UPDATE: This new "agency" actually isn't an agency at all, as I reported on Monday. It’s a program – just like the Defence Research and Development Canada press release says it is.
Deputy Director General for the research centre, Mark Williamson provided more information about the program in an interview Thursday morning.
“Basically the strategy that got released in February is not really behind the creation of this. There’s obviously a link, but the program stems from the evolution of some precursor programs that kind of stood out post-911 … We felt there were some gains to be made by merging these this set of programs into one program,” he said.
Williamson said Canada’s counterterrorism strategy, released in February, is the latest, but there are a number of programs the CSSP plans to incorporate.
Comments on the announcement of CSSP on various news sites criticize the Canadian government for following the U.S. into “becoming a security state.” Williamson says that Defence and Research has close relationships with the U.S. when it comes to safety and security, but the program is not modeled after DHS or FEMA.
“One of the fundamental obligations of government is to safeguard its people and institutions. For Canadians, this means we are putting in place a program which is going to provide technological and science support to decision making in the safety and security world in Canada,” he said.
Canadian officials on Sunday announced the creation of a new agency that would focus on threat detection and disaster response.
“The Canadian Safety and Security Program (CSSP) strengthens Canada's ability to anticipate, prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disaster, serious accidents, crime and acts of terrorism through the convergence of science and technology with policy, operations and intelligence,” says a press release coinciding with an announcement by Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and Public Safety's Parliamentary Secretary, Candice Hoeppner.
Hoping to combine ideas from emergency response, public health, and law enforcement, the federal government is budgeting $43.5 million for CSSP to develop “technology capabilities to help prevent crisis.”
"In the last decade, tremendous work in this area has been accomplished through a number of separate programs," said Hoeppner – now their work will come together under one umbrella.
Earlier this year, Canada released its first ever counterterrorism strategy, “Building Resilience Against Terrorism.” The strategy outlines how the country's agencies can support each other to protect Canadian interests from extremist groups.
“The integration of these efforts under one comprehensive program allows investments to be distributed more effectively across the different domains,” says the release.
CSSP will further the nation’s capabilities in chemical, biological, and radiological threats, surveillance, and cybersecurity, officials say.
It will be based in Saskatchewan’s provincial capital, Regina.
Read the complete release here.
photo by Kashmera/flickr