Show Me the Money: National Security and the Budget: Part 2
5 May 2019
By Stephanie Carvin
National security is seldom an issue that grabs the attention of the Canadian media – even less so on budget day (and even less so during a political scandal). A quick look on the website for the budget highlights spending on seniors, pharmacare, housing and policies to promote good jobs – not a spy to be found. Nevertheless, for Canadian national security watchers there were a number of items in the 2019 Federal Budget that give a pretty good indication of the Liberal government’s priorities as they head into an election in just a few short months.
I’ve broken this blog into two parts that provide a mostly descriptive view of the budget. The first post looked at cybersecurity, election security and economic national security. This post looks at national security policing priorities, the border and anti-money laundering initiatives.
Budget 2019 provides a laundry list of items for the RCMP:
Interim Management Advisory Board
$77.3 million over five years and $13.5 million ongoing for enhanced law enforcement at the border
$68.9 million over five years and $20 million ongoing for enhanced federal policing capacity, including to fight money laundering
$11.5 million over three years to support transportation security
$5.7 million over five years and $1.2 million ongoing to protect national economic security
The Interim Management Board for the RCMP was announced in January 2019, but more on this below. The enhancement of anti-money laundering (AML) has been discussed recently in the National Post (it may include hiring civilians to work alongside uniformed RCMP officers). It is not clear what “transportation security” is. I have already addressed economic security in my first post, but it is not clear what the RCMP role is in this space, unless it is building cases for prosecution? Plans to take on financial crime, including trade fraud (discussed below) may also be on the agenda.
Review and Oversight of the RCMP/CBSA
Interestingly, Budget 2019 will provide $24.42 million over five years and $6.83 million per year afterwards, to expand the mandate of the RCMP’s Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP to also cover the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). In addition, the Government proposes introducing legislative amendments to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and other acts, as required, in order to establish the Management Board for the RCMP. It is possible that this legislation will be introduced in this session, it is definitely far from certain it will be able to pass through the House, let alone the Senate before the writ is drawn up.
Much has been written about the Trudeau government’s shift on immigration that is apparent in this budget. From “Refugees Welcome” to a much stricter approach, it appears that the Liberals are reading the tea leaves over what may be growing concerns about immigration in Canada (something we have also seen in other Western countries, although Canadians still seem to be generally more supportive.) Of note, and controversially, The Trudeau government will be making legislative changes to immigration law through the Budget Act rather than through separate legislation.
Second, the Trudeau government says it will be creating a new “Border Enforcement Strategy” aimed at combatting and discouraging irregular migration. The Budget proposes $1.8 billion (over 5 years) and $55 million per year ongoing to process 50,000 asylum claims per year, and facilitate the removal of failed claims.
Protecting Community Gathering Places from Hate-Motivating Crime
Interestingly, terrorism does not make a significant appearance in the Budget, although it is clearly in mind, given initiatives such as improving transportation security, noted above. Of note, however, there is a lot on preventing hate crimes. Budget 2018 provided funds for consultations on a new anti-hate strategy. Budget 2019 will provide $45 million over three years to support a new Anti-Racism Strategy and the creation of an “Anti-Racism Secretariat”. Details on this initiative will be announced at a later date. Additionally, in the wake of the attacks of several religious intuitions in Canada and around the world, the government will also double Public Safety Canada’s Security Infrastructure Program from $2 million per year to $4 million per year.
On the podcast we have spent time discussing anti-terrorism financing (ATF) in Episode 45 and Episode 68 with Jessica Davis. Given several scandals regarding collapsed cases on anti-money laundering (AML), it is unsurprising that this is a focus of the 2019 Budget. I’ve already noted the AML funding for the RCMP (discussed above). In addition, the government looks to be creating an Anti-Money Laundering Action, Coordination and Enforcement (ACE) Team, and a multi-disciplinary “Trade Fraud and Trade-Based Money Laundering Centre of Expertise”.
FINTRAC will also benefit from this renewed attention to AML/ATF with $16.9 million over five years (and $1.9 million per year ongoing) to advance the following objectives:
Improve oversight of modern financial practices related to virtual currencies, foreign money service businesses, pre-paid products and customer identification.
Expand public-private partnership projects to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the AML/ATF Regime.
Increase outreach and examinations in the real estate and casino sectors with a focus on the province of British Columbia.
The Take Away
As noted in the introduction to these two pieces on Budget 2019, national security is seldom a crowd-pleaser. Nevertheless, it is important for those interested in national security to follow budget announcements, as they provide a pretty good indication of where the government’s priorities are, especially as we are about to enter into a few months of pre-election “silly season”. In this case, those priorities seem to be cybersecurity, economic security and hate crimes (with a dash of enhanced oversight and review). Also of interest is the amount of funding that appears to be going to outreach initiatives whether it is having the national security and intelligence community engage with academia and the private sectors to discuss risks, or to consult on racism/hate crimes policy. The idea that we are slowly moving towards increasingly regularized and substantive conversations between different parts of Canadian society is to be welcomed. But in the end, how much of this national security budget survives will be up to voters in October.