Canadian Security Magazine

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Stockwell Day promotes Emergency Management Act to private sector security directors

In preparing for the next major crisis, the most important thing is to know where the vulnerabilities are. However, for the private sector, the next ”˜what if’ becomes: What if that critical information gets into the wrong hands?

This was a concern that was acknowledged May 10 by federal Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day in a speech to the Conference Board of Canada's Second Public and Private Sector Summit on National Security held in Ottawa.



May 12, 2006
By Andrew Wareing

Topics

The concern is simple, said Enbridge chief security officer Allan
Johnson in a panel discussion on protecting Canada’s energy supply.
“The problem is that a lot of these companies are publicly traded and
we all don’t want to disappoint the shareholders. We all know what
happens when you disappoint the shareholders. You don’t want
information you give to end up on the front page of The Globe and Mail.”

For the beginning of Emergency Preparedness Week May 7 to 13, Day
tabled Bill C-12, the Emergency Management Act which Day said would —
among other things — attempts to solve some of that dilemma. “It is an
interesting fact that 85 per cent of what is identified as critical
infrastructure is held by the private sector. We have had a concern
from the private sector of wanting to share their concerns about
vulnerabilities and having that information protected for competitive
reasons. That is where the challenges open up, where you have the
entire public sector wanting to cooperate and yet having those
concerns.”

In response to a question by a conference attendee, Day said steps will
and have been taken to address the concerns expressed by the private
sector. “There is a commitment by government with the proof in budget
”˜pudding.’ The legislation has been tabled, the resources are in place
and the commitment is there. You need to continue to push us and also
push your own industries to make sure this integration happens.”

Day said, given the new realities in which Cold War enemies have been
replaced by cyber threats, extremist ideological agendas and possible
environmental changes that could lead to bigger environmental events,
the job of government to work with safety and security professionals
has changed. “The old methods just aren’t good enough, anymore.

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“There is an interesting thing about emergency preparedness and safety
and security that differentiates the professionals and volunteers in
your sector from virtually any other sector,” he said. “Normally, in
terms of vocation, occupation or profession or events-preparation, you
work and train, study hard, become as educated and prepared as you can
for events you want to take place. When it comes to public safety, when
it comes to emergency preparedness, you train for events you hope will
never happen. It’s important to run through the virtual events about
what could happen.”

Day said he has putting his own departments through a series of “what
if” scenarios to work out how to handle a situation such as a tsunami
hitting the west coast or multiple terrorist attacks at multiple
locations across the country at one time.

He said responsibility for reacting properly to an emergency is often
seen as falling on government but added everyone has a responsibility
to work together. He urged conference participants to carry that
message out into their own industry.


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