Orientation to the CCRS

March 24-26, 2017 Ottawa, Ontario

The Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security (CCRS) met in Ottawa, Ontario, from March 24-26, 2017. Since it last met in 2015, the composition of the Roundtable has undergone significant change. As this was the first meeting for 11 of the 14 members, the theme of the meeting was “Orientation to the CCRS”.

CCRS members had their first opportunity to meet at the working dinner that was held on the Friday, alongside the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, Mr. Marco Mendicino, the Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General of Canada, Mr. William F. Pentney, and the Associate Deputy Minister of Public Safety Canada, Ms. Gina Wilson. Members and senior government officials from departments involved in national security files began to forge a relationship through an open discussion on a variety of topics including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, privacy rights, and Canada’s national security apparatus. A recurring theme throughout the discussion was the need to balance people’s rights while ensuring that law enforcement and national security agencies have the tools and resources that they need to keep Canadians safe and secure.

Throughout the weekend members had the opportunity to get to know each other, the work they will be engaged with and the organizations/officials with whom they will work during their time on the CCRS. Overview presentations were provided from multiple government departments, including the Department of Justice, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Public Safety Canada, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Mr. Pentney and Ms. Wilson both shared welcoming remarks on Saturday, setting the context for CCRS work. Members were encouraged to reflect on what factors increase or decrease the level of confidence in law enforcement in communities and to examine what innovative approaches and adaptations that existing successful programs can take to ensure that local realities are addressed in community programming.

The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, met with members on Sunday morning. Minister Goodale emphasized the complexity and diversity of the breadth of issues when it comes to keeping Canadians safe. Roundtable members affirmed their interest and commitment to being highly involved and contribute to solutions that forge the way forward. They recognized that all Canadians play a role in building an inclusive and respectful society, where diversity is embraced. Minister Goodale indicated that the legislative agenda in coming months will be extremely busy, with national security legislative components being part of that work.

Throughout the various sessions on both days, members identified topics of concern and inquired about issues that may become areas of focus for future meetings. These include: human trafficking and sexual exploitation; settlement and integration issues for newcomers and temporary foreign workers; improving trust and relationships with law enforcement agencies in Canada; the implications of transferring funds abroad (FINTRAC); proactive public awareness and education on national security issues; guns and gangs issues facing communities; and organized crime, particularly in terms of helping stem the flow of drugs into Canada and within communities.

Members welcomed the opportunity to be a part of the CCRS, recognizing the unique value of the Roundtable as an advisory committee. They expressed gratitude for the relationships that they have begun to build with each other and senior officials and their ongoing willingness to assist the Government in making Canada safer and more secure for all.

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