Friday, 20 October 2017

A really strange plane incident 

I have flown in many planes in my lifetime during my trips to many countries around the word.

Many years ago, I flew in a small sea plane over the mountains of British Columbia. The pilot even let me fly the plane for half an hour.  Fortunately for him and me, we were several thousand feet above the mountains.

I also flew in a World War II two-seater fighter plane over Prince Edward Island and nearly fell out of the passenger seat when the pilot made a sharp left bank. I couldn’t be seat-belted in the plane because I was too fat then so I wasn’t seated tightly in the seat.

Another time when I was in a small plane flying over Ontario, I wanted to take a photo so I pulled a lever that I thought was for the window. It was for the door and I ended up outside the plane hanging on the lever until the pilot banked left and I fell back into the plane.

I and a friend of mine later got into a small plane that was to be flown by a friend of my friend. Just as we were to take off, the pilot got a message to return the plane to the hanger. Two days later, he took the plane up by himself in the air and purposely dove the plane into the ground where he was then killed.

A number of years ago, I and my family were in a passenger plane in the United States that crashed onto the runway and caught fire. Everyone but me got out safely. I had a broken right arm and couldn’t unlock my seat belt.  My wife cried out, “My husband is still in the plane. He can’t release his seatbelt.” A female stewardess rushed back into the plane and unbuckled my seat belt and dragged me out of the plane.    

And now, I am going to tell you about a strange event of what took place in a small three-seater plane flying over the City of Toronto.

Len Koenecke was a married man and the father of a young child. He was an outfielder with the Brooklyn Dodgers, who in the previous season had set a major league fielding record of .994 but an arm injury and faltering performance was threatening to end his baseball career. He was subsequently sent back to the minors.

In September 17, 1935, the ballplayer with his reputed rebellious streak boarded a commercial flight to New York. But he was turfed from the plane during an unscheduled stop in Detroit for being drunk and aggressive.

At the airport there, he approached a pilot called Mulqueeney about chartering a Stinson Junior monoplane to continue his journey east but he balked at the $175 fare.  Nevertheless they both agreed on a $60rae  to fly as far as Buffalo.

Koenecke seemed to have a hangover, but otherwise he was quite steady and sober,” Mulqueeney said of Koenecke’s demeanour in the airport waiting room.

Davis, a 25-year-old licensed pilot, stunt flyer and friend of Mulqueeney’s, decided to go along for the ride and the trio set off around 10 p.m.

Within minutes of being in the air, things got ugly in the cabin as Koenecke demanded that the veteran airman perform flying stunts. When Mulqueeney refused, Koenecke tried to grab the controls. What a jerk that man was expecting the pilot to do maneuvers in the dark of night.

“It looked as if he wanted to try to fly the plane himself,” the pilot recalled. He and Davis managed to force Koenecke, who appeared “completely demented,” into the back seat where promises of liquor in Buffalo pacified him between bouts of belligerence for a couple of hours.

But as the plane approached Long Branch in the south-west of Toronto, Koenecke tried again to take charge of the plane.

Davis wrestled him to the floor, suffering several bites as the powerful athlete kept grinding his teeth on the flesh of Davis’ body  and pawing at him while Davis struck back with his fists. 

Koenecke was bumping against the controls and the plane causing it to fly erratically. Mulqueeney later said to the Toronto Star  “We would all come down dead if we didn’t knock Koenecke out”

He grabbed the fire extinguisher and struck out when the first blow hit Davis by mistake.

Mulqueeney said, “I left the controls of the machine and turned around. I could see the side of Koenecke’s head. I hit him. The handle of the fire extinguisher came out. I hit him again. I hit him until he stopped fighting.”

In his account to the newsmen, he said he hit Koenecke as many as 10 times.

He said, “The ship (plane) was going up and down and all over the place.”Mulqueeney described how he used his “seventh sense” to fly, doing 200 km/h as they zoomed as low as 200 feet.

In the moonlight, the disoriented pilot could see the outline of Long Branch race track at Kipling and Evans Aves. which was a safe spot to land  to get away from that frightful nightmare.

