Canada Fears Y2K Disastergreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Wonder what the "censored" parts said??
Canada fears Y2K disaster for nonchalant NATO allies DND also concerned about power failures, military cleanup duties
Friday, May 14, 1999 Martin Mittelstaedt Environment Reporter
Toronto -- Department of National Defence officials planning for the year 2000 computer problem have been worried about a collapse of Canada's electricity grid and lax preparations by NATO, according to records obtained by The Globe and Mail.
"From a national, domestic perspective, . . . the greatest area for concern is the entire power grid (national-provincial-municipal levels)," the records said.
"Given that this is a provincial responsibility, there is not much that can be done at the national level at this time. Conversely, the consequences of a widespread failure in this sector will be far-reaching."
The heavily censored documents consist of briefing notes prepared for Defence Minister Art Eggleton and General Maurice Baril, Chief of Defence Staff, on the year 2000, or Y2K, problem. They were obtained under federal access-to-information legislation.
Colonel Charles Lemieux, head of strategic planning for the Defence Department's Y2K effort, said progress has been made in ensuring that the electricity grid continues working.
"Yes it is [a concern] and it continues to be, but I'm just saying that's where a lot of work has been going on," he said yesterday in an interview.
The records -- 134 pages, about half of which were blanked out under censorship claims of cabinet secrecy and other grounds -- show that the Defence Department saw serious weaknesses in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's planning for Y2K computer problems.
The Y2K problem refers to the difficulty some computers might have determining the date on Jan. 1, 2000, because of limitations and errors in their programming.
The documents pertaining to NATO were compiled last June before a meeting of the military organization attended by Mr. Eggleton.
The records indicate that Canada claims it alerted NATO communications experts to the Y2K computer problem in 1996. But the ministerial briefing notes say that "as late as May, 1998, the NATO international board of auditors was unaware (due to an administrative error) of any NATO communication information systems effort on the year 2000 problem."
According to the notes, the Defence Department worries that computer links with other NATO militaries could be disrupted if those countries do not reprogram their computers.
"One of the major concerns with the year 2000 problem is that regardless of what Canada does, unless our NATO allies are also compliant, there is a real possibility that operations with those allies will be at risk," the note to Mr. Eggleton said.
It indicates some frustration within Canada that NATO wasn't taking the Y2K problem seriously enough.
The note said the computer switchover has been recognized "as the most complex problem existing within the federal government," and it recommended "that Canada reinforce the necessity that year 2000 be made a top priority within NATO."
Col. Lemieux said he is working with NATO on the Y2K problem, but declined to give an assessment of the alliance's efforts.
"All I'm saying is that we are working with them. That's all I said. I haven't made a judgment on how far are they -- are they as far as we are," he said.
There is also concern from the military that governments have an impractical view of the Defence Department's ability to manage any fallout from the year 2000 problem.
"There is the real possibility that the limited capacity of the [Canadian Forces] to manage the consequences of the Y2K effects may be unrealistically overestimated. This must be put into proper perspective ASAP so that the government (as well as provinces) doesn't put too much reliance on the [Canadian Forces]," said one of the records, compiled last June.
The military also worries that confusion caused by the Y2K problem could lead to what one document referred to as "potential foreign threats to Canada/North America."
There was no elaboration on which foreign countries the military was concerned about or the nature of the threats.
The documents also said the military was confident that its aircraft fleet will be Y2K compliant, although there was "some lingering doubt" about whether this would apply to the CC-150 Airbus.
-- Roland (email@example.com), May 14, 1999
Roland -- Get Decker and Poole on the case ASAP! A few good posts and some letters to the right Canadian authorities and they will be reassured in no time. Problems with the grid and critical military exposures. Sheesh! What a bunch of morons those Canadians are, eh?
-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), May 14, 1999.
Or maybe DeJager could give them a good talking to.
-- Roland (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 14, 1999.
For those who have been thinking, "Well, if worse comes to worst we'll have martial law and the military will save us," this shows the military is worried and not yet compliant and will be stretched too thin and burrowratted.
Get yourself prepared NOW! Do your own CYA.
xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx
-- Leska (email@example.com), May 14, 1999.
Yep, we're going down! 'Course, we won't take our neighbours with us.
