Public Safety and Anti-terrorism (PSAT) Initiative,
Summative Evaluation

6. Conclusion, recommendations and management response

6. Conclusion, recommendations and management response

This section presents, by evaluation issue, the conclusions of the evaluation based on the findings of the previous sections.

6.1. Relevance

What is the ongoing level of need for a program that supports elevated efforts to combat public security issues and the threat of terrorism in Canada and abroad?

The objectives of the PSAT Initiative address national security concerns that are of continuing importance to the federal government: protecting Canadians from terrorist attacks; keeping borders open; identifying, prosecuting, and punishing terrorists; and contributing to international efforts to fight terrorism. The integrated, interdepartmental approach of the Initiative also remains a commitment of the government. Furthermore, intelligence threat assessments show that terrorism is considered to be a major threat to Canada, and that the tactics of terrorist groups are becoming more deadly and difficult to detect. All of these factors point to an ongoing level of need for the PSAT Initiative.

Are the Department's PSAT objectives in line with the government-wide initiative?

The Department's component supports the government's objectives under the Initiative. There is a strong demand for the Department's PSAT-related activities, demonstrating the importance of the Department's contribution to the Initiative. There is also an expectation that demand for these services will increase in the coming years. Ensuring public safety, in the face of terrorist or other threats, is a cornerstone of Canadian government policy, and is now on the agenda of most international gatherings. As the government continues to engage in new national security initiatives and also to sign international agreements related to terrorism and national security concerns, the legal advice and support required expands accordingly, and this growth will likely continue unabated. The Department also supports law enforcement agencies by providing advice to border agencies and investigators, and the DOJ (pre-PPSC) handled prosecutions to suspected terrorists.

6.2. Success in meeting objectives

The Department of Justice is conducting all of its six core activities under the PSAT Initiative and has made progress in meeting the objectives it has outlined for its role in PSAT. The Department has been particularly successful in engaging other Departments, client organizations, and other jurisdictions in PSAT-related matters. Departmental clients expressed a high degree of satisfaction with the work that has been done in the development of laws, regulations, and policies that support the general framework of the ATA.

Measuring the impacts of the activities conducted under the Initiative remains a challenge for the Department. Activities such as providing legal advice and drafting legislation, for example, do not lend themselves to having easily-measured outcomes.

To what extent have the DOJ PSAT activities engaged departmental representatives, client organizations and other jurisdictions in relevant public safety and anti-terrorism activities?

The evaluation found that the Department serves an important function in linking government departments and coordinating national security activities. This coordination largely occurs on an informal basis. Undoubtedly, the Initiative could benefit from more forums that would make meetings and information sharing, both within Justice and among other departments and agencies, a more regular feature of the Initiative.

In what ways is the DOJ, through its PSAT activities within the Department, in client organizations and with other jurisdictions, contributing to the development of more effective laws, regulations and policies?

Both the formative and summative evaluations found that the Department's work on the ATA and the PSA was valued by the other government departments involved with these pieces of legislation. Although the legislation has been the subject of legal challenges, these challenges are to be expected in such an uncharted area of the law. The ATA has created new criminal offences, which Canada has been able to use to prosecute people for activities that might previously not have been considered illegal, as well as new tools to assist investigators in detecting terrorists and terrorist activities. The process of reviewing the ATA was underway at the time of the evaluation's data collection phase. The CLPS will coordinate the government response to recommendations from the parliamentary committees as required.

The Department continues to assist in the development of laws, regulations, and policies that support the national security and anti-terrorism legislative framework, including that of the ATA. This assistance primarily involves providing advice to client departments, and the evaluation found general satisfaction with the work that has been done. The Department has developed expertise in drafting legislation and policies pertaining to terrorism. As a result, other government departments and agencies look to the Department of Justice to coordinate the government's national security policy, as the Department is considered to have the most comprehensive understanding of the various departments' activities. In addition, that expertise causes other countries to look to Canada for advice and assistance in drafting their own anti-terrorism laws. The Department also serves a vital role by reviewing all legislation, regulations, and policies so that fundamental human rights are not compromised when national security concerns arise.

To what extent have DOJ PSAT activities contributed to increased knowledge and understanding among key participants in the justice system and others of laws and regulations related to public safety and anti-terrorism?

The evaluation found that this is an objective that, over time, has become less of a priority. Shortly after the ATA was enacted, the Department provided a number of training sessions on the legislation within the Department, as well as to other departments and agencies at the federal and provincial levels, and these were well received. Since then, the Department now provides training when it is requested, on a more ad hoc basis, and it incorporates PSAT-related information into training on other issues. CLPS counsel have made presentations at conferences, universities, and other forums to raise awareness of the ATA. The Department has also set up a website on the Parliamentary Review of the ATA. In 2005, there were 15, 060 unique visitors to the site and 19, 558 unique visitors in 2006.

To what extent have DOJ PSAT activities enhanced the ability of departmental representatives, client organizations and other jurisdictions to investigate, litigate and / or prosecute cases where terrorism or other threats to public safety and anti-terrorism are involved or where disclosure of sensitive information is an issue?

The ATA provisions have not been used extensively, but through interviews, the evaluation found that the provisions, and also the Department's contribution to their implementation, have improved Canada 's response to investigations, litigation and/or the prosecution of terrorism cases. In particular, the Department has contributed to the potential use of intelligence in criminal proceedings by managing the notice provisions of section 38 of the Canada Evidence Act . The evaluation found that there are concerns about the handling of the large volumes of records associated with section 38 notices.