The chaos in the sky caught eyes and ears on the ground below. While the fight for life was taking place, the aeroplane zoomed low and then climbed high, dozens of times, as it followed an erratic course along the lake shore awakening and puzzling residents of the towns from the Humber to Port Credit,” coroner Dr. Warren Snyder who later told the newspaper.

It crossed the race track from north to south several times. To onlookers, it appeared to be going quite fast and was very apparently in distress.

The plane finally landed just after 1 a.m. in the infield of the race track, slightly damaged and splattered with blood inside. Koenecke was huddled dead in the rear seat.

A police constable told the Star, “I saw his face and saw the blood he had lost and said “he’s gone.” He died of his injuries before the plane landed.

If Koenecke’s dead, I guess I killed him,” Mulqueeney said, adding he didn’t remember much after hitting the deranged man. “It was either him or all of us. It’s terrible.”

Mulqueeney and Davis were immediately charged with manslaughter but the charges were dismissed three days later when the jury at a preliminary hearing ruled that they had acted in self-defence.

Defence counsel E.J. Murphy told the jury, “Koenecke had become demented after being discharged from the Dodgers then kicked off the flight to New York. The despondent man wanted to die a spectacular death.  A sane man would never have attempted to grab the controls of an aeroplane. The jury acquitted both men.

Magistrate William Keith believed the two flyers had little choice but to defend themselves. He added, “However, the men may have used a little more force than necessary.”

Give me a break. In the fog of battle, niceties are not applicable when your life is at stake.

Years ago, an unruly passenger who authorities say was trying to open an exit door on a Delta Air Lines flight to Beijing while the plane was high in the air. He fought with the cabin crew and the passenger and was knocked out by a flight attendant with two wine bottles. He was lucky. In another event, a man tried to open the outside door and was tackled by a number of passengers. The man died in the tussle.       

When I was a young boy living in Toronto, I saw a plane crash into the paddlewheel ferry that I and my family had just taken to cross the Toronto harbour to reach the Toronto Islands.

Years later, a large passenger place approaching the Toronto Airport hit the runway so hard, one of the plane’s two engines broke off one of the wings. The pilot then flew the plane over Toronto in order to make another attempt to land but without the lost motor, the plane crashed in a field and everyone in the plane was killed. 

Then years later, a small four-seater plane crashed into a field just north of Toronto. The two men in the plane died in the cash.

Despite these crashes, flying in planes is safer than riding in a car on highways and city streets. But then once in a while when flying in a plane—00ps

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Comparing US health plans with those of Canada  

Comparing the health plans between the US and Canada is like trying to compare apples and oranges. There simply is no comparison.

Health care in the United States

The market-based health insurance system in the United States has caused a human rights crisis that deprives a large number of people of the health care they need.  The most visible problem is the 32 million people without health insurance. What is  most distressing is the number of preventable deaths—up to 101,000 people per year  which is  simply due to the way the health care system in the US is organized.

This crisis persists despite available resources to protect the right to health, record levels of health care spending and constant repeated health reform efforts. Since social determinants, such as race, income and environment have strongly influenced who becomes ill and who receives access to quality care, the health care crisis disproportionately affects disadvantaged groups and under-resourced communities, such as people living in poverty, people of color, and immigrants.

Despite the existence of barriers to accessing care, the burden of medical debt and the shortage of primary care providers has affected all people in the US including those with employer-sponsored insurance. Overall, the health care crisis in the US is the result of the privatization and commodification of the U.S. health system, which reflects market imperatives and profit interests that devalue human needs, dignity and equality.