-- moronic (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 14, 1999.
Hey guys -
Before you work yourself up into a lather about this one, think about when the documents mentioned in the article were written. It seems as though most were compiled in May and June 1998.
From what I've read about the Canadian (and US) grids, the chances of a big collapse on or about 1/1/2000 are very small. When the Globe article quotes one of the reports they have obtained as saying "the greatest area for concern is the entire power grid (national- provincial-municipal levels)" it would have been helpful if we knew what timeframe that report was referring to. ALL the power company workers who have posted both here and at EUY2K.COM have said that the situation now compared to even 9 months ago is vastly different (i.e.better). Maybe if Dan the Power Man is still dropping by here he can let us know what dealings he has had with the Canadian electricity industry and where they are vis-a-vis the US industry.
By failing to say that much has changed in the Y2K remediation world since May/June 1998, the Globe & Mail is guilty of both sloppy reporting and perhaps fanning the flames of Y2K hysteria unnecessarily. It wouldn't have taken much effort for the Globe's reporter to check out the major hydro companies' web sites or called their Y2K project offices to get the lastest (ie. May 1999) status.
-- Johnny Canuck (email@example.com), May 14, 1999.
Gee, why doesn't De Jager's hypnosis work on his native people?
-- David Palm (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 14, 1999.
Well we can't see the report yet but here is some background info on the DND mandate inregards to the security of the country. Very interesting reading.
And I have a site with all the previous Industry Canada testimony
Industry Canada Testimony
Keep your liners dry folks!
STANDING COMMITTEE ON
COMITÉ PERMANENT DE
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Thursday, November 19, 1998
Thibault, Paul (National Defence
Henault, Lieutenant-General Raymond R.
(National Defence Department (DND))
Garnett, Vice-Admiral Gary L. (National
Defence Department (DND))
The Chair (Ms. Susan Whelan (Essex,
Lib.)): I'm going to call the meeting to order,
pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), a study on
information technology preparedness for the year
That being said, we have a couple of opening
statements. We're very pleased to have here Mr.
Paul Thibault, the federal coordinator for the Y2K
national contingency planning; Lieutenant-General
Raymond Henault, deputy chief of the defence
staff; and Vice-Admiral Gary Garnett, vice-chief of
the defence staff.
Mr. Paul Thibault (Federal Coordinator,
Y2K National Contingency Planning,
Department of National Defence): Thank
you, Madam Chair.
Our four primary objectives, from a prudent
planning perspective, are to ensure that there is no
loss of life; basic community needs are provided
for; business continues as usual or resumes
quickly; and confidence in government is
Let me talk for a moment, with your permission,
about the overall approach. There are basically three
phases: prevention phase, preparedness phase, and
response phase. The main focus to date has been on
the prevention phase, on ensuring that public and
private sector organizations will be compliant and
ready for year 2000.
Government and industry are identifying
mission-critical systems and non-compliant
technologies and devising strategies to address the
problems. At the same time, we are collecting
information that will form the basis of our risk
assessment analysis and conclusions.
Our focus is on Canada's critical infrastructure,
such as utilities, transportation, safety,
communications, government, and services. We are
taking into account Y2K planning being done by
other countries, other levels of government, and the
private sector. This is occurring at the same time as
various levels of government and private sector
organizations are also undertaking assessments.
They should also be developing contingency plans.
Let me take a brief moment to attempt to define
what contingency planning is. It's the area of
business continuity process where an organization
attempts to ascertain the kinds of crises most likely
to occur and prepares to deal with them. Typically
based on risks deemed unacceptable or that require
significant mitigation measures, the overall purpose
of contingency planning is to recognize and address
as many uncertainties and risks as possible so that
organizations can maintain control over their
operations when a crisis occurs.
*****Everyone has a responsibility for contingency
planning. Every country, every level of
government, every department and agency, every
private sector organization, and even every
individual citizen must be getting ready and doing
some planning for January 2000. ******
We're going to turn now to questions. I'm going to
begin with Mr. Lowther.
Mr. Eric Lowther (Calgary Centre, Ref.):
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mr. Eric Lowther: Just on that very point, one
of the documents we've been given here talks about
the date August 31, 1998, deputy chief of staff,
strategic direction, Operation ABACUS, this
particular document. Under risk assessment, item
5, it says the risk assessment related to this strategic
direction has been issued separately and is to be
read in conjunction with this document.
