There can be no greater role, no more important obligation for a government, than the protection and safety of its citizens. But as all Canadians know, we live in an increasingly interconnected, complex and often dangerous world. The increase in terrorist acts and the threat of rapid, globalized spread of infectious disease all challenge our society and the sense of security that is so critical to our quality of life. Canadians understand this new reality. They know that the threats to security and public safety are not just the problems other nations face. We too are touched by, and face, similar challenges.
Securing an Open Society: Canada's National Security Policy is a strategic framework and action plan designed to ensure that Canada is prepared for and can respond to current and future threats. The focus is on events and circumstances that generally require a national response as they are beyond the capacity of individuals, communities or provinces to address alone.
The first-ever policy of its kind in Canada, Securing an Open Society adopts an integrated approach to security issues across government. It employs a model that can adapt to changing circumstances over time. It has been crafted to balance the needs for national security with the protection of core Canadian values of openness, diversity and respect for civil liberties.
The National Security Policy focuses on addressing three core national security interests:
- Protecting Canada and Canadians at home and abroad
- Ensuring Canada is not a base for threats to our allies
- Contributing to international security
It contains several measures to help build a more integrated security system in a way that is consistent with the goals of the policy:
- An Integrated Threat Assessment Centre has been established to ensure that all threat-related information is brought together, assessed and reaches all who need it in a timely and effective manner.
- The Government has established a National Security Advisory Council which is made up of security experts external to government.
- An advisory Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security, composed of members of Canada's ethno-cultural and religious communities, has been created.
- The Department of Public Safety has been designated as the body responsible for the testing and auditing of federal departments' key security responsibilities and activities.
The National Security Policy also includes chapters on six key strategic areas. Each chapter builds on important steps already taken, addresses specific security gaps, and sets out the principles upon which the policy will be implemented and evolve.