Has there been any improvement prior to the time when  President Obama was in power?  In that era, Americans had a higher infant mortality rate and lower life expectancy than comparable countries in 2007, The U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality among high-income countries (13 in 100,000), and also the highest rate of C-Sections (32%), as opposed to a recommended (5-15%) As many as 45,000 people died each year simply because they had no health insurance according to the American Journal of Public Health (2009)

Approximately 50 million people did not have health insurance. Over half of them were African Americans, according to the Center for American Progress (2009) Of those who were insured, at least 25 million were underinsured. They had often  chosen to forgo health care because of high deductibles according to  the Commonwealth Fund (2008)  As many as 700,000 families went  bankrupt each year just by trying to pay for their health care even though three quarters of them had some form of Health insurance according to Health Affairs (2006). In comparison, the five largest insurance companies made a combined profit of approximately $12 billion in 2009.                                      

The United States had fewer doctors and nurses than other high-income countries according to the World Health Organization statement made in 2007. Unfortunately, Hospitals and doctors were disproportionately located in wealthier areas instead of being evenly spaced.  As a result,  public hospitals were closing in areas where they were most needed. The U.S. ranked lowest among high-income countries in its primary care infrastructure. There was a projected shortage of 44,000 primary care doctors within the next 15 years.

The rights of people of color are violated: e.g., the 10-year survival rate for Black people of people with cancer is 60% for Whites and 48% for African Americans according to the SEER cancer statistics, also the Office of Minority Health

The quality of care given to people of color was generally lower, (Is that a surprise?) including in the treatment of cancer, heart failure, and pneumonia according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, statement made in 2009.

While immigrants are generally healthier than the average citizen upon arrival in the United States, their health tends to deteriorate the longer they remain in the country according to Unhealthy Assimilation and Demography statement made in May 2006)

Women were more likely than men to forgo their needed health care due to cost-related access barriers. according to the Commonwealth Fund statement in 2007. Women’s right to non-discrimination had been violated by increasingly restricting those services to women who needed reproductive health care. Health care is a right and not a commodity that only rich whites can enjoy. 

What is happening in 2017?

There is something to be said for the concept that excessive government is a bad thing. High taxes and burdensome regulations can hold back economic growth. Some will say that Aid programs can make people dependent on government and reduce the incentive for people to work hard.

As an institution that receives revenue from taxes rather than from providing goods and services that consumers actually want, the government has little reason to spend money efficiently. Unlike private businesses, the government will keep collecting revenue whether it does a good job or not.

Republicans have been successfully making this argument for decades. Even in 2017, it has been  an argument that has put them in a dominant position at all levels of government. Americans in fact, should be thanking President Obama in particular for doing so much to help them achieve some success in helping those in need of health care. Obamacare, after all, had come to represent the ultimate example for so many conservatives of government that is out of control.

And President Trump, while hardly a traditional Republican candidate, spent much of his campaign decrying Obamacare as one of the ultimate evils of the universe. That gives support for that old adage—the pot calling the pan black.

Ever since the Affordable Care Act became law, conservatives complained about the new regulations that it placed on insurance companies, increased health care costs, higher government spending resulting from Medicaid expansion and new subsidies, and the hated individual mandate that would impose penalties on people who did not get insurance. As a general rule, they prefer a health care system that is run by the private sector as much as possible, with competition between insurance companies and medical service providers supposedly creating more choices for consumers and driving prices down. They also question the idea that health care is some sort of a human right that government must provide rather than a service that individuals must pay for themselves.

As an aside, I remember when many years ago, Canadians had to pay a relatively low fee to get government-sponsored health benefits for themselves and their families.  We didn’t really complain because it provided a large amount of benefits including hospital and medical doctor’s fees.

Donald Trump as a candidate made some of these traditional conservative arguments, complaining particularly about new regulations, higher health care costs, and the hated individual mandate. He did not, however, emphasize the argument that people should buy health care for themselves. Instead, he claimed that a better law would be crafted that would keep the more popular parts of Obamacare, such as guaranteeing insurance for people with preexisting conditions and allowing young people to stay on their parent's insurance until the age of 26, and would not cause anyone to lose their insurance. In fact, he even claimed that more people would get affordable insurance than under Obamacare. It would be the perfect plan.  It would certainly make most Americans happy since they  would get more benefits with the government spending less money and imposing fewer rules. Is that his plan in 2017?