The Department has also developed an interdepartmentally agreed upon protocol for the management of Canadian evidence and testimony in foreign proceedings involving national security matters.

Some possible suggestions to improve investigations, litigation and/or prosecutions include assigning front-line prosecutors with top secret clearances to provide advice at the early stages of potential terrorism investigations, as well as developing a dedicated team of anti-terrorism prosecutors, as this legal area is very complex, covers new legal ground and therefore requires careful consideration.

What role has DOJ had in improving international efforts in the fight against terrorism?

Since the ATA was enacted, the Department has been engaged in a number of activities that support Canada's role as an international partner in anti-terrorism efforts. These include participating in international organizations; negotiating and providing legal advice on international instruments; handling extradition and mutual legal assistance requests; and providing advice and assistance to foreign countries on developing their own anti-terrorism legislation. Working with the international community in these areas is critical to Canada's anti-terrorism efforts, as acts of terrorism are a transnational crime. Each country has its own approach to the issue, based on its own legal and political culture. It is, therefore, important for Canada to understand other countries' systems, as well as for them to understand Canada's system. The Department serves an important role in providing this explanation, which improves Canada's ability to cooperate with other countries. It also ensures that any international commitments made by Canada meet Canadian and international legal standards.

Suggestions for how the Department could better assist these international efforts, identified by interviewees, included expanding the number of liaison counsel who are stationed in foreign capitals, as well as providing more resources so that the Department can participate in more capacity-building efforts and also attend international conferences. These activities help the Department to build a network with its international counterparts and also to improve international cooperation, in general.

To what extent has legal aid been provided to the economically disadvantaged accused affected by public safety and anti-terrorism initiatives?

What has been the contribution of DOJ PSAT activities to greater access to justice?

The Department provides contribution funding to the provinces and territories or their legal aid delivery entities to ensure that those economically disadvantaged accused affected by the PSAT Initiative have access to legal aid. While the current number of contribution agreements is not large, the significance of this funding provision cannot be underestimated. Mounting a defense to terrorism charges will be costly, and the provision of legal aid funding helps to ensure access to justice. At the same time, the funding ensures that there will be no stays of prosecutions because of lack of defence counsel.To date, there has not been a known instance of an unrepresented accused at trial in a terrorism-related case.

6.3. Effectiveness

Is the level of resources allocated to the Department sufficient to address the current need in relation to the PSAT Initiative?

Are PSAT-related cases and resources within the Department being managed in an efficient and effective manner?

For the summative evaluation, the RMAF defines effectiveness as, in part, “assessing the appropriateness of the level of resources allocated to the department.” Resources are an issue for some of the Department's sections, and for the last fiscal year (2005-06), the Department of Justice reports a $1.0 million deficit for its PSAT activities. If Department of Justice sections do not have sufficient funds available to them, there are two possible impacts on the services they provide to their clients: services are provided only in a reactive manner in response to national security issues and departmental officials can only provide the minimum required level of services to their clients.

It was noted during the course of the evaluation that the Department has a limited ability to demonstrate the sufficiency of its PSAT resources. The Department currently tracks funds by business line and this does not align with the Treasury Board Secretariat's requirement that funds be tracked by program or initiative. Some sections in the Department currently use iCase, which is an information management system that provides timekeeping, billing, case management, document management and reporting functions. The data from this system does not provide a clear overall picture of PSAT-related resource usage; use of this system and the data entered into it varies among departmental sections. As a result, some sections can only provide estimates of their PSAT-related resource use.

The formative evaluation recommended that the PSAT Steering Committee become more involved in coordinating activities under the Initiative. The summative evaluation found that the Committee has not yet fully expanded its role beyond that of resource allocation.

Recommendation 1

The Committee should further review its role and mandate so the full implications of the PSAT work of the Department are fully understood and appropriately funded.

Management Response

Agreed. While the Committee recognizes that each sector needs to continue to be responsible for its own PSAT-related activities, it is important for the Committee to make resource allocation decisions, monitor the implementation of the PSAT activities, and facilitate the reporting of the overall impact of PSAT funding.  The PSAT Steering Committee will review its mandate, as outlined in the Committee's Terms of Reference, during a future meeting.

How effective is the ongoing performance measurement system of the PSAT Initiative?

The formative evaluation also identified a need for an effective department-wide financial and performance measurement reporting system(s) for the Department's component of the PSAT Initiative. Since then, the Department has taken positive steps towards improving the reporting of the results of its PSAT activities. For example, the Department, through its Corporate Services, has taken a number of steps towards improving the reporting of the results of the Department's PSAT activities, in close collaboration with the TB Secretariat. Furthermore, the Department engaged a consultant to review its performance measurement strategy, to consult with key contacts in the Department, and to identify key performance indicators for each sector involved with the Initiative. As this project was conducted fairly recently, its results were not available for consideration in the evaluation.

Recommendation 2

The Department should continue to implement the positive measures it has already undertaken to improve the measurement and reporting of results for its PSAT activities.

Management Response

Agreed. In October 2006, the Department hired a contractor to consult with Departmental employees from each sector involved with PSAT.  The goal of the exercise was to improve the collection and reporting of performance measurement data to assist in demonstrating the impact of the Department's contribution to the PSAT Initiative.  The Department will build on this by implementing the consultant's recommendations.