On November 13, 2015, as part of the new Canadian Prime
Minister's commitment to an open and transparent government, ministerial mandate letters were made public.
These letters outline a broad framework for what ministers are
expected to accomplish, including specific policy objectives and
challenges to be addressed. While they are not intended to be an
exhaustive list of all files that a Minister needs to address, they
provide insight in terms of the government's overall priorities
for the ministry.
The ministerial letter issued to the Minister of Public Safety
and Emergency Preparedness (the "Minister") lists several
priorities, most notably:
"Lead a review of existing measures to protect Canadians
and our critical infrastructure from cyber-threats, in
collaboration with the Minister of National Defence, the Minister
of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the Minister of
Infrastructure and Communities, the Minister of Public Services and
Procurement, and the President of the Treasury Board."
Recognizing cyber threats in the context of ensuring the
security of Canada's critical infrastructures is an important
step. The Minister will be able to build upon the existing Public Safety's Action Plan for Critical
Infrastructure (2014-2017) which outlines the
government's cyber strategy to protecting critical
infrastructures. Given the changing landscape when it comes to
cyber threats, the timing of the Minister's review is timely.
He will likely want to lead a full review of all measures currently
in place when it comes to countering and responding to cyber
threats and also reinforcing coordination efforts with
international counterparts. He may want also wish to intensify
collaboration with businesses operating in the critical
infrastructure space (and the broader economy as well) to implement
measure to improve their cyber resiliency. These efforts will
assist the Minister in articulating a comprehensive cyber strategy
not only as it relates to critical infrastructures but for the
Cyber threats have become a real security issue for most
countries, including Canada. Indeed, in comments to the media, the
head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Services
("CSIS") indicated that cyberattacks on the country's
critical infrastructure is a major threat and that "cyber is
one of our top priorities." [CBC report]
In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security
("DHS") has specifically identified 16 critical
infrastructure assets that constitute the assets, systems and
networks that are "so vital to the United States that their
incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on
security national economic security, national public health or
safety, or any combinations thereof."[http://www.dhs.gov/what-critical-infrastructure].
These sectors include commercial facilities, critical
manufacturing, defence industrial base, energy, financial services,
food and agriculture, etc. DHS leads the initiative by
collaborating with other agencies and departments both to
prevent/mitigate cyberattacks and to lead a response in the case of
a major cyber incident.
The collaborative and multi-ministerial approach will likely
ensure that Canada's existing cybersecurity strategy is
refreshed, refined and that appropriate government agencies
(including their provincial and municipal counterparts) are
engaged. It will also be important to engage with other key
stakeholders such as the business community and community
organizations that would be at the frontlines of any potential
For a link to the Prime Minister's letter to the Minister,
please click here.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).