For someone who was supposedly not a traditional politician, Donald Trump played the ultimate political game better than the seasoned politicians. He promised the moon while being vague on the details of how Americans will get there. The only problem is that those seasoned politicians who have to write actual legislation know that the Trump’s plan is a fantasy, and it's a fantasy that they are not even interested in trying to deliver.

This is why the health plan recently passed by the House will cause millions to lose their insurance. So whether you agree with the conservative ideology or not, you can at least respect House Republicans for being consistent. It is President Trump, as has often been the case during his first few months in office, who is being inconsistent. After promising that no one would lose their insurance or be denied due to preexisting conditions, he has endorsed a plan that would do both.

If something resembling the House health care bill got through Congress and landed on the President's desk, Americans will find out what Donald Trump actually believes about health care.

Is it his priority to shrink the role of government or to provide affordable health care? And if he does go along with traditional conservatives and signs a bill that causes large numbers of people to lose their current insurance, what will his supporters think? Will they be happy simply because the hated Obamacare is gone, or will they be disappointed when they eventually realize that they were naive enough to believe in his fantasy?

President Trump, after failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act in Congress, decided to act on his own to relax health care standards on small businesses that band together to buy health insurance and may take steps to allow the sale of other health plans that skirt the health law’s requirements.

Trump plans to sign an executive order to promote health care choice and competition at a White House event attended by small-business owners and others.

It is possible is that Americans are not going to get a good health care plan at all. The House created a Bill so his Republicans could get it through the Senate. The Republican majority is slim in the Senate, and Senators have to think about public opinion throughout their states, not just the constituents of heavily gerrymandered districts. So when the Senate fails to come up with something that can be reconciled with the House, Republican members of the House can tell their constituents that they tried, Republican Senators can blame Democrats for standing in the way of change, and President Trump can then do what he does best—blame everyone but himself for the nation's continuing problems. The best news for President Trump and the GOP, of course, is that they will not have to deal with the wrath of millions of people who have lost their health insurance, and if Republicans are ever unhappy about any of the complex, inevitable problems associated with health care, they will still have the evil Obamacare to blame.

Although Trump has been telegraphing his intentions for more than a week, Democrats and some state regulators are now looking at Trump’s  intentions with increasing alarm, calling it another attempt to undermine President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. They warn that by relaxing standards for so-called association health plans, Mr. Trump would create low-cost insurance options for the healthy, driving up costs for the sick and destabilizing insurance marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act.

There are concerns that the Trump administration intends to loosen restrictions on short-term health insurance plans that do not satisfy requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

His plan would cut off healthy individuals, and cannibalize the insurance exchanges. This could leave older, sicker people left behind in plans regulated under the Affordable Care Act since premiums could increase to the extent that they couldn’t pay them.

Large employer-sponsored health plans are generally subject to fewer federal insurance requirements than smaller group plans that have coverage purchased by individuals and families on their own. They are generally not required to provide “essential health benefits,” such as emergency services, maternity and newborn care, mental health coverage and substance abuse treatment, however, many do.

Several states considered bringing in Bills to treat health plans offered to small employers through a trade association as large-group coverage, exempt from federal rules that apply to small businesses. But the Obama administration blocked those efforts, saying they were pre-empted by the Affordable Care Act. Trump administration officials are reconsidering that interpretation, in view of the president’s vow to increase access to less expensive insurance.

Large-group plans are still subject to some requirements of the Affordable Care Act. They generally must cover children up to age 26 on their parents’ plans, cannot impose lifetime limits on covered benefits and cannot charge co-payments for preventive services like mammograms and colonoscopies. However, they are generally exempt from the requirements to provide a specified package of benefits and to cover a certain percentage of the cost of covered services.

The Trump administration is also looking for ways to ease restrictions on short-term health insurance plans that do not meet requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Under a rule issued last October by the Obama administration, the duration of such short-term plans, purchased by hundreds of thousands of people seeking inexpensive insurance, must be less than three months. The rules previously said “less than 12 months.

The Obama administration had said that some insurers were abusing short-term plans and keeping healthier consumers out of the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. People were buying these short-term plans as their “primary form of health coverage,” and some insurers were pitching their products to healthier people.