Unless the clerks or somebody can fill me in, I
don't think I have a risk assessment to be read
separately. Is that because there isn't one done yet,
it's coming, or it's secret? Do we get to know what
the risk assessment is at this point?
LGen Raymond Henault: The risk assessment
is still being developed at this time. With the
establishment of his organization, risk assessment
work is now being concentrated under Mr.
Thibault's direction. So the risk assessment we're
talking about there will emanate from the national
contingency planning group and will ultimately be
read in conjunction with that plan when it's
Mr. Eric Lowther: Do we have a target date
when we'll have the first kick at the risk
Mr. Paul Thibault: I guess I was expecting this
question, so let me be very forthright and honest
with you. On the risk assessment and where we are
in the connectivities, if getting that information
were an issue the federal government alone
controlled, I would be able to give you a date. But
we are totally dependent on the cooperation of not
just the private sector in what information we get
and how we assess it, but also the provinces and
So I can't really give you a date when I'll be ready.
What I can give you, because it's working back
from January 31, is we have to be in a position to
be testing what our contingency plan is by the
summer. But for me to arbitrarily give you a date
when my risk assessment or the risk assessment
we'll be doing will be completed, it has no basis of
validity right now. I just can't give you that.
Mr. Eric Lowther: I have another question that's
more on a micro-management level.
You talked about contingency plans, and you're
one of the first people I've heard before this
committee say personal contingency plans. Are
you including in your mandate here some sort of
advisement to the man on the street, the apartment
dweller on the 14th floor, the everyday person, on
what, if any, contingency plans they should be
taking? Is that part of your overall mandate, for lack
of a better word?
Mr. Paul Thibault: No. My mandate is to
prepare a national contingency plan that covers the
issues in the major areas of health, energy supply
and basic services, and things like that. But it goes
back to the pointmaybe I didn't make it clear
enoughon the accountability issue, which is that
clearly we all have roles and responsibilities in
planning for things. There is no one person who is
going to do everything for us. For example, the
federal government has a role, the provinces have a
role, municipalities have a role. And as we get
further into the situation, as we have a risk
assessment of what the issue is, and as we get into
the public communications aspect that I mentioned
to you earlier, then obviously individuals have a
role and responsibility in taking their decisions.
Mr. Eric Lowther: So if we have the risk
assessment, and we're further down the pipe here,
there is the possibility of some sort of a directional
piece being given to the person on the street that
there is a real risk here, and prudent preparedness
might suggest you have certain things in line.
Mr. Paul Thibault: Yes. I would go back to
how this is a critical role for your committee. You
make public reports, you make public
recommendations. You're the elected
representatives, and you are making, when you put
out your reports, recommendations to your citizens
and constituents. In that respect, obviously, your
messages are messages you're giving to the
citizens. So you're saying right now that there's a
Y2K problem. You're saying people should be
aware of it. I assume at a later stage you may want
to be making recommendations as what people
should be doing with regard to that. Yes, I think
Mr. Walt Lastewka (St. Catharines, Lib.):
Thank you, Madam Chair. I'm going to try to get in
three quick questions and a request.
Mr. Walt Lastewka: Mr. Thibault, first of all,
congratulations on your new assignment. I know
that it's not going to be an easy one. My concern
about your assignment is that you can't do a lot of
work until you receive a lot of information from
across the country.
Do we have target dates by which we expect to get
information across the countrya preliminary date
in say June 1999 and a more firm date in September
1999 in order for you to be able to do your work as
far as contingency is concerned?
Mr. Paul Thibault: Thank you for the
congratulations. It may be condolences, or it may
be congratulations. Who knows?
Sir, I really don't want to give you any timing that
subsequently would leave you with a false
I'm a coordinator. I'm dependent on others. To a
certain extent, in all of this we are all interdependent
and dependent on others. What we're trying to do
is keep a simple system.
There are federal government departments; there are
mechanisms out there that exist. I don't want to
duplicate anything that's there. We don't have the
time, the money, or the interest to do that.
We have deputy ministers and ministers who run
big departments who have federal-provincial
meeting systems. They have lines of
communication to the private sector. They're
getting the information.
