Lack of clarity in governance is Canada's greatest security threat



    OTTAWA, Oct. 25 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian security experts believe that the
greatest threat to national security and public safety is the lack of clear
governance when responding to a threat, according to a Conference Board
report.
    "The greatest security threat is not natural disasters, terrorism,
cyber-attacks or pandemics. It is establishing direction and control when the
response to a disaster requires a wide range of public and private-sector
organizations," said Trefor Munn-Venn, Associate Director, National Security
and Public Safety. "If the relationships between these organizations fail, the
human suffering and property damage due to an emergency could be prolonged and
even exacerbated."
    The report, A Resilient Canada: Governance for National Security and
Public Safety, is funded by the Conference Board's Centre for National
Security, which brings together senior executives from public and
private-sector organizations. As the owners of the vast majority of critical
infrastructure, the private sector has an increasingly important role to play
in preventing and responding to security threats.
    The report's conclusions are based on research and interviews with
individuals who played key roles in the responses to eight disasters over the
past decade: the 1997 Red River flood, the 1998 ice storm in Eastern Canada,
the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the
outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Toronto in 2003, the 2003
blackout in Ontario and the north-eastern United States, the effects of
Hurricane Juan on Atlantic Canada in 2003, the 2005 London transit bombings,
and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

    Establishing an effective governance structure requires focus on six key
principles:

    - Leadership and accountability
    - Cooperation and coordination
    - Mandate and resources
    - Communications and transparency
    - Fairness
    - Continuous learning

    Some threats-like the Red River flooding and hurricanes in New Orleans-
can be predicted. Other threats, such as the 9/11 attacks, are much more
difficult to anticipate. In all of these circumstances, the governance
principles provide the foundation for an effective response.
    In the case of a predictable threat, the governance principles should be
used to formulate a response plan well in advance. Where incidents cannot be
easily anticipated, these principles enable organizations to rapidly establish
an effective response.
    The opportunities for action include: recognizing governance problems in
Canada; taking a principle-based approach to prepare us for the unexpected;
establishing clear governance structures for high probability threats; and
practicing regularly, with both public and private-sector participants
involved in these training exercises.
    The report is publicly available at www.e-library.ca. It is the first of
a series of reports, each of which will focus on one of the six governance
principles.




For further information:

For further information: Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, (613) 526-3090
ext. 448, corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca


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