But Trump administration officials have said that with the insurance premiums soaring in many states, consumers should be able to buy less comprehensive, less expensive coverage as an alternative to conventional plans. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said short-term policies will serve an important purpose for consumers who are between jobs. That sounds OK to me if the plan works.

Trump’s plan has some insurance experts worried. The influx of a set of plans exempt from the Affordable Care Act rules will essentially divide the market and make it increasingly unstable, according to Rebecca Owen, a health research actuary with the Society of Actuaries.

People who want or need broad coverage could find it increasingly difficult to obtain an affordable policy, according to Health Care experts While the administration’s goal may be to give people a broader choice of plans, it could have the opposite effect on people who need or want the robust coverage available under the Affordable Care Act and can’t afford it or even have access to it.

It is obvious that the easier you make it possible not to buy comprehensive coverage, the harder it will to buy comprehensive coverage later.

Meanwhile while, apprehensive health insurers wait for details of the executive order, they are still offering coverage in the online marketplaces created by the health care law.

Some Americans may already be attracted to short-term plans because of their low costs. These plans tend to limit benefits or offer policies only to people who do not have expensive medical conditions. Further, once they are in the plans, the rates may very well increase considerably.

Those insurers are most jittery about the possibility of a surge in short-term plans. Many of the large national insurers, like UnitedHealth Group, already offer these plans, and there would be little difficulty in their introducing more because of the executive order.

Short-term policies do not satisfy the coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act, so consumers who buy them may be subject to tax penalties. But with the price of conventional insurance policies rising at double-digit rates, some people say they are willing to pay a penalty so they can buy a cheaper plan.

The introduction of the new plans could take much longer to come into being according to insurers and other experts. The administration would need to work out the regulatory details, and groups would need to reconstruct those plans.

However,  these plans pose some of the same risks, and industry experts have warned since that they have a history of leaving consumers with unpaid medical bills if they are not adequately regulated.

While association health plans can be well run, they have had a spotty track record.  In the past, some plans failed because they did not have enough money to pay their customers’ medical bills, while some insurance companies were accused of misleading people about exactly what the plans would cover.

Most of this info I got from reading an article written by Peter Pear and others.

How does the proposed America health care plans compare with those in Canada?

Once again Canadians across the country have looked across the border in disbelief as to how Americans just can’t seem to come to grips with their opinions that medical care is a right for everyone, not just those who can afford it. Many Americans also resist the idea that providing medical care is a collective responsibility whether it be for someone who has been in a car accident or diagnosed with breast cancer.

In Canada, we all pitch in to the costs of operating our health care plans through our taxes so doctors, nurses, hospital beds and MRI machines etc., are there for all of us when we need them. We don’t have to pay a cent for these services.

In Canada, we can decide to go to the ER of our choice and not have to even think about how much it will cost so we will get the treatment health professionals decide we need rather than what an insurance company deems we need.

In Ontario, our health needs and care are provided by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) People in Ontario don’t have to pay a cent for that coverage.

Many years ago, a woman I knew was suffering from what appeared to be inoperable cancer in the middle of her brain.  The surgeons told her that it was impossible to operate in that part of her brain without causing irreparable damage to her brain so they refused to operate.

She told me that she learned of a hospital in Sweden that does such operations with success by using a thin laser beam. She also said that she would have to be in the hospital for at least a month so that they can begin the procedure after fully examining her brain and planning the route that the laser beam will enter her brain.

She told me that she was told that the operation and the stay in the hospital would cost her $400,ooo dollars CAD. Naturally, she couldn’t afford that kind of money. She contacted OHIP and they refused to fund the operation. She then came to me and I convinced OHIP to pay for the operation, the hospital and the trip.  Her operation in Sweden was a success.

In 1999, when I was 66 years of age, I had a heart attack. I was in really bad shape. Of my four arteries feeding my heart, one was blocked 45% the second one was blocked 90%, the third, 90% and the fourth one, 99%. Of course, I had a heart operation. The three-month stay in the hospital, the large number of tests and the operation cost me nothing—not a cent.

