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Canada to increase spending on domestic security projects


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Security threat-readiness projects receive $14.5M in funding but paint ‘dark picture’ of Canada’s future
Stewart Bell
29 January 2014

Funding to bomb-proof windows, develop an antidote for nerve agents, and train police to deal with homemade explosives was announced on Wednesday, as the government said it wanted to prepare Canada for security threats.

Together with grants for research on countering extremist violence, managing “high profile security events” and treating victims of a “radiological-nuclear event,” the announcement hinted at a bleak vision for the Canada of tomorrow.

“I think it is prudent investment, but there’s no doubt it paints a dark picture of the future,” said Jez Littlewood, an assistant professor at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

The projects were among 20 that received $14.5-million from the Canadian Safety and Security Program, which brings together government, industry and academic experts to “develop knowledge and tools, and provide advice” on safeguarding Canada.

“These investments will help ensure Canada is resilient to public safety and security threats,” said Rob Nicholson, the Minister of National Defence, who unveiled the funding jointly with Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.

The announcement came two days after Mr. Blaney released the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s annual report, which said Al-Qaeda was still capable of staging “spectacular” terrorist attacks against the West.

It also warned that Al-Qaeda had supporters in Canada, and that an increasing number of Canadians were going abroad to join terror groups, leading to concerns they could return to wage extremist violence and radicalize others.

Together with the CSIS report, Wednesday’s funding statement offered a snapshot of Ottawa’s intelligence priorities and its view of the security challenges and threats Canada faces in the future, Mr. Littlewood said.

Other projects receiving funding include those dealing with dismantling drug labs, border surveillance in the Great Lakes, establishing a public alerting service, using face recognition technology to screen travelers, and investigating cyber threats.

Mr. Littlewood, who is director of the Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies, said even if disasters such as chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attacks by terrorists were “low probability” events, they had such potentially high consequences that it made sense to be ready.

“It provides a better understanding of risks, can enhance preparations to detect, prevent, or respond to such an incident, and that investment usually is substantially lower than any response/consequence management or after event responses,” he said.

The U.S. Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, said in his 2014 worldwide threat assessment Wednesday that Syria had become a breeding ground where groups aligned with Al-Qaeda were recruiting, training and equipping extremists, some of whom might conduct attacks outside Syria.