U of T prof: Canada "less peaceful than you think"Written by Jennifer Sanasie Monday, 22 June 2009 05:31
The state of national threats in Canada should be up for public debate, according to Wesley Wark, professor at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto.
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Wark spoke at the Ontario Public Sector Security Conference on June 10 at the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto. His presentation, called “Canada is less peaceful than you think,” examined national security threats in Canada. When it comes to national security the public may be getting left in the dark, he says.
Since 9/11, concerns about national security are more commonly connected with terrorism. And although terrorism may be a threat on both national and international levels, there are more damaging threats that Canada needs to address, says Wark.
In 2004, then Prime Minister, Paul Martin released the National Security Policy. It was drafted to be a “framework and action plan designed to ensure that Canada is prepared for and can respond to current and future threats.”
This policy was a way for the Liberal government to recognize Canadian concerns and separate them from American concerns. The Canadian policy “is much less focused on terrorism threats, less concerned with ways to change the world and is much more inwardly focused on Canadian needs,” says Wark, whereas the American doctrine is aggressive and militant, and much more focused on terrorism.
Wark describes the eight national threats outlined in the National Security Policy as radical because Canada had never attempted to make a list like this before, and although he credits the government for trying, he says they were listed in an “all hazards approach.”
This approach produces a laundry list of threats that have no priority and cover a wide variety of areas. This was the inevitable result of a variety of government agencies finding it difficult to reach a common ground, so “everybody’s threat got thrown into the mix, and there were no hard decisions made on priority,” Wark says.
The eight threats listed are:
2. Weapons of mass destruction
3. Failed/failing states
4. Foreign espionage
5. Natural disasters
6. Organized crime
7. Critical infrastructure vulnerabilities
Wark listed four national security threats that he thinks are more pressing than the eight listed in the National Security Policy:
1. Climate security
2. Informational security
3. Global poverty
4. Global health
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