Despite the operation, I have been living with only 27% of my heart functioning. For this reason, I had another two heart attacks  which resulted with me spending more months in the hospital. Further since I am obviously older than 59, all my medicine which is given to me from my local pharmacy and delivered by courier are given to me without having to pay a cent. If I had to pay for my medicine each month, I would have to pay at least a hundred dollars a month. OHIP also pays for my visits to my doctors, be they family doctors or specialists.   

Are Canada’s health plans superior to those of the United States? Let me give you an answer in a way that you will appreciate by asking you a question.

Is it the moon that raises our tides on Earth? 

Monday, 16 October 2017

Canada’s plans to fight cyber terrorism                                              

Bill C-59 – the National Security Act 2017 – outlines a new vision for Canadian national security. Reading between the lines of this “anti-terror” bill, there is a clear attempt here to comprehensively rework decision-making mechanisms to enhance oversight and ministerial control over counter terrorism, surveillance and cyberspace operations. The new bill is intended to revise the much-maligned existing Anti-Terrorism Act, known as C-51, enacted by the previous government in the immediate aftermath of the October 2014 terrorist attacks in Quebec and on Parliament Hill. Curiously, the bill was passed with the support of opposition Liberals who are now in power.

While its new measures demonstrates with clarity of vision as to where Prime Minister Trudeau’s administration would like its counter-terror efforts to go, the C-59 document reveals something else that is much more interesting.

For cyber (internet) operators preoccupied with arcane details or procedures, the decision by the Trudeau government to clarify and revise its policy outlook when it comes to cyber operations is substantial. This decision is likely to have far-reaching and enduring significance for both Canada and NATO’s cyberspace operations strategies and force development. The specifics of the proposed legislation may still be revised, however the broader policy shift toward more overt planning and deliberation on cyber defense falls in line with similar developments in other Five Eyes members (UK, US, Australia and New Zealand) capitals). Note that they are the only countries where English is their main language.

Because of this important similarity, many of the same issues and factors that have emerged as cyber operations controversies for these partners may also affect Canada’s new policy approach. More than anything else, C-59 encapsulates the most relevant cyber debates and issues of our time. As such, the Bill should not be considered more than just this; a beginning to coherent Canadian policy on cyber attacks.

What does C-59 really say about cyber attacks?

The focus of cyber operations defined within the proposed Bill (C-59) covers Computer Network Exploitation (CNE), computer network attack (CNA) and Defensive Cyberspace Operations (DCO). In plain English, these different categories can be thought of as spying, sabotaging, or defending one’s respective cyberspace. Of note in C-59, it isn’t the inclusion of these capabilities but is more importantly the absence of another capability area to wit; the Defensive Cyberspace Operations – Response Actions (DUO-RA which verifies the identity of the users with a two-factor authentication.

Heavily present in the US cyber-operations doctrine, DCO-RA will amount to offensive actions taken on sovereign networks or mission infrastructure to counter an adversary’s persistent access, activities, or disruptive behavior. While sounding quite simple on paper, DCO-RA in practice is quite controversial because of its potential impact on civilian third parties who will not be too happy with their government’s intrusion.

In national or allied cyber operations, DCO-RA could also necessitate actions on foreign soil in support of non-cyber activities. Such activities are likely to pose complex oversight challenges to existing or new government plans and oversight instruments. Where in the past clear lines have been defined between involvement vs. non-involvement in coalition operations, future cyber operations could implicate Canada in actions overseas that it might wish to avoid (e.g., avoiding commitment of troops or materiel).

While norms and Rules of Engagement (ROEs) set the limits of permissible actions in cyber operations, collateral effects can make it difficult to constrain unanticipated impacts. Defensive cyberspace operations carry the risk of inadvertent escalation if an adversary misunderstands their impact, or any other Cyber partner of unintended consequences and impacts.

Offense, Dominance and Cyber Defense

It is often asserted by specialists that cyberspace is a computer setting where attack (offense) is easier than defense. The new powers that C-59 allocates for cyber-attack and exploitation must be closely coordinated with defenses of civilian data, networks and public utilities that provide vital services.

