Open Letter to Prime Minister
© 2015 FrontLine Security (Vol 10, No 3)

No doubt there is much pressure to re-examine on your election pledge regarding Canada’s role in the fight against ISIS and we at FrontLine add our voice to this request, ­particularly in light of recent and escalating events. Written in Forbes a few years ago was the following “Admitting you were wrong does not make you weak – it makes you awesome” and, while I am not saying your decision was wrong, I’m sure we all agree that reviewing decisions based on changing facts shows strength of leadership. If a plan loses its validity based on current events, a strong leader will make the appropriate changes in course to compensate. I am saying it’s an important time to open up the discussion. Consult with your many civil servants who have great knowledge of the situation; accept the insight they can bring. 

This same perspective was highlighted also in a recent commentary on FrontLine’s web site (home page) by retired Colonel George Petrolekas. In it, he quotes former UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan who, when asked what is most likely to blow governments off course, is reputed to have answered “Events my boy, events.”

My open letter to you, our new Prime Minister, goes beyond Canada’s response to this tragic event and goes to what I hope to see at the core of your desire to ensure a safe and secure Canada and goes to the heart of my request to re-assess some of your election pledges based on pivotal “events”.

It’s time to become more integrative and inclusive in Canada’s development of a more safe and secure society: Prime Minister, your message during the election campaign, and certainly your actions to date, suggest that you are focused on inclusion. What does this mean from a safety and security perspective? It means understanding that safety and security, and the dialog around it, requires the inclusion of a broad constituency of those on the frontline in our security efforts, a group far broader than the national intelligence agencies (CSIS, CSE, etc.), although they are very important to the discussion. 

As an example of the integration that is necessary for robust safety and security, FrontLine brings together a wide array of seemingly disparate groups – but all are connected by that common thread of protecting our peace-loving population. 

An article from Dr. Shane Renwick from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association is included because many bio terrorism threats are linked to animals. Were you aware that Veterinarians are also part of the frontline for safety and security? So too are those involved in Food inspection. In fact, the United States has put significant responsibility for bio terrorism-related food security and safety issues with Homeland security as well as the Food and Drug Administration. I have seen the good work that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) does in this area and know they should be consulted and could be an important part of the Safety and Security discussion. 

On a personal level, I have worked with various ethnic groups, members of the Canadian mosaic on safety and security, and they clearly have a role to play. 

Peace officers, marine safety, critical infrastructure, and more – this edition really does demonstrate the breadth and determination of those who are involved in safety and security. We also have an article about the National Research Council – a frontline government body involved in safety and security from the perspective of technology developments.
Develop an integrative approach. The articles in FrontLine are written to members of North America’s growing safety and security ecosystem including fire, police, health care and other crisis workers. Therefore, I challenge the new Prime Minister to develop a more integrative approach involving a broader definition of the safety and security ecosystem. 

Educate Canadians about safety and security. Several studies and reports point to a lack of understanding about security and intelligence by the Canadian public, and a lack of engagement in safety and security dialogue. Safety and security is ingrained on the psyche of citizens of the many countries in Europe that I visit. In the United States, it is well understood, and communicated on a regular basis. Not only are the citizens part of the dialogue in many of these countries, but they also actively provide assistance in helping to make their countries safer and more secure. Since a safe and secure Canada requires an integrative solution, something must be done to bring the population into the dialogue.

Several countries have “spy” museums that in a sense educate the population about the history of their respective country’s intelligence services, why it’s important, the tools and techniques, successes and failures, risks, and so on. This was once proposed for Canada and rejected. Although this may appear minor to many, it is evidence of the lack of effort towards educating the public. If we are to have a safer and more secure Canada, it will have to involve broader based education for the general public about what this means and their role in it. 

Develop better working relationships between the heads of Canada’s intelligence agencies: Integration is the theme of what I am putting forward in this open letter to the Prime Minister, and better working relationships between the heads of our intelligence agencies is key. Having talked to some of these leaders, I know there is a willingness to do so, but there are barriers to sharing sensitive information. 

From my experiences south of the border, in Israel and in Europe I know how important cooperative relationships are. How many intelligence failures have started off with the statement the information was in a system but not within “our” agency (sharing problem). 

Canada took an important step in this direction many years ago with the integrated intelligence analyst training program that was developed at PCO (Privy Council office). This program brought together intelligence analysts from many different departments to offer training on intelligence analysis over a multi-month period. I had the privilege of lecturing to this group on many occasions and enjoyed watching the program foster relationships between personnel from different agencies – and which lasted beyond the program itself. Information sharing, weekly meetings, joint operations and so forth, there are many ideas and methods of achieving this.

Space prevents me from adding ideas around other areas of safety and security, including the use of analytics for safety and security (I am currently working on a project in this area through Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa), oversight, training and so forth, but there are many topics and discussions that FrontLine looks forward to sharing with the new government. In fact, FrontLine is willing and able to assist our new Prime Minister in developing dialog opportunities (such as roundtables, meetings, workshops) with the whole Frontline Safety and Security community. In fact, FrontLine has spent many years building a base of contacts/relationships in the broad safety and security community and we welcome the opportunity to contribute to the dialogue needed to help you shape new Safety and Security programs and policies. 

Jonathan Calof, Executive Editor

Global Solidarity
On behalf of myself and all those associated with Frontline Safety and Security, let me extend both our sympathy and condolences to the people of France and all those affected by the ­particularly savage terrorist attack of Friday November 13th 2015. I know that the entire safety and security community of Canada stand in ­solidarity and support of our brothers and ­sisters in France. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected in this time of ­difficulty, and we admire the French people who continue to stand strong in the face of these cowardly acts of terrorism.
– Jonathan Calof, Executive Editor, FrontLine Safety and Security.

© FrontLine Security 2015