordination of national security sense it was created?

This new cabinet committee will now create even more confusion among ministers, departments, within PCO and with the role of the NSIA. Nobody will know which committee to bring items to and which committee has precedent. Even worse, it will continue to be bureaucrats fighting over - opps, I mean supporting - these committees, with various accesses to information and sometimes conflicting unconsolidated data.

After the last election big news (for us governance geeks) was the tightening of the relationship between the NSIA and the emergency response functions, including a new secretariat. We have a committee on National Security now (as mentioned above). Again, has anything really changed?

Where I think the authors have it right is in identifying the needs for a high level director of national security (which should be the NSIA). I would argue this should not be a civil servant but instead someone who can challenge the clerk and speak truth to power (side note: despite how many times the deputy minister community declares that the public service speaks truth to power, the concept is mythical and remains enfeebled within the career oriented public service). A non-civil servant who has the authority to determine the data collection and analysis required by his or her office, enabling expert advice to the political level.

Without this mechanism (mentioned by the authors) we will continue with the same dynamics we currently have. We need to adapt our governance models to changing times.

Hope I’m proven wrong. I really do.

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Doesn't this all assume that our politicians are competent and honest? I'm not at all convinced that senior cabinet members and the PM are not complicit in the Chinese interference. And I am totally convinced that by and large they are incompetent and economically illiterate.

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Good article and why not be optimistic...

The proposed membership is too big - it needs paring down to about 8-10 members. I would start by suggesting a number of the ministers be cut back to those specifically engaged with security - Global Affairs, Defence, Public Safety - and invite the others as needed for a given issue. The bureaucratic level should mirror the political. The PM or DPM should be the chair, not both in the room. Given the pressures on the PM, I would suggest the DPM. The Clerk of the PC should attend to represent the bureaucratic equivalent to the PM/DPM. The PMO should absolutely not be in the room - that organisation is a menace.

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Congratulations 8 yrs in after courting & inviting the interference from the get-go, blithely accepting all that Chinese money to his political campaigns (& elsewhere) is a stretch. But I agree he has to be the chair, otherwise we continue with his little boy persona who just wasn’t told as if that’s a legit response from a) an adult b) a G7 leader ... encouraged & advised, I might add, from the Katie Telford PMO lol who I suspect is the real PM leading from behind kinda like the smart wife behind an inept husband.

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Would be, could be, should be ... I think we should all reserve judgement until PMO finally decides what it wants this committee to achieve, and how. Sadly, the track record for this PMO is there will be four more announcements about the formation of this committee before PMO finally decides what this committee will do and how it will do it. Not holding my breath.

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All well and good; there has long been a need for a more thoughtful and properly coordinated approach to security issues in Canada.

Unfortunately, the cabinet shuffle we saw last week hardly fills me with confidence about this Prime Minister's interest in the topic.

This is the Prime Minister who just replaced a competent and ambitious defence minister (who by all accounts had been pushing--hard--inside Cabinet for more ambitious procurement and reforms at DND to improve our defence capabilities) with someone widely described as a "communicator" who undoubtedly will follow Mr Trudeau's orders.

That this is occurring in the context of the biggest defence challenge Canada and NATO have seen in three generations is disheartening, to say the least.

What is even more unfortunate, none of those who are "warming up in the bull pen" to replace this government seem any more serious about real change in the defence realm.

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Thank you Rigby and Juneau for your analysis and suggestions on how to improve national security oversight. I'm afraid, however, that this is a legacy left by successive governments over the past 20, 30 and 40 years. As noted, "It will also not be a cure-all; Canada has much catching-up to do after decades of neglecting national security" and national defence and national health care and First Nations and future energy needs and demographics. As Canadians, we have voted ourselves into this current state and now it is time to pay up. Whether the Liberals, Liberal Democrats or Conservatives win the next election, I believe NOTHING will fundementally change. This is what peace, order and good government looks like.

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Given that Trudeau and Liberals made a sticky malodorous mess of anything he and they touched for 8 years, the bright shiny-eyed freshman enthusiasm of the article authors re. the "planned" National Security Council is ....... say......... ahem....... rather touching. This regime was elected by a minority of voters and is being held up by a very strange and opaque arrangement with the NDP. Given the long observed nature of this regime, two points need be said:

1) the creation and operation of this particular National Security Council will be done under close supervision of the resident cadres of Chinese Communist Party,

2) the real purpose of this National Security Council will at least 50 % directed towards internal repression. Because that is how the current regime understands "National Security".

Do not ever forget the frozen bank accounts of protesters, how willingly the big banks complied with the order to freeze the bank accounts of protesters, and that this was done without getting the order approved by the judges.

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