Cyber risk management and vulnerability mitigation priorities must be reconciled with defense and intelligence planning. Critical infrastructure cybersecurity is currently the responsibility of Public Safety Canada, (PSC) provincial authorities and private sector business owners. Linking these two roles together may stress existing Canadian government mechanisms for managing cyber risks and collateral effects. Unfortunately, the mechanism for achieving this is not well described in Bill C-59.

More than anything else, C-59 encapsulates the most relevant cyber debates and issues of our time.

Perhaps the bill’s proposed new review agency, NSIRA, (National Security and Intelligence Review Agency) can provide a channel for public discussions on the efficiency of current planning and coordination approaches, but with the Bill’s vague language, it is difficult to tell where NSIRA’s mandate truly begins and ends.

Established entities—respectively CSIS, the RCMP, (Canada’s federal police) DND (Department of National Defence) and CSE (Communications Security Establishment) will likely participate in interagency discussions and planning processes where missions are developed. NSIRA and the new Parliamentary oversight committee will have the opportunity to review these mechanisms and police compliance with legislative and policy guidance.

Playing it safe

Alas, C-59 allocates responsibilities in ways that are while not always clear and yet, not particularly controversial. National defense responsibilities fall to the Department of National Defense, with CSE conducting signals intelligence operations in support of allied and Canadian mission priorities.

Bill C-59 clarifies and extends these mission areas, with the addition of two new roles: Active Defense—Foreign defensive cyber operations (on foreign infrastructure in response to digital attacks) and Foreign Active Cyber Operations on foreign infrastructure with the objective of proactively disrupting a potential threat to Canada or its allies. This addition, however, raises the issue of defensive actions that can be interpreted as offensive in nature especially if they intrude on people’s privacy.

Uncertainties—Risk and Oversight

Even well planned cyber operations present risks to innocent  third parties. These can be managed but never eliminated entirely. Cyber is an uneven domain, offering opportunities for less capable entities to challenge apparently stronger adversaries. What does this mean for the early detection of cyber threats?

While participation in cyber alliances like the Five Eye nations group provides intelligence about common threats, the interdiction of these threats at the national level must still be executed in the context of national laws. However, concerns  with   privacy and civil liberties overlap with the risk management requirements of cyber operations—both at home and abroad.

This apparent overlap can lead to perceived overreach when responding to cyber threats. Enhanced surveillance of networks for detection necessarily means greater risk to personal privacy from surveillance by the government.

C-59’s proposed joint Department National Defence and Foreign Affairs (DNDF) ministerial concurrence on cyber operations is an important threshold governing future developments in cyber operations. It is here that Parliamentary oversight of strategic policies and plans developed by the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) and Department of National Defence (DNS) can have its most significant impact. It provides clearances to parliamentarians so that they can achieve deeper understanding of an issue not typically shared with them in their roles as Members of Parliament is essential.

The mechanism devised in Canada tracks well with the oversight committee models adopted in other Five Eyes capitals. Liaison among these legislative oversight agencies might offer an additional means to deepen collaborative frameworks beyond executive to executive and military to military channels.


Canada’s adoption of a more transparent policy on its cyber capabilities and mission requirements is a notable achievement for the Trudeau government in this particular Bill. Also significant are the experiences of other Western countries that have traveled the same path toward institutionalized cyberspace capabilities that are in the form of national strategies, purpose-designed agencies and executive level oversight mechanisms. The interaction of national and allied cyber plans will require novel mechanisms to ensure interoperability and deconfliction of activities.

Further, oversight at the national level will be challenged by the historically closely-held relationships among Five Eyes’ nations defense and intelligence establishments, which are not frequently the subject of a parliamentary review. It is likely that the Bill C-59 vision is just the opening gambit in a more-lengthy formulation and revision process for enhanced government oversight of cyber operations and associated intelligence activities.

I apologize for the complexity of this article but that is the way I received it however, I made some word changes to simplify the descriptions without changing the meanings.