We are talking at the same time to the private
sectorfor example, to the Electricity Association,
the Canadian Bankers Association, not so much to
duplicate that information but to look at
You mentioned that I haven't been here long. The
one thing I have recognized is that we are facing an
enormously complex, multi-faceted problem. For
me to come out and give you a date on when I
expect to have an assessment, a plan, I think would
Mr. Walt Lastewka: My concern is that
organizations from various areas of the country,
those that are behind, those that are not meeting
dates, will say they'll be there and then at the last
minute they will dump on you and say it looks like
we're not going to be thereit's over to you.
Mr. Paul Thibault: I understand your concern,
and I'm not saying I don't share some of those
concerns. I'd be more than happy to come back to
this committee when you come back after
Christmas, if that's your wish, and report to you on
where I am at that point in time.
Mr. Eric Lowther: At a previous meeting we
had a couple of weeks back, we had the new chief
information officer talking about a national planning
group under the Department of National Defence.
Are you the person leading up the national planning
Mr. Paul Thibault: That's correct. It's called the
National Contingency Planning Group.
Mr. Eric Lowther: Thank you for that
I would make a final comment that as the national
contingency planning coordinator I think
somewhere along the pipe that does include
contingency planning down to the man in the street
level. I would suggest you need to include this in
your scope of contingency planning advisements
that go out there. Thank you.
The Chair: Mr. Murray.
Mr. Ian Murray (LanarkCarleton, Lib.):
Mr. Ian Murray: I was one of those who had an
opportunity to work with the military during the ice
storm. One thing that was fascinating was watching
the military work with civilian authorities. The
military needs a civilian authority normally in order
to start doing something, and it was clear that some
of the civilians were much better prepared than
others. I'm talking about mayors or reeves of
townships, this level of authority.
Was there a lesson learned by the military from that
experience in terms of working with civilian
authorities? I noticed that quite often the civilian
authorities had to be prodded by military officers.
Once the civilian authorities realized what was
possible, because in the military they give orders
and the orders are carried out, it's very different
from what these people are used to I thought in
terms of your contingency planning it might be
something to keep in mind, if you haven't, that
countrywide you may want to have some way of
informing civilian authorities as to how to operate
with the military in the event of a crisis.
LGen Raymond Henault: That's a very good
point. I might also highlight the fact that we operate
in response to a provincial request for support, as
opposed to the other way around. So it is very
important for us, and a critical part of our makeup,
to make sure that we do cooperate and liaise very
closely with provincial authorities.
The task force commanders, who I talked to you a
little bit earlier about, our area commanders, as we
call them, who are located in cities such as
Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, and so on, are in
fact responsible for providing support to provincial
authorities in their areas or their regions of
responsibility. For that reason, they have very close
links to provincial authorities in the provinces for
which they are responsible. So that relationship is
very well established and it's one we intend to
nurture even more as we go in to the year 2000
Your point is a very valid one. But I think what's
perhaps more important from a Canadian Forces'
point of view is that we bring a very wide range of
general purpose military skills to an operation like
the ice storm or others, and perhaps in the case of
year 2000 as well. Perhaps it will be important for
us to make sure that authorities are aware of the
kinds of skills we can help with, things like
transportation, setting up and maintaining shelters,
for example, assisting in re-establishing central
services and those types of things.
So I would suggest that in the longer term, with
those links we have through emergency measures
and also through our area commanders we will be
able to provide that kind of feedback and cooperate
very closely with Canadians at large.
Mr. Ian Murray: Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Murray.
I want to thank the witnesses for being with us
today, General Henault and Admiral Garnett.
-- Brian (email@example.com), May 14, 1999.
wow,I've never before felt so in-synch with canada,I fear a y2k disaster too!
-- zoobie (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 15, 1999.
If I were still trying to persuade the DWGI's, I'd copy this thread and give it out. However, in the theory that those I have talked to are responsible adults, I am no longer trying to beat them about the head with information. The Globe and Mail is *the major* newspaper, until recently the only one to call itself a national newspaper. The information is *readily* available for those who care. Unfortunately, most don't seem to have any interest. That, I DG!
-- Tricia the Canuck (email@example.com), May 17, 1999.